Phone-hacking trial to open in London

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LONDON: Prime Minister David Cameron’s former press chief Andy Coulson and his friend and one-time Rupert Murdoch sidekick Rebekah Brooks stand accused on Monday over the phone-hacking scandal that rocked Britain’s media and politics.

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Brooks and Coulson are among eight defendants who will appear at London’s Old Bailey, Britain’s top criminal court, in the first trial arising from the scandal that sank Murdoch’s News of the World newspaper.

The charges range from illegally hacking mobile phone voicemails and bribing public officials for stories.

Brooks, a former chief executive of Murdoch’s News International (NI) operation, her racehorse trainer husband Charlie and NI’s former security chief Mark Hanna are also charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by hiding potential evidence.

The evidence set to be presented about the furor that forced Murdoch to shut down the Sunday tabloid in 2011 could cause further discomfort for Britain’s establishment and reveal the links between newspapers, politicians and police.

Cameron faces embarrassment given his close friendship with Brooks and his decision to hire Coulson as his director of communications after he quit as editor of the News of the World over the hacking scandal.

The hacking of voicemail is believed to have been carried out on more than 600 victims, including a murdered schoolgirl and celebrities such as Paul McCartney.

AFP

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