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Editor says she was unaware of phone hacking

Feb. 25, 2014 at 6:35 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Former British newspaper editor Rebekah Brooks testified Tuesday she was not aware reporters had hacked a missing schoolgirl's cellphone until nine years later.

Brooks, the former editor of the now-defunct News of the World tabloid owned by Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch, said she was on vacation when news broke of the discovery of Milly Dowler, a young girl who went missing and was eventually found dead in 2002. Brooks is standing trial in London after being charged with violating privacy laws in 2012.

Reporters at the newspaper told Brooks' deputy, Andy Coulson, who has also been charged in connection with the phone hacking scandal, they had heard voicemail messages left on the girl's phone and then deleted them, the Guardian reported.

Brooks testified she didn't know the phone had been hacked until 2011, when the Guardian broke the phone hacking scandal.

Brooks also testified she was not aware phone hacking was illegal until 2006, three years after the alleged hacking at the paper stopped. She said she would have considered authorizing such actions before she became aware it was illegal but only in instances where the newspaper was investigating matters of public safety, citing a hypothetical investigative report on pedophiles where she "may" have authorized a reporter to hack into someone's phone.

When the voicemails turned up deleted on Dowler's phone it gave her parents brief false hope she was still alive. Brooks described her reaction to learning of the hacking as "shock, horror" her newspaper had added to the family's grief.

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