Phone-hacking trial hears of elaborate plan by Brooks to ‘hide evidence’

Jury hears a curious tale involving an underground car park, two pizzas and a famous Richard Burton movie line

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 November, 2013, 10:24am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 November, 2013, 8:52pm

Former Murdoch media executive Rebekah Brooks and her husband hatched a plot to hide evidence from the police only to be foiled by a conscientious cleaner, an Old Bailey jury heard.

It was a curious tale involving an underground car park, two pizzas and a famous movie line of Richard Burton's.

The story was told on Monday by the prosecution as part of a wider allegation that, as the chief executive of News International, Brooks had tried to conceal evidence of wrongdoing at the News of the World by deleting e-mail records and destroying her journalistic notebooks.

Completing his three-day opening argument, prosecutor Andrew Edis took the jury back to July 2011, to the aftermath of the disclosure of the hacking of murder victim Milly Dowler's phone.

With a Scotland Yard inquiry closing in, Edis said, News International announced it would close the News of the World, and Brooks, a former editor of the paper, realised she faced arrest when she kept an appointment with police on Sunday 17 July.

It was in this context, Edis claimed, that she and her husband, Charlie Brooks, came up with a plan to stop police finding computers and records at their country home, Jubilee Barn in Oxfordshire, central England, and their flat at Chelsea Harbour, central London.

That Sunday morning, a chauffeur drove the pair from Oxfordshire to London. Back at Jubilee Barn, Edis alleged, the head of security at News International, Mark Hanna, collected items which were to be concealed and set off to the company's office in Wapping, east London.

By noon the chauffeur had dropped off Charlie Brooks and driven Rebekah Brooks to Lewisham police station in south London, waiting while she was formally arrested and questioned. At 12.15pm, Edis said, Charlie Brooks was caught by CCTV cameras at Chelsea Harbour going down to the underground car park, carrying a plastic bag and a laptop computer which he appeared to leave in a rubbish bin. That afternoon the police searched both of the Brookses' homes. It was then decided by the alleged conspirators to return some "safe" items to the Brookses that evening, also via a rubbish bin.

According to Edis, the security man had picked up two pizzas, phoned Charlie Brooks, delivered the pizzas to an unnamed man who came down to the underground car park, dropped the bin bag into a bin and then texted his immediate boss with a line famously used by Richard Burton when communicating with his commanding officer in Where Eagles Dare.

"Broadsword to Danny Boy" he texted, adding: "Pizzas delivered. The chicken is in the pot."

But before Charlie Brooks could collect the electronics, a cleaner noticed the bag and its contents and took it to his manager, who called the police, "which is how the police ended up with the bin bag".


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