Dark day for Andy Coulson and Co as wheels of justice begin to turn

Yesterday, the 'News of the World Seven' had their first day in court. Andy McSmith was there

Andy Coulson, David Cameron's former spin doctor, was among seven former News of the World employees who saw their normal roles reversed yesterday as they sat together behind a glass panel in Westminster Magistrates' Court.

The veteran editors and reporters will have watched dozens of court cases in their long careers, but always from the press benches. Yesterday the six journalists, together with the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, were in the dock, being stared at by a huge, curious throng of members of their old profession.

The prosecutor said the six journalists were accused of conspiring to hack the phones of as many as 600 people. In addition to the general charge of conspiracy, Coulson, a former editor of the now defunct News of the World, is also accused of being implicated in targeting the phones of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, the former Labour Cabinet ministers David Blunkett and Charles Clarke, and the footballer George Best's son Calum.

Unlike the six journalists, Mulcaire, who worked for the News of the World on a freelance basis, was not accused of being part of a general conspiracy, but faces four individual charges, including the alleged hacking of Milly Dowler's phone. Mulcaire was the last defendant to enter the courtroom, and sat as far apart from the journalists as the limited space allowed. Coulson, in the middle of the front row, was dressed smartly in a grey suit, white shirt and black tie. Several times during the hearing he cast an impassive eye across the ranks of reporters.

He was placed between the News of the World's former managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, and the former head of news, Ian Edmondson. Former reporters Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup were on the ends of the front row. The former news editor Greg Miskiw, the only defendant not wearing a tie, was in the row behind.

They spoke only to confirm their names and addresses, but what might have been a very brief court appearance became substantially longer when Westminster's deputy chief magistrate, Daphne Wickham, decided that the full list of charges should be read out.

The list – so long that it took a clerk a full 20 minutes to get through it – was studded with famous names of alleged hacking targets, including four Cabinet ministers from the Tony Blair years – Mr Blunkett, Mr Clarke, Tessa Jowell and John Prescott – the fire brigade union leader Andy Gilchrist, the former Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten, as well as such household names as Jude Law, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Sir Paul McCartney, Heather Mills, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Wayne Rooney and Delia Smith.

Although none of the defendants is accused of hacking everyone on that list, each is accused of targeting some of them.

The defendants sat impassively through this litany, except for 72-year-old Stuart Kuttner, a News of the World journalist for more than 30 years, who shook his head repeatedly when the three charges against him were read.

The name of News International's former chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, also cropped up in the indictment. She is due to appear at a separate hearing on 3 September. Coulson and his fellow defendants were bailed to appear at Southwark Crown Court on 26 September.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable