Princess Diana gave a journalist at News Corp.’s News of the World the royal telephone directory that triggered a scandal that has hung over the company for nearly eight years, the reporter told a London court.
Clive Goodman, charged with conspiring to pay public officials to get access to the directories, or green books, said that Diana, who died in 1997, was “looking for an ally” in her battles with her husband, Prince Charles.
“She wanted me to see the scale of her husband’s staff and household compared to hers,” Goodman, 56, said during his first day of testimony. “She felt that she was in a very bitter situation.”
Goodman is among seven people standing trial on charges related to phone hacking and bribing public officials at the New York-based company’s U.K. newspapers. He was one of two people who pleaded guilty to hacking the phones of royal aides in 2006 when the allegations first emerged at News Corp.
The scandal over the practice dragged on for nearly five years before erupting amid the discovery that journalists at the News of the World accessed messages on a murdered teenager’s voice mail. Company Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the tabloid in 2011 in a bid to temper public outrage.
The trial has been highlighted by references to influential politicians, celebrities and journalists. During 13 days of testimony that ended yesterday, Rebekah Brooks, once head of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, was repeatedly asked about her relations with former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson and CNN television host Piers Morgan.
Princess Diana married Charles in 1981, attracting worldwide media attention. The couple separated in 1992 as Diana was unable to deal with the pressures of marrying into the royal family. They divorced in in 1996 after Diana publicly accused Charles of having an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.
She was killed a year later in a car crash that followed her being chased through the streets of Paris by a pack of paparazzi.
The green book was one of 15 seized from Goodman’s home after his arrest in 2006. He denied that he ever paid public officials for any of the directories.
Earlier in his testimony today, Goodman called his former editor at the News of the World, Andy Coulson, a combative, bullying and aggressive boss. Coulson, who later went on to become a communications adviser to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, is charged along with Goodman for conspiring to pay bribes for the royal directories.
Coulson, who resigned as editor of the News of the World in 2007 after Goodman was sentenced to four months in prison, had little time for “sentimentality” and once fired his best friend at the tabloid.
“There was an extraordinary drive for results,” Goodman said. “Competitiveness was actively encouraged. Bylines were counted and you would be hauled over the coals by Andy.”
Goodman, facing bribery charges, was jailed in the previous case along with a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire.
The publisher paid him 140,000 pounds ($234,000) as a severance payment, Goodman said today.
Brooks said March 5 during her testimony that she had been asked to offer Goodman a job to prevent him from taking the company to an “embarrassing employment tribunal” and to stop him “making unfounded allegations.”
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