Phone-hacking trial evidence could begin today

The prosecution case could open today in the trial of eight defendants including former News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson.

Jury selection in the case, which could last up to six months, began yesterday at the Old Bailey, with a pool of around 80 potential jurors cramming in to wood-panelled Court 12 to be whittled down to 33.

Today it is hoped that the panel who will hear the trial will be selected and sworn in, before Andrew Edis QC outlines the case for the prosecution.

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 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012 and the other between 9 February 2006 and 16 October 2008, linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.

Rebekah Brooks with husband Charlie leaving the Old Bailey (Reuters)

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 6 Julyand 9 July 2011.

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

The second count alleges that Brooks, her husband Charles Brooks and former head of security at News International Mark Hanna conspired together and with others between 15 July and 19 July 2011 to pervert the course of justice.

It is claimed that they tried to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from police officers who were investigating allegations of phone hacking and corruption of public officials in relation to the News of the World and The Sun newspapers.

Former Number 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 31 August 2002 and 31 January  2003; and the other between 31 January and 3 June 2005.

All eight defendants are on bail.

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