Phone-hacking trial: Andy Coulson 'rubber-stamped' payment

Andy Coulson Former editor Andy Coulson "rubber-stamped" a request to pay a policeman despite knowing it could result in criminal charges

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Ex-News of the World chief Andy Coulson has said he "rubber-stamped" a payment to a police officer despite being told it could result in criminal charges.

He told the phone-hacking trial he "failed to address" properly a request from former royal editor Clive Goodman for money for a royal phone directory.

Mr Coulson said Mr Goodman had been prone to exaggeration and he did not believe he was paying a police officer.

Mr Coulson denies conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.

100 days and counting

This is a trial of big numbers; seven defendants (we started out with eight), six counts (we started out with seven) on the indictment involving three types of charges, 18 barristers (sometimes more), 60 or so people in the court at any one time (excluding the public gallery) and approximately 20 journalists who attend daily.

Of the 100 days not all have been in front of the jury, but as the hacking trial makes it to three figures it is nearing the end.

Andy Coulson is the last of the defendants to enter the witness box.

The jury has been told it can expect to be deliberating its verdicts by late May.

The judge has also asked them to make "contingencies" for June and July.

He also denies charges of conspiring to hack phones.

An email exchange between then editor Mr Coulson and Mr Goodman in 2003 revealed how the latter asked for authorisation for a payment for a "green book" of contacts for royal staff.

Mr Goodman said in the email he wanted to obtain the book for a fee of £1,000 from a royal police officer.

'Unnecessary drama'

The money had to be paid in cash, which Mr Coulson had to sign for.

The court heard how Mr Goodman warned his editor that getting caught making the payment would mean the police officer "could end up on criminal charges, as could we".

Mr Coulson said he did not remember the email, but having read back over it preparing for the trial, it reminded him of "what it was like on occasions to deal with Clive" and the "unnecessary drama" he created.

"I didn't believe that Clive Goodman was paying a policeman, I still don't believe that Clive Goodman paid a policeman," Mr Coulson told the Old Bailey.

"What I did was fail to address that properly, but I didn't because I didn't believe him and I rubber-stamped it."

Email Mr Coulson is warned in the email that being caught making the payment could result in criminal charges

Mr Coulson also denied allegations that he was played a voicemail left on the phone of future James Bond actor Daniel Craig by the actress Sienna Miller.

He was asked about claims earlier in the hacking trial by former reporter Dan Evans.

He rejected Evans' assertion that he had played the message to him in September 2005.

Who are the defendants?

Hacking trial defendants

Giving evidence for a fourth day, Mr Coulson was asked about evidence given earlier in the trial by the ex-News of the World journalist.

Evans had told the trial that Mr Coulson knew about his hacking activities and had described a taped voicemail from Ms Miller to Mr Craig exposing their alleged affair as "brilliant".

Evans, who has admitted conspiracy to hack phones at the Sunday Mirror and the News of the World, said the message led to stories about Ms Miller and Mr Craig, who starred in his first James Bond film a year later.

Timothy Langdale QC, defending Mr Coulson, said: "Dan Evans told the court that in September 2005 there was an occasion when he played to you a voicemail message left on Daniel Craig's telephone by Sienna Miller. Did any such incident take place?"

Mr Coulson replied: "No, it did not."

The former editor said he was at the Labour party conference in Brighton the day the message was said to have been played to him.

Ms Miller earlier told the trial that Mr Craig was a close friend with whom she had been speaking during a difficult period in her relationship with the actor Jude Law.

'Stuff with phones'

Mr Coulson said the News of the World's front page exclusive about Ms Miller and Mr Craig's alleged affair had also come in the same week he was overseeing a serialisation of British boxer Frank Bruno's biography.

Tom Symonds reports from the Old Bailey on day 100 of the mammoth trial

"It was a long, complicated book serialisation. I remember the publishers insisted on making changes quite late in the day, and I think the lawyers were involved as well.

"It took up a lot of my time," he said.

Mr Coulson, who became Downing Street director of communications after leaving the newspaper, told the trial he believed information about the alleged affair may have come from Ms Miller's mother.

"People in and around celebrities - their relatives, their agents, their PRs - will talk to newspapers," he added.

"It certainly happened during my career as a reporter and my career as an editor."

He was also asked about further claims made by Evans who told the trial that at a meeting in October 2004, before he joined the News of the World, he told Mr Coulson he could deliver stories using "stuff with phones".

Asked if the subject of phone hacking came up in any way at all during the meeting, Mr Coulson said: "Not that I remember."

Mr Coulson is one of seven defendants in the hacking trial who all deny the charges against them.

The trial continues.

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