Rebekah Brooks leaves the Old Bailey courthouse in London.
Rebekah Brooks, the former boss of Rupert Murdoch's
British newspapers, has denied knowing a phone-hacking private
detective at a paper she edited, as her lawyer told her trial
of "agendas being pursued" in the background of her case.
Taking the stand for the first time on day 62 of one of
Britain's biggest trials of recent years, Brooks began her
defence against phone-hacking allegations which rocked her
former boss's media empire and shook Britain's establishment.
Her lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw said Brooks, 45, a close friend
of the last three British prime ministers, should not be
judged on her ties to Murdoch or her rapid rise through his
He told the jury at London's Old Bailey criminal court they
should forget the myth that had built up around one of the
most famous women in Britain and to "see Mrs Brooks as she
is, not as she is described or spoken of".
"She's not being tried for News International's strategy, for
its policies, its influences or its corporate views," he
said, referring to Murdoch's British newspaper business.
The case centres on widespread phone-hacking by journalists
at the 168-year-old News of the World Sunday tabloid, which
Murdoch shut amid huge public anger in July 2011, and on
other allegations of crimes by staff on its sister daily The
Sun, both of which she used to edit. Six other people are
also on trial.
"There's an awful lot which is going on in the background to
this case," Laidlaw said. "In its shadow there are agendas
being pursued elsewhere."
The jury has heard that three senior journalists who held
news editor roles at the News of the World had admitted
phone-hacking offences. A private detective, Glenn Mulcaire,
who also worked for the paper has pleaded guilty to hacking
Brooks, who wore a blue dress with white cardigan, said she
had never heard Mulcaire's name mentioned in her presence.
When asked if she was aware of his ability to hack into
voicemail messages on mobile phones, she replied: "No, not at
Brooks was also asked about her dealings with two News of the
World journalists who had admitted phone-hacking offences,
Greg Miskiw and Neville Thurlbeck.
"I didn't really know that much about him personally," she
said of Miskiw, whom she put in charge of a newly-formed
investigations unit on becoming editor. Asked whether this
unit was set up to hack phones, she replied: "That's not
Brooks detailed the advice she had been given by Murdoch and
also the resistance she had faced as she rapidly rose, as a
young woman, through the ranks of the male-dominated
"There was probably a bit of old school misogyny," she said.
Brooks appeared apprehensive at the start of the questioning
but relaxed as she explained the inner workings of a
newspaper. She sometimes cast glances at her husband Charlie
and her former assistant Cheryl Carter, who are also both on
The jury was told she went to the News of the World to work
on its magazine as a researcher in 1989.
Despite a lack of experience and only basic journalism
training, the court heard how she rapidly rose through the
ranks. By March 1994, she was deputy features editor and the
following September, at the age of 27, was made acting deputy
editor of what was then Britain's biggest-selling newspaper.
"It was a tough world," she said, adding she later helped
form a group with female staff from other papers called
"women in journalism", which some male journalists dubbed
She said Murdoch would call the editors of his two British
Sunday titles every Saturday evening, wherever he was, to
find out what was going into their papers. "He was
In personal advice to Brooks, Murdoch advised her not to
become the focus of attention herself. "Early on I remember
him coming into my office for the first time ... and he said
it's a big challenge at a young age," she said.
By 1998, Brooks was made deputy editor of the Sun tabloid,
Britain's biggest-selling daily paper. "I was 29 with not
much to show," she said of the "mixed" reaction to her
Two years later, she was back at the News of the World, this
time as editor, and it was then that the prosecution say she
was involved in a phone-hacking conspiracy.
Earlier, the jury were instructed by the judge to return a
verdict of not guilty on one of two charges against her of
conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.
This related to an allegation she had approved an illegal
4,000-pound ($6,700) payment for a picture of Prince William
wearing a bikini while at a military academy party in 2006.
Brooks is still accused of four other offences relating to
conspiracy to hack voicemail messages on mobile phones,
authorising illegal payments to public officials and then
plotting to hinder a subsequent police investigation.