Beyond Contempt : The Inside Story of the Phone Hacking Trial - Peter Jukes

Beyond Contempt

The Inside Story of the Phone Hacking Trial

By: Peter Jukes, Martin Rowson (Illustrator)

Paperback | 20 February 2015

At a Glance



RRP $32.99



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'A must read for anyone who wants to understand not only our media, but power in Britain' - OWEN JONES, author The Establishment

'Top court reporting' - NICK DAVIES, THE GUARDIAN

Go behind the doors of Court 12 of the Old Bailey for what was billed as 'the trial of the century' - the phone hacking trial of journalists from Rupert Murdoch's two biggest British tabloid newspapers.

Every twist and turn of the longest-running criminal trial in English legal history is covered by Peter Jukes in this edition, crowdfunded by members of the public.

Heard in London in 2013 and 2014, the phone hacking trial had a heady brew of criminal eavesdropping, media rights, political intrigue, and Hollywood stardust. Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were accused of phone hacking and corrupting public officials while editing the Sun and the News of the World newspapers respectively. Brooks and her husband Charlie and her former PA, Cheryl Carter, were also accused of perverting the course of justice in an attempt to thwart detectives investigating the hacking.

The trial took place after years of cover up of phone hacking at Britain's biggest newspaper group News International (now News UK), the country's biggest police force, the Metropolitan Police, and the Conservative government led by David Cameron, who employed Coulson as his director of communications. After they were sworn in, the judge, Justice Saunders, told the jury: "British justice is on trial".

The long-running trial laid bare the intense illegal surveillance of individuals carried out by the politically-connected News of the World. Employing an array of private detectives, pried deeply into the private lives of anyone who mattered to them at the time: a Hollywood actress, a missing schoolgirl, a Cabinet minister. Sometimes the surveillance was based on well-founded intelligence that revealed a legitimate story, sometimes it was on a whim or the result of a malicious tip-off.

The trial pitted London's most extravagantly paid barristers against each other. Rupert Murdoch's millions hired top Queens Counsel to represent the seven defendants. The 5,000-a-day barrister, Jonathan Laidlaw, for instance, represented Rebekah Brooks. The multi-million pound case tottered on the brink of collapse several times as a result media misbehaviour, illness and delay.

Drawing on verbatim court exchanges and exhibits, Jukes reveals the daily reality and grand strategies of this major criminal case. He reveals a secret about Rebekah Brooks' 14 days in the witness box. He explains why a defence lawyer gave him a wry smile during a cigarette break. And he discloses the failings of the Crown Prosecution Service which contribute to the verdicts.

Like Dial M for Murdoch by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman and Hack Attack by Nick Davies, this book will fascinate anyone wanting to know about the phone hacking scandal. It is also ideal for anyone who wants to know the twists and turns of a major criminal trial.


'Remarkable. I feel I now know all the key players and why some defendants were found guilty and some not, despite never having spent a minute at the trial.'


'Written in a chatty, gossipy style that brings the courtroom drama alive.'



PREFACE: The Untold Story

'There has never been any trial like this, ' a defence barrister told me during a smoking break outside the main doors of the Old Bailey - a place where a surprising number of journalists, lawyers and detectives congregated. He added: 'There will never be another trial like this.'

Weeks before the phone hacking trial began in October 2013 the Daily Telegraph commentator Peter Oborne billed it as 'the trial of the century.' Yet it had taken almost the whole of the century so far to arrive. Two years had already passed since the News of the World closed in 2011 and eleven years since the newspaper had hacked the mobile phone of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler.

In a sense it was, as one prosecutor described it, 'the trial nobody wanted.' In 2006, the Metropolitan Police had limited its inquiries into hacking to avoid a high-profile trial, partly to spare the Royal Family embarrassment. Neither the defendants nor their employer, News International (since re-branded News UK) wanted an Old Bailey showdown. And for all the glamour of some of the targets of hacking, compared to other famous murder or terrorism trials, the stakes could seem small: there were no dead bodies, no violent attacks against other individuals, or attempts to overturn the state.

Yet, the state was, somehow, at risk. Two of Britain's most senior police officers had resigned in the wake of the hacking scandal in 2011. Rebekah Brooks, former Murdoch prot g and not so long ago arguably the most powerful woman in Britain, had achieved the extraordinary feat of being friend to three successive prime ministers. Andy Coulson, her deputy and successor as News of the World editor, had been the Prime Minister's director of communications at Number 10. Meanwhile the News of the World's hacking victims ranged from actors and footballers to Cabinet ministers and princes. The tabloid had a reputation for exposing the private secrets of the rich and famous, without fear or favour; the trial promised to be as sensational as its front pages. When the judge, Mr Justice Saunders, warned in his opening remarks that not only the defendants but also 'British justice is on trial, ' he might well have been concerned that intense media interest in such high-profile defendants could generate coverage that would improperly influence the jury.

The trial was unique in other ways...


Preface: The Untold Story


Legal Teams

Not War and Peace

Passion and Prejudice

Sex, Lies and Voicemails

Demolition Job

Mistrial of the Century

I'll Be the Judge of That

Hostile Witness

The Office Cat

Interlude: The Trial that Might Have Been

Holding Court

Rogue Male

Commedia Dell'Arte

Last Man Standing

Route to Verdict

Back in the Box

Truth's Boots





Industry Reviews

This is perhaps one of the most absorbing books to do with journalism that I have read; for the duration that I was reading it, I did not want to do anything else.

I would read it on the train, then as I got home, as soon as everything had been dealt with, I would be reading. It’s the perfect book for a trainee journalist, or anyone who wants to know more about the trial, and its subsequent impact.

Mademoiselle Women


Peter Jukes has written a fascinating account of the News Corp hacking trials, which he had live tweeted throughout.

Independent Australia


This book, based on the half a million words tweeted during the trial, is a gripping reasoned account of the Hacking Trial. Anyone wishing to become a courtroom lawyer in the 21st Century should read it.


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