Day 6: Andy Coulson will take the witness stand to clear his name, his barrister told the hacking trial yesterday. At the end of the prosecution’s three-day opening statement, Timothy Langdale, QC, told the jury that they had heard “only one side of the story.”
Giving what he acknowledged was an “unusual” opening address on behalf of a defendant, Mr Langdale stressed to the jury that his client was innocent of the charges of plotting to hack phones and bribe police.
“You have heard a lot from the prosecution about Mr Coulson. It’s our case that a lot of it is wrong,” he told the Old Bailey jury of nine women and three men.
Outlining some of Mr Coulson’s defence, Mr Langdale said he acknowledged “something went badly wrong” during his editorship of the News of the World and he very much wished he had taken “different decisions”.
But he added that David Cameron’s former director of communications had not taken part in any wrongdoing and would paint a picture of the frenetic pace of life inside the News of the World, when a mass of information passed his desk.
Competition inside the Sunday tabloid was “perhaps at times unhealthy” and journalists “wanted to impress”, Mr Langdale told the Old Bailey.
Referring to the claim that his client had approved royal editor Clive Goodman’s requests to pay corrupt police officers, Mr Langdale said: “He does not believe Mr Goodman had done or was doing any such thing.”
The prosecution was mistaken in its belief that if messages were hacked by Glen Mulcaire or others at the paper that the editor must have known, he added.
Before the jury heard two months of prosecution evidence, he said he wanted to correct what may have been their “abiding impression” about the saga. The Guardian’s story on 4 July 2011 suggesting that the News of the World had interfered in the search for Milly Dowler by deleting her phone messages was “wholly unjustified in a number of major respects,” he said.
Mr Langdale said: “There is no evidence that Mr Mulcaire or any other person acting for the News of the World deleted any messages on Milly Dowler’s phone either deliberately or accidentally.”
All defendants deny all the charges. The case continues.