LONDON - Rebekah Brooks, a close confidante of Rupert Murdoch, was charged on Tuesday with interfering with a police investigation into a phone hacking scandal that has rocked the tycoon's media empire and sent shockwaves through the British political establishment.
Brooks, 43, was charged with concealing material from detectives, conspiring to remove boxes of archive records from Murdoch's London headquarters, and hiding documents, computers and other electronic equipment from the police. If found guilty she could face a prison sentence.
The charges are the first since police re-launched an investigation into alleged illegal practices at Murdoch's British newspapers following accusations the extent of wrongdoing had been covered up.
The news is a personal blow for the world's most powerful media boss and also embarrassing for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was close friends with Brooks and sent her text messages of support when the alleged offenses took place.
The action against Brooks comes as Murdoch is increasingly under fire in Britain. He has been forced to close one newspaper, withdraw a major takeover bid for a TV station and been described by a parliamentary committee report as someone who is not fit to run a major international company.
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