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06/05/2013

Pleas entered in UK phone hacking case

Rebekah
Accompanied by her husband Charlie, Rebekah Brooks arrives at Southwark Crown Court. (AP Photo)

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, appeared in a London court earlier today to plead not guilty to charges sparked by the U.K.'s phone-hacking scandal.

The case, which has seen some of the most influential people in British media either in the dock or the glare of an unwelcome spotlight, led to the closure of the tabloid News of the World and the arrests of journalists from newspapers across the capital.

The case is to return to court this autumn.

For Brooks, a woman who was among the most powerful people in the British media, it is a remarkable shift. She edited two of Britain's most influential newspapers, The Sun and News of the World, and at News International helmed an empire which also included The Times and the Sunday Times. Her friends were as powerful as she: text messages to, and country suppers with, prime ministers were apparently a regular occurrence.

The Associated Press reported Brooks denied the charges "in a firm voice" during the hearing at Southwark Crown Court. Brooks' husband, Charlie, a racehorse trainer and old friend of David Cameron, also pleaded not guilty. She appeared with a dozen others, mainly News International employees, including her former secretary, driver, and bodyguard.

Brooks is charged with conspiracy  to pervert the course of justice, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority, and obstructing a police investigation.

The phone hacking scandal - in which it was alleged journalists routinely broke into the voicemail of celebrities, politicians, and others in the news - has resulted in the arrests of dozens of journalists from various media outlets, as well as public officials.

Jennifer Quinn is a foreign affairs and investigative reporter at the Star. As a journalist with the Associated Press, based in London, she wrote extensively about British politics. Follow her on Twitter @JQStar.

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