| LONDON, March 10
LONDON, March 10 Rebekah Brooks, Rupert
Murdoch's former British newspaper chief, told a London court on
Monday it did not occur to her that one of her reporter's
contacts, paid tens of thousands of pounds for exclusive
military stories, was a public official.
Under cross-examination at the Old Bailey, Brooks denied
inventing rules regarding illegal payments to officials, but
agreed she had merely been a "rubber stamp" when authorising
some 40,000 pounds ($67,000) in pay-outs to the military source.
The former chief executive of News Corp.'s British
arm News International and ex-editor of two of its titles is on
trial accused of conspiracy to hack phones, authorising illegal
payments to public officials and conspiracy to pervert the
course of justice. She denies all charges.
Appearing for an 11th day in the witness box, Brooks was
quizzed on payments made by the Sun newspaper during her
editorship to a Ministry of Defence official.
The court has heard she approved 40,000 pounds in cash
payments for reports , covering stories to do with the British
military across the world, written by one of the paper's
journalists who cannot be named for legal reasons.
The jury has also been shown emails he sent asking for
approval for the payments to his "number one military contact".
Brooks often responded to these emails in just minutes.
"It never occurred to you she (the source) might be a public
official," prosecutor Andrew Edis asked her.
"No it didn't," Brooks said, repeatedly saying the reporter
was known for his good military contacts and that she had
assumed the source was not a public official.
"You really were just acting as a rubber stamp weren't you,"
Edis put to her.
"Yes," she replied.
During earlier testimony, Brooks has admitted paying
officials for stories but said there had to be an overwhelming
public interest in doing so. She agreed that most of the stories
for which the reporter had paid the MoD official did not reach
Earlier on Monday, Brooks said she had never sanctioned
payment to a serving police officer after the jury was shown a
series of emails from reporters asking for cash payments for
sources who might have been in the police.
"I don't think the Sun made any corrupt payments to police
officers during my editorship," she said, clarifying evidence
she gave last week in which she had used the phrase "rarely".
She said there might have been occasions when police
officers were paid for tips unrelated to their line of duty.
Edis suggested her explanation had been invented to fit
around the emails shown to the jury.
"No, it's not invented," she said, adding she had wanted to
be "absolutely accurate".
She said there were no firm rules at the Sun, but reporters
would know not to pay public officials unless it was clearly in
the public interest.
"I can't believe there's one journalist in Fleet Street who
doesn't know that is the case," she said.
Her trial and that of six others continues.