The trial of Rebekah Brooks, a former chief executive of News International and Editor of News of the World — subsequently shut — her businessman husband Charlie Brooks and six of her former colleagues, on charges that include phone-hacking and bribery, commenced on Monday to a blaze of media coverage in Court 12 at the Central Criminal Court, or Old Bailey, in London.
The trial, on charges brought against the eight in July 2012, will shine a light on news-gathering practices followed by journalists and sanctioned by editors at News of the World. The newspaper, which shut down in mid-July 2011 in public disgrace, belonged to the publishing empire of Rupert Murdoch.
The trial is expected to be followed with great interest as the murky media practices that caused a scandal are still fresh in the public mind, especially in this country.
Indeed, the allegations of hacking into the phones of celebrities, lawmakers, members of the British royalty, murder victims and others, would have provided just the sort of colourful news that the tabloid under scrutiny would have lapped up in better times.
The prosecution will argue that illegal practices used by journalists and sanctioned by Editors at News of the World — all in pursuit of higher circulation figures — also included substantial payoffs to silence those who threatened the paper with legal action.
Apart from Ms. Brooks and her husband, the other defendants are Andy Coulson, former Editor of News of the World and later Communications Director to Prime Minister David Cameron; Ian Edmondson, former News Editor at News of the World; Stuart Kuttner, former Managing Editor of the paper; Clive Goodman, a former Royal Editor; Mark Hanna, former head of security; and Cheryl Carter, former private assistant to Ms. Brooks.
There are seven charges against the defendants.
The first relates to hacking of phones; four concern alleged payments to public officials; and two relate to alleged concealment of evidence. All eight defendants have pleaded not guilty.
The trial is expected to last till spring 2014.
Most of the first day was to be taken up in empanelling a jury.