Day 44, Part 1: Rebekah Brooks appeared to believe that reports on the hacking of Milly Dowler were part of a co-ordinated exercise against News International by the BBC, the Guardian newspaper and members of the Labour Party.
On 5 July 2011, the day after the Guardian broke the news that the News of the World had targeted the missing schoolgirl, Mrs Brooks emailed the then editor of the Times, James Harding, the phone hacking trial heard.
In the message read out to the jury, News International’s chief executive asked Mr Harding: “Can you find out from Sean [O’Neill, Times crime correspondent] how he knows page 1 and 3 are true?” Mrs Brooks, who was editor of the News of the World when it targeted the schoolgirl, but was on holiday when it happened, wrote: “We have zero veracity on the truth of these allegations.”
She explained that News International had not been informed by the Metropolitan Police or Surrey Police that the paper had targeted Milly Dowler.
She complained to Mr Harding: “This is a proper BBC-Guardian-Old Labour hit.” Referring to the Labour MP Tom Watson, she added: “Tom Watson tweeted earlier yesterday that exciting things were coming.”
Neil Saunders, representing Mrs Brooks’s husband Charlie, during discussion of the leaking of police material to the Guardian earlier in 2011.
No response from Mr Harding was read to the jury. He is now head of BBC News.
Day 44, Part 2. Andy Coulson, a former editor of the News of the World, complained to the police that unauthorised information about him was appearing in the press, the phone hacking trial heard today.
Mr Coulson’s lawyers, DLA Piper, sent a formal letter of complaint to the Metropolitan Police in July 2011 about leaks from the phone hacking inquiry Operation Weeting.
An inquiry launched by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards on 2 August 2011 found there had been extensive phone and text contacts between a Guardian reporter and a detective constable around the time of Guardian hacking exclusives in 2011.
But Operation Kilo uncovered “no evidence of financial inducement” and the CPS ruled there was insufficient evidence to charge either the journalist, Amelia Hill, or the police officer, Detective Constable Peter Cripps, the Old Bailey heard.
Neil Saunders, representing Charlie Brooks, husband of former NoW editor Rebekah Brooks, raised the leak inquiry during evidence about his client’s “state of mind” when he stashed bags in an underground car park at the Chelsea Harbour flat complex in 2011.
As well as correspondence, computers and other items, the bags, Mr Brooks’s barrister has previously pointed out, contained pornography.
He ran through a police schedule from Operation Kilo showing the dates and times of contact between Miss Hill and Det Const Cripps, who is now retired, and stories in the Guardian.
For instance, Mr Saunders told the jury, around the time police arrested the News of the World reporter James Weatherup on 14 April 2011 Miss Hill and Det Const Cripps exchanged 13 text messages and had two phones calls, lasting 9 and 11 minutes.
The Guardian coverage of the arrest included details such as Mr Weatherup’s identity and the searching of his office desk that were not on a list of information to be given out by the Met’s press office, the court heard.
Guardian reports also had the identities and sometimes other details on the arrests of Neville Thurlbeck and Ian Edmondson, as well as those of Terenia Taras and Laura Elston [neither of whom were charged].
Asked by the judge to explain the relevance of going through each story in detail, Mr Saunders told the court: “The point is all this is coming out into the public domain.”
Turning to the arrest of Mr Coulson – which the Guardian reported before it had happened on 8 July 2011 – Mr Saunders said Mr Coulson’s lawyers had written to the Met “expressing concern that information is being leaked from the Metropolitan Police to outside sources.”
In the letter, dated 11 July 2011, an unnamed DLA Piper lawyer representing Mr Coulson wrote: “We still have legitimate concerns someone in the Metropolitan Police Service may be providing information to the media off the record.”
Mr Brooks and Mrs Brooks, who edited the Sun between 2003 and 2009, deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson, editor of the News of the World between 2003 and 2007, deny conspiring to hack phones.
Mrs Brooks also denies authorising payments from the Sun to public officials in return for information.
Mr Coulson denies authorising payments to police officers while editor of the News of the World.
They were charged in 2012.
The case continues.