Hacking trial judge begins summing up: Jurors told not to be 'dazzled' by defendants' power and influence

Jurors in the hacking trial have been told not to be "dazzled" by the defendants' power and influence when they decide their verdicts.

Mr Justice Saunders began summing up the case against former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks (pictured, Reuters) and Andy Coulson and five others on the 126th day of the trial.

He told the jury that everyone was entitled to their privacy and should not have their phones hacked.

The eight women and three men were also told to ignore allegations that the prosecution was "politically charged".

The judge said: "You must not let your judgement be affected by anything.

"Some of those on trial enjoyed a lifestyle you can only dream of, not just in financial terms but in influence they brought to bear. They are friends of politicians.

"They are friends of the stars most people only get to see when they go to the cinema or the football pitch.

"Do not envy them their success or be dazzled by it. Respect their success but everyone is subject to the law of the land and no one is so powerful they can ignore the law."

Jurors were told they must decide if Brooks lied under oath about Milly Dowler's phone-hacking.

In her evidence, Brooks said she was shocked to discover in July 2011 that murdered schoolgirl Milly's voicemails had been accessed in 2002 while she was editor.

But the prosecution case was made on the basis that Brooks, 45, had known about the Milly hacking "at the very latest" when she returned to work after her holiday in Dubai.

The judge said: "If that is correct, Rebekah Brooks has lied on oath as she said she did not know of phone-hacking of Milly Dowler voicemails until it was revealed in the Guardian on July 4 2011.

"It is not sufficient for the prosecution to prove that Rebekah Brooks knew about phone-hacking.

"The charge is conspiracy and the prosecution have to prove not only knowledge but that she agreed for it to continue after she knew about it."

If jurors decide she did lie, the judge said: "Obviously it is something that will affect her credibility in your eyes and you will have to consider her evidence with care.

"People do lie to cover up their own wrongdoing but people do lie for other reasons. They may lie to protect others because they think an untrue account may sound more convincing."

The judge also told them they should take account of the fact that all those in the dock except Clive Goodman were of good character.

But he added: "Of course, people of good character can and do commit offences."

All the defendants deny the charges against them.

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