UK & World News
Brooks: 'Shock, Horror' At Milly Dowler Hacking
Rebekah Brooks has spoken of her "shock and horror" over the hacking of murdered schoogirl Milly Dowler's phone.
Giving evidence at the Old Bailey, where she is standing trial for conspiring to hack telephones, Brooks claimed she knew nothing about an alleged request for phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire to access the voicemails.
The former News Of The World editor told the court she only became aware Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked on July 4, 2011 and her reaction was one of "shock, horror, everything".
"I was told that the News Of The World had asked someone to access Milly Dowler's phone while she was missing, that they had also deleted her voicemails and for a period of time because of that her parents had been given false hope and thought she was alive," she said.
"I just think anyone would think that that was pretty abhorrent, so my reaction was that. That was what I was told."
Brooks also claimed she was unaware of a contract worth £92,000 between the News Of The World and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire while she was editor and it was never drawn to her attention.
Her barrister Jonathan Laidlaw QC told the court the contract was between the now-defunct Sunday newspaper and Mulcaire's company Euro Research and Information Ltd.
The agreement which began in September 2001 consisted of weekly payments of £1,769 over a 12-month period, totalling some £92,000.
Brooks was asked if she had set eyes on the contract during that period, to which she replied "no".
When asked if she had ever heard of Mulcaire's company, the former News International chief executive replied: "Their names did not ring a bell with me when I heard about them in 2006.
"Of course we used a lot of private detectives at the paper so it would not necessarily ring a bell."
Asked if she had ever been asked to authorise accessing voicemails for an investigation or story, Brooks said "no".
"At the time, if you took my editorship of the News Of The World at the time, I don't think anybody, me included, knew it was illegal," she added.
"No one, no desk head, no journalist, ever came to me and said 'we're working on so-and-so a story but we need to access their voicemail' or asked my sanction to do it.
"It just didn't happen in the course of my editorship.
"Even thought I didn't know it was illegal I still would have felt that it was absolutely in the category of a serious breach of privacy."
Brooks added that under the terms of the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct, hacking voicemails "certainly would have fallen into a serious breach of someone's privacy, particularly if you didn't have an overwhelming public interest reason for doing so".
She said: "If somebody had come to me with the right set of circumstances and asked me ... something to do with paedophiles, Roy Whiting... something along those lines and had asked me with a good set of reasons I may have done."
Milly's phone was most likely hacked when Brooks was on holiday in Dubai, leaving her then-deputy Andy Coulson to edit the paper.
Brooks said: "I don't remember any discussion about the disappearance when I was away."
Asked whether the tasking of Mulcaire to hack Milly's phone was brought to her attention while on holiday, she said: "Absolutely not."
"Or thereafter?" Mr Laidlaw asked, to which Brooks replied "No".
Brooks was also asked what her relationship with her then husband Ross Kemp and deputy Coulson was like at the time.
"I think Ross and I were in a good place at the time," she replied, adding that she was not physically intimate with Coulson at the time.
The 45-year-old, from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, denies conspiring to hack telephones, conspiring to commit misconduct in public office, and conspiring to cover up evidence to pervert the course of justice.
Wearing a dark top as she entered the witness box she said any payments over £50,000 would have required permission from the newspaper's then-managing editor Stuart Kuttner.
Brooks added that other departments used private detectives more often than she did during her time as features editor.
"Obviously at News of the World it was known they were used for all sorts of different things," she said.
"In the late mid-90s to 2003/04 there was lots of use of private detectives across Fleet Street ? it was commonplace."
The trial continues.
:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.