1. ITV Report

Officer defends search of Brooks' Oxfordshire home

Rebekah Brooks Photo: PA

A senior police officer in the hacking inquiry has defended a dawn raid on Rebekah Brooks's Oxfordshire home in search of "hidden" potential evidence.

Police arrived at the barn conversion in Churchill at 4.30am on March 13, 2012, and even searched inside the Moses basket of Brooks's baby, the Old Bailey heard.

Defending Brooks, Jonathan Laidlaw, QC, questioned the timing because of the presence of her baby, who had been born prematurely, and her husband's 81-year-old mother.

Detective Inspector Steve McCabe, a senior investigating officer, said he was "acutely aware" being a father himself, but it had been necessary to carry out the search "without fear or favour".

Mr Laidlaw asked: "You would have expected the baby's Moses basket to be searched?" The witness replied: "Yes. I would like to qualify that. We are conducting searches, we have no fear or favour on whose premises we search. It is a very delicate matter to search the Moses basket but I'm sure the officers would have had good reason to do so."

DI McCabe added: "The purpose of these searches were the events that had unfolded on the 17th and 18th of July which was an attempt to conceal and hide material from the police."

In July 2011, police had searched the former News International chief executive's office following her resignation, and upon her arrest two days later, her homes in London and Oxfordshire.

But by March 2012, officers suspected some evidence was missing and they were investigating Brooks, her husband Charles Brooks, Rebekah Brooks' personal assistant Cheryl Carter and NI head of security Mark Hanna for perverting the course of justice.

The day before the Brooks were arrested in March 2012, police carried out a series of co-ordinated searches on the homes of their suspects.

DI McCabe defended the need for a search warrant in spite of an offer to review three of Rebekah Brooks's notebooks and a 1999 diary which had been retrieved and were being held by her solicitor.

He said: "We were only given access to what the defendant allowed us to. That was the situation in July (2011) when we believed there was co-operation but actually that was not the case." The purpose of our earlier searches were frustrated because material had been hidden or destroyed."

Rebekah Brooks, 44, and Charles Brooks, 50; Cheryl Carter, 49, of Mildmay Road, Chelmsford, Essex; and Mark Hanna, 50, of Glynswood Road, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

All seven defendants deny the charges against them.