FORMER News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was involved in a “risky” conspiracy to try to hide evidence from police investigating phone hacking, a jury has heard.
The 45-year-old is accused of plotting with her husband Charles Brooks and former NI head of security Mark Hanna to move material from the couple’s Oxfordshire home before it was searched by officers.
A security guard allegedly involved in the operation referred to the 1968 war film Where Eagles Dare after he hid a full bin bag near the Brooks’ London flat under the guise of delivering a pizza, the Old Bailey was told.
In a text message to a a colleague, he said: “Broadsword calling Danny Boy. Pizza delivered and the chicken’s in the pot.”
The other guard replied: “Ha, f****** amateurs. We should have done a DLB [dead letter box] or brush contact on the riverside.”
Neither of the men can be named for legal reasons.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told the jury that the security staff agreed to log the hours for the car park drop-off as “pizza delivery”, because “you cannot log the hours as ‘perverting the course of justice’.”
It was also revealed that former News of the World editor Andy Coulson – accused with others of conspiring to hack phones – also had his mobile phone messages secretly listened to by investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
Making his opening statement on Coulson’s behalf, Timothy Langdale QC said: “When it is alleged that Mr Coulson must have known [about phone hacking], if only on the basis that each of the news editors was party to hacking, you may like to bear in mind that Mr Coulson himself was hacked by Glenn Mulcaire.
“The CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] did not choose to tell you about that. It is not easy to reconcile with their case, is it?
“Both conspirator and victim? It is fair to say, is it not, that the two things do not sit easily together?”
It is claimed that while former NotW and Sun editor Brooks was being questioned by police over the voicemail allegations, her husband and Hanna tried to hide evidence.
Jurors heard that security staff picked up a bin bag of material from the couple’s Oxfordshire home, before it could be searched on the day of Brooks’ arrest, and that this was hidden near bins at the couple’s flat in London’s Chelsea Harbour.
However, before the bag could be recovered, it was found by a cleaner and handed to police.
Mr Edis said: “The only rational explanation was to hide material so police can’t get it.
“Sometimes plans of that kind succeed.
“They must have been trying to hide something, otherwise they would have been behaving completely irrationally.”
Brooks, 45, is accused of two counts of perverting the course of justice – one with Hanna and her husband, and the second with her former personal assistant, Cheryl Carter.
Brooks and Coulson deny conspiring with others to hack phones between October 2000 and August 2006. The trial continues.