Two former editors of Britain’s now-defunct tabloid “News of the World” were in a London court Monday, facing charges of phone hacking and bribery.
Jury selection began in the trial of former editor Andy Coulson and ex-News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks at London’s Central Criminal Court. A team of prosecutors are expected to call 100 witnesses in the proceedings, which could take up to six months, Sky News reported.
The defendants denied the charges in court today, according to a BBC report.
It’s the first trial in the wake of a phone hacking scandal that rattled the British media and forced Rupert Murdoch -- chairman and CEO of News Corporation, which owned the paper -- to close the 168-year-old “News of the World” in 2011. Many journalists were accused of eavesdropping on the cellphone voicemail messages of celebrities, politicians, crime victims and other public figures.
Coulson, 45, is charged with conspiracy to intercept communication by illegally accessing voice mails. He also faces two allegations that he conspired with the tabloid's former royal editor, Clive Goodman, 56, and other unidentified people to commit misconduct in public office. Goodman also faces two charges of committing misconduct in public office.
Coulson became British Prime Minister David Cameron’s director of communications in May 2010, but the hacking scandal forced him to resign in January 2011.
Brooks, 45, was the editor of both “News of the World” and “The Sun” newspapers when she was accused of conspiring to intercept communication, by illegally accessing voice mails between Oct. 3, 2000 and Aug. 9, 2006. She also faces charges of conspiring to obstruct justice, and conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.
One obstruction count involves Brooks’ former personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, 49, with whom she is alleged to have conspired to remove seven boxes of material from the News International archive.
A second obstruction charge alleges that Brooks, her race horse-trainer husband Charlie Brooks, and former head of security at News International Mark Hanna tried to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from police investigating allegations of phone hacking and corruption in connection with the “News of the World” and “The Sun.”
“News of the World” head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, and the tabloid's former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, are also accused of conspiracy to illegally access voice mails between Oct. 3, 2000 and Aug. 9, 2006.
The prosecution is expected to begin its case later this week, after a jury has been sworn in.