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My phone was hacked when I was editor, says Brooks

Rebekah Brooks said she was pretty shocked to discover her phone had been hacked. Picture: PA

Rebekah Brooks said she was pretty shocked to discover her phone had been hacked. Picture: PA

  • by DAVID MERCER AND EMILY PENNINK
 

FORMER News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks has told a court how her own phone was hacked by one of her organisation’s employees.

She also said she offered a job to the newspaper’s former royal editor after his release from prison for phone hacking to avoid “more damaging headlines”.

Brooks, 45, said Clive Goodman had threatened to take News International to an “embarrassing employment tribunal” and claim others at the NotW were involved in hacking.

She told the Old Bailey yesterday that she was on holiday in Italy when Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were arrested in 2006 and counter-terrorism officers raided the now-defunct tabloid’s offices.

“I remember a huge shock and confusion,” Brooks said. “It was the enormity of the raid on the NotW. There was a royal editor arrested, accused of interception of voicemails.”

Brooks, who was editor of the Sun at the time, said news of the arrests was “certainly a big media story”.

“I think there was general surprise about Clive, from memory,” she said.

“Disbelief at the allegation but, as time went on, where it looked like being true, shock and surprise at Clive.”

The former News International chief executive told the court there was “a great deal of concern” within the company about the investigation.

But she insisted she did not feel personal anxiety at learning that Mulcaire, who has admitted phone hacking, had worked at the NotW during her editorship.

Police later contacted Brooks to inform her that her own phone had been hacked by Mulcaire for 18 months, the court heard. She said: “I remember being pretty shocked by it. Certainly surprised. My instant reaction was I had a personal pin number so it was not possible.”

Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, denies conspiring to hack phones and other charges against her. Goodman, 55, of Addlestone, Surrey, denies conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.

Brooks told the court she had a “natural curiosity” to meet police in 2006 to discuss what had happened with her phone and later reported back to News International.

She told the company that police thought they had Goodman and Mulcaire “bang to rights” over phone hacking, and that there were up to 110 victims of Muclaire’s hacking, the court heard.

Brooks said she agreed later with bosses at News International that she would not make a formal complaint to police about Mulcaire’s hacking of her phone.

“We all agreed it would not be the right thing to do, to make a formal complaint and become a prosecution witness.”

On hacking at the NotW during her own editorship, Brooks said: “I had the belief, and still have the belief, this is not happening under my editorship. Not knowing perhaps does not equal it not happening but I just do not remember feeling that at the time.”

She told the court she offered Goodman a backroom role at the Sun in April 2007 after he threatened to claim that others at the NotW were involved in phone hacking. His contract had been terminated by News International while he was on “home leave” from prison, she said.

Goodman had requested financial compensation but his terms had been refused by News International and he now planned to take the company to an employment tribunal, Brooks said.

“He was going to allege that other people at the News of the World knew he was accessing voicemails and agreed to it and certain other people were involved in that practice,” she said.

“Certainly, by March 2007, a line had been drawn under that episode with News International, within the police and the self-regulatory body.

“The company felt although they believed the allegations were unfounded and without any basis of evidence, to go through an embarrassing employment tribunal and cause more damaging headlines… they could stop that.”

“It was a delicate situation,” she added. “There were two sides to every story. Clive was angry.”

Goodman declined the job offer and instead accepted a financial settlement, Brooks said.

The trial continues.

 
 
 

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