Brooks and Coulson 'contact during Dowler story change'
- 5 November 2013
- From the section UK
Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were in contact during the time a story about murdered girl Milly Dowler was changed to remove references to material gained from phone hacking, a jury has heard.
The Old Bailey was told Mrs Brooks was abroad and her deputy Mr Coulson was editing the News of the World.
But her lawyer questioned the timings of the contact and said records "do not reveal any actual conversation".
Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson both deny conspiracy to hack phones.
Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire has admitted hacking into Milly Dowler's voicemails after she disappeared on her way home from school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in March, 2002.
The jury was told that in 2002 the NoW changed a story between its first and second editions to remove a transcript of a message left on the schoolgirl's phone.
The message was from a recruitment agency and said: "We're ringing because we've got some interviews starting, can you call me back? Thank you, bye bye."
Then editor Mrs Brooks was on holiday in Dubai at the time and her deputy Mr Coulson was in charge, but the court was told that the two were in contact by text between the two editions.
However under cross examination, Det Sgt Gregory Smith, who investigated the phone hacking, said he could not be sure whether the times he had for Mrs Brooks's phone activity were local time in Dubai or UK time.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, representing Mrs Brooks, also highlighted other calls made around the time and said they were what anyone would expect from an editor who was away as their paper headed towards deadline.
The court also heard that the former managing editor at the NoW, Stuart Kuttner, called Surrey Police on the afternoon before the story was published to tell them about the recruitment agency's message.
He told officers the newspaper had access to Milly's mobile phone number and pin, and urged them to check the lead, the jury was told.
Police told Mr Kuttner the message was thought to have been left by a "professional hoaxer", the Old Bailey heard, a claim which subsequently made it into the third version of the Dowler story the following day.
Mr Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, denies conspiracy to hack phones.
Earlier, the court published three emails between then head of news Ian Edmondson and Mulcaire, which prosecutors say show the former "tasked" the private investigator with phone hacking.
Mr Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London, also denies conspiracy to phone hack.
Last week, the court was told that the first email message between Mulcaire and Mr Edmondson, on 20 April 2006, referred to MP Tessa Jowell and her husband Mr Mills, at a time when he had been accused of involvement in bribery linked to former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi.
It said: "Substantial traffic both ways, also looks like she's selling up."
Another message, from 27 April 2006, referred to Lord Frederick Windsor, the son of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and contained a reference to "press * and Pin", which prosecutors say was Mulcaire telling Mr Edmondson how to hack a phone.
The third email referred to an adviser to former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott, who was at the centre of a publicity storm because he was accused of having an affair.
'On his watch'
On Monday, the prosecution concluded its opening argument and was followed by a defence statement from Timothy Langdale QC, acting for Mr Coulson.
He said his client "was never party to any agreement to hack phones - whatever others might have been doing on his watch".
Mr Coulson, 45, of Charing, Kent, who also denies conspiracy to commit misconduct, left the newspaper industry in 2007 and went on to become Prime Minister David Cameron's communications director.
Mrs Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, who was editor of the News of the World between 2000 and 2003, and her PA Cheryl Carter, 49, of Chelmsford Essex, both deny perverting the course of justice.
Mrs Brooks denies a second similar charge, along with her husband Charlie Brooks and Mr Hanna. She and Mr Coulson also deny separate charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct.
The trial continues.