Charlie Brooks (racehorse trainer)

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Charles Patrick Evelyn "Charlie" Brooks (born 3 March 1963) is a British socialite, newspaper columnist, racehorse trainer and former jockey. He is best known as the husband of Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News International. The couple are seen as leading lights of the so-called 'Chipping Norton set', a politically influential clique close to the leadership of the Conservative Party.[1] On 15 May 2012, Brooks and his wife were charged with perverting the course of justice.[2] On 24 June 2014, the High Court found Brooks and his wife Rebekah not guilty.[3]

Early life[edit]

Brooks was born Charles Patrick Evelyn Brooks on 3 March 1963 in Chipping Norton,[4] the third and youngest child of Robert Noel Brand Brooks and Caroline Diana (Todd).[5] His father died when he was 12.[4] Educated at Eton College, where he was a friend of future Prime Minister David Cameron, Brooks became an amateur jockey and assistant racehorse trainer to Fred Winter. In 1987 he won the Christie's Foxhunter Chase on Observe, and in 1989 he took over the Uplands stables at Lambourn from Winter.[4][6]

Racehorse trainer[edit]

Among Brooks's successes as a trainer were Suny Bay, runner-up in the 1997 and 1998 Grand Nationals, and Couldn't be Better, winner of the 1995 Hennessy Gold Cup. At the end of the 1998 season he resigned after a dispute with owner Andrew Cohen.[7]

After a break of more than thirteen years, Brooks was reinstated as a licensed trainer in late 2011.

Phone hacking controversy[edit]

During 2011 and 2012 Brooks became drawn into the Phone-hacking scandal by Rupert Murdoch's News International. In July 2011, fearing a "Jacqui Smith moment", Brooks hid a pornographic magazine called Lesbian Lovers and seven DVDs of lesbian porn in a Jiffy bag behind some bins in the underground car park of the couple's Chelsea home.[8] Other concealed items said to be part of Mr Brooks' property included an Apple laptop, iPad and iPod as well as a Sony laptop and other documents.[9] They were discovered by cleaner Fernando Nascimento on a routine rubbish collection the day after Brooks’ wife Rebekah was arrested at a south London police station in connection with the phone hacking investigation.[10] "I envisaged 20 policemen coming in and emptying every drawer and looking under every nook and cranny, and I did think about my DVDs," Brooks later explained. One of the laptops "had a bit of smut on it too", he added.[11]

On 13 March 2012 Charlie and Rebekah Brooks were arrested in a dawn raid at their home, on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.[12][13] They were charged with perverting the course of justice in May 2012.[14]

Charlie and Rebekah Brooks appeared in court at the Old Bailey on 26 September 2012. Rebekah Brooks faced three charges and Charlie Brooks one charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice by concealing material from police officers.[15] Their trial started in October 2013.

In Brooks' own defence, his lawyer called him "foolish," "stupid" and "not academically gifted". One character witness, Sara Bradstock, told the court how he drank a pint of washing up liquid to get rid of a hangover.[16] Brooks told the hacking trial that he felt "ashamed" and "mortified" over the bungled bid to hide property from police. Giving evidence at the Old Bailey, Charlie Brooks said he had done something "very stupid" but that the items stashed in an underground car park at the couple's London flat were his. The court heard that the property was hidden on 17 July 2011, the day police interviewed Mrs Brooks and carried out searches. He denied conspiring with his wife and News International head of security Mark Hanna to pervert the course of justice by concealing potential evidence. He said, "I'm mortified about the way I have embarrassed my wife. I'm furious with myself for being so stupid.” He said he was also "under the influence" of alcohol but not "helplessly drunk" that day.[17]

On 24 June 2014, the jury found Brooks and his wife not guilty of the charges against them.[18]

Personal life[edit]

In 2004 Brooks split from his long-term partner Miriam Francome (former wife of champion jockey John Francome) after twelve years.[19] He married Rebekah Wade, then editor of The Sun, in June 2009. The wedding was attended by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and future Prime Minister David Cameron, who is a close personal friend of the couple.[20] In January 2012 Charlie and Rebekah Brooks became parents via a surrogate mother.[21]

At the start of the phone hacking trial, the court was told by lead prosecuting counsel Andrew Edis QC that Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson had had an affair over a period lasting at least six years from 1998 to 2004, the period when much of the alleged conspiracy was alleged to have taken place.[22][23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Profile: Rebekah and Charlie Brooks". The Daily Telegraph (London). 13 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "Phone hacking: Rebekah Brooks charged with perverting course of justice". The Daily Telegraph (London). 15 May 2012. 
  3. ^ BBC News Online (June 2014). “Hacking trial: Coulson guilty, Brooks cleared of charges”, BBC 24 June 2014. Accessed 4 July 2014
  4. ^ a b c Masters, Rodney (17 June 1998). "Weighty burden was too much.". The Racing Post. Farlex. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  5. ^ http://thepeerage.com/p7361.htm
  6. ^ Daily Record, 5 July 2003
  7. ^ Daily Mirror, 25 April 1998
  8. ^ "Police seek computer passwords of Rebekah Brooks's husband" The Guardian, 22 July 2011
  9. ^ O’Carroll, Lisa (June 2014). "Why Charlie Brooks drank a bottle of Fairy Liquid and other things we've learned about him", The Guardian, 24 June 2014. Accessed 4 July 2014
  10. ^ Cusick, James (January 2014). "Hacking trial: Cleaner found Charlie Brooks’s erotic magazine in bin bag, court hears", The Independent, 15 January 2014. Accessed 4 July 2014
  11. ^ Cusick, James (January 2014). "Hacking trial: Cleaner found Charlie Brooks’s erotic magazine in bin bag, court hears", The Independent, 15 January 2014. Accessed 4 July 2014
  12. ^ http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/dcf05218-6cf0-11e1-a7c7-00144feab49a.html#axzz1p0XrX6Ds
  13. ^ http://www.racingpost.com/news/horse-racing/trainer-charlie-brooks-arrested/999715/top/
  14. ^ "Phone-hacking police charge Rebekah Brooks". BBC News. 15 May 2012. 
  15. ^ Cowell, Alan (26 September 2012). "Former Murdoch Aides Appear in Court". The New York Times. 
  16. ^ "Rebekah Brooks - The tangled tale of a tabloid career". Reuters. 25 June 2014. 
  17. ^ Press Gazette (April 2014). "Phone hacking trial: Charlie Brooks 'ashamed' and 'mortified' about hiding material from police", Press Gazette, 1 April 2014. Accessed 4 July 2014
  18. ^ BBC News Online (June 2014). “Hacking trial: Coulson guilty, Brooks cleared of charges”, BBC 24 June 2014. Accessed 4 July 2014
  19. ^ Kay, Richard (5 May 2004). "It's the end for racing's golden couple". Daily Mail (London). 
  20. ^ "Untangling Rebekah Brooks" Vanity Fair, February 2012
  21. ^ "Ex-NoW boss Rebekah Brooks becomes parent by surrogate" BBC News, 26 January 2012
  22. ^ BBC News (Oct 2013). "Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson had affair, phone-hacking trial hears" BBC News, 31 October 2013. Accessed 5 July 2014
  23. ^ O’Carroll, Lisa (June 2014). "Andy Coulson 'in affair with Rebekah Brooks around time he quit NoW'", The Guardian, 25 April 2014. Accessed 5 July 2014