Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and a former fellow newspaper editor were told today that they face a full criminal trial next year over phone-hacking allegations.
Brooks, 44, and Andy Coulson, a former newspaper editor who later became chief spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron, were granted bail at a hearing at the Old Bailey Criminal Court in London Wednesday.
A provisional trial date was set for September 9, 2013.
Brooks, who was once seen as one of the most powerful figures in British tabloid journalism, was at the proceedings with Coulson and five other journalists, who all face charges of conspiring to access the voicemail of more than 600 people.
Brooks and Coulson were both with the News of the World, the best-selling Sunday tabloid closed down by Rupert Murdoch, the Australian media tycoon who owns News International, over the scandal in the summer of 2011.
Coulson, who moved on to become spokesman for the Conservative Party in 2007, resigned from his job as the communication chief of Downing Street in early 2011.
Both he and Brooks deny the charges, which allege that they ordered a private investigator to hack the phones of hundreds of celebrities, politicians, soldiers and crime victims to obtain information.
In a separate case, Brooks and her husband, Charlie, are accused of perverting the course of justice by removing material from News International offices that could have served as evidence against them.
Five other people also face that charge.
The scandal erupted when it was revealed that the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a teenager abducted and killed in 2002, was illegally intercepted by News of the World investigators.Murdoch, 81, has repeatedly apologised for the phone hacking practices, and paid compensation to many prominent victims, including Dowler’s parents.