SUNDERLAND-BORN journalist and ex-News of the World reporter Neville Thurlbeck has pleaded guilty to phone hacking charges.
An Old Bailey jury was told of the admission as part of the opening of the trial of Rebekah Brooks, her husband, Andy Coulson, and four other former employees of the now-closed Sunday newspaper.
The crown prosecutor revealed that Thurlbeck, along with two others, had already pleaded guilty at an earlier stage in proceedings, as he outlined to the court that the News of the World was at the centre of three criminal conspiracies dating back to 2000, involving the two former editors.
Andrew Edis QC said that those pleading guilty were former News of the World news editors Thurlbeck, Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup. The court also heard that the private investigator contracted by the newspaper to undertake the alleged hacking, Glenn Mulcaire, had pleaded guilty.
Thurlbeck was educated at Bede Grammar School in Sunderland, before attending the University of Lancaster.
Edis told the court that the criminal activity was discovered as a result of a police investigation into the paper in 2011 following the revelation that the telephone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler “had been hacked by somebody acting on behalf of the News of the World”.
The prosecuting counsel told the jury that “the events were very big at the time” but that they must put what they remember about them “out of their mind” and try the case on the evidence that they heard.
The crown opened its case to the jury of nine women and three men.