Eight charged with phone hacking

Senior journalists from the News of the World have pledged to clear their names after it was announced that eight people including David Cameron's former spin doctor Andy Coulson will be charged with phone hacking.

Seven members of staff from the now-defunct tabloid, including former editors Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, face court action over accusations that they illegally accessed voicemails.

The charges are a potential blow for the Prime Minister, who employed Coulson as his press adviser following his resignation as editor of the News of the World (NOTW).

The seven stand accused of one general charge of alleged phone hacking between October 2000 and August 2006 that could affect as many as 600 victims. Brooks and Coulson face specific charges of illegally accessing the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

In a statement, Brooks insisted she was innocent, adding: "The charge concerning Milly Dowler is particularly upsetting not only as it is untrue but also because I have spent my journalistic career campaigning for victims of crime. I will vigorously defend these allegations."

Speaking outside his home in south-east London, Coulson said he would fight the charges in court. He said: "Anyone who knows me, or who worked with me, would know that I wouldn't, and more importantly that I didn't, do anything to damage the Milly Dowler investigation. The idea that I would sit in my office dreaming up schemes to undermine investigations is simply untrue."

The other former NOTW staff who face court action are ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former head of news Ian Edmondson, ex-chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former reporter James Weatherup. They are accused along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

All eight are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on August 16, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

The CPS told former News of the World journalist Ross Hall, who wrote under the name Ross Hindley, freelance journalist Terenia Taras and former Evening Standard sports reporter Raoul Simons that no further action will be taken against them. A decision has yet to be made in relation to another two people, legal adviser Alison Levitt QC said.

Former News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck said he will "vigorously fight" to clear his name. He said: "I have always operated under the strict guidance and advice of News International's lawyers and under the instructions of the newspaper's editors, which will be abundantly clear when this matter comes to court. I will vigorously fight to clear my reputation."