Brooks denies knowing phone hacker Mulcaire
Impossible for editor to know all sources, former News International executive tells Old Bailey
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks leaving the Old Bailey yesterday, where she described her experience of life inside tabloid newsrooms,including several examples of misogyny. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters
Rebekah Brooks yesterday stepped into the witness box at the Old Bailey central criminal court in London for the first time and told the jury that as editor of the News of the World she had never heard of Glenn Mulcaire and had known nothing of his phone-hacking activity for the paper.
“It’s impossible for an editor to know every source for every story,” she added. “Of course that’s impossible with the sheer volume of stories coming into the paper.”
Questioned by her barrister, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, she gave glimpses of her dealings with Rupert Murdoch and Tony Blair, and described her experience of life inside tabloid newsrooms, which included several examples of misogyny and tales of internal competition so intense that at one point she suspected colleagues of cutting her phone lines to stop her following up on an exclusive.
Opening the defence, after more than three months of prosecution evidence, Mr Laidlaw told the jury: “It is time for you to see Mrs Brooks as she is, not as she is described or spoken of elsewhere.”
She told the jury how, in seven years, she had risen from a post as junior researcher on the News of the World ’s Sunday magazine to become deputy editor of the paper in December 1995, aged 27. Along the way, she said, she had encountered “a bit of old-school misogyny”.
When Mr Murdoch had come into her office for the first time he gave her “kind advice” to take her time and to learn as she went. He had told her he did not like editors who sought publicity, “going on Radio 4 and spouting forth about their opinions”.
She said she had got to know Mr Blair in 1996. Her then partner, the actor Ross Kemp, was “a card-carrying member of the Labour party” and had taken her to a rally in Nottingham or Sheffield where she had met Mr Blair and “the original New Labour crew”. The following year, the Sun and News of the World had switched their support from Conservative to Labour.
After two years as deputy editor of the Sun , she had returned to the News of the World as editor in January 2000. Mr Laidlaw asked her whether, during 2½ years in that job, she had heard the name of Glenn Mulcaire.
“No,” she replied.
“Did anybody speak his name in your presence?”
“As for phone-hacking – accessing voicemail messages – was any involvement he had in that practice ever drawn to your attention?”
“No. Not at all.”
She said that on taking over as editor, she had appointed as investigations editor Greg Miskiw who, the jury have been told, has pleaded guilty to conspiring with Mulcaire to hack phones. Asked if Mr Miskiw’s investigation unit had been set up to hack voicemail, she said: “It’s just not correct.”
Ms Brooks denies conspiring to intercept voicemail, one remaining count of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and two counts of perverting the course of justice. The trial continues. – ( Guardian service)