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News Of The World Phone Hacking Trial Of Coulson And Brooks Promises More Political Scandal

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What an unusual three months we have ahead as seven former News of the World employees, including two former editors, both associates of the current British prime minister, stand trial at the Old Bailey on charges relating to phone hacking.

Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks – one, David Cameron’s former hand-picked spin doctor, the other, a member of the PM’s Chipping Norton set - are the most high profile of Rupert Murdoch's former acolytes to be invited to stand in the famous old dock, charged with a raft of offences, some that carry a heavy custodial sentence.

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Protesters outside the Leveson Inquiry demanding an end to the 'Murdoch Mafia'

Alongside Brooks and Coulson, the now defunct newspaper's other fallen grandees called to stand trial on Monday include managing editor Stuart Kuttner, the former head of news Ian Edmondson, the head of security for News International Mark Hanna, the newspaper's former royal editor Clive Goodman and the perhaps not quite so grand Cheryl Carter, Brooks' former secretary, and Brooks' husband, Charlie.

Yet next week's showpiece is only the start with 20 journalists facing trial over the forthcoming months, following exhaustive police investigations that have led to more than 60 industry arrests, and not all from the News International stable.

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The phone hacking scandal, which engulfed the UK's national consciousness for more than a year, has already claimed one of Britain's foremost weekly publications and instigated the Leveson inquiry the consequence of which is the likely implementation of non-voluntary government oversights, restricting press freedom for the first time in the country's history.

And further political intrigue is assured with David Cameron’s close association with Brooks and Coulson certain to afford the prime minister's opponents, both within and outside his Conservative Party, the opportunity to make hay at Downing Street’s expense. As Peter Oborne succinctly put it in a recent piece for the Telegraph, "the phone-hacking trial will be dream territory for the PM’s rivals".

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Murdoch contrite after meeting with Milly Dowler's parents in 2011

And then of course there's Murdoch, the ageing proprietor whose once iron grip over Britain's media landscape is now as shaky as his grip of Twitter, yet whose mere association with the trial will pull in reporters from around the globe.

So from a murdered schoolgirl to a global media mogul, by way of the highest levels of government and the British police, this is the scandal that will be talked about for decades. And with worldwide media attention certain to focus on the events at London’s famous old court, the trial could to provide a similarly astonishing denouement to one of the most shocking episodes in recent British public life.

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Here are the main players heading to the Old Bailey:

  • Rebekah Brooks
    AP
    The former News International chief executive has pleaded not guilty to five criminal charges spanning a nine-year period, including conspiracy to hack phones and conspiracy to pay public officials for stories. Brooks, 45, also faces further charges connected to allegations that she conspired to pervert the course of justice after she was arrested in 2011.
  • Andy Coulson
    PA
    The former editor of the News of the World has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy relating to phone hacking and alleged illegal payments to public officials. Coulson, 45, stepped down from his role of Director of Communications for David Cameron in 2011.
  • Ian Edmondson
    Getty Images
    The former assistant news editor of the News of the World faces charges of allegedly conspiring to intercept mobile phone voicemails. Edmondson, 44, denies the charges.
  • Stuart Kuttner
    Getty Images
    The former managing editor at the News of the World faces charges of intercepting mobile phone voicemails. The 73-year-old denies the charges.
  • Clive Goodman
    Getty Images
    The former News of the World royal editor is accused of two charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office by paying officials for information. Goodman, 55, has pleaded not guilty.
  • Charlie Brooks
    Getty Images
    The 50-year-old husband of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks is charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by hiding documents and computer equipment relating to the phone hacking inquiry. He denies the charge.
  • Mark Hanna
    Getty Images
    Similar to Charlie Brooks, Hanna, the former head of security at News International, faces a charge of allegedly hiding documents and computer equipment from police in 2011. The 50-year-old has pleaded not guilty.
  • Cheryl Carter
    Getty Images
    The former PA to Rebekah Brooks is accused of an alleged conspiracy to access private voicemails. The 49-year-old pleaded not guilty earlier this year.
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