Phone-hacking trial: Jury would have to think Rebekah Brooks 'complete fool' to acquit her - prosecution

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.

    Court: Rebekah Brooks

  • Seven electronic devices issued to Brooks "missing", prosecution say
  • Edis: To acquit Brooks jury would have to conclude "she was a complete fool"
  • Former editor accused of agreeing to "corrupt relationship" with civil servant
  • Military exclusives too detailed to be "pub gossip"
  • "This is as simple as it seems," Edis tells jury
  • Proceedings resumed after lunch to hear further closing argument from lead prosecutor Andrew Edis QC, who continued to discuss count seven on the indictment, a charge of perverting the course of justice against Rebekah Brooks, Charlie Brooks and News International head of security Mark Hanna.

    The barrister brought to the jury's attention to an email from Charlie Brooks' solicitor to the police, which stated that all of the items found in the underground car park belonged to his client and there was no attempt to hide material from the investigating officers. "It was just a mix up, when a friend had inadvertently left in the car park," the email stated. "That's just not true," Edis told the court, but added: "We never did get a very straightforward explanation from Mr Brooks."

    The QC then moved on to the issue of "missing devices", telling the jury: "The prosecution cannot say for sure what was removed, what was destroyed or what was squirrelled away, but we can say the pattern of missing devices is very strange." The prosecutor then brought into evidence a screenshot of computer equipment that had been connected to the internet router at the Brooks' Oxfordshire home during 2011, some of which has not been recovered by police. "Where are they?" Edis asked. "What happened to them?" The prosecutor told the jury that telephone records showed an iPhone issued to Rebekah Brooks was connected to the router but has never been connected to any network since July 2011. "It's an expensive item," Edis suggested. "Where did it go?"

    Edis then told the jury about an Apple iPad which was being used by Brooks in June 2011 and was only recovered this year in the possession of her personal assistant. "Police would have been very interested in looking at that," he said, but told the jury that no files form 2011 were on the device. "Where has it been?" he asked. The list of devices also contained a Blackberry mobile phone, connected to Vodafone in June 2011 and disconnected in September 2011. "A very current device at relevant time," Edis said, telling the court this phone had also not been recovered. "Mrs Brooks told the court that she changed her phone four or five times a year," Edis said. "Really?" he added. "Why would anyone do that?" In all, Edis said there were "seven expensive electronic devices" that had not been found.

    The prosecutor asked the jury to consider that the "elaborate plan" to hide the devices from the police could only be explained if there was something more hidden than what was finally recovered. He asked if people would risk arrest, which was what happened, just to hide Charlie Brooks' pornography. "That would be a pretty stupid thing to do," he said. Edis told the court that Charlie Brooks would not have been aware that his computer would have stored a list of what devices had connected to the router. "Some people would know that, but not these people," he said.

    Court then took a short break.

    When the jury returned, the prosecution barrister moved on to count five on the indictment, which is a charge that Rebekah Brooks conspired with a journalist we cannot name for legal reasons to commit misconduct in a public office by paying a Ministry of Defence civil servant for information. Edis began by saying that for the jury to acquit Brooks on this charge they would have to conclude "she was a complete fool" as only an "absolute idiot" would not suspect the stories came from a public official. "It's not quite the case that the office cat knew, but the finance department did," he said, because the payments were made via Thomas Cook and the civil servant had to show identification to collect the payments.

    The prosecutor reminded the jury that there had been a trial of a News of the World journalist for allegedly paying police officers. Brooks "knew that there was a risk over cash payments, it must have been at the front of her mind," he said. "She is not naive," he added, telling the jury that the first email about paying the civil servant happened "at about the same time Mulcaire and Goodman had to attend this court".

    The jury was then shown emails between Brooks and the Sun journalist, which, the court was told, showed that the only criteria that Bettina Jordan-Barber, the civil servant, had was not the public interest, she was to be paid for whatever stories the paper might be interested in. In the emails, the journalist called the civil servant "my number one military contact". Edis suggested that the range of stories, from Sandhurst to Iraq "always turned out to be right". "Could a retired general picking up pub gossip" provide this range of information, the prosecutor asked.

    Edis asked the jury to consider that most of the stories received from Jordan-Barber were printed as "exclusives". This, he told the court, was evidence of the "corrupt relationship" as most of the information, such as news of deaths of soldiers in Afghanistan, would have been released in time. "The exclusive was beating the competition to the story, that was what was worth the money," he said. The barrister went on: "If you were an intelligent person, wise to the ways of the world, someone suitable to edit the Sun, you would start to think that this must be from a well placed person, you'd know."

    The barrister told the jury that they could "forget about public interest" as Brooks has said she did not think about this at the time. Brooks' actions in this case, Edis said, "chimes with her attitude to crime, she is willing to sanction it."

    "That is a very odd attitude to show in a criminal trial," he said. "Most people come here and deny they would ever do any such thing. She knew what was happening and she thought it was alright." Edis reminded the jury that Brooks had said she was not "policing" the journalist. "Well, what was she doing?" he asked. "That was her job."

    Edis told the jury that the "public interest" was not a defence against a crime. "It may be a reason not to prosecute," he said, "but if it comes to court and you say that you get convicted."

    "This is as simple as it seems," he went on. "It is all there in black in white, my 'ace military contact' - what else can it mean?"

    Court then adjourned until 11.30am on Monday.

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

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

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