Don't miss our awards deadlines

Phone-hacking trial: Managing editor 'misled' over contracts, court told

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.

Stuart Kuttner

  • Jonathan Caplan QC begins closing argument
  • "Case cries out for some sense of proportion", court told
  • Former managing editor's trust abused, barrister says
  • Proceedings resumed this morning shortly after 11.30am with Jonathan Caplan QC rising to present his closing argument on behalf of his client, former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner. He began by reminding the jury that in 2002 Kuttner told Surrey police that the News of the World had copies of the voicemails of murdered teenager Milly Dowler yet it was only in 2012 that Kuttner was "literally lifted out of retirement" to become part of this "unusual trial" which had lasted seven months, despite the fact that "no-one has been killed and no bombs have been set off".

    The barrister asked the jury to note that "this case is no more important that any other case in this building" and advised whatever the publicity outside the court the jury should "keep calm". "This case cries out for some sense of proportion," he added. Caplan then went on to suggest that the prosecution case against his client was "completely without foundation" and the evidence showed Kuttner was "completely innocent". The contracts with convicted phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire were, Caplan said, authorised by the newsdesk and his client had no role in agreeing them. On the issue of Milly Dowler the defence QC invited the jury to consider that if Kuttner "had any sinister motives why would he have informed the police?"

    The barrister then asked the jury to recall that his client had constantly tried to cut the payments to Mulcaire's company. "If you know about the golden goose why would you want to stop it laying golden eggs?" he asked. Caplan then reminded the jury about the character witnesses they had heard from on behalf of Kuttner. "He was old school, imbued with the values of journalism," Caplan said, also pointing out that Kuttner served on the press complaints council. "If there was a company called rent a witness you would hire those who came to represent Mr Kuttner," Caplan said, reminding the jury that a peer of the realm, Lord Black, and a former archbishop of Canterbury, had spoken up for the defendant "when the chips were down".

    The defence QC then told the court that his client had a stroke recently and that "when he says he finds it difficulty to remember he is telling the truth, he is infirm and retired". He told the jury that "sympathy is no part of your oath" and he was not asking them to make a judgement on anything other than the evidence but his postion was that other employees on the newspaper had, in relation to his client signing off payments to Glenn Mulcaire, "very regrettably abused his trust". He asked the jury to consider Kuttner's role in managing a £13m budget and "the sheer scale of financial documentation he had to deal with".

    Caplan the directed the attention of the jury to a selection of documents that showed that his client was consistently trying to reduce the amount of money paid to Glenn Mulcaire's company and suggested this would have been odd behaviour for someone who was part of a conspiracy. "These documents cry out undermining the prosecution case, If this is all supposed to be under the radar and covert why is he blowing such a trumpet about these amounts of money?" the barrister asked.

    The QC then asked the jury to consider that none of the contracts between Glenn Mulcaire and the News of the World were agreed by his client but instead had been signed by the head of the newsdesk, Greg Miskiw, and signed off by the News of the World's legal department. "I'm going to suggest the newsdesk deceived Mr Kuttner," Caplan said, and told the court "News International could have been in breach of contract if they didn't make the payments". The barrister noted that "paying £100,000 to a private investigator is not unusual for the News of the World or any other paper" and that giving the work to one company "rather than farming it out" could be seen as a "saving rather than an extravagance".

    Caplan then retuned to the question of Kuttner's role in telling the police that the News of the World had information from the voicemail of Milly Dowler. "He has no recollection of who told him about this," the QC said, but told the court that his client believed that he had been informed that the information came from one of Milly's school friends and immediately informed the police.

    Court then rose for lunch

    By continuing to use The Drum, I accept the use of cookies as per The Drum's privacy policy