Prosecution case to open in Britain's phone-hacking trial

Prosecution case to open in Britain's phone-hacking trial
Rebekah Brooks, former News International chief executive, arrives for the phone-hacking trial at the Old Bailey in London on October 30, 2013.

LONDON - The prosecution was to open its case against former top aides of Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday, in the long-awaited trial over the phone-hacking scandal that brought down his News of the World tabloid.

Two former editors of the newspaper - Murdoch's protegee Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, who was later Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief - and six other defendants face charges at the Old Bailey ranging from illegally hacking celebrities' phones to concealing evidence and bribing officials for stories.

The scandal forced Murdoch to shut down the 168-year-old News of the World in disgrace in July 2011, rocked the British establishment and sparked an overhaul of the way Britain's raucous press is regulated.

British newspapers were on Wednesday set to ask the High Court for permission to mount a legal challenge against the government's plans for a new system of regulation backed by a so-called "royal charter".

Newspaper owners say the plan is tantamount to state regulation of the press.

Brooks and Coulson, both 45, are the most recognisable defendants in the high-profile trial, the first time criminal charges have been put to the alleged key players in the scandal at a tabloid that was renowned for its celebrity scoops.

The trial is set to last up to six months. All eight defendants deny the charges against them.

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