I'm the scapegoat - Brooks
Rebekah Brooks, confidante of Rupert Murdoch and friend to a succession of British prime ministers, made a preliminary appearance in a London court on Wednesday.
The 44-year-old, a former editor of two of Britain's top-selling newspapers, is charged with concealing material from detectives carrying out a major inquiry into alleged criminal activities at News International where she was chief executive until last year.
Police say she was involved in the removal of boxes of archive records from its London headquarters, concealing material from detectives, and hiding documents, computers and other electronic equipment.
Brooks, her racehorse trainer husband, Charlie, her secretary and three other staff face charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
In court, Brooks spoke only to confirm her address and date of birth before being granted bail. The cases of all the defendants were sent to Southwark Crown Court where the next hearing will be on June 22.
Brooks and her husband have already denied the charges and claimed she was being made a scapegoat. If found guilty, they face probable jail terms.
"I have grave doubts that my wife will ever get a fair trial, given the volume of biased commentary which she has been subject to," Charlie Brooks has said.
The charges the group face are the first brought by detectives since they reopened an investigation in January 2011 into claims journalists at Murdoch's News of the World tabloid illegally accessed voicemails on cellphones.
Officers are also examining if reporters bribed public officials including police officers to get stories. Some 50 people have since been arrested, including many senior figures from the News of the World and News International.