London: Five former senior staff of Rupert Murdoch-owned 'News of the World' tabloid including ex-editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, Friday lost a legal attempt to block their prosecution on phone hacking charges in the UK.
They will face trial in September after the Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge dismissed their appeals here.
The phone hacking scandal involving media baron Murdoch's News International came to light in 2011 and led to the closure of the News of the World after it emerged that staff had hacked into the voicemail messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler as well as several public figures and celebrities.
The Sunday tabloid's former editors, Brooks and Coulson, have pleaded not guilty to the charges along with three other journalists of the now defunct title.
Former senior reporter James Weatherup, former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, and former news editor Ian Edmondson, also lost their appeals today.
The five defendants argued that the accessing of voicemails through hacking, after they had been listened to by the intended recipient, was not an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
In their judgment dismissing the appeal, a three-judge bench at the Court of Appeal ruled, "Contrary to the legal submission on behalf of the appellants, the resulting situation is not lacking in legal certainty."
Lord Judge also allowed the names of the defendants to be reported, saying, "We can see no possible prejudice to the fairness of the forthcoming trial. We must not be unrealistic ? there can hardly be anyone in the country who does not know to whom this case applies."
Earlier this week, News International made a decisive bid to distance itself from the damage caused by the phone hacking scandal to the group in Britain by re-branding itself as News UK.
The company also reiterated that it has apologised to victims of phone hacking, set up a compensation fund, closed the News of the World in response and cooperated with official investigations.
First Published: Friday, June 28, 2013, 18:30