Rebekah Brooks subjected to a ‘witch-hunt’, defence claims 

rebekah brooks

Rebekah Brooks has been subjected to a “witch-hunt” comparable to a medieval trial in the phone-hacking case, the jury at the Old Bailey was told.

In his final remarks in a two-day closing speech, her counsel, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, said she had been accused by the prosecution of running a scripted defence over 14 days in the witness box which, if true, would have amounted to “cynical perjury” on her part.

He said the focus on her in a trial involving seven defendants had been unhealthy and “one after another baseless theories” about her had been abandoned by the prosecution as its evidence fell “woefully short” of proving she was involved in hacking.

“The terrifying reality for a woman in the 16th century was when it came to witchcraft it was the allegation itself that killed her – once a woman was being accused of being a witch she was dead. If she drowned in the ducking stool she was dead, if she survived she was condemned as a witch and burned at the stake,” Laidlaw said.

Referring to lead counsel for the crown, Andrew Edis QC, Laidlaw said: “Just as in the medieval show trial you could tell a true witch when she floated, so Mr Edis will interpret … every piece of evidence about Mrs Brooks, everything she says and everyone else says about her as a sign of guilt regardless of its true meaning.”

Brooks denies four charges against her: a conspiracy to hack phones, one linked to payments to a public official for stories and two related to allegations she got her secretary and her husband, Charlie Brooks, to conceal material from the police.

Earlier Laidlaw said if the prosecution case was true, Brooks was an arch-criminal starring in a “pantomime” involving her “lying” secretary, mother, husband and head of security. He asked jurors to image the confession she might have made to her husband. “It would have gone like this: ‘Darling, I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve got a confession to make to you, I know you thought I’m a really nice person when you married me. I’m in fact a serial criminal. It’s true. I’m a serial criminal – I’m up to my neck in all old sorts of trouble. I sanctioned the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone and lots of other people’s phones too … Of course none of this is to do with you, Charlie … But could you take a few of my electronic devices and could you or Mark Hanna chuck them in the river on your way down tomorrow? I’d be really grateful if you wouldn’t mind doing that.’ “

Laidlaw said this was the kind of conversation hardened criminals would have had and not something one could imagine happening between the couple, who clearly loved each other.

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