Coulson Job Offer Was to Keep Quiet About Phone HackingJeremy Hodges
Clive Goodman, the News Corp. royal reporter sent to prison for phone hacking, told a London court that his editor, Andy Coulson, and a company lawyer offered him a job to “keep silent” about the extent of the practice at the News of the World tabloid.
Goodman testified today that at a 2006 meeting, Coulson told him that his family would be taken care of if he stuck to a “lone wolf” defense.
Goodman, 56, and Coulson are 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. Goodman is one of two people who pleaded guilty to hacking phones in 2006 when the allegations first emerged at News Corp.
“I thought it was pretty low to involve my family,” Goodman said during his fourth day of testimony. After his August 2006 arrest, Goodman said that he felt he was being “bounced into a situation where I would plead guilty,” by Coulson.
The scandal over the practice dragged on for nearly five years after Goodman’s incarceration 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.
Goodman, who is charged with bribing public officials in the current trial, said today that he thought his lawyer in the original case, Henri Brandman, was feeding information back to News Corp.’s U.K. executives.
“Lots of people at the News of the World were doing this, I was just the one who got caught.” Goodman said, referring to phone hacking. “I was wondering whether at some point during this case I would take the whole blame. I had a pretty strong feeling that everything I said would probably go back” to News Corp.’s U.K. unit.
At a 2006 meeting with a News Corp. lawyer, Goodman testified that he was told he wouldn’t be dismissed as long as he “didn’t implicate other people.” He said that his legal advice at the time was influenced by News Corp. executives.
Goodman testified yesterday that the day after he was arrested in 2006 for phone hacking, he went to an Internet cafe and downloaded many of his e-mail conversations with his superiors because he felt he was “going to be left high and dry” by the newspaper.
After he pleaded guilty, Goodman sent Brandman an e-mail to complain about a News Corp. lawyer, who had “invited himself” to a meeting of his legal team.
The News Corp. lawyer’s presence was “most unhelpful,” Goodman said in the e-mail. “He arrived to deliver a fairly crude carrot and stick from the News of the World.”
“I find the attempt to dictate lines of our defense highly inappropriate and just a bit shocking,” Goodman said in the e-mail. “I felt more threatened by the message he was asked to deliver today than I have been by much of the prosecution case.”
Coulson, 46, who went on to become a media aide to Prime Minister David Cameron after he resigned from the News of the World when Goodman went to prison, is charged with both phone hacking and bribing public officials.