Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson lose last-ditch legal attempt to block phone hacking prosecution

The former News of the World editors tried to get their case dismissed at the Court of Appeal

News International’s former chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, and the former Downing Street communications chief, Andy Coulson, have lost a last-ditch legal attempt  to have charges of illegal phone hacking against them dismissed.

The two, who are also former editors of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World, were among five staff of the now-defunct News International title who failed to convince the Court of Appeal that a legal and technical definition concerning the “transmission” of telecommunications did not cover voicemails.

Ms Brooks and Mr Coulson, along with former news editor, Ian Edmondson, former chief reporter, James Weatherup,  and former managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, have all pleaded not guilty to charges of  “conspiring to intercept communications in the course of their transmission without lawful authority.”

Their trial will now begin in September, after Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mr Justice Openshaw, dismissed their appeals.

Lawyers acting for the five defendants, were led by Clare Montgomery QC. Their appeal turned on legal arguments over when the course of a transmission of a voicemail message ends, and over when a message is saved by the person receiving it on a public phone network, it remains “in the course of transmission.”

The Appeal Court judges upheld earlier legal rulings  that the law - the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act  2000 (RIPA) - covered both the  transmission of messages and when they were stored, regardless of whether the message had been received and listened to by the owner of the mobile.

RIPA replaced the old Interception of Communications Act. It was also updated to include directives and safeguards issued by the European Parliament and Council.

The defendants had argued there was legal ambiguity over RIPA and definitions of interception, the current range of phone technologies, and both the storage and access of  communications.

The  judges disagreed, stating "contrary to the submission on behalf of the appellants, the resulting situation is not lacking in legal certainty."

It had been expected that, given the imminent criminal trial and previous rulings, there would be no reporting of the Court of Appeal’s  decision.

However at the Royal Courts of Justice, Lord Judge allowed the names of the defendants to be reported, saying: "We can see no possible prejudice to the fairness of the forthcoming trial.”

He added  "We must not be unrealistic - there can hardly be anyone in the country who does not know to whom this case applies."

The trail of Ms Brooks and Mr Coulson, and others linked to an alleged illegal phone hacking conspiracy, is scheduled  to begin on 9 September at the Old Bailey. 

It will be the first of three trials against various defendants linked to phone hacking, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The initial trial, dominated by hacking charges, is expected to last at least three months. The other trials may reach into April next year.

All defendants have been granted an extension of the bail conditions that have been in place since their arrest.

The hacking scandal surrounding Rupert Murdoch’s UK company, News International, led to the closure of the News of the World in February last year.

Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Life & Style
The exterior of a central London Angus Steakhouse
food + drink
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget rest of the year
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environment
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit