Tom Watson claims Rebekah Brooks was bugged

Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks was under surveillance at the height of the phone-hacking scandal, it was claimed today.

Labour MP Tom Watson made the allegation in a new book on the crisis that engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s empire.

It quoted one “well-placed News Corp source” as saying that cleaners were warned last June to avoid disturbing “listening devices” hidden in Brooks’s office.

Security guards were also apparently instructed to record the times she entered and left the building. “The chief executive herself was now being bugged,” the book said.

Watson, who co-wrote Dial M For Murdoch with journalist Martin Hickman, claimed that in July 2009 a team of News of the World reporters were tasked to uncover secrets about MPs on the Commons Culture Select Committee.

The group was “effectively intimidated” into curbing its inquiry. “Although the committee wanted Brooks to give evidence, its members, whose private lives News International had pored over, capitulated and decided not to summons her,” the book stated.

Watson also alleged that he was approached last June by an “intermediary” from News International offering a deal that would have seen David Cameron’s ex-spin doctor Andy Coulson sacrificed.

Teh book said: “One told Watson the company would ‘give him’ Andy Coulson, but Rebekah Brooks was ‘sacred’, which Watson took to mean that the company would hand over incriminating evidence on Coulson if he laid off Brooks.

“He had no idea what evidence that might have been.”

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