My personal life was a bit of a car crash, Brooks tells trial

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks laid bare details of her “car crash” personal life as she gave evidence about the inner workings of the News of the World.

The 45-year-old continued giving evidence in her defence at the Old Bailey today, becoming emotional as she faced questions about her relationships with actor Ross Kemp, her former deputy Andy Coulson and current husband Charlie Brooks, and her difficulties becoming a mother.

She also denied any knowledge of a contract worth £92,000 per year given to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who has already admitted phone hacking.

Her barrister, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, apologised for having to question her about her love life, including her relationship with former EastEnders actor Kemp, and her affair with Andy Coulson.

She met Kemp in 1995, and they became engaged the following year but split in 1997.

A year later they re-kindled their relationship, and by 2001 they talked about children and marriage.

Mr Laidlaw said “ I’m sorry I have to do this” and pointed out that Brooks had lowered her voice as she spoke about children.

Brooks, 45, appeared to well up as she asked for a break, before talking about her fertility treatment, which was halted by the start of the Iraq war in 2003.

She said: “It was a tough year for us. Basically, life was put on hold for Iraq.”

The court heard that the couple eventually split in 2005, but it was amicable.

Brooks said: “I am sure if Ross was here, he would say the same. Our whole relationship was a rollercoaster, and so sometimes it was good, sometimes it was not so.”

As Mr Laidlaw moved on to her relationship with co-defendant Coulson, who is also accused of conspiring to hack phones, she admitted periods of “physical intimacy” between 1998 and 2006.

She met her husband Charlie Brooks in March 2007.

Brooks told the court: “My personal life was a bit of a car crash for many years. It’s probably very easy to blame work but the hours were very long and hard and you got thrown together in an industry like that. It was wrong and it shouldn’t have happened but things did.

“Ross was a good man but the two of us weren’t meant to be and certainly Andy and I weren’t meant to be. When I met Charlie I was happy for the first time.”

She was also questioned about the inner workings of the News of the World (NotW) during her editorship between 2000 and 2003.

Asked by Mr Laidlaw if she knew anything about Mulcaire’s contract, the former News International chief executive said: “No, not at all.”

Brooks admitted that, as editor, an expense as big as that should have been run past her for approval.

The court has heard it is claimed that the contract was organised by former news editor Greg Miskiw, who has pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack phones.

Yesterday, as she went into the witness box for the first time, Brooks denied knowing about Mulcaire – who has also pleaded guilty to phone hacking – and said his activities were not drawn to her attention during her time as editor of the NotW.

Mr Laidlaw asked the 45-year-old today: “If someone, say Greg Miskiw, was planning to pay £92,000 a year to someone, or a company, should that have been something brought to your attention?”

She replied: “Yes.”

Brooks said that, in 2000 and 2001, her “sign-off level” for payments was around £50,000, so any authorisation for something bigger than that should not only have come to her, but would have had to go above her to then-managing editor Stuart Kuttner.

Mr Laidlaw asked her: “Was that arrangement that Miskiw had come to with Mulcaire drawn to your attention?”

Brooks replied: “No, it wasn’t.”

As she was questioned on the multimillion-pound budgets given to the tabloid, Brooks told the court: “The NotW was very profitable during my editorship but then it was a good time for newspapers back then.

“I think every year that I was there we had a healthy profit and I think it stayed around the time.”

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.

She gave details of large payments made by the newspaper for celebrity pictures and exclusive stories.

David Beckham was paid a million pounds to run excerpts of his autobiography in the Sun and News of the World, Brooks said, and revealed behind-the-scenes deals with celebrities, PR guru Max Clifford and Big Brother contestants such as “Nasty Nick”.

Asked about the extent to which private investigators were used by the tabloid from 2000 to 2003, she said: “It was quite normal to have private detectives working on the paper.”

She said they helped in tracing people who were difficult to find.

Brooks said she would not expect to be told every time a private investigator was used for a story but there were some specific occasions when the use of a private detective was raised with her, such as when the newspaper carried out its campaign for Sarah’s Law.

Wearing a grey chiffon dress, Brooks told the packed courtroom that the campaign for parents to have access to details of convicted paedophiles “defined her editorship”.

The court heard that Brooks’s contract when she became editor of the NotW included a clause that she would be responsible for agreeing payments for contributions to the tabloid, and the accuracy and authenticity of information.

More on this topic

Police failure to investigate Milly Dowler phone hacking 'unacceptable'Police failure to investigate Milly Dowler phone hacking 'unacceptable'

Confirmed: James Murdoch to succeed father as Fox chief in JulyConfirmed: James Murdoch to succeed father as Fox chief in July

Sun journalist hits out at 'witch hunt' against the paperSun journalist hits out at 'witch hunt' against the paper

EastEnders star wins damages against newspaper and Metropolitan PoliceEastEnders star wins damages against newspaper and Metropolitan Police

More in this Section

Virus spreads in South Korea as thousands screenedVirus spreads in South Korea as thousands screened

Lorry driver jailed after doing U-turn on UK motorwayLorry driver jailed after doing U-turn on UK motorway

Coalition formed in South Sudan following agreement to end civil warCoalition formed in South Sudan following agreement to end civil war

Towns in northern Italy put in special measures over Covid-19 outbreakTowns in northern Italy put in special measures over Covid-19 outbreak


Keep chomping on those carrots so your eyes will be in perfect working order for that prolonged annual gaze through the keyhole as Home of the Year returns for a sixth series next week.Home of the Year offers a good excuse for a bit of good-natured interiors voyeurism

They differ from the more prevalent oranges we eat because their flesh, and often the skin, is crimson or deep red in colour.Michelle Darmody: The best time of year to buy blood oranges

The annual Members Exhibition now underway at the Lavit Gallery in Cork features 92 works from 72 artists.The exhibition runs until March 7.Under the hammer: Your guide to upcoming auctions

There’s an oriental theme at the James Adam ‘At Home’ auction in Dublin, says Des O’SullivanAuctions: Sale full of eastern promise

More From The Irish Examiner