Pair in court in phone hacking case

Former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis and former features editor at the tabloid Jules Stenson have appeared in court over allegations of phone hacking.

Neil Wallis is due in court to face phone hacking allegations
Neil Wallis was deputy editor at the News of the World

They were in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court accused of conspiring to illegally listen to voicemails with Andy Coulson, Greg Miskew, James Weatherup, Neville Thurlbeck, Dan Evans, Glenn Mulcaire - who were charged under the main phone hacking investigation, Operation Weeting - and others unknown between January 2003 and January 2007.

They are facing charges as part of Operation Pinetree, a Scotland Yard investigation into claims that News of the World features staff obtained information in this way.

District Judge John Zani granted the pair unconditional bail.

They are due to appear at the Old Bailey for a preliminary hearing on September 8.

Wallis was previously arrested under Operation Weeting in a dawn raid in July 2011, and was told in February last year that he would face no further action due to lack of evidence.

Pinetree is a strand of the investigation specifically looking at the newspaper's features department.

Wallis said in a statement after the charge was announced last month: ''I am devastated that more than three years after my initial arrest, this has been brought against me. My family and I have already paid a huge price from the police's very public attention.

''Perhaps it is inevitable that after being such an outspoken critic of the collateral damage and pain caused by this endlessly vindictive and enormously costly investigation the ire has been turned on me for something that occurred at News International which I was not party to and have always said was wrong.

''Sadly, legal reporting restrictions prevent me commenting further on this sad day.''

Gregor McGill, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said then: ''The CPS has authorised the Metropolitan Police to charge Jules Stenson, former features editor of the News of the World, and to summons Neil Wallis, former deputy editor of the News of the World, with an offence of conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission, commonly known as 'phone hacking'.

''These decisions were taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the DPP's guidelines on the public interest in cases affecting the media.

''We have decided there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.''

In February last year, Wallis's solicitor said the journalist had suffered ''a terrible ordeal'' by being left in limbo for nearly two years.

He was employed by then Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson as a PR consultant before his arrest in 2011, and Sir Paul was pushed to resign after the journalist was questioned by police.

The former News of the World deputy editor also had close contact with then assistant commissioner John Yates, who also resigned after criticism of his links to the newspaper and the decision not to reopen the inquiry into phone hacking.