The managing editor of News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid told police in 2002 that reporters had a tape of voice mails taken from a murdered schoolgirl’s phone, prosecutors said as the second day of testimony at the U.K. phone-hacking trial continued to focus on Milly Dowler.
Stuart Kuttner, the 73-year-old former managing editor of the tabloid on trial for phone hacking, told police in Surrey, England, his reporters had accessed the voice mail of the school girl, who was later found murdered, Mark Bryant-Heron, a prosecution lawyer, said in court today.
The discovery in 2011 that Dowler’s phone had been hacked by the newspaper triggered public outrage that led News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to close the News of the World. Kuttner, along with former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, is one of eight defendants facing a range of charges stemming from wrongdoing at News Corp. U.K. papers.
The tabloid published a story on April 14, 2002, saying Dowler’s phone had been targeted by a prank caller, with the text of a voice-mail message from a recruitment agency seemingly offering Dowler a job. Later editions excluded the quote, Bryant-Heron told jurors in London today.
Kuttner’s lawyer responded by pointing out that in 2002 police didn’t attempt to investigate the newspaper over the issue.
“As far as you can recollect, no police officer said to you that this matter should be investigated at any time?” Jonathan Caplan, Kuttner’s lawyer, asked Sarah McGregor, a former press officer for Surrey police.
At the time Dowler’s phone was hacked, Brooks was in Dubai and kept in regular contact with Coulson, who was then the deputy editor, the prosecution said.
Brooks is also charged with hiding evidence along with her husband, Charlie, her former assistant Cheryl Carter, and News U.K.’s former head of security, Mark Hanna. All eight have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Ian Edmondson, a 44-year-old former news editor at the tabloid, is charged with hacking while one-time royal reporter Clive Goodman is on trial on conspiring misconduct in a public office.
Ex-News of the World Chief Reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former Assistant Editors Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges they conspired to hack phones, prosecutors said last week. Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator employed by the tabloid to hack phones, also pleaded guilty to interception charges, including those relating to Dowler.