i Editor's Letter: A storm ushers in one of the most anticipated criminal cases in years


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The Independent Online


This morning, despite the arrival of St Jude from the Atlantic, the queues at the Old Bailey will be deep. Reporters from around the world will cram into Court 12 – along with 22 barristers – for one of the most anticipated criminal cases in years.

Over the coming weeks and months, the pages of this newspaper, and many others across the globe, will carry reports of the trial of Andy Coulson,  David Cameron’s former Downing Street head of communications, Rebekah Brooks, once the chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s British print empire, and six others.

The case will be watched  religiously inside No 10, regardless of any protestations to the contrary, since it is likely to illuminate relations between the heart of the British political establishment and parts of the media.

Wary of the intense interest in proceedings, the Attorney General has written to newspaper editors to remind us of our responsibilities under the Contempt of Court Act to ensure a fair trial. The trial is the first of major international interest to take place in Britain since the social media boom, posing unprecedented challenges to the judge, Mr Justice Saunders. Also in court will be counsel representing Mr Murdoch’s remaining UK publishing interests.

By coincidence, on Wednesday, the Privy Council meets to decide whether or not to approve the cross-party Royal Charter for press regulation rejected by most of Fleet Street. This is the one agreed in the office of Ed Miliband in March, between the Labour leader, the Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin, Nick Clegg and Hacked Off, all of whom were present. Some timing.

As the court reporters write in their snaps to the news wire: “mfl”. (More follows later.)


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