Day 82, Part 1: A security chief for Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper group agreed to keep from the police a stash of pornography belonging to the husband of former chief executive Rebekah Brooks, the phone hacking trial heard today.
Mark Hanna, director of security at News International, said that when he inspected a Jiffy bag stashed behind bins in the underground car park below the flat of Rebekah and Charlie Brooks it was “obvious” that it was pornography.
He told the Old Bailey he took the Jiffy bag, a laptop and a brown briefcase of Mr Brooks’ to News International’s headquarters in Wapping before arranging for them to be returned to the underground car park at Chelsea Harbour, after the police had searched the Brooks’s flat.
While the items were being moved and stored Mrs Brooks was being held at Lewisham police station by detectives investigating phone hacking at NI and Mr Brooks feared they would find them.
Mr Hanna, 50, a former soldier, told the court that on Sunday 17 July 2011 he had driven from Oxfordshire, where the Brooks’s had been staying, to their apartment complex at Chelsea, London, and was asked by Mr Brooks to look after some property.
Mr Hanna said:
“He explained he had left it over there [behind the bins] and again he said it was his own personal property and it was pornography…He indicated he wanted me to look after it. It was no great surprise that he didn’t want it to fall into the hands of the police or his wife.”
Asked by his counsel William Clegg: “Did he mention the police?”, Mr Hanna replied: “No, he didn’t.”
Mr Hanna drove the material to NI’s headquarters at Thomas More Square, Wapping, where it was stored in a lost property box, put into black bin bags, and then it returned by a security guard to the underground car park at Chelsea Harbour in the evening.
The security guard who delivered it to Mr Brooks also took along with a pizza for Mr Brooks and his friend Chris Palmer.
Beginning his cross-examination, Andrew Edis, for the Crown, asked Mr Hanna whether he had agreed to hide items from the police.
Mr Hanna replied: “I agreed that I offered to take some items. I didn’t use the word ‘hide’.”
Mr Edis continued: “But they were going to be kept from the police?”, to which Mr Hanna told the court: “Yes.”
Mr Hanna said the word ‘hide’ was “debatable,” adding: “I don’t believe I did anything illegal.”
He and Mr and Mrs Brooks deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice. The case continues.