Former newspaper bosses must stand trial over phone hacking claims

Five defendants, including Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, lost a last-ditch attempt to block their prosecution over alleged phone hacking.

The former News of the World editors, alongside former senior reporter James Weatherup, former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, and former news editor Ian Edmondson, tried to get their case dismissed at the Court of Appeal.

But Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge decided all five should stand trial in September.

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All five have denied conspiracy to intercept mobile phone voicemails between October 3 2000 and August 9 2006.

The five had tried to get the case dismissed at the Court of Appeal, by arguing that accessing voicemails after they had been listened to by the recipient was not covered by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, under which they have all been charged.

But three appeal court judges, led by Lord Judge, ruled yesterday: “Contrary to the submission on behalf of the appellants, the resulting situation is not lacking in legal certainty.”

Lord Judge also allowed the names of the defendants to be reported.

He said: “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.”

The three judges also refused to give the go-ahead for the five to take the issue to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

Lord Judge said the defendants would only have to pay their legal costs if they are convicted later this year.