David Cameron's former spin doctor Andy Coulson and ex-News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks appeared at the Old Bailey today accused of making corrupt payments to public officials.
The pair and three other defendants sat at the back of the court for the 10-minute hearing.
The judge, Mr Justice Fulford, said they did not have to go into the dock.
He ordered that they all return to the court on 8 March for a plea and case management hearing.
Coulson and ex-News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman are charged with conspiracy to pay for information, including a royal phone directory known as the "Green Book".
It contained contact details for the Royal Family and members of the royal household.
Coulson, 44, and Goodman, 55, face two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office - one between 31 August 2002 and 31 January 2003, and the other between 31 January and 3 June 3.
The charges relate to the alleged request and authorisation of payments to public officials in exchange for information, including the royal contacts.
Brooks, 44, and former Sun chief reporter John Kay, 69, are charged with conspiring to pay Ministry of Defence employee Bettina Jordan-Barber around £100,000 for information.
The three each face one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office between 1 January 2004 and 31 January this year.
That relates to allegations that Jordan-Barber, 39, was paid to provide information to the Sun newspaper.
All the defendants are on bail.