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Prosecution outlines charges in News Corp hacking trial

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The trial of former employees of News International accused of phone-hacking and perverting the course of justice has got underway at the Old Bailey in central London, with the prosecution revealing that three former members of staff have pleaded guilty to phone-hacking.

Rebekah Brooks, former News International head, and Andy Coulson, former editor of the now-defunct News Of the World, along with six other people face a variety of charges, which they all deny.

Prosecuting lawyer Andrew Edis QC told the court that the trail involved not only hacking but other crimes, including misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice.

It was also revealed that three former employees at the News of the World have pleaded guilty in earlier trials for their role in hacking the mobile phones of celebrities like Paul McCartney, Jude Law, members of the Royal Family and murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Neville Thurbeck, chief reporter, Greg Miskiw, assistant editor, James Weatherup, assistant news editor; together with Glen Mulcaire, a freelance investigator, have confessed to intercepting voicemails.

The details of the trials, and their pleas, could not have been reported until now for risk of prejudicing the phone-hacking trial.

"All of the information I have just given you about these pleas means you can accept there was a conspiracy, involving a significant number of people," Edis told the jury. He argued that the case rested on whether the jury believed "the people in charge of the purse strings" at the News of the World knew what was going on.

The prosecution added that the alleged cover-up of phone hacking by Brooks, her husband Charlie, her former secretary and the ex-head of security at News International amounted to a "classic conspiracy to pervert the course of justice."

The court also heard the Brooks authorised payments totalling close to 40,000 pounds ($64,250) to a public official for military secrets.

"The criminal law applies to journalists as well as to the rest of us," Edis told the court.

"It can never be right for journalists to hack phones. It can never be right for journalists to corrupt public officials with money. It can never be right for journalists to try to prevent the police from investigating suspected crime."

The prosecution continues to present its case Thursday morning.


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