Reporter warned newspaper bosses could 'end up in jail'

LONDON - The former royal reporter on Rupert Murdoch's defunct News of the World warned that senior figures on the paper would end up in jail if payments to police officers were discovered, the trial of two former editors heard on Thursday.

Clive Goodman, who was convicted in 2007 of hacking the phones of royal aides, wrote the warning in an email to the personal assistant of the paper's former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, London's Old Bailey court was told.

Kuttner, along with ex-editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, is on trial accused of conspiracy to illegally intercept voicemails messages on mobile phones. Goodman is also on trial accused with Coulson of making illegal payments to public officials, in this case royal police officers.

Four others are also on trial and they all deny the charges.

In an email exchange with Kuttner's PA Bev Stokes dated from July 2005, Goodman was told the managing editor had wanted to talk to him about cash payments to a contributor.

In reply, Goodman said he had written to Kuttner saying there were only three sources he paid in cash, and quoted the email he had written to him.

"Two are in uniform and as we - them, you, me, the editor would all end up in jail if anyone traced their payments - and they've had Special Branch crawling all over them since we ran a five-paragraph story about an Operation Trident arrest at Clarence House," the email from Goodman said, referring to London police's operation to combat gun and gang-related crime and Prince Charles' London residence.

"The third is an executive at another newspaper who is also taking on potentially life-altering risks for us and will not accept any other form of payment."