Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s UK print business, preferred to “keep on top of things” and rarely switched off her phone during a holiday to Dubai at the height of the hunt for Milly Dowler, the Old Bailey heard.
Dean Keyworth, an interior designer and friend of the ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson since their teenage years, told the court that he met Ms Brooks in Dubai during the preparation period for the 14 April 2002 edition of the NOTW which carried details that had been hacked from the mobile phone of the murdered schoolgirl.
Mr Keyworth was in Dubai with a friend when he met Ms Brooks and her then partner Ross Kemp, the EastEnders actor. The designer said that he had previously met Ms Brooks at parties hosted by Mr Coulson at his home.
Having arranged a hotel suite upgrade for Ms Brooks and Mr Kemp, Mr Keyworth said that he and his travelling companion met the couple in a nightclub for drinks, and later for lunch by the hotel pool. He told the jury that Ms Brooks had been on her mobile phone to work “quite a lot” during her holiday.
William Hennessey, Mr Keyworth’s friend, had earlier told the court that he remembered Ms Brooks walking away from the pool saying she had to leave and discuss details with her newspaper about a “missing Surrey schoolgirl”.
However Mr Keyworth said the only thing that “stuck out” about his conversations with the couple was talking to Mr Kemp about EastEnders.
Mr Coulson, Ms Brooks and six others are charged with varying offences that include conspiracy illegally to access voicemails, perverting the course of justice and bribery of public officials. All eight deny the charges.
Mr Coulson’s barrister, Timothy Langdale QC, questioned Mr Keyworth about Mr Coulson’s character and their friendship.
The jury heard that Mr Coulson was a “loyal friend” who stuck with those he had known even after he had become a high-profile media figure. Mr Keyworth said “He was very ambitious, but I do not think he was ruthless. [He] always seemed to have a very pragmatic approach to things, wanted to get good stories in the paper – but I do not think at any cost.”
The trial continues.