They were once two of the most powerful people in the British media, senior executives for media mogul Rupert Murdoch and associates of Prime Minister David Cameron.
Former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were going on trial Monday, along with several others, on charges of hacking phones and bribing officials while at the now-shuttered Murdoch tabloid.
Both arrived early at London's Central Criminal Court for the first day of the trial, which was opening with legal arguments and jury selection. Brooks came by taxi with her husband, Charles Brooks, who faces a related charge of obstructing justice.
The trial unfolding in a plain, starkly lit room at the Old Bailey should provide high drama for media watchers -- and an unwelcome reminder for Murdoch and Cameron of the two-year-old scandal that continues to tarnish Britain's media, politicians and police.
Murdoch tweeted about the upcoming trial earlier this month: "Remember, everyone innocent until proven guilty, entitled to fair trial in most countries."
WHO IS ON TRIAL?
The three highest-profile defendants are: Brooks, 45, ex-editor of the News of the World and former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers; Coulson, 45, another former News of the World editor who was Prime Minister David Cameron's communications chief until 2011; and Rebekah Brooks' 50-year-old husband Charles, a racehorse trainer.
Coulson and Rebekah Brooks have become the faces of the scandal, though neither has been convicted of wrongdoing.
He was the elusive figure -- rarely photographed -- behind Cameron's canny media strategy. She was the flame-haired high-flyer who exchanged text messages with her friend and neighbor Cameron while overseeing Murdoch's politically powerful British newspapers.
They face trial alongside former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner, ex-news editor Ian Edmondson and former royal editor Clive Goodman; Rebekah Brooks' former assistant Cheryl Carter; and Mark Hanna, former security chief at Murdoch's News International.
WHAT ARE THE CHARGES?
Brooks and Coulson are charged with conspiracy to intercept communications -- phone hacking -- and with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, which covers bribing officials such as police and prison guards. The other former News of the World journalists face related charges.
Rebekah Brooks, Charles Brooks, Carter and Hanna are accused of conspiring to pervert the course of justice by removing material from the company archive and withholding computers and documents from police.
The defendants deny all the charges.
HOW DID THE ALLEGATIONS ARISE?
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