The husband of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has told a court the couple were "appalled and disgusted" by revelations that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked.
Charles Brooks told the phone hacking trial that his wife had suffered with "paranoia" about being arrested in a dawn raid and she was desperate to avoid the "killer photograph" of her being led away in handcuffs as he gave evidence in his defence at the Old Bailey today.
Brooks said he and his wife met with then News International chairman James Murdoch in July 2011 to discuss a Guardian newspaper story alleging the missing teenager's voicemail messages had been deleted by the News of the World.
He told the court: "The conversation at James Murdoch's house ranged from, 'this is too awful' to being 'this can't have happened'.
"However there was too much accuracy in what had been said for it to be just a political hit. There was too much substance."
Racehorse trainer Brooks said they suspected information had been leaked by police.
He added: "It oscillated from being appalled and disgusted…'have we really deleted Milly Dowler's voicemail messages? This is disgusting'…to 'what are we going to do?'"
Brooks, 51, said he and his wife had discussed staying at a hotel near their Chelsea Harbour flat in London in July 2011 due to her fears about being arrested in a dawn raid.
He said: "Since we came back from holiday in April to July we had been pretty much living under the threat of dawn raids from the police."
Brooks said his wife once woke him fearing they were being raided by police but in fact she had heard bin men in the street.
"That was the paranoia", he said.
"We were not planning a midnight trip to Venezuela."
Earlier in the trial, the court heard Brooks had stashed bags containing an assortment of items including a porn magazine, lesbian porn DVDs and two laptops behind bins in the underground car park at their Chelsea Harbour flat just before police searched it while his wife was being interviewed by police on July 17 2011.
He went back to retrieve the bags and discovered they were gone, having been picked up when the bins were emptied, the court has heard.
Brooks, a former amateur jockey, admitted one of the laptops contained "smut" from his time as a "bachelor".
He told the court he had not been aware that then prime minister Tony Blair had been in contact with his wife after the Milly Dowler story broke.
The jury has already heard Blair sent the News International chief executive an email on July 5 to say "I have been through things like this".
In her reply Brooks said: "Rupert and James (Murdoch) have been brilliant. Hopefully in this climate the truth will out."
Asked how the Murdoch family had treated his wife, Brooks said: "I think they have been incredibly supportive all the way through, really."
Charles Brooks with his wife, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, and head of security Mark Hanna, 50, of Glynswood Road, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice between July 5 and 19 2011.
She also denies conspiring to hack phones and conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
The allegation that Milly Dowler's voicemails were deleted by the News of the World was later proven to be untrue, the court has previously heard.
Brooks told the jury that he and his wife were updated about the police investigation into phone hacking while they were abroad in April 2011.
"The advice was given to Rebekah it was high likely she would be arrested at Heathrow and so change our arrangements," he said.
"Rebekah's big paranoia was the killer photograph."
Asked by his defence lawyer Neil Saunders what the "killer photograph" meant, Brooks replied: "The career-ending photo.
"The photo of you being led from home or Heathrow airport handcuffed by police.
"You're never going to get another job."
The court heard an email exchange between Brooks and his wife included the phrase "Think Swan baby".
Asked what this phrase meant, he said: "Rebekah was really under the cosh.
"The wolves were out for her.
"Don't let enemies see you're struggling. You may be thrashing around under water but you're serene."
Brooks told the court that Labour MP Tom Watson "hated" his wife, while shadow work and pensions minister Chris Byrant had a "grudge" against the Sun newspaper.
Earlier, Brooks was visibly emotional as he told the court that he and Rebekah "bonded" following the death of a mutual friend, journalist Ian Wooldridge, in March 2007.
The couple first met in 2006 when Rebekah Brooks was still married to Ross Kemp, he said.
He told the court that, due to newspaper campaigns his wife worked on, the couple had received "pretty unpleasant mail" following the birth of their daughter and "kidnap threats from paedophiles on the internet".
Brooks said hat media mogul Rupert Murdoch asked that he should call him in America if Rebekah Brooks showed "any signs she was going to resign" following revelations that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked.
"He explicitly told me if she shows any signs she was going to resign, I should ring him in America so he could ring her and stop her resigning," he told the jury.
Mrs Brooks had been "very concerned" about News of the World staff losing their jobs following the tabloid's closure in July 2011, he said.
"She was obviously feeling pretty wretched about the whole thing," he added.
Mrs Brooks was "determined" to be at the News of the World offices for the production of its last edition, he said.
Brooks added: "If nothing else, Rebekah is real team player and she felt it was the right and honourable thing to be in the office that day."
Brooks told the court that he received a phone call from James Murdoch, who said he felt Rebekah should resign as News International chief
"James Murdoch now felt Rebekah should resign and not take a leave of absence," Brooks said.
Brooks then phoned his wife to break the news, the jury heard.
"It was quite an ironic call really because Rebekah said 'Thank God for that'," Brooks said.
"I think Rebekah was relieved. She had been telling them that all along."
Earlier, Brooks prompted laughter in court as he described a number of previous jobs and business ventures.
They included buying a pub from a friend called "Johnny the Fish" and trying to introduce cryotherapy in Britain, the court heard.
Asked by Mr Justice Saunders whether his cyrotherapy scheme worked, Brooks replied: "No."
The former amateur jockey, who competed at Cheltenham and in the Grand National, said he became the country's youngster racehorse trainer when
he was 23.
But he gave up his training licence in the late 1990s after his horse finished runner-up twice in the Grand National, the jury heard.
"It broke my heart," Brooks told the jury.
He told the court he went on to write a "really dreadful" column in the London Evening Standard before taking on a fortnightly column in the Telegraph newspaper for 10 years.
He was also the author of two published novels, Citizen, and Switch, the court heard.
Brooks told the court a number of draft novel ideas were stored on a laptop he stashed in the underground car park of his Chelsea Harbour flat.
They included a "rip off" of another book called 84 Charing Cross Road which was about a "Hooray Henry" character falling for a Russian prostitute he believed was a "nice, Roedean girl", Brooks said.
Other ideas included a take on the classic Mrs Beeton housekeeping book with explanations of rules in football and cricket, and a "Bill Bryson type idea" about horses, he added.
The trial was adjourned until Monday.