In his 10th and final day in the witness box, Mr Coulson was asked by his lawyer, Timothy Langdale QC, about the NoW’s front-page on 30 April 2006: “Prezza: The Sex Diaries.”
Mr Coulson told the Old Bailey that it was a traditional Fleet Street spoiler meant to distract attention from the Mail on Sunday’s acquisition – and publication that Sunday – of the diaries of Tracey Temple, the Deputy Prime Minister’s diary secretary.
Mr Coulson said that the NoW had established, probably from other journalists, that the MoS had bought the diaries and set out to create a spoiler first edition splash, allowing details of Mrs Temple’s story to be inserted once the MoS was published.
Mr Justice Saunders, in reference to the NoW’s hacking of MoS journalists, asked if Mr Coulson knew if the story had been obtained by hacking.
“Absolutely not,” he replied.
A character witness for Mr Coulson, paediatric consultant Conal Austin, described the former NoW editor as “a very nice chap.”
Mr Austin, who became close friends with Mr Coulson after their sons attended the same prep school in Dulwich, praised his help in publicising and funding cardiac operations for children in Sri Lanka.
Mr Austin told the phone hacking trial:
“Andy is very altruistic in my opinion. He’s a good friend. He’s very personable. He’s very quiet. He’s not brash or boastful.”
He added that Mr Coulson would always remember their conversations even if they had been out drinking.
In later evidence, Belinda Sharia, Mr Coulson’s PA at the NoW, told the court that diary entries indicated that he had met Cabinet ministers on 28 September 2005.
The former NoW reporter Dan Evans said in his evidence that he had played Mr Coulson a tape recording of a voicemail hacked from Sienna Miller’s phone or or around that date in the newsroom at Wapping.
Mr Coulson’s diary suggested that he was at the Labour Party conference that day, though against proposed meetings with Cabinet ministers Geoff Hoon, John Reid and Gordon Brown were the words: “CXL” (meaning cancelled, the court heard) and a tick, which Mr Coulson told the court in his evidence usually meant meetings had gone ahead.
Ms Sharia, who made the diary entries with another secretary, told the court: “He would have met him [John Reid].”
Regarding Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ms Sharia said: “Looking at that, he definitely met with Gordon Brown.”
This afternoon Andrew Edis QC, for the Crown, will ask Ms Sharia about her evidence.
Mr Coulson, who became David Cameron’s communications director after he resigned from the NoW in 2007, denies conspiring to hack voicemails between 2000 and 2006.