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  1. Media Law
June 4, 2014

Judgement of Charlie Brooks ‘foolish or stupid – but not criminal’, says defence

By Press Association

Rebekah Brooks's husband Charlie, from Oxfordshire, was capable of drinking a bottle of Fairy Liquid but not of perverting the course of justice, jurors in the hacking trialwere told.

The racehorse trainer (pictured, Reuters) admitted his "foolish" behaviour in stashing lesbian porn DVDs and computer equipment in the underground car park of his London flat while his wife was under arrest.

But the 51-year-old denies perverting the course of justice with his wife and News International security chief Mark Hanna in July 2011.

In a closing speech, his lawyer Neil Saunders QC cited an episode when one of his friends found him frothing at the mouth after drinking washing up liquid as evidence of his propensity for "daft" acts.

Saunders told jurors: "What he did that weekend was stupid and he knows it. While he is a man who is capable of drinking a bottle of Fairy Liquid, he is not capable of committing this offence. On the evidence, we invite you to acquit Mr Brooks."

The lawyer described his client as honest but sometimes daft, funny and bright but occasionally unwise and forgetful.

He showed love for his wife and young daughter and concern for his elderly mother while also being a man "who is always up for going to the pub for a pint or two", Saunders said.

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He was not the sort of character to orchestrate a "fairly complicated and military style operation involving many people embroiled in a web of deceit" with his wife as the "mastermind", jurors were told.

Saunders said: "The defence suggest if you use your common sense you may conclude this was not a clever plan, but a man who made a foolish mistake to hide his property.

"Charlie Brooks made a foolish error of judgement, foolish or stupid – but not criminal."

In his evidence, Brooks said he hid his pornographic DVDs to avoid a "Jacqui Smith moment", fearing police would leak what they found in searches and cause embarrassment for his wife, the court heard.

Saunders told the court that, up until July 18 2011, there were eight stories from leaks and they continued after that date.

There was an investigation into the source but Saunders said it was decided not to prosecute either the officer or journalist because there was no evidence of financial payments.

The court heard none of the computer equipment in bags recovered from the car park contained any incriminating evidence.

Brooks maintained in evidence that he was anxious to keep notes on his novel, Switch, away from police.

Although he had submitted a draft to his publisher the month before, he explained "writing a book is not just about writing the book, it's about the re-write and the re-write of the re-write", the court heard.

Brooks met his wife at a dinner party when they were both single and they married in June 2009, the court heard.

At the time Mrs Brooks became the focus of police and media scrutiny over hacking at the News of the World, Mr Brooks was dealing with baby scans of their daughter, who was born to a surrogate mother, while sending his wife supportive emails and texts.

All seven defendants in the trial deny the charges against them.

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