By Martin Hickman
Rebekah Brooks offered a phone hacker a job after he came out of prison to stop him alleging widespread hacking at the News of the World, she told the phone hacking trial today.
Mrs Brooks said that over lunch at the RAC Club in London in April 2007 she had suggested Clive Goodman, the former royal editor, write royal supplements ahead the 10th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana.
In an email to Mr Goodman a month later, in May 2007, the court has previously heard, Mrs Brooks offered Mr Goodman the chance to become a sub-editor at the Sun.
Mr Goodman had just been released from a four-month jail sentence for hacking members of the Royal Household.
Asked whether she had come up with the idea of the job offer or whether it was someone else’s, Mrs Brooks replied: “From memory it was certainly a combination of the two – me and Mr Hinton [NI’s chairman Les Hinton].”
Mrs Brooks, then editing he Sun, told the Old Bailey that after coming out of prison on home leave, Mr Goodman had learnt he had been sacked and wouldn’t be getting back his old job at the NoW as expected.
He was threatening to bring an employment claim against News International in which he would allege much greater involvement in hacking at the News of the World. He wanted either his old job back or a financial settlement, Mrs Brooks said.
Although the company did not want to agree to his demands, there was concern that if Mr Goodman did go to an employment tribunal there would be “negative and damaging headlines,” she said.
Mrs Brooks told the Old Bailey: “The company hadn’t agreed to his terms, so he had said he was going to go to an industrial tribunal and he was going to allege that other people at the News of the World knew that he was accessing voicemails and… certainly that others were involved in that practice.”
She said: “I saw Les Hinton two or three times a day. He was not just a boss but a mentor. I think he explained it was a publicity nightmare that could happen.
“I had an objective which was to offer him a job to stop him going through an industrial tribunal.”
In other evidence, Mrs Brooks said it was her belief in 2007 that hacking had not been going on at the News of the World, adding “and I still believe that now, as I did in 2007.”