7 Dec 2013

William ‘Bond girl’ pictures: phone-hacking trial week 6

It was a short week for jurors in the phone hacking trial – there was just one day of evidence for them to hear at the Old Bailey.

William Bond girl pictures: phone-hacking trial week 6

Day 26 saw the trial temporarily move on from looking at evidence relating to Operation Weeting – the police investigation into phone hacking – to examining the charges made under Operation Elveden – the investigation into alleged payments to police and public officials.

There was just one defendant under the spotlight: Rebekah Brooks. She is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. The court heard evidence relating to her editorship of the Sun newspaper.

First, emails in which a journalist mooted paying his “best contact at Sandhurst” for “a picture of William at a James Bond party dressed as a Bond girl”. Ms Brooks was sent the email with the question: “What do you think boss?” Her reply: “Okay.”

The jury then heard from Paddy Harverson, former communications director for the Prince of Wales and his sons. He recalled a conversation with Ms Brooks about the Sun printing a picture of Prince Harry in a nightclub.

During the conversation, he told the court, Ms Brooks told him she proposed to publish a picture of Prince William in a “pink feather boa” and underwear.

Mr Harverson agreed when asked by Ms Brooks’s counsel Jonathan Laidlaw QC that this was not a reference to the bikini photograph, but a separate photo. In any event, the Sun never published the bikini photograph, relying on a mock-up for its story.

But, the prosecution claimed, the payment was made by the Sun and was marked for collection by the wife of a serving soldier.

‘Military contact’

In the afternoon, the jury was read emails between a Sun reporter – who cannot be named for legal reasons – and Ms Brooks. The prosecution alleges these show Ms Brooks approving payments worth thousands of pounds to a “military contact”.

These emails identified scores of “exclusive” stories which the reporter linked to the contact, an MOD official. The official, the court was told, received £100,000 from the Sun in total.

In one email exchange, the reporter asked Mrs Brooks for £4,000 to pay “the contact”, including £3,000 for a “belting exclusive splash… which was massively picked up” and another thousand for “another big exclusive”. She replied: “brilliant scoop… of course on payments.”

In another email, the reporter requested £3,000 be paid to the “number one military contact” for stories “which all made strong page leads and which were all picked up.” Ms Brooks’s reply, made within two minutes of the email being sent, read simply “yes”.