Lawyer: Brooks was ‘demanding editor,’ not accepting legal advice

A senior lawyer says in testimony over News Corp’s alleged phone-hacking offences

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Rebekah Brooks, the former chief of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper business, was a “demanding boss” who would not simply accept legal advice on stories without explanation, her trial for alleged phone-hacking offences heard on Monday.

Justin Walford, a senior lawyer at the British paper arm of Murdoch’s News Corp., also told the Old Bailey he had been assured phone-hacking was limited to the News of the World newspaper which Murdoch closed down in 2011 following revelations about the illegal practice.

Brooks, who was the former editor of Murdoch’s Sun and News of the World titles, denies conspiracy to hack phones and authorize illegal payments as well as charges of hindering the police investigation.

Seven others, including Andy Coulson who also edited the News of the World, are also on trial.

Walford, whose main responsibility after joining Murdoch’s News International was the Sun, said he asked in 2006 whether there had been any phone-hacking at the paper following the arrest of the News of the World’s royal reporter Clive Goodman.

“I was given assurance it had not happened at the Sun. Obviously I accepted those assurances,” he said.

He told the jury Brooks, who was the Sun editor before moving on to become News International chief executive, had a strong personality and wanted high standards from her staff.

“She was a very demanding editor. She expected hard work and everyone pulling in the same direction to get stories into the newspaper,” he told the jury.

He said a lawyer could not point out legal issues on proof copies of the paper’s pages and expect a story to be forgotten.

“She wanted an explanation why those marks had been made,” Walford said.

He told the court that News International’s former legal chief Tom Crone had had responsibility for matters to do with News of the World.

He said he was not sure if the training Crone organized before the arrest of Goodman included matters relating to phone-hacking, but did say that the lawyers had little involvement in the sources of stories and focused instead in whether the end product was legally sound.

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