Oct 30 2013
Jurors in the trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-spin doctor Andy Coulson have been told "journalists are no more entitled to break the criminal law than anybody else".
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told the Old Bailey that there was "no justification" for newspaper staff to get involved in phone hacking or to make payments to public officials.
He explained to jurors that private detective Glenn Mulcaire has already admitted phone hacking, as have three other former News of the World journalists - Greg Miskiw, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup.
Mr Edis said: "The prosecution says that it is important in a free country that there is a free press.
"But the prosecution says that journalists are no more entitled to break the criminal law than anybody else.
"There is no justification at all for journalists to get involved in phone hacking. That is an intrusion into people's privacy which is against the law.
"The prosecution says also that it is not right for newspapers to corrupt public officials by paying money so that they break their trust. Not the same as a conscientious whistleblower, where different considerations may perhaps apply.
"We say: where there is payment, it is always a crime, and everybody should know that."
Mr Edis said Mulcaire pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully intercept mobile phone voicemail messages in November 2006.
Earlier this year, in these proceedings, he also admitted three counts of conspiracy to commit phone hacking, along with a count of phone hacking, he added.
The barrister said that Miskiw, Weatherup and Thurlbeck had also each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally access voicemails.
He said: "Now what we say about that is, using all of that information that I've just given about those pleas, that there was a conspiracy which involved a significant number of people and it was quite a substantial conspiracy.
"And that may help you to decide now. Because those names, they knew.
"So who else knew?"