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A former News of the World (NoTW) reporter from Brentwood appeared at the Old Bailey today on alleged phone hacking charges.

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James Weatherup, 56, of Great Warley, appeared in the docks accused of the charges that involve hacking the phones of a number of public figures between October 2000 and August 2006.

He was in the docks alongside Rebekah Brooks, the ex-News of the World editor who was allegedly involved in hacking the voicemail of people including murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Also in court were David Cameron’s former press boss Andy Coulson, 42, former NoTW chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, 50, ex-news editor Ian Edmondson, 43, assistant editor Greg Miskiw, 62.

They, along with Weatherup, face charges relating to their alleged involvement in a conspiracy to hack up to 600 phones, along with former NoTW managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 72, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, 42.

They were joined by Brooks’ husband Charlie, 47, chauffeur Paul Edwards, 47, former PA Cheryl Carter, 48, security consultant Daryl Jorsling, 49, security guard Lee Sandell, 26, and News International security boss Mark Hanna, 49.

They are accused of deliberately trying to disrupt the investigation into alleged phone hacking at the now-defunct tabloid.

Much of the hearing cannot be reported for legal reasons, but the judge, Mr Justice Fulford said he anticipates a trial will begin on September 9 next year.

It has not yet been decided whether the phone hacking case, codenamed Operation Weeting, and cover-up case, codenamed Operation Sacha - which have been charged separately - will be heard together at one trial.

All the defendants are on bail and a condition banning them from contacting each other was dropped at today’s hearing.

Further hearings will take place on December 12 and 13.

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