Paul Gascoigne told the High Court today that phone-hacking was linked to his alcoholism. (Picture: Reuters)
The 47-year-old former football star started his evidence at the hearing in London to determine what compensation should be paid by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) in eight representative cases by telling Mr Justice Mann that he was "fuming".
Smartly dressed in a dark grey suit and pink-and-white open-necked striped shirt, he said he changed his mobile because he knew there was something going on with it.
His voice hoarse and shaking with emotion, he said: "I knew I was getting hacked by the Mirror. This continued for ages. Phone calls to my father and family were getting blocked so I changed my mobile. It happened again so I kept on changing mobiles, five or six times a month."
Questioned by David Sherborne, who has said hacking was rife at all three of the group's national titles by mid-1999, he said that, to start with, the experience was "so scary".
Gascoigne, who is complaining about 18 articles – all accepted to have been the product of illegal activity – said: "I couldn't speak to anybody, I was scared to speak to anybody… my parents, my family and kids, it was just horrendous.
"And people can't understand why I became an alcoholic."
Gascoigne went on: "At the time I was going through a bad time because I knew I was getting hacked, 110 per cent. Of course (people) wouldn't believe it – my family and Mr McKeown (therapist Johnny McKeown).
"As I was speaking to him on the phone, it clicked again. He told me I was paranoid, I was going through a mental disorder.
"I said 'No, there's fuck-all wrong with me'. I knew, I knew. I put the phone down… I've never told a lie, nothing to lie about, nothing.
After speaking briefly, Gascoigne was told he would not face cross-examination by Matthew Nicklin QC, for MGN, and his evidence was going unchallenged.
He replied: "I have waited 15 years to be sat here so I am disgusted, really.
"I would like to trade my mobile phone in for a coffin because these guys have ruined my life. I have no life."