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News Corp. Reporter Pushed for Cash Payments to Avoid Jail

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Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- A News Corp. reporter warned the News of the World’s managing editor that cash payments had to be made to people in “uniform” or they would all “end up in jail.”

Clive Goodman, the U.K. tabloid’s royal reporter, told Managing Editor Stuart Kuttner in July 2005 that the payments should be “untraceable,” a lawyer for a former editor of the tabloid, Andy Coulson, told a London court today.

“There are only three people I ever pay cash,” Goodman said in the e-mail shown to the jury by Coulson’s lawyer, Timothy Langdale. “Two are in uniform -– all of them, you, me, the editor, would all end up in jail if anyone traced their payments.”

The evidence is some of the first at the trial, which is nearing the end of its fourth week, on bribes to public officials, after most of the prosecution case focused on interception of voice-mail messages. Coulson, Goodman and Kuttner are among eight people on trial 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 Milly Dowler, a missing teenager.

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, said she was “sickened” by the news that Dowler’s phone had been hacked and would not tolerate the “disgraceful behavior,” according to a letter to her staff at the time that was shown to the jury today.

Too Horrific

Brooks, who is facing charges of phone hacking, paying bribes to public officials and perverting the course of justice, said in the July 2011 letter that the “strongest possible actions” would be taken against the perpetrators.

“It is almost too horrific to believe that a professional journalist or a freelance inquiry agent working on behalf of the News of the World would behave in this way,” Brooks said.

Goodman is charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office for bribing officers to obtain a book containing phone numbers of the royal family.

Yesterday, jurors were shown an e-mail that indicated Coulson was told by Ian Edmondson, a News of the World editor who is also charged with phone hacking, that payments to a private investigator who has pleaded guilty to the crime “had to stop.”

Brooks’s husband, Charlie, 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.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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