Coulson denies hearing hacked Sienna Miller voicemail

Former editor of the News of the World Andy Coulson arrives at the Old Bailey courthouse in London.  REUTERS/Neil Hall
Former editor of the News of the World Andy Coulson arrives at the Old Bailey courthouse in London. REUTERS/Neil Hall

David Cameron's former media chief Andy Coulson told a London court today he had not listened to hacked voicemail messages that exposed an affair between actress Sienna Miller and James Bond star Daniel Craig.

Coulson, who was Cameron's head of communications until 2011, is charged with conspiracy to hack phones of high-profile celebrities and politicians whilst he was editor of Rupert Murdoch's now defunct News of the World tabloid.

The Old Bailey jury has previously heard that Dan Evans, a former reporter at the paper and self-confessed phone hacker, played Coulson a voicemail message left on Craig's phone by Miller in 2005. The message revealed that Miller, then girlfriend of actor Jude Law, was having an affair with Craig.

Coulson said he never heard the message and was not aware of the practice of hacking.

"In 2005 I'm not sure I knew the phrase 'hacking voicemail,'" he said. "I'm not sure that was a phrase that was in my mind until much, much later."

Timothy Langdale, defending, said Evans claimed to have played the message to Coulson at a meeting in London, when the then editor was actually in Brighton attending the Labour party conference.

The court was shown a copy of Coulson's diary from 2005 with appointments to meet leading politicians, including then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, during the conference.

"I wouldn't have cancelled any of those appointments," said Coulson. "It was the purpose of me being there, to have those meetings."

The 46-year-old denied that references made by other News of the World editors to "special checks" made by Evans to investigate the story were a reference to phone-hacking.

"It is an indication to me that he has some sources, or a source," said Coulson. "I think all reporters think their checks are special."

Coulson, who also faces charges over authorising illegal payments to public officials, is on trial alongside six others, including the former head of Murdoch's British newspaper arm Rebekah Brooks. They all deny the charges.

The jury was shown an email from the paper's then royal editor Clive Goodman, who was convicted of phone hacking in 2007, asking Coulson to sign off cash payments to a police officer for a royal household telephone directory.

"They won't take anything other than cash. If discovered selling stuff to us they can end up on criminal charges, as can we," Goodman said in an extract from the email read out in court.

Coulson said he agreed to the payment as he believed Goodman was exaggerating and had a reputation for creating unnecessary drama.

He said: "I didn't believe Clive Goodman was paying a policeman. I still don't believe that Clive Goodman paid a policeman. I didn't believe him and I rubber-stamped it."

The trial continues. 

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