Another storm blows into town... phone-hacking trials under way

Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, formerly of News International, are among eight defendants

The St Jude storm tried hard, but it would have taken a tropical cyclone to keep Fleet Street and the world’s media away from the opening day of the phone-hacking trial on Monday.

The pavements surrounding London’s Central Criminal Court were covered by television camera crews and line after line of damp photographers with their customised stepladders, all expecting the same individuals to eventually appear through their rain-flecked lenses.

They didn’t have to wait long. Well before the 10am start time, Rebekah Brooks, wearing a simple fawn overcoat and walking alongside her racehorse-trainer husband, Charlie, brushed past the Old Bailey scrum. This kind of high-profile reception, even in these days of 24/7 broadcast news, is still rare.

Andy Coulson, Ms Brooks’ former colleague at Rupert Murdoch’s News International, was also a must-get image for the gathered media. Wearing a dark overcoat with a blue shirt, dark tie and a poppy, he arrived looking sartorially prepared for even an unscheduled meeting at Downing Street, his workplace alongside David Cameron after he left the News of the World, which he edited.

Andy Coulson arrives at the court in London Andy Coulson arrives at the court in London  

Ms Brooks, 45, from Churchill, Oxfordshire, and Mr Coulson, 45, from Preston, Kent, are the two defendants with the highest profile in the hacking trial. Along with six others – including the former managing editor of the NOTW, its former news editor, a former royal correspondent and Ms Brooks’ former personal assistant – face a range of charges linked to an alleged conspiracy to illegally intercept mobile phone messages, corrupt payments given to public officials and attempts to conceal evidence. All have denied the charges against them.

Shortly after 10am, all eight defendants had made it past the outside media and the easing storm into the dock of court 12. They sat behind  high-panelled glass in a long single row, facing out towards the trial judge, Mr Justice Saunders, and a sea of over 24 wigs and gowns belonging to the barristers, who, well into next spring, will present evidence and arguments, for the crown and the defence that will allow a jury to determine their innocence or guilt.

The eight defendants made no comment, other than to convey through their legal representatives that they were having difficulty hearing the chief prosecuting counsel, Mr Andrew Edis, QC. He promised to speak louder.

Clive Goodman, one of the eight defendants, faces two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office Clive Goodman, one of the eight defendants, faces two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office  

The formal process of picking the 12 members of the jury took up most of the opening day’s formal business. The empanelment procedure will continue on Tuesday, before the jury is formally sworn in and the trial opens. Almost 80 potential jurors, who will be whittled down to a dozen, were crowded into the side of court 12 and were told by Mr Justice Saunders that the case could last up to six months and cause “considerable disruption” to their lives.

As the selection process began, the judge described the trial as “important” and said: “This case concerns allegations of criminal conduct at the News of the World and The Sun newspapers which preceded the closure of the News of the World.”

The judge reminded the group that the jury selection process was not “voluntary” and that he needed valid and powerful reasons to excuse them – such as childcare issues, medical attention, pre-booked holidays, special employment issues or reading difficulties.

When one woman’s name was read out she walked towards the judge. She did not get far. Pregnant, with her coat unable to be buttoned, the judge stopped her and said: “That’s OK.”

Personal knowledge or contact with the News of the World was mentioned by the judge during the jury selection. He said this may present a difficulty because those involved had to approach the trial with an open mind.

Two journalists and a lawyer were among those rejected to sit on the jury. One potential juror told the judge she “felt a bit intimidated at the number of people in the courtroom”. Mr Justice Saunders reassured her, admitting: “So do I.”

In the dock: defendants and charges

Rebekah Brooks (NOTW editor 2000-2003, Sun editor 2003-2009, News Int chief exec 2009-2011) Conspiring to illegally intercept communications; two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office; two counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by hampering the police inquiry.

Charlie Brooks (Racehorse trainer, husband of Rebekah Brooks) Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice

Andy Coulson (NOTW editor 2003-2007, Tory director of communications 2007-2010, Government director of communications 2010-2011) Conspiring to illegally intercept communications; two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office

Ian Edmondson (Ex-NOTW  news editor) Conspiring to illegally intercept communications

Clive Goodman  (Ex-NOTW royal editor) Two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office

Stuart Kuttner (Ex-NOTW managing editor) Conspiring to illegally intercept communications

Cheryl Carter (Rebekah Brooks’ former personal assistant) Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice

Mark Hanna (Ex-News International head of security) Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice

All defendants deny the charges against them

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?