Phone-hacking trial: Fire Brigade Union leader was branded 'love rat' in Sun article

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 a delayed start this morning, the jury at the Old Bailey's court number 12 heard more details from the prosecution about the hacking of the former England national football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Evidence: Former general secretary of the FBU Andy Gilchrist

That the hacking happened is agreed by all sides in the case, and indeed a guilty plea has already been entered by the man who intercepted the voicemails, Glenn Mulcaire. The question before the jury is did the defendants in this case know about it, and conspire together to arrange it.

In the last two days, the prosecution has been meticulously taking the court through large folders, "timelines" which bring together different pieces of evidence in the case. These include excerpts from Mulcaire's notebooks, where he noted his tasking orders and who requested the hacks; phone records of the hacks being carried out; and articles from the News of the World which the prosecution allege were sourced from Mulcaire's information.

After the timeline relating to Eriksson was concluded, the court then heard about another alleged victim, Andy Gilchrist, who was the leader of the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) . In December 2002, the union was involved in a bitter dispute with the government over working conditions and the court was shown articles from the News of the World (NotW) condemning the strike and describing Gilchrist as "glory seeking" and "self-promoting".

The first defendant, Rebekah Brooks, was editor of the NotW in December 2002 before moving to become editor of The Sun on 13 January 2003.

The jury was then shown pages, allegedly from Mulcaire's notes, which the prosecution say show he was tasked to intercept the voicemail messages of Gilchrist on 4 December. There was then an article in the Sun on the 20 January, after Brooks had taken over, revealing an extra-marital affair between the union leader and another firefighter, Tracy Holland. In the piece Gilchrist is dubbed a "love rat" and a "lying, cheating, low life fornicator".

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

On the jury"s return, they were read a statement from Gilchrist identifying the telephone numbers on Mulcaire's notes as his, and the middle initials given as his and his wife's. Gilchrist also said he felt the Sun had "always known where I was going to be" which he could "never understand" as he always took steps to conceal from the press the location of confidential meetings, especially from News International journalists who he said had an "anti-union agenda".

The statement went on to say that FBU union leaders had thought their phones might have been hacked, but "joked that it was MI5 or MI6".

The court was then read a statement from Tracy Holland, confirming she had a "brief relationship" with Andy Gilchrist. The statement went on to tell of approaches made by Sun journalists who had told her if she did not co-operate with them they would run the story anyway.

She finally accepted £25,000 for her story as she "had to think of her daughter". She was then taken to a hotel, paid for by the Sun newspaper, for three to four days before the story broke. Holland's statement went on to say: "I had no control... it was a stressful ordeal."

The court then heard from a witness, a journalist at the Sun, Guy Patrick, who confirmed to the jury the main points of Holland's statement. He also told the court that he had spoken directly to his editor, Rebekah Brooks, to agree the £25,000 payment to Holland.

The court then heard a statement from an FBU official, John McGee, who told the court that the level of press harassment of Gilchrist during the strike was at such a level that security cameras had been installed at his home. He also confirmed that a telephone number on Mulcaire's notebooks belonged to his mobile phone.

A statement from another FBU official, Kenneth Cameron, read to the court also identified his mobile number from Mulcaire's notebooks. A statement from Cameron's wife was also read identifying her telephone number from Mulcaire's notebook and a transcript of a voicemail which read "your dinner is in the dustbin" as the kind of message she would have left for her husband.

After some agreed facts were read out to the jury, the court adjourned for lunch.

All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues

Click here to read more posts from The Drum's daily trial coverage

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