Former News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks
arrives at the Old Bailey courthouse. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Rebekah Brooks, former editor of Rupert Murdoch's News of
the World newspaper, told a London court today she knew nothing
about the 2002 hacking of the mobile phone of a murdered
schoolgirl and spoke of her "horror" it had occurred.
Brooks, 45, who later became chief executive of the British
newspaper arm of News Corp, also said she did not know
phone-hacking was illegal while she was the paper's editor.
The revelation in 2011 that Dowler's phone had been
intercepted by the tabloid while the 13-year-old was missing
led to widespread public condemnation that caused Murdoch to
shut the 168-year-old paper and forced Brooks to resign.
Asked whether she had anything to do with a journalist
tasking private detective Glenn Mulcaire to hack Dowler's
phone, she said: "No I didn't", adding she first learned the
News of the World had hacked the phone on July 4, 2011, just
days before the paper was shut and she was arrested.
Her reaction to the news was "shock, horror", she said.
The fallout from the Dowler hacking revelation rocked not
just Murdoch's media empire but the British establishment,
and led to Prime Minister David Cameron, a close friend of
Brooks, launching an inquiry into press ethics.
Brooks denies conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages on
mobile phones, authorising illegal payments to public
officials and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Giving evidence for a third day at the Old Bailey court, she
told the jury she had never given approval for anyone to
She said she had learned phone-hacking was possible in the
late 1990s but had not realised it was a criminal offence.
"I don't think anybody, me included, knew it was illegal,"
Despite this, she said privacy concerns would have prevented
her from using phone-hacking to get stories. She said she
would only have contemplated giving approval in very serious
cases, citing a story about an arms dealer by a reporter on a
rival paper who had used the practice.
She told the court that during her time as editor she did not
think phone-hacking would have been particularly useful.
"I suppose the showbiz department if it was looking for
tittle-tattle (it) could be," she said.
The court has heard that the hacking of Dowler's phone
occurred while Brooks was on holiday in Dubai when she was in
regular contact with the paper and her deputy Andy Coulson
Asked by her lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw if she had learned about
Dowler's phone being intercepted while she was away, she
replied: "Absolutely not".
"I don't remember having any discussion about her
disappearance while I was away."
She also denied knowing about a later discussion between the
paper and the police searching for the missing girl in which
it was disclosed they had heard Dowler's voicemails.
Earlier Brooks told the court she had never heard Mulcaire's
name before his arrest for phone-hacking offences in 2006 and
had not seen the £92,000 pound a year contract awarded by the
tabloid him in September 2001.