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Phone Hacking Trial: Government minister Baroness Warsi gives Coulson glowing reference – Martin Hickman

baroness-sayeeda-warsiDay 100: A Government minister who attends Cabinet today gave a glowing character reference for a journalist accused of phone hacking.

In a statement read to the Old Bailey, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said she had received “professional”, helpful advice from Andy Coulson while he was the Conservative Party’s director of communications.

Baroness Warsi, a Tory life peer who attends Cabinet, said the former News of the World editor had helped her prepare for two high-profile appearances on the BBC’s Question Time as well as advising on a personal matter.

Noting that she and Mr Coulson shared a working-class background, Lady Warsi, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, said:

“He appeared to be a normal and grounded person in the heady world of politics. Although he was director of communications, he was very much a team player.”

In her short statement, she said Mr Coulson – accused of conspiring to hack phones and paying police for royal secrets – was “considerate, professional and respectful in the way he approached people.”

Murdoch MacLennan, chief executive of Telegraph Media Group, also gave character evidence for Mr Coulson, whom he said he had met in 2004 and since become good friends with.

In a statement read to the court, Mr MacLennan said that despite its recent reputation, Mr Coulson’s News of the World had carried out many important investigations.

He said:

“I’ve always admired Andy’s professionalism. He is clever, thoughtful and understands the needs of leadership. He is himself very loyal.

At the start of today’s proceedings, Mr Justices Saunders told the jury it was not known when, or if, the NoW’s former royal editor Goodman would return to the six month-long case.

Mr Goodman is accused jointly with Mr Coulson of conspiring to commit misconduct in public over alleged payments to police to obtain confidential royal phone directories.

Mr Goodman, who recently had a heart operation, has absent from the trial since 21 March 2014, when he complained to court staff that he was feeling unwell.

In what would have been his sixth day in the witness box that day, Mr Goodman had been due to continue answering questions from Mr Coulson’s barrister, Timothy Langdale, QC.

The judge told the jury then that Mr Goodman had a heart problem.

In his continuing absence, Mr Justice Saunders asked the jury last week if they wanted a week’s break or whether other aspects of the case should be brought forward. The jury opted to hear other aspects of the case.

Addressing them about Mr Goodman’s situation today, the judge said:

“He is not yet fit to return. His latest infection is not responding to antibiotics and he’s been admitted to hospital today. At the moment we are not able to say if or when he is fit to return.

The judge added: “I’m hoping to review medical reports on Mr Goodman by tomorrow.

The trial continues.

1 Comment

  1. davidhencke

    Reblogged this on David Hencke and commented:
    A glowing tribute from Tory minister Baroness Warsi for Andy Coulson who advised her on how to handle her BBC Question Time appearances. Didn’t know you were coached for those!

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