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Brooks 'plotted to hide evidence'

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was involved in a "risky" conspiracy to try to hide evidence from police investigating phone hacking, a jury has heard.

The 45-year-old is accused of plotting with her husband Charles Brooks and former NI Head of Security Mark Hanna to move material from the couple's Oxfordshire home before it was searched by officers.

A security guard allegedly involved in the operation referred to the 1968 film Where Eagles Dare after he hid a bin bag of property near the Brooks' London flat under the guise of delivering a pizza, the Old Bailey was told.

In a text message to a colleague, he said: "Broadsword calling Danny Boy. Pizza delivered and the chicken's in the pot."

The other guard replied: "Ha, f****** amateurs. We should have done a DLB (dead letter box) or brush contact on the riverside."

Neither of the men can be named for legal reasons.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told the jury that the security staff agreed to log the hours for the car park drop-off as "pizza delivery", because "you cannot log the hours as 'perverting the course of justice'."

It was also revealed in court how former NotW editor Andy Coulson - accused with others of conspiring to hack phones - also had his mobile phone messages secretly listened to by investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

Making his own opening statement on Coulson's behalf, Timothy Langdale QC said: "When it is alleged that Mr Coulson must have known (about phone hacking), if only on the basis that each of the news editors was party to hacking, you may like to bear in mind that Mr Coulson himself was hacked by Glenn Mulcaire.

"The CPS did not choose to tell you about that. It is not easy to reconcile with their case, is it?

"Both conspirator and victim? It is fair to say, is it not, that the two things do not sit easily together?"

It is claimed that while former News of the World and Sun editor Brooks was being questioned by police over the voicemail allegations, her husband and Hanna tried to hide evidence.

Jurors heard that security staff picked up a bin bag of material from the couple's Oxfordshire home, Jubilee Barn, before it could be searched on the day of Brooks' arrest, and that this was hidden near bins at the couple's flat in London's Chelsea Harbour.

However before the bag could be recovered, it was found by a cleaner and handed to police, the jury was told.

Mr Edis said: "The prosecution say that this whole exercise was quite complicated and quite risky and liable to go wrong, as it did.

"You only contemplate doing it for a real purpose, otherwise you are just attracting suspicion."

He added: "The only rational explanation was to hide material so police can't get it. Sometimes plans of that kind succeed.

"They must have been trying to hide something, otherwise they would have been behaving completely irrationally."

Rebekah Brooks, 45, is accused of two counts of perverting the course of justice - one with Hanna and her husband, and the second with her former personal assistant, Cheryl Carter.

It is claimed that she instructed Carter to remove seven boxes of notebooks - said to be Brooks' dating from 1995 to 2007 - from the company's archive that have "never been seen again".

Mr Edis told the nine women and three men on the jury: "Nothing like that has ever been recovered in the course of this inquiry."

The court heard that in 2011 the situation for News International became "more fevered" as the firm came under investigation by police after it handed over three emails linked to phone hacking and payment claims.

Mr Edis said: "The atmosphere, we would suggest, became even more fevered as time went on."

He added: "You can imagine the extremely anxious, if not panic-stricken approach to what was going on."

Rebekah Brooks, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; Coulson, 45, from Charing in Kent; former NotW head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London; and the tabloid's ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, all deny conspiring with others to hack phones between October 3 2000 and August 9 2006.

Former NotW and Sun editor Brooks is also accused of two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office - one between January 1 2004 and January 31 2012 and the other between February 9 2006 and October 16 2008 - linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.

She faces the two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice - one with Carter, 49, from Chelmsford in Essex, between July 6 and 9 2011; and a second with her husband, Charles Brooks, Hanna, and others between July 15 and July 19 2011.

Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with former NotW royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and other unknown people to commit misconduct in public office - between August 31 2002 and January 31 2003, and between January 31 and June 3 2005.


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