Phone-hacking accused appear in court

Andy Coulson was among several former News of the World staff in the dock

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Seven people, including the prime minister's former press secretary Andy Coulson, have appeared in court charged in connection with phone hacking.

The group, including six members of staff from the now-closed News of the World newspaper, appeared before Westminster Magistrates' Court.

They face one charge related to phone hacking between October 2000 and August 2006 and other related allegations.

The case was adjourned until 26 September at Southwark Crown Court.

A preliminary hearing will then take place in the case which is alleged to concern as many as 600 victims.

Former News of the World (NoW) editor Mr Coulson, ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former head of news Ian Edmondson, ex-chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, former reporter James Weatherup and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire face a total of 19 charges.

Hacking accused (sketch by Julia Quenzler) The seven men spoke only briefly at the short hearing before Westminster magistrates

Mr Coulson is charged with conspiring to access the phone messages of Surrey murder victim Milly Dowler, former Labour ministers David Blunkett and Charles Clarke, and George Best's son, Calum.

Other alleged victims featured in the charges facing the other defendants include former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, Abi Titmuss, John Leslie, actors Jude Law, Sadie Frost and Sienna Miller, and footballer Wayne Rooney.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it took the court clerk 20 minutes to read out all the charges.

The seven men spoke only to confirm their names and addresses during the short hearing.

They were released on bail on condition they did not speak to each other or to three others, and that they informed the authorities if they planned to travel abroad.

Former NoW editor and News International executive Rebekah Brooks will appear in the same court on 3 September where she will face the general conspiracy to phone-hack charge and two separate counts in relation to Milly and former union boss Andy Gilchrist.

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