Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson at Old Bailey for start of first phone-hacking trial

 

Seventy journalists representing news organisations from four continents will crowd into the Old Bailey today to hear the opening of the trial of Downing Street’s former director of communications Andy Coulson and the former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks. The two former lieutenants of Rupert Murdoch, along with six others, face a series of charges linked to phone hacking at the now-defunct News of the World.

Already known in media shorthand as the “hacking trial”, the court’s examination of evidence going back to 2000 could last until April next year. The trial judge, Mr Justice Saunders, will be in charge of proceedings in Court 12, where an estimated 22 barristers and numerous solicitors will represent the prosecution and the accused.

Counsel for News UK, the rebranded name of Mr Murdoch’s UK print subsidiary, will also be in court. A lawyer representing alleged victims of phone hacking has also been granted formal permission to be in the court.

Interest from media organisations in the US, Australia, Europe and the Middle East has meant a special spillover room has been set up at the Old Bailey to accommodate reporters.

Charges against the accused were announced in July 2012. The legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Levitt, QC, said that the decision to bring the charges followed evidence received from the Metropolitan Police Service’s specialist phone-hacking investigation, Operation Weeting.

Weeting detectives began their investigation in January 2011, working under the Specialist Crime Directorate inside the Met.

The work of the unit has been conducted alongside Operation Elveden, an investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to police, and Operation Tuleta, an investigation into alleged computer hacking.

The trial is scheduled to examine seven counts that include conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

A second trial relating to evidence gathered from Operation Elveden is scheduled to begin after the hacking trial ends. A third trial, related to Operation Sacha, the Met’s investigation into allegations of an attempted cover-up of evidence linked to phone hacking, is also scheduled to follow.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen