16 Nov 2013

Prince Harry, David Blunkett: phone-hacking trial week 3

Allegations of the hacking of people connected to two former home secretaries and the fourth in line to the throne: our summary of what happened in the past week at the Old Bailey.

Prince Harry David Blunkett phone hacking trial Old Bailey

Monday 11 November

The week opened with more evidence about the hacking of phones belonging to acquaintances of David Blunkett.

The first wave of alleged hacking was prompted by the News of the World’s investigation into Mr Blunkett’s relationship with a married woman, Kimberley Quinn. The court heard that newspaper’s private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, intercepted her voicemail messages in 2004, including – it is alleged – messages left for her by a medical clinic, a solicitor and a teacher.

The court heard from Huw Evans, former special adviser to Mr Blunkett, who confronted Andy Coulson, NoW editor at the time, about the source of story. Mr Evans said he was puzzled that the paper would run the affair claims when all it apparently had to support them was a photograph of the couple. When he asked Mr Coulson about how he could be so sure of the story’s accuracy, he said: “I remember the tone of his voice… it was flat, unequivocal… he was absolutely certain that the story was true and he was going to run it. I remember at that time remaining puzzled as to why he could be so certain.”

Mr Evans also described Mr Coulson’s unhappiness at the leaking of a transcript of a meeting he had with Mr Blunkett shortly before the News of the World wrote about the affair. He also disclosed that 13 people at the heart of government had known about the relationship before it was exposed. One of them was Katherine Raymond, a Home Office adviser who had started a relationship with then News International Executive Chairman Les Hinton shortly before the NoW published its story.

The jurors also heard about the paper’s hacking of another woman close to Mr Blunkett. Sally Anderson was regarded by Mr Blunkett as a friend. The prosecution played voicemail messages left by Mr Blunkett on Ms Anderson’s answerphone back in the autumn of 2005, in the wake of false press claims that they had been having an affair. In the messages, found at the home of Glenn Mulcaire, the NoW’s former private investigator, Mr Blunkett said: “Someone very, very close has done a really phenomenal piece of work on destroying both our lives at this moment in time and it’s vile. Whoever it is, I hope they rot in hell.”

The court also heard written statements from the former TV presenter John Leslie and his former girlfriend Abi Titmuss. The prosecution showed extracts from Glenn Mulcaire’s notes to the jury. A note from 24 October 2002 featured details for Mr Leslie and underneath said “do both mobiles”.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

The twelfth day of the phone hacking trial saw details read out of alleged conspiracies to intercept the voicemail messages of eight groups of people. The jury heard evidence about the sheer scale of the hacking operation operated by Glenn Mulcaire. It was disclosed by Rebekah Brooks’s counsel, Jonathan Laidlaw, that the police had found more that 8,000 pages of notes at Mr Mulcaire’s home. The court also heard something of the frequency with which public figures were hacked when they were in the middle of a big story. Most notably, the court was told that Tessa Jowell’s voicemails were hacked 29 times by Mr Mulcaire between 4 March 2006 and 25 July 2006.

The prosecution said Ms Jowell and her husband, David Mills, were hacked after Italian authorities launched an investigation into his tax affairs, which prompted intense media interest in the couple’s lifestyle. An email from Glenn Mulcaire to defendant Ian Edmondson, former newsdesk editor of the News of the World, listed Ms Jowell’s mobile phone pin code and the number of her husband, with the observation that there was “substantial traffic both ways… also looks like she [sic] selling up.”

One of Ms Jowell’s former cabinet colleagues, Lord Prescott, was also at the centre of a media storm when, the prosecution alleges, the News of the World hacked the voicemail messages of his associates. Details of an affair between the then deputy prime minister and his diary secretary, Tracey Temple, had been made public. The prosecution read out striking details about the competition between newspapers to secure Ms Temple’s account of the affair. An email was read out from a News of the World journalist, Ian Kirby, which said that a rival tabloid, the Mirror, had been “rumbled after blag calls failed”.

At the News of the World, the prosecution claimed that private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and newsdesk editor Ian Edmondson were so keen to keep tabs on their rivals at the Mail on Sunday that they repeatedly hacked the voicemail messages of journalists Sebastian Hamilton and Dennis Rice. Prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron also told the court that Mr Mulcaire was found to have computer log-in details for the paper’s computer system and the internal telephone extension number for the Mail’s IT department.

Other written evidence put before the court by the prosecution concerned the alleged hacking of: chef Delia Smith, her husband and associates; stunt double Eunice Huthart, a friend of the actress Angelina Jolie; member of the royal family Lord Frederick Windsor and friends; the politician Mark Oaten; associates of Sir Paul McCartney and his ex-wife Heather Mills; and Laura Rooney, a woman with no connection whatsoever to footballer Wayne Rooney.

Mr Mulcaire had targeted Wayne Rooney for investigation, said the prosecution. The Old Bailey heard that notes in Mr Mulcaire’s notebook suggested the password for Mr Rooney’s phone was “Stella Artois”. The jury also heard a written statement from massage parlour worker Patricia Tierney, who denied having had a sexual encounter with the footballer, but said she had told the footballer to get out of the establishment before he ruined his career.

The prosecution also showed the jury a “target evaluation” list from Glenn Mulcaire’s notes, containing the names of 18 individuals including Max Clifford, Sven-Goran Eriksson and the Duchess of Cambridge.

Prince Harry 2006 (Reuters)

Wednesday 13 November 2013

The court heard today about the hacking of Gordon Taylor, former chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, and his colleague Joanne Armstrong. The paper wrongly thought the two were having an affair. It was alleged that Mr Taylor had been able to identify 76 voicemail messages left for him on a tape found at Glenn Mulcaire’s house in Aug 2006.

The court was also told that another audio recording featured a “blagging” call from Glenn Mulcaire to the mobile network provider O2, requesting that the company reset the PIN number on Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s mobile phone back in 2006, after he had been accused of an extra-marital affair with a woman called Liga Howells.

There was also an insight into the relationship between the NoW and celebrities during the last decade, with evidence from Calum Best – son of footballer George Best – and his former lover Lorna Hogan. During cross-examination by defence barristers, he admitted that he had “actively encouraged” some “media intrusion” and had accepted £2,000 from the paper for a story about a sexual encounter. He also told the court he had sold a story about his dead father for £3,000. Ms Hogan, meanwhile, told the court she had “an arrangement” with the paper to sell gossip about celebrities she met in nightclubs – work for which she could expect to receive up to £10,000.

There was then evidence about the alleged hacking of phones belonging to people associated with the royal family. The prosecution alleged former royal editor Clive Goodman made 95 calls to the unique voicemail number (UVN) of one royal equerry. And the court was read a transcript of medical information left on the answerphone of Prince Harry’s private secretary, which, it was alleged, was used for a story about an injury to the prince’s foot.

The jury also heard some evidence relating to the alleged hacking of Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Sienna Miller and Jade Schmidt. During that evidence, it emerged that Rebekah Brooks had also been a victim of hacking, with her phone being accessed “extensively”.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Sitting for their last hearing of the week, the jury heard from another former Labour home secretary subject to scrutiny over claims about his private life.

Charles Clarke told the court how he threatened to sue the Sun if it printed false claims of an affair with his special adviser Hannah Pawlby.

The News of the World also became interested in “untrue rumours” about the pair. When asked about them by Andy Coulson’s counsel Alison Pople, Ms Pawlby told the court that claims of an affair had circulated around Westminster for nearly two years between 2004 and 2006. Ms Pawlby said there was “no truth” in the claim.

An email shown in court showed the paper became interested in the rumour after a tip from a Westminster insider. The paper’s features editor Jules Stenson wrote a note to Andy Coulson and his deputy Neil Wallis stating that Mr Clarke was “having an affair with his blonde, attractive special adviser Hannah Pawlby”.

Glenn Mulcaire is alleged to have investigated the story by hacking Ms Pawlby’s phone. A police search of his home found a tape containing 12 voicemail messages identified as having been left on his home phone, as well as information about Ms Pawlby’s brother, sister, parents and even her grandparents. The tape of messages included two voicemails, played to the court, which were left for Ms Pawlby by NoW editor Andy Coulson.

Evidence was also heard relating to the hacking of former Atomic Kitten singer Kerry Katona and people close to her. Ms Katona was allegedly hacked on Christmas day 2005 by Glenn Mulcaire

Mr Mulcaire, the jury was told, is also believed to have hacked the phone of Edwina Freeman in 2004. Ms Freeman, who was 25 at the time, was working at the Beetles Gallery in London at the time. There she had become acquainted with the Conservative peer Lord Archer and it was suggested the paper’s interest in the politician led to the hacking.