Rebekah Brooks spent USD 250,000 on Hugh Grant scoop

Rebekah Brooks spent USD 250,000 on Hugh Grant scoop

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has revealed the lengths to which the defunct News Of The World tabloid would go for a scoop, including spending USD 250,000 for an interview with a prostitute in whose company actor Hugh Grant was arrested.

The former editor revealed in court how the paper spent huge sums of money flying Divine Brown and her family to the Nevada desert after securing an exclusive interview in 1995 about the former Hollywood sex worker's liaison with Grant.

Giving evidence in her phone hacking trial before a jury at Old Bailey court in London, Brooks said: "There was a huge cost once we had found Divine Brown, there was an expectation that the Mail and the Sun wouldn't be far behind, so we asked if she would move from her home to a different location...

"I think the total was about 200,000 or 250,000 (dollars)...it was probably one of the biggest expenses I've ever done. It was a lot of money."

The former executive of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire denied knowing about the News Of The World's 92,000-pound annual contract with phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire.

She told the court she should have been informed of such a contract because of the size of the payment.

Mulcaire has admitted phone hacking while Brooks was the newspaper's editor during 2000-03. Brooks and six others all deny various charges related to phone hacking.

The court heard the annual contract was an "arrangement" between Mulcaire and senior journalist Greg Miskiw, who has pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack phones.

Brooks was asked: "Did you know anything about that contract?" She responded: "No, not at the time."

She said her "sign-off level" for payments in 2000-01 was around 50,000 pounds and requests for larger sums should have come to both her and then-managing editor Stuart Kuttner.

The 45-year-old was yesterday formally cleared of one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office over paying for images of Prince William clad in a bikini during a fancy dress party.

She still faces two charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, one of conspiracy to commit misconduct and one of conspiracy to hack voicemail messages, all of which she denies.

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