Witness Deborah Keegan said she had met Mrs Brooks’s other PA Cheryl Carter five or six times and had also been in text and email communication with her since November 2011 when she made her first statement to detectives, the Old Bailey heard.
Asked who had approved the contact, Mrs Keegan said she had spoken to Kathleen Harris, a specialist in white-collar crime at law firm Arnold Porter who is acting for Rupert Murdoch’s rebranded newspaper group News UK.
Mrs Keegan divulged the meetings to Andrew Edis QC, chief prosecutor at the trial.
Giving evidence, Mrs Keegan recounted how one Sunday in 2009 she had helped Mrs Carter archive material from Mrs Brooks’s office at Wapping as part of an office clean up.
The Crown claims notebooks from Mrs Brooks were removed in a deliberate attempt to hide evidence from the hacking inquiry. However, Mrs Keegan said that Mrs Brooks had not been present while the boxes were being packed.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, asked her: “Mrs Brooks had nothing to do with whatever went into those boxes, the labelling of them or their sending to the archive?” Mrs Keegan replied: “That’s correct.”
Mr Laidlaw continued: “Mrs Brooks had as far as you can tell nothing to do with the decision to remove them?” “Yes,” said Mrs Keegan.
For the prosecution, Mr Edis asked Mrs Carter whether she had met Mrs Carter since making her first statement to detectives. About five times, Mrs Keegan said, adding: “It could be six.” Asked who had given her the green light to have such meetings, she replied: “I would talk to Kathleen Harris sometimes… she’s working for News UK as a lawyer.”
Mr Edis continued: “Did you ask the police or the CPS whether it was a good idea to meet.” “No, I didn’t,” Mrs Keegan replied.
She added that there had always been someone else present at the “casual” meetings, which took the form or a drink in a pub or lunch in a hamburger bar. Mr Edis asked: “What was the point of them?” Mrs Keegan replied: “The point was to see my friend who I hadn’t seen in a long while.”
Judge John Saunders asked Mrs Keegan: “Have you ever talked about the case?” Mrs Keegan replied: “No, we’re told that we shouldn’t.”
Day 37: Part 2: Rebekah Brooks was escorted out of the building and her office sealed on the day she resigned as chief executive of the country’s biggest newspaper group, the hacking trial heard today.
Jane Viner, News International’s head of facilities, said the locks on Mrs Brooks’s 10th floor executive suite were changed after general manager Will Lewis indicated she was a “person of interest” to the police.
Two days later after her resignation, Mrs Brooks was arrested and questioned by Metropolitan Police detectives on Operation Weeting – and later charged with conspiring to hack phones, commit misconduct in public office and pervert the course of justice.
Describing Mrs Brooks’s departure on Friday 15 July 2011, which followed the discovery that the News of the World had hacked the phone of Milly Dowler, Mrs Viner said that there had been some discussion the previous night that she might go on “leave of absence” and need a new office.
However, as it turned out her resignation was announced the following morning and Mrs Viner accompanied Mrs Brooks as she left Thomas More Square in Wapping.
Mrs Viner told the court: “She was quite upset and subdued.”
Jonathan Laidlaw, for Mrs Brooks – a former editor of the News of the World and the Sun – asked her: “Did she look shocked by what had occurred?”
Mrs Viner replied: “Yes, she did.”
Mr Laidlaw remarked: “I guess it wasn’t a comfortable moment for you to escort her off.”
Mrs Viner, who had been junior to Mrs Brooks minutes beforehand, replied: “No, it wasn’t.”
She explained that Mrs Brooks’s office was sealed and the barrel of the lock changed, with the keys put into a specially-sealed bag.
Mrs Brooks had been required to leave behind her computer equipment and take only personal belongings.
Mrs Brooks and Mrs Carter deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice. The case continues.