Rebekah Brooks Scheduled to Appear at Court Hearing Friday

News Corp. Phone Hacking Charges and Settlements

In 2011, one of the biggest international media industry stories was the phone hacking scandal at the News International U.K. newspaper unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The past year brought settlements with such celebrities as Hugh Grant and singer/actress Charlotte Church. But it also brought formal charges against former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, former News of the World editor Andy Coulson and others on charges of hacking. Brooks and others are also accused of conspiring to "pervert the course of justice." Trials are expected to start in the fall of 2013. More fallout will come in the new year from the Leveson Inquiry report that proposed stricter regulation of the British press, which is currently being hotly debated.

The former News International CEO and five others are charged with conspiracy in a case related to the phone hacking scandal.

Rebekah Brooks, the former Sun editor, ex-CEO of News Corp.'s embattled News International U.K. newspaper arm and longtime Rupert Murdoch ally, is scheduled to return to court Friday for the start of her trial.

Brooks and five others face charges of conspiring to "pervert the course of justice" in the case related to the phone hacking scandal.

For a preliminary hearing, they are set to appear at the Southwark Crown Court where another court referred the case earlier this month in what was Brooks' first court appearance in the case.

Media coverage of the court hearing earlier this month was intense, but the accused didn't speak beyond confirming their names and other basic information.

Brooks, 44, was charged last month with three counts of conspiracy to remove documents, computers and other potential evidence from police investigating phone hacking charges.

She has denied these charges and called them an "expensive sideshow."

The others facing trial are Brooks' husband Charlie, her former personal assistant, her former chauffeur and two security officials.

Meanwhile, in another phone hacking scandal related development, the Guardian reported that Amalgamated Bank, the Central Laborers' Pension Fund and the New Orleans Employees' Retirement System have amended a lawsuit against the News Corp. board for "disregarding" its duties to shareholders.

One new allegation in the suit alleging that the board's "lax" oversight "is a textbook example of failed corporate governance and domination by a controlling shareholder" is that News Corp. set up a Management and Standards Committee, which has been investigating the hacking issue, as a fig leaf for a more in-depth probe.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai