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Phone-hacking trial: The case for the prosecution

The trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, the prime minister's former director of communications Andy Coulson and six others began at the Old Bailey on 28 October. The Drum will be in court for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last at least four months, and will provide comprehensive updates on this blog.

The trial is scheduled to examine seven counts that include conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Coverage will be provided by James Doleman, who was acclaimed for his exhaustive and responsible reporting of the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial.

Court: Lead prosecution counsel Andrew Edis QC

The phone-hacking trial began on 28 October and over the last three months the jury of nine women and three men has been bombarded with evidence, both in writing and from witnesses. It's been a complex case but as the prosecution evidence comes to an end the main issues can be boiled down to a simple question: what did the defendants know and when did they know it?

There is no question that the illegal interception of voicemails took place between 2003 and 2006. Two people, Glenn Mulcaire and former News of the World Royal correspondent Clive Goodman, have already served time in prison over it. Police have recovered transcripts of voicemails and recordings from both Mulcaire's home and a safe in the News of the World's offices in Wapping. However, the two former editors of the paper that are on trial, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, insist they were unaware of these illegal activities. The Crown contend this cannot be true and that the accused must have known.

A major plank of the prosecution case has been an article about the then missing and later found murdered teenager Milly Dowler. The piece, published in the first edition of the paper on 14 April 2002, directly quoted messages left on the schoolgirl's voicemail, although they were removed in later editions of the newspaper. How, the prosecution say, could then editor Brooks and deputy editor Coulson not have read what was printed in their own newspaper? "The News of the World was not as long as War and Peace," as prosecuting barrister Andrew Edis put it. The night editor of the paper, Harry Scott, told the court that the decision to change the story could only have been made by the editor or deputy editor, amounting to proof, the prosecution say, that one or the other must have seen the story.

Another major plank of the Crown case has been email traffic between the major defendants and other employees of the News of the World. The prosecution has made much of an email from Coulson where he instructed a journalist covering a story about celebrity Calum Best to "do his phone". The decision by Brooks to order the deletion of all News International email traffic before 2010 has also been raised as evidence of an alleged cover up. The jury also heard from a former News of the World journalist, Dan Evans, who told the court he played a recording of a voicemail left by actress Sienna Miller on Daniel Craig's phone directly to Coulson, who responded "excitedly".

The final major element of the prosecution's phone-hacking case has been financial. Convicted phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire was paid over £100,000 a year by the News of the World but police say they have found no evidence he carried out any other work for the paper other than intercepting voicemails. Is it credible, the Crown asks, that the editors never asked what role Mulcaire played at the paper to be one of it's highest paid employees? How could the defendants not know what services he was providing.

That is the case for the Crown. In our next piece we will look at the defence.

All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.

Click here to view posts from The Drum's daily phone-hacking trial coverage straight from the Old Bailey

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