UK

Phone-hacking trial: Rebekah Brooks's evidence 'well-scripted'

Charlie and Rebekah Brooks Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Defendants may have decided the law did not apply to them, prosecutors said.

Rebekah Brooks gave a "carefully-choreographed and well-scripted performance" as a witness during the phone-hacking trial, a court has heard.

Giving the prosecution's closing remarks, Andrew Edis QC said it might be hard for the jury to see "behind the mask" of the ex-News of the World editor.

Mr Edis said the trial was not an attack on the freedom of the press but was about applying the rule of law.

All seven defendants deny the charges.

'Significant jobs'

Summing up the case after seven months of evidence, Mr Edis told the jury to consider who knew about the "rotten state of affairs" at the top of the News of the World.

And he said there was an "enormous gap" in the defence case concerning a £100,000 retainer paid to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

The jury was asked to consider whether the defendants were so incompetent and careless that "events on their watch" were "not noticed".

Mr Edis suggested this could not be the case.

On Mrs Brooks's stint in the Old Bailey witness box, where she gave her account of events for seven and a half days, Mr Edis said: "We have suggested that the evidence of Mrs Brooks was a carefully choreographed and well scripted performance", adding it might be hard for the jury to see "behind the mask" of a person like Mrs Brooks who had held "significant jobs."

He said the case was like a murder where "the body had been in the sitting room for a week" and when people spoke to the police they said they were in the kitchen.

'Excitement of the chase'

The defendants were "an unusual group of criminal suspects," Mr Edis said.

Had the "excitement of the chase" led these people to decide the law did not matter to them, he asked.

Mr Edis said the case was not an attack on the freedom of the press or the tabloid press.

"We accept that the free press is an essential part of the protections of a democratic society," he said, adding: "The ultimate protection of a democratic society is the rule of law… and that applies to you, me and everyone else."

'Industrial scale'

The case relates to illegal phone hacking carried out by journalists and contractors at the now defunct News of the World between October 2000 and August 2006.

"There was an awful lot of phone hacking going on at the News of the World in 2005 and 2006. An awful lot," said Mr Edis.

"Was it the position, as [ex-News of the World reporter] Dan Evans says, the office cat knew? Was it the position, as [former News of the World royal editor] Mr Goodman said, hacking was going on on an industrial scale?"

Mr Edis said the evidence from the paper's phone lines was that 135 victims had been hacked, averaging nine hacks per day.

And an investigation into the activities of Mulcaire showed he had accessed the voicemails of 132 people hundreds of times in 2005 and 2006.

The jury was asked to consider why Mulcaire was being paid a retainer of more than £100,000 a year by the newspaper, and who knew of his activities.

"How did they satisfy themselves that this retainer was worth it?" asked Mr Edis.

"That is, I am afraid, an enormous gap in the defence cases."

The defendants face various charges, including conspiring to hack phones and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

They deny any involvement and the case continues.