By Michael Holden
LONDON, March 6 Rebekah Brooks, the former boss
of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper arm, admitted on Thursday
that she and her deputy Andy Coulson would have shared intimate
work secrets at the time the paper she edited was hacking a
murdered schoolgirl's phone.
Brooks and Coulson are both on trial on conspiracy to hack
phones when they were at Murdoch's now defunct News of the World
tabloid, including that of 13-year-old Milly Dowler who was
murdered in 2002 when Brooks was editor.
It was the revelation of the Dowler hacking that caused a
public outrage, led to Murdoch closing the News of the World,
and rocked Britain's political establishment.
A private detective who worked for the paper has now
admitted hacking Dowler's phone in April 2002 but Brooks and
Coulson, who later edited the tabloid and went on to become
Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief, deny any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors have told the Old Bailey that the Dowler hacking
occurred while Brooks was in Dubai and Coulson, her then deputy,
was acting editor.
But the jury has been told the couple had been lovers over a
six-year period from 1998 and so Brooks would have been fully
aware of the basis for a story which appeared in the paper and
detailed voicemail recordings from the girl's phone.
Their close ties were revealed last year when the jury heard
about an emotional letter from February 2004 from Brooks to
Coulson discussing what appeared to be a break-up.
In earlier testimony, Brooks has denied having a six-year
affair with Coulson, but said they did have periods of physical
intimacy between 1998 and 2006.
Taking the stand for the 10th day, Brooks was asked to
explain why in her letter she had used the phrase "for six years
I have waited".
"It was the emotion of the moment. I'm clearly saying it's
been six years since we had got together," a pale-looking Brooks
told the court.
"I hadn't been sitting there like Miss Havisham for six
years," she added, in a reference to the wealthy spinster in
Charles Dickens' novel, "Great Expectations."
She had, in the meantime, got married and tried to have a
She agreed that the nature of their relationship meant they
would share confidences about work matters which she would not
have done with other colleagues.
"If a deputy editor was committing a crime, he might not
want the editor to find out about it. He might be able to tell
the editor if he really trusted her," prosecutor Andrew Edis
told the jury.
"Was the relationship in April 2002 such that Mr Coulson
could completely trust you with any confidence at all?" he asked
"Yes," she whispered.
Earlier, Brooks had denied suggestions she had been "cooking
the books" to hide the activities of private detective Glenn
The court was told the News of the World's managing director
had been concerned about raising one senior reporter's salary
from 55,000 to 60,000 pounds and Edis said he would have been
very unhappy about giving a 92,000 pound a year contract to
Mulcaire who was not even a member of staff.
Brooks said she never knew about his salary because he was
paid in weekly instalments.
"It's now at least perfectly clear that the books were
cooked to prevent anyone investigating or finding out what Mr
Mulcaire was doing," Edis said.
"I don't know what you mean by book-cooking," she said. "I
accept it (the contract) should have come to me."
She said she completely disagreed with the suggestion that
she needed to hide the contract from the managing director
because she knew Mulcaire was involved in criminality.
Brooks and Coulson both deny conspiracy to illegally
intercept voicemails and authorising illegal payments to public
officials. Brooks also denies conspiracy to pervert the course
Their trial and that of five others continues.