Hacking trial prosecution to open

The prosecution case in the trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-spin doctor Andy Coulson is due to open today.

The prosecution case in the trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-spin doctor Andy Coulson is due to open today.

A jury has been selected to hear the case, which is taking place at the Old Bailey, and the nine women and three men were told to return this afternoon when it is hoped Andrew Edis QC will begin outlining the prosecution case.

Yesterday Mr Justice Saunders told the panel that they must only consider the case on the evidence and arguments presented in court.

He said: “I’m going to give you some extremely important directions. They are always important, but they could not be more important than they are in this particular case.

“In this case, in a way, not only are the defendants on trial but British justice is on trial.”

He added: “It is absolutely vital that you decide this case solely on the evidence and the arguments that you hear in court.”

Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, and Coulson, 45, from Preston in Kent, are both accused of conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission.

They allegedly conspired with former News of the World (NotW) head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London, the tabloid’s ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, and others to illegally access voicemails between October 3 2000 and August 9 2006.

Ex-NotW and Sun editor Brooks is also charged with two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office – one between January 1 2004 and January 31 2012 and the other between February 9 2006 and October 16 2008 - linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.

She faces another two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – one with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, from Chelmsford in Essex, between July 6 and 9 2011.

It is alleged that they conspired to remove seven boxes of material from the News International archive.

The second count alleges that Brooks, her husband Charles Brooks and former head of security at News International Mark Hanna conspired together and with others between July 15 and July 19 2011 to pervert the course of justice.

It is claimed that they tried to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from police officers who were investigating allegations of phone hacking and corruption of public officials in relation to the News of the World and The Sun newspapers.

Former No 10 spin doctor and ex-NotW editor Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with the tabloid’s former royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and persons unknown to commit misconduct in public office – one between August 31 2002 and January 31 2003, and the other between January 31 and June 3 2005.

All eight defendants are on bail.

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