Day 17: One of Rupert Murdoch’s senior executives packed up the belongings of a News of the World reporter suspected of phone hacking and sent them away from the newspaper’s offices in a taxi, the Old Bailey heard today. Paul Nicholas, Deputy Managing Editor of the News of the World, acted on the day in April 2011 that former news
editor James Weatherup was arrested at his home in Essex, Frances Carmen, the paper’s newsdesk secretary, told the jury.
Ms Carmen said that the tabloid had received a phone call from Weatherup’s girlfriend saying that he was being held by the Metropolitan Police. Ms Carmen was giving evidence on the 17th day of the phone hacking trial in which former senior staff at the News of the World (but not Mr Nicholas) are accused of conspiring to intercept mobile phone messages and other offences.
In a brief exchange, Mark Bryant-Heron, prosecuting, asked her what had happened regarding Weatherup – who had pleaded guilty to plotting to hack phones at an earlier hearing – on 14 April 2011.
“We got call from his girlfriend… who said he’d been arrested,” Ms Carmen told the jury, adding that Mr Nicholas had then packed up Weatherup’s belongings. She had then “accompanied the boxes to a security office and then to a solicitor’s office in Lincoln’s Inn Field.”
Judge John Saunders asked Ms Carmen to repeat the evidence more slowly. Ms Carmen said: “I was asked to witness the packing up of all of the things on James’s desk, which were put into a box and sealed.” The judge clarified: “Who was doing it?” Ms Carmen replied: “Paul Nicholas.”
Ms Carmen, the NoW’s newsdesk secretary from 2000 until its closure in 2011, later said she had archived tape cassettes belonging to the news editor, Ian Edmondson, when the title moved from Wapping to nearby Thomas More Square in 2010. “There were boxes of tapes Ian … Ian would have lots of mini-cassettes from taped interviews… and I archived them,” she said.
Earlier, the court heard from another former News International staff member, Emma Harvey, PA to Andy Coulson in his three years as deputy editor of the NoW from 2000 to 2003.
Ms Harvey, who left the paper in 2002 a few months before Mr Coulson was made editor, said she had never heard of Glenn Mulcaire, the paper’s £100,000-a-year phone hacker.
Asked by Timothy Langdale QC, for Mr Coulson, whether she had heard of phone hacking while working at the NoW, Ms Harvey replied: “I was not aware of any phone hacking.” Mr Langdale continued: “And you never heard of any rumour or gossip about it?” Ms Harvey replied: “No.”
She said of Mr Coulson: “He was a very good boss to me. He was very committed and he obviously had enormous talent.”
Mr Coulson, Mr Edmondson and six other defendants have pleaded not guilty to all charges. The case continues.