'Case Is Not about Press Freedom. It's about Grave, Inexcusable and Illegal Invasion of Privacy'

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Byline: By Shenai Raif and Caroline Gammell, and Paul Carey Western Mail

News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman was yesterday jailed for four months at the Old Bailey for plotting to hack into royal aides' telephone messages. Judge Mr Justice Gross told him, 'This was low conduct, reprehensible in the extreme. 'This case is not about press freedom. It's about grave, inexcusable and illegal invasion of privacy. 'The targets were members of the Royal Family. The Royal Family holds a unique position in the life of this country. It is grave indeed.' The judge sentenced Goodman's co-defendant, private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, 36, to six months for his role in the tapping plot.

The judge said the 'intrinsically serious and unattractive nature' of the offence meant immediate custody was inevitable.

'This was serious criminal conduct to which we must not become numbed,' he said. 'Such sustained criminal conduct should be marked by a loss of liberty,' he said.

Goodman stood impassive as the sentence was passed.

The judge told both men, 'Neither journalist nor private security consultant are above the law.

'What you did was plainly on the wrong side of the line.'

Mulcaire, a father-of-five, was also ordered to pay pounds 12,300 - the equivalent of the 'cash payments' he received from the News of the World through Goodman for his illegal activities.

As the men heard their fate, a woman - thought to be Mulcaire's wife Alison - fled in tears from the public gallery.

Other members of his family looked shocked as the sentence was passed.

Earlier, the court heard that the defendants' motivation was profit and personal gain and their conduct amounted to 'gross invasion of privacy' and the abuse of the public telephone system.

Prosecution counsel David Perry QC said the tapping scheme had taken place over a period of eight months between November 2005 and June last year.

Goodman and Mulcaire gained access to voicemail messages left on the mobile phones of three members of the Royal household - including some from Prince William.

Mr Perry said, 'The purpose of gaining access was to gain confidential information with a view to it being published in the News of the World newspaper.'

Both men pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to intercept communications.

Mulcaire also pleaded guilty to five more charges involving well-known figures, accessing other voicemail messages between February and June last year.

He admitted intercepting messages for publicist Max Clifford, footballer Sol Campbell's agent Skylet Andrew, chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association Gordon Taylor, MP Simon Hughes and supermodel Elle Macpherson.

Mr Perry said the two men used mobile numbers and secret codes used by mobile phone network operators to break into the voicemails.

Lawyers on behalf of Goodman and Mulcaire had apologised at a previous hearing to the Prince of Wales, Princes William and Harry, and their households, for a gross invasion of their privacy.

The conspiracy charge related to intercepted voicemail messages on the telephones of the Prince of Wales' aide Helen Asprey, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the ex-SAS officer who is private secretary to Princes William and Harry, and Charles' communications secretary Paddy Harverson.

The court heard the two defendants made a total of 609 calls to the three aides' mobile phones. …