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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Phone hacking prosecution opening to end

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks leaves the Old Bailey courthouse in London November 1, 2013. Andy Coulson, then editor of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World, instructed a journalist working on a story about a celebrity to
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks leaves the Old Bailey courthouse in London November 1, 2013. Andy Coulson, then editor of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World, instructed a journalist working on a story about a celebrity to "do his phone", a jury trying Coulson and others for phone-hacking was told on Friday. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: CRIME LAW MEDIA)

Prosecutors are due to finish opening their case against ex-News International staff accused of charges linked to phone hacking and alleged payments to public officials.

Former NI chief executive Rebekah Brooks and her one-time lover Andy Coulson, who succeeded her as editor of the now-defunct News of the World, are among those standing trial at the Old Bailey.

The pair deny charges that include an alleged conspiracy to hack the telephones of celebrities, royals and politicians, as well as authorising the payment of public officials for information.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told the jury of nine women and three men last week that both Brooks and Coulson had been complicit in a conspiracy to hack phones, having either agreed to, or been aware of, tasking private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to access voicemails.

He told the court that Coulson had ordered "do his phone" as the newspaper tried to investigate a story about Calum Best.

The court heard that Best, son of Manchester United and Northern Ireland winger George Best, was allegedly targeted by the NotW as it tried to investigate claims that he had fathered a child with a woman called Lorna Hogan.

As Coulson discussed the story with former head of news Ian Edmondson via email, he told him: "Do his phone."

The jury also heard that while editor of the Sun, it is claimed Brooks sanctioned payments to a Ministry of Defence official that may have led to the details of soldiers killed in action being given to the tabloid before they were officially released.

The ex-Sun and NotW editor also allegedly authorised journalists to pay a member of the armed forces for a picture of Prince William wearing a bikini.

Last week the high-profile trial heard that Brooks and Coulson had an affair for at least six years, with extracts from a heartfelt letter from Brooks to her then deputy editor read to the court.

Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; Coulson, also 45, from Charing in Kent; former NotW head of news Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London; and the tabloid's ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, all deny conspiring with others to hack phones between October 3 2000 and August 9 2006.

Brooks is also accused of 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.

Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with former NotW royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and other unknown people to commit misconduct in public office - between August 31 2002 and January 31 2003, and between January 31 and June 3 2005.

Brooks also faces 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; and a second with her husband, Charles Brooks, and former head of security at News International, Mark Hanna, and others between July 15 and July 19 2011.

The case is expected to last for up to six months.

Press Association

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