She has finally tamed that wild mane of red hair. The former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks, yesterday appeared in a London court over charges of perverting the course of justice – wearing her trademark Christian Louboutin spike heels, a slinky black designer dress and newly reshaped princess-style tresses.
The court was told that Brooks, who faces three counts of conspiring to hide evidence from the Metropolitan Police, would probably learn by the end of August whether she would also face new charges arising from Operation Weeting, the police investigation into phone hacking.
Her barrister, Hugo Keith, QC, said that prosecutors had been passed more Operation Weeting files relating to 11 journalists: ‘‘No one is sure whether it will result in charges one way or another.’’ He said any further charges would have an impact on this trial and asked that prosecutors say by the end of August whether Brooks could expect more counts.
Mr Justice Fulford declined to make an order but said he strongly encouraged the prosecution to do this if possible.
Mr Keith had also given the judge a file of press clippings that he said contained evidence of websites and blogs with offensive commentary that could prejudice Brooks’ right to a fair trial: ‘‘I don’t make any application today but I do wish to put down a very gentle marker as to the responsibility of everybody as to the strictures of the Contempt of Court Act.’’ Brooks, who resigned as chief executive of News International last July, is also a former editor of the tabloid Sun and the nowdefunct News of the World.
At times she glanced across the courtroom and studied the reporters taking notes on her case.
She and her husband, Charlie, sat in the glass-caged dock with four other defendants. They are Cheryl Carter, Mrs Brooks’s former personal assistant; Paul Edwards, Mrs Brooks’s former chauffeur; Mark Hanna, the head of security at News International; and Daryl Jorsling, who was a security consultant for Mrs Brooks provided by News International.
Mr Jorsling’s lawyer told the court he had lost his licence to work in the security industry because of the charges and that he could soon lose his home.
James Sturman, QC, said there was no prima facie case against Mr Jorsling and that there would be amove to dismiss the charges.
He asked the judge ‘‘to consider whether it’s in the public interest to render this defendant homeless over the next three months’’.
The judge asked the prosecution to re-examine the case against Mr Jorsling. The prosecutor, Andrew Edis, QC, said they would but that the decision to charge ‘‘had already received very careful consideration and I wouldn’t like anyone to think that it hadn’t’’.
Mrs Brooks, 44, is charged on count one that between July 6 and July 19 last year she conspired with her husband, Mr Hanna, Mr Edwards,Mr Jorsling and persons unknown to conceal material from officers of the Metropolitan Police. On count two she is charged with Ms Carter between July 6 and July 9 last year of conspiring to permanently remove seven boxes of material from the archive of News International.
In the third count Mrs Brooks is charged with her husband, Mr Hanna, Mr Edwards and Mr Jorsling and persons unknown of conspiring together between July 15 and July 19 last year to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from officers of the Metropolitan Police. The other five defendants face one charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice each.
Mr Brooks faces a single charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice with his wife.
All six defendants will face court again on September 26 for a plea and case management hearing. No trial date was set.First published in the Sydney Morning Herald.