| LONDON, April 23
LONDON, April 23 Prime Minister David Cameron's
ex-media chief told a London court on Wednesday he had not tried
to cover up phone-hacking at the Rupert Murdoch paper he once
edited, but said he had not offered detectives any information
Andy Coulson, who was Cameron's head of communications until
2011, is on trial accused of conspiracy to hack voicemail
messages on mobile phones whilst he was editor of Murdoch's now
defunct News of the World tabloid. He denies the charge.
Giving evidence for a fifth day at the Old Bailey, Coulson
said he had not put up any barriers to a police investigation
following the arrest of the paper's royal editor Clive Goodman
in August 2006 and private detective Glenn Mulcaire.
However, he told the jury he had not carried out any
internal inquiries himself and had relied on advice from the
company's lawyer that there was no evidence others were
"I didn't cover up anything," Coulson said. "I took the view
that the police would go where the police would go - that it
wasn't for us to interfere with that.
"I can't sit here and say I volunteered information because
I didn't. I didn't want to make the situation worse than it
Goodman pleaded guilty to phone-hacking in November 2006 and
for years afterwards News International, the British newspaper
arm of Murdoch's News Corp., said he was a lone "rogue
reporter" and that no one else at the tabloid was involved.
However, police re-opened their investigations in 2011 and
Murdoch shut down the paper a few months later. Since then four
former journalists have admitted phone-hacking offences.
Coulson said that up until Goodman's arrest nobody had any
idea that voicemail interception was illegal, and that the
paper's lawyer said the law that was apparently broken was
designed to catch terrorists.
"He was shocked that this had happened," he said.
Coulson had also called Murdoch himself.
"I had a very brief conversation with him in which I told
him that Clive Goodman had been arrested. I wasn't able to tell
him much more at that stage," Coulson said.
"He said that the most valuable thing that a newspaper has
is the trust of its readers and that's something that stayed in
Last week, Coulson told the court another reporter had
played him hacked voicemail messages left by former Home
Secretary David Blunkett two years earlier, and his lawyer asked
him if Goodman's arrest had prompted him to ask whether these
were linked to Mulcaire.
"I asked if Nine Consultancy (Mulcaire's firm) had been
involved in the Blunkett story in any way and the answer came
back 'no,'" Coulson told the court.
In evidence he has given, Goodman said Coulson and other
News International executives knew all about hacking and,
fearing that after his arrest he might spill the beans, had
pressured him to plead guilty, and take the blame as a "lone
Coulson denied this and also denied issuing Goodman with a
series of "instructions or demands" during a meeting they had
the week after the arrest.
He said the News International lawyer had looked at
Goodman's claims others at the paper had links to Mulcaire.
"There was no evidence at that stage that linked other news
editors to voicemail interception," he said.
In the days before Goodman entered a guilty plea, the court
was told there were a number of email exchanges between Coulson
and other newspaper executives in which he voiced concern that
any comment issued by the paper afterwards could "cause him
(Goodman) to phrase his own statement in a problematic way".
Coulson said he had nothing specific in mind but was worried
Goodman might say something difficult or untrue.
On the actual day Goodman pleaded guilty in court, Coulson
emailed Rebekah Brooks, then editor of the sister daily paper
the Sun and later chief executive of News International, in
which he mentioned that "things were going so well".
Asked what he meant, Coulson said this had referred to media
"It was a disastrous day for the News of the World and for
Clive Goodman and as it turns out for me," he said. "Up until
this point, the media coverage had been pretty straight and
hadn't exploded in a way some had feared."
Coulson and Brooks both deny charges of conspiracy to hack
phones, and both former editors and Goodman also reject
accusations relating to illegal payments to public officials.
Four others are also on trial, and the case continues.
(Editing by Stephen Addison)