Andy Coulson Rebekah Brooks John Prescott

Phone-hacking trial: Lord Prescott, Sir Paul McCartney and Operation Abbey Rd

By James Doleman

November 12, 2013 | 7 min read

On the resumption of business after the lunch interval on Tuesday afternoon, the prosecution moved on to the “timeline” for John Prescott. Prescott, now a Lord, was deputy prime minister from 1997 to 2008. His diary secretary was Tracy Temple. Records show convicted phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire accessed the voicemails of Temple and those of a number of her friends and family were also intercepted.

Evidence: Stories about Sir Paul McCartney were discussed

Two journalists from the Mail on Sunday, who were working on story about an affair between Temple and Prescott, also had their voicemails intercepted both by Mulcaire directly and from a telephone inside the News of the World’s Wapping offices. Recordings of some of these calls were found by police in Mulcaire’s home.

Emails from News of the World journalists Ian Edmondson (one of the accused) and James Weatherup copying in Andy Coulson, then editor of the paper, were shown in court. The emails reference Temple’s mobile number and also discuss offering her £100,000 for her story and, since she may be abroad, Edmonson asks: “Can Glenn assist?”

Telephone records then show a call from Edmonson to Mulcaire and later a “hack” on the voicemail of Tracy Temple.

The court was then shown an email from Keith Gladdis, Whitehall correspondent for the News of the World to Ian Edmondson, which was sent on 28 April 2006. The email tells Edmondson that Gladdis cannot get a mobile number for Prescott but gives the mobile number for his chief of staff, Joan Handle. Edmonson then contacts Mulcaire and then, minutes later, there is a “hack” on Handle’s phone. An email later sent by Mulcaire to Edmonson states: “There are 45 messages.”

Dennis Rice and Sebastian Hamilton, the Mail on Sunday journalists mentioned above, are also hacked on this date and a number of later dates.

The jury was then shown an email dated 29 April, identified as “Update”, from Ian Edmondson to number of people including Andy Coulson, the editor of the News of the World. Under the heading "Prescott" were the words “My secret sex diaries” and the remark that this was a “planned spoiler”. The court was then shown an article from the News of the World titled: “Prescott - My secret sex diaries”. Four articles from that day’s Mail on Sunday were also displayed, which exposed Prescott’s affair with Temple. The jury was then shown a tax invoice from Glenn Mulcaire to the News of the World reading “Prescott assist”.

The court then paused for a moment as a mobile phone ringtone played. The ringtone was “Everybody's talking at me” by Harry Nilsson. There was laughter in court as the judge asked if “anyone wished to claim that?” No-one did and the case resumed.

The prosecution also noted that Mulcaire’s notes contained log-in details for the Mail on Sunday’s computer system and an extension number for their IT department. Tapes of Mail on Sunday journalist Hamilton’s voicemails were also found at Mulcaire's home.

Andy Coulson’s lawyer then rose to cross examine the police officer presenting the timeline. He asked the court to note that only the first email copied in his client, the others were only between Edmondson and Weatherup. The police officer agreed this was the case.

The court then followed the same procedure with a timeline for Lord Frederick Windsor, the son of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and 41st in line to the British throne, and went through details of contacts between Edmondson and Mulcaire and subsequent hacks of his voicemails. Fredrick Windsor is married to Sophie Winkleman, a well known television and film actress.

After a short break, the court moved on to the next timeline, which related to Mark Oaten, a former senior Liberal Democrat MP and a party leadership contender in 2006. Glenn Mulcaire hacked Oaten’s voicemail messages 15 times in that year. Oaten was exposed by the News of the World in 2006 for having a relationship with a 23-year-old male prostitute, Ian Chadwick, and subsequently resigned.

Andrew Edis QC brought into evidence an agreement between Chadwick and the News of the World where he agreed to give his exclusive story to the paper for a sum of £25,000. At the same time, the prosecution allege, Glenn Mulcaire was hacking Oaten’s mobile telephone voicemails Pages from Mulcaire’s notebook were brought into evidence, as was the original News of the World story from January 2006 revealing his relationship. The court was also reminded of a recording of Glenn Mulcaire heard during the prosecution's introduction, of him phoning Vodafone and “blagging” details of his mobile phone bills by pretending to be an employee of the company.

The court then moved on to the timeline for Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills. In May 2006, Paul McCartney split up from his wife, Heather Mills. At this time, Mulcaire intercepted the voicemails of people associated with the couple, their publicists, personal assistants and Mills’ sister Fiona. Pages from Mulcaire’s notebooks were brought into evidence to support the prosecution's claim. The jury was was then shown a News of the World story - “Macca throws Heather's ring out of hotel window, Exclusive” - stating that McCartney had thrown away a £15,000 engagement ring out of a window and then asked security staff to search for it.

A number of News of the World pieces on Mills were brought into evidence by Andrew Edis QC and cross referenced with pages from Mulcaire’s notebook showing alleged interceptions of the voicemails of her friends, relations and employees. “Heather’s Moved Out! Exclusive” was one example given. An email from News of the World journalist James Weatherup to Mulcaire giving details of Heather Mills’ relatives stating “looking for numbers for these” was shown. Recordings from Mills’ relatives' mobile phones were found at Glenn Mulcaire’s house, including one from Weatherup himself. Much of this hacking was codenamed by Mulcaire “Abbey Rd”.

Timothy Laidlaw QC then rose to cross examine the police witness presenting the timeline, saying that he was only concerned with the period that Rebekah Brooks was editor of News of the World, which ended in January 2003 when she moved on to the Sun. He put it to the policeman that there was no evidence of any hacking of Heather Mills' voicemails before 2003, to which the officer responded there was evidence that Mulcaire had been “tasked” to do so but no direct evidence of actual hacking. Andrew Edis QC for the Crown asserted that this may be as the Crown does not have Mulcaire’s telephone records for that early period.

At that Mr Justice Saunders called proceedings to a close and thanked the jury for their attention in what was a long and complicated day.

The defendants continue to deny all of the charges, the trial at the Old Bailey continues.

Click here to view other posts from The Drum's phone-hacking trial coverage

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