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Brooks Approved Payments to Defense Official, Lawyer Says

Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, approved payments to a Ministry of Defence employee for a series of stories, including the death of Prince William’s commanding officer in Afghanistan, prosecutors said.

Brooks, also a former editor of the Sun tabloid, signed off on the payments over a four-year period for stories about the military, including an army officer falling out of a window and Prince William attending his commander’s funeral, Rebecca Chalkley, a prosecution lawyer, told a jury in London today.

Brooks, 45, is one of eight people standing trial on charges related to wrongdoing at News Corp.’s U.K. newspapers. Company Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the weekly News of the World in 2011 amid a scandal over revelations journalists intercepted voice-mail messages on the phone of a missing teenager.

Earlier in the trial, which has entered its sixth week, prosecutors said Brooks authorized payments of 40,000 pounds ($65,000) to a public official. Chalkley returned to the issue today, saying Brooks was told in a series of e-mails from a Sun reporter that the stories came from a “number one military source,” and were “cheap at the price.”

Brooks also paid 4,000 pounds for a picture of Prince William dressed in a bikini for a James Bond party while at military academy, Chalkley said.

Andy Coulson, another former News of the World editor, is facing charges of bribery and phone hacking while the tabloid’s ex-managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, is on trial for conspiring to hack phones.

Other defendants include Clive Goodman, 56, who is charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office while he was the royal reporter at the News of the World. A former news editor, Ian Edmondson, is also charged with phone hacking.

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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