Hacking trial: 'Look behind the mask,' prosecution QC tells the court

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Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were “inexperienced, talented, ambitious, clever, charming people, placed in a position of power” but in the “excitement of the chase” ignored what they were doing because they “just wanted the story”, the jury at the hacking trial has been told.

In the first closing speech of the trial, which began in October last year, Andrew Edis QC, the prosecution’s lead counsel, described Mrs Brooks, the former News International chief executive, and Mr Coulson, who left Rupert Murdoch’s UK company to run David Cameron’s Downing Street communications operation, as being among an “unusual coalition of people on trial at the Old Bailey”.

He described the two former NI senior executives as “talented and articulate”, adding “these are gifted people”.

However pointing to the evidence given by Mrs Brooks, he told the jury that she had engaged in a “choreographed performance” and warned that “you need to make allowances” and “look behind the mask”.

The closing speeches are expected to take 10 full court days, with Mr Edis expected to be on his feet for two days.

He told the jury that those accused “would spin you a line” and that “they are capable of doing so”.

He told the court that former news editors of the News of the World, who were “the engine of the newsroom” had already pleaded guilty to hacking-related charges. He said “the people you are trying are even more senior”. 

He said, in the case of Mrs Brooks, Mr Coulson, and Stuart Kuttner, the NOTW’s former managing editor, that “it was their job to know”.

Seven defendants in the trial are accused variously of conspiracy to illegally hack voicemails, bribery of public officials, and perverting the course of justice. All deny the charges against them.

Mr Edis told the court that the trial should not be seen as an attack on the freedom of the press in a democratic society. He said the ultimate protection of democratic society was the rule of law, and asked “so who polices the journalists?”

The trial continues.