- REBEKAH Brooks hired a shadowy PI to monitor Ross Kemp FOUR times, according to High Court documents
- RUPERT Murdoch’s top UK employee has previously told the Old Bailey, the Leveson Inquiry, and two other official bodies, she only snooped to catch paedos in public interest
- BUT MS Brooks also allegedly spied on her then fiancé Ross Kemp over ‘affair with Page Three girl’
- THE FORMER editor allegedly got illegal PI to target Jamelah May’s mobile phone, documents reveal
- MS BROOKS allegedly obtained Mr Kemp’s phone bill – a serious criminal offence
- THE EX NEWS of the World chief then ‘covered-up’ criminal allegations for 20 years
By Graham Johnson
Editor, Byline Investigates
BRITAIN’S most powerful newspaper boss has been dragged into a court case that suggests she lied under oath during her 2014 Old Bailey criminal trial.
High Court documents allege Rebekah Brooks hired a private investigator to steal itemised mobile phone bills of ex-husband Ross Kemp and former Page Three girl Jamelah May, and then continue to snoop on them.
Yet Brooks, 51, has in the past insisted under oath – during her own trial for phone hacking, of which she was acquitted, and at the Leveson Inquiry – that she used PIs solely to hunt down paedophiles “in the public interest”.
There is no suggestion that Ross Kemp is a paedophile.
However, Byline Investigates has now obtained court documents contradicting almost everything the serving Chief Executive Officer of Rupert Murdoch’s controversial newspaper publisher News UK has previously said – sworn under oath – on the matter.
In them, Ms Brooks is accused of tasking Steve Whittamore, the shadowy private investigator whose illegal work sparked a major police probe – Operation Motorman – and who was later convicted of serious data protection offences, to obtain itemised phone bills by deception.
Ms Brooks was trying to find out whether her partner Ross Kemp – then a major star in UK soap opera EastEnders – was in a relationship with Ms May, an inquiry that would not merit journalistic “public interest” protection.
Ms Brooks also allegedly paid the four-figure bill for the allegedly criminally-obtained private information with Rupert Murdoch’s company funds.
Further, the documents allege, once she had discovered the identity of Mr Kemp’s alleged mistress, Ms Brooks set-out on a vendetta to destroy Ms May’s career, by banning the topless model from the paper that she edited.
Knowingly giving wrong evidence to a criminal court under oath is a serious perjury offence punishable by up to two years’ jail and a fine, while misleading a public inquiry – like Leveson – is a crime punishable by up to 51 weeks’ jail.
It is not the first time Ms Brooks has been accused of using private eyes to spy on Mr Kemp.
In May 2019, Byline Investigates revealed how Ms Brooks tasked the same PI to find another woman with whom Mr Kemp allegedly had an acquaintance. Mr Kemp has never commented publicly on any of the allegations.
On that occasion, Mr Whittamore performed a ‘mobile conversion’ – an unlawful reverse search that matches a mobile phone number to its registrant – which ended-up with Ms Robert’s brother, Tony Harding, being targeted and wrongly branded a paedophile,
However, according to the latest court documents, Ms Brooks asked Mr Whittamore to work on separate case of infidelity, in which he performed a mobile conversion, obtained Ross Kemp’s phone billing data, and also carried-out further unlawful inquiries including a landline conversion.
The story starts around June 2000 when Ross Kemp was at the height of his EastEnders’ fame and engaged to be married to Ms Brooks – nee Wade – then the new Editor of The News of The World.
However, over the next nine months Mr Kemp allegedly began seeing model Jamelah May, then known by her maiden name Asmar, who, it is claimed, was unaware of his serious relationship with Ms Brooks.
Ms Brooks, suspicious of Mr Kemp’s personal conduct, allegedly sought to identify her apparent love rival by commissioning an interrogation of her mobile phone number and communications, allegedly unlawfully.
Mr Brooks’ ‘first commission’ was allegedly to ask Mr Whittamore to identify the registrant of a number Mr Kemp frequently contacted – a ‘mobile conversion’.
Mr Whittamore, according to High Court documents lodged by Ms May, who is suing Ms Brooks personally, tracked the mobile registration to Ms May’s mother, Jackie Luxford, and her address.
Ms May’s lawyers claim Ms Brook’s knew Mr Whittamore obtained the private information by criminal deception, known as ‘blagging.’
In past interviews with this news site, Mr Whittamore told how he paid a Hells Angel, and another professional blagger, cash to con information out of British Telecom and mobile phone networks.
When Ms Brooks was first accused last May of commissioning a mobile conversion, her defence was that she thought Mr Whittamore had simply carried out an internet search.
However, the emergence of Ms May’s new case and its ‘Particulars of Claim’ (PoC) document, filed to the public record at the High Court on February 24, casts new doubt on that defence.
The Particulars of Claim document reads: “It was obvious that such information could not ordinarily be obtained by Mr Whittamore by lawful means and without subterfuge.
“The Claimant’s (Ms May’s ) Mobile Number was not on the internet, or in any publicly available directory.”
Around January 22, 2001, Ms Brooks allegedly tasked Mr Whittamore again, this time to carry out the more serious criminal office, referred to as the “second commission”.
The legal document alleges Ms Brooks asked Mr Whittamore to obtain three months’ worth of Mr Kemp’s itemised mobile phone bills, so that she could find out if he was still in touch with Ms May.
The document states: “The Defendant (Ms Brooks) commissioned Mr Whittamore to obtain, amongst other things, the call data for Mr Kemp’s Mobile Number for the period 11th November 2000 to 1st January 2001 (“the Second Commission”).”
The phone bills revealed the dates, times and durations of calls between Mr Kemp and Ms May.
Ms May’s lawyer claims that Ms Brooks either knew her PI would use unlawful means to obtain the call data, or that she was reckless or indifferent as to whether unlawful means would be used.
The document states: “It was obvious that such information could not ordinarily be obtained by Mr Whittamore by lawful means and without subterfuge.”
For his services, Mr Whittamore allegedly charged £1,000 plus VAT. But instead of paying it herself, the bill was signed off by the News of The World’s then Managing Editor Stuart Kuttner, and paid by Murdoch’s company. It is not alleged that Mr Kuttner knew the real reason for the invoice.
Around January 29, 2001, the document goes on, Ms Brooks tasked Mr Whittamore with further inquiries into Ms May and her associates.
This ‘Third Commission’ involved yet another mobile conversion on Ms May, an “occupancy search” and a landline conversion.
Shortly, afterwards Mr Kemp broke off the relationship “abruptly… without warning” and acted in a “weird” way.
The document alleges: “The Claimant rang Mr Kemp, who was speaking in what she believed to be a weird manner and he was speaking as if he did not know who she was.
“The Claimant sent Mr Kemp a text message after that strange conversation, but Mr Kemp did not respond to that message. The Claimant never heard from Mr Kemp again.”
Ms May subsequently discovered that Mr Kemp had been in a relationship with Ms Brooks, and she believes that Ms Brooks learned of the relationship by using a PI to ‘snoop’ on their phones.
The relationship, Ms May claims, ended after Ms Brooks “confronted Mr Kemp…resulting in Mr Kemp ending his relationship.”
Ms May is suing Mr Brooks personally for misuse of private information which she claims caused her upset and distress. Ms Brooks has yet to file a defence.
In the next instalment of this story, Byline Investigates will reveal how Ms Brooks allegedly set out to punish Ms May by destroying her career – and then covered up the story until now.
We will also report on an application made to the High Court to keep this document from “public gaze” – but which was dismissed by Britain’s top privacy judge.
Byline Investigates has redacted the phone numbers and addresses of Mr Whittamore’s targets to protect their privacy.
- The case continues…