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From humble origins in northern England, Brooks rose to become chief executive of Murdoch’s influential British newspaper division and was a friend and neighbor of the prime minister as part of the horse-riding "Chipping Norton set," a reference to the tony rural town near her home. Friends included Cameron and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who offered advice as the scandal erupted: "It will pass. Tough up."
Since the trial began at London’s Central Criminal Court in October, the jury of eight women and three men has heard from police officers and royal functionaries, actors Jude Law and Sienna Miller, and the defendants themselves. In sometimes emotional testimony, Brooks described her "car crash" personal life, including a long affair with Coulson when both of them were married to other people.
Both prosecution and defense accepted that the News of the World hacked phones on a substantial scale. Intercepting voicemails was a specialty of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was retained by the newspaper for almost 100,000 pounds (now about $168,000) a year. He was briefly jailed in 2007, along with royal editor Goodman, for hacking the phones of royal aides.
For several years Murdoch’s company maintained the wrongdoing had been confined to Goodman and Mulcaire. That "rogue reporter" claim began to unravel in 2011, when The Guardian newspaper revealed that the News of the World had intercepted the voicemails of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered in 2002.
In the furor that followed, Murdoch shut down the paper and police relaunched criminal investigations into tabloid wrongdoing.
Dozens of journalists and officials have been arrested, and several former News of the World reporters and editors have pleaded guilty to hacking. Murdoch’s News Corp. has paid millions in compensation to hacking victims.
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