Former newspaper executive Rebekah Brooks,the woman at the heart of a scandal shaking Rupert Murdochs media empire and the British government,appeared in court on Friday at the opening of her prosecution on charges of hiding evidence from police.
Brooks,who is close to Murdoch and was friends with successive British prime ministers,resigned as chief executive of Murdochs British newspaper group in July 2011 over revelations of phone-hacking by reporters at one of her papers.
The publication of affectionate text messages she used to exchange with Prime Minister David Cameron has caused the government deep embarrassment. Brooks and five others,including her well-connected husband Charlie and her former personal assistant,were charged in May with perverting the course of justice. They are accused of conspiring to hide boxes of documents and computers from police.
In court,the six defendants rose and spoke only to identify themselves. In brief proceedings,the judge set various deadlines for legal documents and evidence to be submitted and scheduled the defendants to enter their pleas on September 26. The Brooks couple deny the charges against them,smiled at each other and shared a joke as the hearing ended.