Andy Coulson latest to deny phone hacking and illegal payment charges

Andy Coulson has appeared in court to formally deny charges of conspiracy relating to phone hacking and alleged illegal payments to public officials.

The ex-News of the World editor appeared at Southwark Crown Court to face three charges.

The 45-year-old pleaded not guilty to one charge of conspiring with others to intercept mobile phone voicemail messages between 3 October 2000 and 9 August  2006.

He also pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

The two charges allege that Coulson conspired with the paper's former royal editor Clive Goodman – who yesterday also denied both counts – and others between 31 August 2002, and 31 January 2003, and also between 31 January 2005, and 3 June 2005.

The charges arise from Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard's investigation into phone hacking and Operation Elveden, its probe into alleged corrupt payments to public officials.

Coulson was given bail as his case was adjourned today.

His not guilty pleas came a day after former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and her husband stood side by side in the dock as they formally denied charges of conspiracy linked to the phone hacking scandal.

In front of a packed courtroom at Southwark Crown Court Brooks, 45, entered not guilty pleas to five counts linked to an alleged conspiracy to hack phones, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Former Sun and News of the World editor Brooks, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, denied conspiracy to hack phones between 3 October 2000, and 9 August 2006.

Former News of the World news editor James Weatherup, 57, from Brentwood, Essex, and former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, also denied the charge.

Brooks also denied two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, one between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012, and a second between 9 February  2006 and 16 October 2008.

She also pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

It is alleged that the former NI boss and her personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, from Chelmsford, Essex, who also denies the charge, tried to remove boxes of material from the News International archive between July 6 and 9 2011.

In a second count, Brooks, her racehorse trainer husband Charlie, former NI head of security Mark Hanna, 50, from Buckingham, security staff Lee Sandell, from Caterham, Surrey, and David Johnson, 47, from Mitcham, Surrey, and driver Paul Edwards, 48, from Queen's Park, west London, are all accused of conspiring to pervert the course of justice between July 15 and 19 2011.

The charge relates to attempts to hide documents, computers and other electronic equipment from officers investigating allegations of phone hacking and corruption of public officials relating to the News of the World and The Sun.

All six yesterday denied the charge.

They were released on bail and are due to face trial later in the year.

Goodman, 55, from Hammersmith, west London, also appeared in court yesterday where he denied the two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, also faced today by Coulson.

Rebekah Brooks and her husband attended court again today for preliminary hearings.

Ian Edmondson, former news editor at the News of the World, today also denied a charge of conspiring to hack phones.

Edmondson, 44, of Raynes Park, south-west London, pleaded not guilty to the same charge as Coulson concerning conspiracy to intercept mobile phone voicemails.

He was granted bail and the case was adjourned.



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