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  1. Media Law
March 31, 2014

Charlie Brooks hid pornography from police fearing ‘leak to the press, particularly to the Guardian’

By PA Mediapoint

The husband of former News International boss Rebekah Brooks has told court that hiding a laptop and a stash of pornography from police was "incredibly stupid and rash".
Charlie Brooks told the hacking trial he did not want police leaking embarrassing details of the "smut" to the press – after a series of leaks "particulary to the Guardian".
Racehorse trainer and writer Charlie Brooks said he didn't want a "Jacqui Smith moment" – where the former Labour Home Secretary became embroiled in a row after it emerged her husband submitted an expenses claim for watching pornography.
Brooks, his wife Rebekah and head of security Mark Hanna deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice between July 5 and 19 2011 as the phone hacking investigation resulted in the closure of the News of the World.
He told the Old Bailey he "incredibly stupidly" decided to hide a bag containing explicit DVDs and a case with his Sony laptop in.
Continuing with his evidence from the witness stand, Brooks said he had hidden the cargo behind the bins of an underground car park at the couple's flat in Thames Quay, west London.
Asked by his counsel Neil Saunders why Brooks acted in this way, the witness said: "The DVDs are of an embarrassing nature.
"On the Sony Vaio, the main reason was it (the laptop) had some important book ideas that weren't backed up anywhere else, but it also had a bit of smut on it.
"When I got back to the flat, I envisaged 20 policemen coming in and emptying every drawer and looking under every nook and cranny.
"I did think about my DVDs and I had my Jacqui Smith moment – a Home Secretary who was implicated by her husband's porn.
"I didn't want the same thing to happen to Rebekah."
The incident happened while his wife was being interviewed by police in Lewisham. The court heard Rebekah Brooks had described her arrest that day as police making "a PR point".
Her husband went back to retrieve the bags later but they had gone, having been picked up by a caretaker and handed to police when the bins were emptied.
Brooks told the court his motive to hide the belongings was the result of an "instinctive reaction" that police could "leak this sort of material (the pornography discovery) to the press".
He told the court: "Ever since Operation Weeting (the phone hacking investigation) had been at the buildings at News International, a lot of stuff had been leaked, particularly to the Guardian.
"A lot of stuff had been leaked and I was very aware of that."
He said: "Incredibly stupidly and rashly, I thought I would just put these to one side. They (police) wouldn't take it away and I wouldn't lose my material."
Brooks, wearing a dark suit and light blue shirt, spoke loudly and clearly from the witness box as he described the day of his wife's arrest.
The court heard of one text from Rebekah Brooks to his wife in which she asked him to contact News Corp chairman James Murdoch and inform him of her custody status, following her resignation from News International hours earlier.
The text from the tabloid editor to her husband on the morning of July 17 read: "Police going to arrest me to make a PR (public relations) point before the Select Committee appearance."
The pair then went from their home in Oxfordshire to London where the former tabloid boss met with lawyers and went to Lewisham police station.
Charlie Brooks said he spent the rest of the day at the couple's London flat waiting for news of his wife's arrest.
He told the court a friend, Chris Palmer, arrived and they drank wine before ordering two pizzas.
He said: "At that point we wanted a bit of blotting paper. We had drunk six bottles of red wine that night.
"I was glued to Sky News. There was precious little information coming out of the police station."
Brooks also described his security team – before being cut short by Judge Mr Justice Saunders – as "incredibly bored and complete fantasists".

The court heard that Rebekah Brooks returned to the flat that night, where she described her husband as "several sheets to the wind".

Her husband told the court: "I think she was being quite charitable.

"I was pretty wobbly. It had been a stressful day and I had probably drunk more than was wise."

The following morning, Brooks said he felt "pretty rough" and thought about getting the bags back – which he said he believed were still in the garage.

He told the court that he had not told his wife about what had happened with the Sony and his porn stash because she had a lot on her mind.

Brooks said the garage was secure and he was "pretty confident" that the cargo would be there somewhere. He said he then "went downstairs to help the search party".

Brooks was told that the briefcase had been found but he would have to wait to be reunited with it – as Thames Quay staff had handed it to police.

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The witness said he had threatened to sue the complex security guards if it cost him a book deal.

He said: "In my mind I had it that Harper Collins would drop me as soon as they had any opportunity to.

"If it meant losing my Mac I would lose my book deal, I would never get another deal. If someone had given my book away, I would sue them (garage security)."

Brooks told the court that his wife "went ballistic" when he informed her he had hidden some of his belongings from police.

He said: "I said it (the laptop) had a bit of porn or something like that."

His wife looked straight ahead from the dock as he gave evidence.

Brooks said his concern then was that he would be arrested, and wanted to speak with police to get them to search the laptop – so he could prove the contents had nothing to do with Operation Weeting.

Brooks said he was arrested "shortly before 5am", with his baby daughter in the house.

He was taken to High Wycombe police station where he was "banged up in a cell" until his solicitor arrived at around 11.20am, he told the court.

Brooks said he refused to answer questions, on the advice of his legal advisor.

He told the court he did not ask anyone to hide any of his devices.

Opening his cross-examination, Andrew Edis QC asked Brooks if he agreed that he "went out of [his] way to hide stuff [he] didn't want police to seize".

Brooks agreed. He said: "I think I had stuff they might seize."

He said he and his wife believed she could be arrested as early as April 2011, following other arrests as part of police investigations.
He said he listened in on News International conference calls with his wife while they were on holiday.
"It was made very clear at the conference calls that Rebekah could be arrested," Brooks said.
He added that he "didn't really recall" what his wife might have been arrested for, but thought it could have been similar to other arrests in the inquiry.
"I think Rebekah's relationship with the police changed," he told the jury.
"There was a moment when she was removed from the 'confidentiality club'.
"She was told she was a 'person of interest'. I remember then that things changed."

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