Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks
and her husband Charlie leave the Old Bailey courthouse in
London. REUTERS/Andrew Winning
Journalists at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World told
police hunting for a missing schoolgirl in 2002 they had
accessed her phone's voicemail messages, a London court was
told, as prosecutors focused in on the case at the heart of the
Stuart Kuttner, then managing editor of the tabloid,
contacted Surrey Police investigating the disappearance of
Milly Dowler to say they had details of her voicemails,
according to testimony the prosecution gave to show Kuttner
was aware of the phone-hacking. Dowler was later found
The paper later ran a story quoting the messages, the court
was told, and police took no action at the time.
Kuttner is on trial accused of conspiracy to illegally access
voicemails on mobile phones alongside former editors Rebekah
Brooks and Andy Coulson, who both have close links to Prime
Minister David Cameron. They deny the charges.
Glenn Mulcaire, a private eye who worked for the now defunct
paper, has admitted hacking Dowler's phone. Three journalists
from the paper have also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hack
News of the Dowler hacking in the summer of 2011 caused a
media firestorm which engulfed News International, the
British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corp, and led to the
closure of the 168-year-old paper.
On Tuesday, the prosecution gave a timeline of events
surrounding the hacking of Dowler's phone after the
13-year-old went missing on her way back from school in March
The court heard that on April 13, Kuttner and other News of
the World reporters contacted Surrey Police to say the paper
had significant new information, and revealed they were in
possession of recordings of her voicemail messages.
"Mr Kuttner when asked, supplied the mobile telephone
(number) the calls were recorded on," Detective Sergeant
Kevin McEntee said in a statement read to the court. "Mr
Kuttner told me they had confirmed with schoolfriends this
was the number."
A reporter also spoke to Sarah McGregor, who was head of
communications at Surrey Police, and played a recording of
one of the hacked messages. She said senior officers would
have been aware of the hacked messages but she was unaware of
any discussions of action against the News of the World.
Later that day, the paper, which was being edited by the then
deputy editor Coulson while Brooks was on holiday in Dubai,
ran an article which quoted from a message from a recruiting
agency which later turned out to have been a wrong number.
The second edition featured a story without details of the
message, however, which the prosecution suggested followed
text message contact between Brooks and Coulson.
Jonathan Laidlaw, Brooks's lawyer, said that she had not made
any direct telephone calls to the newspaper between the two
A holidaymaker in Dubai, who socialised with Brooks and her
then husband, TV soap actor Ross Kemp, told the court he
remembered Brooks being distracted on one occasion by work.
"She said it's something do with the missing Surrey
schoolgirl and it's important," said William Hennessey,
adding the "very nice, pleasant" Brooks had spent a lot of
time on the phone when they were together.
During a tetchy cross-examination, Laidlaw said Brooks did
not remember the conversation or even spending any time with
Hennessey. "Why should she," Hennessey replied.
Prosecutors argue Brooks and Coulson must have known about
phone-hacking because of the story's importance to the paper.
McGregor said Kuttner contacted detectives at the start of
May to say the paper would offer a 50,000 pound ($79,800)
reward and run a front page story to launch a campaign to
When he learned police decided to support a campaign
organised by the tabloid's sister title the Sun, Kuttner said
the News of the World had more resources, had demonstrated
commitment to the case and that Brooks had said she was not
keen on any joint approach with the Sun.
"This isn't the way to do it," Kuttner said, according to
In addition to denying knowledge of the phone-hacking, Brooks
and Coulson deny charges of authorising illegal payments to
public officials, and Brooks and her husband Charlie are also
accused of perverting the course of justice by hindering the
Four other former News International figures also deny
charges. The trial is expected to last six months.