Phone-hacking trial reports Nov/Dec 2013

The Guardian, December 21 2013

This is a complete set of court reports filed to the Guardian from the marathon phone-hacking trial, which took place at the Old Bailey from October 30 2013 until June 23 2014. The date at the top of each story is the date of the hearing, although the reports were written to be published in the printed paper on the following day. Hence the use of the word ‘yesterday’ in the reports. Missing dates indicate days when the court either did not sit, or sat in the absence of the jury to deal with procedural points and legal questions. Towards the end, there were many of these. They are written within the constraints required by British law, essentially that each report should be a fair and accurate account of what was said in court.

 

October 30 2013

Three former news editors from the News of the World have pleaded guilty to plotting to hack mobile phones during a six-year period when Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were editing the paper, it was disclosed yesterday.

Opening the Old Bailey trial of Brooks, Coulson and six others, Crown counsel Andrew Edis QC also revealed that the paper’s specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, had separately admitted intercepting the messages of the missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Edis told the jury that News International’s original claim that the hacking was the work of just one reporter had now been proved conclusively to be untrue.

He alleged that Brooks and Coulson had been part of the conspiracy to hack phones between October 2000 and August 2006 and that they had also plotted to pay money to corrupt public officials during more than a decade of crime at the News of the World and the Sun.

Brooks, he said, had personally authorised payments of £40,000 to a senior official from the Ministry of Defence. Coulson, he told the jury, had written emails agreeing to pay a Palace police officer for royal telephone directories which could be used to assist hacking. Brooks and Coulson deny all the charges.

The News of the World’s former managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, and former news editor, Ian Edmondson, also deny plotting to hack phones. The paper’s former royal editor, Clive Goodman, denies conspiring with Coulson to pay the Palace police officer. Brooks also denies perverting the course of justice by destroying notebooks and concealing computers from the police inquiry. Her husband, Charlie Brooks, her personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, and her head of security, Mark Hanna, deny assisting her to destroy or conceal evidence.

The trial, which is scheduled to last until April, is the result of three police operations which have worked for a total of 33 months. On Tuesday, the judge, Mr Justice Saunders, told the jury that it was not only the defendants but also British justice which was going on trial. Yesterday, Andrew Edis suggested that the police and the press also stood accused.

He explained that police had first investigated the hacking in 2006, securing the conviction for hacking of Mulcaire and Goodman, but he added: “That inquiry turned out to be quite restricted. This inquiry has revealed a lot more than that one.”

He went on to confront the link between crime and journalism: “This prosecution is not an attack on the freedom of the press or the process of journalism. The prosecution accepts that it’s important in a free country that there is a free press but the prosecution says that journalists are no more entitled to break the law than anybody else. The criminal law applies to all of us equally.”

Edis told the jury that the indictment covered three kinds of crime.

First, there was the interception of voicemail, to which, he revealed, three former news editors – Greg Miskiw, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup – had now pleaded guilty along with Glenn Mulcaire. Mulcaire, he said, “was very good at hacking people’s phones – obviously a very useful talent if you are a newspaper wanting to publish things about people that they would like to keep private.”

“There is no doubt that initially News International was keen to say that phone hacking in the News of the World was really limited to Mr Goodman but this inquiry has proved conclusively that that is not true.” Following the guilty pleas of the three former news editors, he said, “it cannot be suggested by anybody now that phone hacking was restricted to Mr Goodman.”

Edis told the court that hacking happened under both Brooks and Coulson. “There was phone hacking done for the benefit of the News of the World and at its expense. It started when Mrs Brooks was the editor and continued after Mr Coulson took over.” He added: “You will have to decide whether this could happen without the editor knowing.”

Among the victims, he said, were Lord Frederick Windsor, 13 of whose voicemail messages were found on recordings in Mulcaire’s office; Sir Paul McCartney; Sienna Miller; Jude Law; Will Young, Lord Prescott and David Blunkett.

Edis told the jury that the management of the paper, including Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, “must have known” about the hacking. The jurors must ask, he said, “whether these people were doing their jobs properly, in which case we say that they must have known what they were spending their money on, they must have known where some of these stories came from. Either they were doing their jobs properly, or at least three – and we say four – of the news editors were running this operation with Glenn Mulcaire – a great deal of phone hacking – and the management never even noticed.”

Second, he alleged, there were payments to corrupt public officials. These were not whistleblowers, he said: “There may be a degree of integrity in that kind of behaviour. We are talking about people who sold stories about people’s private lives.”

As editor of the Sun, Rebekah Brooks had authorised payments to a member of the armed forces and his spouse and to a senior Ministry of Defence official, Bettina Jordan Barber, who had been paid a total of £40,000 for stories. She had been vetted to see secret material and was particularly trusted, he said, “but over a long period of time she sold an awful lot of information for an awful lot of money.”

He added that following the original police inquiry and the conviction of Mulcaire and Goodman, the director of the PCC, Tim Toulmin, wrote to Mrs Brooks asking for information about internal controls to stop similar “snooping” at the Sun. On March 27 2007, she replied assuring Toulmin that “the Sun deplores the type of snooping revealed by the Goodman case. We have in the past made strenuous attempts to make sure that type of conduct does not happen at the Sun.”

Mr Edis reminded the jury that she was writing this letter during the time when she was authorising payments to Bettina Jordan Barber. She wrote: “No payments are made by the Sun without the personal written authority of the editor or the editor of the day. Once approved, each payment must also be approved by me or the deputy managing editor.”

Coulson, he told the jury, as editor of the News of the World, had twice exchanged emails with Clive Goodman, agreeing to pay an unidentified Palace police officer for royal telephone directories. Fifteen such directories had been found in Goodman’s home, including two which matched the timeframe of the email exchanges.

Finally, Edis told the jury, Rebekah Brooks and others were accused of plotting to pervert the course of justice – “a cover-up”, as he put it. Brooks and her PA, Cheryl Carter, had removed seven boxes of Brooks’ journalistic notebooks from the News International archive. They had done this in July 2011 in the aftermath of the Milly Dowler story. “It was quite obvious to everybody that this was not going away, that the police were going to find out how much phone hacking had been going on.” The notebooks had never been found. “We will never know what they contained because they have gone. That is a classic perversion of the course of justice.”

That same month, he said, Brooks, her husband and her head of security had conspired to remove computers and other records from the Brooks’ two homes to prevent police finding them. This had been “a complicated little operation” which had been discovered by police “as a result of an accident that was rather bad luck for those involved.”

The Crown is due to continue its opening tomorrow.

 

October 31 2013

The prosecution in the phone-hacking trial yesterday lobbed an emotional bombshell into the case by revealing that Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson had had a secret extra-marital affair for at least six years from the late 1990s.

Andrew Edis QC told the jury that they needed to know about the affair because the two former editors face charges of conspiracy. “The first question, therefore, is how well did they know each other? How much did they trust each other? The fact that they were in this relationship, which was a secret, means that they trusted each other quite a lot with at least that secret. That’s why we are telling you about it.”

The affair was disclosed on the day that the court heard detailed allegations that Brooks and Coulson had used illegally hacked voicemail messages to expose the extra-marital affairs of Labour ministers John Prescott and David Blunkett and of the trade union leader Andrew Gilchrist. The jury was shown a leader column published by the Sun under Rebekah Brooks’ editorship which described Gilchrist as “a lying, cheating, low-life fornicator.”

The whole day’s proceedings focussed on just one of the seven counts on the indictment which alleges that Brooks, Coulson, Stuart Kuttner and Ian Edmondson conspired to intercept voicemail messages. The Crown gave a detailed account of the hacking of the phone of the missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler in which, it was alleged, Brooks and Coulson had been “criminally involved”.

Mr Edis said that the affair had come to light when police found a computer in a cupboard at Brooks’ London flat, which was searched on the day of her arrest in July 2011. This proved to contain a letter, written by Brooks to Coulson in February 2004, indicating that they had been having an affair for at least six years. At that time, Coulson had been married to his wife Elois since 2000, and Brooks had been married to the TV actor Ross Kemp since 2002.

The letter, said Edis, was “elegant, intelligent and well-written” and evidently composed in reply to an attempt by Coulson to end the relationship by introducing new rules to limit their contact, something which had caused her “a great deal of grief”, as Edis put it.

Brooks and Coulson sat side by side in the dock staring without expression into the well of the court as Edis read the jury a section of the letter in which Brooks wrote: “Finally, and the least of our worries, how do we really work out this new relationship? There are a hundred things that have happened since Saturday night that I would normally share with you, some important, most trivial.

“The fact is that you are my very best friend. I tell you everything, I confide in you, I seek your advice, I love you, care about you, worry about you. We laugh and cry together… In fact, without our relationship in my life, I am really not sure how I will cope. I’m frightened to be without you but, bearing in mind ‘the rules’, you will not know how I am doing, and visa versa… Obviously I can’t discuss my worries, concerns, problems at work with you any more.”

The prosecution disclosed the affair in the context of the hacking of the phone of Milly Dowler, the 13-year-old Surrey schoolgirl who went missing on March 21 2002. The jury was told on Wednesday that the News of the World’s specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, has pleaded guilty to intercepting her voicemail. Yesterday, Edis gave the jury a detailed account of how the paper had not only hacked her phone but withheld from police information which appeared to show that the missing girl was alive.

Edis argued that, although Rebekah Brooks had been on holiday in Dubai during the key week of the Dowler story, the nature of her relationship with her deputy, Andy Coulson, was among a number of factors which made it ‘simply incredible’ that she had not been aware of the hacking of Milly’s phone.

He said notes kept by Mulcaire showed that he had been tasked to target Milly on April 10 by the former news editor Neville Thurlbeck, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hack phones. Mulcaire had found a message from a recruitment agency, which appeared to invite the missing girl to go for a job interview at a factory in Telford, West Midlands. In fact, the jury heard, the message had been intended for somebody else with a similar name and similar phone number. Believing they might find Milly alive before the police, the News of the World on April 12 had sent a team of reporters and photographers to the factory.

Edis said: “The thing was heating up. The News of the World was on the hunt for a substantial story. Did the editors know?… If a child is believed to be away from home, you might think that the best thing is to tell the police right away rather than to send your photographers and journalists up there on a Friday night to see if you can find the girl before the police do. Somebody must have made that decision.”

When the visit to the factory yielded no sign of the missing girl, Edis said, Thurlbeck and the managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, had both attempted to persuade Surrey police to co-operate on a story and had told police explicitly that they were in possession of voicemail. They had then published a story which quoted verbatim the message from the recruitment agency, though that had been removed from later editions. One of the reporters who was sent to the Telford factory had claimed his expenses for petrol under the heading “Milly Dowler answer phone messages.”

“This phone hacking does not seem to have been much of a secret,” Edis told the jury. “Was it only the editor who didn’t know it had happened?”

He said that from Dubai, Brooks had stayed in regular contact by text and phone with Coulson. “It is highly likely that if they were talking about work, they were exchanging confidences and discussing difficulties. The point of that letter is that what Mr Coulson, who was on deck as editor that week, knew, Mrs Brooks knew too.” He added that the jury would hear from a witness who would say that he had met Mrs Brooks in Dubai that week and that he recalled her spending a lot of time on her phone and saying at one point “I have to go and speak to somebody about the missing Surrey schoolgirl.”

Edis added that Eimear Wilson, the wife of golfer Colin Montgomerie, would tell the jury of a lunch which she had had with Brooks in the autumn of 2005 when Brooks had told her how easy it was to listen to other people’s voicemail, describing the method and citing as an example of a hacked story a tale about Sir Paul McCartney arguing with his wife, Heather Mills, about an engagement ring. This, Edis said, had been published by the News of the World during her editorship under the headline “Macca throws Heather’s ring out of hotel window.”

The jury were played a tape-recording made by David Blunkett in August 2004 when, as Home Secretary, he was visited in his office by Andy Coulson who tried to persuade him to confirm that he had been having an affair with a married woman, Kimberley Quinn. Coulson argued that the fact that she was married meant that any newspaper would want to publish the story. Coulson told Blunkett: “I’m extremely confident about the information.” He refused to say how he knew. Edis told the jury that Mulcaire’s notes and audio tapes which had been found in a News International safe showed that Coulson’s source in fact was the hacking of messages left by Blunkett. The same hacking had disclosed that Kimberley Quinn had also been having an affair with the Guardian journalist Simon Hoggart.

Earlier the jury heard that in their efforts to expose the affair of the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, the News of the World had offered his lover Tracey Temple £100,000 for her story, hacked the phone of Prescott’s special adviser Joan Hammell and also hacked the phones of two rival journalists, Dennis Rice and Sebastian Hamilton from the Mail on Sunday, in an attempt to steal their story.

Brooks, Coulson, Kuttner and Edmondson deny conspiring to intercept voicemail. Brooks, Coulson and Clive Goodman deny conspiring to pay money to corrupt public officials. Brooks together with her husband, Charlie Brooks, her PA, Cheryl Carter, and her head of security, Mark Hanna, deny destroying or concealing evidence.

 

November 1 2013

The Prime Minister’s former director of communications, Andy Coulson, yesterday faced a barrage of detailed allegations about crimes he is accused of committing in his earlier role as editor of the News of the World.

Prosecuting counsel in the phone hacking trial, Andrew Edis QC, showed the jury chains of emails, hand-written notes and internal accounting records which, he claimed, revealed that Coulson:

Was warned in writing that he could be charged with crime for paying police to leak information;

Personally authorised payments of up to £1,000 to sources believing they were Royalty protection police officers;

Was directly involved in discussing special payments for the hacking of phone messages; and

Dealt with problems in a story about Calum Best by ordering his news editor by email “Do his phone.”

And the court heard that Coulson’s former royal editor, Clive Goodman, had recently given police access to a file of old emails which, it is claimed, show that Goodman’s hacking of royal phones was “officially sanctioned” by senior managers including Coulson. The file included the transcript of a message left by Prince Harry, calling from Sandhurst military academy to ask his private secretary to help him write an essay.

Edis said Coulson was part of a phone hacking strategy which was “a totally rational but entirely illegal system”. He added that the hacking was well known to those working for the paper: “There aren’t any secrets. Why would there be? They are all working as a team – and he’s the boss.”
Coulson denies charges of conspiring to intercept voicemail messages and to commit misconduct in public office.

Continuing the Crown’s opening statement at the Old Bailey, Mr Edis, showed the jury emails which were allegedly exchanged when Goodman asked Coulson to approve payments to Palace police officers.

On January 24 2003, Goodman wrote to complain that he had been having “a heck of a time” getting cash payments authorised for a “royal policeman” at St James’ Palace who was offering to sell a directory of royal phone numbers: “These people will not be paid in anything other than cash because if they are discovered selling stuff to us, they will end up on criminal charges, as could we.”

Three minutes later, Coulson replied “This is fine”. He queried whether they had not already recently bought the directory. Goodman explained that “This is the harder-to-get one which has the Queen’s direct lines to her family in it.”

The jury was told that Goodman had then produced what he himself described as “a deliberately cryptic credit payment form” which led to £1,000 in cash being paid to a source who was recorded internally under the false name David Farrish and who has not been identified.

Two years later, on May 14 2005, Goodman wrote again to Coulson asking him to authorise payment of £1,000 “to one of our Palace cops” for a new version of the same royal phone book. Goodman explained: “It is a very risky document for him to nick… It’s one of our normal cash contribution only players.”

Edis told the jury that it was clear “he is paying a policeman to commit a crime.” Internal accounts showed that £1,000 in cash was then paid under the heading “confidential research assistance” to a source recorded internally under the false name ‘Anderson’, whose real name has not been found.

The jury were told that the emails presented “the clearest possible evidence of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office” and also that they were evidence in relation to phone hacking. Mr Edis showed the jury hand-written notes kept by the News of the World’s specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, which suggested that he had used numbers from royal phone directories to listen to voicemail left for members of the royal household, including Sir Michael Peat, private secretary to the Prince of Wales.

Mr Edis told the court that Clive Goodman had asked for special payments to be made to Glenn Mulcaire for hacking the royal household and that Coulson in December 2005 had agreed to pay the hacker a weekly retainer of £500 in addition to his existing contract. However, at the end of January 2006, under pressure to cut spending, Coulson had changed his mind. On February 3, Goodman emailed his editor, pleading to preserve “Matey’s weekly payment”.

Goodman said that the arrangement had produced a list of stories, adding: “A few weeks ago you asked me to find new ways of getting into the family especially William and Harry. I came up with this. It is safe, productive and cost-effective. I’m confident it will become a big story-goldmine if we let it run just a little longer.”

Coulson had replied with a single line: “I’m sorry it has to go.” Edis told the jury it was significant that the editor had not had to ask for any explanation about Goodman’s source. It was, he said, “absolutely clear that Mr Coulson knows what he is talking about.”

Edis showed the jury timelines constructed from internal emails and Mulcaire’s notes, detailing the hacking of targets including the then Home Secretary Charles Clarke, Sir Paul McCartney, the LibDem MP Mark Oaten and Kerry Katona. In the case of George Best’s son Calum, the news editor, Ian Edmondson, emailed Coulson about fears that there might be a leak from inside the newspaper which would allow Calum Best to find out about the story they were planning. Coulson replied: “Do his phone.”

Prosecutors yesterday disclosed for the first time that Clive Goodman had handed them a file of internal emails which he had downloaded from the News of the World’s system following his arrest for phone hacking in August 2006 in an attempt to gather evidence that his own hacking had been “officially sanctioned”.

One email included the the transcript of a long voice message left by Prince Harry on the phone of his private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, pleading for help with an essay he had to write about the Iranian Embassy siege. Goodman then drafted a story which he sent to Coulson, making no reference to the hacked voicemail but saying “As we know, it’s 100% fact.”

The court heard that following Goodman’s arrest in August 2006, “Mr Coulson and others at News International were extremely worried about what Mr Goodman would do or say in the course of defending himself.”

The paper’s in house lawyer, Tom Crone, had emailed Coulson to say he feared that in a meeting with a probation officer, Goodman might “stray off the preferred line”. Coulson had told Goodman that he might be able to keep his job even if he were jailed. When goodman was subsequently sacked and emerged from jail complaining he had been unfairly dismissed, Rebekah Brooks had offered him a job on the Sun even though 18 days earlier she had written to the Press Complaints Commission claiming that any reporter found breaking the law would be summarily dismissed.

Edis said: “Mr Coulson was obviously interested in limiting the damage to the paper he worked for but also, we say, he was interested in limiting the damage to himself because of what he had been up to.”

Separately, the jury was told that, as editor of the Sun, Rebekah Brooks had exchanged emails with a reporter in which she allegedly agreed to pay £4,000 to a serving member of the armed forces for a photograph of Prince William wearing a bikini and a Hawaian shirt. She had also used email to authorise a total of £40,000 of payments to a senior Ministry of Defence official. Brooks denies conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.

The trial continues.

 

November 4 2013

Rebekah Brooks and her husband, Charlie, hatched a complicated plot to hide evidence from the police only to be foiled by a conscientious cleaner, an Old Bailey jury heard yesterday. It was a curious tale involving an underground car park, two pizzas and a famous movie line of Richard Burton’s.

The story was told by the Crown as part of a wider allegation that, as the chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks had tried to conceal evidence of wrongdoing at the News of the World by deleting email records and destroying all the journalistic notebooks she had filled over a 12-year period. She denies two counts of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

The jury also heard an opening speech on behalf of Andy Coulson that the Crown had misstated his role as editor of the News of the World and that “it is his case that he was never party to an agreement to hack phones whatever others might have been doing on his watch.”

Completing his three-day opening for the Crown, Andrew Edis QC took the jury back to July 2011, to the aftermath of the Guardian’s disclosure of the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone. “A media firestorm was about to engulf the News of the World,” he said. “You can imagine the extremely anxious, if not panic-stricken approach to these developments that must have been going on at the News of the World.”

With Scotland Yard’s new inquiry closing in, Edis said, News International announced they would close the News of the World, and Rebekah Brooks realised she herself faced arrest when she kept an appointment with police on Sunday July 17. It was in this context, he claimed, that she and her husband came up with a plan to stop police finding computers and other records at their country home, Jubilee Barn in Oxfordshire, and their flat at Thames Quay, Chelsea Harbour, central London.

That Sunday morning, a chauffeur drove the Brookses in their Audi from Oxfordshire down to London with a security man shadowing them in a separate car to make sure they were not followed. Back at Jubilee Barn, Edis alleged, the head of security at News International, Mark Hanna, collected items which were to be concealed from police and set off in a black Range Rover to the company’s office at Thomas More Square, Wapping. Hanna, the jury was told, was in charge of protecting the Brookses from “newspaper people” and others in what had been named internally “Operation Blackhawk”.

By noon, the chauffeur had dropped off Charlie Brooks and driven Rebekah Brooks to Lewisham police station, waiting outside while she was formally arrested and questioned. At 12.15, Edis said, Charlie Brooks was caught by CCTV cameras at Chelsea Harbour going down to the underground car park, carrying a jiffy bag and a laptop computer which he appeared to leave in a waste bin. Two hours later, the CCTV recorded Mark Hanna apparently removing both items from the bin. According to cell site information from his mobile phone, Hanna then returned to Thomas More Square.

That afternoon, the police searched both of the Brookses homes. Edis suggested to the jury that amongst the material concealed from there were two iPads and an iPhone which, according to electronic records, the couple had been using recently. “The coast is clear,” he said. “The police have been and gone. But of course, it may not be entirely clear because there may be police or press keeping an eye on what was going on.” This became important, the jury heard, when It was decided to return some “safe” items to the Beookses that evening.

Mark Hanna texted one of his men: “Have plan. Can you call please?” Edis suggested to the jury that this security man had been tasked to go to Thomas More Square, to collect a big bin bag containing some of the concealed items and to take them to Cheleas Harbour where there was some risk of being spotted by police or press. “There has got to be some sort of pretext,” he said. Which is where the pizzas allegedly became involved.

According to Edis, the security man had picked up two pizzas, driven to Chelsea Harbour, phoned Charlie Brooks, delivered the pizzas to an unnamed man who came down to the underground car park, dropped the bin bag into a waste bin and then texted his immediate boss with a line famously used by Richard Burton when communicating with his commanding officer in Where Eagles Dare.

“Broadsword to Danny Boy” he texted, adding: “Pizzas delivered. The chicken is in the pot.”

His boss texted back: “Amateurs! We should have done a DLB or a brush contact on the riverside. Log the hours as pizza delivery.” Edis explained that a DLB is a dead letter box of the kind used by spies and that what the text as a whole meant was: “You have done the secret little job. We could have done that better. Log in the hours as pizza delivery because you can’t log in the hours as perverting the course of justice.”

The whole exercise,” said Edis, “was quite complicated and quite risky and liable to go wrong.” On the following morning, he told the jury, it had indeed gone wrong when the chauffeur drove the Brookses to see their solicitor, leaving the bin bag still in the waste bin. In their absence, a cleaner, Mr Nascimento, had noticed the bag and its contents and taken it to his manager. When the Brookses returned, CCTV records showed, Charlie Brooks had searched the area around the waste bin and texted the security man who had left the bin bag there: “Need to get Rebekah some lunch. Pizza.”

But by then, said Mr Edis, Mr Nascimento’s manager had decided to call the police “which is how the police ended up with the bin bag.”

Separately, the jury heard that in the previous week, on Friday July 8, the day after the closure of the News of the World was announced, Rebekah Brooks and her personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, had arranged to remove from the company archive seven boxes allegedly containing all the notebooks Brooks had used from 1995 to 2007. Cheryl Carter had falsely told the archivist that they were her own notebooks, Edis said, and then falsely told police that Brooks had not been in the office on this day. “It was quite dishonest,” he said. The notebooks had never been found.

During the previous 18 months, as the temperature rose over the phone hacking affair, the jury heard, Rebekah Brooks had helped to devise an email deletion policy which was explicitly intended, among other things, “to eliminate… emails that could be unhelpful in the context of future litigation.” She had then written messages asking what would happen to her own email records and pressing for emails to be deleted quickly and for an increasingly wide timeframe.

Rebekah and Charlie Brooks, Cheryl Carter and Mark Hanna deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice. The trial continues.

 

November 5 2013

Surrey police made no attempt to investigate the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone in April 2002 even though News of the World journalists told them at the time that they had accessed her voicemail and even played one of her messages to them, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

The disclosure came as the prosecution used notes kept by the specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, as well as phone records, diaries, internal News of the World paperwork and live witnesses to reconstruct what allegedly happened after the 13-year-old girl went missing on her way home from school in Surrey on Thursday March 21 2001.

On Wednesday April 10, Mulcaire was tasked to listen to the messages that had been left for her, the court was told. Some were from friends and family, according to transcripts shown to the jury: “Please come home. I miss you so much… Hey, Milly, if you get this, call me… Hallo, Milly. It’s just that we want you home.” But the one which attracted the News of the World’s attention was from a recruitment agency in Telford, West Midlands, apparently using Milly’s real name, Amanda.

It had been left on Wednesday March 27. As recorded by the News of the World, it said: “Hallo, Amanda. This is Jo from Mondays Recruitment Agency. We are ringing because we have some interviews starting today at Epson. Please ring.” The court has heard that the message was, in fact, intended for a woman called Nana who had a similar phone number but that, believing they might find the missing girl alive, the paper dispatched a team of journalists to an Epson factory near Telford, without telling the police.

When that failed to yield any sighting, they went to Surrey police, putting pressure on them to confirm their story with increasingly explicit references to the intercepted voicemail. On Friday April 13, the managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, spoke to a detective who noted him saying “The News of the World are in possession of a recording of the message.” The same detective then spoke to the news editor, Neville Thurlbeck, and noted at the time: “Thurlbeck told me he had accessed Milly’s voicemail with PIN no 1210.” Thurlbeck then repeated the claim to a press officer, saying that the paper had obtained Milly’s phone number and PIN code from schoolchildren.

Surrey police believed that the message was probably the work of a hoaxer who had been posing as Milly. The News of the World duly published a story that Sunday, April 14, headlined “Milly hoax riddle” which quoted verbatim the voicemail from the recruitment agency. That story was then amended after the first edition, the court heard, to remove the verbatim quote.

The following week, Kuttner emailed police, challenging the accuracy of the hoaxer angle and adding that during the previous week “We passed on information about messages left on Amanda Dowler’s phone… We offered a copy of a tape-recording of the messages.” Shortly afterwards, a press officer called the paper’s crime reporter, Ricky Sutton, insisting that the hoaxer story was true. According to the press officer’s log, Sutton replied: “This is not true. It’s inconceivable… Milly has been up there in person. She has registered and applied for a job at the factory. We know this for 100%.” During the conversation, Sutton played the message down the phone, the court heard.

And yet, the jury was told, when senior Surrey officers held their weekly Gold Command meeting that week and discussed the activity of the hoaxer, the evidence that the News of the World had hacked the missing girl’s voicemail was not even mentioned, and no investigation was started.

The court was told that in the week leading up to the News of the World printing the hoaxer story, the editor, Rebekah Brooks, had been on holiday in Dubai. The prosecution have produced phone records apparently showing that she stayed in contact with executives on the paper including her deputy, Andy Coulson. William Hennessy, a marketing executive who was on holiday in Dubai at the same time, told the court that he had met Brooks and her then partner, the TV actor Ross Kemp, and that he recalled Brooks going off to make a phone call explaining that it was about “the missing Surrey schoolgirl.” For Brooks, Jonathan Laidlaw QC suggested that Hennessy had not spent the time that he claimed with her.

Brooks, Coulson and Kuttner all deny conspiring to intercept voicemail. Mulcaire has pleaded guilty to hacking Milly Dowler’s phone. The trial continues.

 

November 6 2013

The News of the World repeatedly hacked into the voicemail of the England football manager Sven Goran Eriksson over a four-year period as they exposed his sex life and then set him up for a sting by their ‘fake sheikh’ reporter, Mazher Mahmood, an Old Bailey jury heard yesterday.

At the climax of the campaign, the court was told, Eriksson announced that he would resign, and the newspaper prominently claimed the credit for his fall.

The prosecution displayed notes which were written by the newspaper’s specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, which suggested that he was first hacked in 2002 on four occasions on the instructions of two senior executives at the News of the World: the assistant editor, Greg Miskiw; and the news editor, Neville Thurlbeck. The notes, which are scrawled by hand and intersected by arrow-marks and doodles, included Eriksson’s name and mobile phone number and the personal details of an unrelated pole-dancer from Brighton who had also been targeted.

In 2004, Miskiw again tasked Mulcaire to hack Eriksson. This time the notes which were shown to the jury included the home address and phone number of Faria Alam, a secretary at the Football Association. The News of the World then published a sequence of stories exposing her relationship with Eriksson (“Sven’s Secret Affair”) and with a senior FA executive (“I bedded Sven and his boss”). The stories were among those which won the News of the World the award for Newspaper of the Year 2004/5.

Two years later, Mulcaire returned to Eriksson’s phone, repeatedly calling into his number in January 2006, allegedly listening to his private messages. On January 22, the News of the World published a series of embarrassing comments which Eriksson had made to the paper’s undercover reporter, Mazher Mahmood, under the headline “This man is a crook”. Mulcaire’s phone records suggest that he continued to hack the England manager’s phone until he announced that he would resign.

Mulcaire, Miskiw and Thurlbeck have all pleaded guilty to charges of phone hacking. During the targeting of Eriksson’s phone, the jury has been told, the paper was edited by Rebekah Brooks in 2002 and then in 2004 and 2006 by Andy Coulson. Brooks and Coulson have denied conspiring to intercept communications.

Earlier, the jury heard how a team of reporters from the News of the World descended on a recruitment agency in Telford in April 2002 when a hacked voicemail led Neville Thurlbeck to believe that the agency had given work to the missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler. The evidence included allegations that a reporter falsely claimed to be working with the police and that somebody tried to get information from the agency by pretending to be Milly’s mother.

The court heard that one of the reporters who was sent to Telford, Vanessa Altin, had been working undercover in the Sugar Lounge club in Manchester, looking for stories about Man Utd players who drank there, when Thurlbeck told her he believed the recruitment agency had found Milly a job at an Epson factory in Ironbridge. In a statement to police, Altin said she had thought this was “far-fetched in the extreme” and that it was a “pointless waste of time” to stake out the factory in the hope of finding the missing girl. Nevertheless, she told police, Thurlbeck had sent her and six others to pursue the story.

Staff from the recruitment agency described to police how an unidentified woman made three calls to them claiming to be Milly Dowler’s mother and wanting to know whether they had given work to her daughter. They has refused to give her information. The agency’s owner, Valerie Hancox, told police that a News of the World reporter had come to her house. “He told me he was helping police with their inquiries,” she said in a statement read to the jury. “He was not aggressive. He was well-mannered. He asked if I wanted to help Milly Dowler. He informed me he was working with the police investigation team.”

On Monday the jury heard that after his reporters returned empty-handed from Telford, Neville Thurlbeck had called Surrey police, who were investigating Milly Dowler’s disappearance, and had told them that the recruitment agency had confirmed that they had given work to the missing girl. The paper’s crime reporter, Ricky Sutton had told a Surrey police press officer that he was “100% certain” the story was true.

The jury was told that while this was going on in England, the editor, Rebekah Brooks, was staying at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai, using her mobile phone to stay in touch while she had lunch by the pool or drank in the hotel’s nightclub. A British interior designer, Dean Keyworth, who spent time with her in Dubai told the court that she said she liked to talk to her office even though she was on holiday so that she could keep on top of things. He added that her partner, the former East Enders actor Ross Kemp, had been particularly pleased with the hotel because of the Hermes toiletries in the bathrooms.

The trial continues.

 

November 7 2013

The Old Bailey yesterday heard the poignant story of how, as Home Secretary in the summer of 2004, David Blunkett struggled to save his relationship with the woman he loved never suspecting that his private words to her were being tape-recorded and her movements monitored around the clock by the News of the World.

The story emerged in intimate detail after police found recordings of 330 voicemail messages in the safe of the News of the World’s lawyer, Tom Crone. The jury was told that they had been made from the phone of Kimberly Quinn, the publisher of the Spectator magazine, with whom Mr Blunkett had been having an affair for three years. The safe also contained transcripts of the messages and drafts for a story in which Mr Blunkett and Ms Quinn were disguised with the code names Noddy and Big Ears.

The court later heard a tape recording which had been made by Mr Blunkett in August 2004 when the then editor of the News of the World, Andy Coulson, came to his office and confronted him about the affair. The Home Secretary was heard pleading: “I want a private life. I’m young enough to want a private life.” Two days later, the paper published a front-page story, headlined “Blunkett’s affair with a married woman.”

The newspaper’s specialist phone-hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, first targeted Blunkett in January 2004, when he collected phone numbers for the Home Secretary, his two sons and his special adviser, Huw Evans, according to the prosecution. By July, Mulcaire,was also targeting Ms Quinn, collecting her phone details and listening to a message from the office of her medical consultant.

One of the documents found in Tom Crone’s safe was headed “Noddy and Big Ears summary”. Apparently written in early August 2004, it explained that the couple appeared to have marked the third anniversary of their affair on July 22, when Mr Blunkett had left a particularly affectionate message. It said that old news cuttings suggested that Ms Quinn might have met Blunkett when he was interviewed by the Spectator in July 2001 and went on to record the birth date of one of her children, attempting to establish the date on which he had been conceived.

The document continued: “Reading the messages, they are clearly splitting up. This has been instigated by Big Ears. Noddy is devastated.” It said that Mr Blunkett was asking to meet and had gone to his country cottage. “I have a possible address for her. We have bikes and cars on her round the clock – very low key. There is a meeting scheduled for Wednesday August 11 in the morning. No further detail on where, but if it’s brought forward we are in a good position to catch it.”

The paper was also trying to find Mr Blunkett’s country address, the document noting that “it is clearly next to a church as a church bell can be heard on one of the messages.” Andrew Edis QC, for the Crown, said this was a funeral bell tolling.

Mr Edis referred to series of messages in which Mr Blunkett had expressed his love for Ms Quinn, and also his distress, telling her at one point: “You’re breaking my heart.” On the same day that he left that voicemail, the jury was told, Mr Blunkett had also left a message saying he was going to go to the 40th birthday party of Rebekah Brooks’ then husband, the TV actor Ross Kemp, “as a gesture and then will collapse into bed.” Det Con Tim Hargreaves told the court that he had listened to all 330 messages and that they were “deeply personal and intrusive”. Glenn Mulcaire submitted a bill for £750 for his work on the story.

On Friday August 13, Andy Coulson travelled to Sheffield to confront Mr Blunkett over his affair, telling him: “There’s no desire at all to cause you damage, politically or otherwise.” The Home Secretary replied: “Politics is one thing. Private life is another… If you don’t have a private life, you don’t have anything.” Coulson said: “My view is that there are some matters, some stories that have to be dealt with.”

Mr Blunkett suggested that his relationship with Ms Quinn was simply a friendship. Coulson countered: “This story isn’t about friendship. The story is about an affair, the fact that you are and have been very much more than friends.” He refused to identify his source but said: “I am extremely confident of the information”, adding later “People know about this affair. I’m not suggesting it’s an open secret but people do know about it.”

Mr Blunkett pleaded repeatedly for the privacy of himself and Ms Quinn: “My private life is my own. I’m divorced… I have always, always kept my private relations private.” He said he wanted to protect Ms Quinn from damage and also “to prevent open season on my private life. I want a private life. I’m young enough to want a private life… I’m not a media star. I’m a politician trying to do a very difficult job.”

Coulson stood his ground: “In an ideal world, that’s perhaps how it should be. But you are Home Secretary and I don’t think you can use your right to privacy to bat back an accusation that you have had an affair with a married woman.”

Coulson offered to run the story without naming Ms Quinn if Mr Blunkett would confirm it. In the event, the News of the World did not name Ms Quinn in their story, but the Sun did so during the following week. The court heard that Coulson and Brooks were in frequent phone contact at this time.

Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks deny conspiring to intercept communications. The trial continues.

 

November 11 2013

David Blunkett left anxious phone messages for a woman who had wrongly been named as his lover, apologising to her for the press attention and describing the journalists who were pursuing them as “absolutely vile” and “hyenas”, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

But in a statement to police, the woman in question, Sally Anderson, an estate agent, disclosed that she had allowed the celebrity PR agent Max Clifford to record some of Mr Blunkett’s messages and that she had then sold them to the Sunday People. She told police she could not remember how much she had been paid.

Completing their account of the News of the World’s investigation into Mr Blunkett, the Crown yesterday showed the jury notes made by the paper’s specialist phone hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, on which he had recorded the personal details of Sally Anderson’s partner, ex boyfriend, grandmother, aunt, father, mother, brother, cousin, a close friend, her osteopath and two of Mr Blunkett’s special advisers.

As the News of the World and other tabloids pursued the false story of their supposed affair in the autumn of 2005, the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions left a series of messages on Anderson’s mobile phone, speculating with increasing anger about the newspapers’ source. Some of these were hacked, tape-recorded by Mulcaire and then seized by police. Yesterday, they were played in court.

“Someone very very close has done a really phenomenal piece of work on destroying both our lives at this moment in time,” he said, “and it’s vile, it’s absolutely vile. Whoever it is, I hope they rot in hell. I’m very sorry.” He added that she must rue the day she met him. “I don’t know who has done this to us, but they are real bastards. They’ve done it for money and they’ve done it for themselves. And the world stinks.”

In another message, he said: “I do think that someone has done a pretty good job – chapter and verse, times, places, everything. That’s pretty sophisticated, to say the least.” Later, calling from abroad, he told her: “The hyenas are still trying to get me but when I’m back I will shed a little light, and they will all run back into the jungle.”

The jury then heard a statement made to police by Sally Anderson in which she described how she had held two meetings with Max Clifford, during one of which Mr Blunkett had called her. She had then allowed Clifford to record some of the messages which he had left for her and, at a meeting in Clifford’s office, she talked to reporters from the Sunday People and agreed to sell them the messages. Parts of them were published verbatim by the paper. Blunkett later sued for libel over the story, she told police, and she made a public apology to him.

Earlier, the court heard that an affair between Mr Blunkett and the Spectator publisher Kimberley Quinn was known to 13 people close to him, including one of his advisers,
Kath Raymond, who was in a relationship with the then chief executive of News International, Les Hinton. Blunkett and Quinn had been on two holidays together and to a state banquet at Buckingham Palace. “They were hiding in plain sight,” Blunkett’s special adviser, Huw Evans, told police. “I had always thought it was a matter of time before someone worked it out.”

Evans told the court that immediately before the News of the World exposed the affair with Ms Quinn in August 2004, he had challenged the paper’s editor, Andy Coulson, to explain what evidence he had to justify the story. “I remember his reply and the tone of his voice, which was flat and unequivocal. He was absolutely certain that the story was accurate, and he was going to run it. I remember at the time remaining puzzled as to why he would be so certain.”

Coulson had published the story without naming Ms Quinn but later on that Sunday, Evans said, he had spoken by phone to Rebekah Brooks, then editing the Sun, who had begun the conversation by “asking how David was, inquiring after his welfare” before going on to tell him that she knew Ms Quinn’s identity and planned to publish it on the following day.

Coulson, Rebekah Brooks, Stuart Kuttner and Ian Edmondson deny conspiring to intercept voicemail. The trial continues.

 

November 12 2013

The News of the World obtained the log-in details for the Mail on Sunday’s internal computer system and repeatedly hacked their journalists’ phones when they feared the rival paper might scoop them, the jury in the phone hacking trial heard yesterday.

The spying operation was said to have been conducted in the spring of 2006 as part of their effort to pursue the story of the affair between the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, and his diary secretary, Tracey Temple.

Details were given to the jury on a day when the Crown presented evidence of a catalogue of voicemail interception which, it is agreed by defence and prosecution, was carried out by the News of the World’s specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire. Prosecuting counsel identified targets from the worlds of royalty, politics, sport and entertainment included Kate Middleton when she was Prince William’s girlfriend; Tessa Jowell when she was Secretary of State for Media; and Sir Paul McCartney during his marriage to Heather Mills.

The jury heard that in their pursuit of the Prescott story, the News of the World’s news editor, Ian Edmondson, allegedly began the working week on Tuesday April 25 by tasking Glenn Mulcaire, to target Tracey Temple, her ex husband and her ex boyfriend. By Wednesday, Edmondson was emailing the editor, Andy Coulson, to open a second front.

“I have Tracey Temple’s mobile number. I want to shock her with a figure. How deep are your pockets?”

Two minutes later, Coulson replied: “Start at 100k.”

The offer was texted to Temple with a promise that “we will beat any other bid”. But she failed to respond. On Thursday evening, the court heard, the Whitehall editor, Keith Gladdis, sent Edmondson a mobile phone number for Prescott’s chief of staff, Joan Hammell. Edmondson immediately texted Mulcaire, and by 10.34 on the Friday morning Mulcaire was hacking into her voicemail. At 14.27 that afternoon, he emailed Edmondson with details about her phone and a short message: “Their (sic) is 45 messages.”

On Friday evening, apparently fearful that the Mail on Sunday were in touch with Tracey Temple, Mulcaire was allegedly tasked to access the voicemail of two of their journalists, Denis Rice and Sebastian Hamilton. According to call data shown to the jury, Mulcaire at 17.58 hacked Rice for two minutes and then immediately hacked Hamilton for four minutes. Over the next 48 hours, Mulcaire and somebody using a News International number repeatedly accessed the voicemail of the two rivals, sometimes hacking both of them at the same time.

And the jury was told, Mulcaire had the phone number for the Mail on Sunday’s IT department and succeeded in obtaining Denis Rice’s log-in details for the paper’s internal computer system.

By Saturday morning, Edmondson was speculating on the story which he hoped to run to spoil the Mail on Sunday’s exclusive: “This is the planned spoiler,” he wrote in an email to Coulson and other senior journalists. “Hopefully it will include Prezzer’s diary secretary’s secret sex diary – how she logged her lust for Johnny Two Shags, BJ for DPM, poss pills to keep it up, other flings, wined and dined using public purse, facing resignation.”

That Sunday, the Mail on Sunday ran three pages about Prescott’s affair while the News of the World published “Prezzer – the sex diaries.” The jury were told that the paper continued to hack the voicemail of Rice and Hamilton for a further two months.

Earlier, the Crown displayed a document kept by Glenn Mulcaire, headed ‘Target Evaluation’, listing 18 names including Kate Middleton and four royal employees; Boris Johnson; Max Clifford; Kerry Katona; Sven Goran Eriksson and Gordon Taylor.

The jury was also given a detailed account of the hacking of the phone of the then Media Secretary Tessa Jowell in 2006 when her husband, David Mills, was caught up in a bribery scandal in Italy.

As an illustration of media interest in the story, the Crown displayed the alleged record of texts sent to Jowell’s accountant, Sue Mullins, by a Sunday Times reporter, Gareth Walsh, claiming that she had made a false declaration to the Inland Revenue and adding: “As a result, you are likely to become subject of a Sunday Times article. To discuss, please call.” When the accountant refused to breach Jowell’s confidentiality, Walsh replied that he would “keep your name out of print only if you co-operate.”

The Crown said that Mulcaire had accessed Jowell’s voicemail 29 times over a three-month period. On a single day, April 20, according to call data, he hacked her at 11.30 and again at 11.34 before accessing David Mills’ mobile phone at 11.36 and then at 11.47 emailing Ian Edmondson with details of their phones and a short message: “Substantial traffic both ways… also looks like she selling up (sic)… end.”

Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks, Ian Edmondson and Stuart Kuttner deny conspiring to intercept voicemail. The trial continues.

 

November 13 2013

The News of the World’s royal specialist, Clive Goodman, exchanged emails with Andy Coulson and other editors discussing stories which had involved intercepting voicemail from Palace staff, the phone hacking trial heard yesterday.

In one message, written to Coulson in January 2005, Goodman discussed a story about injuries suffered by Prince Harry and told him: “The health inf is from the doc himself, scanned from Helen Asprey, Harry and William’s PA, so it’s solid.”

The jury heard that Helen Asprey was the prince’s personal private secretary and that the director of medical services at the English Institute of Sport, Dr Rod Jaques, had left a message for her a day earlier, telling her that “our mutual friend” was now much better with his knee but continuing to have problems with his shoulder and foot.

In his email to the editor, Goodman suggested checking the story with the Palace communications secretary, Paddy Harverson. Six minutes later, the jury heard, Coulson replied, saying simply : “He won’t help will he?” The following day, January 23, Goodman published a story referring to Prince Harry’s wrenched shoulder and infected foot.

The court was told that both prosecution and defence accepted that Goodman and the News of the World’s specialist phone hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, had intercepted hundreds of voicemail from royal phones. Figures given to the jury showed that in a single month, April 2006, four royal aides had been hacked a total of 296 times, an average of nearly ten royal hacks a day.

In the context of the hacking of Paddy Harverson’s phone, the Crown produced emails from April 15 2006 in which Goodman sent the assistant editor, Ian Edmondson, the draft of a story about Prince William.

Edmondson emailed him: “What about the line William says I was pissed but I wasn’t that bad?”

Goodman replied: “That’s a bit too much knowledge to expose to a wider readership. Massively dangerous to the source…”

In relation to the hacking of the Duchess of Cambridge’s son, Tom Parker Bowles, the jury were shown an email from Goodman to the news editor, James Weatherup, written in February 2005 and apparently referring to an assistant editor, Greg Miskiw, who, the jury have been told, frequently tasked Glenn Mulcaire.

The email read: “Got a mobile – getting Greg to do a few dark arts.”

Weatherup replied: “Don’t know wot u mean…”

The jury have been told that Miskiw and Weatherup have both pleaded guilty to conspiring to intercept voicemail and that Clive Goodman was previously convicted of hacking into royal phones. Coulson and Edmondson deny conspiring to intercept phone messages.

Earlier the jury heard how a glamour model, Lorna Hogan, was paid thousands of pounds by the News of the World to target celebrities in nightclubs in search of gossip about them. Hogan told the court that she had become pregnant by one of the celebrities, Calum Best, and then sold two stories about their sex and her pregnancy before allowing the paper to publish a picture derived from a scan of her unborn child.

Hogan agreed that she had worked for an agency called Supermodels, whose owner, Phil Green, had “arranged for girls to go to clubs, to be in a position to meet celebrities.” She had had a working relationship with the News of the World for “some considerable time”, selling them stories for as much as £10,000. She had received payments, she said, “but not so anybody knew.” One of the paper’s reporters, Chris Tate, would drive to her house and pay her in cash, she said.

She had had a two-month relationship with George Best’s son in early 2006 and sold two stories which appeared in the paper in March (“Lust like dad”) and April (“I’m having Calum Best’s baby”). She had then had lunch with Ian Edmondson, who, she claimed, had put pressure on her to sell a scan picture of her unborn child. When Best heard that she was handing over the picture, he texted her: “How could you be so low to sell pictures of an unborn child?” Hogan denied being paid for the picture.

Best told the court that he himself had been paid £2,000 by the paper for a story exposing an incident in a nightclub with Liz Jagger, which she had not wanted to become public. He said another story in the paper, about his problems with drugs, had been supplied without his permission by a friend of his father’s wife in whom he had confided.

The trial continues.

 

November 14 2013

The former Home Secretary Charles Clarke yesterday described how he became a tabloid target after the Westminster ‘gossip mill’ produced false claims that he was having an affair with one of his special advisers, Hannah Pawlby.

The jury in the phone hacking trial was told that the News of the World intercepted Pawlby’s voicemail and mounted surveillance on her home and that separately the political editor of the Sun, Trevor Kavanagh, offered to treat the story sympathetically if Clarke would confess the affair to him.

Clarke, who is the first political figure to give evidence in the trial, said he had told the Sun he would sue them for libel if they published the story. “I have never had a relationship of that kind with Hannah,” he told the court. “I wouldn’t dream of doing so. The suggestion is completely untrue.” He described the House of Commons as “a gossip mill”.

Hannah Pawlby, who had been Clarke’s diary secretary before becoming his special adviser at the Department of Education, said she had first heard the rumours in late 2004 as Clarke moved to become Home Secretary, taking her with him. By April 2005, the News of the World’s specialist phone hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, had logged phone numbers for her and her parents in notes which were shown to the jury.

In mid June, according to phone records, Mulcaire repeatedly hacked into her voice messages while the News of the World’s chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, spent Saturday June 18 keeping watch outside her home, reporting back to the news desk by email: “Girl surfaced from bed around 11 am, made brief trip to shops… Nothing new on the message front.”

At 13.05 that day, the editor, Andy Coulson left a message for Pawlby, which was then recorded by Mulcaire and retrieved when police searched his home: “I have got a story that we are running tomorrow that I would really like to talk to Charles about. I wouldn’t do this in normal circumstances but it’s quite a serious story and previously Charles has been helpful, he has suggested that when there are these things that come up, we should speak directly to him.”

Pawlby told the court that she had not heard this at the time, because it had been recorded as an old, saved message, possibly as a result of Mulcaire listening to it before she did. At 14.45, Coulson left a second message, apologising for hassling her and urging her to call him. Pawlby said that this message also went unheard by her, for the same reason. The News of the World did not publish a story about the supposed affair.

In the summer of 2006, Clarke said, the political editor of the Sun. Trevor Kavanagh, told him he needed to see him urgently and he had agreed they should meet in Clarke’s office behind the Speaker’s chair. “Trevor Kavanagh told me he had evidence that Hannah and I were having an affair and he would try to get it sympathetically covered in the Sun if I confessed it to him and gave him the story. I said such a relationship never existed and so there was no basis on which we could continue to talk.”

At around the same time, Hannah Pawlby told the court, she had been contacted by a reporter from the Sun’s political gossip column, The Whip: “She said that she had a picture of Charles and I and that we were having an affair and that they were going to run the story and what did I say to that. I said I wasn’t having an affair.”

She had gone to report the conversation to Clarke, who recalled that she had been “quite naturally very distressed.” He had called the Sun and spoken to the deputy editor, Ferguson Shanahan. “I made it clear that such a story was completely untrue and that in the event that they were to publish, I would sue for libel.”

Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks, Ian Edmondson and Stuart Kuttner deny conspiring to intercept communications. The trial continues.

 

November 18 2013

The jury in the phone hacking trial yesterday were led deep into the bureaucratic inner world of News International in search of an answer to the question which the Crown repeatedly has posed to them: “Who knew?”

For several hours, the company’s group financial controller, Michael Gill, explained his private world of ‘approval authority policies’ and ‘generic vendor codes’ while lawyers for the two sides pushed back and forth amidst the detail.

For Rebekah Brooks, Jonathan Laidlaw QC produced a collection of fat files, each containing 176 financial spreadsheet pages, warning the jury as he handed them over: “Beware of men in wigs bearing bundles. There are a lot more to come in due course.”

Questioned by Mr Laidlaw, Mr Gill agreed that the files showed that, as editor of the News of the World, Mrs Brooks had never personally authorised any of the weekly payments of £1,769 to the paper’s specialist phone-hacker, Glenn Mulcaire. Payments of under £2,000 could be authorised by desk editors, the court heard.

Questioned by Andrew Edis for the prosecution, Mr Gill agreed that Mulcaire’s annual contract, originally worth £92,000, would need a higher authorisation: “It should have legal approval because it is a contract and editorial approval at the total amount. You would always want to have approval of the total amount of the contract.” As editor, Mrs Brooks was able to authorise payments up to £50, 000 and, on some occasions, more, the court heard.

Answering Mr Laidlaw, Mr Gill explained that in a typical sample month, Mulcaire – known to the fat files as ‘vendor 552742’ – received only four payments among “hundreds and hundreds” of transactions, filling a hundred pages, each of some 30 lines. His weekly payments were part of an annual budget of some £160 million, Mr Gill agreed.

Answering questions from Mr Edis, Mr Gill said that the editorial budget of £23 million, for which Rebekah Brooks was responsible, was being cut from one year to another by £1.5 million. In his opening speech, Edis, showed the jury an email which she had written urging senior staff to keep within spending limits.

Earlier, one of the company’s in-house editorial lawyers, Justin Walford, told the jury that Mrs Brooks was ” a demanding editor”. He said: “She was, she is a strong personality. She has strong views. She expected hard work and everyone pulling in the same direction to get stories into the newspaper.” Often, she would let her deputy deal with legal problems but “she did want to know in outline what advice was given.”

Walford described the Sun as “a national institution.” He added: “Obviously there are many people who don’t like what the Sun stands for – page 3 or politics or whatever. But most fair people would say they were highly professional. You don’t get to work on the Sun unless you are very good. Obviously I work there but that is my honest opinion.”

Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner and Ian Edmondson deny conspiring to intercept communications. The trial continues.

 

November 19 2013

The News of the World had a source who was “well placed in royal circles” who was paid in cash for providing information, the jury in the phone-hacking trial heard yesterday.

The disclosure came on a day of glimpses behind the scenes of a tabloid newspaper when the court also heard of voicemail messages being handed over by kiss-and-tell sources, Heather Mills being taped while talking to a prostitute and the paper publishing ‘spoof editions’ to mislead rival titles.

Emma Harvey, who was Andy Coulson’s PA when he was deputy editor of the News of the World, told the court that she was aware of cash being paid to the royal source. Timothy Langdale QC, for Coulson, said he would not be naming the person.

Ms Harvey said she had never been aware of any phone-hacking at the paper. Coulson had asked her to transcribe a tape-recording of Heather Mills talking to a prostitute but that had been recorded by the prostitute, she said.

The paper’s former night editor, Harry Scott, was shown two internal emails written by a senior journalist about an alleged orgy involving actors from the BBC drama Eastenders. One referred to a request for an actor’s voicemail and text messages. The other said: “Getting all texts pictured and have voicemail messages on tape… The texts and voicemail provide proof.”

Mr Scott told the court: “That’s not phone hacking. That’s the person who is giving the kiss-and-tell either giving the paper their home phone answer messages or putting in a call to the person who is the subject of the story and taping it.”

Mr Scott told the jury that references to voicemail in a published story about Milly Dowler would not have made him suspect that the paper had hacked her phone. Reading it now, he said, he would have guessed that the information had come from police sources.

He said the paper sometimes published a ‘spoof’ first edition which would be sold on the streets of London, with ‘disposable garbage’ on its front page, in order to conceal from rivals an exclusive front page story which was printed in the real first edition and loaded on to trains. The spoof story would have to be true and strong, he said. “If you produce a story about Jackanory on the front page, it’s obviously a spoof.”

During the day, former News of the World staff gave differing accounts of their awareness of Glenn Mulcaire, who has pleaded guilty to hacking phones for the paper. The court has been told that neither Rebekah Brooks nor Andy Coulson had heard his name while they worked at the News of the World.

The jury were shown a story which had been published in the paper in August 2002, which described how Mulcaire had played a game as striker for AFC Wimbledon and which described him in print as “part of our special investigations team.” Geoff Sweet, a sports journalist on the paper, who wrote the story, was asked how he knew that. He replied: “I was part of the News of the World empire, and it was just generally known.”

Cross-examined on behalf of Brooks and Coulson, Sweet added that he could not name any person who had told him about Mulcaire, that he could not remember writing the story and that the line about Mulcaire’s work for the paper “may have been put in by the sports desk to add a bit of kudos to the story.”

Emma Harvey and Harry Scott said they had not heard Mulcaire’s name until he was arrested in 2006. The news desk secretary, Frances Carman, said she remembered that “a man called Glenn used to call up from time to time asking to speak to people on the desk.”

Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner and Ian Edmondson deny conspiring to intercept communications. The trial continues.

 

November 20 2013

The strangely secretive life of the News of the World was exposed yesterday as the jury in the phone hacking trial heard of reporters meeting on the roof to avoid being overheard, of false payment records and false names, and of emails hinting at the use of ‘dark arts’.

Through it all the jury heard of the particularly private life of the paper’s specialist phone hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, also known, the court has been told, as David Alexander, Paul Williams, John Jenkins, Mr Strawberry and Mr Lemon.

In statements read to the court, a former district reporter, Dominic Herbert, said the paper was secretive about its exclusives – “You didn’t ask the newsdesk questions and generally didn’t talk to colleagues about stories before their publication” – and an executive PA, Amanda Burgess, said there was “a great deal of secrecy at the News of the World”, describing how reporters from the investigative unit would leave the room or go out on to the roof to hold conversations.

In a statement read to the jury, Paul Kennedy, a reporter formely based in Manchester, described his boss, assistant editor Greg Miskiw, as “a very private person and extremely secretive. He would often leave the office to take phone calls or whisper into his phone. He would take phone calls while smoking a cigarette.”

Nevertheless, Kennedy told police, he knew that Miskiw had “a source called Glenn”. He had met him once, at a leaving party in London, and had no doubt now that this was Glenn Mulcaire. Indeed, he claimed, this was a secret that was well known. “It was widely known in the office that Glenn was supplying Greg with good information.”

The court has been told that two former editors, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, did not hear Mulcaire’s name while they worked at the News of the World.

James Morgan, who handled payments to contributors for the newsdesk, said he understood that Mulcaire was “Greg’s man” and that it was Miskiw who had told him to set up regular weekly payments for him. In drawing up payment records, Morgan agreed, he had been told to “pick any agenda”, attributing to Mulcaire any topical story even if Mulcaire had not worked on it.

The former newsdesk secretary, Frances Carman, was asked if she remembered a long-running office joke about “somebody who was slightly strange, a Walter Mitty character” who would call the newsdesk introducing himself as ‘Mr Strawberry’ or ‘Mr Lemon’. “It does ring a bell,” she replied.

The court was shown payment slips which sent cash to Mulcaire under the name of David Alexander; and emails which he sent using the name Paul Williams. The Crown has also played an audio tape allegedly of Mulcaire ‘blagging’ a phone company, using the false name John Jenkins.

The jury was shown two email exchanges between the news editor, Ian Edmondson, and the royal editor, Clive Goodman. In one, Goodman asked if Edmondson had anything from police. Edmondson replied with a single question mark. Goodman then wrote:”Apols – cross purposes. Thought you were spinning some dark arts on this.” In another exchange, Edmondson asked Goodman if he had any confirmation of a royal story.

Goodman: “The tale comes from William himself.”

Edmondson: “?”

Goodman: “Not on email.”

Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner and Ian Edmondson deny conspiring to intercept communications. The trial continues.

 

November 21 2013

A senior News International executive accused Labour MPs who were exposing the phone-hacking scandal of “making stuff up” and of attempting “a hit” on the company’s chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, according to internal email disclosed in court yesterday.

The jury in the phone-hacking trial heard that in March 2011, when the former Labour minister Chris Bryant claimed that the hacking had started at the News of the World under the editorship of Brooks and that eight MPs had been warned by police that they may have been targeted, Brooks’ husband, Charlie, emailed the company’s general manager, Will Lewis, asking: “Is Rebekah OK? Bryant seems pretty aggressive.”

Lewis replied that she was OK but jet-lagged after a foreign trip to work with Rupert Murdoch. He continued: “Generally, Bryant is clearly making stuff up. There is a concerted effort by him and some other MPs and Panorama this Monday to push the start of the saga back before 2005 in order to target Rebekah. We will not let that happen.” He added that the BBC TV programme had “already been hit by two legal letters.”

In July 2011, when the Labour MP Tom Watson raised the hacking of Milly Dowler on a point of order in the House of Commons, Charlie Brooks was sent an email summary of Watson’s comments and then emailed Lewis: “Is the below a problem for Rebekah?”

Lewis replied: “Another attempted hit on Rebekah by Watson. Far from ideal.” He added that they were “on the back foot” because they did not have access to paperwork belonging to the News of the World’s specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, which had been seized by police and was being released to public figures who were suing the paper.

Earlier the jury was shown an email in which the newspaper’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, pressed the managing editor’s office to pay cash to three particularly sensitive sources, including an unidentified executive from another newspaper.

In the message, dated July 1 2005, he wrote: “Two are in uniform and we – them, you, me, the editor – would all end up in jail if anyone traced their payments. They have had Special Branch crawling all over them….. The third is an executive at another newspaper who is also taking a life-altering risk for us and will not accept any other form of payment.”

In a separate email, dated January 24 2006, Goodman chased payment for a source who, the jury have been told, was a police officer whose identity was concealed by a false name: “I’m afraid Mr Farish is a cash only contributor because of his extremely sensitive job. Curtains for him and us…”

Another internal message disclosed that public figures who were hired by the newspaper as columnists were being paid up to £182,000 a year. A former England football manager was being paid £13,333 a month for his column. An England cricketer was receiving £8,000.

Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner and Ian Edmondson deny conspiring to intercept communications. The trial continues.

 

November 25 2013

Andy Coulson was warned seven years ago that the police had a “quite massive” case against the News of the World’s phone-hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, according to a taped phone-call played in court yesterday.

The paper’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, also told Coulson that police had found “voicemail and PIN numbers” at Mulcaire’s address and that there were “danger points” for the newspaper in documents obtained by the police, according to the tape.

Goodman said Mulcaire was being “very difficult” and “rapidly emerging as something of a nutter.” Referring to the hacker and his lawyers, Goodman said at one point: “You’ve got to worry, haven’t you, really to wonder whether they’re keeping schtumm.”

The jury in the phone-hacking trial was told that Goodman taped the phone call with his editor in November 2006 after he had been arrested by police but before he went to court to plead guilty to intercepting the voicemail of members of the royal household.

During the conversation, Coulson repeatedly assured the royal editor that he intended to continue to employ him. “You have it from me that, you know, I absolutely see a future for you here,” he told him. The jury has been told that after Goodman was jailed in January 2007, he was immediately sacked.

Coulson sat in the dock, listening to the voice of Goodman, who was not in court yesterday: “The case against Glenn is quite massive really. All sorts of stuff they picked up in his place, as I told you, the other names, PIN numbers of people and my concern is I don’t somehow become associated, I don’t somehow get binned off as the, you know, instrument.”

Goodman warned him that there was “a real nasty sting in the tail” in the News of the World’s phone-billing system which, unlike some switchboards, recorded every number that was called. Later, he asked him if he was aware of “danger points” in the documentation held by police.

“In terms of what, mate?” asked Coulson.

“In terms of the paper.”

Coulson then said: “You know, there’s been all sorts of names and all sorts of allegations. It comes down to what they think they can prove. And indeed what the truth is. Those names mean absolutely nothing to me. From what I understand, they’re not tracing those names back to the paper… There’s no direct link to the News of the World.”

“No,” replied Goodman. “They’ve found the voicemails and the PIN numbers at Mulcaire’s address.”

Goodman went on to warn him that the police had found a contract with Mulcaire, linking the paper’s northern editor, Greg Miskiw, to a story about somebody who was claiming they had been hacked but there was no forensic evidence to prove it. “It’s an assumption,” he said, “but given what Mulcaire does…”

“Sure,” said Coulson.

“People might think it’s fairly solid,” Goodman continued.

Goodman went on to explain that Greg Miskiw was in contact with Mulcaire: “I think he’s just telling Glenn not to be an idiot as much as he can. You know, without getting too deeply involved himself, coz clearly he doesn’t want that can of worms opened.”

Coulson replied: “Yeah, quite difficult.”

The court has heard that Miskiw has pleaded guilty to conspiring to intercept voicemail.

Separately, Colin Montgomerie’s former wife, Eimear Cook, was accused of lying to the jury after claiming that Rebekah Brooks had discussed phone-hacking with her at a lunch in September 2005. Mrs Cook said that during the conversation Brooks had also talked about an incident when police had been called to deal with her allegedly assaulting her then partner, Ross Kemp – an incident which, the court was told, did not happen until six weeks after the agreed date of the lunch.

Answering questions from the prosecution, Mrs Cook said she remembered that Mrs Brooks described how easy it was to listen to another person’s voicemail if they failed to change the factory-set PIN code and that she had also described how newspapers, including the Sun which she herself was editing, had reported the police being called to deal with her argument with Kemp and how she had had to explain it to Rupert Murdoch.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, for Rebekah Brooks, told her: “This never happened… Not only did it not happen. It could not have happened.” The jury was shown Mrs Brooks’ desk diary which showed that the lunch had taken place on September 20 2005. The Crown had earlier agreed that this was the date. The jury was then shown newspaper reports of the police dealing with her alleged assault on Ross Kemp, which had not occured until November.

Mrs Cook replied: “I didn’t make it up. I have no grievance against Mrs Brooks personally whatsoever. I didn’t make it up. Something was said to that effect.”

Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner and Ian Edmondson deny conspiring to intercept communications. The trial continues.

 

November 26 2013

Rebekah Brooks discussed phone-hacking at David Cameron’s birthday party at Chequers in October 2010, describing the technique for accessing other people’s voicemail and suggesting that it was being done by journalists, an Old Bailey court heard yesterday.

Dom Loehnis, who was described as “a close friend” of Cameron’s, told the jury in the phone-hacking trial that he had been seated next to Brooks at the dinner party, and that she had described publicity around the affair as a story that could not easily be “closed down”, adding that she did not think that Andy Coulson could survive as the Prime Minister’s director of communications. The court has heard that Coulson resigned three months later, in January 2011.

Loehnis said there were about 60 guests at the party, seated on tables of six to eight people, and that his own role was to deliver a speech for the Prime Minister in the form of a poem. Asked if it was a party to celebrate the election victory in May 2010, he said: “It was a big party. The pretext was the birthday, but it was a celebration of all sorts of things.”

He said he had begun the conversation with Brooks by asking whether she thought Coulson – who was not at the dinner – could survive the press speculation about him.

“She said that she wasn’t sure that he could survive,” he continued. “She said that she felt the story wouldn’t go away and the reason for that was that, at a certain point in time, people had discovered that you could get into mobile phone voicemail by tapping in a default code.”

She had told him that so many people knew how to do it that “it wasn’t a story that could easily be closed down.” He added that she had made it clear that she was talking “in the context of journalists” and that he understood her to mean that the hacking had been happening since the late 1990s when the use of mobile phones had become widespread. “The impression I took was that it started out as something you discovered you can do. You do it almost because you can.”

He continued: “What she said, as far as I can remember, was that there was one default code and nobody changed it and essentially if you rang somebody’s voicemail and were asked for the code, some people put that code in and discovered they got voicemail.”

Loehnis said he had met Brooks before this dinner and had later written to her when she resigned as chief executive of News International in July 2011. “The main import of the letter was to say ‘I’m sorry that this has happened to you and hope that you come out of it well.”

Cross-examined by Jonathan Laidlaw QC, for Rebekah Brooks, Loehnis agreed that she had not said anything to indicate or even to hint that she had any knowledge of phone-hacking when she was editing the News of the World nor that she had ever been involved in commissioning phone-hacking.

Separately the court heard that following the arrest in August 2006 of the paper’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, who was charged with hacking the voicemail of three members of the royal household, the in-house lawyer, Tom Crone, on September 15, had emailed Andy Coulson with information which, he wrote, had been provided by police to Rebekah Brooks, then editing the Sun.

Referring to the paper’s specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, who had also been arrested, Crone reported: “The raids on his properties produced numerous voice recordings and verbatim notes of his accesses to voicemails. From these, they have a list of 100/110 ‘victims’…. The recordings and notes demonstrate a pattern of ‘victims’ being focussed on for a given period and then being replaced by the next one who becomes flavour of the week.”

Seven weeks later, on November 3 2011, the court heard, Coulson arranged for Goodman’s solicitor, Henri Brandman to provide 2,000 pages of police paperwork which had been served on Goodman by the prosecution.

On Monday, the jury heard the tape-recording of a phone call, dated five days later, on November 8, when Goodman told his editor of the “quite massive” case which the police had assembled against Mulcaire.

Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner and Ian Edmondson deny conspiring to intercept voicemail. The trial continues.

 

November 27 2013

Rebekah Brooks ordered the deletion of millions of emails on News International servers, but many of the messages survived as a result of technical problems and the instructions of other senior executives, the phone-hacking trial heard yesterday.

The court was told that 90 million emails had been recovered from the company’s system but that many millions of others had been lost permanently whether by accident or deliberate policy. Some of the recovered emails were read out in court as part of a set of agreed facts about the lost material.

The jury heard that from the period before 2005, very few messages survived simply because the company had had no archiving system. After an archive was created in 2005, some 10.4 million messages were naturally purged from the servers over the following five years and could not be recovered since there was no back-up system.

The court was told that by 2008 the servers were struggling to deal with the weight of stored traffic and that some users were having to wait 30 minutes to log on. In November 2009 – at a time when, the jury has been told, there was publicity about phone-hacking – surviving emails recorded that senior executives were asking for “a more aggressive purging policy”.

In January 2010, an email recorded a new official policy whose stated aim was “to eliminate in a consistent manner across NI (subject to compliance with legal and regulatory requirements as to retention) emails that could be unhelpful in the context of future litigation in which an NI company is a defendant.”

By May 2010, it had been agreed that the company would delete from the system all messages up to December 1 2007. The jury has heard that police originally investigated phone-hacking at the News of the World during 2006 and that the paper’s specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, was jailed along with the royal editor Clive Goodman in January 2007.

In August 2010, Rebekah Brooks emailed the IT department asking what progress had been made with the deletions. She was told: “This has and is being done” but that they had not sent out a company-wide message about their deletion plans “because it could be misconstrued if leaked externally.”

In the same message, Brooks suggested a new cut-off date, saying that “everyone needs to know that anything before January 2010 will not be kept.” The IT department replied, pointing out that the agreed policy was to delete only up to December 1 2007. Brooks replied: “Yes to Jan 2010. Clean sweep.”

During the following month, however, as the IT department attempted to implement the policy at the same time as they moved all their data to new servers in the company’s new offices, they found “the task was putting extreme strain on the servers” and they halted the process.

On October 7, Brooks wrote to ask about progress on email deletion. On October 8, the company’s legal director, Jon Chapman, wrote to the IT department referring to “current interest in the News of the World 2005/6 voicemail interceptions” and asking them to preserve messages sent by Andy Coulson and eight others.

From January 10 2011, the company’s new general manager, Will Lewis, sent a sequence of instructions asking for the preservation of more messages in connection with an internal inquiry which he was leading into Ian Edmondson, who, the jury has heard, had been suspended the previous month from his job as the News of the World’s assistant editor.

At first, Lewis asked for the retention of messages sent and received by Andy Coulson and eleven other named individuals. The following day, Lewis added 19 more names from the news and features departments. On January 18, he added 52 more names. By January 20, he was asking for some or all of the messages involving a total of 105 users to be extracted from the servers before any further deletions were made. The court was told that their messages were saved onto a laptop.

Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner and Ian Edmondson deny conspiring to intercept communications. The trial continues.

 

November 28 2013

The working world of a phone-hacker was exposed in the Old Bailey yesterday, complete with whiteboards, a note to beware of a particularly tricky Vodafone employee and a suggestion that the News of the World’s deputy editor had been a target of his own paper’s eavesdropping.

The jury in the phone-hacking trial were shown eight whiteboards, which were found by police in an office and a garden shed belonging to the News of the World’s specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire. They were covered in hand-written notes and diagrams about his work.

One board carried a list headed Networking, which included the names of Rebekah Wade and Greg MIskiw, the former assistant editor of the News of the World who has pleaded guilty to plotting to intercept voicemail. The same board also showed a list titled Project Targets followed by references to “Bulger inquiry”, “Royal assessments” and the names of footballers David Ginola and Tony Adams.

Another carried the words “Swiss Cottage” which, the jury were told, was the password of the week for the Vodafone network, used internally by employees of the phone company. Other boards carried similar words – “Venus Williams” and “Monty’s Pass” listed against O2; “Barcelona” against the word “Voda”. The court was not told how Mulcaire might have succeeded in obtaining internal passwords, but one board suggested he might sometimes have failed in his contact with phone companies: “Voda – avoid Damian, Team Three,” a note read.

Separately, a detective from the Operation Weeting inquiry, Richard Fitzgerald, gave the jury a short lesson in the techniques of intercepting voicemail with the aid of a Hacking Methodology Diagram. He explained that Mulcaire was able to use three different routes to intercept voicemail.

He could dial his target’s mobile phone and, provided they did not answer, he could press a key to interrupt the recorded greeting, enter a PIN and access messages. Or he could dial into a Unique Voicemail Number, supplied to help customers listen to voicemail when abroad, and follow the same routine. Or he could use two phones simultaneously: one to call his target’s mobile to ensure it was engaged; the second to access its messages. The jury was told that security around phone messages had now been significantly improved.

The court heard that police had studied billing data for a “private wire line” belonging to News International, which routed calls from the company’s landline extensions through a single Vodafone number. For one period of just over nine months beginning in October 2005, detectives had extracted all calls that been made from this number to Unique Voicemail Numbers. “The inference is that they are trying to reach voicemail,” Mark Bryant-Heron, prosecuting, told the jury.

This data showed multiple calls to the UVNs of people linked to the royal family – a total of 416 to that of Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Prince Harry’s private secretary – and a series of calls to the UVNs of four journalists working for the rival Mail on Sunday. In a single day in April 2006, the private wire line had called target UVNs 24 times.

The data also showed calls to the UVN of Neil Wallis, the then deputy editor of the News of the World, whose name, the jury was told, figures in hand-written notes made by Mulcaire, with the word ‘Ian’ in the top left-hand corner of the page. The Crown claim that this shows that Mulcaire was being tasked by the paper’s assistant editor (news), Ian Edmondson.

Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner and Ian Edmondson deny conspiring to intercept communications. The trial continues.

 

December 5 2013

Rebekah Brooks personally authorised a series of payments to a military source who spent eight years selling information to the Sun, earning a total of £100,000, an Old Bailey court heard yesterday.

The jury in the phone-hacking trial was told that Bettina Jordan-Barber worked for the Army Secretariat in Andover, Hants, where she had been specially vetted to have access to sensitive information so that she could prepare briefings for government ministers and for the Ministry of Defence press office.

The court heard that she would collect payments from the Sun in cash through a branch of the Thomas Cook travel agency in Camberley, Surrey. It is agreed by all sides in the case that between January 2004 and August 2012, she received a total of £100,000 from the newspaper. As editor, Rebekah Brooks personally authorised eleven payments totalling £38,000.

The jury were shown emails from a Sun reporter who habitually began his messages to Brooks with the words “Morning, boss” or “My dear boss”, before summarising two or three stories which had been provided by “my number one military contact” or “my ace military contact”. The reporter asked for payments of between £200 and £4,000 for each story, frequently adding that these were “cheap at the price.” Brooks replied to eleven requests, agreeing to all of them.

Headlines on the stories shown to the jury included “Mucky major’s a sex swinger” about an officer using a dating website, “Major feels privates’ privates” about an officer accused of sexual assault and “The Lust Post” about a girl cadet who had been sacked for having sex with a sergeant. The biggest single payment, of £4,000, was for a story about an illegal immigrant who had smuggled himself into Sandhurst military academy by hiding next to the toilet in a coach, headlined “Loo Goes There?”

The jury was shown internal Sun paperwork which allegedly traced payments being made after Brooks had given her authority. In one case, a newsroom secretary forwarded a request for Jordan-Barber to be paid with the message “Please delete this email afterwards.”

In one message to Brooks, dated in November 2008, the Sun reporter followed up his request for payments to his military contact with a suggestion that “my very good prison contact” should also be paid £4,000 for supplying a story about an al-Qaeda inmate who was training to become a stand-up comic. Brooks emailed in reply: “Fine.”

Separately, the jury heard that Brooks authorised a payment of £4,000 for a picture of Prince William dressed in a grass skirt and a bikini top, taken when he went to an end-of-term fancy dress party during his time as a cadet at Sandhurst in June 2006.

The court was told that the prince was known to staff at Sandhurst as Officer Cadet Wales and that the organisation of the party in the academy’s cricket pavilion was seen as a test of cadets’ leadership skills. Guests had been allowed to take photographs.

Following the party, a Sun reporter emailed an executive: “My best contact at Sandhurst – who has provided a string of great stuff over a period of months – is offering us a picture of William at a James Bond party dressed as a Bond girl. He is wearing a bikini and an open Hawaiian shirt.” The reporter went on to explain that the picture belonged to William’s platoon commander, adding “The chap who has the picture wants £4,000 up front…. It will open the door for future exclusives and info… I already have the guy with the picture over a barrel because I know his identity,”

The executive had forwarded this message to Brooks, asking “What do you think, Boss?”. Brooks had replied: “OK.”

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, on behalf of Rebekah Brooks, suggested that this email referred to three different people: the Sun’s contact at Sandhurst; the platoon commander to whom the picture belonged; and “the chap who has the picture” who was not the platoon commander but “a third man”. Detective Inspector David Kennett replied: “There’s nothing there to suggest there’s a third person.”

Andrew Edis QC, for the prosecution, asked DI Kennett whether Brooks had mentioned this “third man” when she was interviewed by police in October 2012. Kennett said: “This is the first time that the concept has ever come to me.”

The jury heard that in a separate email exchange, in April 2006, the Sun’s picture desk had asked Brooks to authorise a payment of £1,000 to the same contact at Sandhurst, explaining that the payment had to be made in cash because “he went in and took a picture off the wall, so he doesn’t want it traced back to him.” The court was told that there is no record of Brooks authorising that payment.

Rebekah Brooks denies conspiring to pervert the course of justice. The trial continues on Monday.

 

December 10 2013

Police took more than five years to warn Buckingham Palace that confidential directories with the royal family’s private phone numbers had been found in the home of the News of the World’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

The jury in the phone-hacking trial was told that a total of 15 royal phone directories were found by police in August 2006 when they arrested Goodman and searched his home in Putney, south west London and that it was not until January 2012 that Palace officials were informed. Since then, the number of directories in circulation had been “dramatically reduced.”

The disclosure came as the Crown began to present its case that Clive Goodman and his former editor, Andy Coulson, conspired together to commit misconduct in public office by agreeing to pay Palace police officers to supply the directories. Both men deny the charge. The evidence opened a door on the private world of Palace life.

The jury heard that among those whose numbers were listed in the directories were the Keeper of the Privy Purse, The Lord Warden of the Stannaries, equerries, ladies in waiting, gentleman ushers, extra gentleman ushers and the Swan Warden who proved to be a professor in Oxford.

Michelle Light, head of telephony for the royal family at Buckingham Palace, told the court that some 1,200 copies of a directory containing 2,000 phone numbers for royal staff would be produced by the Palace’s in-house printer. The Master of the Household and other Palace departments would specify how many copies they needed and they would then be distributed by Royal Mail – not the public Royal Mail, she added, but the internal royal Royal Mail. Seven of these with various dates were found in Goodman’s home. Ms Light said she was not informed of this until January 2012.

Jonathan Spencer, deputy controller of The Lord Chamberlain’s office, said that some 900 copies of a “Green Book”, containing private numbers for the royal family and senior staff, would also be produced by the Palace printer. Each of these was marked “Restricted Document” on the front cover with a request that it “should be kept in a safe place and not shown to unauthorised persons. On receipt, please destroy your previous edition.”

They were not classified as secret, he said, but they were confidential. “We would never send it to an unauthorised person, nor would we want it tobe in the possession of such a person.” Eight Green Books, dated between August 1988 and October 2002, were found in Goodman’s home. Mr Spencer said he was not told of this until November 2012.

Since being informed by police, he told the court, the Lord Chamblerlain had decided the Green Book should no longer be sent to external staff and sent only in smaller numbers to internal staff. “We have decided to reduce the distribution dramatically right across the piece,” he said.

The jury was told of evidence which suggested that some of the books found at Goodman’s house had been used by police at royal residences.

One of the directories with staff extension numbers was found to be carrying the fingerprint of a retired officer, Michael Godfrey, who told the court that he had often worked with a porter on the tradesman’s entrance of Windsor Castle, known as The Side Door, and that on night shifts, when the porter was not there, he would have used the directory to check on visitors’ credentials.

One of the Green Books found at Goodman’s home was found to carry the indented imprint of the signature of a second retired officer, Gregory Gillham, who had worked as a protection sergeant at Buckingham Palace before becoming head of police operations at Kensington Palace. He said the Green Book was kept secure, he would not expect to find one lying around, and that he would dispose of an old one by tearing it into quarters and throwing them into a confidential waste sack. “I worked for the royal household for a long time,” he said. “The protection of the royal family was paramount.”

It was not suggested that either officer had supplied Goodman with any directory. The trial continues.

 

December 12 2013

The News of the World’s former news editor, Ian Edmondson, was removed from the phone-hacking trial yesterday on grounds of ill health on a day when the court was told of secret sources with false names and false addresses and of the Queen’s attempts to discover who was stealing her cashew nuts.

Mr Justice Saunders told the jury at the Old Bailey that Ian Edmondson’s fitness to continue to face trial had been the subject of medical reports: “The consensus of opinion of doctors instructed both by the defendant and the prosecution is that he is currently unfit. It is not anticipated that it will be long before he is fit to continue but it will be several weeks, and there can be no guarantee that at the end of that period of time he will be fit.

“Bearing in mind the current estimate of the length of this trial, I do not think it is appropriate to adjourn to wait for his recovery and accordingly I shall discharge you from giving a verdict in his case. He will be tried by a different jury at a later date.”

Edmondson, who has been absent from the dock for some days, had denied one count of intercepting communications. Two former editors of the News of the World, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, and the former managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, continue to face the same charge. All three have denied it.

Separately the court heard that the paper’s former royal editor, Clive Goodman, had requested a total of 221 payments to two sources whom he described in emails to Coulson and other executives as police officers working at royal palaces. Internal paperwork recorded them under the names of David Farish and Ian Anderson.

Det Insp David Kennett told the court that he had visited the address given for Farish and found that it was a multi-occupancy block of flats and that, questioning residents, he could find no trace of a Mr Farish. The address recorded for Anderson had produced a similar result, and, at the end of their inquiries, police had been unable to identify either man. “In short summary,”said DI Kennett, “they don’t appear to exist.”

The court was told that ‘Farish’ and ‘Anderson’ were paid to provide internal palace phone directories including ‘the green book’ which lists the private lines of members of the royal family. The court heard that Sir Michael Peat, former private secretary to the Prince of Wales, had made a statement to police about “what I understand to be the fairly long-standing practice of staff (or police) in the household selling copies of the Green Book to the press.”

Sir Michael told the jury: “It was a document that was sent round to several hundred people’s homes. It was a widely distributed document. We were of the view that there was a substantial risk that the document would get into hands for which it was not intended.” He was one of several in the royal household who had removed his home address from the book as a precaution, he said.

The jury heard that ‘Farish’ and ‘Anderson’ were also paid for stories over a period from early 2001 to May 2006 including ones about the ‘chaos’ between Buckingham Palace and Clarence House as Prince Charles tried to organise his wedding, the Queen complaining about an alarm keeping her awake at Balmoral, one of the palaces being swept for bugs, and the Queen’s success in catching out police who were stealing her nuts.

An email from Clive Goodman to Coulson, dated March 8 2005, was read to the jury: “Queen furious about police stealing bowls of nuts and nibbles left out for her in the BP/Queen’s corridor. She has a very savoury tooth and staff leave out cashews, Bombay Mix, almonds etc.” The Queen evidently had turned detective to catch the police. “She started marking the bowls to see when the levels dipped,” the email continued. “Probl is that police on patrol eat the lot…. Memo now gone around to all palace cops telling them to keep their sticky fingers out.”

Sir Michael Peat told the jury of efforts to improve the relationship between Fleet Street and Prince Charles: “Certain sections of the media have used him over many years to sell papers and if being hostile served their purpose, that is what will happen. An attempt was made to improve the service that he and his family got from their press office, to make sure that his press office were more effective.”

Sir Michael said he remembered speaking to both Brooks and Coulson and that Clive Goodman may have been present. Asked if he had given Goodman his mobile phone number, he said: “It’s unlikely but not inconceivable.”

Brooks, Coulson and Goodman deny charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office by making payments to public officials. The trial continues.

 

December 17 2013

The former manager of the News of the World, Stuart Kuttner, told detectives that he had never knowingly been involved in hacking phones or bribing police and was “utterly appalled” by the allegations he was facing, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

In transcripts of interviews which were read to the jury in the phone-hacking trial, Kuttner told detectives on the day of his arrest in August 2011: “I’m shattered with having offered, quite properly, to come here to fill in gaps, to find myself on the end of what, in my view, are utterly unfounded allegations.”

He recalled the arrest five years earlier of the paper’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, as “the most traumatic in my life in newspapers. It was an appalling day. Subsequently, much more recently, the day the News of the World closed was equally traumatic in a different way. And today exceeds both of them.”

The detectives asked him whether he had conspired to hack phones with six named senior journalists from the News of the World – Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, who have denied the charge in this trial; Greg Miskiw, Neville Thurlbeck, and James Weatherup who have pleaded guilty; and Ian Edmondson, who has denied the charge and is to be tried at a later date.

Kuttner said: “I neither conspired with Rebekah Brooks nor with anybody nor had any part in phone hacking.” He added: “I have never knowingly bribed a policeman – which appears to be among your allegations – and I have never knowingly played any part whatsoever in the hacking or bugging of anybody’s telephone… I’m utterly appalled at the allegations made against me personally.”

His lawyer told detectives that since retiring from the News of the World in 2009, he had suffered a heart attack and a brain-stem stroke which had impaired his memory. Kuttner said he did not recall authorising payments to Glenn Mulcaire who had been recorded in paperwork variously as Paul Williams, Matey, John Jenkins, Jane Street, David Alexander, Nine Consultancy and Euro Research and Information Services.

He told detectives that although he had become an executive at the paper, “I think I have the word ‘reporter’ inscribed on my heart.” He only rarely became involved in covering stories, he said, but recalled an occasion when he had done so because Clive Goodman would not.

“He wouldn’t stir himself to go out and cover stories,” he told his interviewers. “That seems to be a negation of a reporter’s role.” The result was that he and Rebekah Brooks had decided to do the job for Goodman, which involved taking a train to Paris. He continued: “I had been in touch for some months with a man called Johnnie Bryant. He had had a relationship with the Duchess of York and he had come round to the view that in return for a lot of money, he would sell his story.”

On the train to Paris, they had found Neil Wallis, pursuing the same story on behalf of the Sun.”Unfortunately, whoever ran Eurostar managed to make it the longest ever train journey to Paris, 17 hours. Waterloo to Paris – 17 hours!”

Stuart Kuttner, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson all deny conspiring to intercept communications. The trial continues.

 

December 19 2013

The News of the World intercepted and tape-recorded intimate personal phone messages left between Prince William, Prince Harry and Kate Middleton, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

The voicemails included Prince William using a pet name for Kate Middleton and describing to her how he had nearly been ‘shot’ during a training exercise and leaving a message for his brother in which he put on a high-pitched voice and pretended to be Prince Harry’s then girlfriend, Chelsy Davey.

Tape-recordings of the royal messages were found by police in August 2006 when they searched the homes of the newspaper’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, and its specialist private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire. Yesterday, at the phone-hacking trial, transcripts of the tapes were entered into evidence for the first time.

Prosecutors linked a series of eight royal messages to internal emails, payment records and stories which were published by the News of the World in 2006.

In one, left for Kate Middleton on January 26 2006, when he was a cadet at Sandhurst, Prince William began by saying that he had just got back from a night navigation exercise: “I’ve been running around the woods of Aldershot chasing shadows and getting terribly lost, and I walked into some other regiment’s ambush, which was slightly embarrassing because I nearly got shot. Not by live rounds but by blank rounds, which would be very embarrassing though.” He ended by saying that he would be on another exercise the following day, adding: “I might send a cheeky text message cos I might have my phone with me.”

On the next day, Clive Goodman emailed his editor, Andy Coulson, to tell him of the story which, the jury were told, was then published in Goodman’s Black Adder column. During the following week, Goodman and Coulson exchanged emails about payments for ‘Matey’ who, the Crown allege, was Glenn Mulcaire. Goodman sent Coulson a list of stories for which ‘Matey’ had been paid, including the item about William and the night exercise.

The jury were told of two other voicemails left by the prince for Kate Middleton in January 2006. In one he told her he had just picked up her messages and added “Oh, my little babykins!” In the other, he told her he was feeling “a bit shitty” after a couple of nasty days on exercise and that he might try to go beagling with friends later that day.

On January 28, Goodman emailed Coulson to suggest a story about William beagling, adding that it was “going to be very tricky to stand up”. Goodman suggested he might put it to the Palace director of communications, Paddy Harverson: “Want me to put it to Paddy as a plain fact, eye witness account? They visited the pub first so a punter could easily have seen them and called it in.” Coulson three minutes later replied: “Yes.”

The jury was shown the transcript of a tape-recording which was found by police at Goodman’s home in August 2006, in which he spoke to a Palace press officer about the story, commenting that she sounded “worryingly like Rebekah Wade” and then arguing that the prince’s beagling outing was against Sandhurst rules. That weekend, the jury were told, the News of the World published a story about William and the beagling which included the claim that he was in the habit of calling Kate Middleton ‘Babykins’.

On the evening of February 23 2006, the prince left a message for Kate Middleton: “It’s now six o’clock, just gone six, but I don’t think I’m probably going to be able to leave here till about seven. I’ve got about another hour worth of stuff to do, just little bits and pieces but hopefully i should be able to leave by 7 at the latest so I’ll give you a buzz when I’m in the car.” He added that he hoped to be with her “by quarter to eight at the latest.”

At 7.17 that evening, Goodman emailed his news editor, Ian Edmondson: “William is out of Sandhurst tonight. He is due to leave 7ish and is heading straight to see Kate. From the inf I’ve got, it looks like he’s going to her parents’ place near Reading. The London address is just too far away for the ETA.”

On April 9 2006, the News of the World published a story headlined “Chelsy tears strip off Harry” which claimed that Prince Harry’s then girlfriend, Chelsy Davey, had been angry with the prince for flirting with a stripper in a club. The story claimed that Prince William had left a message on his brother’s phone, pretending to be Chelsy “I see you had a lovely time without me. But I miss you so much, you big ginger.”

The jury were told that in August 2006, police searching Glenn Mulcaire’s home found a tape on which a male, speaking in a female voice, left a message on Prince Harry’s phone: “Hi. It’s Chelsy here. I just want to say I miss you so much and I think you’re the best looking ginger I’ve ever seen.”

Three of the royal messages were left for royal staff. One was from a doctor who had been treating Prince Harry for minor injuries, which was left on the phone of the prince’s personal private secretary, Helen Asprey. The injuries became the subject of a story by Clive Goodman. Two were left for Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, private secretary to Prince Harry and to Prince Charles. In one, the prince asked for help with an essay which he had to write at Sandhurst, a request which was published soon afterwards by Goodman, the jury heard.

In the other message left for Lowther-Pinkerton, the commandant of Sandhurst, General Andrew Ritchie, said he wanted to chat about “an incident at the ball last night.” On April 14 2006, Goodman emailed his deputy editor, Neil Wallis, reporting that Gen Ritchie had made the call the previous day and claiming that “William and his group were massively drunk and upsetting other guests with their braying Hooray Henry antics. One of his friends was strutting around the hall pretending to be a brigadier… William himself was sent upstairs to bed before the ball ended.”

Wallis replied: “Remind me how we know this is true.” Dealing with the same story, Ian Edmondson emailed Goodman suggesting he add an extra detail about the Prince’s behaviour, to which Goodman replied “That’s a bit too much knowledge to expose to a wider readership.” The News of the World then published a story about the incident at the ball. The jury were told that a payment of £3,000 was subsequently authorised for the story for a source known as “Alexander”, who is said by the Crown to be Glenn Mulcaire.

The jury were shown further internal emails including one from Goodman to Coulson, dated February 23 2005, in which he claimed that the Sun had discussed a story with Paddy Harverson and that it had then leaked to the Daily Mail. “The Sun are keen to blame Harverson,”he wrote. “He’s a complete half wit, but what would leaking a Sun tale get him? The Mail is never going to cut Charles a break no matter how much help Paddy gives them. More likely to be closer to home. Or someone hacking Paddy’s voicemail? I can see if thats poss or if its massively password protected.”

Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner and Rebekah Brooks deny conspiring to intercept communications. The jury last night began a Christmas break. The trial is due to continue on Monday January 6.

ends