Hacking trial: Rebekah Brooks cleared of one charge over Prince William bikini photo

Former News of the World editor still faces four other counts as she begins giving evidence at Old Bailey

The former News of the World and Sun editor Rebekah Brooks
has been found not guilty of one of the five charges she faced in the
phone-hacking trial at the Old Bailey.

Giving evidence for the first time today, Ms Brooks was earlier formally cleared of one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, after a judge found there was “no case to answer” in relation to a photo of Prince William wearing a fancy dress bikini.

It had been alleged that she had sanctioned a payment of £4,000 to a public official to acquire the picture, which showed the prince dressed as a Bond girl during a party at Sandhurst.

While the picture was never published, it was reportedly the basis of an exclusive story in The Sun in September 2006, while Ms Brooks was editor, which ran under the headline “Willy in a Bikini” and was accompanied by a mocked-up image of Prince William in a green swimsuit.

Judge Mr Justice Saunders instructed the jury at the Old Bailey to formally acquit Brooks, saying: “I have decided that there is no case for Ms Brooks to answer on count four. That is the charge relating to a picture of Prince William in a bikini.

“Whether or not there is a case to answer is for me to decide.”

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC had previously told the court that Ms Brooks received an email asking her to approve payment to a Sun journalist’s contact who was “offering us a picture of William at a James Bond party dressed as a Bond girl”.

Jurors at the phone-hacking trial will still decide whether Ms Brooks, 45, is guilty of four further offences - one count of conspiring to hack phones, two of perverting the course of justice, and one of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.

At the start of Ms Brooks’ defence case today, her lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw QC said jurors might have found the trial hard to follow so far.

He told the court that “on occasions absolutely critical information was overlooked or left out” by the prosecution, and said Ms Brooks was not on trial “because she was the editor of a tabloid newspaper” or “for any political views she may hold”.

Taking the stand herself, Ms Brooks gave an account of her career as a journalist, rising through the ranks from sweeping the floor to becoming editor.

Asked about major stories over her career, she told the court how the newspaper paid around £50,000 to £80,000 to footballer Paul Gascoigne for a  story about domestic violence.

“It was the fact that I got Paul to talk to me about such a sensitive subject,” she said. “It set out the ground work for me doing that time and time again with other high-profile people who were having difficult circumstances.”

Speaking about another major story, Ms Brooks described the lengths the News of the World went to in preventing prostitute Divine Brown talking to other newspapers about her relationship with Hugh Grant.

“It all seems so silly now but actually it was really important,” she said.

Ms Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, denies all charges against her in the phone hacking trial.

The case continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?