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Phone hacking: Case against former editors begins at the Old Bailey

The case against former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson has begun at the Old Bailey with startling revelations from the prosecution who claim they 'must have known' about phone hacking, reports The Independent.

The highly anticipated case sees the two former editors of the now defunct News of the World newspaper in the dock over allegations that they were aware that journalists working for their papers were engaging in illegal hacking of voicemails and bribing of public officials.

Both Brooks, who is a friend of David Cameron, and Coulson, who worked as his press secretary before the scandal, deny any involvement in phone hacking and claim that their journalists were in receipt of phone-hacking information without their knowledge.

On the second day of their trial yesterday, the prosecution explained that three former senior journalists from the paper who were in charge of news operations had pleaded guilty to phone hacking.

The prosecution also explained that a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who was regularly employed by the News of the World, had pleaded guilty to hacking the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002.

Eight in the dock

In total eight defendants are facing charges in the case.

Coulson and Brooks, former managing editor Stuart Kuttner and former news editor Ian Edmondson are all facing charges of conspiring to intercept voicemail messages under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Brooks also faces two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, a common law offence carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

These charges relate to the alleged payment of bribes to public officials, with the jury told that one MoD official received £40,000 to sell secrets to the paper whilst Brooks was editor.

Both Coulson and former Royal editor Clive Goodman are facing similar charges for bribes paid to a Buckingham Palace official when Coulson was editor in exchange for 15 telephone directories containing confidential phone numbers that were discovered in Clive Goodman's home when he was arrested in 2007.

Brooks and her former assistant Cheryl Carter are facing a charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice for removing seven boxes of documents from the News of the World offices in July 2011.

Brooks, her husband Charlie, and former News International head of security Mark Hanna are also charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice for hiding documents and computer equipment in July 2011.

Big news

Andrew Edis QC, for the prosecution, said the jury was facing a 'long trial' which will focus on 'big news'.

"The News of the World is a Sunday paper," Mr Edis told the jury.

"That means it published once a week, 52 times a year... It wasn't an enormous document... If you were its editor you could actually take an interest in its content without too much trouble," he added.

The prosecution are claiming that the fact that phone hacking and the information from phone hacking was widely conducted at the paper is evidence that editors Coulson and Brooks must have known how information was sourced.