A former executive at the News of the World pleaded guilty to phone hacking on Friday as a court heard he ordered hundreds of celebrities to be targeted.
Ian Edmondson, a former head of news at the defunct Sunday tabloid, admitted his involvement in a criminal conspiracy with other journalists, including the former editor Andy Coulson who went on to become David Cameron’s chief spin doctor.
The Old Bailey heard yesterday that Edmondson was in daily contact with News of the World phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire for two years when he was in charge of the news operation. His name appeared on 334 of the 8,000 “tasking” notes that police seized from the private investigator.
The prosecution also unveiled a tape recording of Edmondson, 45, confessing to phone hacking himself, which had been secretly recorded by Matt Nixson, a former News of the World colleague.
Edmondson was charged with conspiring to hack phones between 2000 and 2006 together with Coulson, Mulcaire, the paper’s former royal editor Clive Goodman, feature writer Dan Evans, and three former news editors, Greg Miskiw, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup.
He was one of the original eight defendants at the Old Bailey trial that ended in the acquittal of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks. However, the judge ruled he was temporarily “unfit” to continue last year, in the early stages of the seven-month trial.
Yesterday the court heard that Edmondson instructed Mulcaire to target the former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott, ex-Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, actress Sienna Miller and her former boyfriend Jude Law.
Mark Bryant Heron QC, for the prosecution, said between July 2005 and August 2006, Edmondson and Mulcaire exchanged 800 calls and texts. The court heard Edmondson also employed Mulcaire to investigate the break-up of Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills in May 2006.
During the hearing, Mr Bryant Heron referred to a tape recording of a conversation between Edmondson and Mr Nixson that seemed to take place following the original arrest of Clive Goodman .
Mr Nixson said: “But you know what the vital difference is you haven’t done anything yourself or from your number. That is not what Clive’s caught on, he’s fucking done it himself.” Edmondson replied: “Yeah – I’ve done it myself.”
The court heard that Edmondson was the recipient of a key email written by Coulson, referring to the celebrity Calum Best and instructing his news editor to “do his phone”.
Edmondson’s barrister, Sallie Bennet-Jenkins QC, told the court that Edmondson had been acting “under direct instructions by senior executives to use Mulcaire”. Following his guilty plea, Edmondson faces jail and was bailed to return for sentencing in November.
It emerged on Friday that Tom Crone, former head lawyer at the News of the World, would not be charged with phone hacking.Reuse content