News of the World private investigator Glenn Mulcaire hacked the phones of rival journalists as a “nice easy and cheap” way of “scooping” the opposition, the phone-hacking trial heard today.
Andrew Edis QC for the prosecution in the case against former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex spin doctor Andy Coulson said this form of hacking was part of the “dog eat dog world of newspapers”.
He said the News of the World had discovered that the Mail on Sunday had been working on a story about John Prescott having an affair with Tracey Temple.
In a bid to catch up, Mulcaire was tasked with hacking the phones of journalists Sebastian Hamilton and Dennis Rice.
"This was all about finding out how the competition were getting on with the story because, of course, you don't want to be scooped," Edis said.
"One nice easy cheap way of finding out what they know is to hack their phone so that the competition don't get to steal a march on you.
"In the dog eat dog world of journalism, in a frenzy to get this huge story or try to get something better or at least as good as what everyone else has got, that's what you do, perhaps, if you are Ian Edmondson. You hack the competition."
The jury also heard that journalists at the paper, including James Weatherup (pictured above) – who has already pleaded guilty to hacking charges – and Coulson, discussed trying to contact Ms Temple to offer her £100,000 for her story.
Records showed that they then tried to hack the phone of Prescott's special adviser Joan Hammell.
Edis said that when the News of the World found out the Mail on Sunday was hoping to run the story, the paper concluded: "We are going to spoil that by doing our own story.
"We know how they were planning to do the spoiler – it was by hacking other journalists."
All eight defendants deny the charges.
The trial continues.