REBEKAH Brooks has been the victim of a "witch hunt" in the hacking trial, jurors were told yesterday.

Concluding his closing speech, Brooks's lawyer attacked the prosecution for its "unhealthy focus" on the former News of the World editor.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC told the Old Bailey trial that his client had been portrayed as a figure of hate after it had emerged that Milly Dowler's phone was hacked during her editorship.

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And rejecting prosecutor Andrew Edis QC's suggestion that her evidence had been carefully scripted, Mr Laidlaw compared Brooks's treatment to a witch in medieval England. "Without a doubt this case has not been a witch trial but the prosecution approach has been that of a witch hunt.

"If as Mr Edis would have you believe, what we saw was a mask, then Rebekah Brooks must be a witch with truly supernatural powers. What human mask could withstand that amount of scrutiny without cracking?"

Mr Laidlaw said the jury were likely to have been privy to more information about Brooks than anyone else they knew after her 14 days in the witness box.

Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, denies conspiring to hack phones; conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice.

All seven defendants deny the charges against them.

The trial was adjourned until 10am on Tuesday.