An ashen-faced Rebekah Brooks has launched a withering attack on the authorities after being charged with perverting the course of justice over the phone-hacking scandal.
The ex-News of the World editor, her husband Charlie and four others will stand trial for plotting to hide evidence.
The 43-year-old former News International chief executive faces three separate allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice - an offence that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
"I am baffled by the decision to charge me today," she said defiantly, standing alongside her husband outside their lawyers' offices in central London.
"However more importantly I cannot express my anger enough that those closest to me have been dragged into this unfairly.
"One day the details of this case will emerge and people will see today as nothing more than an expensive sideshow, a waste of public money as a result of an unjust and weak decision."
Brooks was alleged to have removed seven boxes of material from News International archives and concealed documents and computers from officers investigating phone hacking.
The illegal activities were alleged to have taken place in the frantic days last July when News Corp supremo Rupert Murdoch decided to shut down the tainted Sunday tabloid following a tidal wave of public disgust over hacking.
Murdoch announced the decision to close the top-selling paper on July 7 last year.
Alison Levitt, from Britain's Director of Public Prosecutions, said the alleged offences took place between July 6 and July 19.
The Brookses pre-empted the announcement of the charges last night (NZ time) by issuing a written statement before facing the media later in the afternoon to deliver their statements for the cameras.
Charlie Brooks, a racehorse trainer, is among five people accused of obstructing justice.
The others are Rebekah Brooks' former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, News International's ex-head of security Mark Hanna, Rebekah Brooks' ex-chauffeur Paul Edwards and a member of the firm's security staff, Daryl Jorsling.
Levitt said: "All these matters relate to the ongoing police investigation into allegations of phone hacking and corruption of public officials in relation to the News of the World and The Sun newspapers,"
Charlie Brooks said his wife was the "subject of a witch hunt" and questioned whether she would be able to receive a fair trial because of the "biased commentary" directed at her.
"There are 172 police officers, the equivalent of eight murder squads working on this (case)," he said.
"So it is no surprise to me that there is pressure on to bring prosecutions.
"However weak that may be.
"I have no doubt the lack of evidence against me will be borne out in court, but I have grave reservations that my wife can ever get a fair trial given the huge volume of biased commentary that she is constantly subjected too."
Tuesday's drama came only four days after Rebekah Brooks revealed in detail her close links with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the Leveson inquiry into press ethics.
More than 40 people have been arrested on various charges in connection with hacking at The Sun and the News of the World.