Rebekah Brooks responded to the imprisonment of the News of the World’s royal editor Clive Goodman by offering him a job, the prosecution at the phone hacking trial revealed today. Shortly after Mr Goodman came out of jail for plotting to hack the phones of royal aides, Mrs Brooks’s expenses records showed that she invited him for lunch at a private member’s club in London’s Pall Mall on 13 April 2007.
Prosecuting, Andrew Edis QC pointed out that the lunch at the RAC Club came only 18 days after Mrs Brooks had told a Press Complaints Commission investigation into hacking that she would instantly dismiss any journalist found to have broken the law.
Mr Edis reminded the jury that Mr Goodman had been imprisoned for four months on 26 January 2007.
On 9 May 2007, three weeks after their lunch, Mrs Brooks emailed him referring to two offers of work: to write about Princess Diana and to sub-edit the Sun. Mr Edis read out her email:
I really need a decision on the Diana project otherwise I will have to hire someone else. Already for Bookzine the deadlines are tight.
I also wanted to discuss our news sub editors training course for the newspaper and online. I thought it might appeal. It’s well paid and I’m sure the talent runs in the family.
However, all of the above means you returning a call. I know with the house move you have a lot on your mind but we all have lives to get on with.
If you are not interested in working for the Sun, then that’s absolutely fine but as I said to you at lunch this is a genuine offer of work/training from one old colleague to another.
I will not be in the least offended if it doesn’t cut the mustard but just let me know!!!!!
Hope all well
Records found at Mr Goodman’s house suggested that Mrs Brooks followed up the job offer with a further email to Mr Goodman on 18 May 2007 describing the sub-editing options at the Sun.
By this time, Mr Edis told the jury at the Old Bailey, Andy Coulson, who had a six-year relationship with Mrs Brooks, had been forced to resign as editor of the News of the World because of Mr Goodman’s high-profile conviction.
Mr Edis said:
“We suggest that they were both aware that Mr Goodman was not the only person to have been phone hacking, that everyone had known what was going on – and therefore they felt sorry for him, and also wanted to keep him on board.”
Later in the case, Mr Edis outlined allegations that Mrs Brooks approved around £40,000 of payments to corrupt public officials.
Emails read out to the jury showed Mrs Brooks replying simply “yes” or “of course” to requests by Sun staff to pay a member of the Armed Forces and a defence official for stories about the Army, the war in Iraq and Prince William’s military training at Sandhurst, the court heard. One was £4,000 for a picture of Prince William wearing a bikini.
Earlier, the fifth day of the trial at the Old Bailey heard that Mr Coulson had instructed a journalist investigating a tip-off about Calum Best, son of footballer George Best, to “do his phone’”
Mr Edis suggested to the court that this was an instruction to hack Mr Best’s voicemails.
Mr Edis is expected to conclude his opening statement on Monday by outlining the charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice against Mrs Brooks, her husband Charlie, her personal assistant Cheryl Carter, and Mark Hanna, News International’s head of security.
All eight defendants deny all charges.