Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson told Clive Goodman it was his “absolute intention” to keep him in a job during a secretly-recorded conversation, the Old Bailey heard this morning.
Clive Goodman, who was jailed alongside private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in 2007 for conspiring to hack phones, was told it was "not a foregone conclusion" that he would be dismissed from the company, during a telephone call with Coulson in November 2006 – three weeks before he admitted the offending in court.
Coulson told Goodman "I absolutely see a future for you", and spoke about potential sub-editing training for the journalist during a telephone conversation on 8 November – three months after Goodman's arrest.
The full conversation, which lasted around 20 minutes, was recorded by Goodman and played before the court.
Goodman told the then editor he was concerned he would be "binned off" as a result of the case against him, only for Coulson to reply: "I thought I made it clear to you that's not my intention at all.
"It is not a forgone conclusion that you will be dismissed. I cannot sit here and make predictions in the same way you can't. I can't tell you with 200 per cent certainty that this is how this business is going to end.
"The intention is to give you every support. You are the one at the sharp end of it.
"I'm telling you now as we get closer to the court date (Goodman's plea on 29 November), my absolute intention is that we're going to continue to employ you."
Coulson told Goodman, who was arrested in August of that year, he had a "duty of care" towards his colleague.
The editor said: "That gives me a way forward in terms of your future employment…(if you) want to continue working with us."
Goodman, contemplating his future in journalism, jokingly replied: "I never see myself leaving a message on (the Prince of Wales's communications secretary) Paddy Harverson's voicemail again."
Discussing the future of the case, Coulson added: "There have been all sorts of names and allegations and it comes down to what they (the prosecution) think they can prove and indeed what the truth is.
"Those names mean absolutely nothing to me.
"From what I understand, they are not tracing those names back to the paper – there's no direct link to the News of the World."
Goodman (pictured above) then told his boss about one possible link to the tabloid – voicemails and PINs relating to former England football manager Graham Taylor, found at Mulcaire's flat.
Coulson replied: "But there's no sort of forensic phone evidence that links everyone together."
The conversation also included Coulson asking about the state of mind of Goodman's co-accused, Mulcaire – a man the suspended royal editor described as "rapidly emerging as something of a nutter".
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; ex News of the World editor Andy Coulson, also 45, from Charing in Kent; former NoW head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London; and the tabloid's ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, are all on trial accused of conspiring with others to hack phones between 3 October 2000 and 9 August 2006.
Former NoW and Sun editor Brooks is also accused of two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office – one between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012 and the other between 9 February 2006 and 16 October 2008 – linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.
She faces another two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – one with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, from Chelmsford in Essex, between 6 July and 9 July 2011; and a second with her husband, Charles Brooks, and former head of security at News International, Mark Hanna, and others between 15 July and 19 July 2011.
Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with former NoW royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and other unknown people to commit misconduct in public office – between 31 August 2002 and 31 January 2003, and between 31 January and 3 June 2005.
All of the accused deny all of the charges.
The trial continues.