4 March 2014
Last updated at 13:37
Rebekah Brooks said she had been ‘shocked’ by media reports Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked
Rebekah Brooks has revealed she received death threats after it was reported that murdered Milly Dowler’s mobile phone had been hacked.
The former News of the World editor also received a message of support from Tony Blair, the Old Bailey heard.
Mrs Brooks told the court she had felt “sick” when the Guardian published the story in July 2011.
The 45-year-old denies four charges including conspiracy to hack phones and to commit misconduct in public office.
The Guardian reported on 4 July 2011 that police were investigating claims that the teenager’s mobile had been hacked after she went missing in March 2002.
This jury has heard this is true and it is not disputed by any side in the trial.
Mrs Brooks was at a fertility clinic when a colleague alerted her to the story, the court was told.
The Guardian also initially claimed that voicemail messages had been deleted by the News of the World, giving Milly’s parents “false hope” she was still alive. This was later shown to be untrue.
Mrs Brooks, chief executive of News International at that time, described the claim as being “pretty horrific”.
Referring to the abusive messages, she said: “The allegations were, I think, met with universal revulsion and I was the central figure of that.”
In a message to a friend, Mrs Brooks had said she felt like there was a “witch hunt” against her.
The court heard Mr Blair sent a text on 5 July 2011 which read: “Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with. Thinking of you. I’ve been through things like this.”
Brooks replied: “Thank you, I know what’s it’s like. GB (Gordon Brown) pals getting their own back.
“Rupert and James (Murdoch) have been brilliant.
“Hopefully even in this climate the truth will out.”
The court heard she was also sent a text by former Mirror editor Piers Morgan, telling her: “Grit your teeth and stay strong.”
Mrs Brooks had responded: “Terrible made me sick watching the news.”
She told Mr Morgan that it “must have been (Glenn) Mulcaire”, referring to the private investigator who was jailed for hacking in 2007.
Mr Morgan then told her: “If it wasn’t a staffer you’ve got to get it out there fast. Lots of fury building on internet.”
Mrs Brooks said she and her colleagues had been horrified by the Guardian allegations, adding: “We were completely at a loss and all over the place really, trying to find out what was true and what wasn’t.”
Being questioned by her lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw QC, she told the jury: “The accessing of Milly Dowler’s phone in itself is terrible but it was the deletion of the messages and the ‘false hope’ that were quite rightly sparking fury.”
The day after reading the Guardian story, she wrote a letter to the Chief Constable of Surrey Police in which she said: “I was astonished and shocked by these allegations which I had not previously heard.”
Mrs Brooks and her senior colleagues first discussed closing the News of the World in June 2011 because of the number of civil liability cases being brought against it by celebrities.
The final edition was published on 10 July, less than a week after it came to light that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked.
Five days later, Mrs Brooks resigned. She told the jury: “I felt it was the right thing to do.”
Mrs Brooks is one of seven defendants in the trial. They all deny the charges.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26431028#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa