Hacking trial: Andy Coulson ‘knew of special project to monitor royal aides,’ Clive Goodman tells Old Bailey

The former royal editor of the NOTW alleges Mr Coulson was aware of the so called 'Alexander' account used to disguise payments to private investigator Glen Mulcaire

David Cameron's former spin doctor, Andy Coulson, authorised a special project that involved special payments to a private investigator to “monitor” the phones of aides to the royal family, a jury at the Old Bailey has heard.

The alleged £500 a week payments to Glen Mulcaire were made in late 2005 and 2006 during Mr Coulson's time as editor of Rupert Murdoch's then best-selling tabloid, the News of the World.

Clive Goodman gave evidence to the Court of what he alleges Mr Coulson knew of the “Alexander” project - the pseudonym used to disguise Mulcaire's role and the money paid to him.

Goodman, 56, the former royal editor of the NOTW, was in the witness box for a third day at the hacking trial. He told the jury that Mr Coulson demanded he find “new ways” of getting inside the royal family, especially the two young princes, William and Harry.

The 'Alexander' account had been set up by Mr Coulson, Goodman claimed. The cash paid to Mulcaire added to the £92,000 a year he was already receiving from his contract with the NOTW. Mulcaire was jailed on hacking charges in 2007 along with Goodman, and has pleaded guilty to hacking-related charges earlier in the trial.

According to Goodman, the then news editor at the NOTW, Greg Miskiw, knew he had been occasionally accessing the voicemails of the royals. However if personal access codes were changed, the method became redundant.

Goodman said that Miskiw, who pleaded guilty to hacking-related charges earlier in proceedings, put him in touch with Mulcaire. He told the court that Mulcaire offered to provide him with direct dial numbers (DDNs) for voicemail accounts and the allied pin numbers which would allow access to royal messages.

Goodman said he told  Mr Coulson that there had been a “suggestion” that the access information on mobile phones was coming from Britain's security services [the intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6] who were already monitoring some of the royal family. Goodman said he was not sure if this was true or not.

Among a sequence of messages, which Goodman admitted had been obtained through hacking, was one from the former private secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton.

Mr Lowther-Pinkerton trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) in Berkshire, served with the Irish Guards, and is a former major attached to the Special Air Service (SAS).

Goodman said that Mulcaire had contacted him in December 2005 and played him a voicemail that had been obtained from Mr Lowther-Pinkerton's phone. He said he made a transcript of the voicemail and had shown it to Mr Coulson and another senior journalist at the NOTW “so they could assess how strong” its contents were.

The transcript, the court was told, contained an emotional appeal to Mr Lowther-Pinkerton from Prince Harry, asking for help on an essay about the 1980 siege of the Iranian embassy in London. At the time the prince was in officer training at Sandhurst.

Goodman said: “It was a good story, but you need to convince people it was a good story. I had to show the transcript to the editor.”

The jury was shown an email from Goodman in which he told another NOTW journalist that Mr Coulson had been given a “full briefing” on the Sandhurst story transcript.

Asked by his defence counsel, David Spens QC, if Mr Coulson had been made “fully aware” of the facts, Goodman replied “completely” and said Mr Coulson told him “steam in”.

In one email exchange which discussed progress on the Sandhurst story, Goodman told Mr Coulson: “As we know it's 100 percent fact”.

Mr Lowther-Pinkerton was one of three royal aides targeted by Goodman. The others were Helen Asprey, the former assistant to princes William and Harry, and the former press secretary to the Prince of Wales, Paddy Harverson.

Goodman also told the court that some senior journalists working at the NOTW  were involved in hacking on an “industrial scale”.

He told the jury that one senior journalist [who cannot be named for legal reasons] regularly hacked Mr Coulson's phone early in the morning  to find out about stories suggested or assigned to other departments within the NOTW. The same journalist also hacked Rebekah Brooks,  then editor of  the other News International tabloid, The Sun. His aim, said Goodman, was to find out what the daily paper was planning.

Mr Coulson and Goodman both deny charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.

The case continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us