Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and former communications director to the prime minister Andy Coulson are among eight people charged over a phone hacking conspiracy.
Brooks and Coulson will face charges relating to the alleged hacking of the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
The former chief reporter of the News of the World (NotW), Neville Thurlbeck, has also been charged. The other people to face charges are private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and journalists Stuart Kuttner, Greg Miskew, Ian Edmondson and James Weatherup.
The announcement was made by Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) legal adviser Alison Levitt QC
All eight are charged with conspiring to intercept communications between 13 October 2001 and 9 August 2006.
Brooks released a statement denying the charges and called the charges against her relating to Milly Dowler as "particular upsetting".
She 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."
Three unnamed suspects have been told they face no further action because there is insufficient evidence.
News International closed News of the World in July 2011 following fresh claims as the phone hacking scandal grew.
The paper was also accused of illegally intercepting the voicemails of hundreds of royals, celebrities and politicians.
The charges are a result of Operation Weeting, set up last year by the Metropolitan Police after "significant" information.
Levitt added: "May I remind all concerned that these eight individuals now will be charged with criminal offences and that each has a right to a fair trial. It is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice that trial. For these reasons it would be inappropriate for me to comment further."
Twenty-four people including 15 current and former journalists have been arrested under the operation.
Police have also arrested 41 people including 23 former or current journalists in connection with Operation Elveden - a related probe into corrupt payments to public officials - and seven under Operation Tuleta which is investigating alleged computer hacking and privacy infringement.
Brooks, a former Sun editor, already faces three charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice by hiding evidence relating to the hacking scandal. Her husband Charlie Brooks faces one count of the same charge.
The pair are due to enter a plea when they appear at Southwark crown court in London on 26 September.