Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was involved in a “risky” conspiracy to try to hide evidence from police investigating phone hacking, a UK 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 home before it was searched by officers.
A security guard allegedly involved in the operation referred to the 1968 film Where Eagles Dare after he hid a bin bag of property near the Brooks’ London flat under the guise of delivering a pizza, the Old Bailey has been told.
In a text message to a colleague, he said: “Broadsword calling Danny Boy. Pizza delivered and the chicken’s in the pot.”
The other guard replied: “Ha, f***ing 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 in court how former NotW 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 own 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 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 News of the World 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, Jubilee Barn, 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, the jury was told.
Rebekah 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.
It is claimed that she instructed Carter to remove seven boxes of notebooks – said to be Brooks’ dating from 1995 to 2007 – from the company’s archive that have “never been seen again”.
Edis told the nine women and three men on the jury: “Nothing like that has ever been recovered in the course of this inquiry.”
Brooks, Coulson, former NotW head of news Ian Edmondson, and the tabloid’s ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, all deny conspiring with others to hack phones between October 3, 2000 and August 9, 2006.