Prosecution rests in hacking trial

Last updated 09:07 06/02/2014
Rebekah Brooks
Reuters
COURT DAY: Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks leaves the Old Bailey courthouse in London.
Andy Coulson
Reuters
HACKING SCANDAL: Former editor of the News of the World Andy Coulson leaves the Old Bailey courthouse in London.

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Prosecutors in one of Britain's most high-profile trials of recent times wrapped up their case against Rebekah Brooks, Rupert Murdoch's former British newspaper boss, and Andy Coulson, Prime Minister David Cameron's ex-media chief.

During 13 weeks of testimony with occasional startling revelations including the disclosure Brooks and Coulson had been having an affair, prosecutors detailed evidence of phone-hacking and other alleged crimes by journalists working for Murdoch's British titles.

The jury will not return until February 17 when the prosecution will formally close their case and Brooks is expected to appear in the witness box to begin her defence. Verdicts are not expected before the middle of May.

The case centres on widespread phone-hacking by journalists at the News of the World Sunday tabloid, which Murdoch closed amid huge public anger in July 2011, and other allegations of crimes by staff on its sister daily paper The Sun.

Brooks, who ran News Corporation's British newspaper arm News International until July 2011 and had previously edited both papers, and Coulson, the News of the World editor until 2007, are charged with conspiracy to illegally intercept voicemail messages on mobile phones.

They are also both accused of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office by authorising illegal payments to public officials, and Brooks is charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Five others are also on trial. They all deny the charges.

The jury has heard that three senior journalists who held news editor roles at the tabloid had admitted the phone-hacking offences, while a private detective Glenn Mulcaire who worked for the paper had pleaded guilty to carrying out hacks.

Victims included the wife of future heir-to-the-throne Prince William, Kate Middleton, and his younger brother Harry. Brooks is also said to have approved an illegal payment for a picture of William wearing a bikini to a party.

The jury has also heard that Brooks and Coulson were both themselves hacked by Mulcaire.

GLAMOROUS

Although celebrities, politicians and sporting stars are among the hundreds said to have been targeted, glamorous witnesses have so far been limited to actor Jude Law and his former girlfriend actress Sienna Miller.

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The most dramatic testimony has come from Dan Evans, a former News of the World journalist who has pleaded guilty to hacking thousands of voicemails during his time at the paper when Coulson was editor.

He told the court Coulson, who worked for Cameron until 2011, was fully aware of hacking and that even the "office cat" knew it was going on, leading to accusations from Coulson's lawyer that Evans had lied to try to gain immunity.

The most startling revelation though was that Brooks and Coulson had been having an affair lasting some six years.

"This is an important case for all concerned, the defendants, the public, everybody else," the judge John Saunders told the jury. "It's taken this time because there is a great deal of evidence.

"I hope the actual issues to be decided aren't that complicated. We have to get through to the end, you and I."

- Reuters

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