Saturday 25 November 2017

Brooks 'paid for photos of Prince William in bikini'

Cash for names of soldiers killed in action also authorised, court told

A transcript of an intercepted message from Prince Harry was also read out in court
A transcript of an intercepted message from Prince Harry was also read out in court
Prince William
Andy Coulson, who is alleged to have been warned about ending up in court over paying for a royal phone book

Sam Marsden, Martin Evans and John Bingham London

Ex-News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks authorised payments to a Ministry of Defence official for details of soldiers killed in action before their official release, a court has heard.

The jury at the Old Bailey heard that the ex-'Sun' and 'News of the World' editor also allegedly authorised journalists to pay a member of the armed forces for a picture of Prince William in a bikini.

In June 2006, she was asked to authorise a cash payment of £4,000 (€4,700) for the picture of the prince dressed as a Bond girl, the court was told.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis said an email from the journalist was forwarded to Brooks, which said: "My best contact at Sandhurst who has provided some great stuff over a period of months is offering us a picture of William at a James Bond party dressed as a Bond girl."

Mr Edis outlined the details as part of the charges that Ms Brooks (45) of Churchill, Oxfordshire, is facing for allegedly conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.

The former News International chief executive denies the charges, as well as allegations of phone hacking.

The court was also told that Andy Coulson ordered one of his senior staff at the 'News of the World' to snoop on the son of the late footballer George Best, telling him "do his phone", the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

CHARGES

The former tabloid editor, was also allegedly warned by a reporter that he could face criminal charges if it was discovered his paper was paying palace police for information about the royal household.

The 'News of the World' authorised hacking Calum Best's phone because it feared he would leak an exclusive about him allegedly getting a woman pregnant, the court heard. Ian Edmondson, the tabloid's former head of news, voiced his concerns that another paper would get wind of the story in an email to Mr Coulson in May 2006.

He wrote: "Same thing happened before, Calum bragging I have close mates inside NotW [News of the World]."

Mr Coulson allegedly replied: "Do his phone."

Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator paid more than £100,000 (€118,000) a year by the 'News of the World', was tasked to hack Best's phone, although there is no clear evidence he did so, the court heard.

The jury was also told that Clive Goodman, the Sunday tabloid's former royal editor, warned Mr Coulson that they could both find themselves in court when he asked for approval to pay a policeman £1,000 (€1,180) in cash for a royal phone book.

Mr Goodman complained that he had problems getting cash payments signed off by Stuart Kuttner, the paper's managing editor, and stressed why he could not purchase the directory from the officer through official channels.

He wrote in an email in January 2003: "I think that we should have the book and the goodwill that goes with it but I am keen to avoid Round Two with the Man Ed [managing editor].

"I'm not criticising Stuart at all, but these people will not be paid in anything other than cash because if they're discovered selling stuff to us they end up on criminal charges, as could we," Goodman added.

Mr Coulson (45) of Preston, Kent, denies charges related to phone hacking and to alleged corrupt payments.

In a separate development, the court heard that Prince Harry pleaded with his private secretary to help him complete an urgent essay while at Sandhurst in a voicemail later allegedly intercepted by the 'News of the World', a court heard yesterday.

The prince left a message on the voicemail of ex-SAS officer Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton's mobile phone saying he was struggling with a project on the Iranian embassy siege.

"Just wondered if you, bizarre question, have you any information at all or you know where to get information from about the siege of the Iranian Embassy, because I need to write an essay quite quickly on that I just need some information?

He told his aide: "I have got most of the stuff but if you have got any extra information or websites that you know please, please, please email it to me."

A transcript of the message was read out in court yesterday on the third day of the trial.

The court also heard how journalists allegedly traded cash with police officers for copies of royal phone directories and Ministry of Defence officials for details about the royals. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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