Brooks Not Sure Coulson Would Survive Scandal, Witness Says

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, told a friend of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron at a party that she wasn’t sure if Andy Coulson could “survive” the scandal over phone hacking at News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid.

Dom Loehnis, a London-based recruiter, told a court in London today that Brooks told him at a 2010 birthday party for Cameron, that it would be difficult for Coulson, his media adviser, to survive the continuing focus on phone hacking.

Brooks and Coulson, both 45-year-old former editors of News Corp.’s News of the World and Sun tabloids, are 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 News of the World in 2011 amid a scandal over revelations the newspaper hacked the phone of a missing teenager.

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 a police probe in 2011 that led to Coulson’s resignation.

“The point she was making was that the person managing the delivery of the news becoming the source of the news” was a problem, Jonathan Laidlaw, Brooks’s lawyer, said today.

Late 90s

While Loehnis testified that Brooks told him at the party that it had “been possible to access voice mails from the late 90s,” he also said that Brooks didn’t say she had any knowledge of phone hacking during the conversation.

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.

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