Phone hacking trial reveals targeted celebrities

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Phone hacking trial reveals targeted celebrities

LONDON - A stunt double for Angelina Jolie had her phone hacked by a private eye working for a Rupert Murdoch British tabloid to gain information about the actress’s relationship with Brad Pitt, a trial of two former editors heard on Tuesday.

Eunice Huthart, who was also a good friend of the actress, was targeted by the News of the World in 2005 and 2006 when there was huge media interest in the Hollywood stars’ relationship, prosecutors told the Old Bailey court.

In other evidence, the court heard that the name of Kate Middleton, now the wife of Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince William, appeared on a list titled “Target Evaluation” discovered in the house of a man who has admitted carrying out phone-hacking for the newspaper.

Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, former News of the World editors, who also have close links to Prime Minister David Cameron, are on trial accused of conspiracy to hack phones and other charges. Six others are also on trial and they all deny allegations against them.

The phone-hacking accusations sent shock waves through the British establishment, led to a public inquiry into the conduct of the press, raised questions about police investigations and forced Murdoch to close the News of the World, Britain’s best-selling newspaper.

The jury of nine women and three men heard on Tuesday that an entry in a notebook belonging to private detective Glenn Mulcaire, who has admitted illegally tapping voice mails on mobile phones for the tabloid, contained details of Huthart’s mobile phone and her voice mail PIN number.

The entry was dated July 2005. Huthart was in Los Angeles where Jolie and Pitt were filming “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and media speculation about their relationship was intense.

In June, Huthart launched the first legal action in the United States against Murdoch’s News Corporation over phone hacking, which her lawsuit said had occurred in 2004 and 2005.

Prosecutors said it was accepted that Mulcaire had hacked her phone four times in early 2006 around the time Jolie publicly announced she was pregnant with Pitt’s child.

Numerous stories appeared in the News of the World during this period, when Coulson was the paper’s editor and prosecutors have previously argued he must have been aware where such information came from, an accusation he rejects.

The court was also shown an entry in Mulcaire’s notebook with a handwritten list of 18 names including Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

The discovery was made when Mulcaire was first arrested by detectives in 2006, but no further reference to whether the duchess was actually targeted was made.

Among a host of people the court was told had been hacked was Lord Freddie Windsor, son of the queen’s cousin and a distant heir to the throne. Windsor’s phone was repeatedly hacked by Mulcaire and by someone using a News of the World phone in April and May 2006, prosecutors said.

The court also heard that Mulcaire had hacked phones of the publicist and personal assistant of Beatle Paul McCartney, along with the sister of his ex-wife Heather Mills.

Other victims included the lover of former British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and ex-minister Tessa Jowell, whose lawyer husband was accused by Italian authorities of corruption charges linked to ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Reuters
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