Timothy Langdale, QC, for Mr Coulson, said the former editor of the News of the World had tackled difficult questions in the witness box “without shilly-shallying or obfuscation.”
Running through the evidence against his client, Mr Langdale said the prosecution had not produced a single “plain English” document which showed that he knew about Glenn Mulcaire’s phone hacking at the Sunday title.
Mr Coulson’s “Do his phone” instruction, in an email in April 2006, did not meant that Mr Coulson had instructed anyone to hack a phone, because neither Calum Best, nor a News of the World reporter suspected leaking stories to him, had subsequently been hacked, the QC said.
He told the jury of eight women and three men: “It’s another part of the prosecution case which has not just crumbled but disappeared.”
Mr Langdale said, however, there was a plain English document which showed that Mr Coulson took a tough line on hacking.
In late 2006, the NoW editor had emailed the tabloid’s managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, stating that Mulcaire should be paid “not a penny more” after his contract expired in December 2006 or January 2007.
Of his client, Mr Langdale told the court:
“He was far from perfect, either professionally or personally. He made mistakes and errors of judgement, as he has freely told you. He was someone who was not flashy. He had done some important and high-profile jobs, but was not the big ‘I am’.”
The QC added: “You may have found him to be a modest and careful witness. He took responsibility on his own shoulders. He wasn’t someone who tried to shift the blame or responsibility onto others.”
Mr Langdale went on:
“He chose to enter the witness box and, we suggest, he tackled, dealt with even the most difficult questions, without shilly-shallying, without obfuscation, and without changing his story. We suggest to you – and you will decide – that he was a straight-forward and upfront witness to you, who was not trying to pull the wool over your eyes.”
He urged the jurors to assess the detail of the case against his client.
“We ask you to attend to the detail,” he said.
“Because, we suggest, in this case the detail is the antidote to any undue broad-brush approach; an antidote to starting out with assumptions; an antidote to a closed mind,” he said.
“We submit that the evidence called in this case does not establish that Mr Coulson committed any offences while he was at the News of the World. In some instances, it is fair to say, we have proved that the evidence is wholly consistent with his innocence.”
Mr Langdale told the jury: “If that is your view, and the view you all share, then the proper verdict in this case is not guilty.”
Mr Coulson and the six other defendants deny all charges. The case continues.