UK

Charles Clarke adviser Hannah Pawlby 'was hacked by NoW'

  • 14 November 2013
  • From the section UK

The family of an aide to ex-home secretary Charles Clarke was targeted by the News of the World as it pursued false rumours the pair were having an affair, the Old Bailey has been told.

The court heard recordings of Hannah Pawlby's voicemails had been made by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

He also gathered contact details for her parents, grandparents and brother.

Prosecutors say then NoW editor Andy Coulson, who denies phone hacking, later contacted her about the story.

The jury also heard that stories about former pop star Kerry Katona in the NoW followed occasions when Mulcaire hacked into her voicemail.

Prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron told them Mulcaire listened to four messages before the NoW carried stories about the former Atomic Kitten singer in December 2005.

Prosecutors also said a Christmas Day message led to a story appearing on New Year's Day 2006 about problems Katona was alleged to be having with the mother of her ex-husband, the Westlife singer Brian McFadden.

In June 2006, after Mulcaire sent an email to another defendant in the trial, former head of news, Ian Edmondson, with the subject "Katona" and a list of "fav no's", another story featured in the newspaper. Mr Edmondson denies phone hacking.

'Serious story'

Mr Clarke - who was home secretary from December 2004 to May 2006 - told the court that rumours of the affair with Ms Pawlby were "absolutely not" true.

He also described being confronted by a senior journalist from the Sun newspaper - a sister paper to the now closed NoW - over the allegations, and told him the story had "absolutely no basis".

Mr Clarke had threatened to sue the paper for libel if the story was published, which it was not.

Later, during her evidence, Ms Pawlby told the jury that notes taken from Mulcaire - who has already pleaded guilty to phone hacking - revealed he had targeted her and family.

The notes made by Mulcaire included Miss Pawlby's parents' landline number and address; their friend, who used to work for MI6, and the phone number of her brother.

The recordings of voice messages left by Mr Coulson on Ms Pawlby's phone were recovered from Mulcaire's home and played to the court.

In one, he is heard to say: "Hello Hannah, I'm sorry to bother you direct. It's Andy Coulson here from the News of the World. My number's xxxxxxx 406.

"I've got a story that we're planning to run tomorrow that I really would like to speak to Charles about. I wouldn't do this in the normal course of events but it's quite a - it's quite serious story and - and previously Charles has been very helpful with us [inaudible] suggesting that when there are these issues that pop up we should speak directly with him.

Image caption Mr Clarke was home secretary between 2004 and 2006

"So if you could ask him to give me a call or of course give me a call yourself and I'll fill you in. You've got the number and it's now five past one. Thanks very much. Bye."

In another he says: "Hannah, hi it's Andy Coulson again here. Sorry to hassle you, it's quarter to three. I'm hoping you get this message. Could you give me a call please. 406. Thanks."

Ms Pawlby told the jury she had not picked up the two messages left by Mr Coulson.

In cross examination, one of Mr Coulson's barristers, Alison Pople, referred to the possibility that the messages could have been about other stories such as an anti-bullying campaign or the Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs.

Mr Coulson, 45, of Charing, Kent, who also denies conspiracy to commit misconduct, went on to become David Cameron's communications director.

The seven other defendants deny a variety of charges.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.