Phone-hacking trial: Charlie Brooks and the jiffy bag

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.

  • Count six completed
  • Court moves on to last charge.
  • CCTV footage of Charlie Brooks seen by the jury

When court resumed after lunch, William Clegg, QC for defendant Mark Hanna, continued his cross-examination of Jane Viner of News International (you can find part one here). The defence barrister continued to ask the witness about her contacts with Hanna on 17 July 2011, the day Rebekah Brooks was arrested by police officers involved in Operation Weeting. Viner recalled texting Hanna to suggest he take the following Monday off as she was concerned about his workload but could not remember the detail of what else they had discussed. Clegg then resumed his seat.

Mark Bryant-Heron for the prosecution then re-examined Viner. The prosecutor asked the witness about her earlier testimony that Cheryl Carter, Rebekah Brooks' former personal assistant, had removed between eight and ten cartons of personal items on her resignation from News International, and showed her a floor plan of News International's headquarters and had her identify where Carter sat in the building. Viner told the court that each filing cabinet in Brooks' department had had its contents boxed and the boxes numbered. The witness then left the stand.

The next witness heard from was detective sergeant John Massey. Bryant-Heron asked the officer about a visit he carried out to solicitors firm Kingsley Napley, representing Brooks, to retrieve property held by them on behalf of their client. The police found a box marked "10-39". The box was found to contain files, personal financial information, letters and notes marked "RB". One other box was marked "Christmas". There was also a large bag containing greeting cards and photographs, four A5 notebooks and a small "reporters pad". The notebooks were checked by a third party for "privileged information" before being handed over to the police.

DS Massey then told the jury how police had dated the notebooks, one contained a reference to "Olympic tickets" and an office move, which they took to mean that it dated from 2009. Another had a copy of an email about the London "congestion charge" which placed it as post-2003. The third book had "2007" written on the cover which, Bryant-Heron told the jury, "was a bit of a give-away".

Trevor Burke, QC for Cheryl Carter, Rebekah Brooks' former PA, then rose to cross-examine the officer. DS Massey confirmed that police had never searched her desk or the filing cabinets she used in the office. He asked the officer to detail the process of his investigation into the seven boxes of documents the prosecution allege were removed by Carter from the News International archive in an attempt to hide evidence from the police. The sergeant confirmed that after hearing about the removal of the documents, police obtained a search warrant for Carter's home in Basildon and four officers searched the house. They did not, however, recover any evidence. A statement was taken from Carter, but she was not cautioned as at that point she was a potential witness, not a suspect.

In her statement, Carter told the police that she had removed the items at the request of News International archivist Nick Mays, and that she had chosen that week to get them as Brooks was due to be at a "boot camp" run by her personal trainer. Burke asked the officer to confirm that the boot camp was scheduled for the week after the boxes were removed. Carter was arrested at 6.50am in January 2012 and Burke asked why this was arranged so early in the morning. The officer said police were concerned that Carter was about to leave to go to Australia and they thought the time was "sensible and reasonable" to give them a full day to interview her. Asked by the QC, Massey confirmed Carter had no previous police record and did not seem familiar with the interview process.

An email was then shown to the officer, from Nick Mays to Carter, asking her to remove items from the archive. Massey said that this was a new piece of evidence that had only come to light in the course of the trial so it was not shown to Carter during her interview. The officer also agreed that of the thousands of emails recovered from Carter's phone, none showed her discussing archived documents with Brooks. The defence QC put it to the court that Carter had gone through the boxes and then returned the small number of documents that belonged to Brooks to the filing cabinets.

The QC concluded by asking the officer if there was any bail condition stopping Carter visiting her friend, and previous prosecution witness Deborah Keenan. Massey confirmed that a lawyer from News International had "cleared" the visits and emailed Carter to that effect.

The next witness called was another police officer, detective constable Karyn Millar. The officer was asked about a document, from Carter's solicitors, which referred to a visit by her to Putney police station in October 2011. During the visit Carter had asked to identify documents and had told the police that four of the items shown to her had once been stored in the seven boxes removed from the archive. These included a 1999 appointments diary and a filofax, both of which were shown to the jury.

Carter's QC, Trevor Burke then rose to cross-examine the witness. He asked why Carter had asked to view the exhibits at Putney police station, to which the officer replied she had "no idea". She did confirm that as Carter was charged and on bail at the time she was under no compulsion to identify anything and that she had done so voluntarily.

The police witness was then allowed to leave the stand and this, Bryant-Heron told the court, ended the prosecution evidence on count six. Court then moved onto count seven, a charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice against Charlie Brooks and others.

As with the other charges, the prosecution began by showing the court agreed evidence, not challenged by any of the defence teams. The first part of this involved telephone records which also included "cell site data" which allows police to ascertain which cell-phone mast was used in each call or text. The data was all from July 2011, the month when Rebekah Brooks was first arrested. One of the phones was labelled "Blackhawk 1". Blackhawk, as the court heard this morning, was the codename used by News International for Rebekah Brooks and Blackhawk 1 was a telephone used by her personal security detail.

At this point Justice Saunders asked the counsel if, as going through phone evidence was a "brain-numbing exercise and no-one needs any more mind numbing", it was possible for it to be summarised for the benefit of the jury. There were however objections from the defence to this so the court continued to go through the schedule.

The court was then shown CCTV footage from 17 July, the day of Rebekah Brooks' arrest. the first clip showed Charlie Brooks entering the lobby of his London home with a solicitor, Charles Macbride. The next clip showed Charlie Brooks leaving the lift at the underground car park in his building with a "jiffy bag". When he returned to the lift a minute later he was empty-handed.

The court then rose for the day. All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.

Click here to view more posts from the Drum's daily coverage of the phone-hacking trial