Day 18: News of the World news editor Ian Edmondson halted payments to the paper’s phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire a year before he was arrested, the hacking trial heard today. Mr Edmondson is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of conspiring with Mulcaire and other former colleagues to intercept voicemail messages between 2000 and 2006.
However, an email shown to the jury stated that three months after re-joining the NoW in November 2004 Mr Edmondson cancelled the paper’s £2,000-a-week retainer to Mulcaire’s company, News Consultancy.
News International clerk James Morgan informed senior management of the decision on 25 February 2005 – 18 months before Mulcaire was arrested for phone hacking in August 2006.
In an email, Mr Morgan told the NoW’s managing editor Stuart Kuttner (and others dealing with payments): “Ian Edmondson has instructed me to stop News Consultancy’s weekly payments of £2013.” Appearing as a witness, Mr Morgan said he had probably received the request from Mr Edmondson “verbally”.
Asked by Jonathan Caplan, for Mr Kuttner, to describe his then boss, Mr Morgan said Mr Kuttner was “very straightforward” and exercised “quite strict” control of the paper’s budget.
A few minutes earlier, Miss Sallie Bennett-Jenkins, for Mr Edmondson, told the court: “Ian Edmondson had made a number of attempts to sack Glenn Mulcaire.” She showed the court an earlier email from Mr Edmondson to senior management suggesting cutting costs by reducing the “special investigation payment”.
Dated 19 February 2005, the email was sent to Mr Kuttner and copied to the NoW’s editor Andy Coulson and his deputy Neil Wallis. Headed “Cost Cutting Ideas”, Mr Edmondson listed three areas in which costs could be reduced: 1. Agency Costs. 2. Special Investigative Payment and 3. Investigative Equipment. He wrote under Special Investigative Payment:
“The £2K payment to Greg’s investigative team has to stop. I’ve spoken about this a million times and I don’t think I need say any more.”
Mr Morgan’s email was shown to the court by prosecuting counsel, Mark Bryant-Heron.
Mr Kuttner, Mr Coulson and Rebekah Brooks deny plotting to intercept voicemail communications.
The trial, which continues, is expected to last up to six months.