Brooks Had Discreet Coulson Meeting Before Police Hacking Probe

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp. (NWSA)’s U.K. unit, had a “discreet” meeting with Andy Coulson days before he stepped down as prime minister David Cameron’s director of communications, prosecutors said.

Brooks asked her assistant in an e-mail to book “somewhere discreet,” for the Jan. 14, 2011, breakfast meeting at London’s Halkin Hotel, prosecution lawyer Mark Bryant-Heron told jurors in the phone-hacking trial today. One week later, U.K. police began a probe into wrongdoing at News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid leading to both Coulson and Brooks’s resignations.

Brooks and Coulson, both 45-year-old former editors of the tabloid, are among eight people on trial for a series of offenses related to phone hacking and bribery at News Corp. publications. Company Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World in 2011 in an attempt to contain a scandal over revelations the tabloid hacked the phone of a missing teenager.

Coulson resigned from the newspaper in 2007 when the News of the World’s royal reporter, Clive Goodman, and a private investigator were jailed for intercepting voice-mail messages. He was hired to work on Cameron’s campaign team later that year. The phone-hacking scandal resurfaced with the police probe in 2011.

Coulson and Brooks had a six-year affair that ended in 2004, prosecutors said earlier in the trial.

Other defendants include Stuart Kuttner, the 73-year-old former managing editor of the News of the World, and Ian Edmondson, a 44-year-old former news editor, who are both accused of phone hacking. Goodman, 56, is charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office while he was the royal reporter at the News of the World.

Brooks’s husband, Charlie, her former assistant Cheryl Carter, and the U.K. unit’s former head of security, Mark Hanna, face charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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