Rebekah Brooks told News Corp. officials to conduct a security “sweep” of her office and phone the day before London police started an investigation into phone-hacking allegations at company newspapers.
Brooks, then the chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, asked security head Mark Hanna to “sweep” her office and phone “discreetly” in a Jan. 25, 2011, e-mail, William Clegg, Hanna’s lawyer, said today at a London trial.
The phone-hacking scandal involving News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid had been simmering for almost five years in 2011 before media coverage and civil lawsuits led police to re-open an investigation into the allegations on Jan. 26 of that year. Andy Coulson, a former editor of the weekly newspaper, had resigned from his post as communications director for U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron on Jan. 21.
Brooks, 45, Coulson and Hanna are among seven people on trial over wrongdoing at the company’s British publications. Brooks and Hanna are accused of obstruction of justice over the disappearance of boxes of notebooks from News Corp. archives in the days before Brooks was arrested in July 2011.
The discovery on July 4, 2011, that a murdered school girl’s phone had been hacked in 2002 by the News of the World triggered public outrage that led News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to close the tabloid and to at least three police investigations.
Executive offices were regularly checked by security at the company’s London headquarters for listening devices to ensure there were no leaks of news scoops to rival publications, Jane Viner, the head of facilities at News Corp.’s U.K. unit, told the court.
The jury was also told about security measures put in place during the scandal to protect News Corp. executives, including the diversion of abusive mail sent by members of the public.
Brooks was given the nickname “Black Hawk” by the security team headed by Hanna, while others were dubbed “Kestrel” and “Sparrow Hawk,” Clegg said.
Hanna is standing trial accused of obstructing the course of justice along with Brooks, her husband Charlie, and her assistant Cheryl Carter.
The jury was played closed-circuit television footage of Charlie Brooks on the day his wife was arrested on July 17, 2011. He walking in the underground parking garage at their home in London’s Chelsea neighborhood with a light-brown package under his arm. Minutes later he returns empty handed and gets into an elevator.