Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of Rupert Mudoch’s British media group News International, and Andy Coulson, former Communications chief of Prime Minister David Cameron, on Friday lost a legal bid to block their prosecution on charges relating to the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

They had challenged their prosecution on the technical ground that accessing voicemails through hacking after they had already been listened to did not constitute an offence under the law.

Their lawyers argued that the terms of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), which governs phone hacking, “do not extend to cover voicemail messages once they have been accessed by the intended recipient.”

The judges, however, dismissed their appeal paving the way for their trial to go ahead in September.

"Contrary to the legal submission on behalf of the appellants, the resulting situation is not lacking in legal certainty," they ruled.

They also refused to allow them to appeal to the Supreme Court.

In another ruling, the judges allowed the names of the defendants to be reported saying they did not think it would prejudice their trial as their names were already widely known to the public.

"We can see no possible prejudice to the fairness of the forthcoming trial. We must not be unrealistic — there can hardly be anyone in the country who does not know to whom this case applies."

Ms. Brooks and Mr. Coulson are also charged with bribing police and public officials for stories when they edited The Sun and the now-defunct News of the World respectively. Both deny any wrongdoing.

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