Rebekah Brooks appears in court accused of conspiring to hack into more than 600 people's telephones - including that of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler


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The Independent Online

The former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks, appeared in court today accused of conspiring to hack telephones over six years of more than 600 people including the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Mrs Brooks, 44, is accused along with six other former News of the World employees and a private investigator over a variety of allegations that date back to 2000, but appeared on her own behind the long glass-panelled dock at Westminster magistrates’ court today.

Seven men, including Andy Coulson, the prime minister’s former spin doctor, and former News of the World managing director Stuart Kuttner, appeared in court last month but Mrs Brooks was charged at a later date than the others.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced a total of 19 charges against the eight in July with Mrs Brooks facing three accusations linked to phone hacking.

Mrs Brooks, the former editor of the News of the World, is accused of conspiring to intercept the voicemail messages of well-known people and those associated with them from October 2000 to August 2006. Prosecutors allege that there are more than 600 victims.

She is also accused of conspiring with five of her co-defendants and others to intercept the voicemails Milly Dowler in April 2002 after the schoolgirl was snatched by former club doorman Levi Bellfield as she walked home from school ten years ago. She is also charged with two others with conspiracy to intercept the voicemails of Andrew Gilchrist, the former general secretary of the Fire Brigades’ Union.

Mrs Brooks, wearing a dark-blue business suit, spoke only to give her name, address and date of birth during the four-minute hearing. She was bailed until September 26 when she will next appear with her co-defendants at Southwark Crown Court in central London.

Under the terms of her bail, she has been told that she cannot contact Mr Coulson, Mr Kuttner and the other five defendants: private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, former reporters Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup, the ex-news editor Greg Miskiw and former head of news Ian Edmondson. She has also been told not to contact ex-reporter Dan Evans and former deputy editor Neil Wallis who are on bail and have not been charged.

Mrs Brooks also to live at her home in Churchill, Oxfordshire, and has to give police a week’s notice of any plan to travel abroad.

Mrs Brooks and her husband, the horse-racing trainer Charlie Brooks, are among six people who have also been charged over allegations that she tried to conceal evidence from detectives investigating alleged phone hacking and alleged bribes to public officials. She was allegedly involved in trying to hide documents and computers and removing boxes of material from the News International archive.