Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International (now News UK), took the stand for the first time today in London’s long-running phone-hacking trial. This was Brooks’ first time in the witness box since the criminal trial stemming from the phone-hacking scandal at the now-shuttered News Of The World began in October. After nearly four months, prosecutors rested their case this week and the defense is just beginning. According to local media reports, the presiding judge, John Saunders, instructed jurors that Brooks is to be found not guilty on one of the five counts against her. She was acquitted on the single charge of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office related to payments The Sun allegedly made for a picture of Prince William wearing a bikini at a costume party. “There is no case to answer for Mrs Brooks” on the charge, the judge said. The Guardian reports he told the jury his decision was “a matter of law.” He did not provide further detail, but The Associated Press reports Saunders said there was “considerable uncertainty” about the photo’s provenance. The photo was taken when William, now the Duke of Cambridge, was at Sandhurst Military Academy and Brooks was editor of The Sun.
Brooks still faces another charge related to unlawful payments to public officials as well as allegations of conspiring to hack phones and conspiring to pervert the course of justice. She has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. Per The Guardian, Brooks’ attorney, Jonathan Laidlaw, told the jury today, “She is not being tried because she was the editor of a tabloid newspaper… Neither is she on trial for having worked for Rupert Murdoch’s company or for having worked her way up through the organization… She’s not being tried for News International’s strategy, its policies, its influences or its corporate values.” Brooks is one of seven defendants, including her husband, who are standing trial in the case which is expected to wrap around Easter.