News World Phone-hacking trial: jury retires

Phone-hacking trial: jury retires

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The jury has retired to consider its verdicts in the trial of former executives of Britain’s News of the World tabloid, accused of plotting to hack phones to obtain stories.

Former editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson are among those charged with being part of an alleged conspiracy dating back to 2000 and spanning six years, which led to the closure of the newspaper in 2011.

In 130 days of evidence, the jury at the Old Bailey court has heard the workings of the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper examined in intense detail.

Sending the jurors off to begin mulling over the evidence, judge John Saunders urged them to “put out of your head anything you have heard outside court”.

Coulson, 46, who went on to become Prime Minister David Cameron’s media chief, is also accused of bribing police for stories while at the News of the World.

He faces two counts of conspiring with the paper’s then royal editor, 56-year-old Clive Goodman, to commit misconduct in a public office by paying officers for two directories of phone numbers linked to the royal family.

Brooks, who rose to become chief executive of Murdoch’s News International newspaper unit, faces the same charge over signing off payments to a member of the military.

She is also accused of plotting with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 50, to pervert the course of justice by removing boxes from the company archive just days before she was arrested in 2011.

The jury has heard that Brooks and Coulson had an extra-marital affair while working at the paper.

Brooks, along with her racehorse trainer husband Charlie and News International director of security Mark Hanna, is also charged with perverting the course of justice by hiding potential evidence from police in July 2011.

Coulson, Brooks, her husband and the other four defendants, including retired managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 74, deny the charges against them.

The hacking scandal led to a judge-led inquiry into the ethics of Britain’s famously aggressive press, which made recommendations for reforming the way it is governed.