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Rebekah Brooks 'nightmare boss' court hears

Working for Rebekah Brooks was "nothing short of a nightmare," a court was told today (29 September).

The remarks came during an extraordinary morning of evidence from The Sun's head of News Chris Pharo, who was testifying over charges of allegations of illegal payments to police officer.

Pharo, 46, told a packed Old Bailey courtroom that when Brooks moved from the News of the World to The Sun the ethos of the paper quickly changed and if he had missed a story in a rival publication "you would frequently receive over 20 abusive emails a day," then "she [Brooks[ would sulk," he said.

The defendant told the jury about an editorial meeting where he had a "terrible news list" which Brooks gathered up and threw at his face. The then editor proceeded to then tell him: "If you can't get me a fu**ing news list in the next half an hour you can f*ck off. " She then sent out an email to all staff saying "Does anyone have a story as my idiot news editor can't find one".

The news editor, who is currently suspended, also told the court about instances of violent conduct he had witnessed, including an occasion when during a meeting with a picture editor, Brooks "threw a desk phone at him", adding "the only reason it didn't hit him was that it was still connected to the wall. The then editor then threw a water bottle.

Asked if he ever raised the issue with anyone else Pharo said: "There was no way to complain, if you complained you were out, simple as that."

He also told the court that Brooks later had a punch-bag installed in her office so she could "let off steam."

Asked by counsel about Brooks' relationship with the head of News International Rupert Murdoch, the defendant told the court: "They get on famously, it's an extraordinary relationship, she is like a surrogate daughter."

He went on to claim that the tabloid was Rupert Murdoch's "Personal fiefdom," adding that "without the success of The Sun there would be no Sky TV," and told the court, "everyone knew the editor was the boss and beyond that was Mr Murdoch."

Pharo also testified that after Brooks took over as editor of The Sun "Not the Mail, not the Mirror, the News of the World became our biggest competition." Pharo said that the News of the World had a "string of exclusives" which, he told the jury "we now know came from phone-hacking."

He also claimed that one of these exclusives, that then Home Secretary David Blunkett was having an affair with a married woman, came from a surprising source. Blunkett, he said, had been phoning Brooks for advice about the situation and it was by hacking her voicemails that employees from the News of the World found out about the affair.

Pharo, and his co-defendant Jamie Pyatt are facing charges of "aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office," both men have pleaded not guilty, the trial continues.

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