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
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones