LONDON, March 3 Rebekah Brooks, the former head
of News Corp.'s British newspaper business, told a
London court on Monday she thought the company's "rogue
reporter" defence to phone-hacking looked shaky in 2009 when she
landed the job as chief executive.
Brooks also told London's Old Bailey court that Rupert
Murdoch's News International funded the legal bills for a man
convicted of phone-hacking at one of their tabloids to keep
secret any details about who he said might also have been
Brooks is on trial accused of conspiracy to intercept
voicemail messages on mobile phones, authorising illegal
payments to public officials and perverting the course of
justice. She denies all charges.
Giving evidence for a seventh day, Brooks, 45, was asked
about an article in the Guardian newspaper from July 2009 which
detailed background to a 1 million pound ($1.68
million)settlement between News International and Gordon Taylor,
the former head of the Professional Footballers' Association.
Taylor was named as a victim of phone-hacking in 2007 when
private detective Glenn Mulcaire, who worked for Murdoch's News
of the World newspaper, and the tabloid's royal editor Clive
Goodman were convicted.
Following the convictions, News International stated Goodman
was a "rogue exception", the court heard, a phrase that Brooks
said was first proffered by the News of the World's then editor
The Guardian article, published when Brooks had been
appointed chief executive but before she had taken up the post,
said phone-hacking was widespread and not limited to Mulcaire
Within a fortnight, further details emerged including an
email sent by a junior reporter at the paper with the
transcripts of 35 separate messages left by or for Gordon
"FOR NEVILLE" EMAIL
"Hello, this is the transcript for Neville", the email from
January 2005 said.
Brooks said she understood that Neville referred to Neville
Thurlbeck, a senior reporter on the paper who has now admitted
Asked what the effect of this email had been, she said:
"It certainly showed just by glancing on it ... that the
statement, the emphaticness of the company's position that
nobody else knew what Glenn Mulcaire was doing was looking
"Because this was an email from someone at the News of the
World allegedly for someone else at the News of the World. This
document obviously showed, if not involvement, a wider
Brooks also told the court she had agreed a deal with
publicist Max Clifford, who had also been identified as an
original Mulcaire hacking victim in 2007, to settle his legal
action against the paper.
As part of his litigation, Clifford's lawyers were pushing
for Mulcaire to disclose who else at the News of the World knew
about hacking and she told the court there was concern at News
International that a judge might force Mulcaire to give names.
The court heard that News International's legal chief Tom
Crone had agreed to fund Mulcaire's legal team to fight the
order to disclose names.
"Our decision at News International was to settle as
confidentially as possible to prevent further damage
reputationally and financially," Brooks told the court.
"We had no visibility on what he may or may not say," she
said, describing Mulcaire as an unreliable witness.
In the end, Brooks reached a deal with Clifford personally
to provide him with work from News International papers and to
reimburse him for the years when there had been a ban on using
The trial of Brooks and six others continues.