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.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits