LONDON July 24, 2012 -- Paul McCartney was considered fair game. So was his estranged wife Heather Mills. So was Jude Law and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
After more than a year in the headlines, eight of Rupert Murdoch's reporters and editors in Britain have been charged with hacking the voicemails of more than 600 people over a five year period in search of sensational stories for Murdoch's now-shuttered tabloid The News of the World.
"There is sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to one or more offenses," said Crown Prosecutor Alison Levitt at a news conference this morning.
Among those charged are Andy Coulson, former aide to Britain's prime minister and ex-editor of the New of the World and Rebekah Brooks, Murdoch's trusted head of British operations.
The story exploded here in Britain last year when it was revealed that the News of the World had hacked the phone of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler and reported on the desperate messages left by her parents. When her family noticed that voicemails were being deleted from her phone, they were convinced she was alive.
In fact she had been murdered and the messages had been deleted by the tabloid to make room for new messages.
That revelation revolted the entire country and sparked what has been the decline of Murdoch's global media empire.
In a statement today Rebekah Brooks denied the accusations saying she was "distressed and angry" at prosecutors' decision to charge her.