By Martin Hickman
The jury in the phone hacking trial is set to retire to consider its verdicts three weeks today, Judge John Saunders said this morning.
Addressing the 11 remaining jurors after the final defence evidence was heard, Mr Justice Saunders pinpointed Monday 9 June as the day they went out because the rest of the case was “completely timetabled; except me.”
The court has previously heard that the closing speeches from the defence and prosecution will last 10 days in total, with the judge’s summing up due to take about three days.
Mr Justice Saunders said that he could not say exactly how long his summing up would take.
But taking into account a five day break for the May bank holiday beginning on Thursday, he told the jury: “Our aim is that you will retire to start considering your verdicts on Monday 9 June.”
So far, including periods of legal argument without the jury, the case has sat at London’s Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey) for 117 days.
The defence evidence concluded this morning with the final prosecution cross-examination of Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s former royal editor.
Andrew Edis QC, for the Crown, ran through a series of emails from Mr Goodman in which he referred to stories about police officers guarding the royal family.
On 11 August 2005, for instance, Mr Goodman told a News of the World executive that he obtained a scoop about a “security meltdown” at Balmoral on the first day of the Queen’s holiday at her Highland residence.
Mr Goodman, who denies he paid police officers for copies of royal phone books, told the court: “The information did not come from a police officer. If something like this happens in a royal household, everyone knows about it.”
In another email, he warned the News of the World’s management that his source faced jail if hr was discovered selling information to the newspaper. Mr Goodman told the court that was “a bit of salesmanship” to exaggerate the sensitivity of his sources.
He denied that he had told his editor Andy Coulson that he was hacking the phones of Prince William, his then girlfriend Kate Middleton, and Prince Harry.
Mr Edis suggested he had not said Mr Coulson had known about the hacking in his earlier evidence because he would have had to admit to the court that he had hacked the princes, something he only did after returning to court from two months’ illness.
Mr Goodman, convicted in 2007 of hacking three royal aides, said: “The police knew [then] I had hacked Harry, William and Kate Middleton. The Crown Prosecution Service knew I had hacked Prince William and Harry and they were the ones who did nothing about it because they did not want to embarrass the royal family.”
After he finished his evidence, the last of the seven defendants to do so, Mr Edis re-commenced his closing speech, which he had begun before Mr Goodman’s return.
Turning to the Count 1 charge of conspiracy to hack phones, Mr Edis raised the letter written in February 2004 by Rebekah Brooks, former News of the World editor, to Mr Coulson, in which she suggested they had a very close relationship which involved sharing confidences.
Mr Edis told the jury: “The relationship between Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson is directly relevant. It has a factual relevance: two people are charged with a conspiracy – it’s important to know how they got on with each other.”
The defendants deny all charges. The case, which began in October 2013, continues.