Proceedings opened this morning with the first witness in the case, PC James Smith. The police officer testified that he had been on duty as “court officer” on 10 December 2010 during the testimony given by Andy Coulson in Glasgow high court at the trial of Tommy Sheridan.
The court was then played a recording of the relevant sections of Andy Coulson’s evidence during the Tommy Sheridan case. In the recording, the defendant said he had no knowledge of phone hacking while he was editor of the News of the World and that while he was aware that phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire’s company, “Nine Consultancy” was used by the paper, he had believed this was for “legitimate” investigative work by the News of the World (NoTW). He also stated that he had only become aware of phone hacking when Mulcaire and NoTW Royal editor Clive Goodman were arrested in 2006.
The recording continued with the accused being asked about his knowledge of the interception of voicemails. Coulson described the discovery that phone hacking happened under his editorship as “unpleasant,” but again denied he had any knowledge of what was being done by his reporters. On the tape, Coulson agreed that phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire was paid £105,000 p.a. and £7000 per story, but denied he knew that while he was editing the newspaper or that he knew the private detective had an “exclusive contract” with the paper. The defendant later said the annual budget for the paper was around £35m per annum.
Court then took a short break.
When the jury returned, the recording of the testimony of the defendant from the 2010 trial in which he denied being part of a culture of “cheque book journalism,” or that he set out “to ruin people’s lives.” He agreed that the paper had paid £200,000 for a video of Sheridan supposedly confessing to visiting a sex club in Manchester, but said he had not managed the process, which had been the principle responsibility of Scottish editor Bob Bird. “I didn’t pay much attention to you,” Coulson told Sheridan in his 2010 testimony, adding, “don’t take it personally.” When asked why phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire had Sheridan’s mobile phone number, Coulson replied, “I have no idea,” adding that all he knew about the interception of voicemails is “what I have read.”
The former editor agreed that “things had gone seriously wrong at the News of the World and that is why I resigned. On the fact Sheridan was on trial for perjury Coulson said, “In this situation I don’t believe I am responsible, or the News of the World is responsible. You are responsible, Mr Sheridan.”
The playback of the recording then ended, and the advocate depute then confirmed with the police officer that he had personally witnessed Mr Coulson taking the oath before giving his testimony.
Court then rose for lunch.
Main image: Saffron Blaze, 2012