UK & World News
Phone Hacking: Brooks Denies 'Dark Arts Unit'
Former editor Rebekah Brooks has denied she set up a news investigations unit at the News of the World specifically to hack phones.
Jurors in the phone hacking trial heard the unit was led by former news editor Greg Miskiw and dubbed the "dark arts department", alluding to alleged illegal activity.
Brooks told the Old Bailey: "The investigations unit, I think, did some great stuff while I was there. I don't recognise that description."
Brooks claimed the department was closed in 2001 after it quickly became apparent that it "wasn't working".
She said it was better that investigations and the newsdesk worked together.
The jury has already been told that Miskiw has admitted conspiring to access voicemail messages illegally.
Describing their relationship, she said: "He was very old school and had been there forever ... that's what it felt like to me. He ran quite a tight ship.
"People who worked with him said he was professional and hardworking, and worked long hours.
"I really only spoke to him in the course of our work. I didn't socialise with him, I didn't know that much about him personally.
"He was quite insular, he had an air of mystery."
Brooks is accused of conspiring to hack phones, conspiring to commit misconduct on public office and conspiring to cover it up, perverting the course of justice.
Earlier, a judge dropped one charge against the 45-year-old, over an alleged conspiracy to pay public officials for a picture of Prince William in a bikini.
Giving evidence for the first time in the trial, Brooks denied any knowledge of hacking under her leadership at the paper.
Asked by her lawyer if hacking had ever been drawn to her attention, she replied, "No, not at all".
She was also questioned about private detective Glenn Mulcaire's hacking activities while she headed the paper between May 2000 and January 2003.
She said she had never heard his name mentioned at the time, adding it was common for private detectives to work for Fleet Street titles.
Brooks said that, as editor, she would not have known where every story had come from, adding 200 stories made it into the newspaper from a pool of articles twice that size.
"It's impossible for an editor to know every source for every story. Of course it's impossible with the sheer volume that's coming into the paper," she said.
The court also heard how Brooks rose through the ranks at News International.
Brooks told how she was given the job of editor of the NotW with little notice in 2000, having been deputy editor of the rival sister daily, The Sun.
She had been working on an internet project called Exclusive.com with co-defendant Andy Coulson.
She suggested to her boss Les Hinton that Coulson would be a good deputy for her.
She told the court: "We had completely different strengths and (Mr Hinton) thought that would be a good combination.
"Andy had, I think, always been at The Sun. I had come from a features background and Andy had come more from a news background."
"Although I enjoy football, Andy is a die-hard football fan and sports fan", she said, describing how sports played a huge part in both newspapers.
Brooks said Coulson had a lot of experience on a daily paper and had been showbiz editor on The Sun.
At the start of the trial, jurors heard Brooks and Coulson, who is also facing charges of conspiracy to hack phones and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, previously had an affair.
The pair deny all charges and the trial continues.
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