13 Mar 2014

Hacking trial hears how Princess Diana ‘leaked to NoW’

Princess Diana leaked information on the Prince of Wales to the press in order to “take on” her estranged husband, former News of the World reporter Clive Goodman tells the phone hacking trial.

Clive Goodman told the court that Diana, who separated from Prince Charles in 1992 after 11 years of marriage, passed him information relating to the royal household and staff in an envelope to his office in Wapping.

The former royal editor said: “She was going through a very, very difficult time. She told me she wanted me to see the scale of her husband’s staff and household, compared with others.

“She felt she was being swamped by people close to his household. She was looking for an ally to take him on – to show there were forces that would rage against him.” Goodman, 56, denies two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

Asked by his counsel David Spens QC how he received royal directories he explained how one Green Book was given to him in 1992 by the Princess of Wales.

Mr Goodman told the court how he used information from the database to confirm a story on an intruder dressed as Osama bin Laden that gatecrashed Prince William’s 21st birthday.

‘Don’t watch’

The court also heard how Rebekah Brooks asked her mother not to watch the news as reports that the News of the World hacked the voicemails of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler emerged, the phone hacking trial has hears.

Deborah Weir, called to give evidence in her daughter’s defence at the Old Bailey, said Ms Brooks was “not very easy” to get hold of after the allegations were made in the press on 4 July 2011 – days before the tabloid boss’s resignation and arrest in connection with hacking.

Ms Weir, 70, who was working on her family farm in Cheshire at the time, said she received a message from her daughter, which read: “Please don’t watch the news, mum.”

Ms Brooks’s defence counsel Jonathan Laidlaw QC told the jury of another message sent from Ms Brooks to her mother which read: “Don’t read the papers or look at the television, please.”

‘News so awful’

The witness said she tried to keep in regular contact with her daughter in the week before the NoW closed, and repeatedly offered to travel down to Ms Brooks’s barn in Oxfordshire or her flat in central London.

In one text, Ms Weir wrote: “Don’t be silly, do you need me to come? You must say if you’d like me to be in London.”

She added in another text: “I’m so worried for you.”

In another, she added: “News so awful.”

Ms Brooks’s mother travelled to Oxfordshire that weekend, where Ms Brooks and her husband – co-defendant Charlie Brooks – also stayed, before Ms Weir returned north to look after the farm.

She travelled back the following weekend, having expressed concern that Ms Brooks was to resign from her position at News International.

‘I didn’t want her to resign’

Ms Weir, giving evidence in a soft northern accent, told the court: “I didn’t want her to resign.”

On the Sunday, 17 July, Ms Weir received a call from Ms Brooks’s husband that she “had to get ready really quickly” if she wanted to see Ms Brooks, who was due to head to a police station in London later that day.

She told the court: “Charlie told me not to get upset.”

During increasingly tense exchanges under cross-examination from prosecutor Andrew Edis QC, Ms Weir was asked about Ms Brooks’s home in Oxfordshire on the day it was searched by police.

Asked by Mr Edis if she could remember how many cars were on the driveway that day, the witness replied: “I can’t believe you’re asking me this question – it was two-and-a-half years ago.”

Ms Weir was told by judge Mr Justice Saunders to simply answer the question.

‘Jeremy Clarkson’

Concluding Ms Brooks’ defence, Frances Clarkson – the wife of Top Gear presenter and journalist Jeremy Clarkson – described the former News International chief executive as “loyal and trusted”.

In a statement read before the court, Mrs Clarkson said Ms Brooks’s support for the Help For Heroes charity helped propel its media profile and the prospect of donations.

Mrs Clarkson, a charity patron, said: “Without her support, I really believe the charity would not have received the sums of money and support it did.”

Describing Ms Brooks, the witness said: “The love and affection she (Ms Brooks) has shown to me is incredibly touching. She is one of the most loyal and must trusting people I know.”

Ms Brooks denies conspiracy to hack phones. Six other defendants, including Ms Brooks’s husband, also deny all charges.