Hacking trial: Jury sees CCTV footage of a “complicated and risky plan” to keep evidence out of police hands
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Tuesday 14 January 2014
CCTV footage of a "complicated and risky plan" involving the husband of Rebekah Brooks and News International security men allegedly trying to ensure that material was kept out of the reach of police, has been shown to the phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey.
The lengthy TV footage was captured by cameras at the reception, main entrance and underground car park areas at the prestigious Chelsea Harbour home of the former News International chief executive and her husband Charlie Brooks.
The plan was allegedly executed on 17 July, 2011, the day Mrs Brooks was arrested and cautioned at Lewisham police station, and continued into the following day, the court was told
Both Mr and Mrs Brooks and News International’s former head of security, Mark Hanna, were in the dock as the CCTV from 2011 weekend was played to the court.
A brief clip shown to the court on Monday saw Mr Brooks entering the underground car park clutching a Jiffy bag and, the prosecution claim, a laptop computer. He walks off-camera to a bin area, and then re-appears without the bag or the computer.
Further clips were shown today of material later being retrieved from the bin area by Mr Hanna.
Using the CCTV recordings, phone records and cellphone location technology, it is claimed that Mr Hanna left the riverside apartments and was driven to News International’s dockland’s offices by another member of the security team, Lee Sandell.
The prosecution case alleges that Mrs Brooks' arrest had been anticipated and that the material behind the bins had been taken from the Brooks' flat because the couple knew the police were likely to mount a search operation. It is also alleged that other material was brought to London from the Brooks' country house in Oxfordshire for the same reason.
The court then saw CCTV recording of Scotland Yard officers arriving to search the Brooks' home. Mr Brooks' lawyer, Angus McBride, is shown giving the officers access to the Chelsea Harbour complex.
Seven officers were later seen on the CCTV footage carrying what was said to be electronic equipment and large boxes following the flat search.
During the crown opening it was claimed that once the police had left Chelsea and it was "safe", it was decided to try and bring the bags from Wapping back to Chelsea Harbour.
After 9.30pm another member of the NI security team, Daryl Jorsling, is shown in the CCTV footage arriving in the Chelsea Harbour underground carpark.
Mark Bryant-Heron, counsel for the prosecution, said the TV record showed Mr Jorsling taking a large dark bag from the boot of his car, walking to the same bin area, and returning empty handed.
Later a man identified as "Mr Palmer" took two pizzas from the bin area. It was alleged in the crown opening that the pizza delivery was a ruse to allow Mr Brooks to re-enter the underground car park with a believable excuse.
After using the pizza delivery as part of the alleged deception, coded text messages of congratulations were sent.
The prosecution claims that Mr Jorsling sent a message to a senior member of the security team, David Johnson. Referencing the WWII espionage film Where Eagles Dare, the text said "Broadsword calling Danny Boy. Pizza delivered and the chicken is in the pot."
The reply from Mr Johnson allegedly read: "Ha! Fucking amateurs. We should have done a DLB [dead letter box] or brush contact on the riverside! Cheers mate, log in the hors ad "pizza delivery".
CCTV from the following day, played to the court, showed a cleaner at Chelsea Harbour driving a small tractor and hitching bins from the underground carpark together. The jury was told the cleaner, named as Mr Nascimento, found the black bag that had been hidden behind the bins, informed his boss, and that the police were later called.
Mr Nascimento will be giving evidence for the prosecution later in the trial.
Mr and Mrs Brooks, and Mr Hanna, deny charges against them of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Mrs Brooks denies all other charges against her, including conspiring to illegally hack phones and bribing public officials.
The trial continues.
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