FORMER News of the World editor Andy Coulson would have “smelled a rat” if a journalist involved in phone hacking had tried to catch him on tape admitting he was “up to his armpits too”, jurors heard yesterday.
Former royal editor Clive Goodman told the hacking trial he made recordings and notes of conversations in the weeks after his arrest for hacking in 2006 because he was suspicious his old boss was “manipulating” him into taking all the blame.
But he never tried to get Coulson to admit his involvement on tape because Coulson gave him “slender” hope he could come back to the paper, he told jurors.
The 56-year-old was being cross-examined by Coulson’s lawyer Timothy Langdale QC about a series of discussions in the months before he pleaded guilty with private detective Glenn Mulcaire.
On his feelings following his arrest, Goodman said: “I felt I was being manipulated by Mr Coulson into taking the full blame for hacking at the News of the World. It turned out to be the case at the time.
“I felt the promises they were making to me were not genuine. I felt they were interfering with my legal case, and I felt I could not trust them, and I felt I needed some protection.”
But in the days after his arrest, he said: “I was trying to hang on to a career and he was holding that one slender hope I might be able to come back.”
Mr Langdale asked why he did not try to get Coulson to admit his involvement on tape in a later phone conversation that year.
Goodman replied: “Andy Coulson is an editor, a journalist of some 20, 30 years. Had we had a conversation like this – ‘by the way, you were up to your armpits too’ – he would have smelled a rat.
“That would have been the end of the conversation, the end of my legal representation, the end of my career.”
Goodman, of Addlestone, Surrey, is on trial at the Old Bailey for allegedly conspiring with Coulson to commit misconduct in public office.
Coulson, Rebekah Brooks and Stuart Kuttner are accused of conspiring to hack phones. All the defendants deny the charges against them.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC asked Goodman about his sources known as Farish and Anderson, who were paid in cash. Goodman said the Anderson source was a journalist but he refused to reveal his real name.
Mr Edis asserted: “You knew the names of these people you are dealing with.”
Goodman replied: “Not in these circumstances. These are people who are very worried about doing business with the News of the World for one reason or other, which is why they wanted to be paid in cash.”
Mr Edis pressed: “What did they say? ‘Hi it’s Anderson here?’”
Goodman said: “They would say, ‘Hi it’s me’.”
Mr Edis suggested Goodman must have had their names in his mobile phone so he knew who was ringing. But Goodman said he did not tend to input names into his phone.
Mr Edis moved on to a story about Prince Harry having injuries, which came from Mulcaire’s hacking in 2005.
Goodman said Mulcaire in London would have been paid cash via News of the World colleague Greg Miskiw, who was in Manchester at the time.
Justifying the circuitous route the £700 payment took, Goodman said: “I once carried £60,000 by plane and car to Scotland for a series of stories.
“It’s a strange world and strange things happen.”
Mr Justice Saunders commented: “I think we can all agree to that.”
The trial continues.