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Phone-hacking trial: After seven months of evidence jury retires to consider verdicts

By James Doleman |

June 11, 2014 | 4 min read

  • Judge finishes summing up
  • "Snagging list" of errors corrected
  • Jury re-sworn before retiring to consider verdicts
  • Court reconvened just after two o'clock for it's final session before the jury retired to consider their verdict. Judge Saunders concluded his summing up by going through articles from the Sun newspaper while Rebekah Brooks was editor which, the prosecution say, were sourced from a Ministry of Defence civil servant, Bettina Jordan-Barber. The judge reminded the jury that there were 11 emails where Brooks approved payment for the stories, the defence case is that the former editor was not made aware that the source was a public official.

    After reading through the list of stories and accompanying emails, Judge Saunders told the jury that the main question they had to consider Brooks' state of knowledge at the time she was asked for payment. He noted that in her evidence the former editor had said she would have agreed to pay a public official for some of these stories as she believed they were "in the public interest", exposing issues such as bullying in the armed forces which the Ministry of Defence may have tried to cover up.

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    Court: Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson

    The judge then turned to his "snagging list" of errors he had made during his three day summing up. This included getting the date wrong of when an email was received by Brooks, the source of a list witness Dan Evans mentioned and a mix-up over who recorded a message left by Jude Law. Saunders also told the jury that he had been asked to point out that in their search for the source of the Royal directories the police had not fingerprinted members of the "Royal household". "It would have been quite a job," Saunders added, as there are around 1,200 people who are considered part of it.

    The jury were then shown an electronic index designed to help them find documents they might wish to consult during their deliberations. Judge Saunders told them this was to help them but certain items, such as newspaper bundles, were not included. The index will be placed on an external hard drive and placed on a computer containing no files. The scale of the number of documents the jury will have to consider can be estimated by the fact the index alone is 304 pages.

    Mr Saunders then told the jury that if they needed any explanation of law or a piece of evidence while they were considering their verdict they should tell him. He told them that they "were under no pressure of time" and should act according to their oath. The judge told the jury they should concentrate only on the evidence they heard in court. Mr Justice Saunders said that "it had been a privilege to work with you" and the jury were then re-sworn and left the court to consider their verdict.

    The Drum's James Doleman will be stationed at the Old Bailey until the jury arrive back with their verdicts in one of the biggest media trials Britain has ever seen. You can read more of The Drum's daily trial coverage here

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