The Old Bailey “phone hacking” trial of eight defendants on seven charges is about to begin its sixth week. It involves issues of great public importance concerning the press. The trial has been well covered in a number of newspapers but the most striking feature of the first five weeks has been the coverage on social media. This has become the first great trial of the social media era.
There has been live tweeting from the Court by more than a dozen reporters (helpfully listed on #pressform). The most profilic and consistent of these has been @peterjukes. His “crowd funded” Old Bailey tweets, have now been collated and indexed by @JonLippitt – producing a single document: “The Trial so Far”. This provides a daily rundown on what is happening in court: the submissions and the evidence. It is an invaluable resource – in many ways more useful and accessible than a conventional transcript.
The other invaluable resource for the trial is in the form of daily posts by @yorkierosie on the #pressreform blog. The post for each day has the live tweets with links to all the relevant press reports. Here are the links to the first 23 days of coverage:
Just to recap on the trial, there are eight defendants – who deny all the charges – as follows:
- Rebekah Brooks, a former chief executive of News International and editor of the News of the World,
- Andy Coulson, a former editor of the News of the World and Downing Street Communications Director.
- Charlie Brooks, a racehorse trainer and the husband of Rebekah Brooks
- Ian Edmondson, a former news editor of the News of the World,
- Stuart Kuttner, the former managing editor of the News of the World,
- Clive Goodman, former royal editor of the News of the World
- Mark Hanna, former head of security at News International
- Cheryl Carter, a former PA to Rebekah Brooks.
There are seven charges falling into three groups. Only the first is directly concerns “phone hacking”:
- Edmondson, Brooks, Coulson and Kuttner between October 3, 2000, and August 9, 2006, conspired together and with others and persons unknown to intercept, without lawful authority, communications in the course of their transmission by means of a public telecommunications system, namely mobile phone voicemail messages.
There are then four charges concerning alleged payments to public officials:
- Goodman and Coulson, between August 31, 2002, and January 31, 2003, conspired together and with persons unknown to commit misconduct in public office.
- Goodman and Coulson, between January 31, 2005, and June 3, 2005, conspired together and with persons unknown to commit misconduct in public office.
- Brooks between January 1, 2004, and January 31, 2012, conspired with others and persons unknown to commit misconduct in public office.
- Brooks, between February 9, 2006, and October 16, 2008, conspired with others and with persons unknown to commit misconduct in public office.
Finally there are two charges relating to the alleged concealment of evidence:
- Brooks and Carter between July 6, 2011, and July 9, 2011, conspired together to do a series of acts which had a tendency to and were intended to pervert the course of public justice, namely permanently to remove seven boxes of archived material from the archive of News International.
- Brooks, Charles Brooks and Mark Hanna, between July 15, 2011, and July 19, 2011, conspired together and with others and persons unknown to do an act or a series of acts which had a tendency to and were intended to pervert the course of justice, namely to conceal documents, computers, and other electronic equipment from officers of the Metropolitan police who were investigating allegations of phone hacking and corruption of public officials in relation to the News of the World and The Sun