Rebekah Brooks ordered News of the World office to be swept for bugs

Today it emerged that disgraced News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks ordered the News of the World office to be swept for bugs, the phone-hacking trial has heard.

The request was made in January 2011, sent just months before the News of the World closed as a result of widespread hacking and corruption.

According to the London Evening Standard:

News International offices were routinely searched for listening devices to ensure rival journalists could not find out about scoops and to keep private any discussions about the BSkyB bid, Jane Viner, NI group director for property and facilities, confirmed.

Brooks had been sent “threatening mail” during 2011 as hacking allegations emerged, she also told the Old Bailey trial.

Abusive mail was usually intercepted in the post room and, if it got through the first check, it would be picked up by personal assistants, she said.

During the trial William Clegg QC, counsel for former News International head of security Mark Hanna, defended the sweeping:

“One obviously was newspaper are very competitive with each other, and some journalists may be anxious to try to steal a scoop from a rival.

“One of the reasons for the sweeps was to avoid that possibility.

“In 2011, News Corp was trying to increase its shareholding in BSkyB, I think with the objective of becoming the majority shareholder.

“It was a sensitive topic at News Corp, and another reason why you would want to be sure discussions about such a matter were not broadcast to people who were potential competitors.”

The trial continues.