LONDON - Rebekah Brooks, the former top aide to Rupert Murdoch and friend of British premier David Cameron, was granted bail by a court in London on Wednesday on charges relating to the phone-hacking scandal. Her first court appearance came amid new reverberations from the scandal, with a rift opening in the coalition government over a minister's dealings with Murdoch's US-based News Corporation. Brooks, 44, was alongside her racehorse trainer husband Charlie Brooks, 49, and four others facing charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in the police investigation into hacking at the News of the World.
Brooks - who resigned last July as chief executive of News International (NI), Murdoch's British newspaper operation - and her spouse were greeted by a huge media scrum as they arrived at the court.
After a short hearing, their first since they were charged on May 15, all six were bailed to appear again on June 22. All spoke only to confirm their dates of birth and addresses.
Brooks was wearing a green scarf and dark blue jacket and sat next to her husband, who wore a charcoal suit and navy tie, an AFP reporter in court said. The couple looked relaxed and were both smiling, unlike the other defendants.
She faces three charges of removing boxes of material from the archive of News International, and trying to conceal documents, computers and other material from police during the frantic last days of the News of the World.
The tabloid closed down in disgrace in July 2011 after it emerged that it had hacked the phone of Milly Dowler, a murdered schoolgirl.
Charlie Brooks, Cheryl Carter, 48, Brooks's personal assistant, Mark Hanna, the head of security at NI, Brooks's chauffeur Paul Edwards, 47, who was employed by NI, and Daryl Jorsling, 39, who provided security for Brooks that was supplied by NI, all face one charge each.
The charges carry a maximum term of life imprisonment.
The flame-haired Brooks edited the News of the World from 2000-2003 before taking up the same post at The Sun, Murdoch's top-selling British daily tabloid.