Four senior staff at the News of the World “utterly corrupted” the newspaper at the highest level, the Old Bailey was told today.
Andy Coulson is currently being sentenced in the court alongside former colleagues Neville Thurlbeck, Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup, who have all admitted their part in the "systemic misconduct". Private detective Glenn Mulcaire also stood in the dock of the Old Bailey to be sentenced for his part in the criminal plot.
He was paid around half a million pounds to hack a list of victims which "read like a Who's Who of Britain", prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said.
He said: "Your lordship is dealing with four senior executives who were…employed at the NoW. There are three defendants who were at one time or another newsdesk editor at executive levels.
"The newsdesk editor job was described as being the hub or engine room of the paper therefore all of these four defendants can be described as highly paid and influential employees of a national newspaper.
"Between them these defendants utterly corrupted this newspaper which became at the highest level a criminal enterprise."
He added: "This was systemic misconduct approved and participated in by the editor himself."
Earlier in the Old Bailey, Coulson and Goodman were told they face a re-trial over conspiracy to committ misconduct in a public office after the hacking trial jury failed to agree on whether they were guilty.
Reporter Dan Evans, who has also admitted phone-hacking, will be sentenced separately in late July, the court heard.
Edis told the court the phone-hacking went on for years at the NoW and hundreds of people were targeted. But he said the full extent of hacking may never be known.
Last year, the NoW's news editor Miskiw, 64, from Leeds, chief reporter Thurlbeck, 52, of Esher, Surrey, and Weatherup, 58, of Brentwood in Essex all admitted one general count of conspiring together and with others to illegally access voicemails between October 2000 and August 2006.
Mulcaire, 43, from Sutton in Surrey, has admitted three counts of conspiring to phone hack plus a fourth count of hacking the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002 – an act which eventually led to the downfall of the NoW in 2011.