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Phone-hacking trial: Andy Coulson's counsel challenges "bullying" allegations

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.

Bully? Andy Coulson arrives at court

  • Cross-examination of Clive Goodman continues
  • "Not a single significant story in 05/06 News of the World that wasn't result" of hacking
  • Royal editor "the eternal flame, as he never went out"
  • Goodman challenged over "bullying claims"
  • Coulson "kicked desk" in anger over cancelled Royal trip
  • Proceedings resumed this morning to hear further cross-examination of former News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman by Timothy Langdale QC, counsel for Andy Coulson. Goodman has testified that he got approval from Coulson to employ convicted phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire to intercept the voicemails of members of the royal family, an allegation that Coulson denies.

    Langdale began the morning by asking Goodman what Coulson told other senior members of staff about the phone hacking of the royal household, "You'd have to ask your own client about that," the defendant replied, adding: "It wasn't my job to browbeat my boss." The former royal editor denied the defence barrister's suggestion that his testimony yesterday contradicted a defence statement he made in 2006 where he said, in relation to hacking, that he "discussed this often" with a senior journalist we cannot name for legal reasons. "I meant we discussed the stories, not how they were obtained," Goodman replied.

    The barrister then suggested to the witness "you change your story whenever it suits you". "No, I've had a very clear story since day one," Goodman told the court. The presiding judge, Mr Justice Saunders, then intervened and instructed the witness to stop interrupting defence counsel. "It can't be good for your heart," he told the defendant. Langdale suggested that Goodman had not mentioned various senior executives being involved in phone hacking at a hearing over his dismissal from News International in 2007. "It wasn't relevant," the defendant said, adding that he had been advised by an employment law specialist over what to say at this hearing. "I'm happy to have your opinion though Mr Langdale," Goodman added.

    Goodman then told the court: "I have been completely honest, open and frank about phone hacking. The reason they did not come out in the public domain is that the police and the CPS decided not to release the information." Langdale replied: "I'm not asking you about the police or the CPS. I'm suggesting you his the full extent of your activities." The barrister then read a transcript of a tape, secretly recorded by Goodman, of a meeting between him and senior staff at News International. In the tape, the defendant said he had done no hacking until November 2005. "That's just a straight out lie," the defence barrister said. "This was a very hostile confrontation," Goodman replied. "It got very tense," he continued, adding that he had been sent to prison and had paid a "high price" for hacking. The meeting, he said, was about getting others to take responsibility for their actions, "including your client Mr Langdale," he told the barrister. The court was also told that on the tape Goodman tells the executives "there wasn't a significant story in NOTW in the last two years that wasn't the result of hacking".

    The defence QC then moved on to the topic of cash payments and read to the court a 2005 email to Goodman which asks him to reduce the number of these he is making. "That was a standard email," the defendant replied, "it went out every Saturday night". The prosecution barrister then asked Goodman about a decision in 2005 to place him back under the control of the news desk editor. "Did you have a problem with that?" Langdale asked. "Yes," the defendant replied. "It was a demotion, I did take it badly, it was quite humiliating." The defence QC put it to the witness: "Since your arrest you have built up a story of resentment, did you say anything about this at the time?" Goodman said he had complained at the time. "I was unhappy, and did say I was unhappy," he said. "But it was difficult to express in a newspaper environment, I was trying to hang on to my career and not make too many waves."

    The barrister then had the jury examine a series of emails between Goodman and various senior News of the World staff describing them as "perfectly reasonable communications".

    Judge Saunders then intervened to say "he's reasonable, you're reasonable, everyone at the News of the World is reasonable." Saunders then apologised for his remark. "I didn't mean any disrespect to the News of the World," he told the court.

    Court then rose for a short break

    When the jury returned, the defence barrister read to the court further emails between Goodman and his sister Fran, a sub-editor at the News of the World, where the defendant complains that a senior member of staff, Paul Nicholas, was being a "1930's hack who had no idea of how to get a story". "This is more resentment building up from you," Langdale suggested. "I can accept criticism, what I didn't like was people trying to make my work difficult," Goodman replied. The court was then shown further emails in which various staff are critical of Goodman staying in the office rather than going out to seek out stories. In previous testimony the jury has been told the former royal editor was known as "the eternal flame" as "he never went out".

    Goodman was then asked about a further email in which it was alleged that he had dismissed a story that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were to marry. The former royal editor told the court that he had tried to stand the story up but Buckingham Palace had "flat out denied it" so he could not stand the story up. He did agree though that "some months later it transpired to be true". A 2005 note from then News of the World managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, was then shown to the court. In this Kuttner reports a disciplinary meeting he had with Goodman over his "poor performance". "Did you accept any criticisms made against you," Langdale asked. "I accepted some of them but I was surprised that I was hauled over the coals about a lack of exclusives, I was flabbergasted," the defendant replied. "There is not a word about bullying," the barrister suggested. "Stuart Kuttner was one of the people doing the bullying," Goodman responded.

    The defendant was then asked about a trip to America in 2005 that he could not attend for family reasons, he described Coulson's reaction as "not very sympathetic" and claimed he "kicked the desk" in anger. "I was the most travelled reporter the News of the World ever had," the witness continued, and denied Langdale's suggestion that he "never wanted to go out". "People were using this as an opportunity to criticise me," Goodman told the court. The defence QC then read to the jury further emails which, he suggested, showed "perfectly normal exchanges" between Goodman and other members of staff at the News of the World not "bullying".

    Goodman was then asked about an email he sent to another journalist in December 2005 in which he states that he had given Andy Coulson a "full briefing" about a royal story. The defendant told the court that he had hacked the voicemail of a royal aide, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, and shown Coulson a transcript of a message left there by Prince Harry. The defence barrister asked Goodman why he had emailed a copy of the transcript to himself two days later. "I don't know," the witness replied.

    The court then rose for lunch.

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