A journalist at News Corp.’s News of the World told Andy Coulson, the tabloid’s editor, to halt payments of 2,000 pounds ($3,200) a week to an investigator who was employed to intercept voice-mail messages for stories.
Ian Edmondson, the 44-year-old former news editor of the U.K. tabloid, told Coulson and Managing Editor Stuart Kuttner in a 2005 e-mail that the payments to Glenn Mulcaire “had to stop,” Sallie Bennett-Jenkins, Edmondson’s lawyer, told a London court today.
Coulson, 45, Kuttner and Edmondson are among eight people on trial in London over wrongdoing at News Corp. tabloids. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World in 2011 in an attempt to contain a scandal over revelations that the tabloid had hacked the phone of a missing teenager.
“The 2,000 pounds-a-week payments to Greg’s investigations man has to stop,” Edmondson said in the e-mail, referring to Greg Miskiw, a News of the World colleague who has pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack phones. “I have spoken about this a million times and I do not think I need to say any more.”
Edmondson was fired for gross misconduct in January 2011 for “his complicity in illegal interception of voice mail messages,” Bryant-Heron told the jury.
Mulcaire has pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack phones, including that of Milly Dowler, the missing schoolgirl.
The private investigator used to call into the News of the World’s news desk and called himself Mr. Lemon or Mr. Strawberry, Bennett-Jenkins said. Journalists at the tabloid would joke about this “Walter Mitty character,” she said.
Another private investigator employed by the News of the World was paid 344,999 pounds between 2004 and 2010, said Mark Bryant-Heron, a lawyer for the prosecution.
Andrew Gadd, who described himself as an investigative researcher, told the court today that he worked directly for Edmondson.
While Gadd said he was never asked to provide a phone number to News of the World, he discussed hacking with Edmondson at a lunch in 2009.
“He didn’t make much reference to it other than it was historical and that he had been worried about Clive Goodman,” Gadd said, referring to the tabloid’s former royal reporter who is a defendant in the trial facing charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.
Goodman and Mulcaire were sentenced to prison in 2007 after they pleaded guilty to phone hacking at the newspaper.
Rebekah Brooks, another former News of the World editor who later became head of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, is also on trial in the case. Prosecutors allege journalists at the Sunday tabloid and the daily Sun newspaper hacked phones and paid bribes to public officials for stories.
Brooks, 45, is also charged with conspiring to destroy evidence in July 2011 when the furor over phone hacking was at its apex. Brooks’s husband, her former assistant Cheryl Carter, and the U.K. unit’s former head of security, Mark Hanna, also face charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.