Saturday 21 October 2017

Dowler story changed after Brooks, Coulson sent texts

Milly Dowler
Milly Dowler
Rebekah Brooks, who swapped texts with Andy Coulson while on holiday in Dubai, pictured at the Old Bailey yesterday.

Martin Evans

THE Old Bailey heard how transcripts of hacked voicemails from murdered school girl Milly Dowler's mobile disappeared from the pages of the 'News of the World' after Rebekah Brooks sent Andy Coulson a text message from Dubai where she was on holiday.

During the hunt for the missing schoolgirl in April 2002, the newspaper published a full transcript of a message, mistakenly left on her phone by a recruitment agency inviting her to an interview.

The transcript appeared in the first edition of the newspaper that went to the presses shortly after 7pm on Saturday, April 13.

Two hours later, at 9.05pm, the paper's then editor, Mrs Brooks, who was on holiday in Dubai, sent a text message to her deputy Andy Coulson, who texted back four minutes later.

The jury in the phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey, were told the contents of the messages were not known.

However when the second edition of the paper went to print around 9.30pm, the full text of the hacked voicemails had been removed from the story, which carried a different reporters' byline. The original story stated: "The hunt for missing Milly Dowler took a new twist last night when it emerged that messages had been sent to her mobile phone after she vanished."

It went on to quote the contents of three messages left on the 13-year-old's mobile, including one from the Monday's recruitment agency in Tellford, that stated: "Hello Mandy. We are ringing because we have some interviews starting. Can you call me back? Thank you."

REMOVED

In the second edition, these details had been removed from the story completely.

Mark Bryant-Heron, prosecuting, told the jury Mrs Brooks sent Mr Coulson a text at 21.08 with him replying four minutes later at 21.12.

Mrs Brooks then made a four second call at 21.17 to retrieve her voicemail.

But Jonathan Laidlaw QC, representing Mrs Brooks said: "The telephone records do not reveal any actual conversations taking place between Mrs Brooks and anyone back in the UK. There are two texts and then Mrs Brooks is retrieving her voicemail."

The jury was told that she had been in touch with the newspaper offices on a number of occasions on Friday April 12 2002.

It is alleged that Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson, both 45, and the paper's managing editor Stuart Kuttner (73) knew about the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone, a charge they all deny.

Last week the jury were shown three emails sent to NOTW's head of news Ian Edmondson in relation to the alleged hacking of Tessa Jowell, Joan Hammell and Lord Frederick Windsor.

Mr Edmondson also denies a charge of conspiracy to intercept voicemails. The trial also heard that police were informed by the 'News of the World' 11 years ago that the newspaper held voicemails taken from the mobile phone of the missing schoolgirl and they played a recording of the messages to officers involved in the 2002 hunt to find her, the Old Bailey heard. The trial continues. ( © Daily Telegraph, London)

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