Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, told the ex-wife of a professional golfer that listening to other people’s voice mails was “so easy.”
Eimear Cook, who is divorced from Colin Montgomerie, said Brooks told her during a 2005 lunch how simple it was to listen to voice mails and that it was “ludicrous” that famous people weren’t aware how to protect them, she said testifying today.
Brooks, a 45-year-old former editor of News Corp.’s News of the World and Sun tabloids, is among eight people on trial for a series of offenses related to phone hacking and bribery at the company’s U.K. publications. Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the weekly News of the World in 2011 amid a scandal over revelations the newspaper hacked the phone of a missing teenager.
Brooks said “famous people who have all these advisers and they don’t know they need to change their personal pin codes,” Cook told the court in London today, recalling the conversation with Brooks.
Jonathan Laidlaw challenged Cook, who filed a civil lawsuit against News Corp., saying that she “lied” to the jury.
“Somebody you have never previously met is opening up to a stranger in this way,” Laidlaw said. “It never happened. It could not have happened.”
Earlier today, prosecutors said Brooks had a “discreet” meeting with Andy Coulson, another former News of the World editor who is also a defendant in the trial, days before he stepped down as prime minister David Cameron’s director of communications.
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 the News of the World leading to both Coulson and Brooks’s resignations.
Coulson stepped down 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.