9 September: trial date set for Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks

 

The trail of News International's former chief executive Rebekah Brooks, her husband Charles, the former News of the World editor and Downing Street communications chief, Andy Coulson, and others linked to an alleged illegal phone hacking conspiracy, will begin on 9 September.

Mrs Brooks, a former editor of the Sun who was promoted to run Rupert Murdoch's UK print business till shortly after the closure of the NOTW, will appear with eight others in the first of a series of related trials.

The initial trial will be held at the Old Bailey and is expected to last at least three months, with the other trails potentially reaching into April next year.

The trial date was given at South Crown Court and ordered by the judge who will hear all the hacking-related trials, Mr Justice Saunders.

Mrs Brooks, 45, appeared in the Southwark court earlier this week where she pleaded not guilty to a total of five charges that involved conspiracy to illegally intercept phone messages, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Her former personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, who is also charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, is among those who will appear in the first trail.

Mr Brooks, a race horse trainer and close friend of Prime Minister, David Cameron, also pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

He is jointly accused, along with his wife, and News International's head of security, Mark Hanna, of concealing documents, computers and other electronic equipment from officers of the Metropolitan Police Service who were investigating allegations of phone hacking and corruption of public officials in relation to the News of the World and Sun newspapers.

Mr Hanna has also denied the charge against him.

Mrs Carter is jointly charged with Mrs Brooks of removing seven boxes of archived material from News International between July 6, 2011 and July 9, 2001. Both pleaded not guilty to the charge against them.

On Mr Murdoch's orders the closure of the News of the World took place on July 10, 2011.

Those who will appear in the trial beginning in September also include the NOTW's former managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, 73, the Sunday tabloid's former senior reporter, James Weatherup, 57, and the paper's former news editor, Ian Edmondson, 44.

Earlier this week when charges against them were read out in court, all pleaded not guilty.

The phone hacking conspiracy charges related to a time period between October 2000 and August 2006.

The private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, 42, will also appear in the initial trial. He is charged with illegally hacking the mobile phone messages belonging to Amanda Dowler, the murdered schoolgirl also known as Milly, who went missing and was later found dead in 2002.

Two further counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office - one between January 2004 and January 2012, and another alleged to have taken place between February 2006 and October 2008 - were also denied by Mrs Brooks.

All defendants in the trials have been granted an extension of the bail conditions that have been in place since their arrest.

Further pre-trial hearings were also scheduled for July by the judge.