* Rebekah Brooks, Murdoch's ex-UK newspaper chief, on trial
* David Cameron's ex-media head, Andy Coulson, also charged
* Both deny phone-hacking charges
By Michael Holden and Kate Holton
LONDON, Oct 28 Rupert Murdoch's former British
newspaper chief and Prime Minister David Cameron's ex-media head
went on trial for phone hacking on Monday at the start of one of
Britain's most high profile court cases in years.
Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, both former editors of
Murdoch's now defunct News of the World tabloid, are accused of
conspiring to illegally access voicemail messages on mobile
phones belonging to politicians, the rich and famous, and
victims of crime and ordinary people, to obtain exclusive news.
The two, who face trial with six others, deny all charges.
The scandal sent shockwaves through the British
establishment and shook Murdoch's News Corp empire.
It revealed the close ties between press barons, police
chiefs and senior politicians. The media industry is still at
loggerheads with Cameron's government over how it should be
"This trial concerns allegations of criminal conduct at the
News of the World and the Sun newspapers which preceded the
closure of the News of the World," the judge, Justice John
Saunders, said as jury selection began for the trial.
"It's an important case. The trial we are about to start
will take a considerable length of time. It's estimated the case
may last until Easter."
Detectives launched an investigation in January 2011 and
since then more than 125 people have been arrested and more than
The most prominent are Coulson, 45, and Brooks, a close
friend of Cameron. He attended her wedding in 2009 along with
the then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Brooks, 45, was the first female editor of Murdoch's
top-selling Sun paper and had risen to become head of News
International, News Corp's British newspaper arm, when
the furore over phone-hacking led to her resignation.
DISTRACTION FOR GOVERNMENT
Coulson, who quit the News of the World in 2007, had acted
as Cameron's communications chief until he resigned in 2011
saying the issue had become a distraction for the government.
They were both arrested in July 2011 and later charged with
conspiracy to illegally intercept communications.
Brooks is also accused of two counts of conspiracy to commit
misconduct in a public office during her time at the Sun, and
two counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by
hampering the police inquiry.
Coulson is additionally charged with two counts of
conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
They sat next to each other in the dock as jury selection
began in a small, modern courtroom packed with media and about
20 of Britain's top lawyers.
The judge warned the potential jurors they must ignore any
of the mass of details about the allegations that have appeared
in the media and decide the case only on the evidence that would
be put before them.
Joining Coulson and Brooks in the dock are Stuart Kuttner,
the long-time former managing editor of the News of the World,
Ian Edmondson, the tabloid's ex-news editor, Clive Goodman, the
paper's former royal editor, Cheryl Carter, Brooks's personal
assistant, Brooks's racehorse trainer husband Charlie, and Mark
Hanna, News International's head of security.
They all deny similar charges to those against Brooks and
Coulson. The trial will get fully under way on Tuesday when
prosecutors outline their case.
Dozens of other journalists are due to go on trial in
connection with hacking next year following the conclusion of
this case, while police are also actively considering bringing
corporate charges against Murdoch's British newspaper business.