03/19/2014 11:09 am ET Updated May 19, 2014

Phone Hacker Says His News Corp Bosses Pressured Him To Take The Fall For Others

LEON NEAL via Getty Images

* Ex-royal editor convicted in 2007 of phone-hacking

* He says bosses wanted him to be "lone wolf"

* Says ex-editor Coulson pressured him with job promise

* Coulson later became British PM Cameron's media chief (Adds more evidence)

By Michael Holden

LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - The former royal editor at Rupert Murdoch's now defunct News of the World told a London court on Wednesday senior figures at News Corp.'s British newspaper arm put pressure on him to take the flak for phone-hacking to protect others.

Clive Goodman, who was jailed in 2007 for illegally accessing the voicemails of mobile phones belonging to senior aides to Britain's royal family, said News International bosses had said after his arrest executives wanted him to be the "lone wolf".

After the practice was revealed in 2007, News International stated publicly and in parliament that phone-hacking was limited to Goodman, who was described as a rogue reporter, and a private detective, Glenn Mulcaire, who worked for the paper and was also jailed.

However, police investigations were re-opened in 2011 and four former News of the World journalists have since admitted phone-hacking offences.

Two former News of the World editors - Rebekah Brooks, who had become News International's chief executive, and Andy Coulson, later Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief - are now on trial accused of conspiracy to hack phones.

Goodman and Coulson are also accused over alleged illegal payments to police officers for telephone directories of the royal household. They all deny any wrongdoing.

Giving evidence for a fourth day, Goodman said immediately after his arrest in August 2006 he feared he would get the blame for all the illegal activity at the paper involving Mulcaire and had voiced his concerns to his lawyer Henri Brandman, who was provided and paid for by News International.

"I told Henri ... that lots of people at the News of the World were doing this," Goodman said. "I just happened to be the one who got caught. Andy Coulson, the editor, set up the payments to facilitate all this."


Shortly after he was released by police, Goodman said Coulson phoned him at home telling him he would be suspended, strongly suggested he should plead guilty as soon as possible and added conversations he had had with police and the interior ministry indicated they would not seek a prison sentence.

"I was disturbed by the phone call," Goodman said. He visited an internet cafe near his home, logged on remotely to his work email account and forwarded emails which might incriminate others to a new account.

"I was enormously worried ... I was going to be blamed for all these phone-hacking activities."

Goodman said both Brandman and Coulson had raised the topic of "me being a lone wolf, which worried me," he told the court.

At a meeting with Coulson, the editor suggested he could return to a job on the paper if he agreed to this.

"I think his words were you can be one of those people who come back," Goodman said. He fought back tears as he said the implication was his family would be looked after if he did this.

"I thought it was pretty low to involve my family," he said, adding the meeting "put the fear of God into me".

Goodman said despite his specific instructions, details of the prosecution case were passed to an NI executive who put him under pressure to keep quiet about the extent of phone-hacking at a meeting he held with his lawyers.

He said he eventually reluctantly accepted the advice from his lawyers not to name anyone else, even though the prosecution file clearly implicated others.

"It was plain the police took a decision to stop with me and go no further," he said.

Four others are also in the dock for a variety of offences and the trial continues. (Editing by Kate Holton and Janet Lawrence)