Telegraph's Murdoch MacLennan and Baroness Warsi praise 'honest and reliable' Andy Coulson

Senior journalists at rival newspapers and a member of the House of Lords have been among those paying glowing tribute to "honest and reliable" former editor Andy Coulson, the phone-hacking trial has heard.

Murdoch MacLennan (pictured: Reuters), chief executive of the Telegraph Media Group, said ex-News of the World boss and former Downing Street communications director Coulson always behaved "professionally".

Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Baroness Warsi said Coulson offered "clear advice" during his time at No 10, ahead of her appearance on Question Time alongside BNP leader Nick Griffin.

In a written statement read out at the Old Bailey, Lady Warsi said: "My first impressions (of Coulson) were positive.

"He appeared to me a normal and grounded person in the heady world of politics.

"He was very much a team player. He was always happy to take time if you needed his help."

She said Coulson helped her with "a press matter" and added: "I had a number of big Question Time appearances when he was in post and he always provided clear advice."

MacLennan said Coulson was a man of "integrity and honour".

He said: "I have always admired Andy's professionalism. He has huge achievements to his name at the News of the World which are easy in the current climate to forget.

"He is very loyal and I believe this has earned him a great deal of loyalty."

All defendants deny all charges.

The jury members were told of a change to the indictment, with the word "conspiracy" removed from count seven.

It means the defendants – former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks, her husband Charlie Brooks, and head of security at News International Mark Hanna – are charged with perverting the course of justice.

Judge Mr Justice Saunders said the changes were "technical" and did not elaborate.

He also told the court that co-defendant Cheryl Carter, the former personal assistant of ex-tabloid boss Brooks, was not in court due to a bereavement.

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