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Rebekah Brooks Reveals Personal Attacks At Phone-Hacking Trial: 'I Found File Called Twat 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6'

20/02/2014 13:23 GMT | Updated 20/02/2014 16:59 GMT
PA

Rebekah Brooks has told the hacking trial there was fierce competition internally between the news and features desks at the News of the World – as well as with other News International titles – and revealed instances where she was personally attacked.

Brooks said there "was probably a bit of old-school misogyny" shown to her, but added: "If I'd been a bloke or a woman, the competition between the two desks was ingrained into the News of the World's history. They really didn't like each other."

She recalled one incident where her phone wires were cut by journalists from the news desk after the features department ran a story about a judge that had pleased the newspaper's bosses.

Asked about any personal attacks on her, Brooks said she once found a file compiled on her "perceived mistakes or stupid stories", called "Twat 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6".

"It was a difficult world," she told the jury.

rebekah brooks

Former News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks arrives at the Old Bailey

The Former News International boss began giving evidence in her defence today after she was formally cleared of a charge linked to a picture of Prince William dressed as a bikini-clad Bond girl at a Sandhurst party.

She has denied knowing anything about phone hacking while she was editor of the News of the World.

She was quizzed in the witness box at the Old Bailey about what she knew of private detective Glenn Mulcaire and his hacking activities under her leadership from May 2000 to January 2003.

Asked by her lawyer, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, if she had ever heard his name mentioned at the time, she said: "No."

She gave the same reply when Mr Laidlaw asked if she knew of his activities, saying: "We did have private detectives working at the NotW."

She claimed that solicitors and law firms used them more, but added: "It is common practice in Fleet Street."

Mr Laidlaw went on to ask about phone hacking, and if that had ever been drawn to her attention.

She replied: "No, not at all."

Asked about former prime minister Tony Blair - who the court yesterday heard allegedly later offered to be an "unofficial adviser" to Brooks days before she was arrested in 2011 - she said she first met him and the "new Labour crew" in 1996 when she accompanied then-boyfriend Ross Kemp to an education rally in 1996.

READ MORE: Tony Blair 'Offered Help To Rebekah Brooks And Murdochs' Phone Hacking Trial Hears

"I went with him and that's when I met, for the first time, the New Labour team," she said, naming Mr Blair and wife Cherie, former spin doctor Alastair Campbell and partner Fiona Millar, as well as Peter Mandelson, describing them as "the original sort of New Labour crew".

Describing The Sun and News of the World's switch to support Mr Blair in 1997, she said: "The Sun had supported the Tories for a long time and they supported Tony Blair in favour of John Major very early on.

"It was a big thing."

Asked about a major story while she was features editor at the newspaper, Brooks described securing a £100,000 deal in 1995 with prostitute Divine Brown after actor Hugh Grant was caught with her.

But she said the newspaper ended up spending far more money, as they went to huge lengths to prevent rival publications getting to the prostitute.

"There was a huge interest, and once we had found Divine Brown there was an expectation that the Mail and The Sun would not be far behind and so we asked Divine Brown if she would move from her home where she had gone back to, to a different location.

"From memory, she wanted to take quite a number of her family with her. It was quite a lot of people."

Brooks said the newspaper hired a plane to fly "very smart" Brown and members of her family to "the desert" - she thought Nevada - to stay in a resort to prevent other newspapers finding them.

"It all seems so silly now but actually it was really important," she said.

Asked by Mr Laidlaw how much the whole enterprise had cost, she said it could have amounted to as much as £250,000.

"It was probably one of the biggest expenses that I had ever dealt with. It was a lot of money," she said.

At the time her weekly spending limit was supposed to be £50,000 to £60,000, she said, and she was making decisions "on the hoof" in the middle of the night because of the time difference between the UK and the US.

"At the time, obviously, if I had done the wrong thing, in the morning, particularly my decision to fly the entire family to the desert was something I had to explain to the editor and managing editor."