Former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson will go on trial for phone-hacking in September next year, leaving the scandal hanging over British Prime Minister David Cameron for another year.
A British judge yesterday set the date for the first trial in the scandal, which led to the closure of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's tabloid in July 2011, after several defendants appeared at London's Old Bailey court.
Brooks, 44, is a former head of Murdoch's British newspaper wing, News International, and a close friend of Cameron, while Coulson, also 44, is his former director of communications.
Judge Adrian Fulford gave instructions for two separate cases: one relates to the illegal hacking of mobile phone voicemails, the other to alleged attempts to pervert the course of justice.
The proposed trial date was September 9, 2013, with a further preliminary hearing on December 12 and 13 of this year.
Brooks and the other defendants spoke only to confirm their names. Appearing with Brooks and Coulson on the phone-hacking charges were the News of the World's former news editor Greg Miskiw, former head of news Ian Edmondson, former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, reporter James Weatherup, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
Stuart Kuttner, the paper's former managing editor, has also been charged with phone hacking but was not in court.
Separately, Brooks faces three charges of perverting the course of justice by removing boxes of material from the archive of News International (NI) and trying to hide documents, computers and other material from police as the newspaper was being shut down in July of last year.