Day 29: Former News of the World news editor Ian Edmondson was discharged from the phone hacking trial on Thursday 12 December. Mr Justice Saunders told the jury a “consensus” of medical evidence suggested he was unfit to participate in the current case.
In a short statement, the judge said it would be “several weeks” before Mr Edmondson would have been fit to stand trial and he was therefore discharging from them a duty to return a verdict in his case. Mr Edmondson, who had been charged with conspiring to hack phones, is expected to stand trial separately when he has recovered.
Mr Justice Saunders said: “Can I talk for a moment about Mr Ian Edmondson…
“I have received and read a number of medical reports about the fitness of Mr Edmondson to continue to participate in the current trial. The consensus of opinion of doctors instructed both by the defendant and the prosecution is that he is currently unfit.”
The judge added:
“It is not anticipated that it will be long before he is fit to continue but it will be several weeks and there can be no guarantee that at the end of that period of time he will be fit. Bearing in mind the current estimate of the length of this trial, I do not think it is appropriate to adjourn to wait for his recovery and accordingly I shall discharge you from giving a verdict in his case. He will be tried by a different jury at a later date.”
The trial against the other seven defendants continues.
Day 29 (2): Andy Coulson was concerned about the low quality of kiss and tell stories appearing in the News of the World, the phone hacking trial heard
In an email read out at the Old Bailey, the News of the World editor complained to two senior colleagues that the redtop title was “scraping bottom of barrel.”
Mr Coulson – whose NOTW landed a string of exclusive kiss and tells in the first years of his editorship – wrote on 21 April 2006: “We still have an appalling lack of kiss and tells… we are scraping bottom of barrel with opera girls, calum [reality TV star Calum Best]… where are the new names?”
Mr Coulson’s counsel Timothy Langdale QC, raised the email while cross-examining Richard Scott, a detective from the Metropolitan Police’s phone hacking inquiry, Operation Weeting.
In a later email referring to Mr Best, dated 20 May 2006, Mr Coulson had told a fellow NOTW journalist: “Do his phone.”
Yet, Mr Langdale pointed out, the police had not originally found the kiss and tell email during searches of News International’s archive.
Pressed on the issue, Detective Constable Richard Scott accepted that it had been a “mistake” for the 130 keyword searches he requested not to have included: “Calum”.
He also agreed with Mr Langdale’ suggestion that Mr Best had not been hacked after Mr Coulson had written: “Do his phone” (though he had been targeted on an earlier occasion).
Appearing as a witness, Sir Michael Peat, private secretary to Prince Charles from 2002 to 2011, said he and senior courtiers “understood” that royal staff or police officers might sell copies of the Green Book containing the phone numbers of the Royal Family.
Sir Michael told the trial: “It was a widely distributed document and we were of the view that there was a substantial risk that this document would get into the hands of those for whom it was not intended.”
Fifteen royal directories were found at the home of the News of the World’s royal editor Clive Goodman when he was arrested for phone hacking in August 2006.
Mr Goodman has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office by bribing police officers. Mr Coulson, who edited the News of the World between 2003 and 2007, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to hack phones.
The other five defendants too deny all charges. The case continues.
Day 30: On Friday 13 December, Andy Coulson’s lawyers revealed his defence to the suggestion that his instruction to “do his phone” was a command to hack the phone of reality TV contestant Calum Best.
At the phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey, Timothy Langdale QC, representing Mr Coulson, explained that the editor of the News of the World was merely ordering a check of one of the paper’s phones as part of a leak inquiry.
As part of the prosecution case, the jury has been told of an email which Mr Coulson sent to an executive on the redtop Sunday tabloid about a forthcoming kiss and tell story on Mr Best.
On being told by the executive, of whom Mr Coulson had inquired “You think Calum a leak?” – that Mr Best was “bragging I have close mates inside NotW”, Mr Coulson’s three-word response was: “Do his phone.”
Today, Mr Langdale explained the context to Mr Coulson’s email, dated 20 May 2006.
In an email dated 11 May 2006, Mr Langdale told the jury, Stuart Kuttner, NoW managing editor, had received billing data for a phone belonging to reporter Rav Singh, who had dealt with Mr Best in the past.
Mr Langdale said:
“In early April it was clear from submissions made on behalf of Mr Coulson in preliminary submissions [pre-trial hearings which could not be reported at the time] that Mr Coulson’s case was that “Do his phone” was not an instruction to hack Calum Best’s phone but to check on the billing of another News of the World phone for a suspected leak.”
Mr Coulson and Mr Kuttner deny plotting to hack phones at the trial, which is nearing the end of its seventh week. The other five defendants also deny all charges.