Glenn Mulcaire was a strange 'Walter Mitty' who called himself 'Mr Lemon', court told

A private investigator who worked for the News of the World was a "Walter Mitty character" who would use fruit-based false names to contact staff on the tabloid, the phone hacking trial has heard.

The reference in court to the fictional character, synonymous with someone who has a fantasy of their own importance and lifestyle being more exciting than the reality, came as the tabloid's long-time secretary gave evidence at the Old Bailey.

Frances Carmen said she was aware of the use of private investigators, but was not privy to who was being used for what. The court has already heard that former AFC Wimbledon striker Glenn Mulcaire has admitted hacking phones.

Asked by Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC, counsel for former News of the World head of news Ian Edmondson (pictured above), about a long-running joke on the news desk where a "strange, Walter Mitty character" called the newspaper giving his name as "Mr Lemon or Mr Strawberry", but was actually "called Glenn".

Ms Carmen said: "It does ring a bell… I remember somebody called Glenn."

Bennet-Jenkins also asked whether it was "common practice" to use private investigators "to get a scoop".

Carmen said: "I don't know about 'common practice' but it certainly happened."

Court 12 at the Old Bailey was also shown an email from Edmondson to former NotW managing editor Stuart Kuttner, and then-editor Andy Coulson, in which he called for an end to using another reporter's "investigations man".

The correspondence, in 2005 shortly after Edmondson joined the company, was headlined "Cost-cutting ideas" and included a sub-section on "Special Investigation Payment", in which Edmondson wrote: "I have spoken out about this (payments to the investigator) a million times and I don't think I need to say anything more."

James Morgan, who had been a contributions assistant at the News of the World, where he worked from 1995 until 2011, said he did not remember speaking to Mulcaire.

The court was shown an email in February 2005 from Morgan to Kuttner, stating that Edmondson had instructed that weekly payments of £2,019 to Mulcaire's Nine Consultancy should be stopped.

He said: "I emailed the managing editor (Kuttner). He was in charge of managing the money.

"It was part of my job to let him know of any changes. It was a weekly, regular payment (to Nine Consultancy) and was asked to stop it."

Asked about the way the budget was controlled, Morgan said: "It was quite strict."

Morgan said he did not remember when asked by Bennett-Jenkins, for Edmondson, if her client "(expressed) pretty clearly he wanted rid of Glenn Mulcaire".

The defence counsel said: "In general terms?

"I suggest it was very well known that Mr Edmondson was doing all he could to stop Mr Mulcaire's payments and get rid of him."

But the court was told the tabloid continued to pay Mulcaire, despite Morgan's email to Kuttner.

Bennett-Jenkins said: "Whatever happens, it is clear from documents we have seen that payments to Mr Mulcaire continued."

Morgan also agreed that Edmondson had cut back severely on cash payments to contributors when he arrived at the NotW.

The court has already heard that former NoW journalists Greg Miskiw (pictured above: Credit Reuters), James Weatherup and Neville Thurlbeck had also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally access voicemails.

Bennett-Jenkins said it was "widely known" that Mulcaire was "Miskiw's man" during the latter's time at the tabloid.

Morgan denied that it was "widely known", but said that it was his "presumption" that was the case.

The witness said he did not know "what" Mulcaire was, and did not know anything about the hacking until the police arrests and the legal proceedings that followed.

Members of the jury were also shown a request for payment form sent to the NoW for a confidential source which was to be paid in cash only.

One of these was for £700 for a "Harry story" – which Morgan said could have been about the prince.

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; ex News of the World editor Andy Coulson, also 45, from Charing in Kent; 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, are all on trial accused of conspiring with others to hack phones between 3 October 2000 and 9 August 2006.

Former NoW and Sun editor Brooks is also accused of two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office – one between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012 and the other between 9 February 2006 and 16 October 2008 – linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.

She faces another two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – one with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, from Chelmsford in Essex, between 6 July and 9 July 2011; and a second with her husband, Charles Brooks, and former head of security at News International, Mark Hanna, and others between 15 July and 19 July 2011.

Coulson 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.

All of the accused deny all of the charges.

The trial continues.

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