Coulson ‘Normal and Grounded,’ Warsi Tells Phone-Hacking Jury

Andy Coulson, the former editor of News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid who’s on trial over intercepting voice mails, was calm, professional and trustworthy as a government adviser, former Conservative Party Co-Chairman Sayeeda Warsi said.

Coulson, a media adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron after he left News Corp., was a “normal and grounded person in the heady world of politics,” Warsi said in a character-witness statement read to a court in London today by Coulson’s lawyer. “Our similar working-class background was probably a large part of the reason why I felt familiar and comfortable in his company.”

Coulson, 46, is among seven people on trial for a variety of wrongdoing at News Corp.’s U.K. newspapers, including intercepting messages and bribing public officials. Company Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World in 2011 in response to public outrage over the discovery that journalists had listened to messages on the phone of a murdered schoolgirl.

Warsi, 43, a member of the upper chamber of Parliament, the House of Lords, became the first Muslim to be a full member of a British cabinet in 2010 when she served as minister without portfolio as chairwoman of Cameron’s Conservative Party. She lost those positions in 2012, though she still attends cabinet meetings as a junior Foreign Office minister.

Warsi said she first met Coulson as a shadow cabinet minister in 2007 and described him as “a team player.” She said she only knew him professionally, not socially, and had nothing to gain from making the statement.

“I cannot judge Andy’s guilt or innocence in the proceedings against him but wanted to provide the court with an accurate description of my experience of working with him,” Warsi said in the statement.

Judge John Saunders told the jury that another defendant in the trial, Clive Goodman, who stopped giving evidence midway through his testimony because of ill health, is still not well enough to return to the trial.

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