A FORMER journalist with the now defunct News of the World has claimed Andy Coulson knew phone hacking was happening while he was editor.
Clive Goodman, a one-time royal editor at the tabloid, said Coulson did not know at first that voicemails were being accessed to obtain stories but was later made aware of it.
Coulson, 47, Prime Minister David Cameron’s former director of communications, is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh accused of lying under oath in the 2010 perjury trial of former Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan. He denies the charge.
Mr Goodman, giving evidence on day three of the trial, told the court that he first became aware of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire as a contact of his news editor Greg Miskiw. He said he could “crack seemingly uncrackable stories very quickly”.
The witness said he was later told “they had been hacking phones” and was himself given a list of numbers to use to get stories.
Mr Goodman, from Surrey, told the jury: “I would hear messages, voicemail messages.”
This was going on in around 2004 and 2005 when Coulson was editor of the newspaper, based in Wapping, east London, he said.
Advocate depute Richard Goddard, prosecuting, asked: “Did he know that you were accessing voicemails at that time?”
Mr Goodman said: “Not from me, no.”
Asked “did that change in the months ahead?”, he replied: “Yes, it did.”
He said he went to Coulson at the end of October 2005 with a proposal from Mr Mulcaire, who had suggested that for £500 a week Mr Goodman could provide names of people around the Royal Family and he would access their voicemails.
He said he “outlined” the proposal from Mr Mulcaire and “what we might get from it”. When asked what Coulson’s reaction was, Mr Goodman said: “He was worried about the cost. We agreed to it on a trial basis and would review after a month.”
Mr Goodman, 57, said he handled the “mechanics” of the arrangement himself and sent the money through under the fake name “Alexander”.
Mr Goddard asked: “Was he ever worried about the breach of privacy?”
Mr Goodman replied: “That didn’t come up.”
He said they did not have a conversation about whether it was legal or not, and added: “I didn’t know it was illegal.”
The witness then told the court the arrangement was extended before it was agreed payment would be only for “results”.
The trial, before judge Lord Burns, resumes tomorrow when Mr Goodman will continue giving evidence.