Bloomberg News

Brooks Evidence Bears Little Relation to Truth, Prosecutor Says

March 12, 2014

Rebekah Brooks’s 13 days of testimony in a trial over wrongdoing at News Corp.’s U.K. tabloids had “little relation to the truth,” prosecutors said.

Brooks, the former head of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, gave evidence that was “a carefully presented and prepared script,” Andrew Edis, the prosecution lawyer, said as he concluded five days of cross-examination today. Edis said Brooks was at the center of a conspiracy to hack phones, pay bribes and hide evidence.

Brooks, 45, is among seven people on trial for alleged crimes at News Corp.’s U.K. newspapers. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the weekly News of the World in 2011 following a scandal caused by the discovery that journalists at the tabloid had listened to messages on the phone of a murdered teenager.

Brooks, the editor of News Corp.’s News of the World and Sun tabloids before she became head of the company’s U.K. unit, had a “meteoric rise” to the top of her profession and was “extremely good at” her job, Edis said.

“You got some very good stories. You did not much care how you got them,” Edis said.

Brooks repeatedly rebuffed suggestions she knew about any of the accusations against her.

“You were running your world and not much happened in it that you did not want to happen, when you were at the top of the tree,” Edis said. “You were the boss.”

Edis earlier focused on charges that she conspired with her husband, Charlie, her personal assistant and another News Corp. (NWSA:US) employee to destroy evidence at the height of the phone-hacking scandal.

Hiding

Brooks told the London court that her husband “did a really, really stupid” thing when he tried to conceal a laptop computer and DVDs filled with pornography from police.

She said her spouse, who is a defendant in the trial, avoided telling her about hiding the computer on the day she was arrested in July 2011. Brooks also said she didn’t know her personal assistant took notebooks from a company archive days earlier.

“It was an impulsive, ill-thought-out thing to do,” Brooks said of her husband’s actions, on her 13th day of testimony. “I understood it, but it was really, really stupid.”

While Brooks described the content of the computers today as “private stuff,” she testified on March 4 that her husband told her he had lost his “rather large porn collection” and could be arrested himself.

Control People

Edis said today that Brooks must have been aware of what her husband, Carter and the unit’s director of security were all doing during the hectic days when the phone-hacking scandal was dominating U.K. newspaper headlines.

“You were in a position to control the activities of all those people who were involved in these journeys,” Edis said. “They were all working for you and in one case he was married to you.”

Brooks told Edis that she didn’t know of the existence of the facility from which Carter removed the seven boxes of notebooks. She also said she discussed how to enter and leave the building with the head of security, Mark Hanna.

“I was concerned that all the arrests were leaking,” Brooks said. “If I was arrested all the media would be there.”

Also today, Edis returned to messages Brooks was sent by Tony Blair, the former U.K. prime minister. Blair offered to help Brooks prepare for an appearance in front of lawmakers to discuss the phone-hacking scandal.

“Properly terrified,” Brooks said in a text message to Blair. “Police behaving so badly.”

“Everyone panics in these situations and they will feel they have their reputation to recover,” Blair replied one day before Brooks was arrested, signing his texts off with an “X.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net Lindsay Fortado


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