LONDON (Reuters) - Charlie Brooks, the husband of Rupert Murdoch’s former British newspaper chief, told a London court on Monday he hid his porn collection from police investigating phone-hacking because he feared leaks to the press which would embarrass his wife.
Brooks’ wife Rebekah is on trial at London’s Old Bailey accused of conspiracy to hack phones and authorizing illegal payments to public officials. They are both accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice by hindering the police investigation.
Five others are also on trial over alleged criminal activity centered on Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World tabloid. They all deny the charges.
Rebekah Brooks was arrested in July 2011 at the height of a phone-hacking scandal that rocked Murdoch’s News Corp. empire and shook Britain’s political establishment.
On the day of her arrest, her husband Charlie, a former racehorse trainer, was caught on close circuit television footage hiding a brown bag and a computer behind bins in the car park of their flat in central London.
The jury has already heard that the bag contained DVDs of lesbian porn films.
Brooks, 51, said the DVDs were of “an embarrassing nature” and the computer “also had some smut on it” as well as items linked to a book he was writing.
“I imagined 20 policemen coming in and everything down and looking under every nook and cranny,” he said, saying he had acted “incredibly stupidly and rashly”.
He told the court he had what he described as a “Jacqui Smith” moment, a reference to a former Labour Home Secretary (interior minister). Smith suffered embarrassment when it was revealed she had claimed parliamentary expenses for two adult movies her husband had watched at their home.
“I didn’t want to embarrass my wife in the same way,” Brooks said. “My instinctive reaction was that the police could easily leak this sort of thing to the press.”
Brooks also told the court that before the arrest he asked the head of security at News International, Murdoch’s British newspaper arm which his wife had run, to look after a brown briefcase which contained his computer and an iPad he needed to “function” on a daily basis.
Prosecutors allege the couple had deliberately hidden evidence from them, fully aware that their properties were going to be searched.
However, Charlie Brooks said police had been able to take away a computer in the flat which belonged to his wife and other machines of his.
Such was the couple’s concern that no details of her arrest should be leaked, he said they did not even tell their security team at which police station she was been questioned.
The trial continues.
Editing by Belinda Goldsmith