Glasgow & West Scotland

Andy Coulson trial: Phone hacking was 'systematic'

andy coulson Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Coulson denies lying under oath

The Andy Coulson perjury trial has been told the former News of the World editor knew about phone hacking as the practice was "systematic" at the paper.

James Weatherup, 59, told a jury that intercepting voicemails was part of the "day-to-day" life at the publication.

The ex-news editor at the now defunct paper also claimed phone hacking was discussed at editorial conferences.

Mr Coulson, 47, denies lying while giving evidence at the 2010 perjury trial of Tommy Sheridan in Glasgow.

  • For updates on the trial follow BBC Scotland reporter @BBCPhilipSim on Twitter

Mr Weatherup was giving evidence on the seventh day of the trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

He told the court that he was appointed to the post of news editor in 2004 when Mr Coulson was the editor.

The witness pleaded guilty to a charge of phone hacking in 2013 and was given a four month suspended sentence, the court heard.

Investigator cash

Mr Weatherup told the court that, a few days into his new role at the paper, he was asked to cut its budget and began to question a payment made to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire's company, Nine Consultancy.

The salary was about £92,000 - more than the reporters were paid, the witness told the court.

Asked by advocate depute Richard Goddard, prosecuting, if he inquired who was getting the money, he replied: "I was told it was a private investigator called Glenn Mulcaire and I had to work with him."

He said managing editor Stuart Kuttner made the comment to him.

On the payment to the consultancy, which Mr Weatherup described as a "huge sum", he said: "I didn't see the point of having a private investigator being paid full-time for things.

"If you needed things done I thought it would be better and cheaper to be done ad hoc."

The witness said he later raised the issue with Mr Coulson in his office and told him "we didn't need Glenn Mulcaire on the payroll".

Mr Weatherup said Mr Coulson told him to "see Stuart". The witness insisted "there was no appetite to get rid of him (Mulcaire) by senior management".

Mr Weatherup said he himself was not aware initially but soon found out that Mr Mulcaire "was a phone hacker" and had used his services 137 times, but not all for phone hacking.

Mr Goddard asked Mr Weatherup: "From what you yourself witnessed, did Mr Coulson appear to be aware or not that Mr Mulcaire was hacking phones?"

"Hacking phones was systematic at the News of the World," he replied.

Hand 'signal'

"Did Mr Coulson appear or not to know that Mr Mulcaire was hacking phones?"

"Andy would have known that Mulcaire was hacking phones," the witness replied.

The journalist also said that he told Mr Coulson that stories had been obtained from hacking phones.

Telling the court that he would make a telephone gesture with his hands, Mr Weatherup added: "I would have used a signal with my hands when Andy asked me where a story had came from."

Mr Goddard was also asked if Mr Coulson would have known about how stories were sourced and said: "All editors are concerned about sourcing, yeah. He needed to know where a story had come from."

When Mr Coulson's advocate, Murdo Macleod QC, asked Mr Weatherup whether his evidence was "nonsense," the journalist replied: "I have no reason to lie. I feel sorry for Andy. I feel for his wife. I feel sorry for his children. I have no reason to tell lies."

Later, when Mr Goddard asked Mr Weatherup how he felt about claims that he had lied in his evidence, the former executive added that he had come to court reluctantly.

He added: "I would say it was a gross slur on my character and it's not true.

"I have not come here to lie. I have come here to tell the truth reluctantly.

"I don't want to be here. I want put all of this behind me but it just comes back to haunt me."

The charge against Mr Coulson alleges that he lied in court when he appeared as a witness at Mr Sheridan's perjury trial and that before August 2006 he did know about phone hacking, did know or know of a private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and did know about payments by the newspaper to corrupt police officers.

The trial before Lord Burns continues.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites