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Phone-hacking trial: Charlie Brooks admits hiding laptop containing a 'bit of smut' and documents from police

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.

Evidence: CCTV footage of Charlie Brooks shown to jury

  • Charlie Brooks admits hiding laptop containing "a bit of smut" from police
  • Wanted to avoid a "Jacqui Smith moment"
  • He and friend drank "six bottles of wine" on day of alleged offence
  • Proceedings resumed this morning with Charlie Brooks, the husband of former News of the World editor Rebakah Brooks, giving further evidence in his defence against one charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The Crown say that in July 2011 Mr Brooks hid documents and electronic devices from police investigating his wife's role in the illegal interception of telephone voicemails at the now defunct Sunday tabloid.

    Brooks' counsel, Neil Saunders, began by asking his client about events on Sunday 17 July 2011. That morning, the court was told, the couple were staying at Enstone farm, an Oxfordshire property owned by a friend. They then drove to London, accompanied by a security team, for a scheduled meeting between Rebekah Brooks and her legal advisers ahead of an appointment she had that afternoon with the police. The defendant told the court that he asked News International head of security Mark Hanna to drive his Range Rover back to London as it had his "personal stuff" in it, including a laptop and an iPod in two bags on the back seat. Brooks told the court he did not want to take the bags home as "there was a fair chance they might end up in the hands of the police". The witness said that he was concerned officers might seize his laptop, as it contained a draft of his novel, "Switch", and other documents.

    At around 11.30am, Brooks received a text from his wife telling him she was about to be arrested and to phone James Murdoch and let him know. He did and then, accompanied by a lawyer, Angus McBride, returned to his London flat. The defendant then dealt with some DVDs of an "embarrassing nature" and a computer "with a bit of smut on it" that he did not want police to find as they may have told the media. "There had been a lot of leaks in the press, especially the Guardian," the defendant said, adding that he wanted to avoid a "Jacqui Smith moment", a reference to a former government minister whose husband paid for adult videos using his wife's expenses. Brooks went on to tell the court he took the laptop and DVDs and "hid them behind the bins" in the flat's underground car park. Texts between the security team were then shown to the court in which they discussed the arrest, saying of Charlie Brooks "what a twat".

    At 2.15pm, the witness told the court, Mark Hanna, the security chief, arrived at the underground car park with the defendant's car and briefcase. Brooks told the jury that he asked Hanna to take the laptop and a jiffy bag containing the DVDs away with him. Telephone records show that Hanna then went to News International's offices at Wapping. Shortly after 3pm, police arrived to search the flat. Brooks told the court he stayed in his bedroom during the search "watching the golf" while his lawyer supervised the officers. The search team took away a number of items including two desktop computers, three USB thumb drives and a notebook. A friend of Brooks, Chris Palmer, then joined him at the flat with four bottles of wine.

    At around 8.30pm, Brooks told the court, he called Hanna to bring his property back and pick up some pizza as "he needed some blotting paper" after drinking the wine. At 9.30pm one of the security team, Daryl Jorsling, arrived with two pizzas and CCTV footage shows him returning the bags Hanna had taken earlier back behind the bins, a fact the defendant said he was unaware of. Brooks said he was "pretty wobbly" when his wife returned from the police station and he did not tell her what he had done.

    The defendant told the court that he was feeling "pretty rough" the next morning when he and his wife left the flat to meet with her lawyers. After the meeting, Brooks said he spoke to Paul Edwards, his wife's driver, to "sort out" getting his bags back and was told they had been put back behind the bins the night before. Brooks said he then returned to the flat with his wife and looked behind the bins for his bags but they were not there. The court has already heard that they had been discovered by a cleaner and handed to the building's security staff. Brooks went to the security office to attempt to get his property back but was told, after a delay, that it had been handed to the police. The defendant agreed that he threatened to sue the head of security, which he explained was due to worries he would lose his book deal. He then went home and told his wife that he had hid "a bit of porn" from the police. "She went ballistic," he said.

    Brooks told the court that he knew what was on the computers and "it had nothing to do with the investigation". There were, he told the court, a few documents his wife had emailed him, such as a draft of a speech she was planning to make and a budget document. The defendant said he had been sent these so he could make suggestions about them. On 13 March 2012 police came to Brooks home at 5.45am and arrested his wife and himself. On legal advice, he refused to answer any questions at the subsequent interview.

    William Clegg, defence counsel for Mark Hanna, then rose to cross-examine the witness. Brooks agreed that his motive for asking Hanna to "look after his bags" was to stop the police finding them in the course of their search. "I was incredibly stressed, it was an awful few days," he told the jury.

    Andrew Edis QC, for the prosecution, then rose and asked the witness: "You were very anxious to hide things the police would seize and you got other people to help you, did you tell them why?" Brooks said he did not explain to Hanna why he wanted to conceal the computers. "I just told him it was my personal stuff and could he look after it for the day," he said.

    Court then rose for lunch.

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

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