The prosecution began making its arguments in Britain's first major phone hacking trial on Wednesday, kicking off a process that is expected to last up to six months.
Two former senior executives in Rupert Murdoch's media empire — former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson — and six others face charges stemming from the revelation that employees at the Murdoch-owned tabloid eavesdropped on the phone voicemails of celebrities, politicians, crime victims and others in their search for exclusives.
Lawyer Andrew Edis opened his arguments by introducing the defendants and telling the jury to ignore the extensive pre-trial publicity.
"If you know anything about it, forget it," he said.
The defendants all deny the charges.
The case — which is not expected to end until well into next year — is the first big criminal trial spawned by the 2011 revelation that the News of the World had hacked the mobile phone voicemails of kidnapped 13-year-old Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered. Brooks, 45, edited both the News of the World and its sister paper, The Sun, and was chief executive of Murdoch's British newspaper division. Coulson, 45, also edited the News of the World before becoming communications chief to Prime Minister David Cameron.
Edis said the prosecution would show evidence of a history of phone hacking at the News of the World, carried out by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and several of the paper's staff.
He said the central issue was simple: "There was phone hacking. Who knew?"
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