LONDON (AP) — Top Rupert Murdoch executive Rebekah Brooks hid her notebooks, a computer and other evidence to keep them out of police hands as she was about to be arrested over allegations of phone hacking, a prosecutor told jurors Monday.
Andrew Edis said some of the material was only recovered by accident, when a cleaner found a garbage bag containing a laptop computer and other items behind trash cans in a parking garage at Brooks' London apartment building.
The prosecutor said a "media firestorm" was engulfing the News of the World tabloid as the hacking scandal erupted in July 2011, and Brooks — then-chief executive of Murdoch's British press operation — was at its center.
Edis said Monday there was an "extremely anxious, if not panic-stricken" atmosphere at the News of the World at the time as rivals reported allegations of widespread illegal eavesdropping and police increased their inquiries.
"Brooks knew she was likely to be arrested, and if she was, police would have the power to search her property," the prosecutor told jurors at London's Central Criminal Court.
Brooks, a former News of the World top editor, denies conspiring to obstruct justice by hiding material from police. She also denies phone hacking and bribery charges.
She is on trial along with seven others, including her husband Charles Brooks. All have pleaded not guilty.
But Edis said Brooks conspired with her assistant, Cheryl Carter, to remove notebooks covering more than a decade from the archive of Murdoch's News International unit.
And he said she colluded with her husband Charles and with News International security chief Mark Hanna to take material from her home before police could search the premises.
The prosecutor described a cloak-and-dagger operation, outlining — with help from recovered emails, mobile phone records and security-camera footage — a News International security operation around Rebekah Brooks code-named Operation Blackhawk.
Edis said on July 17, 2011, the security team took a laptop and other items from Rebekah and Charles Brooks' country house and took it to London. Brooks was arrested that day, and both her homes were searched.
Edis described how one of the security men later stashed the evidence in a garbage bag behind bins in a parking garage at the couple's apartment — using the delivering of pizzas as cover.
He then texted his superior: "Broadsword calling Danny Boy: The pizza is delivered and the chicken is in the pot."
Edis explained the "Danny Boy" quote was an allusion to the World War II movie "Where Eagles Dare."
The bag of evidence was found by a cleaner, who gave it to his superior, who called police.