Hacking Trial: Judge Tells Jurors Not to Be 'Dazzled' by Defendants' Lifestyles

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During his summary before the jury is set to start deliberations, he also said that "everyone is entitled to their privacy."

LONDON – The judge in the phone-hacking trial here on Wednesday started summing up the case, telling the jury not to be "dazzled" by the lifestyles of some of the defendants, as nobody can ignore the law.

The defendants include Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, former News of the World editors and ex-top lieutenants of the U.K. newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The judge highlighted that they were friends of politicians and stars and had influential jobs.

On the 126th day of the trial, he also said that "everyone is entitled to their privacy," the The Guardian reported.‎

"Some of those on trial enjoyed a lifestyle you can only dream of, not just in financial terms but [also the] influence they brought to bear," The Guardian quoted Judge John Saunders as saying.‎ "They were friends of politicians; they are friends of the stars. Many people only get to see them in the cinema or [on] the [soccer] pitch."

He concluded: "Do not envy them their success or be dazzled by it. Respect their success, but everyone is subject to the law of the land. No one is so powerful they can ignore the law."

Saunders also said that details of the defendants' personal lives that were revealed during the trial shouldn't affect their deliberations. For example, the prosecution mentioned the affair between Brooks and Coulson.

"Take no account of the vitriol leveled at Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson on Twitter and in other places," he said, according to The Guardian.‎ "You all feel sympathy for Rebekah Brooks, who had to suffer that abuse, but that can't affect any verdict."

He added that these things were mentioned because they have "some relevance to some aspect of the case."

The jury is expected to start deliberating in the coming days.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai