Friday, December 10, 2010

Andrew Coulson Day 2 Pt 1

This morning the High Court of Glasgow continued to hear evidence from Andrew Coulson, former editor of the News of the World (NotW) and now Director of Communications at 10 Downing street.   Mr Sheridan, who is carrying out his own defence, continued to probe Mr Coulson about his time as NotW editor and in particular his knowledge of allegations of "phone hacking" carried out by a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire at the behest of NotW royal editor Clive Goodman. (you can find an account of day one of Mr Coulson's testimony Here  )

Mr Sheridan began by asking about Mr Coulson's testimony yesterday when he had stated that the judge in the trial of Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman had accepted that the NotW's contract with 9 Consulting (Mr Mulcaire's company) was for "legitimate services" Mr Sheridan told the court that he had now had an opportunity to read that  judgement, "all 180 pages of it" and he could find "no mention of that." Mr Coulson responded that he believed that to be the case but however he had not been in the court so could not say definitely. The witness added that this had "been widely reported at the time,"

Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness that, as the NotW was paying 9 Consultancy £105,000 a year he should have known more about the company than he appeared to Mr Coulson answered that the NoTW had a large budget and paid out large sums of money to journalists and for stories. The witness added that this was a "matter of record" and has he did yesterday Mr Sheridan stated that it was not a "matter of record" in this trial until either he or Mr Coulson stated it and asked the witness if he would "keep that in mind" Mr Coulson replied "sure."

Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if, on leaving the NotW, he had signed a confidentiality agreement., Mr Coulson said he had no issues with answering questions and said to Mr Sheridan, "ask away, don't worry." Mr Sheridan responded "I'm not worried about that, I'm worried that you will not answer questions honestly." He then asked the witness if he thought it was in the "public interest to pay someone to keep quiet about criminal activities?"; telling the court that the paper had made payments to Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman after their release from prison. Mr Couson stated that this had happened after he had left the NotW and he had "no knowledge" about any payments adding "far be it for me to doubt your word, but show me" Mr Sheridan replied that this was a "matter of record" and that "we will come back to that"

Mr Sheridan then returned to yesterday's testimony from the witness, where he had stated that his legal bills for this case were being paid by News International, (NI) and asked why the "prosecution of my wife and I by the Crown is a News International matter" Mr Couson replied that his only "link" to the case was due to his employment by NI and he thought this was reasonable. Mr Sheridan then asked "Is the prosecution doing News International's job for them in trying to destroy me" Mr Coulson responded "no, certainly not"

Mr Sheridan then asked the witness what his budget as editor of the NotW was. Mr Coulson said this varied but gave an approximate figure of £35 million per annum. The witness was then asked about payments for stories and agreed that a "six figure sum" was not unusual. Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Coulson about his involvement with stories to which Mr Coulson responded that it "depends on the story." When Mr Sheridan accused the witness of having a "slapdash" approach to truth Mr Coulson replied that he always tried to do a professional job but as the paper carried over one hundred stories a week it would not be "humanly possible" for him to check every one.

Mr Sheridan then asked about a NotW journalist, Dan Evans and Mr Coulson agreed that he knew him. Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he was aware that Mr Evans had been suspended for phone hacking. Mr Coulson replied that he was not aware of the details and had only seen newspaper reports. Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that the suspension of Dan Evans undermined the NotW's contention that the phone hacking affair was the work on one "Rogue reporter" Mr Coulson again stated that this had happened after he had left the paper it that "it doesn't involve me."

Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Coulson how many journalists worked for the NotW in London and how many were news reporters. After some discussion Mr Coulson settled on a figure of around forty. Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that another private investigator involved in phone hacking, Steve Whitamore,  had a "blue book" which listed journalists who used his ser vices and that it listed  Twenty one NotW journalists, over half of his news staff. Mr Coulson replied that a long list of newspapers and other media outlets had used Mr Whitamore for legitimate services and the NotW journalists he listed may not have been full-time reporters but perhaps freelancers and contractors. Mr Coulson also told the court that he had never had any dealings with Mr Whitamore. or asked anyone else to deal with him. Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that he had presided over a culture of "cash payments" and that when he made mistakes he "ruined people's lives" Mr Coulson stated that he had always done his best to get things right and insisted he "did not set out to ruin anyone's life"  At the point Lord Bracadale adjourned the court for a brief break.

More to follow.


Eraserhead said...

This is mind numbing. I don't believe that this witness provided anything of value for the defence except, of course, another opportunity for Tommy to showboat about the Big Bad Murdoch Empire.

'Infamy infamy, they've all got it in fer me!'

The only thing that would have brightened my day would have been to see Coulson slip on the ice and fall on his arse as he left the court!

That would have been well worth his flight up to Glasgow.

A big boy did it and ran away. said...

'It was you'.

This was a statement made by Coulson yesterday re the tape. The defence's questioning of this witness has done absolutely nothing to contradict this statement, where in the name is all this going? The jury must be bored rigid.

Bunc said...

I agree with eraserhead.
Even if Sheridan did establish that NOTW bugged phones and recorded stuff that would not prove that the stuff they recorded was untrue - why bug people if you are simply going to pay to have tapes "spliced" or "acted"?

None of this makes any sense to me as a line of defence.

In fact it simply goes more towards suggesting, in my opinion, that the NOTW were prepared to spend money and time albeit possibly ilegally, getting the actual real goods on people.

How does establishing that help the defence? If anything in my mind it may actually weaken the defence position if you think about it logically. It might be different if TS was able to bring forward evidence of them actualy making stuff up and creating false evidence. But he hasn't done that has he?

The jury of course wil make their own minds up about all this.

Anonymous said...

James why provide photo of Coulson laughing up his sleeve?

Anonymous said...

Investigative reporting is VERY expensive, how many investigative reporters do you see on the TV these days - it is all game shows and Big Brother. The viewing/reading public love this though and the NotW is one of the few newspapers that still do this stuff; far easier and cheaper to fill up the paper with press releases and Reuters reports. At least the NotW are giving their readers what they want and going to considerable risks and expense in doing so. And it is papers like the NotW that keep politicians and public figures on their toes. So credit where credit is due.

Mister Mister said...

The wink !!! We want to hear about the wink.

Twitch said...

.. From BBC news website:

'Concluding his examination....

Mr Sheridan asked the media chief how he knew that it was his voice on the tape.

"It's your voice Mr Sheridan and I think you know it is," Mr Coulson said, and then denied an accusation by Mr Sheridan that he had winked at him'

Good grief, is this really happening? ...It wasn't me m'lud, the rapid eye movements of the witness clearly show the jury that I am an innocent man.

James Doleman said...

The wink will be covered in the next report, give me half an hour

Winker said...

Already looking forward to the next report, James. Wink, wink!

Anonymous said...

Once a well known jornalist poised a ouestion for me to consider...he said "If it was not for the NOTW,digging into..snooping into..ect pepoles criminal..sorded..corupt..lieing.. cheating lives, then who would be left to do the job to expose those who are in possession of positions of power ". A.C

Orielenses said...

I admire Lord Bracadale for sitting on his mitts and letting this run. I assume Tommy has his back to the jury and is unaware that with the end of term approaching they've brought in 'Monopoly' and the tough nuts are giving the div jurors chinese burns.

Paul McBride QC will have sent in the Faculty cat to sit as Junior through this whilst he nips out to run a quick gangland murder trial in the middle of this. If he gets a quick-ish result on that I assume that he can return during day 47 of Tommy's chief of Coulson to feign interest whilst mentally re-ordering his CD collection backwards (both by title AND artist), pondering whether to book Tuscany or the Maldives next holiday and doing that long-overdue Facebook breenge on his iPhone.

When this started I really,really wanted TS to win this. I still want Gail to walk but, frankly, the more that Tommy grandstands proving to us all that he's a big-hitter who can sub-poena [sic as it's not a Scots Law term of art as far as I know] an ex NOTW editor and Dave Snooty's best pal, and not much else besides the less I like TS and the more I see where Alex Prentice is coming from.

I think that things are so bad now Tommy has to reconsider, take the big step and clamber into the box.

Scooby Doo said...

If it hadn't been for those meddling kids I'd have got away with it!

Jamesie Cotter Esq. Govan said...

Surely there were at least two winkers in Court today?