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Jury hears apologies, kiss and tell stories and a jocular judge

Rebekah Brooks finally made the short journey across the floor of Court 12 yesterday at the Old Bailey to defend herself in the witness box, watched by her husband Charlie and her former lover Andy Coulson.

Casting her mind back more than three decades to where her career in journalism began as a student on work experience at the Warrington Guardian, the 45-year-old said her first footsteps on the News International ladder were characterised by her youth and inexperience.

Speaking slowly and clearly in a low voice from the witness box after being sent on her way with a wink by her husband, she peppered her answers with anecdotes from her time at the News Of The World and The Sun and frequent reference to her age.

"I was quite young at the time," she replied, when asked about how she was involved in authorising a kiss and tell payment of $100,000 to prostitute Divine Brown, who was caught with actor Hugh Grant in 1995.

"I was unusually young," she added, when asked about the diversity of her colleagues on the Sunday paper.

Accepting judge Mr Justice Saunders' invitation to sit while giving evidence rather than stand in her two-inch heeled shoes, those in court gazed intently as Mrs Brooks lifted the lid on life inside News International's corridors of power.

Answering her own counsel Jonathan Laidlaw, QC, she apologised repeatedly for forgetting dates, confusing currencies or the precise contents of some articles.

However, when she recalled a case involving a story about a judge, Mr Saunders interjected: "Careful! I assure you it was not me ..."

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