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7 amazing things we learned during the hacking trial

By Martin Hickman, Special to CNN
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Among the exclusives the News of the World unearthed were that Kate Middleton called Prince William
Among the exclusives the News of the World unearthed were that Kate Middleton called Prince William "babykins."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jurors returned their verdicts in the UK's 8-month-long phone hacking trial on June 23
  • Journalist Martin Hickman is writing a book on the trial and has been inside the court
  • He says revelations included that journalists had rooted through bins for stories
  • Prosecutors said two of News of the World's senior executives had had an affair

Editor's note: Martin Hickman is a freelance journalist who co-wrote "Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain." He is publishing an inside account of the phone hacking trial at hackingtrial.com

(CNN) -- The phone hacking trial of Rebekah Brooks and other newspaper executives revealed much about the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch's sex-and-scandal tabloids the News of the World and the Sun.

News of the World closed in July 2011, amid public revulsion at the hacking of a missing 13-year-old, Milly Dowler. The Sun, later also edited by Brooks, remains Britain's best-selling newspaper.

Here are 7 eye-catching disclosures from Court 12 of the Old Bailey in London.

1. Hacking round the clock

The News of the World carried out phone hacking on a grand scale. A Metropolitan Police detective, Steven Fitzgerald, told the trial that in the two years before the police pounced on the operation in August 2006, News of the World's private detective, Glenn Mulcaire, and journalists made 6,813 calls to 281 unique voicemail numbers, or UVNs. Calls to UVNs were described as attempted or successful hacks of mobile phone messages. Among those whose messages were eavesdropped leading politicians, such as Home Secretary David Blunkett, in charge of police and the fight against terrorism, the England football manager Sven Goran Eriksson, and the actors Jude Law, Sienna Miller and Daniel Craig, the current James Bond. The Metropolitan Police estimate 1,000 people were hacked by the News of the World.

2. Hot line to Kate Middleton

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The News of the World eavesdropped on the private world of Princes William and Harry -- and William's then-girlfriend Kate Middleton. Their hacking was kept secret during the first, limited police investigation into phone hacking in 2007. But it was revealed at the current trial that the paper's royal editor Clive Goodman had hacked Middleton, the current Duchess of Cambridge, 155 times -- including on Valentine's Day 2006. He hacked Prince William 35 times and Prince Harry on nine occasions. Among the exclusives the News of the World unearthed were that William got lost on an Army training exercise and that Middleton called him "babykins."

3. Rooting through bins

Although the News of the World portrayed itself as a beacon of morality in a sleazy world, it appears it was not averse to picking through people's bins in the search for a tale. On one of the whiteboards seized from his home in August 2006, the paper's private detective, Glenn Mulcaire, wrote the word: "Binology." The word "binology" -- rooting through people's rubbish to find interesting documents -- also appeared on an invoice submitted to the News of the World by a private detective in 2001, when it was edited by Brooks. She told the trial: "There was a particular private detective who worked for various newspapers who would go through bins, lawyers' bins and high-profile people: Benji the Binman. And he would sell that information to newspapers." She said she might have had some anxiety about using binology.

4. Cash for defense stories

While being edited by Brooks, The Sun paid a defense official for exclusive stories about the deaths of soldiers in Afghanistan, military scandals and titillating examples of indiscipline in the ranks. In all the Sun paid £100,000 paid to Bettina Jordan Barber, a mid-ranking official at Ministry of Defence official who liaised with the MoD's press bureau, between 2004 and 2012. The resulting headlines included: "Mucky major's a sex swinger," "Major feels privates' privates" and "The Lust Post."

5. Close the News of the World ... and land a TV deal

A month before the News of the World closed, executives discussed closing it -- to help a controversial takeover. Jurors were shown an email from Simon Greenberg, director of corporate affairs at News International, News Corp's UK newspaper arm, to Brooks and another executive in early June 2011. At that time Scotland Yard had intensified its inquiry into hacking and a growing number of hacking victims were suing for breach of privacy. "This is why we should consider the shutdown option," Greenberg wrote. "Is the brand too toxic for itself or the company? I believe it is. Unparalleled moments need unparalleled action. You could be the person to save the Rubicon deal." Rubicon was News Corp's codename for its £7 billion bid for the UK's biggest commercial broadcaster, BSkyB. News Corp abandoned the bid amid the furor over phone hacking allegations.

6. From Tony Blair with a kiss

News International had close links with politicians, particularly with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. On July 16, 2011 as the hacking scandal swirled around the company -- and on the eve of Brooks's arrest -- the former Labour leader offered to help her prepare for an appearance before a House of Commons committee at which she would be grilled about hacking. Blair texted Brooks: "If you're still going to parliament you should call me. I have experience of these things! Tx" She said she was "feeling properly terrified," adding: "Police are behaving so badly." The former PM responded with help about the police interview: "Everyone panics in these situations and they will feel they have their reputation to recover. Assume you have quality QC advice? When's the interview?" Later, Blair added: "I'm no use on police stuff but call me after that because I may be some help on Commons. Brooks replied: "Great. Will do. X"

7. The affair that dare not be printed

While the News of the World exposed other people's extra-marital affairs, its married leading executives were having one themselves, the court heard. On a computer belonging to Brooks, detectives found a draft letter written by the former News of the World editor to its then editor, Andy Coulson in 2004 which suggested they had been having an affair for six years. The prosecution suggested the closeness of that relationship meant Brooks must have known about phone hacking when her lover was editing the paper -- which she denied. In a passage from the letter read out to the court by a prosecutor, Brooks wrote: "The fact is you are my very best friend, I tell you everything, I confide in you, I seek your advice, I love you, care about you, worry about you, we laugh and cry together." No British newspaper exposed their affair, though it made front-page headlines a decade later. When a lawyer suggested to Coulson that the relationship was "pure hypocrisy," he replied: "The irony is not lost on me."

Read: Coulson -- from Fleet St to Downing St

Read: Who is Rebekah Brooks

Read: Rupert Murdoch -- the last press baron

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