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News of the World Prince Harry story 'based on voicemail'
PHONE hacking uncovered a claim that Prince Harry had broken rules at military training academy Sandhurst by asking an aide for help with an essay, a court heard today.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told jurors at the Old Bailey that a story in the News of the World came from a voicemail that was illegally accessed by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire on behalf of the tabloid's former royal editor Clive Goodman.
It is claimed that the then editor Andy Coulson, from Forest Hill, was also aware of what was happening.
Mr Edis said the story, published on December 18, 2005, was one of a number of stories cited by Goodman as he tried to justify paying Mulcaire a weekly retainer.
The prosecutor said the story, which ran under the headline "Harry's aide helps out on Sandhurst exams", had "got into the paper and was based entirely on a voicemail."
The court heard that Coulson stopped weekly payments to Mulcaire in February 2006, and on the same day Goodman emailed him justifying them in a bid to keep them going.
Referring to Mulcaire only as "matey", the royal editor said he was a valuable source of stories on the royal family, especially after William started at Sandhurst.
He wrote: "We are the only paper getting any information out of there at all about his movements and Kate's."
The court heard that one version of the message, handed to Harbottle and Lewis, ended there, but another version, downloaded by Goodman after he was charged in 2006 and also obtained from the News International system, went on: "There have been several close calls that could have made us some great pics.
"We were five minutes away from catching Kate and William together last Saturday."
Mr Edis said that although seeing the now-married couple together would not be unusual nowadays, at the time there was interest in it.
The court heard Goodman told Coulson: "This sort of information is not manageable on a story by story basis", as he described that there were costs of setting up and maintaining surveillance and said Mulcaire was not a "hack" and did not understand what was or was not a story.
Justifying the payments, Goodman wrote: "It's safe, productive and cost effective and I am confident it will become a big story goldmine for us if we let it run a bit longer."
Jurors were also told that a top aide to the Prince of Wales was targeted by NotW journalists, chasing false rumours that the Royal's private secretary Sir Michael Peat had been having an affair.
Prosecutors claim that Goodman paid for two copies of a Royal telephone directory from palace police officers, with the funds allegedly authorised by Coulson.
A total of 15 copies of the book were found in his home when it was searched in 2006, and of those it is claimed that another two belonged to police but were not necessarily sold by officers, the court heard.
One had an officer's fingerprint on it while another had an officer's handwriting on it.
The court heard that on January 24 2003 Goodman emailed Coulson to say: "Andy - one of our royal policemen (St James Palace) has obtained the brand new green book, the telephone directory with all the home numbers of the royal family and their household staff.
"Incredibly useful and he'll be extremely handy in the Peat Affair tale. The standard price is GBP1,000."
In the version of the message found on Goodman's computer, but apparently not received by Coulson, another paragraph said: "I think that we should have the book and the goodwill that goes with it but I am keen to avoid Round Two with the Man Ed (managing editor Stuart Kuttner).
"I'm not criticising Stuart at all, but these people will not be paid in anything other than cash because if they're discovered selling stuff to us they end up on criminal charges, as could we."
Coulson replied to the shorter message, questioning why he had recently signed off on a payment of £750 for another copy of the directory.
Goodman answered: "This is the harder to get one which has the Queen's direct lines to her family in it."
Mr Edis said that, as a result of that conversation, a cash payment of £1,000 was made to a David Farish, which turned out to be a false name, adding: "The investigation has never identified the policeman responsible for this."
He said the conversation and payment was the "clearest possible evidence" of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office and that it was linked to phone hacking.
The jury heard that on the same day the Green Book was bought, which included an address and landlines but no mobile number for Sir Michael, Mulcaire was tasked with investigating him. A mobile number was later handwritten on to the book.
The court was shown a heavily-redacted copy of the book, featuring a host of telephone numbers and addresses.
Mr Edis said there were a number of black marks on the book to protect the privacy of those in it.
He said: "Glenn carried on with his investigation and if that's right this book is directly useful for phone hacking, and in fact used for phone hacking, because Sir Michael Peat is targeted on the very same day the book is paid for."
As part of his prosecution opening yesterday, Mr Edis revealed that Rebekah Brooks and Coulson had an affair for at least six years, thought to be from 1998 to 2004, as he used it to demonstrate how close they were.
The court heard extracts from a heartfelt letter sent by Brooks to her then deputy editor Coulson in February 2004, said to have been written after he tried to end their relationship, in which she declared her love for him.
Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; Coulson, also 45, from Forest Hill; former NotW head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London; and the tabloid's ex- managing editor Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, all deny conspiring with others to hack phones between October 3 2000 and August 9 2006.
Former News International chief executive Brooks is also accused of two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office - one between January 1 2004 and January 31 2012 and the other between February 9 2006 and October 16 2008 - linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.
Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and other unknown people to commit misconduct in public office - between August 31 2002 and January 31 2003, and between January 31 and June 3 2005.
Brooks also faces two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice - one with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, from Chelmsford in Essex, between July 6 and 9 2011; and a second with her husband, Charles Brooks, and former head of security at News International, Mark Hanna, and others between July 15 and July 19 2011.
The court heard that Calum Best, the son of footballer George Best, was also an alleged target of phone hacking.
It was claimed that he had fathered a child with a woman called Lorna Hogan and the News of the World planned to run a story.
Coulson was concerned that the story might get leaked because Best had "close mates inside NotW".
Edmondson told him in an email on May 20 2006: "I know she is a nightmare but at the moment I'm looking at every little thing. Same thing happened before, Calum bragging I have close mates inside NotW."
The court heard Coulson replied: "Do his phone."
Mr Edis read a transcript of a voicemail message left by Prince Harry for his private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, himself a former member of the armed forces, asking for information to help with an essay.
The court heard that the prince asked his aide if he "had any information at all" about the Iranian embassy siege - the scene of a British special forces operation in 1980 - adding: "Because I need to write an essay quite quickly on that but I need some extra info.
"Please, please email it to me or text me."
Mr Edis said the NotW was interested in the story to show some sort of misconduct.
The court heard there were discussions between Goodman and Coulson about how to run the story, which they knew was "100% fact", without exposing its source.
They decided not to refer to the siege as it would be "too precise to get through unnoticed", the court heard.
Mr Edis said: "It means that if they say that what he was asking about was information about the Iranian Embassy siege, everyone would know that they hacked his voicemail because obviously Harry and Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton both knew that this voicemail was sent and received."
The tabloid also obtained information about Prince William getting "shot" during a training exercise in Aldershot, jurors were told.
Mr Edis said: "William found himself in the wrong place during a night exercise so he got shot, pretend shot.
"There is a voicemail, recording of a voicemail, in which Prince William says something about that. So it's a phone hack."