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Hacking Trial: Prosecution Discusses Prince Harry, Other Celebrity Stories

Prince Harry
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Prince Harry

The prosecution says former "News of the World" editor Andy Coulson told a senior editor to "do his phone," in reference to a subject of a planned story.

LONDON – After receiving a news tip about a former soccer star's son, former News of the World editor Andy Coulson told a senior editor at the now-shuttered tabloid that he should "do his phone," the jury in the phone hacking trial here heard Friday.

It also heard a story about Prince Harry's time at the British Army Academy, Sandhurst.

On the third day of his opening statement, prosecutor Andrew Edis told the court that a 2005 News of the World story alleging that the royal had an aide help him with examinations at Sandhurst was "based entirely" on a voicemail message accessed by phone hacking, according to The Telegraph.

He said private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who, it emerged earlier this week, has pleaded guilty to hacking, accessed the message on behalf of former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman.

Edis argued that then-editor Coulson was aware of the hacking, presenting emails from Goodman in which he supported a weekly retainer payment for Mulcaire by pointing out stories he had helped with. He said there was evidence that Coulson knew that Mulcaire was being paid for royal exclusives.

Edis on Friday also cited an email by Coulson in May 2006 to then-news editor Ian Edmondson in which he told him to "do" the phone of a person playing a key role in a potential story, the The Guardian reported. "They were concerned about leaks," Edis explained. The Guardian said that no evidence that the phone was actually hacked was immediately presented.

Edis argued Friday that News of the World journalists relied on phone hacking as a "perfectly rational but entirely illegal" way of checking whether potential news stories were true.

The trial has eight defendants, including Coulson, former NOTW editor Rebekah Brooks, Goodman, Edmondson and four others, who face charges of phone hacking conspiracy, bribing public officials for stories and/or obstructing justice.

On Friday, the prosecution also mentioned an email exchange between Goodman and Coulson, in which Goodman asked for money to pay a police officer for a book with the phone numbers of the royals, the Guardian reported. Edis argued it shows that Coulson was aware of criminal behavior at the NOTW, the paper said.

In one version of the email, Goodman even warns that they could face "criminal charges" if they were caught paying police officers to obtain a copy. The other version doesn't include that part, but Edis said it makes no difference, because the email exchange shows Coulson signing off on a bribe.

The email from Jan. 2003 said this, according to the Guardian: "Andy – one of royal policemen (St James's Palace) has obtained the brand new green book, the telephone directory with all the home numbers of the royal family and their household staff…The standard price is £1,000…
But I had a heck of a time getting cash creds signed off by Stuart [Kuttner, the managing editor] earlier this week to pay a Kensington Palace copper for a page lead and an exec on another paper for a carvery item. I think we should have the book and the goodwill that goes with it."

In an immediate response, Edis cited Coulson as giving his approval, but asking if they hadn't recently paid for a similar book. "This is fine. Didn't I sign off on purchase of green book quite recently tho?" Edis quoted from Coulson's email, according to the Guardian.

Goodman explained in response that the first book was a useful phone directory, but the new one had additional information. "This is the harder to get one which has the Queen's direct lines to her family in it," he wrote, according to the Guardian.

Thursday afternoon, Edis had told the jury that Brooks and Coulson had had an affair between 1998 and 2004.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai