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Phone-hacking trial: Scams, scans and unseen dangers

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.

  • Goodman pressed about details of "confidential royal sources"
  • Defendant quotes "Human Rights Act" and refuses to name them
  • Goodman denies he is "capable phone hacker"
  • "I didn't see the danger," defendant says
  • Proceedings resumed after lunch to hear further cross-examination of former News of the World Royal editor Clive Goodman, who is facing two charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office over the purchase of two royal telephone directories which the prosecution allege came from so far unidentified police officers.

    Andrew Edis QC began the afternoon by asking about another source used by Clive Goodman, known in the News of the World's account system as "Farish", and showed the jury a list of payments made to this contact.

    Edis suggested to the witness that two payments of £1,000 referred to the purchase of the royal directories. "I think so," Goodman replied. The defendant told the court that "Farish" worked in the newspaper industry as an "executive". "What did he do for a living?" the barrister asked. "If I tried to explain this further it could identify him and that would be a breach of his human rights," the defendant said. Goodman told the court that he did not know how "Farish" obtained his royal stories but he "took them at face value and checked them out". "Do you know his name?" Edis asked. "I know the name he used," the defendant responded, adding: "I think you are trying to lead me down the line of identifying him and I'm not going to do that". The prosecutor suggested to the witness that he had already named Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and Mark Dyer as sources of stories. "Are you selective over who you protect?" Edis asked. "I've only named people who were already out there," the defendant said, adding: "Mark Dyer has made a fat living from his royal connections."

    Goodman told the court that he never had a police source while he was a reporter. "Why not?" Edis asked. "The police that guard the royal family are hostile to the press," the defendant replied. The witness was then shown a document found at at his home after his arrest in 2006 and the prosecutor suggested that this must have came from the police. "I got some of those from other members of staff," the defendant said, naming a crime reporter at the News of the World. Goodman was then shown further police documents including custody records and royal protection squad files. "So the newspaper has police contacts but you don't?" Edis asked. "Yes," the defendant replied, saying that his recollection was that these had been provided by the crime reporter and again denying he ever had a source inside the police force.

    The court was then shown a series of emails where Goodman asks Andy Coulson for payment to a serving police officer for the royal directories. "That was a lie was it?" Edis asked. "Obtaining money by deception," he continued. "No," Goodman replied, saying he was exaggerating his sources to ensure he got the payments approved. "Were you not worried Mr Coulson would call the police and have you arrested?" the prosecutor asked. "No, he had never done that before," Goodman said. "You got him to agree to paying all this money by making it up?" Edis asked. "Yes," the defendant agreed, "it was a bit of salesmanship". Judge Saunders then intervened and said to the defendant "you sometimes mix up the reason for a lie with the fact that it is a lie".

    The prosecutor then showed the defendant a transcript of a tape he made of his employment appeal hearing in 2007 when he said of Mulcaire "he didn't generally break stories, he was called by the news desk and asked to get details of people in the news, that meant intercepting voicemails". "How did you know that?" Edis asked Goodman. "I had a working relationship with Glenn Mulcaire and he would often call me and ask how his stories had been received," the witness replied. Later in the tape, Goodman says the idea that Mulcaire was a "bona fide private investigator is a fantasy". "That's true," the defendant said. "You were aware of what was happening," the prosecutor said. "Glen was in constant daily contact," Goodman replied.

    Court then took a short break.

    When the jury returned Judge Saunders asked them if they were "lively and intellectually stimulated enough to go on". They indicated they were and the prosecutor rose and suggested to Goodman that all of his activities with Mulcaire involved phone hacking. "He did legitimate work as well," the defendant said, but agreed that "99 per cent of his work was in relation to phone hacking but he did other things like tracing people". The defendant said that he had suspicions about hacking but had only been told about Mulcaire's activities in January 2005.

    Goodman was then asked about an email he sent to Andy Coulson about information he had "scammed" about Prince Harry having a skiing accident. "Does the word scammed not imply illegality, did he [Coulson] ever ask you about it?" "Not that I recall," the defendant replied, and agreed he had never discussed with Coulson if the story was in the public interest. "You are not trying to hide this from Mr Coulson are you, you are giving the game away, that's the point?" "At that point I don't think Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking, by me anyway." Edis suggested that there was a policy to keep references to phone hacking out of the company email system. "There was a lot of phone hacking but not emails about it," he told the jury.

    The prosecutor then asked the witness if he was a "capable phone hacker" in his own right. Goodman said he could only do it if someone else gave him the direct dial number and the pin code. "I can't just hack anyone at random," he told the court, adding: "I didn't see the danger". Goodman was then asked about another contact who was in charge of "invite vetting". "Who was that?" Edis asked, "was it a police officer?" "He was a confidential source who is protected under the human rights act," the defendant replied adding, "you are reaching Mr Edis". The prosecutor then asked the defendant about another email where he had told another News of the World employee he had two "uniformed sources". "That was untrue," Goodman told the court, saying it was "salesmanship" to ensure his sources were paid.

    Court then adjourned until Monday

    All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues