Nick Davies's Blog, page 5

February 21, 2014

Brooks detailed three periods of 'physical intimacy' with Andy Coulson as she described her relationships with men

Rebekah Brooks broke off her evidence in tears as her lawyer invited her to discuss sensitive details of her private life in open court at the Old Bailey on Friday.

After a short break, she went on to describe her attempts to have children using fertility treatments, finally culminating in the surrogate birth of her daughter, Scarlett, and to describe the detail of her relationships with men, including three periods of "physical intimacy" with Andy Coulson. "My personal life – as everyone now knows – has been a bit of a car crash for many years," she told the jury.

On her second day in the witness box at the phone-hacking trial, she also talked about her role as a "hands-on editor", running the News of the World campaign to change the law on sex offenders after the murder of Sarah Payne in July 2000 and navigating the controversy over an undercover operation to expose the business activities of the Countess of Wessex.

Her barrister, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, told her he was "sorry to have to do this" before asking her a series of questions about her private life. As she described her relationship with the TV actor Ross Kemp, she said that after a 12-month separation, they had come back together in 2001 and "we brought up the subject of maybe living together, of taking it more seriously and buying a house and getting married and having children …"

Her voice then faltered and she asked the judge for a break before leaving the courtroom in tears. When she returned 10 minutes later, she told the jury that in mid-2001, she had "a scare" and ended up in hospital and later started fertility treatment. She married Kemp in June 2002 married Kemp but, after she was made editor of the Sun in January 2003, their relationship had become more difficult.

"We were both working incredibly long hours in completely different industries," she said. "The war in Iraq started pretty quickly after I became editor and we were doing 4am, 5am editions, and I and my senior team moved into a hotel next door to Wapping, where we lived … So probably 2003 was a lost year for us. Basically, life was put on hold."

Laidlaw then asked her about her relationship with Andy Coulson. Earlier in the trial, the jury were given a letter, written by Brooks to Coulson in February 2004. The crown claimed that it revealed that they had been having an affair for six years and that they trusted each other with secrets. "The fact is that you are my best friend," she wrote. "I tell you everything. I confide in you. I seek your advice." The crown told the jury that the letter made it "simply incredible" that Brooks had not known about the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone in April 2002, when Coulson was editing the News of the World while Brooks was on holiday.

On Friday Brooks said she first met Coulson in 1995 or 1996 and they had become "extremely good friends".Laidlaw asked her if that had involved "physical intimacy". Brooks replied: "No, not then … It wasn't until 1998 when Andy and I became close."

That period in their relationship ended, she said, then resumed after her marriage to Kemp became troubled in 2003. "I'm sure if Ross was here, he'd say our whole relationship was a bit like a rollercoaster. Sometimes it was good. Sometimes it wasn't so." She and Coulson had a third "period of intimacy" in 2006, she said.

Turning to her letter to Coulson which, the jury have been told, police found on one of her laptops, she said: "I don't even think I finished it. I don't know if anyone has been in this situation, but at a time of hurt, you come home and have a few glasses of wine and get on the computer. That's what I did. I wrote my feelings down at that time. These are my thoughts really to myself, but obviously I wrote it in a letter form with the intention of finishing it and maybe sending it. I saw it again when the police found it and produced it."

Laidlaw asked her to comment on the claim that she had a six-year affair with Coulson. "First of all, it isn't true. I know that's what the police and the prosecution say having analysed the letter. Obviously at the time I wrote this, I was in a great deal of emotional anguish as I think you can tell from the letter … The six-year period was not referring back to 1998. Obviously I have read it a lot since the police found it. I think that's what I was referring to … Andy and I were incredibly close during that time, and that comes across as well."

Laidlaw asked if the affair had any impact on her friendship with Coulson. She said: "I think any affair is by its very nature dysfunctional in some ways. I think it certainly added a complexity to what was a very good friendship … It's very easy to blame work but the hours were long and hard, you get thrown together. I know it was wrong and it shouldn't have happened, but it did."

She said her relationships with Kemp and Coulson "weren't meant to be". After separating from Kemp in late 2005, she met her current husband, Charlie Brooks, at the beginning of March 2007. "I think it's fair to say we both knew very quickly that we wanted to be together. I told Charlie obviously about the failed fertility treatment in the past and said that if we did get together and he wanted children, I probably wouldn't be the right person." He told her he wanted to get married anyway and they consulted a specialist, Dr Mohammed Taranissi, who suggested surrogate parenthood.

They researched it and spoke to others who had been through it. "It's a big thing to do," she told the jury. "So, my mum was out shopping in Warrington one day and she bumped into my cousin who I was very close to at school." They started to talk about surrogacy, and the cousin volunteered to carry Brooks's baby, born in January 2012.

Brooks went on to describe her 10-year campaign to change the law after the murder of Sarah Payne. She told the court she had made mistakes, publishing details of one convicted paedophile – which provoked "a riot of sorts" in Portsmouth – and wrongly including in a gallery of predatory paedophiles a teacher who had an affair with an underage pupil. But, she said, the campaign had succeeded in closing a series of loopholes in sexual offences legislation and giving the public the right to ask police for information about convicted paedophiles in their area.

She also recalled how she asked her undercover specialist, Mazher Mahmood, to investigate the Countess of Wessex by posing as a "fake sheikh". This was extremely costly, she said, because "he would live the life of a true sheikh with a Bentley and a penthouse suite which he always told me was imperative." In the event, she said, she had agreed with Buckingham Palace that she would not publish the story if the countess gave her an interview. However, a week later, other newspapers had published inaccurate accounts of the countess's comments to the fake sheikh and so she had decided to publish the story after all. In an internal email at the time, she had warned other executives that "all our entrapment and subterfuge must be justified 110%. We have to be careful to ensure that everything we do is inside the law".

Brooks denies conspiring to intercept voicemail, conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and two counts of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. The trial continues.

Nick Davies
theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on February 21, 2014 11:09 • 19 views

February 20, 2014

Ex-News of the World editor tells jury of newsroom misogyny and intense competition on rise to top

Rebekah Brooks on Thursday stepped into the witness box at the Old Bailey for the first time and told the jury that as editor of the News of the World, she had never heard of Glenn Mulcaire and had known nothing of his phone-hacking activity for the paper.

"It's impossible for an editor to know every source for every story," she added. "Of course that's impossible with the sheer volume of stories coming into the paper."

Questioned by her barrister, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, she gave glimpses of her dealings with Rupert Murdoch and Tony Blair, and described her experience of life inside tabloid newsrooms, which included several examples of misogyny and tales of internal competition so intense that at one point she suspected colleagues of cutting her phone lines to stop her following up on an exclusive.

Before she began her evidence, the judge, Mr Justice Saunders, told the jury that, following legal argument, they should acquit her on one of the five charges against her. The prosecution had alleged that she had conspired to commit misconduct in public office by authorising payment to a military source for a photograph of Prince William in a bikini at a James Bond theme party at Sandhurst military academy. The judge said there was "considerable uncertainty" about where the photograph came from. A temporary jury foreman formally declared her not guilty on the charge.

Opening the defence, after more than three months of prosecution evidence, Laidlaw told the jury: "It is time for you to see Mrs Brooks as she is, not as she is described or spoken of elsewhere."

She told the jury how, in seven years, she had risen from a post as junior researcher on the News of the World's Sunday magazine to become deputy editor of the paper in December 1995, aged 27. Along the way, she said, she had encountered "a bit of old school misogyny".

There was only a small percentage of women in the newsroom. The features department had more women and was, therefore, known internally to some as the "pink parlour", and when she became a founder member of Women in Journalism, to promote the role of women in Fleet Street, she was aware of WIJ being referred to as "the whingers".

She told the jury about some of the stories that had helped her career. She had befriended the England footballer Paul Gascoigne after he broke his leg in the FA Cup final in 1991. As a result, in July 1994, he had agreed to give her an interview about incidents of domestic violence in his marriage. The paper had paid him between £50,000 and £80,000 for doing so. "It's a good story," she said, "but also it's a way of highlighting these issues."

A year later, when the actor Hugh Grant was arrested in Los Angeles with Divine Brown, who at the time was a prostitute, Brooks's editor, Phil Hall, had said that they must secure Brown's story. With the help of a US-based freelance who had previously been a private investigator, they had found Brown. "The News of the World got there first and she agreed to do a deal with us." She said they had paid Brown $100,000 for an interview, and then spent up to $150,000 more to hide her from rival newspapers.

They had arranged to move Brown to an "oasis resort" in the Nevada desert, but Brown was "very smart" and insisted she be accompanied by her whole family, including cousins. The News of the World had hired a plane to transport them to the resort and then, fearing that the Daily Mail or the Sun might be on their trail, they had moved them to a second resort.

At the time, Brooks had been features editor of the paper and the operation had "blown" her weekly spending limit. That could cause tension, she told the jury, but she had been moved by "the thought of not getting the story and of having to face the editor".

During this time, she said, Rupert Murdoch had come into her office for the first time and given her "kind advice" to take her time and to learn as she went. He had told her he did not like editors who sought publicity, "going on Radio 4 and spouting forth about their opinions". She added: "I think I made the fatal error of telling him that Woman's Own wanted to interview me, and the reaction was extremely grim."

As deputy, she would sometimes stand in for the editor of the News of the World and take calls from Murdoch on a Saturday evening, asking always: "What's going on?" She said the proprietor was "obsessed with news". She went on to describe the annual session in which the four editors of Murdoch's national newspapers would sit outside his office in Los Angeles or New York before going in one by one to try to persuade him to increase their budget.

She told the jury there was intense competition between the news and features departments at the paper. "They really didn't like each other." It was rare for people from the two departments to drink together in the pub. As features editor, she said, she had run a story about the relationship between the Conservative MP Alan Clark and a judge's wife. The story had ended with an appeal to readers to supply more information. When she had come into the office at the beginning of the next week, she had found her phone lines cut. "No one owned up to it, but I always suspected it was the newsdesk."

On another occasion, she discovered that the newsdesk had compiled a file of "any perceived mistakes or stupid stories I had done". The entries in the file had been labelled Twat 1, Twat 2, Twat 3. "It was a tough world."

Competition between the News of the World and the Sun was also intense, she said: when the Sun discovered that News of the World journalists were walking past their office on the way to the canteen, they had frosted all the windows to prevent them looking in.

She said she had got to know Tony Blair in 1996. Her then partner, the actor Ross Kemp, was "a card-carrying member of the Labour party" and had taken her to a rally in Nottingham or Sheffield where she had met Blair and "the original New Labour crew". The following year, the Sun and News of the World had switched their support from Conservative to Labour.

After two years as deputy editor of the Sun, she had returned to the News of the World as editor in January 2000.

Laidlaw asked her whether, during the two and a half years she held that job, she had heard the name of Glenn Mulcaire.

"No," she replied.

"Did anybody speak his name in your presence?"

"No."

"As for phone-hacking – accessing voicemail messages – was any involvement he had in that practice ever drawn to your attention?"

"No. Not at all."

She said that on taking over as editor, she had appointed as investigations editor Greg Miskiw who, the jury have been told, has pleaded guilty to conspiring with Mulcaire to hack phones. Brooks said she had ordered Miskiw to return from a new posting to New York because she thought it was a waste of money for the paper to have a New York bureau. She had a professional relationship with him, she said, but "he was quite insular, had an air of mystery".

Asked if Miskiw's investigation unit had been set up to hack voicemail, she said: "It's just not correct."

Rebekah Brooks denies conspiring to intercept voicemail, one remaining count of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and two counts of perverting the course of justice. The trial continues.

Nick Davies
theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on February 20, 2014 14:10 • 15 views

February 19, 2014

Former PM says Brooks email saying he urged NoW inquiry 'to clear her' was just 'advice for transparent process'

Tony Blair secretly advised Rebekah Brooks to launch a "Hutton-style" inquiry into the News of the World six days before her arrest as a suspect in the phone-hacking scandal, it has been revealed in evidence disclosed at the Old Bailey.

According to an email written by Brooks, following an hour-long phone call in July 2011, the former prime minister had also offered to act as an "unofficial adviser" to her, Rupert and James Murdoch on a "between us" basis.

The note from Brooks – sent to James Murdoch – was read out in the phone-hacking trial. In it, she said that Blair had suggested that News International set up an inquiry which would "publish a Hutton-style report" that would "clear you and accept short comings [sic]".

She also wrote that Blair told her the crisis would pass and she should "tough up" and not make any rash decisions. The former prime minister also told News International's then chief executive to "keep strong" and appeared to suggest she should take sleeping pills to keep a clear head.

The email was sent at 4.20pm on Monday 11 July, the day after the News of the World closed and seven days after the Guardian disclosed that the tabloid had hacked the voicemail messages of the missing Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler, triggering a chain reaction of further revelations and political outcry.

A day earlier, on Sunday 10 July, Rupert Murdoch had flown into London to deal with the crisis, which coincided with the final stage of his ultimately unsuccessful effort to buy BSkyB.

On the same days as Blair was privately giving Brooks advice on how to endure the public firestorm, the Labour leader Ed Miliband was calling for a judge-led inquiry into News International as part of an unprecedented assault on Murdoch in the House of Commons.

But according to Brooks's note, Blair was suggesting that News International set up an "independent" inquiry using Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions and a lawyer whom Rupert Murdoch had turned to for advice during the phone-hacking scandal.

She said Blair had told her:

"1. Form an independent unit that has an outside junior counsel, Ken Macdonald, a great and good type, a serious forensic criminal barrister, internal counsel, proper fact checkers etc in it. Get them to investigate me and others and publish a Hutton style report.

"2. Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept short comings and new solutions and process and part two when any trials are over."

Blair's suggestion, as recorded by Brooks, that the inquiry be "Hutton-style" was a reference to Lord Hutton's 2003 inquiry into the suicide of the UN weapons inspector David Kelly. The Hutton report exonerated the government of blame for his death.

The closure of the News of the World after 168 years surprised politicians of all parties, many of whom felt it was Murdoch's last-ditch attempt to salvage his takeover bid for BSkyB. On the day that Brooks sent the email both Miliband and David Cameron were holding press conferences on the scandal, with the prime minister calling on News International to concentrate on "clearing the mess up".

Blair had long enjoyed the political support of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, and the Sun, edited by Brooks between 2003 and 2009, supported him at three general elections. In 2009, after Blair had left office, the tabloid switched to the Conservatives – but the former prime minister enjoyed a close friendship with the Murdochs and Brooks.

Hours after the evidence emerged in court, Blair insisted that his advice had not been based on any direct knowledge of what had happened at News International, or who was culpable.

His office did little to challenge the content of Brooks's email but maintained that the reference to a "Hutton-style" inquiry was a reference to the company setting up a "transparent and independent" process.

"This was Mr Blair simply giving informal advice over the phone," his office said. "He made it absolutely clear to Ms Brooks that, though he knew nothing personally about the facts of the case, in a situation as serious as this it was essential to have a fully transparent and independent process to get to the bottom of what had happened." Blair's office said he had argued that an independent inquiry should be "led by credible people".

Although Macdonald has advised Murdoch in the past he is also seen as fiercely independent. He has been a staunch critic of Blair, especially over his conduct of the Iraq war, writing in the Times in 2009 that Blair's fundamental flaw was his "sycophancy to power".

Brooks's email to James Murdoch followed a note written less than an hour earlier, in which she pointed out that the final issue of the News of the World was close to selling 4m copies. That initial note prompted a short reply from Murdoch, simplysaying: "What are you doing on email?"

Half an hour before Brooks sent her email, the under-pressure Rupert Murdoch took his first step in abandoning the bid for Sky by announcing that he was withdrawing certain undertakings, triggering a referral to the competition authorities. Days later he withdrew the takeover bid entirely.

The Old Bailey also heard that Brooks had discussed a survival plan that would see her "ring-fenced" from the phone-hacking scandal. She had proposed a detailed "plan B" in a separate email to James Murdoch datedthree days earlier – 8 July.

The jury learned on Wednesday that she went on to propose an announcement to the public that News International's previous investigations into phone-hacking allegations fell short.

She suggested that the statement should say: "Our internal investigations were woeful and limited and we failed to hold the right people accountable."

Under the plan, Will Lewis would be promoted to News International deputy chief executive and would go on to the BBC's Andrew Marr show to face questions about the growing scandal. The company would also review all its previous investigations.

Rebekah Brooks denies five charges in the phone-hacking trial. She is due to start her defence on Thursday morning.

Lisa O'CarrollPatrick WintourNick Davies
theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on February 19, 2014 23:56 • 18 views

Former PM says Brooks email saying he urged NoW inquiry 'to clear her' was just 'advice for transparent process'

Tony Blair secretly advised Rebekah Brooks to launch a "Hutton-style" inquiry into the News of the World six days before her arrest as a suspect in the phone-hacking scandal, it has been revealed in evidence disclosed at the Old Bailey.

According to an email written by Brooks, following an hour-long phone call in July 2011, the former prime minister had also offered to act as an "unofficial adviser" to her, Rupert and James Murdoch on a "between us" basis.

The note from Brooks – sent to James Murdoch – was read out in the phone-hacking trial. In it, she said that Blair had suggested that News International set up an inquiry which would "publish a Hutton-style report" that would "clear you and accept short comings [sic]".

She also wrote that Blair told her the crisis would pass and she should "tough up" and not make any rash decisions. The former prime minister also told News International's then chief executive to "keep strong" and appeared to suggest she should take sleeping pills to keep a clear head.

The email was sent at 4.20pm on Monday 11 July, the day after the News of the World closed and seven days after the Guardian disclosed that the tabloid had hacked the voicemail messages of the missing Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler, triggering a chain reaction of further revelations and political outcry.

A day earlier, on Sunday 10 July, Rupert Murdoch had flown into London to deal with the crisis, which coincided with the final stage of his ultimately unsuccessful effort to buy BSkyB.

On the same days as Blair was privately giving Brooks advice on how to endure the public firestorm, the Labour leader Ed Miliband was calling for a judge-led inquiry into News International as part of an unprecedented assault on Murdoch in the House of Commons.

But according to Brooks's note, Blair was suggesting that News International set up an "independent" inquiry using Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions and a lawyer whom Rupert Murdoch had turned to for advice during the phone-hacking scandal.

She said Blair had told her:

"1. Form an independent unit that has an outside junior counsel, Ken Macdonald, a great and good type, a serious forensic criminal barrister, internal counsel, proper fact checkers etc in it. Get them to investigate me and others and publish a Hutton style report.

"2. Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept short comings and new solutions and process and part two when any trials are over."

Blair's suggestion, as recorded by Brooks, that the inquiry be "Hutton-style" was a reference to Lord Hutton's 2003 inquiry into the suicide of the UN weapons inspector David Kelly. The Hutton report exonerated the government of blame for his death.

The closure of the News of the World after 168 years surprised politicians of all parties, many of whom felt it was Murdoch's last-ditch attempt to salvage his takeover bid for BSkyB. On the day that Brooks sent the email both Miliband and David Cameron were holding press conferences on the scandal, with the prime minister calling on News International to concentrate on "clearing the mess up".

Blair had long enjoyed the political support of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, and the Sun, edited by Brooks between 2003 and 2009, supported him at three general elections. In 2009, after Blair had left office, the tabloid switched to the Conservatives – but the former prime minister enjoyed a close friendship with the Murdochs and Brooks.

Hours after the evidence emerged in court, Blair insisted that his advice had not been based on any direct knowledge of what had happened at News International, or who was culpable.

His office did little to challenge the content of Brooks's email but maintained that the reference to a "Hutton-style" inquiry was a reference to the company setting up a "transparent and independent" process.

"This was Mr Blair simply giving informal advice over the phone," his office said. "He made it absolutely clear to Ms Brooks that, though he knew nothing personally about the facts of the case, in a situation as serious as this it was essential to have a fully transparent and independent process to get to the bottom of what had happened." Blair's office said he had argued that an independent inquiry should be "led by credible people".

Although Macdonald has advised Murdoch in the past he is also seen as fiercely independent. He has been a staunch critic of Blair, especially over his conduct of the Iraq war, writing in the Times in 2009 that Blair's fundamental flaw was his "sycophancy to power".

Brooks's email to James Murdoch followed a note written less than an hour earlier, in which she pointed out that the final issue of the News of the World was close to selling 4m copies. That initial note prompted a short reply from Murdoch, simplysaying: "What are you doing on email?"

Half an hour before Brooks sent her email, the under-pressure Rupert Murdoch took his first step in abandoning the bid for Sky by announcing that he was withdrawing certain undertakings, triggering a referral to the competition authorities. Days later he withdrew the takeover bid entirely.

The Old Bailey also heard that Brooks had discussed a survival plan that would see her "ring-fenced" from the phone-hacking scandal. She had proposed a detailed "plan B" in a separate email to James Murdoch datedthree days earlier – 8 July.

The jury learned on Wednesday that she went on to propose an announcement to the public that News International's previous investigations into phone-hacking allegations fell short.

She suggested that the statement should say: "Our internal investigations were woeful and limited and we failed to hold the right people accountable."

Under the plan, Will Lewis would be promoted to News International deputy chief executive and would go on to the BBC's Andrew Marr show to face questions about the growing scandal. The company would also review all its previous investigations.

Rebekah Brooks denies five charges in the phone-hacking trial. She is due to start her defence on Thursday morning.

Lisa O'CarrollPatrick WintourNick Davies
theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on February 19, 2014 16:00 • 14 views

January 30, 2014

Lawyer for former NoW editor questions reporter on details of 'love' voicemail sent from Miller to actor Daniel Craig

Andy Coulson was not even in London on the day he supposedly personally listened to an illegally intercepted voicemail in the east London office of the News of the World, an Old Bailey jury heard on Thursday.

Dan Evans, a former Sunday Mirror reporter, who has admitted hacking phones over a seven-year period, told the jury he played Coulson the message – on which, he claimed, Sienna Miller was heard declaring her love for Daniel Craig – in the newspaper's features department "around twilight" on Tuesday 27 September 2005.

In a series of bruising exchanges, Timothy Langdale QC, barrister for Coulson, the former News of the World editor, said: "Mr Coulson was not in the office at all that day. He was not even in London that day. What do you say to that?"

Evans replied that that had always been his memory. "If you are saying that he definitely wasn't there and he was in a different part of the country, then my memory must be flawed. Maybe it was the next day, but my memory has always been that it was the same day. It doesn't alter the fact that the playing of the tape, and the remarks made, happened."

Asked whether he was saying the incident could have occurred on the Wednesday or Thursday instead, Evans replied: "It might have been. My feeling is that it would have been the Wednesday, the earlier date, although clearly my recollection hasn't been perfect on the day that it happened. But happen it did."

The clash came on Evans' fourth day in the witness box at the phone-hacking trial, as Langdale challenged details in his account of the Craig voicemail.

Evans has told the jury that a female he identified as the actor Miller had left a message the previous Saturday evening, saying: "Hi. It's me. Can't speak. I'm at the Groucho with Jude. I love you."

Langdale told him: "Sienna Miller wasn't in the Groucho club on the Saturday."

Evans replied: "Well, you know, the message said 'I'm in the Groucho with Jude'." Evans has said that he hacked the message during the following 48 hours.

Langdale said: "You didn't hack Daniel Craig on the Sunday or the Monday."

Evans: "Yes, I did."

The barrister then asked: "You're sticking to that?"

"I'm not here to make things up. This isn't a fun experience for me," Evans said.

Langdale then showed the jury a schedule of calls to Craig's mobile phone number, which had been made from Evans' mobile or office number. Evans agreed that these were hacks or attempted hacks.

The barrister said that the schedule showed no evidence of a hack on either the Sunday or Monday in question. Evans replied that he also frequently hacked Craig's phone by calling a special voicemail retrieval number, which did not figure on the schedule.

Evans has told the jury that on the Tuesday morning he had played his tape of the voicemail to several journalists, after which it was "all hands to the pumps" as the newspaper moved to flesh out the story.

Langdale told him: "I'm going to suggest to you that nothing of any consequence in terms of mobilising resources or starting work on the story commenced on Tuesday the 27th."

Evans replied: "I do not accept what you say."

Langdale then showed the jury internal emails which contained no reference to Evans working on the story, and phone records which showed that on the Tuesday morning Evans had hacked the voicemail of Jade Goody's partner, Jeff Brazier.

"This is your big day. You come into the office, wagging your tail, with this big story. What are you doing hacking Jeff Brazier?"

Evans said it was common to work on multiple stories at any one time.

Langdale pressed him on phone records showing that he had hacked Craig's phone later in the week, at a time when other reporters were working on the story about the James Bond actor's relationship with Miller. "Is it the case that you were trying to get information yourself to try and get in on the story yourself?

"No," said Evans. "I was already in on it."

Langdale asked why he had hacked Craig's phone on the Friday afternoon immediately before and after knocking on the actor's door to confront him with the story. Langdale suggested that this was very risky.

Evans replied: "I think with the benefit of hindsight it clearly wasn't wise, but at the time there was a sense at the News of the World that we were pretty much untouchable. There was an arrogance in the paper which was probably led by the editor and his attitude."

Langdale also challenged Evans over the detail of an earlier story in which he reported that Miller had been in tears over reports that tthe actor Law had had an affair with their nanny.

The story, suggested Langdale, "had nothing to do with any voicemail hack"; it came from another reporter's source.

Evans told the jury that he had heard a voicemail, "cleaned it up, sanitised it" and then added "tabloid fluff", inventing "plausible quotes" from unnamed sources.

Evans has pleaded guilty to two counts of intercepting communications, at the Sunday Mirror and News of the World, one count of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office, and one count of perverting the course of justice.

Coulson denies one count of conspiring to intercept communications and one count of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office. The trial continues.

Nick Davies
theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on January 30, 2014 11:04 • 26 views

January 29, 2014

Andy Coulson's lawyer questions journalist about bid to secure immunity from prosecution in exchange for giving evidence

Andy Coulson's lawyer confronted the self-confessed phone-hacker Dan Evans on Wednesday, repeatedly questioning the reliability of his evidence that included allegations that the now-closed News of the World was involved in crime when Coulson was editing the Sunday tabloid .

Timothy Langdale QC challenged Evans at length over a false witness statement which he had made in a civil action and over the history of his attempts to secure an immunity from prosecution in exchange for giving evidence.

The jury in the phone-hacking trial have been told that Evans has pleaded guilty to four offences, including perverting the course of justice by swearing a false statement in a civil action brought by the interior designer Kelly Hoppen, whose phone he hacked in June 2009.

Questioned by Langdale, Evans said: "I did lie. I was upholding a conspiracy ... I'm saying there was an enormous conspiracy which I've been caught up in. I was toeing the party line, the company line."

He said that, in April 2010, when the News of the World's managing editor first asked him about Hoppen's complaint that her phone had been hacked, he claimed he was not able to remember the incident and had mentioned that, as a result of a spilled drink in a pub, his phone at the time had "sticky keys".

"This phrase was seized on," Evans said. "By the time it got to my first meeting with News International lawyers, it had already been drafted into the statement. There it stayed. I went with it because I was extremely frightened."

Asked if he was blaming the lawyers, identified in the Old Bailey as Farrer & Co, he said: "I bitterly regret that I didn't take a braver course of action at the time." He agreed that when he had been arrested and questioned by police in August 2011, he had given them a prepared statement which repeated the same line. "It was cobblers," he told the court.

Langdale led Evans through the history of his negotiations with police, beginning in November 2011, when notes disclosed by Evans' lawyers suggest that he first considered the possibility of helping the police and of seeking immunity from prosecution for himself. Pressed about his intentions at that time, he said: "I was a very frightened man – one person between the prime minister, between the tabloid world, between highly-paid lawyers. I didn't know what to do."

By February 2012, his lawyers were talking to police and recording Evans' claim that "phone-hacking was discussed at daily editorial conferences" at the News of the World. Challenged as to how he could have known that, Evans said: "As far as I was concerned, it was so widely known at the paper and it had been covered up so extensively that there was a very widespread conspiracy within the organisation."

On Monday and Tuesday, Evans had told the jury that Coulson hired him as a reporter knowing that he had a history of hacking phones in his previous job at the Sunday Mirror and that Coulson personally listened to a voicemail which he had intercepted from the phone of the actor Daniel Craig.

Langdale suggested that it was not true that Coulson had listened to the message from Craig's phone. Evans replied: "I didn't see you there at the time. It's true."

The jury heard that after lengthy negotiations between police and Evans' lawyers, he had agreed to give three long interviews to detectives in August 2012. He had been hoping to be given a complete immunity but the detectives had opened the interviews by telling him: "We're not offering you a contract... We definitely won't be making any promises."

Evans had then told them: "I can pinpoint the moment, however many years ago, that I took the wrong path. I want to be able to look my kids in the eyes and tell them when they need to be honest. I want to be able to begin my life again with a clean slate."

With his lawyers pressing the police for a full immunity, Evans had given a fourth interview in September 2012, the court heard, only to see negotiations falter and then collapse. In January 2013, the Crown Prosecution Service had formally rejected the idea, telling his lawyers that such an agreement would leave Evans "extremely vulnerable to the charge that he had made up all the evidence in order to exculpate himself and place the blame on others."

Evans had then withdrawn his offer to help police. Langdale asked him what had happened to his desire to look his children in the eyes, to have a clean slate. "To be frank," he replied, "I'd had enough of being used as a football by all the people in this particular game and recalcitrance got the better of me. I decided I didn't want any more."

Over the following months, the jury were told, the police re-arrested him and questioned him under caution. By April 2013, he had hired a new lawyer, who reopened negotations with police. In August 2013, he said, the CPS had signed an agreement that his co-operation would result in a reduced sentence.

In further questioning, Evans admitted that he had used alcohol and cocaine at the Sunday Mirror and had continued to do so at the News of the World. "There was a lot of duress. I hacked there to get stories and to keep my head above water. It's difficult to understand the pressure that human beings can come under in a newspaper like that.... Working there was a never-ending stream of grief." He said he had been in therapy for the last year and a half.

He said his hacking had been "an open secret" at the News of the World – "the office cat knew." He had not broadcast his activity because that would have been crass but added: "The truth is that Andy Coulson knew exactly what went on on his watch."

Coulson denies conspiring to intercept communications. Dan Evans has pleaded guilty to two counts of intercepting communications; conspiring to commit misconduct in public office; and perverting the course of justice. The trial continues.

Nick Davies
theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on January 29, 2014 12:09 • 17 views

January 28, 2014

Phone-hacking trial told how former News of the World editor sought to make source of recording appear anonymous

Andy Coulson listened in to a voicemail from the actor Sienna Miller, which had been intercepted from the phone of Daniel Craig, and then organised a plan to conceal its origin, according to a self-confessed phone-hacker giving evidence at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.

Dan Evans told the jury in the phone-hacking trial that the former News of the World editor had declared the message "brilliant" and later told him to arrange for a recording of the voicemail to be left in a Jiffy bag at the front gate of the News of the World's office so that it appeared to have come from an anonymous source.

The court has heard that Evans has agreed to give evidence for the prosecution in the trial after admitting that he hacked phones over a seven-year period for the Sunday Mirror and the News of the World. He told the jury on Tuesday that hacking was "referred to regularly" at the News of the World.

Coulson sat in the dock with his chin resting on his right hand as Evans described how he had come to hack Craig's voicemail in September 2005. He said it had been an unhappy time and he had felt quite bullied at work.

At one point, another journalist had "monstered" him in an email, written entirely in capital letters: "If you don't come up with a front-page story soon then you might as well jump off a cliff." Evans had added that the same journalist had then told him that his "unique selling point" was intercepting voicemail and "I suggest you fucking well get on with some."

He had gone home that weekend, he told the jury, and "hacked every phone I could possibly think of hacking, and that included one belonging to the actor Daniel Craig, who might be better known as James Bond".

As he listened to Craig's messages, he said, he had heard a female voice saying: "Hi. It's me. Can't speak. I'm at the Groucho with Jude. I love you." When he checked the number from which she was calling, he found it belonged to Sienna Miller.

Evans said that over the previous months he had followed the story of Miller's turbulent relationship with fellow actor Jude Law, who had been exposed for an affair with their nanny. If she was now having an affair with Craig, that was "the next instalment in the soap opera".

He said he had recorded the voicemail and played it to a colleague in the office, who told him that another reporter on the paper, Mr Z, had already picked up a tip about the affair.

Mr Z had been delighted when he heard about it: "The voicemail was incontrovertible proof that the editor of the News of the World required to run the story." Evans said there had been excitement about the voicemail in the newspaper's office. He continued: "Later that day, Andy [Coulson] came over wanting to hear the tape."

Several other journalists, including Mr Z, were nearby as he played him the message, he claimed. "Certainly, Andy was there. I played the tape. Andy was standing right next to me, listening to the tape."

Evans was asked how Coulson and the others had reacted. "Andy became very animated – 'Brilliant.' Mr Z was 'Yeah, told you so.' Everyone is having a bit of an adrenaline kick. They said 'Good work.' Another journalist had taken him by the elbow and said 'You're a company man now, Dan'."

A little later, he said, Coulson had called across the room to him with an instruction: "Andy wanted to preserve the tape but not in the original recording, so he said to me basically 'You need to make a copy of the tape, stick the copy in a Jiffy bag, have it sent down to the front gate, have them ring up and say 'This has been dropped in anonymously'.'"

Evans told the jury that he had cabled two Dictaphones together, made a second recording of the voicemail and then sent it to the front gate. "Mr Z, about 20 minutes later, comes back upstairs with the Jiffy bag with a look of mock surprise: 'Look what I've found!'"

The former News of the World reporter said that he then went to Craig's north London home to confront him about the affair. Craig had said: "No, no, no. It's not true. No." They had held the story back for a further week.

Evans told the court he had continued to monitor Craig's phone and had heard a message from Law: "He had phoned Daniel and left a voicemail – quite bitchy – and saying 'Thanks, mate. I hope Saski doesn't find out."

Saski, the jury has been told, was the name of Craig's then girlfriend, Satsuki Mitchell. Evans said he had fed this back to the paper – and the News of the World had then published the story.

Craig had continued to be one of Evans's targets. Four months later, in February 2006, he said, he had picked up a message on Craig's phone suggesting that an actor called Eva Green was to be the next Bond girl. He had taken the story into the paper where, he understood, it had been discussed in a regular morning conference, chaired by Coulson.

Afterwards, Mr Z had come up to him and told him that during the conference, Coulson had queried the reliability of the story and been told by a colleague of Evans: "It's from Dan. It's from the phones."

Evans told the jury: "This is in the executive conference in front of the entire executive contingent of the paper." He had then remonstrated with his colleague, who had replied: "Take your point. Won't do it again."

Evans said he could think of 10 individuals at the News of the World who, from his own direct personal knowledge, were aware of phone hacking.

He claimed that this included Coulson and the then news editor, James Weatherup, who, the court has heard, has admitted conspiring to intercept communications. "It was referred to regularly, daily," he said.

On Monday, he told the jury that he had learned a technique of hacking known as "double tapping". He would call the target on one phone, count to three and then call with a second phone. If his timing was right, his second phone would be put through to voicemail and he could hang up the first phone before the target heard it ringing. On Tuesday, the jury were shown a schedule that had been prepared by police, who analysed calls made by Evans's phones and selected every case that appeared to be consistent with double tapping. Among dozens of names shown to the jury were those of Cilla Black, Kate Moss, Trevor McDonald, Jade Goody and the football agent Struan Marshall.

Evans said everything had changed on 8 August 2006, when the police arrested the newspaper's royal editor, Clive Goodman, and the news desk's specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire.

There was "a palpable sense of shock" in the office, he said. "Everybody was on tenterhooks. There was a lot of fear and anxiety going around, a lot of people preparing to cover their tracks for all sorts of different privacy-related infringements."

That morning, as he took the lift up to the newsroom, another journalist had told him: "Goes without saying. No more hookey stuff."

He said he had understood that this was a reference to hacking and that he had gone to his desk, in the middle of the features department. There he destroyed microcassettes with recordings of intercepted voicemails, shredded paperwork containing call data and ripped up notebooks. He had then taken his master list of target phone numbers and PIN codes, put it in an envelope, wrapped the envelope in black gaffer tape and hidden it in a friend's loft.

There the list had stayed, he said, until nearly three years later, in June 2009, when he wanted to check a story that the interior designer Kelly Hoppen was in a relationship with Madonna's former husband Guy Ritchie.

"Curiosity killed this particular cat," he told the jury. He found details for Hoppen, whom he had hacked in the past, but used an out-of-date PIN code, which triggered a security warning sent automatically to Hoppen.

In March or April 2010, the paper's managing editor, Bill Akass, called him in and told him that Hoppen was suing. He had felt, he said, "stir-cold shock" and had told Akass he had no recollection of making the calls. He had been taken off frontline reporting and then later sent home on full pay.

Asked about a statement that he had then made in the case brought by Hoppen, he said: "I didn't tell the truth ... I point-blank denied hacking her voicemail."

Asked if he had ever been in trouble with the law, he said that he had been "busted" for possession of amphetamine when he was a student and then for possession of cocaine "seven or eight years ago". At one point he told the jury: "For the record, I would like to apologise to all involved who had their privacy infringed."

Evans has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to intercept communications. He has also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and one count of perverting the course of justice by making a false witness statement about Hoppen.

Coulson denies one count of conspiring to intercept communications and one count of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.

The trial continues.

Nick Davies
theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on January 28, 2014 13:56 • 25 views

January 27, 2014

Dan Evans tells Old Bailey about 'ker-ching moment' when he said he could bring 'big, exclusive stories' to NoW

A self-confessed phone-hacker told the Old Bailey on Monday that he was hired to work for the News of the World after personally telling the editor, Andy Coulson, that he could bring him "big, exclusive stories" by intercepting voicemail.

Speaking to the jury in the phone-hacking trial, Dan Evans became the first hacker to talk publicly about his work, telling the court that he had admitted conspiring to intercept communications over a seven-year period for the Sunday Mirror and the News of the World.

The court heard that Evans had agreed to become a prosecution witness last August. Voicemail interception, he told the court, had been "a pretty standard tabloid tool".

Evans appeared on the same day as the actor Jude Law, who was confronted with claims that a member of his immediate family had sold information about him to the News of the World and that a close friend and one of his employees had also been sources for the paper's coverage of his private life.

Evans told the court that he had been shown how to hack mobile phone messages by a journalist on the Sunday Mirror and had done so for the paper "on a fairly grand scale". The News of the World had then made a series of attempts to poach him, culminating in a breakfast meeting at the Aldwych Hotel in central London in October 2004.

He told the jury he met Andy Coulson, then editing the News of the World, and another journalist from the paper, "Mr A", with whom he had already held two meetings.

He ordered scrambled eggs and smoked salmon and then told Coulson about his background and experience with investigations. "I moved on to voicemail interception and told him how I'd got a lot of commercially sensitive data stored in my head."

He had told Coulson about a list of hacking targets, complete with phone numbers and PIN codes, which he had compiled for the Sunday Mirror. "I told him I could bring him big, exclusive stories cheaply, which was like the 'ker-ching moment'."

Coulson had asked him how he would run an investigation and he had told the then editor that he could go out and meet people or he could hack into somebody's phone, find a story "and boom – you've got something that's going to shift units from supermarket shelves".

Evans said he would not have used the expression "phone-hacking" in talking to Coulson but would have talked about "stuff with phones". He added: "There was not an awful lot of doubt that I was talking about voicemail interception."

He had described a series of "humdinger" stories that he had landed for the front page of the Sunday Mirror. "I said these were achieved through this method. Andy knew what the context of it was."

Coulson had shaken hands after breakfast and, 10 minutes later, Mr A had called to tell him: "You've done brilliantly. You've got the job."

Questioned by Andrew Edis QC for the Crown, Evans told the court that he had started on Fleet Street in 2001, doing shifts as a news reporter for the Sunday Mirror before joining the staff in mid-2003.

"There was a point after I had taken the staff job when I was taken to one side by a senior executive and tasked with something that was a secret. He proceeded to show me how to hack voicemail for the first time and proceeded to show me a bundle of pages with famous people's phone numbers and details. He said: 'Right. This is your job – to hack and crack the PIN codes of all these people'."

Evans said that in May 2004 he was contacted by James Weatherup, who had previously worked with him at the Sunday Mirror but had left to become news editor at the News of the World. "In common with other senior journalists on the paper, he was aware that I had been tasked to hack people's phones on a fairly grand scale."

Weatherup had invited him to a bar in Wapping and encouraged him to join him at the News of the World, in part because of his skill at intercepting voicemail: "I could bring my knowledge of phone-hacking to the News of the World. I knew the Sunday Mirror's phone-hacking regime inside out."

Evans had turned him down, in part because he was becoming depressed by the amount of hacking he was already doing. "I was forsaking stuff that I really enjoyed doing."

Weatherup had persisted, inviting him back to the bar where he introduced him to another journalist from the News of the World – "a bombastic character" – who had told him: "I know you can screw phones. What else can you do?"

The meeting ended abruptly, Evans said, when he made it clear he was not interested. It was after that, in September 2004, that he had been approached by Mr A.

He told the jury he had originally met Mr A the previous year at a Sunday Mirror leaving party for Weatherup: "James was giving his speech and there was a lot of heckling from the crowd, and something came up to do with sources of stories. I remember Mr A shouting in a very knowing voice 'I don't understand why people don't change their fucking voicemail PINs'."

At that point, Evans said, a colleague from the Sunday Mirror had come over and led him away, telling Mr A: "You leave him alone. He's ours." Evans added: "You can take from that that voicemail interception was a pretty standard tool in the tabloid journalistic kit, ie most people knew about it."

Evans said he was hired to work in the News of the World's features department after the breakfast with Mr A and Coulson. Features, he said, was in a state of "internal tension" with the news desk, going "head to head" in competition with each other every week. He recalled one journalist talking to him about phone-hacking, saying: "News have been doing it for ages. My view is that if you can't beat them, join them."

Evans said he hacked phones "probably most days", as well as using a firm of inquiry agents, TDI, who obtained confidential phone data, bank details, tax information and medical records on targets.

Stories obtained by these "dark arts", he said, needed "a line of deniability". He suggested that if a hacked phone disclosed two people having an affair, the paper would then try to buy the story of one of the parties to the affair. "That's kind of how tabloid journalism was working at that time," he said.

He said he had finally been caught in 2009 when he had attempted to hack the phone of an interior designer, Kelly Hoppen, and "failed miserably", triggering an automatic security alert that warned Hoppen that somebody had tried to access her voicemail with the wrong PIN code. That had then been traced to his company phone. "I was a moron," he said.

Evans has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to intercept communications between February 2003 and June 2010.

Coulson denies one count of conspiring to intercept communications.

Nick Davies
theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on January 27, 2014 16:15 • 12 views

January 23, 2014

Laptops contained four News International documents and football and racing apps, the Old Bailey told

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 has heard.

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 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 International parent company 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 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 her husband, 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 Brooks and apps relating to football and racing.

Neil Saunders, for Charlie Brooks, told the jury that a Sony Vaio laptop contained about 8,000 emails, none of which had been sent by his wife. 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 game. Jonathan Laidlaw QC, for Rebekah 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.

Nick Davies
theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on January 23, 2014 10:17 • 21 views

January 20, 2014

Prosecutors tell phone-hacking trial Rebekah and Charlie Brooks plotted with security adviser Mark Hanna to conceal items

Two bags that were allegedly hidden by Charlie Brooks to frustrate a police search contained two laptop computers, a tablet, an iPod, a mobile phone, a dictation machine and seven pornographic DVDs, an Old Bailey jury has heard.

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. All three deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

The jury was given a detailed inventory of the contents of two bags the crown say were found tied up in a black bin-liner in the car park on 18 July 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, and items ranging from a Wimbledon tennis programme to the newsletter of the British Kunekune Pig Society, toothpaste and a conker. There was also a magazine titled Lesbian Lovers and the seven pornographic DVDs with titles that included Instant Lesbian, Lesbian Psychodrama 2 and 3 and Where the Boys Are 17.

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

Neil Perkins, a porter from the block of flats, in Chelsea Harbour, told the jury that on the morning of 18 July 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.'"

DC Alan Pritchard said 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 that was retrieved, they found there were three liners that had been knotted and sealed with clear tape.

A fingerprint analyst, Kevin Young, said 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 9 July, 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 in Wapping. He said that after discussing Rebekah Brooks, Hanna 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.

Nick Davies
theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on January 20, 2014 12:37 • 49 views

Nick Davies's Blog

Nick Davies
Nick Davies isn't a Goodreads Author (yet), but he does have a blog, so here are some recent posts imported from his feed.
Follow Nick Davies's blog with rss.