Brooks and husband bailed on conspiracy charge

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and her racehorse trainer husband Charlie made their first appearance in court yesterday on charges relating to the phone- hacking scandal.

Mrs Brooks, 44, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, and her husband Charlie, 49, were bailed to appear for a preliminary hearing at Southwark Crown Court on June 22. Mrs Brooks, who passed through security without having to queue at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, faces three charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, while her husband is charged with one count of the same offence.

She is accused of removing boxes of material from the News International archive and trying to conceal documents, computers and other material from Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard’s inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal.

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Also appearing at the court yesterday were Mrs Brooks’s former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 48, of Chelmsford, Essex; head of security at News International Mark Hanna, 49, of Buckingham; Mrs Brooks’s chauffeur Paul Edwards, 47, of Bethnal Green, east London; and security consultant Daryl Jorsling, 39, of Aldershot, Hampshire.

They all face a single charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

Mrs Brooks was wearing a navy jacket and skirt and a green scarf, and sat next to her husband.

District Judge Howard Riddle told the defendants: “Your case is sent for trial at Southwark Crown Court and the first hearing will be on June 22.

“You should be there no later than 9.30am. If you do not turn up on time you commit an offence and lose your bail, and in some circumstances the trial could continue in your absence.”

Mrs Brooks became editor of the News of the World in 2000 at the age of 31.

In 2003 she became the first woman to edit the Sun and in 2009 was made chief executive at News International. She resigned from that role in July last year.

None of the defendants at yesterday’s hearing has yet entered pleas. If found guilty they could face prison.