Bloomberg News

Coulson Says Hacking Knowledge Would Have Cost Him Cameron Job

April 29, 2014

Andy Coulson, the former editor of News Corp. (NWSA:US)’s News of the World, told a court he probably wouldn’t have been hired as an adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron if he had admitted that he was aware of phone hacking at the newspaper.

Coulson, 46, told a criminal trial in London that he wouldn’t have gotten a post with the Conservative Party after he resigned from the News of the World if he had told officials about an incident in which messages on the phone of Labour Party politician David Blunkett were accessed by journalists.

“If what you had done in relation to Blunkett had become public, you never would’ve got that job, would you?” prosecutor Andrew Edis asked Coulson today.

“I can’t say for sure,” Coulson replied. “I think it could well have meant that I wouldn’t have got the job.”

Coulson is among seven people on trial for a variety of wrongdoing at News Corp.’s U.K. newspapers, including voice-mail interception and bribing public officials. Company Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World in 2011 in response to public outrage over the discovery that journalists had listened to messages on the phone of a murdered schoolgirl.

Coulson had resigned his post at the News of the World in 2007, on the day a journalist and private detective at the tabloid were sentenced to prison for phone hacking. The scandal lingered for five years before the discovery that the schoolgirl’s phone had been hacked sparked national outrage.

‘Do His Phone’

Other than Blunkett’s, Coulson today denied any knowledge that reporters listened to other voice-mail messages. He said that his instruction to “do” the phone of a celebrity had nothing to do with hacking.

Coulson said the phrase “do his phone” in a message was an order to check the billing of a reporter at the newspaper to see if there had been a leak. Prosecutors say that the 2006 e-mail is proof Coulson ordered the phone hacking of Calum Best, the son of former Manchester United soccer player George Best.

“What did you envisage would happen,” when Coulson made the order, Edis asked.

“As discussed, his phone records would be checked,” Coulson said, as there was a suspicion that reporter was leaking stories to rival papers. “I would not have requested the hacking of” the reporter’s phone.

Coulson also said another reporter never played him voice mails taken from James Bond actor Daniel Craig’s mobile phone.

“It was quite an exciting moment for you,” when the reporter, Dan Evans, played a voice mail left by Sienna Miller that led to a story about an affair between her and Craig, Edis said. “It never happened,” Coulson said twice.

Earlier in the trial, Evans testified that Coulson said the message was “ brilliant.” Coulson said that when the story was being investigated, he was at the annual Labour Party conference.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net Eddie Buckle


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