News International face a lengthy court battle over the legal fees of the News of the World’s former royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, after a hearing in the Old Bailey revealed uncertainty over who would be covering his costs in defending charges relating to alleged payments made to former royal contacts.
Mr Goodman, 55, who last worked for the now -defunct Murdoch-owned tabloid in 2006, has made a request to his former employers to cover his legal costs over two charges of conspiracy to pay public officials for information.
The information includes the Buckingham Palace telephone directory, known as the “Green Book”, which contained contact details for members of the royal family, including their personal mobile phone numbers.
Although NI said tonight said they could make no comment on Mr Goodman’s request for financial assistance to cover legal bills, the company is understood to have refused to support their former royal reporter.
Mr Goodman’s legal representatives say they will begin action against News International . Previously NI have been forced into offering full legal support for Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator regularly commissioned by NOTW, and for Andy Coulson, the former editor of the NOTW.
Mr Coulson, who was Mr Goodman’s boss during his final years of working for Rupert Murdoch, was also in court facing similar charges.
Both were at the Central Criminal Court alongside News International’s former chief executive, Rebekah Brooks.
Mrs Brooks, 44, and Mr Coulson, 44, are charged with making illegal payments to public officials.
Last month Mr Coulson, who became David Cameron’s director of communications inside 10 Downing Street after he left the NOTW, won a lengthy legal battle in the Appeal Court which ordered NI to continue paying all legal fees relating to his period of employment at the NOTW.
Mr Coulson’s legal bills currently involves defending charges of conspiracy to intercept voicemails, payments to police and public officials, and perjury charges related to the trial in Scotland of the former socialist MEP, Tommy Sheridan. He denies all wrong-doing.
During the recent appeal court hearing it was revealed that News International were covering the legal fees of Mrs Brooks and others.
Today’s Old Bailey hearing before Mr Justice Fulford lasted barely 15 minutes. None of the accused sat in the court’s main dock. A case management hearing on March 8 will include formal pleadings.
Also appearing with Mrs Brooks on charges relating to conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, were the former Sun chief reporter, John Kay, 69, and the 39 year old Ministry of Defence official, Bettina Jordan-Barber.
Charges faced by the three relate to alleged payments for information that totalled £100,000. The money is said to be linked to news stories that were published between 2004 and January this year.
* Scotland Yard’s on-going investigation into corruption of public officials today said it had arrested a 38 year old journalist. The woman, unnamed, is the 53rd person to be held under Operation Elveden, the Met’s specialist probe which is running alongside Operation Weeting, the force’s phone hacking investigation.
The police said the journalist was arrested at her home in Sussex at 6.30am on suspicion of conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office.