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Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson Make Brief Appearance at London Criminal Court

News Corp. Phone Hacking Charges and Settlements

The former News International CEO and the former tabloid editor face corruption charges and will return to court on March 8 to plead.

LONDON – Former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, former News of the World editor Andy Coulson and several others made a brief court appearance at the famous Old Bailey criminal court here Thursday to formally face corruption charges.

The appearance by the duo follows hot-on-the-heels of a similarly brief show at a court to begin the formal proceedings.

In early November U.K. prosecutors said that they had enough evidence in an investigation of illegal payments to public officials to bring criminal charges against at least five people, including the two, two other former top journalists at the U.K. newspaper unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and a public official.

Brooks and Coulson's latest court outing Thursday was for a preliminary hearing.

The charges followed a police probe into payments by journalists to officials in exchange for information, such as phone numbers for Britain's Royal Family and news for publication in tabloids.

The defendants were instructed by officials to return to court on March 8, 2013 for a plea and case management.

Brooks faces a charge of conspiracy to pay approximately $160,000 (£100,000) for information that formed the basis of several news stories between 2004 and 2011.

Coulson faces two charges of conspiring to pay public officials for information, including a Buckingham Palace phone directory, known as the Green Book, that contained contact details for members of the royal family.

The duo and the other three defendants did not speak or sit in the dock for the short 15-minute hearing.