Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and other former journalists from the now-shuttered News Of The World tabloid were in a London court today to face charges related to the phone-hacking scandal. After a short hearing at the Old Bailey court, a provisional trial date was set for September 9, 2013. Brooks, the former chief exec of News Corp.’s UK press ar News International, is accused of three counts of alleged phone hacking, including a general charge that could affect as many as 600 victims including celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. She also faces three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Like Brooks, Coulson, a former editor of News Of The World and spin doctor for Prime Minister David Cameron, is charged with conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority, from October 3, 2000 to August 9, 2006. Also like Brooks, he faces charges relating to the alleged hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile phone.
Separately, News International on Tuesday attempted to limit its financial liability in civil settlements arising from the hacking scandal. More than 150 alleged victims, including Hugh Grant, filed a claim that News International should have to pay punitive damages on top of any compensation that may be awarded from the proceedings next spring, The Times reports. News Corp attorney Dinah Rose said the claimants’ argument was unlikely to succeed because there is no precedent in law, according to the Financial Times. She told the High Court the extra damages would involve a “completely futile set of allegations” and further warned that any case for exemplary damages could end up in the Supreme Court.