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Brooks Turned Into Pantomime Villain by Prosecutors, Lawyer Says

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of two News Corp. tabloids, has been depicted as the arch criminal in charge of a cast of villains as family members and employees concealed evidence from police in 2011, her lawyer said.

“The prosecution’s propensity for writing fiction reaches its extreme,” Jonathan Laidlaw, Brooks’s lawyer, said on the second day of his closing arguments at the seven-month-old trial.

The 45-year-old Brooks, who rose to become head of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, is among seven people on trial phone hacking and bribing public officials at the company’s Sun and News of the World newspapers. Prosecutors said that Brooks, along with her husband and employees, plotted to hide notebooks and laptops at the height of the scandal which engulfed News Corp.’s U.K. unit in 2011.

“The prosecution’s story is less of a novel and more of a pantomime,” Laidlaw said. “The cast of villains is extraordinary.”

Brooks would’ve had to speak to her husband Charlie Brooks, also a defendant in the trial, her mother, her assistant and a security employee to convince them to lie for her, Laidlaw said. Brooks’s lawyer has spent much of the last two days lambasting the prosecution case, calling it “desperate,” “absurd,” and “outrageous.”

“It is beyond ridiculous that the prosecution are trying to make you buy the fantastic tale of what she did and the people she corrupted,” Laidlaw said.

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World in 2011 in a bid to temper public outrage over the hacking of the phone of Milly Dowler, a teenager who was found murdered in 2002. All seven defendants deny the charges.

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

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

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