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Phone-hacker denies Coulson grudge

Published 22/05/2015

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson outside the High Court in Edinburgh amid his perjury trial
Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson outside the High Court in Edinburgh amid his perjury trial

A journalist convicted of phone-hacking has said he does not hold a grudge against Andy Coulson, his former editor at the News of the World who is on trial for perjury.

Clive Goodman, the tabloid's one-time royal editor, denied a suggestion he was willing to lie "at a drop of a hat" while giving evidence at the High Court in Edinburgh.

He told the jury that he wished he had never hacked the phones of princes William and Harry and Kate Middleton but could not take it back.

The court heard Mr Goodman hacked the now-Duchess of Cambridge's voicemail 155 times, including once on Christmas Day 2005 to check whether William had left her a message.

Mr Goodman, 57, was working for the tabloid when he and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were arrested in August 2006 over phone-hacking.

Both pleaded guilty and Mr Goodman was sentenced to four months' imprisonment.

Coulson, a former director of communications at Downing Street, denies lying while giving evidence in the 2010 perjury trial of former MSP Tommy Sheridan.

Prosecutors allege the 47-year-old falsely stated he did not know that Mr Goodman and Mr Mulcaire were involved in phone-hacking before they were arrested.

Mr Goodman, giving evidence for a third day, was asked by Coulson's defence QC Murdo Macleod how he felt about hacking Harry's phone.

He said: "Now it feels very wrong. I've had a lot of time to reflect on this and it's not something I'm proud of. I'd dearly love to be able to move on but no-one seems to let me."

Asked about hacking Kate's phone, he added: "I did it. I wish I hadn't but I can't take it back."

Mr Goodman told the court his relationship with the accused had become "more and more difficult" and by the time he left the paper it was "cool".

The witness agreed that he felt his position was being threatened and he was "under pressure" to bring in more stories, but denied suggestions he was "under-performing".

In an email shown to the court, a senior manager said Mr Goodman's general attitude was "poor and verges on arrogant".

In other emails from Coulson to Mr Goodman, the editor described the journalist's column as "way off the pace" and asked for stories "of substance".

Mr Goodman said the defence had "picked out a handful of emails showing me in a very poor light".

Mr Macleod asked: "Do you have a grudge against Andy Coulson?"

The witness replied: "Now? No. Never have."

The court also saw an email Mr Goodman sent to his sister, who worked at the paper, in February 2005 describing how he had an "unpleasant conversation with Andy" and how he had to "forget all about the knife-hand-throat-strike that would have pushed his larynx out the back of his neck".

In response, Mr Goodman told the court: "It was clearly exaggerated. It's simply hyperbole. There's no physical aggression, no threat of physical aggression. It's a turn of phrase."

During re-examination of the witness, advocate depute Richard Goddard, prosecuting, asked him about the suggestion put to him that he bore an "appalling grudge" against the accused.

"I have no grudge against Andy, it's a matter of bitter regret I am here giving evidence against him," he replied.

Earlier Mr Goodman said he went to Coulson at the end of October 2005 with a proposal from Mr Mulcaire, who had suggested that for £500 per week Mr Goodman could provide names of people around the Royal Family and he would "monitor their phones".

Mr Goodman denied he had misled Coulson because he had not told the editor that he had by this point been hacking phones himself.

He said: "I thought he didn't need to know. I didn't lie to Mr Coulson, I just didn't tell him where the information was coming from.

"I certainly didn't tell him I was hacking at that stage."

Mr Macleod said: "The truth is, Mr Goodman, you never mentioned hacking to Mr Coulson at all did you?"

"That's untrue," the witness replied.

Mr Macleod continued: "What you told him was that you had a new source who you wanted to put on a retainer who would help you get stories on the younger royals."

"Not true," Mr Goodman responded.

He added: "The project would never have got off the ground without Mr Coulson."

Mr Goodman completed his evidence on day five of the trial, which continues on Monday.

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