LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) - The husband of Rupert Murdoch’s former British newspaper chief Rebekah Brooks said on Tuesday he was “mortified” he had embarrassed his wife by hiding material from police investigating phone-hacking but denied lying to protect her.
Giving evidence at the Old Bailey where he and his wife are on trial, Charlie Brooks said he had been stupid to hide computers and his pornography collection from detectives and had not realised that what he was doing might be a crime.
The couple are both charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice over the events of July 17, 2011 when Rebekah Brooks, who ran Murdoch’s News International, was arrested by police over allegations linked to phone-hacking and authorising corrupt payments to public officials.
They and five others, including News International’s head of security Mark Hanna, are on trial and they all deny the charges.
The jury has heard that on the day of the arrest, Charlie Brooks asked Hanna to look after two briefcases with his computers inside and later gave him a bag containing his adult DVDs and another laptop.
He has told the court he had not wanted police to leak details about the pornography to the press, while his computers contained important information about a novel he was writing.
“Was the real point of this operation that involved Mr Hanna to get rid of stuff that might damage your wife?” prosecutor Andrew Edis asked him. “Your motive was to protect your wife to whom you are extremely loyal.”
Former racehorse trainer Brooks, 51, replied: “That’s simply not true.”
The court heard his plan went awry when the material was brought back to their flat in Chelsea, central London, and left behind a bin. It was found by a cleaner and later handed over to police.
“I feel ashamed of what I have done to Mr Hanna, who is an innocent man,” Brooks said.
“I feel furious with myself for being so stupid. I‘m mortified by the way I have embarrassed my wife, horrified I have inadvertently given police ammunition to vilify and smear her.”
The court was told that when Brooks was arrested by police the following year he had declined to answer any questions, despite the negative inference that could be drawn from his silence.
Edis said an honest man would want to make a “clean breast of it” and suggested this was to allow him to see the full details of the police case against him.
“It gave you the opportunity to make things up to fit the evidence,” Edis said. “If you kept your mouth shut you would be able to invent things later.”
“That wasn’t my thought, no,” Brooks said, telling the jury he was acting on the recommendation of his lawyer. “An innocent man is entitled to take legal advice.”
The trial continues. (Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)