Former tabloid editor Andy Coulson has denied listening to a voicemail message left on James Bond actor Daniel Craig’s phone by secret lover Sienna Miller – or knowing employees were targeting mobiles of the rich and famous.
Coulson, a former Number 10 spin doctor, yesterday rebutted allegations from his one-time News of the World (NotW) colleague, journalist Dan Evans, that the editor was present when the reporter played the message about the Layer Cake co-stars.
And he denied ever being aware convicted hacker Glenn Mulcaire – who had been employed by the now-defunct Sunday tabloid – was illegally listening in to voicemail messages.
Coulson, 46, told the phone-hacking trial at the Old Bailey he was unaware his own mobile was targeted by Mulcaire from 2006 until police informed him three years later.
Evans has already admitted conspiracy to hack phones at former employer the Sunday Mirror between February 2003 and January 2005, and the same offence at the NotW between April 2004 and June 2010.
He has also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office between January 2008 and June 2010, and perverting the course of justice by giving a false statement in High Court proceedings.
Evans, 38, has claimed Coulson knew about his activities and told him a voicemail he taped from Miller to Craig exposing their alleged affair was “brilliant”. Coulson, giving evidence for a fourth day, said Evans’ account was wrong.
Defence counsel Timothy Langdale QC asked Coulson: “Dan Evans told the court that in September 2005 there was an occasion when he played to you a voicemail message left on Daniel Craig’s telephone by Sienna Miller. Did any such incident take place?”
The defendant replied: “No, it did not.” Mr Langdale also asked if Coulson was aware of Mulcaire’s hacking methods, to which the editor replied: “Absolutely not – no.”
Coulson said there was no reason to believe hacking techniques were carried out because journalists had key contacts connected to celebrities, particularly in the case of the Miller-Craig affair. Their identities were not disclosed in court, though it has already been reported that a relative of Ms Miller’s then- boyfriend Jude Law had been supplying information about the British actor.
Coulson said the NotW’s front-page exclusive about Miller and Craig had come in the same week in 2005 when he had been busy overseeing a serialisation of British boxer Frank Bruno’s biography.
He told the court: “It was a long, complicated book serialisation. I remember the publishers insisted on making changes quite late in the day, and I think the lawyers were involved as well. It took up a lot of my time.”
Coulson said he believed information on the Miller-Craig affair may have come from Miller’s mother. He added: “People in and around celebrities – their relatives, their agents, their PRs – will talk to newspapers.”
He said he had asked staff not to refer to Law as either a “sex addict” or a “love rat” in copy due to the paper’s relationship with sources in his camp.
He said he also believed Law was aware some of those close to him were talking to the press.
Coulson said he could not remember any specific dealings with Evans – whom the tabloid recruited in January 2005 – during their time on the paper, but said they may have spoken.
Coulson said his personal involvement as editor with stories and the reporters “varied”. He said: “There was no hard and fast set of rules in the way the story was researched and prepared.”
Responding to suggestions earlier in the trial that he had bullied then-NotW royal editor Goodman by demoting him, Coulson said: “I’m not a bully.
“If I made a remark in conference or said something – it’s a newspaper, that happens – I would apologise for it.”
Coulson, 46, of Kent, is charged with conspiring to hack phones with Rebekah Brooks and former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, and conspiring with Goodman to commit misconduct in a public office. All the defendants deny all charges against them.
The trial continues.