News Corp executives ordered daily sweeps for bugs at its London offices over fears rivals were eavesdropping on its BSkyB takeover plans, the hacking trial heard today.
Head of security Mark Hanna, a Gulf war Veteran, was in charge of hunting for covert listening devices in the executive offices and suites.
The routine searches of the News International headquarters were increased to daily sweeps when Rupert Murdoch's News Corp was plotting its BSkyB takeover, the court heard.
"Offices were swept on various occasions to ensure no listening devices were in the executive offices or suites, which was perfectly normal and routine", said William Clegg QC, defending Hanna.
Mrs Viner replied: "It was normal and routine, as in other news organisations I have worked in."
Mr Clegg explained: "There were a number of reasons for that; one obviously was newspapers are very competitive with each other, and some journalists may be anxious to try to steal a scoop from a rival.
"One of the reasons for the sweeps was to avoid that possibility.
"In 2011, News Corp was trying to increase its shareholding in BSkyB, I think with the objective of becoming the majority shareholder.
"It was a sensitive topic at News Corp, and another reason why you would want to be sure discussions about such a matter were not broadcast to people who were potential competitors."
The court heard executives from News Corp Europe and Asia had offices in Wapping, and were part of the sweeps carried out by Mr Hanna, through a contracted company called White Rock.