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October 31, 2013

Brooks and Coulson trial: Jury to hear about Millie Dowler hacking operation

By Darren Boyle

Jurors in the trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-spin doctor Andy Coulson will today hear evidence of the News of the World’s phone hacking missions against Millie Dowler and John Prescott.

Andrew Edis QC prosecution will resume his opening speech at the Old Bailey later this morning before a jury of nine women and three men.

Edis also told he would continue to outline this morning how the News of the World obtained 13 voicemails from the royal household as well as information on former home secretary David Blunkett. 

The court heard that three former News of the World Journalists – Greg Miskiw, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup pleaded guilty to phone-hacking charges along with private detective Glenn Mulcaire.

Edis also revealed that the News of the World had hacked phones of rival journalists including Sebastian Hamilton and Dennis Rice of the Mail on Sunday.

The jury heard that Mulcaire was paid a retainer of £100,000 per year to provide services to the newspaper and that those who “held the purse strings” had to know how he secured his information.

Edis told the jury that the trial – which is expected to last up to six months – involves three types of allegations – claims of phone hacking at the NotW between 2000 and 2006; allegations that Sun and NotW journalists paid public officials for information; and an alleged "cover-up" to try to obstruct police investigating the claims.

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Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; Coulson, 45, from Charing in Kent; former NotW head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London; and the tabloid's ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, are all accused of conspiring with others to hack phones between 3 October 2000 and 9 August  2006.

Ex-NotW and Sun editor Brooks is also charged with two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office – one between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012 and the other between 9 February 2006 and 16 October 2008 – linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.

Fellow ex-NotW editor and former No 10 spin doctor Coulson (pictured above) is also facing two allegations that he conspired with Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and other unknown people to commit misconduct in public office – between 31 August 2002 and 31 January  2003, and between 31 January and 3 June 2005.

It is claimed that Goodman paid palace policemen for copies of Royal phone directories – allegedly authorised by Coulson – to get information on members of the Royal family.

Brooks also faces two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – one with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, from Chelmsford in Essex, between 6 July and 9 July 2011; and a second with her husband Charles Brooks and former head of security at News International Mark Hanna and others between 15 July and 19 July 2011.

The allegations relate to the alleged removal of Brooks' notebooks from the News International archive by Carter, and to "quite a complicated little operation'', allegedly involving Rebekah and Charlie Brooks and Hanna, to hide material from police investigating phone hacking.

All eight defendants deny the charges.

The trial continues.


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