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October 30, 2013 3:36 pm
As one of the most eagerly awaited criminal trials of recent times got under way at the Old Bailey on Wednesday, the jury heard there was evidence of phone hacking at the News of the World but the question was: Who knew?
The trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s former director of communications, and six other defendants encompasses three alleged types of criminal behaviour including phone hacking, prosecutors told the jury at the Old Bailey.
Andrew Edis, prosecution lawyer, said: “This is the phone-hacking trial but it is not only the phone-hacking trial”. He said the case arose from an investigation starting in January 2011 into alleged phone hacking at the News of the World.
Mr Edis told the jury that two of the counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office related to Mrs Brooks who, while editor of the Sun, is alleged to have “approved payments in cash to public officials, quite large sums”.
He outlined all the charges against the defendants including phone hacking, which he defined as listening to people’s voicemail without their consent.
Mr Edis told the jury that the News of the World had hired a man called Glenn Mulcaire who was “very good at finding out people’s codes” which was a “very useful talent if you are a newspaper wanting to publish things” that people would rather keep secret.
“You might know that someone is having an affair with someone else but you want to put it in the paper,” he told the jury.
Mr Edis said the prosecution alleged that there was “quite a lot of evidence” of phone hacking at News of the World, adding Mr Mulcaire “did it” as did others including Ian Edmondson, the former news editor.
He said the question for the jury was: “There was phone hacking – who knew?” including more senior personnel who were “in charge of the purse strings”.
Mr Edis also alleged that the case would show that some public servants had sold private information to the newspapers – notably the News of the World and later the Sun newspaper.
The third type of alleged wrongdoing was “hiding stuff” or perverting the course of justice, he alleged.
Rebekah Brooks faces five charges of criminal wrongdoing, all of which she denies.
Mr Coulson faces three criminal charges which he also denies.
The charges against Ms Brooks encompass two counts of perverting the course of justice along with her ex-secretary Cheryl Carter, husband Charlie, and Mark Hanna, former head of security at News International.
She also faces one charge of conspiracy with others to commit misconduct in a public office and a further charge of conspiracy to intercept mobile phone voicemail messages along with co-defendants Stuart Kuttner, former managing editor of News of the World and Ian Edmondson, former news editor of the defunct tabloid, and Mr Coulson.
Mr Coulson faces two other charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office along with Clive Goodman, another former reporter at the News of the World.
All eight defendants deny the charges against them.
The case, which is due to last six months, continues.
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