LIVE: Rebekah Brooks appears before MPs
Former News International chief executive appears before the culture, media and sport select committee to answer questions on phone hacking and police corruption
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks appearing before the culture, media and sport select committee
Follow our live blog of today's (19 July) Commons select committee appearances by News International former chief executive Rebekah Brooks.
Here are some of the key points from Brooks' evidence:
-Brooks insists she has "never knowingly sanctioned a payment to a police officer". When questioned by the committee she says in reference to a previous comment made in a committee hearing she was referring to a widely-held belief not widespread practice. She tells the committee that as far as her experience is concerned, the information given to newspapers by police comes free of charge.
-Brooks claims she only heard allegations of Milly Dowler's phone being hacked for the first time when reported by the Guardian two weeks ago. She says the first thing she did was write to the Dowlers to apologise, and assured them that they would get to the bottom of it. Brooks says she has every confidence that News International would get to the bottom of it.
-In reference to the Dowler case Brooks says she is sure the reporter or editor would have been asked questions about where the information came from. The night editor and lawyer would also have checked them, she says.
-In a closing comment Brooks tells the committee she hopes evidence given today by herself, Rupert and James Murdoch, will show the company has "really stepped up our investigation".
The live-blog can be found in full below:
Brooks has finished answering the committee's questions.
7:25pm: In closing, Brooks added her own apologies on top of those from James and Rupert Murdoch.
She says the most important thing going forward is to get to the truth of the allegations.
She also asks the committee to invite her back once she is "free from the legal constraints" she is under today, to enable her to answer in more detail.
7.23pm: When asked about Andy Coulson's appointment as director of communications for Downing Street, Brooks claims it was George Osborne who, when Coulson left, suggested they should start discussions with him.
"The first time I heard of him being approached was from Andy Coulson, not from the prime minister," she added.
7:20pm: Brooks speaks more on her relationship with prime minister David Cameron.
"I've read many allegations about my current relationship with the prime minister, including my extensive horse riding with him in Oxfordshire, I have never been horse riding with the prime minister. I don't know where that came from."
"The truth is he is a neighbour and a friend," she says, "but I deemed the relationship to be wholly appropriate."
7:16pm: Brooks is asked if she accepted that when she became editor there was a shift and that News International became part of the establishment?
She responds by saying that "considering the amount of complaints I got from prime ministers that is not the case".
"Throughout my editorship one of our main campaigns was Help for Heores," she said.
This caused "very, very uncomfortable conversations" with Brown in particular, she adds.
7:13pm: Brooks is asked how often she has spoken to or met various prime ministers.
On David Cameron: "We've met 26 times," she says she has read somewhere. Brooks says she has never been to Downing Street while Cameron has been prime minister.
Under Gordon Brown and Blair she did regularly go to Downing Street. With Brown while he was chancellor and prime minister she would have gone "maybe six times a year".
7:10pm: Brooks tells the committee she hopes evidence given today by herself, Rupert and James Murdoch, will show the company has "really stepped up our investigation".
"Rupert and James have been very open and honest with you. I was very willing to come … I hope you think we acted swiftly and promptly to deal with it."
"I'm not saying that we haven't made mistakes. The Metropolitan police repeatedly said there was no need for a further criminal investigation. I think everyone involved in 2007 would say now that mistakes were made."
7:08pm: Philip Davies asks why a job was not found for Tom Crone.
"There are some people that didn't want a job," Brooks says. "In his case he predominately worked as the legal manager for News of the World and there's legal teams on all the other newspapers," she adds.
7:05pm: Coffey asks if Brooks has any regrets of any of the headlines which have been run.
Brooks says she doesn't think you could find an editor on Fleet Street who didn't feel some headlines had been mistakes.
"On the other hand, despite being in the spotlight recently and having read lots of criticism that's justified and some that's spurious, I would defend the right of a free press," she says.
7pm: Coffey asks Brooks who she trusts who worked for her. Brooks responds that the newsroom of any newspaper is based on trust.
"You rely on the people who work for you to behave in a proper manner and rely on clarity of information you're given at the time," she says.
6:57pm: Thérèse Coffey asks more questions about the Dowler story.
Brooks says: “It is most important we get to the truth of these allegations as soon as possible. Those who were culpable, if that turns out to be true, should face the correct justice through the legal system.
"I am very mindful I have to be very careful, but the fact is, the suggestion that Milly Dowler's voicemail was intercepted by someone working on the News of the World was unknown to me. It is abhorrent to me."
Brooks adds she is sure questions would have been asked of a reporter or editor etc. about where the information came from. The night editor and lawyer would also have checked them, she says.
"There would have been some sort of process around where that came from," she said. "It would not have been the case that someone would have said 'oh yes that came from an illegal voicemail interception'," she says.
6:53pm: Brooks is asked about evidence which came to light later and her conversation with John Chapman about the new information.
As soon as it came to light, Chapman was asked for his knowledge of it, she says. He was asked: "Where the file had been and why it hadn’t come to light before?"
Brooks says his response at the time was that he was asked to do an investigation into illegal interception of voicemails, and that he felt as a legal advisor that the Harbottle & Lewis (H&L) recommendation, which is a letter held by the committee, was an accurate review of the H&L file.
"That is something neither James or I thought it was on closer examination," she adds.
6:47pm: Farrelly asks why the company was quick to distance Brooks from being on the premises when the Dowler story was run. "Is that the case?"
Brooks says it is "slightly irrelevant" where she was.
"I was editor at the time, if this happened then it’s appalling," she says.
6:43pm: Farrelly: "Are we still asked to believe that you and Andy Coulson simply didn't know what your newsdesk was up to?"
Brooks says she cannot comment on what others knew.
"I can only tell this committee what I knew and, as chief executive, I can account for my actions in trying to get to the bottom of this."
In 2006, when she was editor of the Sun, she was approached by the police to explain the nature of access on her own voicemails and reported that back to the company.
She says she was then "ringfenced" from any of the subsequent investigations.
6:40pm: Farrelly accuses the News of the World of "peddling two myths" – the rogue reporter defence and that Mulcaire was not really active until 2005.
He says the Milly Dowler case demolished those myths.
Brooks says in 2006 it was the belief of News International that there would be a thorough investigation into this, but added that it wasn't a myth, "for all of us that was a reality" at the time, she says.
6:34pm: Paul Farrelly says he was at the Observer before he was elected, and he knows that there is no public directory of mobile numbers.
"From your evidence that there are ways of converting mobile numbers to addresses by legal means, including web search, the person would have had to put their number on the internet. Otherwise, if the private investigator had secured it from a mobile phone company or through the police, he would have to have a public interest defence for doing so. Can you remember whether you had a public interest defence if you were challenged?
Brooks says the phone "converting" she knew about was around Sarah's Law, and that there was an obvious public interest there.
She makes the point again that, according to Operation Motorman, the Observer also used private detectives.
6:30pm: It is put to Brooks that, if information held by employees of the News of the World relating to Milly Dowler's phone was passed to the police, but she didn't know about it until it was revealed by the Guardian, someone at the company must have passed the information to the police without her knowledge.
Collins says it seems incredible that someone at News International would pass information on to the police about Milly Dowler's phone being hacked without consulting the editor.
Brooks responds that the allegation of the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone is just that, an allegation, and reiterates that the first she knew of it was two weeks ago.
She says she "just does not know anyone who would authorise something like the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone".
6:26pm: Brooks is being asked by Damian Collins when she was aware that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked. She says she found out when everyone else did, when the Guardian reported about it two weeks ago.
She says the first thing she did was write to the Dowlers to apologise, and assured them that they would get to the bottom of it. Brooks says she has every confidence that News International would get to the bottom of it.
6:22pm: After explaining the process of a story at the News of the World, Brooks is asked whether a sensitive story, such as that of Milly Dowler, would be referred to the newspaper's lawyers.
Brooks says it probably would have been. She is also asked whether she was "heavily involved" with the Milly Dowler story.
She says that she would not have been particularly more or less involved than some of the other tragic stories under her editorship, such as the Sarah Payne and the Soham murders case, but says that she would have been fairly closely involved.
6:17pm: Sheridan asks why News International was paying the legal fees of Andy Coulson and Glenn Mulcaire during the Tommy Sheridan trial, when they were appearing only as witnesses.
Brooks says there was an agreement in Coulson's contract that he would have his legal fees paid.
6:13pm: Jim Sheridan puts it to Brooks that blame for the failure over the phone hacking crisis lies squarely with senior management.
He also asks her about her comments to staff when the News of the World was closed that "there was more to come".
"What did you mean by that?" he asks.
Brooks says that she was implying that the staff would not be able to understand at this point, but would understand in time.
ie. That there were no more specific revelations anticipated, but that the staff may simply not understand the reasoning immediately.
6:12pm: Mensch finishes by asking Brooks whether she regretted not acting sooner based on information in the Operation Motorman report.
Brooks says that she was then editor of the Sun, and that the Sun is "a very clean ship" and wasn't referred to in the Operation Motorman report.
6:10pm: Mensch asks Brooks about recent comments made by the editor of the Daily Mail Paul Dacre, in which he claimed that the Mail had never published a story based on information obtained illegally.
Brooks says that she could not comment on other publishers.
6:07pm: Citing the Operation Motorman report, Conservative Louise Mensch is asking Brooks whether the News of the World felt justified in its use of hacking due to a widespread culture across Fleet Street.
Mensch also asks whether, in Brooks' general knowledge, were payments to the police widespread across the industry or confined to News International.
Brooks says that her remarks in 2003, in which she appeared to admit to News International titles paying police officers, were later clarified and that she did not know of any payments nor had she ever sanctioned any payments.
She was referring to a "widely held belief" that police payments took place.
She says in her experience information from the police "comes free of charge".
6:05pm: Watson asks if Brooks has any regrets.
Brooks: "Of course I have regrets. The idea that Milly Dowler's phone was being accessed by anyone from the News of the World is abhorrent."
6:03pm: Brooks admits she did have contact with Steve Whittamore, and engaged him on a personal level.
She said she used him a few times during the News of the World's "Sarah’s law" investigation.
Brooks claims that she wasn't aware, until two weeks ago, that Whittamore had ordered two illegal phone lookups on Milly Dowler's family.
6:01pm: Watson asks whether Rees conducted illegal activity for the News of the World.
Brooks says she has no idea, conceding to Watson that some may think that it is incredible that she doesn't know
5:58pm: Brooks denies knowing Mulcaire was on the payroll, claiming the first she knew was when he was arrested in 2006.
"There were other PIs that I knew about, but he wasn't one of them."
Brooks claims the judge said in Mulcaire's trial in 2007 that he had a "perfectly legitimate" working relationship with the News of the World.
Watson asks if she knew of Jonathan Rees. Brooks says she knows of him, and watched the Panorama programme on phone hacking in which he featured.
Brooks concedes "it was extraordinary" that Rees was rehired by the News of the World after being convicted of a crime.
5:56pm: Watson asks Brooks about her statement in 2003, that she had no contact with Glenn Mulcaire.
Watson asks whether Brooks' PA would be able to confirm that she had never had any contact with Glenn Mulcaire.
Brooks reiterates that she never met Mulcaire, and claims he would say the same.
5:53pm: Watson asks: "As a journalist on the News of the World and the Sun, how extensively did you work with the police?
"Not at all on the Sun," Brooks says.
She says the use of police in the late 90s and 2000s, and in the wake of Operation Motorman and the What Price privacy report, the practice was stopped.
Watson asks for the third time how extensively the News of the World worked with police.
Brooks: "I was aware that the News of the World used police, yes."
Watson asks her if she would have approved payments to police. Brooks claims that is not quite how it works, and says the final payments are authorised by the managing editor, unless there is a "particularly big item" and then the editor would be brought it.”
She says managing editor Stewart Cuttner "may have discussed" payments with her, but she doesn’t recall discussing individual payments with him.
5: 50pm: Brooks says that News of the World staff "consistently denied" wrongdoing during internal investigations, and senior management had no idea how serious it was until they saw evidence of the hacking of Sienna Miller's phone.
Tom Watson says that he has many questions he would like to ask but can't due to criminal proceedings so he will keep his questions "narrow"
"Why did you sack Tom Crone?"
Brooks responded that Crone spent spent 99 per cent of his time on the News of the World and there "wasn't a job for him when it closed, so he left".
5:45pm: Former News International chief executive and News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks has begun giving evidence to the committee.
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