Jury selection begins in Britain's phone-hacking trial

Oct. 28, 2013 at 3:29 PM
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LONDON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Jury selection in the phone-hacking case against eight members of Britain's reporting community began Monday with the judge warning against preconceptions.

"It's critical to the jury system that a jury takes the case free from any preconceptions. From now on you do not discuss the case with anyone. It's the sort of case that many people have views on." Judge John Saunders told a pool of 80 possible jurors in London's Old Bailey.

Former news executive Rebekah Brooks and political PR man Andrew Coulson and six others arrived at court Monday for their phone hacking trial.

Brooks, the former News International chief executive officer, and Coulson, publicist for former Prime Minister David Cameron, face charges linked to phone hacking scandal and alleged corrupt payments to public officials, The Guardian reported.

Brooks, the former editor of The Sun and defunct News of the World newspapers, and Coulson, also a former News of the World editor, faced a swell of media outside the central criminal court as they entered.

More than 100 witnesses are scheduled to testify against the eight defendants associated with Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

After eliminating people who couldn't sit on the jury, Saunders reminded those remaining that being a jury member was "not voluntary" and repeated instructions to potential jurors not to talk to others about the case or to look up the case on the Internet, The Guardian said.

"You are not to talk about it, do not look anything up on Google, search engines," he said and also warned against posting remarks on Twitter.

Brooks, who resigned from News International in July 2011, has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to hack phones, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Coulson, who left his post with Cameron's office in January 2011, faces charges from when he was News of the World editor. He has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and to conspiracy to hack phones.

Brooks' racehorse-trainer husband, Charlie Brooks, pleaded not guilty to one charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, as have other former News International employees -- Brooks' former assistant Cheryl Carter and head of security Mark Hanna.

Ian Edmondson, former news editor at the News of the World, and Stuart Kuttner, 73, the publication's former managing editor, each face one charge of conspiracy to hack phones. They, too, have pleaded not guilty.

Clive Goodman, 56, former News of the World royal editor, is accused of conspiring with Coulson to commit misconduct in public office, which Goodman has denied.

Murdoch closed News of The World July 10, 2011, to try to tamp down the scandal and amid advertiser boycotts. Sustained public pressure prompted his News Corp. three days later to cancel its proposed takeover of British telecommunications company British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC.

The case is the first of four trials involving newspaper journalists and others linked to the News of the World or The Sun, Murdoch's tabloid daily, following a Metropolitan Police Service investigation into allegations of phone hacking at the tabloids and two other Scotland Yard investigations that started after the News of the World was shuttered.

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