Death threats sent to ex-newspaper editor Brooks over phone hacking

Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks has told the Old Bailey she received death threats after it emerged that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked.

But, giving evidence for an eighth day, Brooks said she was also sent messages of support as she found herself the “central figure” of the story, including one from former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Under questioning from her lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw QC, Brooks was asked about the events of July 2011, when The Guardian broke the “horrific” story.

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Brooks, who was by that time chief executive of News International, told jurors that she and her colleagues were horrified by the allegations and desperately tried to find out if they were true.

She said that as the story made headlines around the world, “we were completely at a loss and all over the place, really, trying to find out what was true and what wasn’t”.

Jurors heard a text, sent from Mr Blair to Brooks on July 5, 2011, 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.”

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Referring to the abusive messages she was sent, Brooks, 45, told jurors: “The allegations were, I think, met with universal revulsion and I was the central figure of that.”

Brooks, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, denies conspiring to hack phones, conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and conspiring to cover up evidence to pervert the course of justice.

All seven defendants deny the charges against them.

Jurors were also read messages of support that Brooks received from former Mirror editor Piers Morgan. “Grit your teeth and stay strong,” Mr Morgan wrote.

Jurors heard that Brooks replied: “Can’t believe any reporter would do that. Must have been (Glenn) Mulcaire.”

Mr Morgan then wrote back: “If it wasn’t a staffer you’ve got to get it out there fast. Lots of fury building on internet.”

The trial continues.