Rebekah Brooks trial : Separating distaste from actual illegality
Despite the allegations and excitements of the trial so far, he reminded them, Brooks is not on trial for editing a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, for having worked her way up from the bottom to the top of News International, or for her political views.
What she is on trial for are four counts of conspiracy: one (with her ex-lover and successor as editor of the now-defunct News of the World, Andy Coulson, and seven others) to intercept communications without lawful authority, ie phone hacking; one (with four others) to commit misconduct in public office, ie unlawfully to pay public officials for information; and two to pervert the course of justice by (with her then personal assistant) having seven boxes removed from the News International archive and (with her husband and five others) concealing documents and electronic devices from the police.
It’s that mixture of legal formality, farce, tabloid vulgarity, human interest and star-studded celebrity that continues to make this case so arresting.
Looking back, she deplores such mistakes as branding Clare Short MP a “killjoy” and “fat and jealous” for denouncing the Sun’s Page Three topless photos as “degrading pornography”.
But she’s not charged with that - and she’s not apologising for occasionally sanctioning payments of public officials for information she considered in the public interest. She is, however, ashamed that she refused to buy at great expense the material that became the Telegraph’s MPs’-expenses scoop, which has incurred no prosecutions.