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Phone Hacking Trial: Help from Blair and Mandelson, Brooks the “phone hacking mastermind” – Martin Hickman

Rebekah BrooksDay 67:  Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson privately offered to help Rebekah Brooks prepare for a grilling by MPs at the height of the phone hacking scandal, the Old Bailey heard today.

The two senior Labour politicians offered their assistance days before Mrs Brooks’s scheduled appearance at the Commons Media, Culture and Sport select committee on 19 July 2011, the phone hacking trial was told.

Mr Blair’s offer came during text exchanges with Mrs Brooks which were read out by chief prosecutor Andrew Edis QC.

On 16 July 2011 – after Mrs Brooks knew that she was due to be interviewed by detectives investigating hacking  – Mr Blair praised her choice of lawyer, Kingsley Napley partner Stephen Parkinson, as “excellent”.

When Mrs Brooks told him that she was “properly terrified” and that the police were “behaving badly”, Mr Blair reassured her: “Everyone panics on these occasions. Assume you have quality QC.

He added: “I am no use on police stuff but call me on that that because I may be of use on Commons.” The former prime minister signed off his texts to the criminal suspect: “T x”

The court also heard that Mr Mandelson, the former deputy prime minister, was planning to coach Mrs Brooks on her select committee evidence the weekend beforehand, but in the end the offer was not taken up.

The Crown claimed that Rebekah Brooks was the mastermind behind a litany of phone hacking, illegal payments to a public official and two attempts to hide evidence from the police.

Concluding his cross-examination of the tabloid newspaper executive, Andrew Edis QC, put it to Mrs Brooks that she “controlled” everyone who had either admitted phone hacking or were being tried for criminal offences.

That’s not true,” she replied.

Mr Edis repeatedly demanded to know what had happened to Mrs Brooks’s missing digital iPads, iPhones and BlackBerrys. She told the court she assumed they were at News International.

Turning to her emails suggesting NI launch an inquiry into hacking in July 2011 which might clear her, Mr Edis said that she was trying to save her skin.

In her email recounting Tony Blair’s advice to launch a “Hutton-style inquiry,” Mr Edis said, she was telling her boss James Murdoch that “Blair thinks there’s a way through this where I can keep my job?

Mrs Brooks shot back: “I don’t think that was the discussion. I think he was trying to help and perhaps see a way through and give me some suggestions.”

She said she had not known at the time that her PA, Cheryl Carter, had withdrawn boxes from NI’s archive labelled as “Rebekah Brook’s notebooks.”

Nor had she known at the time that her husband Charlie had hidden his laptops and pornography collection from the police the weekend she was arrested. She told the court: “I thought it was an impulsive, ill-thought out decision.”

Mr Edis asked: “Impulsive, why do you say that?

I assume it was impulsive,” she replied.

Why?”

After a pause, Mrs Brooks replied: “I think it must have been.”

But the material had been driven from Enstone Manor in Oxfordshire to London and the operation seemed to be “carefully planned rather than impulsive,” Mr Edis told her, to which Mrs Brooks said: “I think I may have been referring more to the personal stuff.

She said she could not think of a reason why anyone at the News of the World would have concealed Mulcaire’s work from her, providing he had been a normal private detective. But she explained again that she had not been told, telling the jury: “I didn’t know about Glenn Mulcaire until he was arrested.”

Pressed on whether a Sun reporter had kept from her the identity of his “top military contact” – who turned out to be an MoD official – Mrs Brooks said: “Yes, he should have told me.”

Mr Edis said that it was her case that the NoW news editors Greg Miskiw and Neville Thurlbeck and its managing director Stuart Kuttner had hidden Glenn Mulcaire’s hacking from her, that she had not known her PA Cheryl Carter was removing boxes from archives, that a Sun reporter had concealed from her that payments were going to a public official, and that her husband had not told her that he was trying to hide his bags from the police. Yet, Mr Edis told her: “You were running your world” – and that she “controlled” them.

That’s not true,” Mrs Brooks replied.

Mr Edis told Mrs Brooks: “Your evidence, I’m going to suggest to you, is a carefully prepared and presented script and bears little relation to the truth of these offences.

She replied: “It isn’t

Mr Edis had no further questions for her.

1 Comment

  1. davidhencke

    Reblogged this on David Hencke and commented:
    Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson both offered to help an embattled Rebekah Brooks who was facing questions from the police. She also said she never knew about the activities of hacker Glenn Mulcaire – paid £1m by News International – until he was arrested. And she condemned hubbie Charlie for an ” impulsive ill thought out decision” in stashing away his computers and a bag full of lesbian DVD porn.

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