Day 42: Police searches of Rebekah and Charlie Brooks’s homes in London and Oxfordshire came under scrutiny at the phone hacking trial today. At one stage, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, for Mrs Brooks, suggested that detectives were practising “Carry On” style policing.
When police searched Mrs Brooks’s office at Wapping on 15 July 2011, the day she resigned as chief executive, they looked only in her office and not in filings cabinets by her PAs, he said,
Detective constable Alan Pritchard, with the Metropolitan Police’s phone hacking inquiry, explained that the police had agreed with Simon Greenberg, a member of News Corp’s Management and Standards Committee only to search Mrs Brooks’s office.
Mr Laidlaw pointed out that meant they had not searched paperwork from Mrs Brooks’s leadership of News International. He asked Det Const Pritchard: “This is not Carry On policing, is it?” “No, it’s not“, the officer replied.
The Old Bailey heard that nine officers from Weeting and two local police officers had carried out a 5am search of the Brooks’s home at Jubilee Barn, near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, on 13 Match 2013.
It was dark and no warning had been given to Mr and Mrs Brooks, Mr Laidlaw asked another police witness, Detective Constable Karyn Millar.
She replied: “I’m sure they weren’t aware we were coming.” Mr Laidlaw continued “What about the presence of a new baby on the scene – was that something you knew about?” The police were aware that Mrs Brooks had a new baby, but knew no more than that, the policewoman replied.
Mrs Brooks’s baby, Scarlett, had been born prematurely, Mr Laidlaw told the court. He asked the policewoman: “Was there any discussion about the impact on the family and the baby when you bang on the door at 5am in the morning?” Det Const Millar replied: “I don’t remember.”
Mr Laidlaw continued: “Did you notice that she [Mrs Brooks] was obviously concerned about the circumstances in which the police had chosen to execute the search?”
Det Const Millar said she was not aware whether Mrs Brooks had been concerned or not but added she spent some time talking to Mrs Brooks.
Mrs Brooks had switched on Sky News during the raid, Mr Laidlaw said, to see how soon it would appear on television. It did so after an hour, he told the officer, adding that the Brooks’s could not have released the news since their mobile phone and computer equipment had been taken during the search. “Do you remember her saying it must be you leaking this to the press?” he asked.
Mr Laidlaw added that during the raid his client had “entirely co-operated” with the police and had even informed them of the address of her new office on Marylebone, London.
The case resumes tomorrow.
A full Round Up of tweets and links can be found on the #pressreform blog, “Phone Hacking Trial, Day 42″