Brooks and Coulson in the dock at Old Bailey


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The Independent Online

Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were among 12 phone-hacking defendants in the dock at the Old Bailey yesterday to be told they would have to wait at least a year for their main trial to commence.

In their respective former roles of News International chief executive and Downing Street communications director, Brooks and Coulson were the confidants of media tycoons and prime ministers.

But yesterday the two ex-editors of the News of the World were at the mercy of the Central Criminal Court's bureaucracy.

Like their co-accused they said nothing other than to confirm their names and their presence to the judge, Mr Justice Fulford.

Brooks sat at the back of three rows of chairs in the dock. The front row contained the News of the World's former assistant editor, Ian Edmondson, his former newsdesk colleague, James Weatherup, and the paper's former chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, and Coulson.

Another news desk executive, Greg Miskiw, sat in the second row with other defendants.

They faced a sea of 19 wigged barristers and a packed public gallery.

The lead prosecuting counsel, Andrew Edis QC, revealed the proposed date for the full trial to be 9 September next year to allow disclosure and other pre-trial business.

The trial currently involves two cases and two police operations that are legally being managed together. Operation Sacha concerns charges of perverting the course of justice, and Operation Weeting is the Metropolitan Police's probe into phone hacking.

Brooks, Coulson and six others are charged with conspiring to illegally access mobile phone voicemails. In addition Brooks is charged with three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Six others faces one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, including Brooks' husband Charlie, her ex-NI chauffeur, Paul Edwards, and her former PA, Cheryl Carter. They are accused of attempting to conceal evidence from police officers who were investigating phone hacking. Others accused of attempting to conceal evidence from the police include NI's former head of security, Mark Hanna, and two other security guards, Daryl Josling and Lee Sandell. All the defendants were bailed.

The dock should have contained 14 people. But the NOTW's former managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, was excused, while former PI Glenn Mulcaire had been delayed.