- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

LONDON (AP) — Rebekah Brooks, the former chief of News Corp.’s British newspapers, and Andy Coulson, the ex-communications chief for Prime Minister David Cameron, will face trial next September over allegations linked to phone hacking.

Mrs. Brooks and Mr. Coulson appeared in London’s Old Bailey court Wednesday for a hearing along with five other people charged in connection with the phone-hacking scandal that originated at the News of the World tabloid and rocked Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. empire.

The defendants, charged with conspiracy to hack voice mails, spoke only to confirm their names. A provisional trial date was set for September 2013.

Former news editor Greg Miskiw, former head of news Ian Edmondson, ex-chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, former reporter James Weatherup and private detective Glenn Mulcaire were in court, too. Stuart Kuttner — the former managing editor, who was also charged — was excused from attending the hearing.

They are accused of participating in a campaign of espionage that targeted hundreds of celebrities, sports stars, politicians and crime victims.

Among the hacking targets was Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl abducted and murdered in a case that drew national attention. Journalists allegedly eavesdropped on her mobile phone, listened to her voice-mail messages, and deleted some of them in order to make room for more.

Mrs. Brooks, Ms. Coulson and the other former News of the World employees stand accused of one conspiracy to access voice mails that prosecutors say could affect up to 600 victims, along with other charged in relation to specific individuals.

Mr. Mulcaire is charged with four counts related to particular people.

Separately, Mrs. Brooks also is charged along with her husband and five other people with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice over allegations she tried to hide information from police investigating the scandal.

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