Coulson Says ‘Special Checks’ Wasn’t Code for Phone Hacking

Andy Coulson, the former editor of News Corp.’s News of the World, rejected claims by a reporter that the tabloid used the term “special checks” as a code for phone hacking.

The phrase was used in an e-mail describing a story about Jude Law and Sienna Miller, according to Coulson’s lawyer, Timothy Langdale. “Does the phrase ‘special checks’ mean anything,” Langdale asked at the trial in London.

“No, I don’t think it means anything to me,” Coulson replied today during his second week of testimony at the nearly six-month-old trial. “I think all reporters think their checks are special.”

Coulson, 46, is one of seven people on trial for a variety of wrongdoing at News Corp.’s U.K. newspapers, including voice-mail interception and bribing public officials. A scandal over phone hacking in 2011 led News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to close the 168-year-old News of the World.

Today is the first time Coulson has responded allegations made by Dan Evans, a former reporter at the paper who appeared as a witness on behalf of prosecutors earlier this year. Evans’s testimony focused on stories about Miller and whether the actress had an affair with Daniel Craig, the star of the James Bond movies.

Coulson also denied that Evans played him a 2005 recording of a message left on Craig’s phone in which Miller told Craig she loved him. Evans pleaded guilty to phone hacking while at another publication, Trinity Mirror Plc’s Sunday Mirror, before the trial started.

Vague Terms

Coulson, who later became a media adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, told jurors last week that he was aware of the interception of voice-mail messages in “vague terms.”

Coulson also responded to allegations from another former reporter, Clive Goodman, that he was a bully.

“If I had a bad day or made a remark in conference then I would apologize for it,” Coulson said. “I am not afraid to apologize.”

Goodman is another defendant in the current case and went to prison in 2007 after pleading guilty to hacking the phone of people who worked for the royal family. While Coulson resigned his post at the News of the World after Goodman was sentenced, he told jurors today that he never knew that the reporter used a private investigator to listen to voice-mail messages.

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