Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and former Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson are to face charges over phone hacking.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that the two are among seven former News of the World staff facing charges of conspiring to intercept communications.

Ms Brooks and Mr Coulson are both former editors of the now defunct News of the World.

Ms Brooks is facing three hacking charges, including one relating to the phone of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Mr Coulson faces four charges, including one relating to Milly Dowler and others relating to Labour home secretaries David Blunkett and Charles Clarke, and Calum Best.

Also facing charges are former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former assistant editors Ian Edmondson and James Weatherup, former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

The CPS said the charges relate to 600 victims between 2000 and 2006, and name Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Paul McCartney, Sven Goran Eriksson, Jude Law, Wayne Rooney and others among those targeted.

In a statement, Ms Brooks denied the charges, saying she did not authorise, nor was she aware of phone hacking while editor.

She said she was not guilty of the charges and "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," Ms Brookes said.

"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."