UK & World News

  • 5 March 2014, 6:02

Brooks 'Got Death Threats' Over Milly's Phone

Rebekah Brooks received death threats following the revelation that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked by the News Of The World, a court has heard.

Brooks, who was chief executive of News International at the time but had been NOTW editor, told the Old Bailey she received messages of support as she found herself the "central figure" of the story.

Former prime minister Tony Blair sent her a text which read: "Let me know if there's anything I can help you with. Thinking of you. I've been through things like this."

Brooks replied: "Thank you, I know what's it's like. GB (Gordon Brown) pals getting their own back. Rupert and James (Murdoch) have been brilliant.

"Hopefully even in this climate the truth will out."

Jurors were also read messages of support that Brooks received from former Mirror editor Piers Morgan.

"When it rains, it f***ing pours. Grit your teeth and stay strong," Mr Morgan wrote.

On the eighth day of giving evidence, Brooks' lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw QC asked her about the events of July 2011, when the Guardian broke the "horrific" story about the hacking of Milly's phone.

Brooks said that as the story made headlines around the world: "We were completely at a loss and all over the place really, trying to find out what was true and what wasn't".

Referring to the abusive messages she was sent, Brooks, 45, told jurors: "The allegations were, I think, met with universal revulsion and I was the central figure of that."

Jurors also heard correspondence between Brooks and her mother, who was very fearful for her safety during the period and urged her not to go outside alone.

"Mum, I have more security than the prime minister," Brooks replied.

Jurors heard that in a message to a friend, Brooks said she felt there was a "witch-hunt" against her.

Brooks also said it was believed that whoever had hacked Milly's phone was not a staff member at the paper.

"Obviously the accusation of Milly Dowler's phone in itself was terrible, but it was the deletion of the messages, the false hope, that was rightly sparking fury," she said.

The allegation that voicemails had been deleted, and therefore given Milly's parents the impression she could still be alive, was later found to be untrue.

Brooks said that she and senior colleagues had first discussed closing the News Of The World in June 2011 due to the mounting number of civil liability cases brought against it by celebrities.

The final edition of the paper was published just days after the Milly story broke on July 10. Brooks went resigned on July 15. She told jurors: "I felt it was the right thing to do."

Mr Laidlaw asked Brooks about the charge of conspiring to cover up evidence to pervert the course of justice between July 6 and 9, 2011.

"Is there any truth in that?" he asked.

Brooks replied: "No, absolutely not."

Mr Laidlaw asked Brooks to describe Cheryl Carter, 49, her co-defendant on that charge, who worked as her personal assistant for 16 years.

Brooks described her as an "amazing friend" and "brilliant PA" who could be "scatty and forgetful" but would not pervert the course of justice.

Asked if she knew seven boxes were removed from the News International archives, Brooks said: "Absolutely not." She denied any knowledge of the boxes.

Brooks denies conspiring to hack phones, conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and conspiring to cover up evidence to pervert the course of justice.

She is one of seven defendants who all deny the charges against them.

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