Tuesday 17 July 2018

Jury told: 'Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson must have known about phone hacking'

Rebekah Brooks leaving the Old Bailey in London after the start of the trial against her and seven others
Rebekah Brooks leaving the Old Bailey in London after the start of the trial against her and seven others

Ian Burrell

KNOWLEDGE of phone-hacking went right to the top of News of the World, according to prosecutors setting out out their case at the Old Bailey today, where it was revealed that three news editors at the paper had already pleaded guilty to charges relating to the practice.

At the start of the trial of former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, along with six other defendants, the court also heard that Glenn Mulcaire – a private investigator hired by the tabloid paper – had admitted hacking phones.


Outlining the case for the prosecution, Andrew Edis, QC, said the admission of phone-hacking by the three senior executives who had held roles as news editors – Greg Myskiw, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup – was evidence of a criminal conspiracy at the paper.


He asked the jurors to consider whether Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson, the editors of the News of the World between 2000-2006, when the phone-hacking took place, must have known how stories on their papers were being obtained. "Either [the editors] were doing their jobs properly or at least three, and we say four, news desk editors were running this operation with Mr Mulcaire doing this great deal of phone-hacking and the management, the editors, never even noticed."


Myskiw, Thurlbeck and Weatherup have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission without lawful authority. Charged on the same count are another former news editor of the paper Ian Edmondson, Brooks, Coulson and the paper’s former managing editor Stuart Kuttner.


The jury was told today that the case was so notorious that they would all know some of the details “because everyone does”.


But for the prosecution, warned the jurors to forget what they knew as he outlined the case against Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and other former employees of the disgraced tabloid newspaper.


“The investigation and discoveries resulted as you know in the closure of the News of the World and if you remember that came about because of the discovery that the telephone of a young murdered girl Milly Dowler had been hacked by somebody acting on behalf of the News of the World.”   


“This prosecution is not an attack on the freedom of the press or the practice of journalism or anything like that. The prosecution accepts that it’s important in a free country that there’s a free press. But the prosecution says that journalists are no more entitled to break the law, the criminal law, than anybody else. The criminal law applies to all of us equally.”


Mrs Brooks, Mr Coulson and the seven others accused deny the charges against them.


The case is expected to continue until Easter next year.

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