An executive at the News of the World told police that its journalists had listened to messages left on murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s voicemail, the phone hacking trial is told.
Former managing editor Stuart Kuttner called Surrey Police in April 2002 to tell them about a message left on 13-year-old Milly’s phone by a recruitment agency in Telford, the Old Bailey heard.
He is alleged to have told officers hunting for Milly that the newspaper had gained access to her phone number and pin, and urged them to check their leads. Police told Mr Kuttner the message was thought to have been left by a “professional hoaxer”.
Chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck also called police and confirmed that the newspaper “had access” to Milly’s voicemail, had obtained the number from “sources”, and it intended to run a story the following day, the court was told.
The phone hacking trial heard that a story in the first edition of the NoW quoted from this voicemail message, but this had been edited out by the time the second edition appeared.
Ms Brooks, Mr Coulson and Mr Kuttner are accused of being aware that Milly’s phone had been hacked before the story was published. They all deny conspiracy to intercept communications.
The Old Bailey has heard that Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator who worked for the NoW, had admitted hacking Milly’s phone.
The revelation in 2011 that Milly’s phone had been hacked by the NoW led to the closure of the newspaper.
On Monday, the court heard that Ms Brooks ordered an elaborate cover-up operation to hide notebooks and computers from the police.
The trial into alleged phone hacking by senior staff at the News of the World heard that Ms Brooks instructed her personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, to retrieve seven notebooks from the newspaper’s archive, two days before the tabloid was due to close.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told jurors that the material, said to be Ms Brooks’s notebooks from 1995 to 2007, has never been recovered.
The jury was also told that, on the day of Ms Brooks’s arrest, 17 July 2011, she sent a security team, headed by her husband Charlie, to strip their homes in London and Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, of computers and other incriminating material.
The court also heard from Mr Coulson’s defence barrister, who said he had not been aware of hacking at the newspaper, but recognised “something went badly wrong at the News of the World during his watch”.
Ms Brooks, Mr Coulson, Mr Kuttner and former news editor Ian Edmondson all deny conspiracy to intercept communications.
Ms Brooks denies perverting the course of justice and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. Mr Coulson denies misconduct in a public office.
They are among eight people on trial in connection with phone hacking allegations.