The jury of the hacking trial in London were told by a prosecution witness of a revealing birthday dinner involving some of the “most powerful people in the media industry in the UK”, including Piers Morgan, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.
Ambi Sitham, now a life coach and writer based in LA, was in January 2003 a solicitor at the top British media law firm, Schillings. She was also in a relationship with Neil Reading, a PR executive, and close friend of Coulson’s.
An important snippet from my Daily Beast piece below
During further cross examination, Sitham was asked about a blog she wrote for the Huffington post in 2012, in which she explained why she had come forward to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into ethics which was set up in the wake of the phone hacking scandal. The blog describes how she was persuaded in early 2012 to testify by Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist who broke the hacking scandal a year earlier, Hugh Grant, the actor, and Dr Evan Harris, the director of the Hacked Off campaign which represents victims of press intrusion. In court, she described the dinner in question, as being like something from a Richard Curtis movie (the director of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually all of which starred Grant). “Is any part of this fictionalised?” Sibson asked of Sitham: “Absolutely not,” she replied.
Later the jury were shown emails exchanged between Sitham and Evan Harris on the 3rd of February 2012, and the former lawyer was asked if she was just seeking ‘media impact’: “Is this whole exercise not just about publicising yourself?” she was asked by Brooks’ lawyer. Sibham denied it. “That was never the objective of doing this,” she said. “This whole process has given me an ulcer and lost friendships”
Andrew Edis, QC, the prosecutor then drew attention to the rest of Sitham’s email which explained: “I do dread the wave of vitriol that I am pretty sure will come my way.” But the email claimed she wanted to cast light “into the workings of the media industry and the incestuous nest of vipers that exist within that industry who are so powerful that people are intimidated from coming forwards and speaking the truth.”
Brooks and Coulson are joined by another six defendants in the Old Bailey, who all plead not guilty to all charges. The trial continues.