The head of news at The Sun newspaper in Britain has a told a court of the “nightmare” of working with former editor Rebekah Brooks and the “phenomenal” amount of pressure he was under.
Chris Pharo, 45, is one of six journalists and senior staff at the newspaper on trial over allegations of corrupt payments to officials.
On Friday Judge Richard Marks ordered the jury at Kingston Crown Court in south London to clear the men of an “overarching conspiracy” which alleged they had all been in a single agreement with a number of public officials and other journalists.
But they are still charged with conspiring separately in “sub-plots” with staff at Broadmoor secure hospital, police officers and prison officials.
Pharo told the court of occasions when he was humiliated and threatened with dismissal by his then editor Brooks and said he would receive up to 25 “ridiculous” and “extremely unpleasant” emails in a morning when he was news editor.
After one meeting, during which she had repeatedly sworn at him, she slammed the door so hard that the handle fell off and he and his colleagues were left stuck inside the room.
Pharo said that Brooks, who was editor of The Sun from 2003 to 2009, once sent an email to about 3500 people in the company complaining that her “idiot news editor” could not find any stories.
He told the court: “You have to meet Rebekah to understand how incredibly charming she is. When she wants to be.”
He added: “She was nothing short of a nightmare on occasions.”
Asked by the prosecution if he knew whether the newspaper paid public officials, Pharo replied “Yes”.
In June this year, Brooks, the former head of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper arm and editor of the News of the World from 2000 to 2003, was cleared of all charges after a trial focused on illegal phone hacking by that newspaper’s journalists.
Pharo faces a total of four charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office, while ex-managing editor Graham Dudman and ex-Sun deputy news editor Ben O’Driscoll are accused of three.
Reporter Jamie Pyatt and picture editor John Edwards are charged with two counts each and ex-Sun reporter John Troup is accused of one count.
All deny the charges.