Andy Coulson was himself a victim of hacking while editor, his barrister tells jury

Ian Burrell, James Cusick

Andy Coulson, David Cameron's former Director of Communications, will take to the witness stand to say that he "didn't play any part in the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone and was never part of any arrangement to hack her phone - or anyone else's", his defence barrister told the Old Bailey today.

In an opening speech, Timothy Langdale QC appealed to the jurors to withhold their verdict until they had heard Mr Coulson’s defence – which might not be for another “two months”. Mr Langdale said: “He will, in due course, go into the witness box and give evidence to you.”

In an address lasting around 20 minutes, Mr Langdale said that Mr Coulson had himself been a victim of phone hacking during his time as editor of the News of the World. “The prosecution didn’t choose to tell you about that in opening the case to you, but it’s not easy to reconcile with their case,” he said. “Both conspirator and victim at the same time – it’s a fair question posed is it not? The two things don’t sit easily together do they?”

As Mr Langdale described Mr Coulson’s role on the tabloid, where “the flow of information was endless and continuous”, he challenged the prosecution’s claim that the editor was well aware what was going on inside the newspaper. During Mr Coulson’s editorship of 2003-07, the paper published “thousands and thousands” of stories and the editor received a “veritable blizzard of emails”, the barrister said.

He began his speech by telling the jury they were part of a remarkable trial. “This case – as you know – has an unusual history,” he said. “It’s now being heard in a court of law after years of coverage of one kind or another in national and international media. The trial itself will be unusually long.”

He went out of his way to criticise The Guardian’s coverage in July 2011 of the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone, in which the NOTW’s investigator Glenn Mulcaire was accused of deleting voicemails and giving false hope to the murdered schoolgirl’s family. “There’s no evidence to suggest that Mr Mulcaire or any other person acting for the News of the World deleted any message on Milly Dowler’s phone either deliberately or accidentally,” said Mr Langdale, who added that the accusation was “wholly unjustified” and had had “significant consequences”, contributing to the closure of the NOTW.

Mr Coulson denies conspiracy to unlawfully intercept communications. He also denies conspiring with the former NOTW royal editor Clive Goodman to corrupt public officials by paying police officers for royal telephone directories. Addressing a Goodman email on that subject, shown to the jury, Mr Langdale said that Mr Coulson “did not believe Mr Goodman had done or was doing any such thing”.

In the “competitive” world of the NOTW, reporters would “inflate the value of their own sources” and Mr Coulson learned to take their claims “with a hefty pinch of salt”, his barrister said.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz