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Paper's bosses 'knew about hacking'
Phone hacking took place at the News of the World and the people in charge of the purse-strings knew about it, jurors in the trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-spin doctor Andy Coulson were told today.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told the Old Bailey today that the prosecution would show that hacking went on at the now-defunct tabloid, and jurors would have to decide exactly who knew about it.
Opening the case, Mr Edis said: "We say we will be able to show that there was phone hacking at the News of the World. That Glenn Mulcaire did it. That Clive Goodman did it. And that Ian Edmondson did it.
"Were they asked as part of the conspiracy, given that they were so senior at the paper? They wanted it to happen because they were in charge of the purse-strings... So you may say that if they didn't stop it, they were part of the conspiracy to carry on."
He told the jury it was "quite a simple issue": "There was phone hacking - who knew?"
Mr Edis explained to the jury of nine women and three men that the case involves three types of allegations arising from an investigation that revealed that the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was hacked and led to the closure of the News of the World.
Explaining the background of the case, he said: "It has arisen out of an investigation which started in January 2011 into phone hacking at the News of the World. That investigation, as you will learn, uncovered things which are now alleged against various people and which you will have to decide.
"The investigation and discoveries resulted, as you know, in the closure of the News of the World.
"If you remember, that came about because of the discovery that the phone of a young murdered girl, Milly Dowler, had been hacked by somebody acting on behalf of the News of the World.
"These events were very big news at the time and some events have been big news since."
He said the three types of allegations included, first, claims of phone hacking at the News of the World (NotW) between 2000 and 2006 and, secondly, allegations that Sun and NotW journalists paid public officials for information.
It is also alleged that Brooks, along with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, conspired to pervert the course of justice by removing seven boxes of material from the News International archive, and that Brooks, with her husband Charles Brooks and former head of security at News International Mark Hanna, committed the same offence by allegedly trying to obstruct the police.
Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, and Coulson, 45, from Charing in Kent, are both accused of conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission.
They allegedly conspired with former News of the World head of news Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London, the tabloid's ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, and others to illegally access voicemails between October 3 2000 and August 9 2006.
Ex-NotW and Sun editor Brooks is also charged with two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office - one between January 1 2004 and January 31 2012 and the other between February 9 2006 and October 16 2008 - linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.
She faces another two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice - one with her former personal assistant Carter, 49, from Chelmsford in Essex, between July 6 and 9 2011.
It is alleged that they conspired to remove seven boxes of material from the News International archive.
The second count alleges that Brooks, her husband Charles Brooks and former head of security at News International Hanna conspired together and with others between July 15 and July 19 2011 to pervert the course of justice.
It is claimed that they tried to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from police officers who were investigating allegations of phone hacking and corruption of public officials in relation to the News of the World and The Sun newspapers.
Former No 10 spin doctor and ex-NotW editor Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with the tabloid's former royal editor Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and persons unknown to commit misconduct in public office - one between August 31 2002 and January 31 2003, and the other between January 31 and June 3 2005.
Mr Edis told the court that when police searched Mr Goodman's house, they found 15 directories containing phone numbers for the royal family, two of which covered the time period in the allegations.
He said: "The prosecution say that at a newspaper where there is a great deal of phone hacking going on, and which is intensely interested in the Royal Family, the acquisition of phone books with phone numbers is something of obvious significance because it would be very useful, wouldn't it, in doing some phone hacking."
It is also alleged that Rebekah Brooks authorised payments of £40,000 to a Ministry of Defence official for information, jurors were told.
Mr Edis said: "It wasn't a secret that there was an investigation going on and by July of 2011, when the Milly Dowler allegation was being made, there was a great storm of publicity."
The court heard that charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice related to "quite a complicated little operation" to hide material from police who were investigating phone hacking.
He said it is alleged that Brooks tasked Carter with removing her notebooks from the News International archive on the Friday before the News of the World was published for the last time.
"The prosecution say that they have disappeared," he said. "And the police would have wanted to know what was in those notebooks."
He said Brooks, her husband Charlie, and Hanna are also accused of conspiring together and with others to pervert the course of justice by moving material the police would have wanted from the Brooks's country home in Gloucestershire and taking it to News international's headquarters in Wapping, east London.
"On their way, or as part of the same operation or on the same day, material was collected from their London flat too and taken to the same place."
He said the material would have been wanted by the police as it was relevant to their investigation, adding: "Quite a complex little operation was set up to prevent that happening, which was discovered as a result of an accident which was rather bad luck for those conspirators involved.
"It is something that I think you will find quite memorable."