Brooks and Coulson trial has all the ingredients of a blockbuster

The trials of Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks could last several months. Photo: PA Wire

At 10 past 10 this morning, eight defendants took their place in the dock of court 12 at the Old Bailey - among them Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.

Mrs Brooks is a close confidante of Rupert Murdoch and the ex-chief executive of News International, which owned the now defunct News of the World. Mr Coulson is the former editor of the paper and David Cameron’s former communications chief.

They, along with their co-defendants, are accused of hacking phones belonging to Hollywood stars and high-profile politicians.

For some defendants, these accusations are accompanied by allegations of illegal payments to public officials and of a cover-up.

Court sketch of Justice John Saunders addressing the eight defendants today. Credit: Priscilla Coleman

Today began with jury selection. A pool of 80 potential members filled the court. They were warned the trial could last up to six months and asked to fill in a detailed questionnaire to ensure they could try the case fairly.

They were then sent home to check they could commit for the duration, before returning tomorrow with their responses.

From the pool, 12 will eventually be chosen. The hope is the prosecution can open its case tomorrow.

Rebekah and Charlie Brooks arrive at the Old Bailey today. Credit: ITV News

We have had the forensic examination of press intrusion by the Leveson inquiry, but this trial will get into the nitty gritty of alleged criminal wrongdoing that has so far been out of bounds. As for the politics, David Cameron could yet be in the firing line from his critics keen to score points.

Rebekah Brooks was a neighbour and friend, her husband Charlie had known Mr Cameron for 30 years and, before resigning, Coulson was his spokesman. It is a trial with all the ingredients of a blockbuster.

Former Government spin doctor Andy Coulson arrives at the Old Bailey. Credit: ITV News

List of defendants:

Rebekah Brooks

The former chief executive of News International has pleaded not guilty to five counts, which include conspiracy to hack phones, conspiracy to pay public officials for stories and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice (allegations relating to a cover-up).

Andy Coulson

The former News of the World editor and David Cameron’s ex-Director of Communications has pleaded not guilty to three counts, which include conspiracy to hack phones and alleged illegal payments to public officials.

Clive Goodman

The former Royal Editor of the News of the World has pleaded not guilty to two counts of alleged illegal payments to public officials.

Ian Edmondson

The former Assistant News Editor of the News of the World has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to hack phones.

Stuart Kuttner

The former Managing Editor of the News of the World has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to hack phones.

Charlie Brooks

Rebekah Brooks’ husband and friend of David Cameron denies one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, including allegations of hiding documents and computer equipment.

Mark Hanna

The former Head of Security at News International denies one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, including allegations of hiding documents and computer equipment.

Cheryl Carter

Rebekah Brooks’ former secretary has pleaded not guilty to one count of perverting the course of justice, related to an allegation of the removal of archive boxes.