The jury in the Rebekah Brooks trial has retired to consider its verdicts on a string of offences related to phone hacking, corruption and perversion of the course of justice.
They began their deliberations shortly after 3.30pm, bringing the eight-month trial, involving seven defendants including Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s former spin doctor, to its final phase.
They will consider verdicts on seven counts facing the seven defendants, including four charges against Brooks and three against Coulson.
Mr Justice Saunders told the jurors to appoint a foreman and to take the time needed to reach their verdicts.
“What you have to do is to act according to your oaths, you have to reach true verdicts according to the evidence,” he said.
He told them to “put out your heads anything you heard outside of court” and to “concentrate your mind solely on the evidence”.
He also asked them to put out their minds anything they had heard on majority verdicts. “It’s been a privilege to work for you all,” he said before instructing them to gather up their belongings and asking them to retire to the jury room.
They left with about 30 lever-arch files containing evidence relating to everything from Brooks’s clandestine affair with Coulson, to transcripts of voicemails from Kate Middleton and David Blunkett’s phones and notes of a conversation between Brooks and Tony Blair at the height of the phone-hacking scandal in 2011.
The files also include copious evidence and phone records relating to Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator hired by News of the World and documentation relating to internal meetings and communications with police and others by Brooks, Coulson and the News of the World’s former managing editor Stuart Kuttner.
Brooks denies four charges including a conspiracy to hack phones between 2000 and 2006 covering the period when she was editor of the News of the World.
She denies a further charge that she sanctioned corrupt payments to a Ministry of Defence official for stories.
She and her husband, the race horse trainer Charlie Brooks, and the head of security at News International deny a third charge that they hid evidence from police investigating phone hacking in July 2011.
She and her secretary Cheryl Carter deny a fourth charge that they removed seven boxes of archived material from News International that could have been relevant to the police investigation.
Andy Coulson, formerly an editor of the News of the World denies three charges, one of conspiring to hack phones and two of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office by sanctioning payments to public officials for confidential royal phone directories. The former royal editor of the News of the World, Clive Goodman, his codefendant on the second and third counts, also denies the charges.
Stuart Kuttner, managing editor of the News of the World, is also alleged to have conspired to hack phones.
When the trial opened Mr Justice Saunders told them that in this trial “not only are the defendants on trial but British justice is on trial.”
The jury has been down to eleven members since March when one juror was discharged after being excused for personal circumstances.
They were sworn in on October 29 last year and have sat through almost eight months of written testimony and live evidence from witnesses ranging from police to celebrities such as Jude Law and Sienna Miller and to character witnesses such as the former archbishop of Canterbury.
Brooks started the trial on five charges but the jury are only considering verdicts on four counts.
In February the judge told the jury there was “no case to answer” on count four, which alleged that she unlawfully authorised payment to a public official for a photograph of Prince William in a bikini taken at a fancy dress party when he was at Sandhurst.