Hacking Trial Live Tweets – 28 Feb

Friday 28 February 2014

Summary
Rebekah Brooks Defence Continues on Count 5 – Illegal Payments
Justice Saunders explains tiring nature of giving evidence
Counsel for Brooks continues on payments to MoD Officials
Sun Story on lack of Army equipment in Afghanistan
Breaches of Official Secrets Act
Story on Female Soldier giving birth in Barracks
Story on Military Expenses Fraud
Fake Military Honours
Sun story on Afghani stowaway in Army Base
Rebekah Brooks questioned on more examples of paying Public Officials
George Michael Story
Story on Kate Moss and Pete Doherty
Payment for picture of Cop Killer
Story on Anthrax
MP’s Expenses

Rebekah Brooks Defence Continues on Count 5 – Illegal Payments
Justice Saunders explains tiring nature of giving evidence
Back at the #hackingtrial for the last day of a long week. Rebekah Brooks continuing with her defence – 6 days in the witness box
Saunders tells jury “quite a tiring process… even more tiring for the witnesses.
BREAKING: hacking trial will finish at lunchtime because Rebekah Brooks is exhausted after 6 days in witness box
Counsel for Brooks continues on payments to MoD Officials
Laidlaw continues with the Elveden – conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office – charges against Brooks.
Laidlaw is going through the emails authorising payment to MOD official, Bettina Jordan Barber, and related Sun stories.
Sun Story on lack of Army equipment in Afghanistan
Laidlaw is looking at an article a female soldier losing a limb. Brooks was in the office that day.
Brooks talks about travelling around Afghanistan with General Dannatt and how other Sun journos took Page3 girls to Camp Bastion
Brooks says it wasn’t obvious to her the story came from public official: “I assumed it came from a member of the team” (other Sun journos)
“One of the public interest elements of this story was the kind of injuries suffered in Helmand,” says Brooks
“When we were out there…. was the lack of equipment to cope with IEDs…. and women on the frontline,” says Brooks of public interest
“How much of the detail (wd have come out)… I think probably no. We could have got this from our sources without paying public officials”
Breaches of Official Secrets Act
04/02/09 front page Sun article cited by Jonathan Laidlaw QC, counsel for Brooks
The article concerns breaches of the Official Secrets Act in Afghanistan: Brooks was in the office that day. Would have seen article
“This story is a particularly good example of the ‘pie situation’, of how many sources go into a story,” says Brooks
“Unless its brought to me on the day about whether to pay a public official on the day… at conference…. I put it on page one….”
“I wasn’t looking at corrupt payments to officials. I was looking a the public interest, how sensitive it was, Official Secrets” says Brooks
“Depends when it came in,” says Brooks of when she would have first seen the story. Laidlaw explores hypothetical of coming in at conference
Brooks explains how Sun journalists would have been researching the story and presented to news editors.
“If all the risks had been discussed…. everyone was comfortable…. I”m looking as an editor at things that are ready to go,” says Brooks
Laidlaw asks “a rather absurd hypothetical given nature of the story… it’s only available to us if we pay a public official”
“From my perspective most these military did warrant ‘overwhelmingly in the public interest’,” says Brooks: “The idea there is some coverup
“Some coverup of the number of civilian casualties… such a senior ranking colonel leaking any info to human rights group,” Brooks on PI
“I’m sure I would have said yes,” says Brooks to paying a public official for this story
06/02/09 Authorisation sought for “number one military contract” and Thomas Cook payments for £3.5k: Brooks replies “yes”
“Certainly the army colonel would be,” says Brooks about whether the Sun stories would be in her mind. She says she trusted the reporter
Brooks: “I’m not policing this document… I answered it in a minute… nothing had been brought to my attention. 100,000 stories a year”
“I’m surprised at my lack of congratulation actually,” says Brooks of authorising email.
Next email is 20/03/09: the volume of Sun military stories since the previous email is shown to the jury
Diary shows Brooks was in Russia on the 28/02/09 – she once went on holiday to Russia, but also for News Corp
Story on Female Soldier giving birth in Barracks
04/03/09 Sun article about a female soldier giving birth in barracks. Brooks says nothing particularly seems like it comes from official
“Clearly there is an army source.. that wouldn’t be flagging up to me payment to a public official,” says Brooks
Brooks “Female soldier who concealed pregnancy for that long… maybe there was a welfare issue…. I can’t see how I would justify this”
07/03/09 Sun article about a soldier having a fling cited by Laidlaw.
Brooks points out “MOD confirmation… the original tip could have come from embassy, from Kabul”
“You know I said we had a lot of retired military writing for the paper” Brooks explains the variety of possible sources “including wives”
“If we had had a discussion it would have been around the Armed Services Act… not a moral discussion… but breaching army code”
“I don’t think I would have done,” says Brooks of authorising payment to public officials on this story
Brooks was flying to Italy on a News Corp the day the before the next Sun story appeared on 10/03/09 but would have seen on 11/03/09
“On march 11th if I was back in the office I would have absolutely have read it. But if you asked me 3 years later, let alone 4 years later”
Brooks says there’s nothing about this military sex source – original tip – “you don’t highlight the source in the story.”
“In that strict army code of conduct they have…. the unfairness of the male officer keeping his job,” Brooks talks about public interest
“It doesn’t look to have been written on the basis it was very unfair to women,” observes Justice Saunders of this Sun article.
Story on Military Expenses Fraud
Another Sun article 20/03/09 about an expenses fraud among the military is now cited by Laidlaw. Brooks wasn’t away that day
Brooks: “There was certainly a concern about expense fraud happening in the military… Can’t remember if MPs expenses was at the same time”
“We’d been campaigning about the paltry pay… for soldiers. This didn’t really fit in the campaign,” Brooks says of story.
Brooks “It does present a public interest dilemma…. I would have looked at it. I’m not sure had we had the debate I would be comfortable”
Email the same day requesting Thomas Cook payments for No 1 Military contacts, listing the most recent of 4 articles first.
“I would have just looked at his email and though four lots of £750… that’s good value,” says Brooks of authorising email 2 minutes later
Fake Military Honours
Laidlaw holds up a bundle of papers indicative of other Sun articles on military stories before the next (9th) email is cited.
02/05/09 Sun article is about fake medals in the military. Brooks was in the Irish office on the Friday
The Sun article is about an RMP investigation into untrue reports leading to gallantry awards. Brooks “I wouldn’t have known who source was”
“I’m not looking at this story policing it for payments to public officials… I would have seen this story in Irish office,” she says.
“I think the public interest is in the story: first time this has happened in 300yrs. The military take great pride in their honours sytem”
“The fact there may be a conspiracy to fake this honours system is overwhelmingly in the public interest,” says Brooks.
The following Monday is the next Sun edition cited. Brooks was back from Ireland.
“The way the Sunday editing rota, me and my deputy would always check in… what the front page is,” says Brooks.
The 04/05/09 follow up in the Sun on fake medals cited. Brooks answers the “public interest” hypothetical
“If this was the only way to get the story, I would have taken responsibility for paying that public official,” says Brooks, hypothetically
27/05/09 The military source, Bettina Jordan Barber leaves land forces secretariat
Brooks responses to email asking for authorisation of Thomas Cook payments for the two fake medal articles within 15 minutes.
Before 10th email there are a dozen or so pieces in the Sun concerning military style stories.
Sun story on Afghani stowaway in Army Base
Front page article in the Sun on 18/06/09 is about Afghani stowaway in army base and a serious lapse in security.
News International party on 17/06/09 but in evening, so Brooks would have been there the working day.
“So many different elements to it, Border Agency, Bus Driver, Sandhurst,” Brooks says of piece, wouldn’t have suspected single source
“I obviously think it has huge public interest,” Brooks says to hypothetical about paying a public official: “this is not going to come out”
“It’s a very good story…. if (I was given) the chance to take responsibility for it, I would have done,” says Brooks of paying official
Email authorisation cites “great do last night” and then how Radio 4 followed up story: asks for £4k for top military contact for one story
“The News Corp board were in town that week,” Brooks: “I remember it because Charlie and I got married week before, couldn’t take honeymoon”
“Almost there with these emails,” says Laidlaw.
“At that party there would have been senior military there, security services, senior politicians including the Prime Minister” say Brooks
“Not in any complaint,” says Brooks about any politician or senior official mentioning the Sun story at News International party.
“No one said to you, as far as you can remember, where did you get that from?” asks Saunders. Brooks replies “No”.
25/06/09 Sun article about US military complaining of appearance of British troops.
“This is the kind of things that drives bureaucracy mad,” says Brooks of this story. But no public interest in paying official.
Another story is about security panic around a senior officer losing his phone: it touches on other missing kit and China.
09/07/09 is the date of this story. Laidlaw confuses dates with Milly Dowler and apologises.
09/07/09 Brooks was at work. “Not going to know…. who tipped off from reading this story…. much more about Chinese espionage.”
“I don’t think I would have paid a public official,” says Brooks. “Even though China was considered at this time important.”
19 editions of the Sun before the next MOD official sourced story. 01/08/09:
Laidlaw says “rather glamorously you were with the Queen in meetings” “No, ‘query meetings’,” corrects Brooks. Laughter in court
Serious tone as a story about soldier in amputation discussed. Brooks mentions defence minister saying “not a shot would be fired”
Brooks talks about the “government fallout” of the “bloody battles in Helmand”
“You’d have to really convinced the MOD were trying to cover this up to justify this payment,” says Brooks
04/08/09 Sun story on death of soldier through disease is followed later by authorising email on day of publication
“At the time, the swine flu epidemic was public safety and public interest… four barracks have got the virus,” says Brooks
Justice Saunders points out it’s territorial army. Brooks wonders if there’s any follow. “I’m not sure,” she says of paying officials
Final of 11 emails 04/08/09 seeking authorisation for £4,000 in Thomas Cook payments for 4 stories from “top military contact”
02/09/09 Brooks ends her editorship of the Sun
Half an hour break.
Back after half an hour break in #hackingtrial. Brooks is exhausted so we’ll break early today, at lunch time
Rebekah Brooks questioned on more examples of paying Public Officials
George Michael Story
Final topics on Count 5: miscellaneous emails and times she contemplated paying a public official
Jury shown an email from 01/07/05 about George Michael from a Sun journalist about a “tipster who says he is a policeman”
The email talks of an arrest under the Road Traffic Act and a “refused charge”
The email is forwarded to Brooks “sounds about right but without a cough not going very far”: Brooks replies “leave it with me”
Brooks says she sees no indication of money changing hands with alleged police tipster.
“Whoever this police officer is he’s clearly not asking for any money and he’s clearly not anybody’s source,” says Brooks of Michael tip
Brooks explains the “leave it with me”: “I knew the people who represented George Michael reasonably well.”
03/02/06 email from Sun journo saying Dick Fedorcio has alleged senior politician as a source of the leak on the ‘stockwell coverup”
Email to Brooks ends: “I’m not sure it’s wise putting this kind of thing down on email where there is a permanent record.”
Story on Kate Moss and Pete Doherty
Email also asks for £500 for an exclusive on Kate Moss and Pete Doherty.
“Our relationship from Scotland Yard was pretty good.. the Sun even sponsored the Yard football team,” Brooks says of police connections
“It could read both ways – I don’t want to put information about sources on email…. he didn’t want this payment discussed on email”
“It could be he didn’t want to name the Stockwell source on email,” says Brooks of last line. “It sounds a bit chippy the last line”
11/04/06 email to Brooks on anonymous cash payment to “serving officer” cited by Laidlaw about “mayor of Tetbury wife swapping”
The email asks for £1k to be authorised via Thomas Cook: “I don’t recall,” says Brooks of authorising this payment.
Brooks is asked the hypothetical about authorising: “I was absolutely aware of illegality and even higher threshold of public interest”
“Police officers are just like any of us… there’s nothing wrong if the copper is living next door to the Mayor of Tetbury” says Brooks
Brooks also says it’s highly unusual for a district reporter to come to her.
Payment for picture of Cop Killer
18/04/06 email to Brooks shown to jury asking for £1k cash payment for picture of ‘cop killer Steven Graham’ “guy works at Sandhurst”
Brooks cannot recall if she authorised this payment request from someone at Sandhurst.
“Sun were very supportive of the police, getting the picture of a cop killer was in the public interest… I don’t remember being involved”
06/01/09 email to Brooks, Mohan and Kavanagh about a “Man at Five” and “Jewish targets… as a result of Gaza”
Brooks sees no indication of any misconduct of a public official. Kavanagh accompanied Brooks on visits to MI6. Other journo to MI5
“There as a time when MI5 were trying to be a little bit more open,” says Brooks of this email
29/10/07 email to Brooks about “Prince Harry situation” and news blackout while he was serving in Afghanistan
Email about Prince Harry moving to the front line as a forward air controller in Afghanistan and “dodging bullets… in the thick of it”
“Absolutely not,” says Brooks of any implication of misconduct of the public official. Email about Harry’s bravery “for guidance” only
29/03/06 email to Brooks about Huntley and Whiting interviewed at Wakefield jail.
“My mind has gone,” says Brooks of the context. Edis reminds Laidlaw of a joint admission that money was collected by a journalist for this
“The prison source could be another prisoner or a journalist,” Brooks says of this email
BREAKING: Brooks explains the two occasions she authorised or contemplated paying a public official.
Story on Anthrax
The first is a story about anthrax while she was Acting Editor of the Sun in late 90s.
“The editor had nothing to do with this, it was my decision,” says Brooks. “A source ran the Sun news desk.”
“What they said and what we published was quite different,” says Brooks of sensitive material.
“They had reason to believe the security services were covering up a plot by Saddam Hussein to bring anthrax into the country” says Brooks
Correction: my BREAKING should be not ‘the’ two but “two of the handful” of occasions Brooks admits paying public official.
Brooks recalls getting a call from Downing Street while the team were working on the story
Brooks says she was called into meeting at Downing Street with various security services and some lawyers
“There had been an all ports warning about the methods by which this anthrax was coming in,” says Brooks of running this story
BROOKS “The political editor Trevor Kavanagh… was with me at this meeting. When I got back I authorised the money to go to public official
24/03/98 Sun headline shown to jury about Saddam putting Anthrax in Duty Frees. Brooks says Kavanagh nothing to do with payment decision
The public official was identified as chief petty officer and prosecuted for breach of Official Secrets Act following inquiry.
“We did our best to protect his identity as best as possible,” says Brooks. “MI5… managed to work out who it was.”
Laidlaw says he will pass over other examples where the source hasn’t been exposed.
MP’s Expenses
Brooks now turns to when she contemplated paying for MPs expenses.
“This is an example of sensitive information that required quite a high price tag to it,” says Brooks of MPs expenses.
Brooks says she was approached a month before the Telegraph ran MPs expenses in Spring 2009 with unredacted expenses.
“It was going to cost quite a lot of money, and given where it was coming from, something I had to consider carefully”
“In terms of errors of judgement, I thought about it too long, and drove my news team crazy with my indecision… I should have gone ahead”
Brooks regrets not paying for MPs expenses. CPS said no prosecution because it was “in public interest”
Break till 10 am on Monday

Note: All the defendants deny all the charges. The trial continues.

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Previous Posts
Hacking Trial Live Tweets – 25 Feb
Hacking Trial Live Tweets – 26 Feb
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3 thoughts on “Hacking Trial Live Tweets – 28 Feb

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