Giving evidence for a second day at the phone hacking trial, the editor-turned-Downing Street communications director said: “I am not a bully”.
He told the court that he often stepped by people’s desks to praise journalists, saying:
“I’d like to show my appreciation. I would give people bonuses and send them on holiday.”
While he recognised the News of the World was “tough”, Mr Coulson, 46, rejected the idea that there had been a “bullying culture”.
He also denied reporter Clive Goodman’s claim that its “secret room”, where exclusives were laid out, had had to be soundproofed because the deputy editor, Neil “Wolfman” Wallis, shouted so much.
Explaining his management style, Mr Coulson said he liked to think that his staff enjoyed coming to work.
He told the Old Bailey:
“I took a lot of pride in finding talented people and developing people. I took great pride in playing a part in people’s careers.”
His counsel, Timothy Langdale QC, asked whether there had been any bullying, to which Mr Coulson replied:
“First of all I would like to say I am not a bully. As to other people during my time in newspapers, of course – the 1980s and 1990s in newspapers were a very different era.”
Mr Langdale pressed him as to whether was there a bullying culture at the News of the World under his editorship.
Mr Coulson replied: “No, I absolutely reject that.”
Asked how involved he had been in the production of the paper, he replied: “I was more hands on than hands off.”
But he added there were weeks when he was more involved than others, saying that he had spent a lot of time dealing the installation of new colour printing from Germany, codenamed Project Hal.
Mr Langdale asked: “To what extent were you reliant on others, particularly the department heads?”
Mr Coulson, who has told the court that he was unaware of phone hacking at the tabloid, said:
“It’s impossible to micro-manage a newspaper. It can’t be done in my view, because there are too many moving parts. It’s a team exercise, and you have to trust the people around you.”
He denies plotting to hack mobile phone messages. The case continues.