* Rebekah Brooks hindered police, court told
* Brooks's husband involved in elaborate plan, court hears
* Former editor and Cameron aide Coulson denies knowing of
By Michael Holden
LONDON, Nov 4 Rebekah Brooks, the former boss of
Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper arm, was involved in an
elaborate but botched plan with her husband to hide computers
and documents from police investigating phone-hacking, a London
court heard on Monday.
Brooks, a former editor of Murdoch's News of the World and
Sun newspapers, also arranged with her personal assistant for
seven boxes full of her archived notebooks to be spirited away
before detectives could get hold of them, prosecutor Andrew Edis
told England's Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey.
Brooks was arrested in July 2011 and later charged with
conspiracy to illegally intercept voicemails on mobile phones,
authorising illegal payments to public officials, and perverting
the course of justice by hampering the police inquiry. She
denies the charges.
She is on trial with another former editor of the paper,
Andy Coulson, who went on to become Prime Minister David
Cameron's communications director and denies conspiracy to hack
phones and make illegal payments to officials for information.
Also on trial are Brooks' personal assistant Cheryl Carter,
her racehorse trainer husband Charlie, and Mark Hanna, ex-head
of security at News International, who all deny charges of
perverting the course of justice.
In July 2011, News International, the British arm of News
Corp, became engulfed in a "media firestorm" after news
that journalists had hacked the phone of a murdered schoolgirl,
The furore led to the closure of the 168-year-old News of
the World and Brooks's resignation from the company.
The court was told that Hanna had organised an operation
named "Blackhawk" to protect Brooks and her husband, both good
friends of Cameron, that led to attempts to hide material.
On July 17, the day Rebekah Brooks was first arrested but
before police could begin searches, Edis said her husband had
been recorded on closed circuit TV hiding a bag and a laptop
beside bins in the underground car park of their London flat.
These were collected by Hanna and taken away. After numerous
contacts during the day, it was arranged for the computer and
other material to be returned, Edis said, and later one of
Hanna's team - pretending he was delivering pizzas - put them
back behind the bins in a black plastic bag.
"Broadsword calling Danny Boy. Pizza delivered and the
chicken is in the pot," the security contractor wrote in a text
message to a colleague.
Edis explained that the Broadsword phrase was a reference to
the film "Where Eagles Dare", which starred Richard Burton as a
But the plan went awry. The following morning, before it
could be retrieved, the black bag was found by a cleaner, who
gave it to his manager. The manager later called the police.
"This whole exercise was quite complicated and quite risky
and liable to go wrong, as it did," Edis told the jury. "The
only plausible explanation was it was designed to hide material
so the police wouldn't get it."
He said it turned out there had been nothing incriminating
on the computer, but that did not mean the activities were not
designed to hinder the police.
The court also heard that seven boxes of notebooks belonging
to Rebekah Brooks were removed from News International archives
by her assistant, Carter, after the hacking of schoolgirl Milly
Dowler's phone was revealed.
"You can imagine the extremely anxious if not panic-stricken
approach to these developments that must have been going on,"
Edis said. The boxes were taken to Carter's home and not seen
again, he added.
Coulson's lawyer Timothy Langdale told the court his client
admitted things had gone wrong under his editorship of the
paper, but that he had never been party to any phone-hacking.
"Although he might wish he had made some different
decisions, he did not commit these offences," Langdale said.
He said Coulson's role at the News of the World had been
far-reaching, and that he could not be expected to have known
about every story in the paper.
He added that Coulson had also had his phone hacked by Glenn
Mulcaire, who worked for the News of the World.
"Both a conspirator and victim at the same time? The two
things do not sit easily together, do they?" he told the jury.
The trial continues.