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Phone-hacking trial: Texts, drives and videotapes

By James Doleman |

January 14, 2014 | 8 min read

  • Security staff texts inspired by Richard Burton film
  • One calls other staff "fucking amateurs"
  • Charlie Brooks seen "searching car park"

Court resumed this morning to hear more evidence on charge seven, an allegation that on Sunday July 17 2011, the day of Rebekah Brooks' arrest, she and her husband Charlie conspired with News International security chief Mark Hanna to conceal computer equipment and other evidence from the police. You can read the first section of the prosecution evidence here.

"Broadsword calling Danny Boy" quote from Where Eagles Dare

Mark Bryant-Heron, for the Crown, gave the jury a schedule agreed by all parties in the case. This brings together telephone calls and text messages between Charlie Brooks, Mark Hanna and others, and shows they were in almost constant communication on the afternoon in question. The shedule also gives "cell site records" which, the prosecution say, show where each phone was located when calls and texts were sent.

The jury was then shown further CCTV footage which shows Hanna and a security contractor, Mark Sandell, arriving at the Brooks' Chelsea flat that afternoon. The next set of clips then shows Hanna and Brooks meeting in the apartment's underground car park before Hanna leaves with a jiffy bag, a laptop computer and a brown bag. Video shown yesterday appeared to show Brooks leaving a jiffy bag in the car park. Hanna then returns to his car and drives off accompanied by a second vehicle, a Range Rover. Cell phone records show, the prosecution allege, that they went to News International's office in Wapping. Later that afternoon police arrived to search Brooks' flat and removed a number of items.

Bryant-Heron then showed the jury CCTV footage of seven police officers leaving Brooks' flat at around 5pm carrying materials they had seized from the property. There are then a number of calls and texts between Charlie Brooks and Hanna. Messages involving a Daryl Jorsling were then shown to the court asking him to "call Charlie" to which he responds "right." Telephone records then show Jorsling went to Wapping and called Hanna who in turn texted back with "Dell have a plan, can you call please." Jorsling then went to the Chelsea flat's car park and CCTV footage shows him carrying a black bag and going to the bin area of the car park. He then returns empty handed. He then handed over a pizza box to another security contractor before driving off. Jorsling then texts another security contractor, David Johnson, with the words: "Broadsword calling Danny Boy, pizza delivered and the chicken is in the pot." Johnson replied "Fucking amateurs, we should have done a DLD or a touch contact by the riverside."

The court then took a short break.

When the jury returned Mark Bryant-Heron said he would "continue with the story" with more texts between Jorsling and Johnson, including the former complaining that today was "another fucking magical mystery tour". Johnson replies, "Bring on Yoda with a Jedi mind trick." The court was then shown further CCTV footage of Rebekah Brooks returning to the flat after being bailed from the police station just after midnight. Charlie Brooks is seen hugging his wife in the lobby. The court then moved on to the events of the following day, Monday 18 July.

At around 10.30am Rebekah and Charlie Brooks were filmed leaving the apartment and being driven off to their solicitor's office. Meanwhile back in the car park a cleaner, Mr Nashimento, was filmed emptying the containers in the bin area. The footage shows the cleaner appearing to discover a laptop and other items and he places them on the front of his vehicle. He is then seen crossing the loading bay area with the laptop under his arm. Nashimento, the court was told, will be testifying in person to what he did that day.

At 12.50 CCTV shows Rebekah and Charlie Brooks returning to their flat. Rebekah stayed by the car but one of their security staff, David Johnson, accompanied Charlie to the bin area. They returned empty-handed. There are then, the prosecution say, a series of calls from Johnson to Mark Hanna and Daryl Jorsling that appear to take place while he is searching the bin area. Johnson was then joined by Jorsling and they both went back to the bin area. They then met Mr Perkins, an employee of the building and Charlie Brooks. Brooks is seen gesturing towards the bin area and after what appears to be an animated discussion the four leave the car park. The court was then told that, while this was going on, police had arrived at the apartment after being called by staff to collect the items found by the cleaner.

The prosecution then called William Geddes, the managing director of a security and consultancy company International Corporate Protection, known as ICP. In July 2011, the witness told the court, his company was retained to carry out "protective work" for Rebekah Brooks. Geddes confirmed this service was code named "Operation Blackhawk". The aim was to provide protective security and to avoid Brooks becoming the target of any surveillance from media organisations or members of the public carrying out "hostile reconnaissance". Geddes also sub-contracted some of the work to another security company, Corruna Solutions. On the night of 16 July 2011, Geddes visited the Brooks at the Oxfordshire farm owned by a "Middle Eastern Gentleman" engaged in "IVF work". He also met Mark Hanna on the property. The witness told the jury he stayed at the farm until 7am the next morning until the "relief team" of Jorsling and Johnson arrived.

The witness was then cross-examined by Charlie Brooks' QC, Neil Saunders (not to be confused with Mr Justice John Saunders, the presiding judge). Geddes told the court his operation aimed to have three cars in a convoy moving the Brooks around - a lead car, the vehicle they were travelling in and a trailing car. The witness was then shown the schedule of events the court was dealing with this morning and the defence counsel asked about two text messages received by the witness from Charlie Brooks on 18 July.

Geddes had kept copies of the texts and these were displayed on the court screen. In the first Charlie Brooks texts "Need my car keys" followed by "OXDCEFRT" which the counsel suggested was a "pocket text" sent in error. The witness agreed this was correct and that he had replied to Brooks, "Mark is driving it to you. Have asked him to call you with ETA." Geddes told the court that the "Mark" referred to was Mark Hanna. The texts then went on to discuss where Charlie and Rebekah Brooks would be staying that evening with Charlie stating "Flat as far as I know..I suppose that could change but seems most logical." After further texts were looked at the court then rose for lunch.


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