Phone-hacking trial to begin in September 2013

Demonstrators wear masks depicting British Prime Minister David Cameron (R), British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (C) and News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch (L) stage a performance. (AFP)

Demonstrators wear masks depicting British Prime Minister David Cameron (R), British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (C) and News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch (L) stage a performance. (AFP)

Judge Adrian Fulford made the ruling after several defendants, including former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, appeared for a preliminary hearing at the Old Bailey, London's main criminal court.

The judge gave directions for the management of two separate cases. One relates to the illegal hacking of mobile phone voicemails, while the other is over alleged attempts to perverting the course of justice.

The proposed trial date was September 9 2013, with a further preliminary hearing on December 12 and 13 this year, Fulford said.

Brooks (44), who resigned as head of Murdoch's British newspaper wing News International in July 2011, is charged with phone-hacking.

Coulson (44), who once served as Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief, has also been charged with phone-hacking.

Also appearing in court on the same charges were the News of the World's former news editor Greg Miskiw, former head of news Ian Edmondson, former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, and reporter James Weatherup.

Stuart Kuttner, the News of the World's former managing editor, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire have also been charged with phone-hacking but were not in court on Wednesday.

Separately, Brooks faces three charges of perverting the course of justice by removing boxes of material from the archive of News International (NI) and trying to hide documents, computers and other material from police.

The charges relate to the last days of the 168-year-old News of the World in July 2011, as Murdoch was shutting it down.

Rebekah Brooks's husband Charlie Brooks, her personal assistant Cheryl Carter, her chauffeur Paul Edwards, NI head of security Mark Hanna, and Daryl Jorsling, who provided security for Brooks supplied by NI, also face one charge each.

All the defendants were released on bail.

The judge imposed tight reporting restrictions on the case. - Sapa-AFP

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