Andy Coulson's mobile was hacked by Glenn Mulcaire, court told

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was a victim of phone-hacking, the Old Bailey heard today.

Timothy Langdale QC for Coulson said it was “relatively unusual” for a defence barrister to make an opening speech.

However, he said he would urge the jury to keep “an open mind”.

Langdale said Coulson’s phone had been targeted by Glenn Mulcaire.

He said: "We invite you to bear in mind that what you had heard so far is, perhaps obviously … just one side of the story. It will be some two months or so before you hear the defence for Mr Coulson present his case.

"This case has as you know an unusual history. It's now being heard in a court of law after years of coverage of one kind or another in both the international and national media.

"You will be hearing from Mr Coulson in due course. We invite you to keep an open mind in all these matters.

"You will draw your own conclusions when you have heard all the evidence.

"The prosecution has a lot to say about Mr Coulson and it's our case that a lot of it is wrong."

Langdale told the jury that former government spin doctor Coulson, 45, from Charing in Kent, will give evidence later in the trial.

He resigned as editor of the tabloid after former royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for conspiring to hack phones in 2007.

Langdale said: "He will in due course go into that witness box and give evidence to you. He will tell you what happened when he was deputy editor of the News of the World (NoW) and then editor.

"Certainly something went badly wrong at the NoW during his watch. He recognises that and resigned as editor of NoW after Mr Goodman and Mr Mulcaire had pleaded guilty and been sentenced in January 2007 for phone hacking.

"He wishes he had made some different decisions. We shall be saying to you that although he might wish he made some different decisions he did not commit these offences."

The barrister added: "It's his case that he was never party to any agreement to hack phones, whatever others might have been doing on his watch."

 "When it is alleged that Mr Coulson must have known (about phone hacking), if only on the basis that each of the news editors was party to hacking, you may like to bear in mind that Mr Coulson himself was hacked by Glenn Mulcaire.

"The CPS did not choose to tell you about that. It is not easy to reconcile with their case, is it?

"Both conspirator and victim? It is fair to say, is it not, that the two things do not sit easily together?"

Langdale also explained how the Guardian published an article in 2011, relating to the alleged hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone, that was "pretty unjustifiable in a number of major respects".

He told the jury: "The report made allegations that the News of the World interfered with police inquiries, that NoW journalists had deleted voicemails on Milly Dowler's phone, to free up space for more messages.

"There is no evidence to suggest that Mr Mulcaire or any other person from the NoW deleted any message on Milly Dowler's phone, either deliberately or accidentally."

He said the Sunday newspaper was seeking to help police and not hinder the investigation.

Langdale said there was nothing that the NoW or Glenn Mulcaire did which gave rise to any "false hope" that the schoolgirl might still be alive.

He said: "It's Mr Coulson's case that he did not play any part in the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone and that he was never party to any agreement to hack her phone or anyone else's."

Coulson is accused along with Rebekah Brooks, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; former NoW head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London; and the tabloid's ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex. All deny conspiring with others to hack phones between 3 October 2000 and 9 August 2006.

He is also facing two allegations that he conspired with former NoW royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and other unknown people to commit misconduct in public office – between 31 August 2002 and 31 January 2003, and between 31 January and 3 June 2005.

Coulson denies knowing that Goodman had allegedly paid a policeman for a book of Royal Family phone numbers.

"He did not believe that Mr Goodman had done any sort of thing," Langdale said.

He told the jury that as editor, Coulson would not have been able to analyse every story prepared for the paper.

"It's far from the being the case that he spent his time perusing every story that surfaced during the course of the week. It was, you will be hearing, a fast changing world where a very large number of stories were produced and considered by a number of reporters, desk editors and sub-editors in the course of the week, a large number of which might fleetingly or maybe never cross the editor's radar."

He went on: "Journalists want to impress, and they want their story under their byline to make the paper and not be spiked. Journalists don't just wander around the editorial floor discussing their sources.

"They keep their sources very close to their chests. If they didn't their rival or rivals within the News of the World or outside the News of the World would snatch the story from under their noses."

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