By Martin Hickman.
Current members of the Royal Family including Prince William were hacked almost every day by the News of the World, the phone hacking trial heard today.
The Old Bailey was told that Clive Goodman, the NoW’s royal editor, intercepted the voicemails of Prince William and his then girlfriend Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry almost 199 times during an 10 month period ending in August 2006.
Also targeted by the News of the World phone hacking operation were Kate Waddington, PA to Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and Michael Fawcett, senior valet to the Prince of Wales.
The UK’s best-selling Sunday newspaper hacked the three royals or their aides almost 400 times.
The News of the World also planned hiring a private detective, Derek Webb, to follow Prince William’s friends so it land an exclusive about his going away to Sandhurst party.
The hacking was confirmed by Mr Goodman, jailed in 2007 for hacking royal aides Helen Asprey, Paddy Harverson and Jamie Lowther-Pinker, on his return to the witness box after two months’ illness.
Timothy Langdale, QC, for Andy Coulson, said a “schedule” before the court showed that in 2005 and 2006 Mr Goodman had hacked Kate Middleton 155 times, Prince William 35 times and Prince Harry 9 times.
Mr Goodman did not dispute any of Mr Langdale’s figures.
He agreed that phone records suggested he first hacked Miss Middleton on 21 September 2005 and that he had hacked her phone on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day 2005. The hacking continued until the day before Mr Goodman was arrested in August 2006.
Asked why he had obtained details about Miss Middleton from Glenn Mulcaire, the News of the World’s phone hacking private detective, Mr Goodman said: “Because Glenn Mulcaire offered them.
“She was a figure of increasing importance to the Royal Family. There were stories about her and Prince William marrying, settling down and having a family.”
Asked whether he had hacked her phone on Christmas Day 2005, Mr Goodman replied: “Yes.”
Referring to the document before the court – which the jury had, but which was not flashed up on the court monitors – Judge John Saunders remarked that Miss Middleton appeared to have several voicemail PIN numbers. He asked: “They were being changed regularly?”, to which Mr Goodman replied: “I think so, yes.”
Mr Langdale introduced the evidence in an attempt to show the jury that Mr Goodman (jointly charged with Mr Coulson over alleged corruption of police) had misled the court during his earlier evidence.
In his testimony two months ago, Mr Goodman had referred only to hacking the three royal aides he was convicted of hacking in 2007 plus two others: equerry Mark Dyer and Tom Parker Bowles, son of Duchess of Cornwall. He said he could not recall any others.
Turning Mr Goodman’s much wider admission of phone hacking today, Mr Langdale asked Mr Goodman about the targeting of Prince William. He asked him: “Had you really forgotten you were hacking him at Sandhurst?,” to which Mr Goodman said: “I find it difficult to recall.”
Mr Goodman said that he could now tell the truth about his phone hacking because he had been told by the Crown Prosecution Service that he would not face any further charges on the matter.
Referring to the first police investigation, Operation Caryatid, Mr Goodman told the court: “The Metropolitan Police didn’t ask me these questions in 2006 or 2007 and I’ve never been asked by any inquiry or investigation [since].”
Mr Langdale raised an email sent by Mr Goodman in January 2006 about plans to instruct a private detective to follow two friends of Prince William, Guy Pelly and Harry Legge-Bourke, to ascertain the location of a party.
Mr Goodman told the court: “The idea was: we can’t find out where the party was, so we’ll put Derek [Webb] on the people likely to go to the party so we can follow them and get some pictures and an exclusive.”
Mr Goodman, who did not say whether Mr Webb had been instructed, denies two counts of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office over the alleged payments to police officers for royal phone directories.
Mr Coulson, News of the World editor between 2003 and 2007, denies the same two counts of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and one count of conspiring to hack phones. The case continues.