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Ex-News Corp. Executive Brooks Appears in Court on Bribery Claim

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Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, and Andy Coulson, who edited its now-defunct News of the World tabloid, appeared in a London criminal court on bribery charges today.

The pair, charged last month with paying public officials for stories, were ordered by Judge Adrian Fulford to attend another preliminary hearing on March 8. Other details of today’s hearing can’t be reported for legal reasons.

The bribery probe, known as Operation Elveden, triggered the arrest of another journalist today, a 38-year-old woman who was detained at her home in Sussex, England. Information provided by News Corp.’s internal committee probing wrongdoing at its U.K. newspapers led investigators to her, the Metropolitan Police said today in a statement.

Prosecutors allege Brooks paid 100,000 pounds ($161,120) to a defense ministry employee, while Coulson is accused of swapping cash for a palace phone directory for the royal family and their staff. Two other journalists and the defense employee were also charged in the case over claims they conspired with Brooks and Coulson.

The charges stem from a police probe into News Corp.’s best-selling Sun daily tabloid and the News of the World, which Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed last year to help quell public anger over a related phone-hacking scandal. The affairs have cost New York-based News Corp. at least $315 million in civil settlements with victims, legal fees and other costs.

Brooks and Coulson, both 44 years old, are already due to stand trial in London for phone-hacking offenses in September, along with a dozen other people. A trial for the bribery case hasn’t been scheduled.

News Corp.’s U.K. unit, News International, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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