Rebekah Brooks answered "not guilty" in a firm voice to five charges at a court hearing at London's Southwark Crown Court.
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The year-old former editor of Murdoch's News of the World and Sun tabloids is one of the key figures in Britain's phone-hacking scandal. She appeared along with a dozen others, mostly former News International employees, facing similar charges over the scandal that rocked Britain's establishment. Also in the crowded dock were Brooks' husband, Charlie Brooks, and former News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman, who like Brooks entered pleas of "not guilty" and also will face criminal trials.
The phone hacking scandal erupted in , after it was revealed that journalists at News International's now-shuttered News of the World tabloid routinely hacked into the voicemail messages of celebrities, members of the royal household and other people in the public eye, including crime victims and a murdered year-old girl.
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The scandal led Murdoch to close down the News of The World and spawned large police investigations into phone hacking, computer hacking and the bribery of officials for information. The year-old Murdoch is stepping down as chief executive of 21st Century Fox, transferring leadership to his son James in a significant generational torch-passing that was first reported Thursday by CNBC.
Both Rupert and James Murdoch were called upon to testify at a parliamentary committee where they vehemently denied any wrongdoing or involvement in the British newspaper scandal, and said they never tried to hamper the police investigation. James left London for New York soon after, a move many saw as an effort to distance himself from the mess unfolding in Britain.
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Royal reporter Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were charged with intercepting messages and sentenced to several months in prison in It emerged that phone hacking was prolific at the News of the World and had targeted celebrities, politicians and soccer players. The phone of year-old Milly Dowler, who was abducted and killed in , had also been hacked.
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It later emerged that the voicemails of fallen Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers had also been intercepted as well as those of Scotland Yard investigators who were looking into the News of the World case -- the implication being that they themselves became a target for trying to take on the media empire. But it was too much for the newspaper to handle.
As advertisers and readers turned their backs, it closed in July The commissioner and deputy commissioner of Scotland Yard resigned for failing to adequately investigate fully when the case initially surfaced. Coulson and Brooks stood trial but only Coulson was convicted.
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He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and Brooks, who had quit as News International chief executive, took time out from the limelight -- until recently. In April, News Corp. Her future within the 21st Century Fox media empire seems certain to continue, even if the phone hacking scandal has still not been put to rest.