Rebekah Brooks, a former executive to Rupert Murdoch and a close friend of Prime Minister David Cameron, pleaded not guilty in a London court on Wednesday to charges of criminal behaviour during her time at two national tabloids.
Brooks, appearing in a packed Southwark Crown Court, denied the charges of conspiracy to hack phones and two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. She also pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Brooks, a former editor of the News of the World and the Sun who went on to run the whole British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corp, was arrested at the height of a scandal into illegal reporting practices in mid 2011.
The scandal, which prompted the closure of the mass-selling News of the World Sunday tabloid and a year-long public inquiry, sent shockwaves through the British establishment as it revealed the close ties between the country's media, police and politicians.