Ex-'News of the World' editors in dock as the jury is chosen for phone-hacking trial
THE trial of two former top editors of Rupert Murdoch's defunct 'News of the World' began yesterday with the selection of a jury to hear the complex and high-profile case sparked by a tabloid phone-hacking scandal that has shaken Mr Murdoch's media empire and tarnished the image of British journalism.
Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson – both one-time senior Murdoch aides and associates of British Prime Minister David Cameron – are charged with conspiring to hack the phones of celebrities and other people in the public eye and with making illegal payments to officials for information.
They sat side-by-side in the dock at London's Central Criminal Court along with six other defendants on the first day of a trial that Judge John Saunders said could last up to six months.
This is the first criminal trial stemming from revelations in 2011 of tabloid phone-hacking – a scandal that exposed a murky web of ties binding Britain's media, political and police establishments. The judge told about 80 prospective jurors that the case centered on allegations of criminal activity at the 'News of the World' and its sister paper the 'Sun'.
The three highest-profile defendants are Ms Brooks (45), a former editor of the 'News of the World' and former chief executive of Murdoch's British newspapers; Mr Coulson (45), another former 'News of the World' editor who was Mr Cameron's communications chief until 2011; and Ms Brooks' 50-year-old husband Charles Brooks, a racehorse trainer.
They face trial alongside former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner; ex-news editor Ian Edmondson; former royal editor Clive Goodman; Rebekah Brooks' former assistant Cheryl Carter; and Mark Hanna, former security chief at Murdoch's News International.
Ms Brooks, Mr Brooks, Ms Carter and Mr Hanna are also accused of conspiring to pervert the course of justice by removing material from the company's archive and withholding computers and documents from the police.