Royal aides were hacked repeatedly, court hears

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Royal aides to Prince Harry and Prince William were repeatedly hacked by the News of the World, which intercepted voicemail messages, prosecutors alleged to a jury at the Old Bailey.

Mark Bryant Heron, prosecuting, told the jury that Helen Asprey, an aide to both younger princes, was persistently hacked by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator working for the newspaper. Recordings of voicemails were found at Mr Mulcaire’s premises. Ms Asprey was targeted more than 200 times in the first half of 2006, prosecutors allege.

Calls to intercept voicemails came from a private wireline inside the NotW and by Clive Goodman, former royal reporter at the paper, as well as by Mr Mulcaire, the barrister said

The prosecutor added that Ms Asprey noticed problems with her voicemail in late 2005 and her pin number was being reset “sometimes several times a day”.

Other royal aides were also repeatedly hacked, including Jamie Lowther Pinkerton and Paddy Harverson, who was targeted more than 70 times in April 2006, prosecutors alleged.

One recording of a voicemail left on Ms Asprey’s mobile in January 2005 was later identified by Dr Rod Jaques, then medical director at the English Institute of Sport, as being left by him.

In an email shown to the jury, Clive Goodman in January 2005 contacted Andy Coulson, the NotW editor, saying: “Andy – want me to talk to Paddy [Harverson] about Harry, the health info is from the doctor himself scammed from Helen Asprey . . . so it’s solid.”

Mr Coulson replied: “He won’t help will he.” The NotW ran a story about Prince Harry’s injured shoulder and knee shortly afterwards, the court heard.

The Old Bailey trial heard that mobile phone messages of actress Sienna Miller, her childhood friend Archie Keswick and Jade Schmidt, nanny to actor Jude Law’s children, were also hacked by the Sunday tabloid newspaper. Other public figures were hacked including politician Nigel Farage, the court heard.

Rebekah Brooks, a former NotW editor and defendant in the trial, was also “extensively hacked”, police officer Tim Hargraves confirmed to the court.

The court also heard on Wednesday that Calum Best, the son of the late footballer George Best and whose phone was allegedly hacked, was paid thousands of pounds for selling stories to the tabloid.

Mr Best, a television personality, was shown pages from the notebooks of Glenn Mulcaire where he identified his name and mobile numbers.

The NotW published articles about his private life at that time, including his relationship with model Lorna Hogan, the court heard.

The prosecution has alleged that the television personality’s phone was hacked on the orders of Mr Coulson and Ian Edmondson, a former news editor, as they tried to protect an exclusive story about Ms Hogan. The men deny conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages.

Under cross examination from Tim Langdale QC, counsel for Mr Coulson, Mr Best agreed that he had encouraged some media attention.

The television personality agreed that he received £2,000 from the tabloid for information relating to a story about him and Elizabeth Jagger in a nightclub.

Some £3,000 was also paid indirectly by the Sunday paper to his agent for stories connected with his father’s death, Mr Best confirmed.

Ms Hogan testified that she was working for an agency that arranged for models to visit nightclubs to meet celebrities and pick up gossip. She would then pass it to a contact at the NotW and be paid, she agreed.

The eight defendants face a range of charges. All deny any wrongdoing. The case continues.

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