Phone-hacking trial hears of Brooks' 'missing devices'

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.

  • Short session due to delayed start
  • Court hears details of Brooks' electronic devices
  • Nine iPhones, iPads and Blackberries "missing"

For legal reasons it was 11.15 am this morning before the jury took their seats at court 12 of London's Old Bailey. The prosecution continued to present evidence on charge seven of the indictment, the allegation that Rebekah Brooks, her husband Charlie, and News International security head Mark Hanna conspired together to hide evidence from police.

The jury has already seen CCTV coverage of three computers and a number of documents being discovered by a cleaner in the basement carpark below the Brooks' London home. The defence is arguing that these belonged to Charlie Brooks and had no relevance to the police inquiry and the court has been hearing detailed evidence on the files found on the computers to allow then to consider this question. The prosecution began by showing four documents, found on one of the devices, which include an email between Rebekah Brooks and her solicitor, a copy of a statement by Rupert Murdoch and a draft of an email to News International staff later sent by Mrs Brooks.

The Crown the called detective constable Philip Stead to the witness stand. The police officer told the court he had been tasked to identify electronic devices used by Rebekah Brooks and try and ascertain where they could be located. The witness produced a document he had created which lists devices he believed the defendants had used in 2011 including laptops, iPhones and iPads. The officer had also received evidence from Vodafone and Apple and obtained the unique code every device has, the "MAC address," to assist with this process. He had also analysed the records from a wireless router found at the London flat to see which devices had connected to the internet through it. DC Stead told the court he believed the couple had access to a number of items of equipment that could connect to the internet. The jury was then taken through a detailed schedule listing each one and what records existed in relation to it.

The first device discussed was an Apple iPhone 4. The box it came in has been found and the MAC address confirmed but the phone itself has never been located. The officer had contacted Apple which had confirmed that the phone had never been registered with it but evidence showed it had been connected to the internet via the couple's router and named "Rebekah's iPhone". All five mobile phone providers also confirmed that the phone had not connected to any of their networks in the period they had records for.

The witness then went through detailed evidence on all of the mobile devices owned or issued to Brooks and he had concluded a further three iPhones, three Blackberrys, another two iPads and an HTC phone were unaccounted for. A futher iPad had also not been recovered but police had recently received a statement from Sir Charles Dunstone, the chairman of Carphone Warehouse, saying he had it. Police, the jury were told, were still investigating this claim. In total, the police officer said, nine devices they believed Brooks used had not been recovered.

Court then rose for lunch.