THE former wife of Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie yesterday told a court former newspaper editor Rebekah Brooks had boasted about how easy it was to hack a celebrity’s phone.
Eimar Cook also told how Ms Brooks said it was “ludicrous” famous people employed advisers but did not change the privacy settings on their mobile phones.
Mrs Cook, who was married to the former European Ryder Cup team captain for 14 years, said she had lunch with Brooks in 2005 after becoming concerned about press intrusion into her family’s private life.
Mrs Cook told the court at the Old Bailey that mutual friends suggested the meeting, and the former News of the World (NotW) editor’s demeanour was “flippant”.
She said: “I remember the topic of how easy it was to listen to their voicemails, as long as they hadn’t changed their factory settings. She [Brooks] said that it was so easy to do and she couldn’t believe that famous people … that they would have all these advisers and all you needed to do was change the pin code to make the voicemail secure.”
Mrs Cook told the court it felt “like the papers were doing a hatchet job” on her after her split from her golfer husband, saying: “They alleged that I had numerous multiple affairs. They were unbelievably upsetting.”
The court was shown a copy of a statement by Mrs Cook which included her recalling a “frank” Mrs Brooks discussing being in the papers – including her own – for assaulting her then husband, actor Ross Kemp.
Mrs Cook went on to talk of her own experience, saying rumours of her infidelity were untrue but some reporters and photographers waited outside her house during the break-up. Mrs Cook said she accepted her life was in the public eye while married to the golfer, but she had “never spoken to the press [about my marriage]”.
Mrs Cook was challenged by Brooks’s counsel, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, who told the court she might have got her dates mixed up when trying to remember the year she met Brooks – the only time the two had met.
Mr Laidlaw also presented the court with magazine articles in which Mrs Cook had appeared to offer “frank” details of her private life. Mrs Cook said she did not always speak to journalists, that some stories were unfounded and inaccurate, and added: “I never gave an interview about difficulties in my marriage.”
The court also heard that Mrs Cook had made a claim for damages against the NotW since discovering she had been a victim of phone hacking.
She said she felt “humiliated” after it was disclosed that a reporter at the paper had kept notes on her. “I had no private life whatsoever,” she said.
She denied having a vendetta against the newspaper. Asked if she had known she was a phone hacking victim before she had spoken to the police, Mrs Cook said: “I suspected I might have been. But I didn’t know for sure.”
Mrs Brooks denies conspiracy to phone hack, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, and perverting the course of justice. She is one of eight people who deny a series of charges. Five are former NotW journalists. The trial continues.