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Brooks denies phone hack charges

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and her husband stood side-by-side in court as they formally denied charges of conspiracy linked to the phone hacking scandal.

Mrs Brooks, 45, entered not guilty pleas to five counts linked to an alleged conspiracy to hack phones, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

She arrived at Southwark Crown Court in a black BMW with husband and fellow defendant Charlie, 50, a racehorse trainer who was carrying a copy of the Racing Post.

Former Sun and News of the World editor Brooks, who wore a black short-sleeved jacket and black trousers, with her hair pinned up, entered pleas in front of a packed courtroom, alongside fellow former News International staff.

Brooks, of Churchill, Oxfordshire - who appeared in the dock with husband Charlie and other defendants, clearly stated "not guilty" as she denied conspiracy to hack phones between October 3, 2000, and August 9, 2006. There was standing room only for the hearing, with attendees including Labour MP Tom Watson.

Former News of the World news editor James Weatherup, 57, from Brentwood, Essex, and former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, also denied the charge.

Brooks also denied two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, one between January 1, 2004, and January 31, 2012, and a second between February 9, 2006, and October 16, 2008. She also pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

It is alleged that the former NI boss and her personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, from Chelmsford, Essex, who also denies the charge, tried to remove boxes of material from the News International archive between July 6 and 9, 2011.

The charge relates to attempts to hide documents, computers and other electronic equipment from officers investigating allegations of phone hacking and corruption of public officials relating to the News of the World and The Sun.

The charges arise from Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard's investigation into phone hacking; Operation Elveden, its probe into alleged corrupt payments to public officials; and Operation Sacha, the investigation into allegations of perverting the course of justice. All the defendants were released on bail and are due to face trial later in the year.

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