Phone tap private eye had £104k contract with News of the World - Press Gazette

Phone tap private eye had £104k contract with News of the World

Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire had a £104,000-a-year contract with the News of the World to supply "research and information services", a judge at the Old Bailey was told today.

Details of the deal emerged as David Perry QC, prosecuting, outlined the Crown's allegations against Mulcaire and News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman, who have both admitted conspiring to hack into the voicemail messages of aides to the Royal Family.

Mulcaire agreed in the contract – dated from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006, and worth a total of GBP104,988 – to work exclusively for the News of the World.

But in addition to the payment under the contract he also received a further GBP12,300 in total between November 9, 2005 and August 7 last year, Mr Perry said.

These were cash payments, were made through Goodman, for stories relating to Prince Harry, his girlfriend Chelsy, and the Duchess of York.

"A claim for expenses was made by Mr Goodman. He was in effect paying cash to Mr Mulcaire, claiming that on expenses through the company," Mr Perry said.

Internal documents released by News International showed reference to "Research/Alexander/Goodman" – Alexander was the name used by Mulcaire.

Mr Perry said Mulcaire was given cash in instalments of £500, with reference names such as "Fergie, Harry, Chelsy, Harry, Wills".

The court has heard that the two men made a total of 609 calls to the voicemail boxes of the telephones of the Prince of Wales's aide, Helen Asprey, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the ex-SAS officer who is private secretary to Princes William and Harry, and Charles's communications secretary, Paddy Harverson.

Goodman made 487 of the calls and Mulcaire made 122.

The royal editor of the News of the World and a private investigator tapped into several hundred messages on the mobile phones of Royal Family aides, a judge was told today.

Clive Goodman, 49, and Glenn Mulcaire, 36, were being sentenced at the Old Bailey later today after having admitted conspiracy to hack into the messages, including some from Prince William.

David Perry QC, prosecuting, told the court: "The defendants' motivation was profit and personal gain and their conduct amounted to gross invasion of privacy and the abuse of the public telephone system."

Asked by the judge, Mr Justice Gross, how many messages had been intercepted, Mr Perry said: "Several hundred in total."

He said the prosecution case was that over approximately eight months between November 2005 and June last year, Goodman and Mulcaire gained access to voicemail messages left on the mobile phones of three members of the royal household.

"The purpose of gaining access was to gain confidential information with a view to it being published in the News of the World newspaper," he said.

Mulcaire, a former footballer, who has also admitted five charges, accessed other voicemail messages between February and June last year.

Mulcaire admitted intercepting voicemail messages for publicist Max Clifford, footballer Sol Campbell's agent Skylet Andrew, Professional Footballers' Association chairman Gordon Taylor, MP Simon Hughes and supermodel Elle Macpherson.

"The inference to be drawn is that he was also motivated by profit, seeking confidential information with a view to selling it to the press," Mr Perry said.

The two men used mobile numbers and secret codes used by mobile phone network operators to break into the voicemails.

Lawyers representing Goodman and Mulcaire apologised to the Prince of Wales, Princes William and Harry and their household for a gross invasion of their privacy at a previous hearing.

The conspiracy charge relates to intercepted voicemails on the telephones of the Prince of Wales's aide, Helen Asprey, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the ex-SAS officer who is private secretary to Princes William and Harry, and Charles's communications secretary Paddy Harverson.

Goodman and Mulcaire made a total of 609 calls to the mobile phones of Ms Asprey, Mr Lowther-Pinkerton and Mr Harverson – 487 of them were made by Goodman and 122 by Mulcaire, Mr Perry said.

The calls ranged from a few seconds to several minutes, and it took just nine seconds to access messages in the mobile phones.

"The defendants in the short calls were fishing in the voicemail boxes to see whether there might be information of interest to them," Mr Perry said.

"The prosecution in this case is that the defendants accessed the voicemail boxes of the telephones remotely, so in other words they used their own telephones and dialled the retrieval numbers and entered the pin codes in order to gain access to the mail boxes.

"They used the personal retrieval numbers and pin codes for their own commercial purpose – Mr Mulcaire for purely financial benefit and Mr Goodman to provide the basis for stories to be published in the News of the World."

Mr Perry said that in order to hack into the voicemail boxes they used a combination of mobile and landline telephones, including Mr Goodman's office at News International in Wapping, east London, and his home in Putney, south west London.

A total of 122 calls were made to Ms Aprey's O2 mobile phone between February 2 2005 and June 29 2006.

She first noticed something was wrong in December 2005 when new messages left on her phone were shown as old.

A total of 427 calls were made to Mr Lowther-Pinkerton's Vodafone mobile. He too noticed the same problem with his messages in December 2005.

Mr Harverson, communications secretary for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who regularly received messages regarding future events involving the Royal Family, first became aware of a problem in December 2005 when he found that messages to which he had not listened were shown as old.

"Analysis of the telephone records demonstrates that, having dialled retrieval numbers, the defendants listened to the messages in the voicemail," Mr Perry said.

Mulcaire ran a company called Nine Consultancy on an industrial estate in Sutton, Surrey, and was listed as its director of operations.

It offered a service protecting clients from media intrusion, Mr Perry said, adding: "The contents of the documents found at the time might be thought to be both cynical and ironic as he was conducting an operation to intrude into the personal life of individuals."

Mulcaire's notebooks had contained details of the tapping scheme, with numbers and codes.

He had access to network passwords and was recorded posing as a credit controller to trick telephone companies to switch Pin codes to default numbers, therefore enabling access to voicemails.

Mulcaire had signed a contract with the News of The World worth £104,988 annually for "research and information services", Mr Perry said.

In addition, Mulcaire received "cash payments" totalling £12,300 from the paper – through Goodman – between November 9, 2005 and August 7, 2006.

Mulcaire sent Goodman text messages with the private Pin codes for the various phones "to enable Mr Goodman himself to gain access to the voicemail boxes", Mr Perry said.

A police search of Goodman's office at News International revealed a document revealing Mr Harverson's voicemail retrieval number and his Pin code.

Goodman and Mulcaire were arrested on August 8 last year. Goodman was detained at his home in Putney and taken to Charing Cross police station, Mulcaire was held at his home in Cheam and taken to Belgravia police station.

Neither man made any comment and both were charged the following day with conspiracy to intercept communications and a number of substantive charges.

Supermodel Elle Macpherson was so convinced she was being watched by the press that she ordered a sweep of her entire home to check for bugs, the Old Bailey heard today.

But in fact the model, nicknamed The Body, was yet another victim of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who hacked into her mobile phone to listen to her messages, said prosecuting counsel David Perry QC.

Mulcaire, 36, tracked down the voicemail messages of several celebrities and high-profile personalities to provide information to the News of the World.

Mr Perry said Ms Macpherson started noticing problems with her Vodafone mobile in the spring of last year.

She was soon told that her Pin code to access her messages had been reset. Mulcaire rang her voicemail box between April 4 and June 9 last year.

Mr Perry said: "She suspected that her messages had been listened to and so concerned was she about private information finding its way into the public domain she had her home swept to see if she was the subject of surveillance."

Details found in Mulcaire's "working notebooks" included her address, mobile telephone number, Pin code and Vodafone account number.

PR guru Max Clifford was another victim with his voicemail being rung seven times between March 7 and May 3 last year, the court heard.

Mr Perry said Mr Clifford – who works with famous clients to sell their stories to the newspapers – did not provide information to the News of the World for "personal and professional reasons".

Information regarding his home address, telephone number, O2 account number and Pin code was also found listed in Mulcaire's notebooks.