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Phone-hacking trial: Andy Coulson a 'lying toad', former employee tells court

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.

  • Andy Coulson a "lying toad", Goodman alleges
  • "Fall out with News International at your peril," defendant tells court
  • Former royal editor denies paying police officers
  • Refuses to name royal source under "human rights act"
  • After a short delay, proceedings resumed this morning at London's Old Bailey to hear the final part of cross-examination of former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman by Timothy Langdale QC, counsel for Andy Coulson. Goodman and Coulson are jointly charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office by, the prosecution allege, purchasing royal telephone directories from police officers, which the both deny.

    Langdale began the morning by asking Goodman about events that occurred after he was first arrested in 2006 for intercepting the voicemails of members of the royal household. Goodman confirmed that he had instructed a lawyer, Henry Branman, who was provided by News International. The barrister suggested to the witness that he would be keen to implicate other people as this would help in any future employment case. "That is untrue," the witness replied, "they were separate issues".

    The QC then asked the defendant about his previous evidence that in a phone call Coulson had implied he had spoken to his police and political "contacts" about the case and brought into evidence a note Goodman had made of the phone call. "Why is this at a later date," the barrister asked. "It is a copy of a previous note," the witness replied insisting: "This is a completely accurate note of what Andy Coulson said". Goodman did admit he did not have a copy of the original note, telling the court: "My archive has been confiscated and returned but this was created absolutely at the time." The witness told the jury that he believed "I was being manipulated by Mr Coulson to make me take the full blame, I felt I couldn't trust them."

    Goodman was then asked why he had secretly recorded meetings he had with News International executives. "I was in a very hostile negotiation with a powerful organisation, I had to put the best case I could," he replied. Asked why he had told his sister Fran, who also worked for the paper, that he was "pleased" Coulson had come to meet him, the witness replied: "She was my sister but he was her editor, I felt he was grooming her to groom me, I wasn't going to tell her he was a lying toad." Goodman agreed that he had never told his sister the full extent of his phone hacking activities. The defendant added that after his first arrest he had been presented with "file after file" of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire's voicemail interception and was concerned he would be blamed for all of it, adding: "I knew nothing about things like a cash point being inserted into a newsagents with the sole intention of giving him a phone line he could hack." In a document shown to the court Goodman described his role as "very much as a walk on part in the opera".

    The witness was then asked about a claim he made that knowledge of phone hacking at the News of the World was so widespread that Coulson had banned any mention of "dark arts, friends and family or phone messages" at editorial conferences. "Why did you mention this earlier?" the defence barrister asked. The former journalist said that he had not put this in the first draft of his defence statement in 2006 as he was "frightened that your client, Andy Coulson, and my solicitor were negotiating behind my back, which they were. I wanted people to know." Goodman then told the court he had changed his as he had been told by his lawyer and barrister that a judge might take a "dim view" of him blaming other people and this might make matters worse. He was also hoping to return to the News of the World and said "it had been made quite clear to me that this wouldn't happen if I named other people".

    Langdale then suggested to Goodman that News International had provided a solicitor for him and never threatened to stop paying his legal fees. "I don't think you know much about doing business with News International," Goodman replied. "They are a very powerful firm and you fall out with them at your peril," he added.

    Court then took a short break.

    When proceedings resumed Langdale showed the defendant a note made when he met with his 2006 defence counsel, John Kelsey-Fry QC, which makes no mention of Goodman claiming anyone else at the News of the World was involved in phone hacking. The former royal editor told the court "the case was evolving all of the time, what I was seeking to stress was that I did not want to blamed for all of the hacking Glenn Mulcaire did for the News of the World". Goodman went on to tell the court that he had tried to raise the issue at the meeting but a News International lawyer who was also present had intervened to say that the company denied this was true.

    In January 2007, Goodman pleaded guilty to the illegal interception of voicemails and was sentenced to four months in prison.

    Langdale then moved on to events after Goodman's release. He brought into evidence a memo from Goodman's employment lawyer which stated: "Andy Coulson's appointment as director of communications for the Conservative party could be to our advantage, there is now a large political audience looking for scandal." The defence barrister suggested that Goodman had a desire to cause trouble for Andy Coulson. "I had no intention of causing trouble for Coulson, I just wanted to return as a reporter." In a further mail to his employment lawyer Goodman stated "thanks for keeping a lid on my Old Testament desire for vengeance". "What did you mean by that," Langdale asked. "I was inclined to be hard on News International," the defendant replied.

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

    When the jury returned, former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner's counsel, Jonathan Caplan QC, rose to cross-examine Goodman. The defendant confirmed that Kuttner had visited his home two days after he had been released from police custody in August 2006 and had taken a note of a conversation which had mentioned that the royal phone information used by Mulcaire to hack had come from the security services. "That's what Mulcaire told me, that this was a by-product of information gained by the security services but I have no way of knowing if this was true." Goodman said he was introduced to someone Mulcaire claimed was a "serving spook" but as far as he knew "it could have been his next door neighbour".

    Goodman then told the court that Kuttner was "always aggressive towards me, and for some reason didn't like me". Caplan suggested that it was unfair to call Kuttner a bully and then ended his questioning.

    Andrew Edis QC, chief prosecution barrister, rose to conduct his cross-examination of the defendant. He told the court what he was concerned with was "who sold you the royal directories" and suggested they were "serving police officers, either directly or indirectly and you used to tell people this, you told all sorts of people". The defendant said he had told people who were involved in the payment process for sources. "Did anyone ever say to you 'hold on a minute we never pay police officers'?" "No," the defendant replied.

    The prosecutor asked the witness if there was any "rule" at the News of the World about paying police officers. "We knew it was wrong," Goodman replied, but did not recall being "told that specifically". Edis asked if it was easier to get money from the News of the World if they thought they were paying policemen and you say you were lying. "It is a lie," Goodman admitted "but it is the context of an environment were building up contacts was commonplace, this is what happens in the media, not everything in the paper is true". "Not in this court I hope," the judge quipped.

    Edis then suggested that "none of this applies to phone books, you might want to big up the source but a phone book is what it is, it has a value". He then had displayed on the court screens a document but the defendant said he could not read it as it was too far away from his chair so he was given a hard copy. The document listed a set of payments made to two of Goodman's contacts who went under the false names of "Farrish" and "Anderson". The prosecution barrister asked about a 2001 payment and asked if this was a payment for a directory. "It may be," Goodman replied. "Did you ask where it came from?" the prosecutor said. "Someone has stolen this, didn't you care?" Goodman replied that the directories were "not very secure" and they could have come from any source. "You paid £1000 for it, it was hardly a piece of rubbish," Edis said.

    Edis asked about another "Anderson" story: "Drunken royal guards point guns at public during New year celebrations". This journalist seems very well connected, Edis said. "Can you tell us who it is?" Goodman said he was using his rights under the human rights act and would not discuss anything about who "Anderson" was. "Did he ring you up and say this is Anderson here?" Edis asked "They said 'it's me'," Goodman replied. "Do you know his name?" the barrister asked. "I know the name he gave me," the defendant replied. "Was he a royal correspondent?" Edis asked. "I don't think so," Goodman replied. "Well he knew more about the royals than you," Edis suggested. "Was he a policeman?" "No," Goodman replied.

    The prosecutor then put it to the witness that all of the Anderson stories, bar one, related to the royal family. "He must have been close to them?" he asked Goodman. "Not necessarily," the defendant replied, adding that he would "stand up" the Anderson stories with the press officer and the in-house lawyers. "Even the Queen's nuts story?" Edis asked "You could get into a lot of trouble if it was not true," Goodman replied, saying that if the press office told them "no comment, we would assume it was true but they didn't want to talk about it". The royal palaces, Goodman said, were like "gossip factories, everything got around". "It didn't get to you though did it?" Edis replied "You were paying for it." Asked about money, Goodman said: "I once carried £60,000 to a contact in the north of Scotland, it's a strange world." "We can all agree with that," Judge Saunders said.

    Court then rose for lunch