Milly phone-hack 'conspirators' protest innocence

Four of the journalists charged with hacking Milly Dowler's phone yesterday said they would fight to clear their names.

Of the eight former News of the World staff charged with multiple phone-hacking offences yesterday – Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner, Greg Miskiw, Neville Thurlbeck and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were also charged with conspiring to hack the voicemail messages of then missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler between 9 and 21 April 2002.

Coulson, who was deputy editor of the News of the World in 2002, said: 'I am extremely disappointed by the CPS decision today. I will fight these allegations when they eventually get to court.

"I would like to say one thing today about the Milly Dowler allegation. 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.

"At the News of the World we worked on behalf of the victims of crime, particularly violent crime, and the idea that I would sit in my office dreaming up schemes to undermine investigations is simply untrue.

Former news editor of the News of the World Ian Edmondson said: 'For the past 18 months my family and I have suffered in silence. I have not given interviews or spoken out in order to get my points across or to correct reported lies or inaccuracies.

'I have much to say on this subject and I now look forward to saying it. I will clear my name at trial when the truth finally emerges."

Ex News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck said: 'Following today's announcement that I am to be charged in relation to Operation Weeting, I would like to thank my family and friends for their undying support during the past 15 months.

'My thanks also to my lawyer Henri Brandman for his wise and calm counsel during the police investigation.

'I am most surprised and disappointed in the outcome. 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."

Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of the News of the World in 2002, said: 'I am not guilty of these charges. I did not authorise, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship.

"I am distressed and angry that the CPS have reached this decision when they knew all the facts and were in a position to stop the case at this stage. 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."

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