Hacking trial: Charlie Brooks says he hid 'smut' from police because he feared a 'Jacqui Smith moment' for wife Rebekah

 

Political Correspondent

Charlie Brooks, the husband of the former News International chief executive feared a “Jacqui Smith moment” and believed police investigating phone hacking would discover his personal collection of “smut” unless he took steps to hide it, a jury at the Old Bailey has heard.

The husband of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks believed police investigating phone hacking would discover his personal collection of “smut” unless he took steps to hide it, the phone hacking trial has heard.

Charlie Brooks, 51, told the Old Bailey that he feared a “Jacqui Smith moment” in July 2011 – referring to the embarrassment felt by the former Home Secretary in 2009 when her husband’s expenses claim for two pornographic videos was made public.

“I didn’t want the same thing to happen to Rebekah,” Mr Brooks told the court, claiming this was why he removed a Sony computer and a jiffy bag containing pornographic DVDs from his Chelsea Harbour home.

The jury was shown footage of Mr. Brooks deliberately hiding the DVDs The jury was shown footage of Mr. Brooks deliberately hiding the DVDs

Mr Brooks, a former race horse trainer and novelist, said there was a good chance that officers from the Metropolitan Police would conduct a detailed search at the Chelsea and Oxfordshire homes he shared with his wife.

The formal arrest of Mrs Brooks at Lewisham police station on 17 July, 2011, triggered a Scotland Yard search.

He told the court that his attempt to keep “embarrassing” material from falling into the police’s hands led him to deliberately hide his computer behind a large bin container in the underground car park of their apartment block.

Describing his actions as “stupidly rash”, Mr Brooks told the jury that he had imagined “20 policemen coming in [to the Chelsea flat] and emptying every drawer and looking under every nook and cranny”.

Mr Brooks is charged with conspiring with his wife and others to conceal computers, documents and other material from the police in July 2011. He denies the charge.

In cross-examination by the prosecution lead counsel, Andrew Edis QC, Mr Brooks denied that his explanation of drinking six bottles of red wine with a friend on the day of the police search was a convenient cover story.

He also denied that he had “settled on drunkenness” to explain the computers being hidden behind bins in the car park. He told Mr Edis that he believed the bags would be returned to him. However a “cock-up” involving the lengthy drinking session with a friend, Chris Palmer, meant Mr Brooks’ belongings were left in the bin area, later discovered by a cleaner, and handed to the police.

While Mr Brooks and Mr Palmer were sharing the six bottles of wine, he said, Mrs Brooks was being questioned in Lewisham.

He added a News International security guard was supposed to deliver the two men some pizzas – described as necessary “blotting paper” by Mrs Brooks – and also return his bags. Although the pizzas were delivered, the bags remained in the bin area.

“I get a bit sloppy after a couple of bottles of wine,” Mr Brooks told the court. He denied his “drunkenness” was an invented story and denied he was lying when he had later authorised a formal statement that it was all a “mix up”.

Although two Apple computers in his possession were marked as property of News International, Mr Brooks repeatedly told the court “they were mine” and had been a “present” from Rupert Murdoch’s company.

He said when he had to tell his wife what had happened, “she went ballistic”. The trial continues. The defendants, including Mrs Brooks and five others, deny all charges.

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