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Hacking: Brooks hid porn in ‘Jacqui Smith moment’

Charlie Brooks said it had been an instinctive reaction. Picture: PA

Charlie Brooks said it had been an instinctive reaction. Picture: PA

  • by RYAN HOOPER
 

The husband of former News International boss Rebekah Brooks hid a stash of pornography because he did not want police leaking embarrassing details of the “smut” to the press, the phone hacking trial has heard.

Racehorse trainer and writer Charlie Brooks said he did not want a “Jacqui Smith moment” – a reference to the former Labour home secretary who became embroiled in a row after it emerged her husband had submitted an expenses claim for watching pornography.

Brooks, his wife Rebekah and former News International head of security Mark Hanna deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in July 2011, as the phone hacking investigation resulted in the closure of the News of the World.

Brooks yesterday told the Old Bailey he “incredibly stupidly” decided to hide a bag containing explicit DVDs and a case that held his Sony laptop.

He said he had hidden the stash behind the bins of an underground car park at his and his wife’s flat in Thames Quay, west London.

Asked by his counsel, Neil Saunders, why he had acted in this way, Brooks said: “The DVDs are of an embarrassing nature.

“On the Sony Vaio, the main reason was it [the laptop] had some important book ideas that weren’t backed up anywhere else, but it also had a bit of smut on it.

“When I got back to the flat, I envisaged 20 policemen coming in and emptying every drawer and looking under every nook and cranny.

“I did think about my DVDs and I had my Jacqui Smith moment. I didn’t want the same thing to happen to Rebekah.”

The DVDs were hidden while his wife was being interviewed by police. The court heard Rebekah Brooks had described her arrest that day as police making “a PR point”.

Her husband went back to retrieve the bags later but they were gone, having been picked up by a caretaker and handed to police when the bins were emptied.

Brooks told the court his motive for hiding the belongings was the result of an “instinctive reaction” that police could “leak this sort of material [the pornography] to the press”.

He said: “Ever since Operation Weeting [the police phone hacking investigation] had been at the buildings at News International, a lot of stuff had been leaked, particularly to the Guardian.

“Incredibly stupidly and rashly, I thought I would just put these to one side. They [police] wouldn’t take it away and I wouldn’t lose my material.”

Brooks said he was arrested “shortly before 5am”, with his baby daughter in the house.

He was taken to High Wycombe police station where he was “banged up in a cell” until his solicitor arrived at about 11:20am, he told the court. He said he refused to answer questions, on the advice of his legal adviser.

Andrew Edis, QC, prosecuting, asked Brooks if he agreed he “went out of his way to hide stuff he didn’t want police to seize”.

Brooks agreed. “I think I had stuff they might seize,” he said.

Brooks, 51, his wife, 45, and Hanna, 50, deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. All seven defendants deny all charges in the hacking investigation.

The trial continues.

 

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