Selling Royal Phone Books a Longstanding Practice, Witness Says

The royal phone directories prosecutors say News Corp. journalists paid bribes to obtain were frequently sold by members of the U.K. monarchy’s staff, the ex-private secretary to the Prince of Wales said.

Sir Michael Peat, the prince’s private secretary from 2002 to 2011, said he understood there to be “a longstanding practice by staff or police” to sell “copies of the green book,” in a witness statement read in court today.

A former News of the World royal reporter, Clive Goodman, along with the then editor, Andy Coulson, face two charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office by paying for the royal phone directories. The books contained Queen Elizabeth II’s phone numbers to get in touch with her family.

“We were of the view that there was a substantial risk they would get into hands for which they were not intended,” Peat told the court. When Goodman was arrested in 2006, the police searched his home and found 15 royal phone books dating back to the ’90s, prosecutors said yesterday.

Goodman and Coulson are among seven people facing charges related to wrongdoing at News Corp.’s U.K. newspapers. Company Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the weekly News of the World tabloid in 2011 amid a scandal over revelations journalists intercepted voice-mail messages on the phone of a missing teenager.

Ian Edmondson, a former News of the World news editor, will no longer be a defendant in the trial because of ill health, Judge John Saunders told the jury today. Edmondson will face charges of phone hacking at a later date.

Stolen Nuts

Goodman told Coulson in a 2005 e-mail that the queen was “irritated” because palace police had been eating her nuts.

“Queen furious about police stealing bowls of nuts and nibbles left out for her in apartments,” Goodman said in the e-mail read out by prosecution lawyer Andrew Edis today.

“She started marking the bowls to see when the levels dipped,” he said.

Other defendants in the trial include Rebekah Brooks, the News Corp. U.K. unit’s former chief executive officer, who is charged with phone hacking, conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office and obstructing justice.

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