Rebekah Brooks told the London court that she found it “abhorrent” that journalists at News Corp. (NWSA:US)’s News of the World tabloid hacked the phone of a missing teenager for a story.
Brooks, who edited the newspaper from 2000 to 2003, said she didn’t know that a private investigator was directed to hack the phone of 13-year-old Milly Dowler, who was found murdered in 2002. She reacted with “shock” and “horror” in July 2011 when the hacking became public.
“Anyone would think that was pretty abhorrent,” Brooks, 45, said on her third day of testimony in London.
Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, is one of seven people on trial for charges related to wrongdoing at News Corp. newspapers. The Dowler case triggered a scandal that led News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to close the 168-year-old News of the World in July 2011.
Brooks, who is charged with conspiring to illegally access Dowler’s voice mails, repeated today that she was unaware of the contracts for a private detective who was hired by the newspaper to hack telephones. The investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, has pleaded guilty to phone hacking.
She said that while she edited the tabloid a decade ago, she was unaware phone hacking was against the law, but still considered it a “serious breach of privacy.”
“I cannot see that it would have been a useful thing to do,” Brooks said. “Particularly if you did not have an overwhelming public interest for doing so.”
Brooks said she was on vacation in Dubai when Dowler’s phone was hacked and the newspaper was being run by Andy Coulson, another defendant in the case.
Coulson, who replaced Brooks as editor of the News of the World and later went on to become a press aide to Prime Minister David Cameron.
Stuart Kuttner, the former managing editor of the News of the World, is accused of phone hacking. The newspaper’s one-time royal reporter, Clive Goodman, is charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.
Brooks’s husband, Charlie, her former assistant Cheryl Carter, and the U.K. unit’s former head of security, Mark Hanna, face charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. All seven have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
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