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Criminal trial begins in News Corp. phone hacking scandal

News Corp. U.K. CEO Rebekah Brooks and seven others face allegations of wiretapping, bribes and hiding evidence

Consider it the private sector version of the NSA scandal. In May 2012, News Corp.’s U.K. CEO Rebekah Brooks and others close to her were charged with intercepting voicemails for stories in the News of the World tabloid, then hiding evidence and paying bribes when an investigation came to light.

Now, it’s the News of the World’s time to become the news rather than its reporters. The jury has been selected, and the trial is set to begin on Oct. 30 with opening arguments.

Before the trial’s start, Judge John Saunders warned the jurors only to examine evidence found in the courtroom rather than relying on personal biases. He mentioned that “British justice is on trial,” and cautioned the jurors not to listen to outside media regarding the case.

Bloomberg says the trial could take as long as six months, although this is only the first of four trials related to the case. Here, Brooks and former editor Andy Coulson are on trial; six others will see court at a later date. Among the others awaiting trial are former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner, news editor Ian Edmondson, and royal reporter Clive Goodman.

At the time she was originally charged, Brooks said in a statement, “I cannot express my anger enough that those close to me have unfairly been dragged into this. As the details of the case emerge people will see today as an expensive sideshow, and a waste of public money as a result of this weak and unjust decision.”

Brooks and her accomplices are charged with seven separate counts of conspiracy to intercept communications, conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The Crown Prosecution Service’s website says that perverting the course of justice can carry a maximum prison term of 36 months, while a guilty charge of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office can carry as much as a life term.

 

For more on the legal news surrounding wiretapping, check out these InsideCounsel stories:

Proposed Brazilian action hopes to deter NSA spying

5th Circuit ruling drops restriction on wiretap authorizations

EU panel approves new rules to outlaw NSA surveillance practices

Google must face majority of claims in Gmail wiretap suit

Contributing Author

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Zach Warren

Zach Warren is Assistant Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, where he oversees online content submissions and administers InsideCounsel's enewsletters. Zach specializes in new media and multimedia...

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