Former UK editor Brooks was hacking victim, court hears

LONDON Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:43pm EST

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks arrives at the Old Bailey courthouse in London November 13, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks arrives at the Old Bailey courthouse in London November 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Neil Hall

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LONDON (Reuters) - Rebekah Brooks, a former editor of Britain's News of the World on trial for phone-hacking, had her own voicemail repeatedly targeted by the private investigator working for her newspaper, a court in London heard on Wednesday.

Brooks, a confidante of Rupert Murdoch and Prime Minister David Cameron, was one of hundreds whose name was found in the notebooks of Glenn Mulcaire, who has pleaded guilty to voicemail interception on behalf of the now defunct Sunday tabloid.

Four of the closest aides to Queen Elizabeth's grandsons, Princes William and Harry, and a host of celebrities were among other victims to have had their voicemail messages repeatedly hacked for stories, prosecutors told the Old Bailey court.

Brooks, 45, is on trial with another former editor, Andy Coulson, and six others on various charges related to phone-hacking, making illegal payments for stories and hindering police investigations. They all deny the charges.

Police found scribbled notes in Mulcaire's home detailing the mobile numbers, security pin details and passwords of hundreds of people. The notes included full transcripts of voicemail messages, records of calls and text messages, while audio recordings of private conversations were also found.

Questioning a police officer about the presence of Brooks' name among Mulcaire's notes, her lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw asked whether Brooks had been the victim of voicemail interceptions. "She was targeted, yes," Detective Constable Tim Hargreaves replied.

The phone-hacking accusations sent shockwaves through the British establishment, led to a public inquiry into the conduct of the press and forced Murdoch to close the 168-year-old News of the World, Britain's best-selling newspaper that splashed celebrity exposes.

Brooks and Coulson were both friends of Cameron.

Laidlaw told the court Brooks was asked at one point if she would be prepared to be a witness for the prosecution.

The trial also heard how Mulcaire had repeatedly hacked into the messages of British actress Sienna Miller at the time the tabloid ran a series of stories about her relationship with actor Jude Law.

Police found a network of contacts among Mulcaire's notes, including the numbers and passwords for the 31-year-old actress and many of her friends.

The court was told that between intercepting the voicemail messages, Mulcaire often spoke to Ian Edmondson, the newspaper's former news editor who is one of those on trial.

One email read to the court showed Coulson was told information in a story about Prince Harry was well sourced because it had been "scammed" from the prince's private secretary.

"The health info is from doc himself, scammed from Helen Asprey. Harry and William's PA so it's solid," the email said.

Asked by the royal correspondent Clive Goodman whether they should first run the story past the head of communications to Harry's father Prince Charles, Coulson replied: "He won't help, will he."

(Editing by Stephen Addison and Alison Williams)

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