UK phone hacking trial: Rebekah Brooks acquitted on 1 of 5 charges

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By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks was acquitted Thursday of one of the five charges she faced over wrongdoing at Rupert Murdoch's British tabloids.

Judge John Saunders told the jury at Britain's phone hacking trial that there is "no case for Mrs. Brooks to answer" to a charge of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office, that is, bribing an official.

The charge related to a picture of Prince William in a bikini. Saunders said "considerable uncertainty" had arisen about the source of the photo.

She still faces one similar charge, and charges of conspiring to hack phones and obstruct police.

Brooks took the stand at London's Central Criminal Court as the defense opened its case, almost four months into the trial. Brooks confirmed her full name — Rebekah Mary Brooks — and answered questions in a clear but occasionally hesitant voice as her lawyer, Jonathan Laidlaw, asked her about her childhood and start in journalism.

Laidlaw told the jury that in order for Brooks and the six other defendants to be convicted, "the prosecution must make you sure of guilt."

And he told them to ignore the swirl of political, business and personal agendas swirling around the high-profile case.

Laidlaw said Brooks "is not being tried, is she, because she was the editor of a tabloid newspaper. ... Neither is she on trial for having worked for Rupert Murdoch's company."

He said there was "an awful lot which is going on in the background of this case and in its shadows. There are agendas being pursued elsewhere. So please be careful."

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