23 Nov 2013

Cash payments and Glenn Mulcaire: phone hacking trial week 4

The Old Bailey hears details of alleged cash payments to Glenn Mulcaire and “people in uniform: Channel 4 News has the weekly phone-hacking trial round-up.

Phoen hacking trial: week four

Monday 18 November 2013

The hacking trial resumed with evidence from former employees at News International.

First up, Justin Walford, a barrister who worked as an editorial legal adviser at the company. Mainly employed on The Sun, he described former editor Rebekah Brooks as “a very demanding editor” who was “passionate about the paper”. Of the journalists underneath her, he said: “You don’t get to work on The Sun unless you’re very good”.

Mr Walford said he had never been asked to give legal advice about phone hacking, either on The Sun, or on the occasions when he “libel-read” the News of the World. Following the arrest of News of the World reporter Clive Goodman in 2006, he made attempts to find out whether voicemail interception might have been in practice at The Sun, but had been “assured” it was limited to the News of the World.

Rebekah Brooks arrives at the phone hacking trial on Monday (picture: Getty)

Later on, jurors heard the cross examination of Michael Gill, group financial controller of News UK and News International before that. He was questioned about cash payment records dating from Mrs Brooks’ editorship of the News of the World. Asked by her lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw QC if the documents before the court never showed her authorising a payment to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, Mr Gill said simply: “Correct”.

The jurors were also shown a 2001 document which stated Mr Mulcaire would receive £92,000 over twelve months for his services. This, said Mr Gill, should have had legal and editorial approval.

Finally, former Night Editor Harry Scott began to give evidence about the daily realities of working for the News of the World, describing the work of sub-editors, staffing structures and the layout of the newsroom.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

The day began with a lengthy cross-examination of Harry Scott by Andy Coulson’s counsel Timothy Langdale QC.

Mr Scott was asked whether he had any impression that a story about Milly Dowler on April 14th 2002 had come from phone hacking. “No, not at all”, he replied.

The former night editor said he had no knowledge of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, nor the use of phone hacking on the paper, until the arrest of the paper’s former Royal Editor Clive Goodman in 2006. Mr Scott agreed with Mr Langdale’s suggestion that his client was a “perfectionist”.

Then the court heard from two former sport journalists on the paper.

Geoff Sweet interviewed Glenn Mulcaire and mentioned his employment on the paper’s “special investigations team” as part of a “novelty” article in 2002. The piece was about AFC Wimbledon – a team Mr Mulcaire played for at the time – and referred to him as “Trigger”. Mr Sweet said it was “generally known” within the newspaper that Mr Mulcaire worked for the News of the World Special Investigations Team.

Next came The Sun’s Chief Sports Correspondent, Rob Beasley. A reporter at the News of the World between 1994 and 2009, his name and current mobile number were found in Mr Mulcaire’s notebooks. Mr Beasley said that until Mr Mulcaire’s arrest in 2006 he “never knew the guy existed”.

In a short afternoon session the jurors heard from Andy Coulson’s PA Emma Harvey. He was “very committed” and “had enormous talent” she said. She agreed that he did not “suffer fools gladly”. Ms Harvey also told the jury that a person “well-placed in Royal circles” provided information to the News of the World. The unnamed person was, she alleged, paid in cash.

Finally, former News of the World Newsdesk Secretary Frances Carmen said she had not heard about Glenn Mulcaire until 2007, but had answered telephone calls from a man by that name before that. She also said she recognised one of Mr Mulcaire’s companies, Euro Research, from her time at the paper.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

The jury heard more evidence from former employees of News International and more insight into the workings of the company. At the centre of the day’s evidence – money and who at the company was responsible for spending it.

The court was shown an email from Newsdesk Editor Ian Edmondson to Stuart Kuttner, which was also copied to editor Andy Coulson. It was sent in 2005 and said that the payments to Mr Mulcaire “had to stop”. Mr Edmondson wrote “I have spoken out about this a million times and I don’t think I need to say any more.”

The court was also shown an email from an employee in the managing editor’s department, James Morgan, to his boss Stuart Kuttner in February 2005. In it, Mr Morgan stated that Mr Edmondson had instructed him to stop Mr Mulcaire’s “weekly payments of £2,019.”

Former managing editor Stuart Kuttneer arrive sta the phone hacking trial on Wednesday (picture: Getty)

In spite of this, Mr Edmondson’s QC Sally Bennett-Jenkins said it was “clear from documents we have seen that payments to Mr Mulcaire continued.” And an email from her client to Mr Mulcaire, sent on 4th March 2006 and shown to the court, read: “This is to confirm that your contract will remain the same until 2007, regards Ian Edmondson, News Editor… Happy now grumpy?”

Mr Mulcaire was eventually arrested in August 2006 and jailed for phone hacking in early 2007.

Questions were asked about the financial management of the paper by Stuart Kuttner, the managing editor. The court was read a statement by Tara Kent, who worked in his office. Mr Kuttner “would want to know about any payment of more than a few quid” she wrote. “There was not much going on at the paper that Stuart did not know about”.

His management of payments was “very rigorous” according to Nick McCaul, who worked in the finance department.

In the afternoon, the court heard evidence about the newsdesk’s hiring of freelance investigators. A man called Andy Gadd appeared in the witness box.

The jury was told he worked exclusively for Ian Edmondson as a freelance investigative researcher. Mark Bryant-Herron, prosecuting, said Mr Gadd submitted invoices to the paper totalling £218,669.95 between 9 April 2004 and 8 December 2007 and receipts totalling £126,330 between 22 July 2008 and 27 September 2010. Mr Gadd told the court that during those periods he worked for the News of the World two to three days a week on average.

The court also heard statements from News of the World journalists who said they had no awareness of the practice of phone hacking at the paper. But one reporter who joined the paper in early 2002 from the Daily Mirror said he had become “aware of the concept” prior to joining the News of the World.

Thursday 21 November

Day 19 and the last of the week’s hearings. The jury began the morning by hearing cross-examination of Beverley Stokes, PA to the former Managing Editor Stuart Kuttner.

She was asked for her opinion of Mr Coulson. She described him as a “nice enough guy …bit aloof”. Of Mr Kuttner, she agreed with Jonathan Caplan QC for Mr Kuttner, when he asked if she thought her boss was “a stickler for proper procedures” and “rather old-fashioned in many ways”.

Andy Coulson arrives at the phone-hacking trial on Thursday (picture: Getty)

And she agreed that she had a good working relationship with Clive Goodman.

The court was read an email sent by Mr Goodman to Ms Stokes. He said that he had told Mr Kuttner that: “there are only three people I ever pay in cash… Two are in uniform…”

Were the payments to these sources detected, the email continues, “then, you, me and the editor” would “all end up in jail”. The email added that the men in uniform had “had special branch crawling all over them since we ran a five par story about an Operation Trident arrest at Clarence House… thanks to the way we pay them they’re untraceable.”

The jury was also shown a list “proposed savings” from the paper’s budget. Ms Stokes said this was drawn up by the managing editor’s office. It proposed to reduce payments to Glenn Mulcaire’s Nine Consultancy “to £76,000 p.a.”

The jury also saw emails that gave an insight into what was happening behind closed doors News International as the phone hacking scandal engulfed the company.

In one, dated 11 March 2011, Will Lewis, a senior executive at the paper, replied to a note from Charlie Brooks enquiring about his wife, with an email that claimed there had been an effort by the MP Chris Bryant to “target Rebekah” and that the MP was “making stuff up”.

The email stated: “There is a concerned effort by him (Mr Bryant), some other MPs and Panorama this Monday to push the start of the saga back before 2005 in order to target Rebekah. We will not let this happen.”

Mr Brooks’ reply, sent the same day and also read out in court, said: “Thanks Will…I was worried…I’m glad she has you alongside her x x”

All the defendants deny all the charges. The trial continues.