Posted: Aug 16, 2012 6:15 AM by CNN London
Updated: Aug 16, 2012 5:09 AM
LONDON (CNN) -- Andy Coulson, a former editor of media baron Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid, is appearing in court Thursday on phone hacking charges, along with five other journalists and the private investigator at the center of the scandal.
Suspected hacking victims include some of the world's biggest celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jude Law, Paul McCartney and soccer star Wayne Rooney, as well as victims of crime and terrorism, politicians and other celebrities.
Coulson became a top aide to David Cameron after leaving the newspaper in the wake of phone hacking arrests in 2006, bringing the scandal to the heart of the British political establishment. Cameron became prime minister in 2010.
Coulson resigned as director of communications for Cameron last year when police launched a second investigation into illegal eavesdropping for Murdoch papers in Britain.
Coulson has always denied knowing about phone hacking, saying he resigned only because he bore overall responsibility for everything that happened at his paper when he was editor.
Murdoch shut down the News of the World, the best-selling newspaper in Britain, over the phone hacking scandal.
Appearing in court with Coulson are Neville Thurlbeck, Ian Edmondson, Stuart Kuttner, Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup, all of whom used to work for the tabloid, and Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator accused of actually hacking phones on their behalf.
Dozens of people have been arrested over phone hacking and related scandals, including Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Murdoch's News International and a personal friend of Prime Minister Cameron.
She was formally charged this month, posted bail, and is scheduled to appear in court on September 3.
Brooks, Coulson, Kuttner, Miskiw, Thurlbeck and Mulcaire are accused of intercepting messages of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old British schoolgirl who was abducted and murdered in 2002.
Revelations that her phone had been hacked while she was missing and before she was found dead enraged the British public and prompted the closing of the tabloid.
The long-running police investigation prompted by illegal eavesdropping at the News of the World has expanded into probes of computer hacking, bribery and corruption.
The accusations have reverberated through the top levels of British politics and journalism, sparking an independent inquiry, and prompting a parliamentary committee to issue damning criticism of Murdoch.
Prosecutors allege there were more than 600 victims of phone hacking between 2000 and 2006.
The investigation and public notoriety has been damaging to News Corp. and Murdoch, who stepped down from a string of company boards of directors In July and further distanced himself from the print business that first brought him fame and fortune.