Europe

Wednesday 23 July 2014

‘Investigator Glenn Mulcaire's role was generally known at News of the World’, court told

By Ellen Branagh

Published 19/11/2013|14:42

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Glenn Mulcaire
Glenn Mulcaire

It was "generally known" at the News of the World that private investigator Glenn Mulcaire was a member of the newspaper's special investigations team, a court has heard.

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Geoff Sweet, a sports journalist at the now-defunct tabloid, told jurors in the phone-hacking trial that when he quoted Mulcaire in one of his stories in 2002 he knew he effectively worked for the paper.

The Old Bailey heard that Mr Sweet quoted Mulcaire in a story about AFC Wimbledon in the paper's sports section on August 18 2002.

The article referred to Mulcaire, "the man they called Trigger", describing how he was "part of our special investigations team".

Asked to describe how it came about, Mr Sweet said: "It was just a novelty story. I normally cover Premier League games, to be honest, but there was a novelty here because of the name of the club."

He told the court that he interviewed Mulcaire, whom he knew to be the centre-forward for Wimbledon and who he knew "effectively worked for the News of the World".

Mr Sweet told the court: "I understood he was part of the special investigations team."

Asked why, he said: "Because I was part of the NotW empire and it was generally known."

Mr Sweet, who said he met Mulcaire only on that one occasion, admitted he rarely visited the NotW offices in Wapping, east London, and when he did would mix "almost exclusively" with the sports department.

But asked to elaborate on how generally known Mulcaire's involvement with the newspaper was, he said: "It was just generally known."

He added: "As far as I am aware, Mulcaire was never discussed."

When pressed about the reference to the private investigator being part of the special investigations team, he told the court: "I can't remember writing the story. For all I know, that may have been put in by the sports desk to add a bit of kudos to the story."

Robert Beasley, a fellow sports journalist at the News of the World who now works at the Sun, told the court he had never met Mulcaire and had never heard his name until he was arrested in 2006.

Mr Beasley, whose name and mobile phone number appeared in one of Mulcaire's notebooks along with the surname of former Chelsea footballer Adrian Mutu, told the court: "I didn't know the guy (Mulcaire) existed."

Asked if he had ever seen, heard or suspected that anyone within the News of the World was involved in unlawfully accessing voicemails, he said: "Absolutely no idea at all."

The jury has already been told that private investigator Mulcaire has admitted phone hacking.

Ex-NotW and Sun editor Rebekah Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; Andy Coulson, also 45, from Charing in Kent; former NotW head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London; and the tabloid's ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, all deny conspiring with others to hack phones between October 3 2000 and August 9 2006.

As well as the phone hacking charge, 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 2006and October 16 2008 - linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.

Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with former royal editor Clive 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 was shown how a story about Milly Dowler on April 14, 2002, was moved from page nine to page 32 between different editions of the News of the World.

But Harry Scott, who was night editor at the NotW, said although he could not remember that particular story there was nothing to suggest it had come from phone hacking.

He was asked by Timothy Langdale QC, for Coulson: "It would not have suggested to you that the NotW had hacked Milly Dowker's phone?", to which he replied "no, not at all".

Asked if he had thought later on that the story had come from a police source, he said: "That's what I would think now, I think it had a policeman quoted in it."

Mr Scott told the court that it could not be assumed that if a story referred to a voicemail, then that had been hacked.

"That's not phone hacking. That's the person who is doing the kiss and tell either giving the paper their home phone answer phone message or putting in a call to the person who is the subject of the story and taping it.

"That's not phone hacking just so we are clear."

Mr Scott raised a laugh when he told the court that if you cut a reporter in half you would "expenses" running through them, whereas if you cut a production worker in half you would find the word "deadlines" in them.

He said most editors were "risk averse", because of the repercussions of getting something wrong, but said the News of the World took "calculated risks".

The court heard that there was a "secret room" in the newsroom where important stories would be subedited and laid out to make sure that they were not leaked before the paper was published, as well as a "secret queue" in the computer system.

"The idea is so that somebody can't just trawl through all the baskets in the paper and see what the secret stories are. Because you don't want people to know what the secret stories are."

He said they also used "spoof" front page stories so rivals would not know what their story was until it hit the newsstands.

Mr Scott told the court he had never heard of Mulcaire until Goodman's trial.

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