Ex-Murdoch aides Brooks and Coulson in court

26th September 2012, Comments 0 comments

Former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were in court in London on Wednesday on charges related to the phone-hacking scandal that shut down Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid.

Coulson, who has also served as Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief, and Brooks are among 13 people facing various charges at the Old Bailey, the legendary central criminal court.

All the defendants are currently free on bail. Coulson and Brooks made no comment as they arrived at the court building.

Brooks, 44, is expected to enter a plea on three charges of perverting the course of justice by removing evidence from the offices of News International (NI) -- Murdoch's British newspaper wing -- and trying to conceal it from police.

Her racehorse trainer husband Charlie Brooks, 49, his wife's assistant Cheryl Carter, her chauffeur Paul Edwards, NI security chief Mark Hanna, and Daryl Jorsling, who provided security for Brooks on behalf of NI, face one charge each.

The charges of perverting the course of justice were lodged in May and carry a maximum term of life imprisonment. They all relate to the frantic final days of the 168-year-old News of the World in July 2011.

Murdoch closed the newspaper following revelations that it had hacked into the phone of a murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, in the days following her disappearance in 2002.

In a parallel case, Brooks, Coulson, five former News of the World journalists and a private investigator will appear in court charged with having illegally hacked into mobile phone voicemails.

They are not expected to enter pleas in that case, which police say involves the hacking of 600 people's voicemails, including Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney.

The others charged are Stuart Kuttner, the News of the World's former managing editor, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former head of news Ian Edmondson, former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, and reporter James Weatherup.

The last person is private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed for phone hacking for six months in 2007 along with the paper's former royal reporter.

The News of the World insisted in 2007 that they were isolated cases but Australian-born Murdoch closed down the weekly tabloid last year amid allegations that hacking was far more widespread.

The new phone-hacking charges were lodged in July this year.

Legal sources said that the judge on Wednesday may decide whether there will be two separate trials for the phone hacking and obstructing justice cases, or just one.

Rebekah Brooks edited the News of the World from 2000 to 2003 before taking up the same post at The Sun, Murdoch's top-selling British daily tabloid.

At one time she moved in the highest circles of British politics, and testified to a press ethics inquiry in May about her close friendship with Cameron.

She resigned as NI chief executive days after the News of the World closed.

Coulson, 44, edited the News of the World from 2003 to 2007 and went on to become Cameron's communications director, leaving that post in January 2011.

© 2012 AFP

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