Trial Hears Coulson Plea Claim

A former News of the World journalist has told a perjury trial that editor Andy Coulson suggested he would keep his job at the paper if he pleaded guilty to phone-hacking.

Clive Goodman, 57, told jurors that the price he had to pay was to admit to being a "lone wolf''.

The witness said after being released from police custody in August 2006 that he spoke to Coulson on the phone the following day and he "seemed to think we needed to get it out of the way quickly''.

Goodman told the High Court in Edinburgh, where Coulson is accused of lying under oath in the 2010 trial of former Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan, that he felt "really confused and suspicious'' during the conversation.

He said the pair met a few days later at a cafe in Wimbledon and Coulson's "recommendation'' to him was to plead guilty at the earliest opportunity.

The witness said Coulson's suggestion was that there could be a "way back'' for him at the paper afterwards in a less public position.

"The price for that was to say I was a lone wolf and I had strayed off the reservation,'' Mr Goodman said.

Mr Goodman had been working for the tabloid as royal editor when he was arrested in August 2006  with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire over phone-hacking allegations.

The court has heard the pair both pleaded guilty and Mr Goodman was sentenced to four months imprisonment.

Mr Goodman told the jury yesterday that Coulson was aware phone-hacking was happening while he was editor.

Coulson, 47, is accused of falsely stating he did not know about phone-hacking at the paper after being sworn in as a witness at Mr Sheridan's trial.

The ex-Sunday newspaper editor, who went on to become director of communications at Downing Street, is accused of falsely stating he did not know that Mr Goodman was involved in intercepting voicemail messages before Mr Goodman's arrest on August 8 2006.

He denies the charges.

On day four of the trial, Mr Goodman was asked by Advocate Depute Richard Goddard, prosecuting, if he was concerned when police showed him the "material'' in their investigation.

The witness said: "I thought I would be left as the fall guy for the whole thing, I would end up being blamed for everything.''

He told the jury of nine men and six women that he recorded the conversation between him and Coulson when they met face to face in the cafe but said the tape had not worked.

He made a note from memory of the conversation then typed it up when he returned home, he said.

Jurors were then shown the typed-up note in which he had written that he believed Coulson wanted to offer him an "employment deal''. He wrote that it was "in return for me to explain my alleged actions by confessing I had gone off the reservation''.

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