Phone-hacking trial: Brooks, MI5 and the royal directories

The trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, the prime minister's former director of communications Andy Coulson and six others began at the Old Bailey on 28 October. The Drum will be in court for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last at least four months, and will provide comprehensive updates on this blog.

The trial is scheduled to examine seven counts that include conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Coverage will be provided by James Doleman, who was acclaimed for his exhaustive and responsible reporting of the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial.

After the jury took their seats in court 12 at London's Old Bailey the presiding judge, Mr Justice Saunders, informed the ladies and gentlemen that defendant Ian Edmondson was not present because he has been taken ill, and his lawyers are unable to take instructions from him. It might therefore be necessary, Saunders told the jury, to recall witnesses at a later date if their evidence affected the case against Edmondson.

Jonathan Laidlaw, QC for Rebekah Brooks, then continued his cross-examination of detective constable Bridden over the "timeline" document presented by the prosecution in relation to the charges against his client of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office (read the first part of the cross-examination here). Laidlaw continued to go through the timeline questioning the police officer over which stories were "exclusive" to the Sun and which had associated emails from a Sun journalist to Brooks asking her to authorise cash payments to the source. For legal reasons we cannot list the stories or name the journalist concerned.

The barrister particularly highlighted articles were there appeared to be two payments to seperate sources for the same story. DC Bridden agreed that the payment records appeared to show that was the case. Laidlaw also pointed out that some of the payments appeared to be in Euros rather than in pounds.

Laidlaw put it to the officer that from 2006 to 2009 there were 11 occasions when the Sun journalist emailed Brooks, then the paper's editor, asking for cash payments to be made. On nine of those she responded approving them. The QC then asked the officer if "he had any idea how many emails an editor of a national newspaper would receive every day?" Andrew Edis QC, for the prosecution, then intervened saying there is no way the officer could have any knowledge of this and any answer he gave would be speculation. Justice Saunders agreed and Laidlaw moved on asking if there was any evidence the Sun journalist under discussion ever mentioned the name of Ministry of Defence official Bettina Jordan-Barber to Brooks. The officer replied that there was not.

The QC then asked DC Bridden if he could confirm that some of the stories Jordan-Barber was paid for were published while the civil servant was on maternity leave and that her husband was an adjutant at Sandhurst military college. The officer agreed this was correct, adding that the police investigations had not revealed how the MOD official obtained all of the information later published in the Sun. Laidlaw then drew the officer's attention to a further email between Sun journalists, forwarded to Brooks, which gives reference to a "tipster" who is a serving police officer. Brooks replies "leave it with me". Asked by the QC if the investigation had ever found out if this "tipster" ever received any money, DC Bridden confirmed there was no evidence of any further correspondence on the matter or payments related to it.

Another email to Brooks relating to what the court was only told were two "notorious child killers" and quoting a "prison source" or "good prison contact" was then read to the court. Laidlaw suggested that police inquiries had shown that money had been paid to a journalist or a prisoner. The officer replied that News International had refused to assist the inquiry on this matter unless the police could show it related to a public official. The only thing the police had been told by News International was that the payment relating to this story was made to a journalist.

The jury was then asked to leave the court while a legal matter was discussed.

When the jury returned another email was read to them. It was to Brooks from a Sun journalist asking for a cash payment to a "serving police officer" for a story about "Tetbury Manor wife swapping". The journalist goes on to say that one of his colleagues could pick up the cash from Thomas Cook and pass it on to the source. Laidlaw then showed the court an article from the Sun on the subject, and suggested that the wife swapping story was "widely known in the local community" and that telling the Sun about it would "not have anything to do with the duties of a police officer". DC Bridden replied he could not testify to that having no direct knowledge of the story or situation.

The next Sun article raised by Laidlaw on behalf of Rebekah Brooks was from April 2006 and was a story about an army sergeant who was alleged to have killed a police officer. An email was then produced between a Sun journalist to Brooks asking for a £1000 cash payment for a picture of the alleged "cop killer", supposedly obtained from "a wall at Sandhurst". Asked by the QC, the police officer confirmed that no email response from Brooks had ever been located. A further email to Brooks from a Sun journalist was then quoted. It said in part: "Just heard back from my man at 5" - a reference, the policeman agreed, to a department of the security services, MI5. DC Bridden agreed that police had located no evidence of payments to a member of MI5 from the Sun. Laidlaw thanked the witness and having ended his cross-examination sat down.

Rebecca Chalkley, for the prosecution, then rose to re-examine the witness. She asked the court to look at an email from the Sun journalist to Brooks asking for cash payments to be authorised for his "top military source". There was no authorising email recovered, yet, Chalkley suggested, the payment was still made.

The jury was then asked again to leave the court.

On the jury's return Mark Bryant-Heron for the prosecution told them that the court was now moving on to counts two and three of the indictment which relate to charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office against Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, Clive Goodman, the paper's then royal editor, and persons unknown. The jury was told that in 2006 Clive Goodman's home was searched and 11 "royal directories" were found, containing telephone numbers and other details of people associated with the royal family. Michelle Light was then called to the stand.

Light told the court she was head of telephony at Buckingham Palace and was asked by Bryant-Heron what was meant by the phrase "royal household." The witness told the court she took this to mean members of the royal family and people employed to support them at Buckingham Palace, Hampton Court, Holyrood Palace and various other locations around the country. Asked about the royal directories, the witness told the court there were two, the ordinary directory and the more comprehensive "green book". Light was then shown two A4 booklets, one of which she identified as the telephone directory and one as the green book which also contains addresses of friends of the royal family as well as their telephone numbers.

The witness confirmed that only around 1000 of each document were produced every year and they were "desk based" and should not have been taken from their allocated location. Light told the court that some, but not all of the royal offices, would be locked overnight.

The court then rose for lunch.

Search The Drum Jobs

Explore the best jobs in Marketing and Media industries
View all open jobs