herald

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Brooks accused of hiding notebooks and computer as she was facing arrest

TOP Rupert Murdoch executive Rebekah Brooks hid her notebooks, a computer and other evidence to keep them out of police hands as she was about to be arrested over allegations of phone hacking, a prosecutor told jurors.

Andrew Edis said some of the material was only recovered by accident, when a cleaner found a rubbish bag containing a laptop computer and other items behind bins at Brooks' London apartment building.

The prosecutor said a "media firestorm" was engulfing the News of the World tabloid as the hacking scandal erupted in July 2011, and Brooks was at its centre.

Mr Edis said there was an "extremely anxious, if not panic-stricken" atmosphere at the News of the World, as rivals reported allegations of illegal eavesdropping and police increased their inquiries.

"Brooks knew she was likely to be arrested, and if she was, police would have the power to search her property," the prosecutor told jurors.

RECORDS

Brooks, a former News of the World editor, denies conspiring to obstruct justice by hiding material from police. She also denies phone hacking and bribery charges.

She is on trial along with seven others, including her husband Charles Brooks and former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, with whom the court previously heard Brooks had a six-year affair. All have pleaded not guilty.

Mr Edis said Brooks conspired with her assistant, Cheryl Carter, to remove notebooks from the archive of Murdoch's News International unit.

And he said she colluded with her husband Charles and with News International security chief Mark Hanna to take material from her home before police could search the premises.

The prosecutor described a cloak-and-dagger operation, outlining, with help from recovered emails, mobile phone records and security-camera footage, a News International security operation around Rebekah Brooks codenamed Operation Blackhawk.

Mr Edis said on July 17, 2011, the security team took a laptop and other items from Rebekah and Charles Brooks' country house and took it to London.

Brooks was arrested that day, and both her homes were searched.

Mr Edis described how one of the security men later stashed the evidence in a bag behind bins in a parking garage at the couple's apartment, using the delivering of pizzas as cover. He then texted his superior: "Broadsword calling Danny Boy: The pizza is delivered and the chicken is in the pot."

Mr Edis explained the "Danny Boy" quote was an allusion to the World War II movie "Where Eagles Dare." The trial continues.

hnews@herald.ie

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