Hacking trial: I don’t recall whether Piers Morgan said he hacked phones, claims Rebekah Brooks

 

Rebekah Brooks could not remember being told by former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan that he had hacked her phone, the Old Bailey has heard.

A witness had earlier claimed that the pair “shared a laugh” about phone hacking at a birthday party for Andy Coulson in 2004. Mrs Brooks, then editor of The Sun, told the court she could recall the dinner party at which the conversation is said to have occurred but did not remember the account given by another guest. Lawyer Ambi Sitham testified in December that she overheard Mr Morgan tell his fierce rival: “I already know what your splash, or your cover, is going to be because I have been listening to your messages.”

Mrs Brooks said she remembered that she had been working on The Sun's exclusive leak of the Hutton report into the death of Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly and conceded Mr Morgan may have made the remark during a “heated exchange” over the inquiry.

She said: “I don't remember having a laugh at that dinner because I was working on the Hutton report at that dinner. I don't remember a discussion about phone hacking but I know The Sun had a big story and I was working on that story that night.

“I had got up a couple of times at least, maybe two or three times to take some quite serious calls on it [the Hutton report].

“I was very surprised at the witness's recollection, because if you had sat next to me that night - and I'm not saying she didn't - that was a big preoccupation I had and she didn't seem to remember anything about it.”

Referring to Ms Sitham's testimony, prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said: “She may have been right, but you just can't remember it.” Mrs Brooks replied: “I don't remember Piers Morgan saying he had hacked my phone, which is what she said she heard. He might have said it, but I can't remember if he said it.”

Mrs Brooks told the court she had heard rumours of unscrupulous journalists hacking phones in the early 2000s, but insisted: “My newsroom I felt under my editorship was a clean ship. No evidence ever came to me that one of my journalists was phone hacking.”

She said if someone had come up with a story through phone hacking, she may have considered using it if it was in the public interest.

Brooks was also questioned about testimony given by Dom Loehnis, a friend of David Cameron, that they had discussed hacking at a party to celebrate the prime minister's 44th birthday in October 2010. She said she remembered discussing the difficulty Mr Coulson had when he was Mr Cameron's head of communications because of the reports about phone hacking at the time.

Mrs Brooks said: “I remember sitting next to Mr Loehnis and discussing Andy Coulson with him and the issue of Andy Coulson being the spokesperson and being part of the story. It did not strike me as unusual for me to have said to him in the late 1990s this issue [hacking] was live, because I think in the 1990s or mid-1990s that there were stories around about the security flaw.”

Mrs Brooks also firmly denied having any knowledge of Milly Dowler's phone being hacked until it was exposed in The Guardian in 2011. Mr Edis said the former editor “must have” been told about the hacked message, especially after former managing editor Stuart Kuttner decided to tell police they had listened to the voicemail.

But she told the court: “Nobody told me about the accessing of Milly Dowler's phone by the News of the World, or anyone working for the News of the World. I found out on July 4, 2011.”

Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson deny all the charges they face. [being involved in a conspiracy to hack phones.]

The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Déjà vu: David Tennant returns to familiar territory with Anna Gunn (‘Breaking Bad’)
tvReview: Something is missing in Gracepoint, and it's not just the familiar names
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?