Phone hacking trial: Charles Clarke’s aide wrongly accused of affair ‘had phone hacked’

Messages allegedly left by Andy Coulson for political advisor, Hannah Pawlby, had shifted to her phone's 'saved messages' box because of their interception

The former editor of the News of the World, Andy Coulson, allegedly telephoned the adviser of Charles Clarke, then home secretary, saying he had a “serious story” his paper was planning to run and he needed to speak “directly” to him. But the message and another follow-up call was never listened to because her phone had already been hacked, the Old Bailey has heard.

The jury in the phone hacking trial at the Central Criminal Court were told about an NOTW investigation into an affair they believed Mr Clarke and his special adviser, Hannah Pawlby, had been having from 2004.

Although rumours of the affair had been circulating inside Westminster, there was no truth in it.

Phone numbers of Ms Pawlby, her friends and relatives, were found in the notebooks of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator regularly commissioned by the News International title to hack phones.

The hacking of the aide’s phone is alleged to have begun in spring 2004. The court has already heard this is between the NOTW targeting of another home secretary, David Blunkett.

Appearing as a witness for the prosecution, Ms Pawlby said she had never heard the messages left by Mr Coulson in June 2005 because their interception had meant they had shifted to her “saved messages” box.

The jury heard that around the time of the calls, the NOTW had been engaged in a surveillance operation in and around Ms Pawlby’s London flat.

It was told that a month before the first Coulson call to Ms Pawlby an email, shown to the court, was sent by the former features editor of the NOTW, Jules Stenson.  It was sent to Mr Coulson, his deputy Neill Wallis, and the news editor James Weatherup.

It said the features desk had a tip that “Charles Clarke is having an affair with his blonde, attractive special adviser Hannah Pawlby”. It also said that “news had been working on this for a while through Neville.”

James Weatherup, Neville Thurlbeck and Greg Miskiw, three former news editors at the NOTW, pleaded guilty to hacking-related charges earlier in the case’s  progress.

Recordings of the Coulson calls were recovered from Mulcaire’s house  in 2006 during a police investigation. Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 on phone hacking charges . He has also pleaded guilty to further hacking related charges

In the witness box, Mr Clarke was asked by the lead prosecuting counsel, Andrew Edis QC, if there had been any truth in the affair rumour. He replied : “I never had a relationship of that kind with Hannah Pawlby. I would never dream of doing so.”

Earlier in his evidence Mr Clarke revealed that the former political editor of the Sun, Trevor Kavanagh, had told him the Murdoch-owned daily had evidence of his relationship with Ms Pawlby, including pictures.

Mr Clarke denied there was any affair and said he would sue the Sun if they printed the lie.

Nothing subsequently appeared in The Sun, or later in the NOTW.

Alison Pople, representing Mr Coulson, said Ms Pawlby did not know what Mr Coulson wanted to speak to Mr Clarke about.

The court was shown articles that appeared in the NOTW from this period which showed comments from the Home Office in a story on Ronnie Biggs, the train robber, and a political story on schools’ anti-bullying policy relating to Mr Clarke’s  former cabinet post in the education department.

Ms Pawlby also revealed that she had been shown Mulcaire’s notebooks and  identified personal contact details for  grandparents, parents, friends of her parents including a former head of M16 and a member of the British embassy staff in Paris who was at school with her mother.

Mr Coulson, along with the former chief executive of NI, Rebekah Brooks, and six others are charged with hacking-related offences. All the charges are denied.

The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...