Jurors in the trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-spin doctor Andy Coulson have been played a recording of "accomplished blagger" Glenn Mulcaire getting a voicemail password reset by a mobile phone company.
In the brief recording Mulcaire, who has already pleaded guilty to charges of phone hacking, contacts O2 to ask for a voicemail reset – a method it is alleged could be used to access people's voicemails.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told the court: "He gives the woman who works for the company a network password, albatross, which he has got from somewhere.
"He really knows how it works, he knows the right things to say, and he is quite chatty and she doesn't seem at all troubled."
Continuing his case opening, which started yesterday at the Old Bailey, Edis said other than a few "taskings" by the News of the World in 1999, the first dated tasking of Mulcaire by the newspaper was January 8, 2001.
He said an investigations team at the now-defunct tabloid was set up by Rebekah Brooks when she became editor, and both Mulcaire and former NotW journalist Greg Miskiw, who has also pleaded guilty to hacking, were part of it.
Mulcaire was paid a weekly fee until September 2001 when he moved onto a written contract, Mr Edis said.
The court heard yesterday that the private investigator was paid around £100,000 a year for his services.
"It is if course part of the prosecution case that a contract like that, a big contract, involves the senior management, in this case the editor, the deputy editor and the managing editor, the three defendants whom you have to try for phone hacking in addition to Mr Edmondson – that is Rebekah Brooks, Andrew Coulson and Stuart Kuttner."
Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; Coulson, 45, from Charing in Kent; former NotW 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.
The court has heard that they "must have known" that hacking was going on at the newspaper.
And today Edis said Mulcaire's contract would also have been known about by management.
"It was not hidden from anybody that he was being paid all that money because of course the money has to go through an accounting system, it is budgeted for, it's seen.
"The question is, didn't anybody ever ask, what are we paying this chap for?"
He added: "So what was it that he was doing? Well, we know that he was a phone hacker and we know that he was a good one, and we know that he was an accomplished blagger."
All eight defendants deny the charges.
The trial continues.