By Michael Holden
LONDON Nov 21 A senior executive of Rupert
Murdoch's News Corp said the company would not allow the media
mogul's close lieutenant Rebekah Brooks to be dragged into a
phone-hacking scandal, the jury at her trial was told on
Brooks, former editor of the News of the World tabloid and
chief executive from 2009 at Murdoch's British newspaper arm
News International, is accused of conspiring to illegally
intercept voicemails on mobile phones.
In March 2011, as the scandal mounted, Brooks sent her
husband Charlie a story about phone-hacking allegations being
made by a member of parliament, Chris Bryant. Charlie Brooks,
who is also on trial, emailed Will Lewis, a senior News
International executive, to ask if his wife was all right.
"Charlie, she's OK," Lewis replied in a email recovered from
a computer at her home and shown to the jury.
He went on: "Bryant is clearly making stuff up. There was a
concerted effort by him and some other MPs and (the BBC's)
Panorama to push the start of the saga back before 2005 in order
to target Rebekah. We will not let this happen."
Charlie Brooks sent a similar email to Lewis in July 2011
after it emerged that News of the World journalists had hacked
the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002, when
Brooks was the paper's editor.
"Another attempted hit on Rebekah by (MP Tom) Watson," Lewis
said. "Far from ideal and Dowler family quotes are bad. We are
on the back foot as are blind on Mulcaire documents."
The trial has heard private investigator Glenn Mulcaire has
pleaded guilty to hacking Dowler's phone, while three other
senior News of the World journalists have admitted conspiracy to
Brooks resigned from News International later in July 2011,
shortly after Murdoch shut down the News of the World in the
wake of mounting public disgust at the hacking revelations.
Earlier the trial heard that the paper's former royal editor
Clive Goodman had warned that senior figures on the paper would
end up in jail if payments to police officers were discovered.
Brooks is on trial with her husband, Andy Coulson - another
former Murdoch editor who later served as Prime Minister David
Cameron's media chief - and five others on various charges
related to phone hacking, making illegal payments for stories
and hampering police investigations. They all deny the charges.