Hacking Trial: Judge Finishes Case Summary, Jury to Mull Verdicts

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Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson

The jury will deliberate on charges against former "News of the World" editors ‎Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson and five others.

LONDON – The judge in the phone hacking trial here on Wednesday afternoon wrapped up his case summary, with the jury now set to start deliberations.

The 11-person jury will have to decide on charges of hacking into cell phones to retrieve voice messages‎, bribing public officials and a conspiracy to "pervert the course of justice." The seven defendants, charges against whom differ, include former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson and Brooks' husband Charlie.

‎The trial started in October.

Judge John Saunders had last Wednesday started summarizing key parts of the testimony and key arguments by the prosecution and defense. The summarizing is a key part of the procedure in the English court system.  

The jury ‎includes eight women and three men after one juror was discharged in March for health reasons.‎

Sending off the jury Wednesday at 3:35 p.m. local time so that it could start its process of reaching verdicts, Saunders said: "You are under no pressure of time." He said the jury would start their deliberation days at 10 a.m. and could go until 6 p.m., or 4:30 p.m. on Fridays, but could opt to end a day earlier. "Do not underestimate how tired you will feel working through this case," he told the jurors.

He also told them they would have to try and "act as a unit" to reach unanimous decisions on the various counts. Under British law, the judge could end up telling the jury to go for a majority verdict somewhere down the line if it can't reach unanimous decisions.

Saunders also reminded the jury to forget "everything you have heard outside of court" and only reach a verdict based on evidence presented in court.

"It's been a privilege to have worked with you‎," he said in sending off the jury.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai