Andy Coulson approved two corrupt payments to “palace cops” despite being warned by one of his reporters that he risked criminal charges, the phone hacking trial heard today.
During the morning of the fifth day of the case, Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, read out a series of emails between the News of the World’s royal editor Clive Goodman and Mr Coulson, the editor, about buying palace phone directories from police officers guarding the Royal Family.
Following the emails the News of the World paid £1000 each in cash to two individuals – David Farrish and Ian Anderson – which the prosecution suggested were the aliases of corrupt officers.
The emails and payments, in 2003 and 2005, about the “green book” of the phone numbers and addresses of members of the Royal Household, are central to the Crown’s case that Mr Coulson and Mr Goodman conspired to commit misconduct in public office.
They also form part of the case of conspiracy to phone hack against Mr Coulson and his co-defendants (but not Mr Goodman, who was convicted of phone hacking offences in 2006). In the first email, sent to Mr Coulson at 1.38pm on 24 January 2003, Mr Goodman wrote:
“Andy – one of our royal policemen (St James’s Palace) has obtained the brand new green book, the telephone directory with all the phone numbers of the royal family and their household staff. Incredibly useful and he’ll be extremely handy in the [redacted] affair tale. The standard price is £1,000. So far, so good. But I had a heck of a time getting cash creds signed off by Stuart earlier this week to pay a Kensington Palace copper for a page lead and an exec on another paper for a carvery item.
“I think that we should have the book and the goodwill that goes with it but I am keen to avoid Round Two with the Man Ed [Managing Editor, Stuart Kuttner]. I’m not criticising Stuart at all, but these people will not be paid anything other than cash because if they’re discovered selling stuff to us they end up on criminal charges, as could we.”
At 1.41pm, Mr Coulson replied:
“this is fine. Didn’t I sign off on purchase of green book quite recently.”
At 1.45pm, Mr Goodman emailed:
“In December – that was £750 for the internal phone directory. Lists all the staff at BP, SJP and Widnsor [sic] with their extension numbers and direct lines. This is the harder to get one which has the Queen’s direct lines to her family in it.”
A second email exchange happened on 14 May 2005, when at 4.09pm, Mr Goodman emailed Mr Coulson:
“Andy – know your busy but… One of our palace cops has got hold of a rare and just printed Palace staff phone book. Every job, every name, every number. We usually pay £1,000 for these. It’s a very risky document for him to nick. OK to put the credit through? It’s one of our normal cash contributions only players.”
Mr Goodman apparently received no answer to this email, prosecutor Andrew Edis told the court, because at 1.40pm on 1 June 2005, he emailed Mr Coulson:
“Andy – OK to pay the guy on this? Books are essential for knowing who’s where, on what number and seems to be more difficult to get hold of these days. This is right up to date, printed Feb 2005.”
At 2.13pm, Mr Coulson replied: “FINE.”
In another email, sent on 24 June 2005, Mr Goodman warned of the risks his cash-only sources were taking. In this email, sent to Paul Nicholas, the News of the World’s deputy managing editor, Mr Goodman said two could only be paid in cash. He told Mr Nicholas:
“I’m not going to put it in writing but any paper or computer trail that leads to them or their families will put them, me, you and the editor in jail.”
Mr Coulson and his co-defendants deny the charges. The case continues.
Reblogged this on David Hencke and commented:
Latest revelation of Coulson’s approval of corrupt £2000 cash payments to police two Royal directories – one with the Queen’s private no on it- illustrates the excesses the tabloids went to set up the hacking scandal- and they knew in internal emails they risked jail if they were found out.
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