'Don't watch news, mum' - Brooks

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Rebekah Brooks told her mother not to watch the news as reports that the News of the World hacked the voicemails of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler came out, the phone hacking trial has heard.

Deborah Weir, called to give live evidence in her daughter's defence at the Old Bailey, said Brooks was "not very easy" to get hold of after the allegations were made in the press on July 4 2011 - days before the tabloid boss's resignation and arrest in connection with hacking.

Ms Weir, 70, who was working on the family farm in Cheshire at the time, said she received a message from her daughter on July 4 2011, which read: "Please don't watch the news, mum."

Brooks's defence counsel Jonathan Laidlaw QC told the jury of another message sent from Brooks to her mother which read: "Don't read the papers or look at the television, please."

The witness said she tried to keep in regular contact with her daughter in the week before the News of the World closed, and repeatedly offered to travel down to Brooks's barn in Oxfordshire or her flat in central London.

In one text, Ms Weir wrote: "Don't be silly, do you need me to come? You must say if you'd like me to be in London."

She added in another text: "I'm so worried for you."

In another, she added: "News so awful."

Brooks's mother travelled to Oxfordshire that weekend, where Brooks and her husband - co-defendant Charlie Brooks - also stayed, before Ms Weir returned north to look after the farm.

She travelled back the following weekend, having expressed concern that Brooks was to resign from her position at News International.

Ms Weir, giving evidence in a soft northern accent, told the court: "I didn't want her to resign."

On the Sunday, July 17, Ms Weir received a call from Brooks's husband that she "had to get ready really quickly" if she wanted to see Brooks, who was due to head to a police station in London later that day.

She told the court: "Charlie told me not to get upset."

During increasingly tense exchanges under cross-examination from prosecutor Andrew Edis QC, Ms Weir was asked about Brooks's home in Oxfordshire on the day it was searched by police.

Asked by Mr Edis if she could remember how many cars were on the driveway that day, the witness replied: "I can't believe you're asking me this question - it was two-and-a-half years ago."

Ms Weir was told by judge Mr Justice Saunders to simply answer the question.

Brooks denies conspiracy to hack phones. Six other defendants, including Brooks's husband, also deny all charges.

Concluding Brooks' defence, Frances Clarkson - the wife of Top Gear presenter and journalist Jeremy Clarkson - described the former News International chief executive as "loyal and trusted".

In a statement read before the court, Mrs Clarkson said Brooks's support for the Help For Heroes charity helped propel its media profile and the prospect of donations.

Mrs Clarkson, a charity patron, said: "Without her support, I really believe the charity would not have received the sums of money and support it did."

Describing Brooks, the witness said: "The love and affection she (Brooks) has shown to me is incredibly touching. She is one of the most loyal and must trusting people I know."

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