Former editors in court as Britain awaits phone-hacking report
Former high-profile British newspaper executive Rebekah Brooks and four other people appeared in court in London Thursday on allegations that they made "corrupt payments" to public officials.
The appearance by Brooks, and her former colleague, Andy Coulson, coincided with the publication expected later Thursday of a report on press standards in Britain, drawn up by a retired judge.
The report, compiled by judge Brian Leveson after an 18-month inquiry, is expected to make recommendations about how to regulate the British media so as to protect individuals from undue intrusion of their private lives.
The judicial inquiry was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron following the long-running phone-hacking scandal, involving a number of Murdoch-owned newspapers for which Brooks and Coulson worked in high-profile editorial and executive positions.
In the court proceedings, it is alleged that under their control, money was paid to government and police officials to obtain news. They face separate proceedings on phone-hacking and the perversion of the course of justice.
Coulson, a former press chief of Cameron, resigned from his job in government over the continuing fall-out from the hacking scandal in early 2011. Brooks also resigned from her job as chief executive of News International, Murdoch's newspaper group in Britain, last year.
The Leveson report, which is based largely on testimony given by hundreds of hacking victims - including celebrities, politicians, media moguls, crime victims and bereaved parents - is expected to recommend guidelines for media supervision.
It has triggered a fierce public debate about press freedom in Britain, with critics arguing for legislation to regulate the media, and opponents saying that such restraints would muzzle the investigative drive of the British press.