By Michael Holden
LONDON Jan 14 The trial of Rebekah Brooks, who
ran Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper arm, was shown film
footage on Tuesday of her husband involved in what prosecutors
say was a botched plan to hide evidence from police
investigating allegations of phone-hacking.
The day Brooks was first quizzed by police and before her
home was searched, her husband, racehorse trainer Charlie, hid a
laptop and a bag behind a bin in an underground car park of
their plush London apartment block where it was picked up by the
Brooks's security team, prosecutors say.
After the police completed a search, the security team
returned with a bag and left it in the car park. Prosecutors say
the plan went awry for the Brooks because a cleaner then found
the material and it was given to the police.
The alleged intrigue took place in 2011 when News
International, the British newspaper division of Murdoch's News
Corp, became engulfed in a media firestorm and a police
inquiry after it was alleged journalists had hacked the phone of
a murdered schoolgirl amongst others.
Both Charlie and Rebekah Brooks deny conspiracy to pervert
the course of justice by hiding material from detectives. Brooks
also denies conspiracy to hack phones and authorising illegal
payments to public officials.
Closed circuit television (CCTV) footage shown to the jury
at London's Old Bailey court showed Charlie Brooks emerging from
a doorway clutching a bag and a laptop on the morning of July
17, 2011, at about the same time his wife was heading to a
police station where she would be arrested.
After looking around, he disappeared from view and less than
a minute later, the CCTV film showed him returning empty-handed.
On Tuesday, the jury saw Mark Hanna, the ex-head of security
at News International, arriving at the car park about two hours
later and phone records indicated he had been in regular contact
with Charlie Brooks, the court heard.
He disappeared out of camera shot, to the same area where
Brooks had been earlier, returning with a brown bag and other
material, before driving away. Hanna also denies a charge of
perverting the course of justice.
At about 3 p.m., seven detectives arrived and after a search
of the apartment lasting some two hours, they left holding
sealed bags with computers and other possessions.
Brooks then contacted Hanna, and at shortly after 9.30 p.m,
following a flurry of calls between the security team, one
arrived at the car park. He gave a friend of Brooks's two pizza
boxes, removed a large black bag from the car and also vanished
from view to the bin area before returning empty-handed.
"Broadsword calling Danny Boy. Pizza delivered and the
chicken is in the pot," the security contractor wrote in a text
message to a colleague, prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron told the
court. The Broadsword phrase was a reference to the film "Where
Eagles Dare", which starred Richard Burton as a British spy.
"Ha! Fuckin amateurs!" the colleague replies, in an apparent
reference to those who came up with the alleged plan.
The following day, while the Brooks go to their lawyer's
office, a cleaner discovered the black bag, the court heard. On
their return, a baffled-looking Charlie Brooks and members of
their security team were seen searching in vain for the bag.
The court heard an employee at the apartment block contacted
police and handed over a brown briefcase and a black laptop to
The trial of Hanna, Rebekah and Charlie Brooks, and that of
four others, is expected to last until April.