Phone-hacking trial reports w/c Jan 20 2014

The Guardian, January 20 2014
Date at the top of each report is the date of the hearing. Reports were written for following day's paper. Hence use of 'yesterday' in some of them.

January 20 2014       Two bags which were allegedly hidden by Charlies Brooks to frustrate a police search contained two laptop computers, a tablet, an Ipod, a mobile phone, a dictaphone and seven pornographic DVDs, an Old Bailey jury heard yesterday.

Prosecutors have told the phone-hacking trial that Rebekah and Charlie Brooks plotted with their security adviser, Mark Hanna, to conceal items from police and then arranged for some “safe” material to be returned behind a rubbish bin in the car park of their London flat, where it was found by a cleaner and retrieved by detectives. The Brookses and Hanna deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

The jury were given a detailed inventory of the contents of two bags which the Crown say were found tied up in a black bin liner in the car park on July 18 2011, the day after police arrested Rebekah Brooks and searched her homes in London and Oxfordshire.

A brown briefcase contained electronic equipment including a Sony Vaio laptop and a mobile phone; a magazine titled Lesbian Lovers; and DVDs titled Instant Lesbian, Lesbian Psychodrama 2 and 3, Entre Elles, Bride of Sin, 10 Petites Salopes, and Where the Boys Are 17. There was also a Wimbledon tennis programme, two cheque books, the newsletter of the British Kunekune Pig Society, headache tables, a bottle of homeopathic medicine, a notepad with paper headed with Charlie Brooks’ name, toothpaste and a conker.

A black nylon bag with a World Economic Forum logo contained an Apple laptop, an Ipad, and paperwork which included 19 unopened letters which had been addressed to the Brookses country home, Jubilee Barn, and to the neighbouring Castle Barn, which is the home of Charlie Brooks’ mother.

Neil Perkins, a porter from the block of flats, in Chelsea Harbour, told the jury that on the morning of July 18, he had come across a group of men searching around rubbish bins in the basement. He said Charlie Brooks had become angry when he was told that two bags had been handed to police: “He said ‘Oh, I’ll sue them.'”

Detective Constable Alan Pritchard said that on the following day, he had supervised a specialist search team who had sifted through rubbish in a compactor in search of the bin liner in which the two bags had allegedly been concealed. This had been “not particularly pleasant”, he said, and he had left it to the search team to complete the job.

When police specialists studied the bin liner which was retrieved, they found that there were three liners which had been knotted and sealed with clear tape. A fingerprint analyst, Kevin Young, said that one carried the fingerprints of Daryl Jorsling, a security man, who, the jury have been told, was responsible for leaving the material behind the bins. The two others carried the fingerprints of Mark Hanna.

Earlier, one of Hanna’s security staff, Robert Hernandez, told the jury that on Saturday July 9, as the last edition of the News of the World was being produced, he had gone drinking with Hanna in the Dickens pub near the newspaper’s office. He said that, that after discussing Rebekah Brooks, Hanna had told him that at some unspecified time, he had dug a hole in his garden and “burned stuff” in it.

“I asked him if it was papers, and he did not reply. He just looked at me and didn’t reply and just changed the conversation.”

The jury also heard how in the week before Rebekah Brooks was arrested, she and other executives had been sent ‘hate mail’. A sample which was read to the court was addressed to “the entire stinking crew of News International”, called them “a bunch of self-serving hypocritical liars” adding that rotting in hell was too good a punishment for them. “Be certain that the universal law of karma will exact its revenge on each and every one of you. Have a nice day.”

The trial continues.


January 21 2014

The Old Bailey yesterday heard what happened at five o’clock one dark morning in March 2012 when a team of eleven police officers banged on the door of Rebekah Brooks’ country home to arrest her and her husband, Charlie.

The jury in the phone-hacking trial was told that, having already arrested Rebekah Brooks alone eight months earlier, in July 2011, Scotland Yard detectives uncovered new allegations about plots to pervert the course of justice and decided to arrest her for a second time along with her husband and to search four properties to which she was connected.

Detective Constable Karyn Miller, who was one of the officers in the second arrest, said they had arrived without warning at Jubilee Barn in Oxfordshire, with plans to arrest the Brookses and to search not only Jubilee Barn but also the neighbouring Castle Barn, the home of Charlie Brooks’s mother; the Brookses’ London flat at Chelsea Harbour; and Rebekah Brooks’ new office in Marylebone, central London.

Questioned by Jonathan Laidlaw QC, for Rebekah Brooks, DC Miller agreed that it was still dark when the officers started “banging on doors” and Rebekah Brooks answered and let them into the kitchen and was formally arrested. The detective said she thought Mrs Brooks would have been concerned about her baby, Scarlett, who, the jury heard, had been born prematurely six weeks earlier; and about the baby’s nanny. She recalled Charlie Brooks saying that he was worried about police knocking on the door of his mother, then aged 81. Police had allowed him to telephone her to explain what was happening, she said.

From Jubilee Barn, she told the jury, they had seized two BlackBerries, two Ipads, a laptop comuter and four Ipods. Separately, the court was told yesterday that when police searched the same property in July 2011, they had found no electronic equipment at all.

Mr Laidlaw suggested that as the police searched her home in March 2012, Rebekah Brooks had turned on Sky News to see how long it would take for the news of the arrests to be broadcast. When shortly after six, she had seen the story covered, he suggested she had said to police: “We didn’t know this was going to happen. You have got our phones. So it must be you leaking.”

Rebekah Brooks, Charlie Brooks, Cheryl Carter and Mark Hanna deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice variously by destroying notebooks and concealing computers. The trial continues.


January 23 2014 –

Rebekah Brooks sought the personal approval of James Murdoch for the Sun editorial comment which marked the paper’s switch from New Labour to Conservative before the last election, an Old Bailey jury heard yesterday.

The phone-hacking trial was given detailed evidence of the contents of two laptop computers and an Ipad which were found hidden behind a rubbish bin on the day after police arrested Rebekah Brooks in July 2011. An Apple laptop contained four News International documents, including one headed “Draft editorial for approval of JRM.”

The court heard that ‘JRM’ was a reference to James Murdoch, who at that time was the chief executive of News Corp for Europe and Asia, and that the draft editorial had then appeared in the Sun during the Labour party’s annual conference, on September 30 2009, under the headline Labour’s Lost It.

Detective Sergeant Hayley Broom told the court that the laptop had also contained a three-year budget plan for News International newspapers, headed Durability and Growth; a summary of stocks held by Rebekah Brooks; and the text of a speech which she made to women in the advertising and communications industry in February 2010 in which she said: “I have always felt that journalists should be read, not heard, though the opposite has not done my friend Piers Morgan any harm.”

Counsel for both Rebekah and Charlie Brooks suggested that the three computers had been for the sole use of Charlie Brooks. Apart from the four News International documents, the court heard, the Apple laptop also contained chapters from a novel being written by Mr Brooks and apps relating to football and racing.

Neil Saunders, for Mr Brooks, told the jury that a Sony Vaio laptop contained around 8,000 emails, none of which had been sent by Mrs Brooks. He also told the court that it contained “approximately 25 images of female nudity including images of breasts, female genitalia, female masturbation and images of a sexual nature portraying penetration with other females.”

An Apple Ipad had contained more apps involving football and racing as well as the Angry Birds computer game. Jonathan Laidlaw QC, for Mrs Brooks, told the jury: “Mrs Brooks’ case is that they were not laptops used by her.”

Rebekah Brooks, Charlie Brooks and their security adviser, Mark Hanna, deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice by concealing computers from police. The trial continues.