Prosecution to open case in phone hacking trial

The prosecution was to open today in the trial of eight defendants including former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson.

Jury selection in the case, which could last up to six months, began yesterday at London's Old Bailey, with a pool of around 80 potential jurors cramming in to wood-panelled Court 12 to be whittled down to 33.

Today it was hoped that the panel who will hear the trial would be selected and sworn in, before Andrew Edis QC outlines the case for the prosecution.

Brooks and Coulson, both 45, are each accused of conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission. They allegedly conspired with former News of the World head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, the tabloid's ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, and others to illegally access voicemails between October 3, 2000 and August 9, 2006.

Former Sun editor Brooks is also charged with two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office, one between January 1, 2004 and January 31, 2012 and the other between February 9, 2006 and October 16, 2008, linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.

She faces another two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Former Number 10 spin doctor and ex-News of the World editor Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with the tabloid's former royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and persons unknown to commit mis-conduct in public office.

The pavements surrounding London's Central Criminal Court were yesterday covered by television camera crews and photographers. The defendants sat behind high-panelled glass in a long single row, facing out towards the trial judge, Justice Saunders, and a sea of over 24 wigs and gowns belonging to the barristers.

One potential juror told the judge she felt a bit intimidated at the number of people in the courtroom. Saunders reassured her, admitting: "So do I." Independent, PA

- NZ Herald

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