Making his closing speech at the phone hacking trial, David Spens, QC, said his client was encouraged by executives to stay silent in 2006-07 about the full scale of illegality at the paper as part of a “cynical” cover-up.
In particular, the NoW’s then editor, Andy Coulson, held out the hope that Mr Goodman could return to work at the Sunday redtop, only for the offer to be rescinded once he had been imprisoned and could no longer speak out, the QC said.
After Mr Goodman was jailed in January 2007 for intercepting the voicemails of three royal aides, the paper disparaged him as a lone “rogue reporter”.
Six years later three News of the World news editors, Greg Miskiw, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weartherup, pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack phones. Mr Coulson, fellow former editor Rebekah Brooks and ex-NoW managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, are now on trial at the Old Bailey charged with the same offence.
Mr Spens reminded the jury that following Mr Goodman’s arrest in August 2006, the paper had continued to pay his full wages.
He asked: “Why didn’t Mr Coulson dismiss him? Answer: He couldn’t take the risk.”
He said that Mr Coulson had told Mr Goodman he would only get his job back if he did not implicate anyone else during his prosecution.
But a week after he went to prison in January 2007, Mr Goodman was sacked by letter.
“He was, we suggest, groomed to be the fall guy,” Mr Spens said.
“He was told by Mr Coulson that he would still have a job even if he went to prison. Even he [Mr Goodman] doubted that…. but it offered the only glimpse of hope of him being employed in the future. If you follow the events through, you see what seems to be a cynical strategy of carrot and stick by Mr Coulson and [a News International executive] to ensure Mr Goodman’s silence about phone hacking at the News of the World.”
When his client appealed his sacking, News International gave him two “kangaroo court” hearings at Wapping on 20 March and 10 May 2007, Mr Spens complained.
He said: “He was treated as disposable, as if he had been disposed of.”
After a career at the News of the World lasting 20 years, Mr Goodman had been tossed overboard, Mr Spens said – “and the News of the World steamed on without him.”
Mr Spens, who spent the majority of his closing speech dealing with phone hacking, rather than the two counts of misconduct in public office his client faces, pointed out that his client had said Mr Coulson had known about hacking but that Mrs Brooks and Mr Kuttner had not.
Of Mr Coulson, Mr Spens said: “You may form the view that he takes no prisoners. You may also form the view that he is interested in looking after himself first and foremost when the chips are down.”
He told Court 12: “Mr Goodman told you that a bullying culture grew up under Mr Coulson. He described Mr Coulson and [another NI executive] as two lurchers.”
However Mr Goodman was not seeking “vengeance” on Mr Coulson, Mr Spens added.
Instead, he said that Mr Goodman’s testimony about the hacking and Mr Coulson were important for his credibility on the bribery charges he faces.
Mr Spens told the jury: “If you assess or conclude that Clive Goodman told the truth about hacking and the cover-up, it is more likely that he told the truth about Counts 2 and 3.”
Mr Goodman stands accused of plotting to pay police officers for copies of three confidential royal phone directories.
Dealing with those counts, Mr Spens said the jury had to be satisfied that Mr Goodman had paid a police officer and that the resulting conduct was so bad that it would have lowered public confidence in the police.
When Mr Goodman had emailed Mr Coulson that he wanted to pay police officers, Mr Goodman was hyping and exaggerating his contacts to ensure they were paid promptly, Mr Spens said.
He said of his client: “He is somebody who does embellish things,” saying that Mr Goodman had described his reference to officers as “pure salesmanship.”
During the case, he said, it was clear that a News International lawyer had used “code” when discussing the NoW’s hacker Glenn Mulcaire.
Mr Spens told the jury:
“If you turn it around and you look at the other side of the coin, it follows as a matter of logic that when you see a mention of crime it’s unlikely that the person has been doing something illegal. If he had done, he wouldn’t be writing it.”
Mr Spens said the royal phone directories found at Mr Goodman’s home were not secret and contained little private information, including very few mobile numbers.
Mr Goodman, he said, had not used any of the numbers in the books for phone hacking.
He had mainly used them to obtained landline numbers of courtiers for use in emergencies and to see who in the Royal Household had been promoted, demoted or moved sideways.
Mr Spens told the jury: “If you think Counts 2 and 3 are no more than a storm in a teacup, you should say so.”
Mr Coulson, Mr Goodman and the five other defendants deny all charges. Timothy Langdale, Mr Coulson’s QC, will begin his closing speech tomorrow.