Inside the Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson Trial

The trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, the prime minister's former director of communications Andy Coulson and six others began at the Old Bailey on ...

...28 October. The Drum will be in court for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last at least four months, and will provide comprehensive updates on this blog.

The trial is scheduled to examine seven counts that include conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Coverage will be provided by James Doleman, who was acclaimed for his exhaustive and responsible reporting of the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial.

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11 December 2013 - 1:10pm | posted by | 0 comments

Phone-hacking trial: Goodman, Coulson and 'Matey'

Clive GoodmanClive Goodman

After a delay while legal discussions took place, the jury took their seats at the trial of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and six others to hear evidence from detective constable Alan Pritchard. The witness told the court he was involved in retaining and examining email material from News International and other sources, including a firm of solicitors Harbottle and Lewis.

Andrew Edis QC, for the prosecution, told the court that Harbottle and Lewis had been instructed by News International (NI) to investigate any possible misconduct at the News of the World in 2007, and were given online access to the email system to help with their inquiry. Hard copies of 200 pages of these emails were handed over to the police in 2011/12. Others had been obtained from the "Management Standards Committee" at NI. The police had recovered "millions of emails" in this fashion, and then conducted keyword searches to obtain evidence. The jury was then handed a folder containing a selection of these documents.

Edis then showed the jury a set of emails between Clive Goodman, the News of the World's former royal correspondent and Andy Coulson, the paper's editor. The first, from January 2003, is a discussion about sending a photographer to a clinic in relation to a story about "Sophie". Another was speculation about "Prince Harry and an older woman". The two also discuss rival papers with Goodman telling Coulson he has a source at the Mail on Sunday "keeping him up to date". They also discuss a possible story about Sir Michael Peat with Goodman telling Coulson "we are turning his mobile".

The prosecution then displayed to the jury a page from convicted phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire's notes from February 2003 which contains the name Sir Michael Peat and a telephone number which, the prosecution allege, comes from a copy of the "Green Book" - the telephone directory for the Royal Household which was recovered from Goodman's home in 2006.

The next email displayed was from Goodman to Coulson in January 2003 which said in part: "One of our royal policeman at St James palace has obtained a copy of the Green Book..the standard price is £1000." Coulson responded: "This is fine, but didn't I sign off on purchase of Green Book quite recently?" Goodman replies that the previous payment was for a royal directory, not the actual Green Book, adding: "This is the harder one to get as has Queen's direct lines to family." In another email Goodman complains he has had trouble getting cash payments authorised by the managing editor Stuart Kuttner, adding: "These people will be not paid anything other than in cash. If they are discovered they may end up on criminal charges, as could we." One of the people requiring a cash payment is described as "an exec on a rival newspaper".

The jury was then asked to leave the court while a legal matter was discussed.

When the jury returned the prosecution had the jury look at entries from Goodman's notebook, which contains a mobile number, the name Michael Peat and the word "Voicemail". Another page has the name Daisy Peat and "establish mobile"; the word "Gregg" appears the top right hand corner. An email from Goodman to Coulson from the same date states: "Should have Peat's car reg and other details tomorrow. Gregg's people turning his mobile now." A further email from Goodman to Coulson: "briefed Nev on the watch we want to keep on William. Getting Naz to assemble a similar team to the one he used to get Harry, Bob Bird doing similar operation in Scotland."

In another email from 2003 Goodman tells Coulson: "Peat talking to Prince of Wales this evening, might hear later on the mobile."

Edis then moved on to email traffic from August 2005. The first is from Goodman to Coulson: "Andy, OK with you if I miss conf. Re Harry and Chelsea good off record chat with .. last night, he is not allowed to use his mobile at Sandhurst but she is blitzing him with calls and texts..we have had a good look at this."

The court was then shown an email from Paul Francis from the News International finance department complaining about the number of cash payments made by Goodman. The finance department accept that Goodman has contacts who must be "protected" but argue that he should get more stories for free, adding that this is "an old fashioned newspaper idea I know". Goodman responds that there are only three contacts he pays in cash, continuing: "I'm not going to put it in writing....but any paper trail that identifies them or their families will put you, me, them and the editor in jail."

In another email Goodman discusses the idea of generating a story about Prince William, who was working as a mountain rescue helicopter pilot at the time, by having a journalist pretend to be stranded in the hills so he could be rescued by him.

In further emails to Coulson, Goodman refers to a source he calls "Matey." He informs his editor that thanks to information from Matey he has found "new ways of getting into the family" and describes this source as "Safe, productive, cost effective, and a story goldmine". Goodman goes on to list a number of stories he has got from the source with how much he paid for them. In a subsequent email to Stuart Kuttner Goodman writes about his source: "Andy agreed to keep him on for one last week as we needed the service, we will keep him on a published basis which is working out well for us."

The court then broke for lunch.

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