Andy Coulson denies knowing phone hacking was illegal

Andy Coulson

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson has said he ordered a reporter to stop intercepting voicemails because he thought it was a breach of privacy - not because he knew it was illegal.

Under cross-examination at the phone-hacking trial, Mr Coulson said he did not discuss the "methodology" of how reporters had accessed messages.

But he said he "knew enough" to tell his journalists to "stop".

Mr Coulson, 46, of Charing, Kent, denies conspiring to hack phones.

He also denies a second charge of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.

Disapproved

In testimony at the Old Bailey, the former editor said at the time phone hacking was being carried out by his paper's reporters he had heard about the practice only "in vague terms", disapproved of it and had not followed articles in the press about it.

He said he did not know it was illegal until after his former royal editor, Clive Goodman, had been arrested.

Who are the defendants?

Hacking trial defendants

Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, challenged Mr Coulson about a meeting he had had with David Blunkett at which the editor told the then home secretary that he knew he was having an affair.

Mr Coulson was asked why he had not revealed to Mr Blunkett that the information had been obtained by phone hacking.

It was put to Mr Coulson that he had decided to "hide what had been done" to avoid legal action from Mr Blunkett.

Mr Coulson said his actions had been "in part because of legal advice, yes".

He said the paper's lawyers had been "concerned about the privacy" and he had been concerned about "the kind of story" that may result.

'Careless'

In later exchanges, prosecutors said Mr Coulson had apparently ignored "a series of warning bells" about phone hacking at the News of the World.

"One explanation is you could not care less; the other is you did know what was going on," said Mr Edis.

"On occasions I was careless," Mr Coulson replied.

"I did my best and in the end I accepted - this was one of the reasons I resigned - that I didn't do well enough."

He said he accepted he should have done more to prevent phone hacking but "it doesn't mean I was party to it".

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