Judge’s warning to jury as Press trial set to begin at Old Bailey

THE trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-spin doctor Andy Coulson is expected to open 
today after jurors were told yesterday that “British justice is on trial”.

Mr Justice Saunders gave the nine women and three men at the Old Bailey detailed instructions, warning them to consider the case only on the evidence and arguments presented in court.

The judge told them: “In this case in a way not only are the defendants on trial, but British justice is on trial.”

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Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, and Coulson, 45, from Preston in Kent, are both accused of conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission.

They allegedly conspired with former News of the World (NotW) head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south-west London, the tabloid’s ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, and others to illegally access voicemails between October 3, 2000 and August 9 2006.

Ex-NotW and Sun editor Brooks is also charged with two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office – one between January 1, 2004 and January 31, 2012 and the other between February 9, 2006 and October 16, 2008 – linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.

She faces another two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – one with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, from Chelmsford in Essex, between July 6 and 9 2011.

It is alleged they conspired to remove seven boxes of material from the News International archive.

The second count alleges Brooks, her husband Charles Brooks and former head of security at News International Mark Hanna conspired together and with others between July 15 and July 19, 2011 to pervert the course of justice by trying to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from police officers who were investigating allegations of phone hacking and corruption of public officials.

Former No 10 spin doctor and ex-NotW editor Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with the tabloid’s former royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and persons unknown to commit misconduct in public office – one between August 31, 2002 and January 31, 2003, and the other between January 31 and June 3, 2005.

All eight defendants are on bail and the case was adjourned to today at the Old Bailey.

The trial, which is expected to last up to six months, continues.