Coulson Told Royal Story Based on Voice Mail, Prosecutor SaysRichard Alleyne and Jeremy Hodges
Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World, was told by a reporter at the News Corp. tabloid in an e-mail that a story had been “scammed” from an aide to the royal family’s voice mail, prosecutors said.
The phones of some royal aides were hacked as many as 104 times a month by a private investigator and a reporter employed by the News of the World, Mark Bryant-Heron, a prosecution lawyer, said in court in London yesterday.
Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, and the 45-year-old Coulson are among eight people on trial over phone hacking and bribes to public officials. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the tabloid in 2011 to defuse a scandal over revelations that journalists had hacked the phone of a missing teenager, who was later found murdered.
Clive Goodman, the tabloid’s former royal reporter who is also a defendant in the case, sent Coulson an e-mail outlining how he obtained the information for the story, Bryant-Heron said after showing jurors a transcript taken from the mobile phone of Helen Asprey, Prince Harry’s personal assistant.
“The health inf. is from the doc himself, scammed from Helen Asprey, so it is solid,” Goodman said in the e-mail to Coulson, who later became a media adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron.
Yesterday at the three-week-old trial, prosecutors said that the phones of other politicians and celebrities were hacked.
Glen Mulcaire, who has pleaded guilty to voice-mail interception, hacked the phone of the leader of the U.K. Independence Party days before the newspaper ran a story about him having an affair, said Andrew Edis, the lead prosecution lawyer.
He listened to the private voice mails of Nigel Farage, a member of the European Parliament, on at least two occasions in 2006, Edis said.
Edis told the jury that notes found at Mulcaire’s house by police suggested he had been asked to target actress Sienna Miller, who at the time was in a relationship with Jude Law. Law’s ex-wife, Sadie Frost, was also probed, he said.
Brooks, 45, was also targeted by Mulcaire, Jonathan Laidlaw, her lawyer, told the jury yesterday. A police officer said while testifying that Brooks had been “extensively” phone-hacked. Coulson was a victim of hacking by Mulcaire too, his lawyers said earlier this month.
Dozens of transcripts were found of voice mails intercepted by Mulcaire from the phone of Gordon Taylor, the CEO of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Edis said.
The News of the World wanted to run a story that he was having an affair with the soccer body’s lawyer, as the 76 messages included affectionate words including “darling,” “love you” and “honey,” he said. The story was never published, Edis said.
Other defendants include Stuart Kuttner, the 73-year-old former managing editor of the News of the World, and Ian Edmondson, a 44-year-old former news editor, who are both accused of phone hacking. Goodman, 56, is charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.