Ex-news editor wanted phone-hacker axed, London court told

Ex-news editor wanted phone-hacker axed, London court told

LONDON - A former senior journalist at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World emailed then editor Andy Coulson telling him to sack the private eye who has since admitted carrying out phone-hacking for the paper, a British court was told on Wednesday.

Ian Edmondson, who is on trial with Coulson on charges of conspiracy to commit phone-hacking, sent the email in February 2005 saying that large payments to Glenn Mulcaire should stop, the jury at London's Old Bailey court heard.

Mulcaire, though, continued working for the British Sunday tabloid until his arrest in 2006 and was later convicted for illegally accessing voicemails on mobile phones. He has now admitted further hacking charges relating to a wider time period.

Three other former senior journalists from the now defunct News of the World, including former news editor Greg Miskiw, have also admitted the conspiracy charges.

"The 2,000 pound a week payment to Greg's investigation man has to stop. I have spoken out about this a million times and I don't think I have to say any more," said Edmondson's email to Coulson, former managing editor Stuart Kuttner and the then deputy editor Neil Wallis.

Coulson, who quit as editor in 2007 before going on to work as Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief, Edmondson and Kuttner deny the hacking conspiracy charges along with Rebekah Brooks, the editor from 2000-2003 and later the chief executive of News International, the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corp.

Brooks and Coulson and four others are also accused of other offences which they deny.

Edmondson joined the paper as associate news editor in 2004 before being promoted to news editor the following year. He was associate editor when he was sacked by the paper in 2011, a few months before Murdoch shut it down amid widespread public anger at the phone-hacking allegations.

A week after his email suggesting Mulcaire should be axed, the court heard he asked the finance department to end the weekly payouts to the private eye's company.

"STOP PAYMENTS"

"Ian Edmondson has instructed me to stop Nine Consultancy's payments of 2,019 pounds," James Morgan, who dealt with payments to the paper's contributors, said in an email to Kuttner.

Edmondson's lawyer Sallie Bennett-Jenkins suggested her client had tried to make changes to the news desk after his arrival, especially in its dealings with Mulcaire. "It was a matter of common knowledge that Ian Edmondson had made a number of attempts to sack Glenn Mulcaire," she asked Nick McCaul who also worked in the paper's finance department. "I don't know," he replied.

The prosecution have argued that Edmondson changed his attitude towards Mulcaire when he realised how useful his hacking skills were to gathering exclusive stories.

The payments to Mulcaire continued and the jury were shown a list of who authorised them. Edmondson's name did not appear as regularly as others such as Kuttner's which was often accompanied by the phrase "To Be Deleted".

Prosecutors have also said Brooks must have known about Mulcaire and his actions because of the large sums he was paid. Her lawyer suggested that news editors had control over their own budgets and those in the finance department would not query the payments.

The court also heard suggestions that Mulcaire was a "Walter Mitty" character who used the pseudonyms "Mr Lemon" or "Mr Strawberry" when he called the paper's newsdesk. "It does vaguely ring a bell," said long-standing newsdesk secretary Frances Carmen.

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