Hacking trial: Princess Diana leaked information about Prince Charles to the press, court hears


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The Independent Online

Princess Diana tried to recruit the News of the World as an “ally” in her battle against Prince Charles by leaking an internal telephone directory to the tabloid's royal editor, the jury in the phone hacking trial has been told.

Clive Goodman said the royal court intrigue initiated by Diana, Princess of Wales, was part of her wider plan to “take on” her estranged husband by exposing the sheer scale of his staff, challenging  Clarence House's claims that he lived a “modest” life.

Goodman, who the jury was told was jailed for phone hacking in 2007 when he worked at the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper, said Princess Diana “wanted to show that there were forces that would rage against him [Prince Charles]”.

Goodman is jointly charged with Andy Coulson, the former editor of the NOTW who later became David Cameron's communications chief in Downing Street. The crown's case states that both men were involved in a conspiracy to commit misconduct in public life by paying officials for internal royal directories. Fifteen of the confidential directories were found at Goodman's Surrey home by police.

Both Goodman and Mr Coulson deny conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office [the bribery] charges against them.

David Spens QC, Goodman's leading counsel, asked him how he had obtained one of the directories in 1992.

The court heard that a package had arrived for Goodman at the NOTW's Wapping office in London's docklands. It had his name on it, and eventually came to his mail box on the newsroom floor.

Charles and Diana had recently separated after 11 years of marriage, and Goodman told the court that the princess was “going through a very, very difficult time”.

He said that Diana had called him to check if he had received the directory, which gave a detailed breakdown of all the royal household staff, who they would report to, and their contact details.

In the telephone call, Goodman said the princess “told me she wanted me to see the scale of her husband's staff and household compared to others.”

He added: “She felt she was being swamped by people close to his [Charles'] household” and had been looking for an “ally” to “take him on - to show that there were forces  that could rage against him.”

According to Goodman, Princess Diana had similar relationships with senior journalists at the Mail, the BBC, and her eventual biographer, Andrew Morton.

Goodman denied that any of the directories found at his home had come from public officials or police officers. He also denied making payments for any of the directories, or that he had ever paid public officials for stories.

Mr Spens also asked about the culture that existed throughout Goodman's 20 years at the NOTW. The court heard that he became royal editor in 2000, and had enjoyed a good relationship with Rebekah Brooks when she edited the NOTW.

However Goodman told the court that when Mr Coulson succeed her in 2003, he turned into an “aggressive” and bullying“ editor, influenced, he said, by the ”old school“ journalist he appointed deputy editor, Neil Wallis.

Goodman said that Mr Wallis made no secret of disliking him, had initiated a sequence of demotions, and was instrumental in creating an ”aggressive combative, bullying culture.

He told the court that the internal competition was so fierce, that a senior journalist in one department had effectively destroyed an investigation by another department.

The court heard that the Mazher Mahmood, known as the 'Fake Sheikh' was investigating a top model, described as a “household name” who was operating as a up-market £2000 a night prostitute in Europe.

However the model's agent was tipped off by the NOTW journalist not involved in the story, and told a sting was being prepared. The story was never published the court heard.

Earlier in court, Mrs Brooks' defence was concluded when her mother Deborah Weir, 70, said that in the days which followed the public outcry over the revelation that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked by the NOTW, she was told by her daughter not to watch television news or read newspapers.

Mrs Weir, who travelled regularly from her Cheshire farm to London in July 2011 to offer comfort and assistance to her daughter in the period that involved the closure of the NOTW and Mrs Brooks' eventual arrest by police, denied knowledge of, or recognising,  any attempt to conceal evidence at locations in Oxfordshire, including the Brooks' family home.

She told the court “It was an awful time, an awful moment. Traumatic for me, as well as Rebekah.”

Mrs Brooks, Mr Coulson and the five others in the trial deny all the hacking, bribery and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice charges against them.

The case continues.