Hacking Trial: Andy Coulson to take the stand

DAY 6 – Mon 4 Nov

By Martin Hickman

Andy Coulson will take the witness stand to clear his name, his barrister told the hacking trial today.

At the end of the prosecution’s three-day opening statement, Timothy Langdale, QC, told the jury that they had heard “only one side of the story.”

Giving what he acknowledged was an “unusual” opening address on behalf of a defendant, Mr Langdale stressed to the jury that his client was innocent of the charges of plotting to hack phones and bribe police.

“You have heard a lot from the prosecution about Mr Coulson. It’s our case that a lot of it is wrong,” he told the Old Bailey jury of nine women and three men.

Outlining some of Mr Coulson’s defence, Mr Langdale said he acknowledged “something went badly wrong” during his editorship of the News of the World and he very much wished he had taken “different decisions”.

But he added that David Cameron’s former director of communications had not taken part in any wrongdoing and would paint a picture of the frenetic pace of life inside the News of the World, when a mass of information passed his desk.

Competition inside the Sunday tabloid was “perhaps at times unhealthy” and journalists “wanted to impress”, Mr Langdale told the Old Bailey.

Referring to the claim that his client had approved royal editor Clive Goodman’s requests to pay corrupt police officers, Mr Langdale said: “He does not believe Mr Goodman had done or was doing any such thing.”

The prosecution was mistaken in its belief that if messages were hacked by Glen Mulcaire or others at the paper that the editor must have known, he added.

Before the jury heard two months of prosecution evidence, he said he wanted to correct what may have been their “abiding impression” about the saga. The Guardian’s story on 4 July 2011 suggesting that the News of the World had interfered in the search for Milly Dowler by deleting her phone messages was “wholly unjustified in a number of major respects,” he said.
Mr Langdale said: “There is no evidence that Mr Mulcaire or any other person acting for the News of the World deleted any messages on Milly Dowler’s phone either deliberately or accidentally.”

All defendants deny all the charges. The case continues.

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1 Comment

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Robert Reynoldsreply
November 4, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Thank you.

Helpful advice to any ‘still digging’, as yet unaware just how deeply.

Accepting that the more ‘realistic’ alternative for today is that of the Royal Charter, we should spare a thought for tomorrow, in case obliged to take instead the ‘open, democratic and accountable’ path of statutory regulation.

Any doubts still to be met will come from two perspectives, the pro-democratic and the anti-democratic. In dealing with both it will be important to appreciate that the latter perspective may represent itself as part of the former, and that both camps may still labour under profound ignorance as to the nature of real democracy.

The genuine fears of the pro-democratic will point to the necessary conditions of the necessarily enduring freedom of citizens to follow conscience, as necessary for our rule to be sustainably ‘of, for, by the people’. For our social negotiations (to the end of time bound to be on-going), in politics between views and laws, and in the press between views and claimed standards (the views in appropriate fora freely argued, the laws and standards representatively agreed and administered, both in conscience), the necessary social condition will be of informed agreement on income equality, none then subject to corrupting material conflicts of interest.

The fears of the anti-democratic, when (as for most) framed by sociopathy, or habits of competition, or simple ignorance, will be classically and ‘sensibly’ conservative, in distrust of others, distrust of change, and fear of worse, thus through argument and demonstration amenable to education.

Perhaps for only a very few – of whose existence general public awareness will be vital – fierce expression of ‘democratic fears’ will be a cloak for delusions of divine right or supreme representativeness, or for a contemptuous determination to indulge fantasies of power.

Leveson endorsed or not, as well to be aware of dangers not yet extinct from this Earth, in fact amongst the instruments of providence that ‘make the case’ for a democratic future.

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