Hacking trial: Andy Coulson admits News of the World DID have illegal access to phone records of Prince Harry's girlfriend

Andy Coulson said there was “confusion” inside the News of the World on data protection laws and admitted he “didn’t do enough” when he learned that the telephone records of Prince Harry’s girlfriend had been illegally procured, a jury at the Old Bailey has been told.

Mr Coulson, the former editor of the News International tabloid, said he was told by email in 2005 that a reporter had obtained phone billing data from Chelsy Davy.

The email described Ms Davy as making 60 calls and texts over one month to the prince. The royal editor who sent the email, Clive Goodman, described the regular contact between the royal and his Zimbabwean girlfriend as “Chelsy driving Harry nuts”.

Mr Coulson, 46, who later headed David Cameron’s communications operation inside 10 Downing Street, said he did not conclude at the time that the details sent by Goodman meant the paper “in clear terms” had accessed Ms Davy’s phone records.

Mr Coulson said that “phone traffic” was the term sometimes used inside the NOTW to refer to billing data. He said he had not “applied his mind” enough to the information Goodman was giving. He told the jury “I didn’t know how it [accessing phone data] was done, and didn’t ask.”

In addition the “driving Harry nuts” discovery, Goodman added in his email that the NOTW had “been having a quiet look at this independently.”

Mr Coulson told the court that “from this distance” the information he was sent could mean that billing records were being checked. He said this action may have constituted use of the “dark arts” used by investigative journalists on the now-closed Murdoch-owned tabloid.

Andrew Edis QC, the prosecution’s lead counsel, cross-examining Mr Coulson for a third day, said it was not about “from a distance”, adding “that’s what it says.”

Andy Coulson said he was told by email in 2005 that a reporter had obtained phone billing data from Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry's girlfriend Andy Coulson said he was told by email in 2005 that a reporter had obtained phone billing data from Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry's girlfriend Mr Coulson told the court that there was a “lot of confusion” on data protection law inside the NOTW and in the newspaper industry.

Mr Edis said the NOTW had a “wonderful media lawyer” and asked what advice he had given on the acquisition of private phone records.

Mr Coulson admitted he should have “paid more attention to this.”

The judge, Mr Justice Saunders, asked Mr Coulson if obtaining phone billing records was considered “one of the darks arts” at the NOTW. Mr Coulson replied: “Yes.”

The jury has been told that Goodman, the former royal editor of the NOTW, was jailed in 2007 on hacking-related charges.

Mr Coulson and six others in the trial deny all the charges against them.

The case continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?