Friday 23 February 2018

Brooks allegedly described hacking as 'easy' over lunch

Rebekah Brooks allegedly described hacking as 'easy'
Rebekah Brooks allegedly described hacking as 'easy'

Estelle Shirbon

Rebekah Brooks, former head of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper group, told Eimear Cook, the ex-wife of golfer Colin Montgomerie, it was "easy" to listen to other people's voicemails, Cook told a London court on Monday.

Brooks, who is on trial alongside seven other defendants, has pleaded not guilty to charges related to phone-hacking at the News of the World tabloid when she was editor, illegal payments to officials for stories and impeding police inquiries.

The prosecution told the jury earlier in the trial that the comments made by Brooks to Cook over lunch in 2005 about intercepting voicemails showed the editor had known that phone-hacking was going on under her watch. Brooks denies this.

Brooks' lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw accused Cook of making up the conversation and other details about the lunch, a suggestion Cook denied.

Brooks, known as Rebekah Wade prior to her second marriage in 2009, was editor of the now-defunct Sunday tabloid News of the World, then of its sister daily paper the Sun, before rising to be chief executive of News International, the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corp empire.

Appearing as a prosecution witness, Cook was asked about an occasion in September 2005 when she and Brooks had lunch along with two of Cook's friends, a couple called the Manoukians.

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks who is on trial with six othes for phone hacking. The court has heard that she was having an affair Andy Coulson
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks who is on trial with six othes for phone hacking. The court has heard that she was having an affair Andy Coulson
Former News of the World Editor Andy Coulson. He succeeded Rebecca Brooks as editor and left after four years to work for David Cameron, becoming his press secretary in 2010.
Former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman is on trial. He has already been jailed for hacking into voicemail messages at Buckingham Palace.
The trial heard how Glen Mulcaire, an ex private investigator who has pleaded guilty to interception of voicemail messages, had repeatedly hacked into the messages of Sienna Miller at the time the tabloid ran a series of stories about her relationship with actor Jude Law.
Calum Best told the court he sold stories to the News of the World about a nightclub liaison with Elizabeth Jagger.
Charlie Brooks, the husband of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks. A millionaire race horse trainer and Ms. Brooks’ second husband. He faces charges of allegedly perverting the course of justice by concealing documents from police.
A massage parlour receptionist told Wayne Rooney to get out "before he was destroyed and his career was over", the jury heard.
Lorna Hogan, a glamour model who became pregnant with Calum Best’s child, told the court she had “an arrangement” with the News of the World to meet celebrities in nightclubs and pass on gossip to the paper.
The Duchess of Cambridge''s name was found on a list of 'targets' in Glenn Mulcaire's notes, the court has heard.
The jury has been told that a number of names that appeared have been the victims of phone hacking, including former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
The mobile phones of Abi Titmuss was targeted the day after her then boyfriend John Leslie was linked to a story about Ulrika Jonsson.
Prince William's private secretary Jamie Loather-Pinkerton's phone was also targeted.
The court was told agent to the stars Max Clifford had his phone hacked.

"The bit I remember the most is the topic of how easy it is to listen to other people's voicemails as long as they haven't changed their factory-setting pin codes," Cook told the court. Asked who had said that, she answered: "Rebekah".

"She said she couldn't believe that famous people who have all those advisers didn't know you have to personalise your pin codes to make their voicemail secure," Cook said, when asked to elaborate on how Brooks had expressed herself.

Cook also said that while discussing this topic, Brooks had recounted "in parenthesis" a story about Paul McCartney and his then-fiancee Heather Mills having a row in a hotel that had resulted in an engagement ring being thrown out of the window.

"I was under the impression she was talking about Paul McCartney's phone that hadn't had its pin code changed," Cook said.

Asked to describe Brooks' attitude while talking about these matters, Cook said: "Quite flippant".

"She told me how ludicrous it was how people weren't aware of the simple way to protect the privacy of their mobiles."

Laidlaw accused Cook of telling lies to the jury.

Cook had told the court earlier that Brooks had talked during the lunch about a recent row between herself and her then-husband, actor Ross Kemp, that had been reported in her own newspaper, the Sun. Cook said Brooks had laughed about this.

Laidlaw put it to her that an alleged assault by Brooks on Kemp that was reported in the newspapers did not take place until several weeks after the lunch, so her account of what Brooks had said could not possibly be true.

Cook did not offer any explanation for the discrepancy in the dates but stuck by her story. "I did not make it up. I have no grievance against Mrs Brooks whatsoever," she said.

Laidlaw also accused Cook of making up the specific comments about phone-hacking. Cook also denied that.

The trial continues.


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