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LONDON – Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson on Wednesday denied that he “covered up” phone hacking at the newspaper after one of his reporters was arrested in 2006 for eavesdropping on royal household voicemails, according to The Guardian.
Coulson, taking the stand in the phone hacking trial for a fifth day, also denied that he ordered his royal editor to plead guilty to phone-hacking offenses following his arrest or to tell police he was a “lone wolf” acting as a single rogue reporter on the paper.
The Guardian reported that the former communications director for British Prime Minister David Cameron told the jury that nobody at the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid newspaper knew at the time that voicemail interception was illegal and people were “shocked” by what had happened.
Murdoch shuttered the News of the World as the phone-hacking scandal engulfed the mogul’s British newspaper publishing empire News International.
At the famous U.K. court the Old Bailey on Wednesday, Coulson denied putting “barriers” in the way of any police investigation in the aftermath of giving any “statements,” “instructions” or “suggestions” to the former royal editor Clive Goodman in how he should approach his impending criminal trial, The Guardian said.
“I didn’t cover up anything,” said Coulson. “I took the view that the police should go where the police should go.”
Coulson also painted a picture of how the paper was plunged into a crisis following Goodman’s arrest in 2006 and how he had been tasked to tell Murdoch what had happened.
“He [Murdoch] was concerned. He said the most valuable thing that a newspaper has is the trust of its readers; that’s something that stayed in my mind,” Coulson said.
Coulson added he was “shocked” by the unfolding events but that he did not know about phone hacking until Goodman was arrested in August 2006.
Coulson also portrayed Goodman’s arrest as a “disaster” for him, the start of a journey that cost him his job at the paper and years later as Cameron’s spin doctor.
Coulson and Goodman deny all charges against them.
So far, Coulson has been asked about his six-year on-off affair with former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, denied that a voicemail in which Sienna Miller apparently declared her love for James Bond actor Daniel Craig was played to him by a reporter at the News of the World and has said he wasn’t aware that some information in the tabloid was based on intercepted voicemails.
The trial continues.
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