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November 4, 2013

Hacking trial told Rebekah Brooks’ notepads disappeared after being removed by her personal assistant

By Press Association

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks instructed her personal assistant to remove seven boxes of notebooks from the company's archive that have "never been seen again", a jury has heard.

Brooks, 45, is accused of conspiring with Cheryl Carter to pervert the course of justice by taking the documents while the police were investigating allegations of phone hacking and payments to public officials.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told jurors at the Old Bailey that the material, said to be Brooks' notebooks from 1995 to 2007, has never been recovered.

He told the nine women and three men: "Nothing like that has ever been recovered in the course of this inquiry."

Earlier the court was told that in 2011 the situation for News International became "more fevered" as the firm came under investigation by police after it handed over three emails linked to phone hacking and payment claims, and amid renewed media interest in the allegations.

Edis said: "This was a huge business for News International and for her (Brooks). There were inquiries ongoing. At all times she was of course aware that there was a police inquiry, Operation Weeting, which had in fact started when News International handed over these three emails.

"So there was always a course of justice in existence that could be perverted by hiding evidence.

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"Hiding evidence was not acceptable at any time that year.

"The atmosphere, we would suggest, became even more fevered as time went on."

He added: "You can imagine the extremely anxious, if not panic-stricken approach to what was going on."

Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, and Coulson, 45, from Preston in Kent, are both accused of conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission.

They are accused of conspiring with former News of the World, head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south-west London, the tabloid's ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, and others to illegally access voicemails between 3 October 2000 and 9 August 2006.

Ex-NoW 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.

She faces another two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – one with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, from Chelmsford in Essex, (pictured above) between 6 July and 9 July 2011.

It is alleged that they conspired to remove seven boxes of material from the News International archive.

The second count alleges that Brooks, her husband Charles Brooks and former head of security at News International Mark Hanna conspired together and with others between 15 July and 19 July 2011 to pervert the course of justice.

It is claimed that they tried to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from police officers who were investigating allegations of phone hacking and corruption of public officials in relation to the News of the World and The Sun newspapers.

Former Number 10 spin doctor and ex-NoW editor Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with the tabloid's former royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and persons unknown to commit misconduct in public office – one between 31 August 2002 and 31 January 2003; and the other between 31 January and 3 June 2005.

All of the defendants deny the charges.

The case continues.

 

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