The former royal editor of the News of the World warned a senior executive on the Murdoch-owned paper “We could all end up in jail” if payments to his police sources were traced, the Old Bailey has heard.
Clive Goodman, the specialist royal reporter who was jailed in 2007 on hacking-related charges, delivered the alert in an email to Beverley Stokes, the personal assistant of the former managing editor Stuart Kuttner.
Mr Goodman, alleged to be discussing contacts that could only be paid in cash, described two recipients who were “in uniform”, but added they were untraceable. A further source, the court heard, worked for a rival national newspaper.
Along with seven other defendants in the trial facing differing hacking-related charges, Mr Goodman is charged with making illegal payments to public officials which he denies. Mr Kuttner denies the phone hacking charges against him. All other charges are denied by all of the defendants legal insert
The jury was told that in an email exchange with Mrs Stokes in 2005, Mr Goodman was told Mr Kuttner wanted to talk to him about cash payments to a contributor.
Mr Goodman subsequently said he had written to Mr Kuttner saying there were only three sources he paid in cash. The warning on a potential jail sentence followed. The email read: “Two are in uniform and we - them, you, me, the editor would all end up in jail if anyone traced their payments. They've had Special Branch crawling all over them since we ran a five-paragraph story about an Operation Trident arrest at Clarence House.”
The correspondence continues :“Thanks to the way we pay them, they're untraceable.
".... The third is an executive at another newspaper who is also taking on potentially life-altering risks for us and will not accept any other form of payment.”
The jury heard that in addition to the email to Mr Kuttner, Mr Goodman discussed the issue of how payments were to be made with Ms Stokes.
Another further message on January 2006 referred to a contributor the jury has been told was a police officer. Mr Goodman says he “is a cash only contributor because of his extremely sensitive job... curtains for him and us”.
The court was also shown evidence that payments by NOTW to the specialist private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, had been authorised by Mr Kuttner's office.
Mulcaire, jailed alongside Mr Goodman in 2007, pleaded guilty to further hacking-relating offences earlier in the trial's progress.
In one message from Mr Goodman in April 2006 to Mrs Stokes, payments are discussed for a “Mr Alexander” - said to be codename for Mulcaire.
He told Mrs Stokes that Mr Alexander was “the most important in terms of the contact” and he was hoping to get a story about Prince Harry from him.
The email read: “I'm relying heavily on him to work his magic over Harry's passing-out party.”
Subsequently told that the payments were going through, Mr Goodman thanked Mr Kuttner's PA, telling her: “Fantastic. I won't be found in the Thames wearing concrete wellies tonight.”
In another email to the PA he wrote: “As long as they're useful, I don't ask many questions about their Sunday school records,” the court heard.
The trial continues.