Brooks hacking trial shown ‘Pizzagate cover-up’

Rebekah Brooks denies all the charges against her. Picture: Reuters
Rebekah Brooks denies all the charges against her. Picture: Reuters
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CCTV film was shown to the hacking trial yesterday to illustrate the alleged plot to hide evidence from police on the day of Rebekah Brooks’s arrest.

The images focus on the underground car park at the London flat the former Sun and News of the World editor shared with her husband Charles Brooks in Chelsea Harbour.

While Mrs Brooks was in custody at Lewisham Police Station on 17 July, 2011, the CCTV showed a series of comings and goings with property dropped off and picked up.

The Old Bailey trial also heard about a flurry phone calls and texts between Mr Brooks, News International head of security Mark Hanna and members of Mrs Brooks’ security team ahead of a police search of the flat.

Just after noon, racehorse trainer Mr Brooks was captured on CCTV taking a padded envelope and a laptop into an underground car park. He disappears behind a column and comes back into view empty-handed less than a minute later.

Hanna later arrived at the car park in a black Range Rover. He picked up the laptop and bag and left in a blue car driven by another security worker.

Police searched the flat later the same afternoon and seven police officers accompanied by Mrs Brooks’ solicitor are seen on CCTV leaving with large boxes at 5:04pm. Meanwhile, police also searched the couple’s Oxford address, the court heard.

Later that evening, Hanna texted security guard Daryl Jorsling: “Del, have a plan. Can you call please, Mark.”

An hour later, Mr Jorsling arrived at the car park, removed a black bag from the boot and moved towards the bin area, returning empty handed.

A man is then seen collecting pizza boxes and Mr Jorsling leaves in a black Golf.

Mr Jorsling then contacted his colleague Daniel Johnson. Referring to the 1968 film Where Eagles Dare, he texts: “Calling Danny Boy – pizza delivered and the chicken is in the pot.”

Johnson replied: “Ha, f****** amateurs. We should have done a DLB [dead letter box] or brush contact on the riverside. Log the hours as pizza delivery.’’

Mrs Brooks left the police station and is seen in the footage arriving in the car park at 12:30am on 18 July, met by her husband.

Later that morning a cleaner collecting large bins in the car park found “various pieces of property”, the jury heard.

That afternoon, Mr Brooks, his driver Paul Edwards and Mr Jorsling were shown going back to the car park and appearing to search the bin area before heading off to the building’s office empty-handed.

That evening, police were handed a brown briefcase and black laptop bag which had been found behind the bins, the court was told.

Mr Brooks, 50, and Mrs Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, and Hanna, 50, of Buckingham, deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice between 5 and 19 July, 2011.

The court heard the incident of the missing bag at Chelsea Harbour was dubbed “Pizzagate” by security staff.

Witness William Geddes was managing director of the security firm that led the 24-hour “Blackhawk” operation around Mrs Brooks.

On 18 July, the day after her arrest, it came to Mr Geddes’s attention that property, then described as belonging to Charles Brooks which was delivered by a security guard to the Chelsea Harbour flat, had gone missing.

After the security team was alerted to the missing property, a search was launched.

Asked by Hanna’s lawyer, William Clegg QC, what Pizzagate referred to, Mr Geddes said: “Pizzagate was the term the team came up with for the fact the errands they had run not only included returning a bag but also a pizza.”

All seven defendants in the trial, including Cheryl Carter, Stuart Kuttner, Andrew Coulson and Clive Goodman, deny all the charges.

The trial continues today.