Judge leaves former NoW managing editor Kuttner £135,000 out of pocket because 'he knew about Milly phone hack' - Press Gazette

Judge leaves former NoW managing editor Kuttner £135,000 out of pocket because 'he knew about Milly phone hack'

Rebekah Brooks's husband Charlie Brooks and the former managing editor of the News Of The World "brought suspicion on themselves", a judge said today as he refected their applications for their costs for the 139-day phone-hacking trial.

Brooks, 51, and retired managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 74, were both acquitted of being part of the hacking conspiracy and applied to have their costs – around £600,000 and £135,00 respectively – repaid at a hearing earlier this month.

After considering the matter, Mr Justice Saunders ruled today that they will not get the money back.

The judge said in a statement: "I have refused both applications for costs as I am satisfied that the defendants' conduct brought suspicion on themselves and misled the prosecution into thinking that the case against them was stronger than it was.

"They have been acquitted by the jury and are innocent of the charges that they faced and I have considered their applications on that basis."

Responding to the ruling, racehorse trainer Mr Brooks said: "At least on a racecourse, when you back a winner the bookmakers pay you."

The pair's co-defendants, Rebekah Brooks, her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 50, and News International head of security Mark Hanna, 51, were also acquitted following the trial – but their costs were paid by News International, now known as News UK.

News UK was also due to apply to have its costs repaid, but dropped the application as it was "troubled" by "the sheer scale" of assessing them.

The judge ruled on 2 October that legal documents concerning the company's eleventh-hour decision would not be made public, as he did "not consider at the moment that it would be right to release them".

Referring to Brooks in his 25-page judgment, Mr Justice Saunders said he had been "incredibly stupid" for hiding material – later found out to be legal pornography and computers containing his own work – from police, as it led officers to be suspicious.

The fact that he refused to comment when questioned by detectives was also held against him, as the judge said most innocent people would answer the questions put to them.

He said in his ruling: "I am in no doubt that not only did Mr Brooks bring suspicion on himself and indeed others but his conduct also misled the prosecution into thinking that the case against him was stronger than it was.

"I have set out my reasoning at considerable length to avoid giving any impression that any suspicion that Mr Brooks was guilty has affected my decision.

"He is innocent of the charge he faced. It does not automatically follow that he must recover his costs and this is one of those cases where, for the reasons I have given, it is not appropriate that he should."

In respect of Kuttner, who was heard to have paid out "from his own pocket a little less than £135,000" until News UK indemnified him from January 2013 onwards, the judge said he brought "suspicion on himself by his conduct in relation to the Milly Dowler investigation".

The hacking trial heard that Kuttner was aware of a voicemail left on the murdered schoolgirl's mobile phone after she had gone missing and went on to inform police about it, but only after a delay of several hours.

The judge said: "I accept that he was not a party to the ongoing conspiracy after the Milly Dowler interception to hack other people's phones, but he made no investigation to find out the extent of phone hacking at the News Of The World after he knew about the Milly phone hack nor did he issue instructions that it should not happen again.

"His conduct thereafter was such as to make the prosecution believe that their case was stronger than it really was. In those circumstances it is appropriate that I exercise my discretion to refuse to make a defence costs order in his case as well."

Brooks was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice while Kuttner was cleared of hacking at the end of the marathon trial in June.

Former News Of The World editor Mrs Brooks was found not guilty of hacking, conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office for allegedly signing off payments to a Sun journalist's "number one military contact" between 2004 and 2012, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and perverting the course of justice.

Carter was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice by removing seven boxes from the News International archive days before she was arrested in 2011 while Hanna was cleared of perverting the course of justice around the time of police searches in July 2011.



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