Princess Diana leaked a royal phone directory to the former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman as part of a campaign against Prince Charles, the Old Bailey has been told.
Goodman, 56, claimed the late Princess sent him the confidential directory because she wanted “an ally” in the press to help her “take on” her estranged husband.
He said the Princess, who was separated from the Prince in 1992 after 11 years of marriage, sent the contacts list to him at his office in Wapping. She later phoned him to make sure he had received it.
He told the Old Bailey: “She was going through a very, very difficult time.
“She told me she wanted me to see the scale of her husband’s staff and household, compared with others.
“She felt she was being swamped by people close to his household.
“She was looking for an ally to take him on – to show the kind of forces that were ranged against her.”
The prosecution claims that Goodman, who is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, paid a public official for royal directories, 15 of which were found in his home in Addlestone, Surrey.
Goodman said the Prince of Wales’s former senior valet Kenneth Stronach provided him with two of the directories, and that none had come from royal protection police officers.
He said he used “Green Books” and internal telephone directories (ITDs), containing contact numbers for royal staff and senior members of the household, for stories. He said the books were divided into upstairs and downstairs staff, which was “very Downton Abbey”.
Asked by his counsel David Spens QC how he received them, he recalled how one Green Book was given to him in 1992 by the Princess of Wales.
He said: “That arrived at my office in Wapping with my name on it.
“She (Princess Diana) had a (good) relationship with several journalists – Richard Kay at the Daily Mail, Martin Bashir of Panorama.”
The Princess is known to have secretly communicated with several journalists and photographers, most famously the biographer Andrew Morton, who would ask questions via a middle-man and would be sent lengthy tape-recorded responses which formed the basis of his book Diana: Her True Story.
Goodman said the information was largely available from various sources in the public domain – but that the Green Books and ITDs collated it into easily readable documents.
Asked how he used information contained within them, Goodman recalled several stories which benefited from having royal contact numbers.
He was able to contact a source the night of Diana’s death, after the royal press office “was frankly useless”.
Goodman said: “I explained what was going on in Paris – that helped mobilise him. I called him at home at 1am on the Sunday – I had his number.”
For another story immediately following Diana’s death, Goodman said there was public upset at an apparent “lack of respect” being shown by senior members of the royal family in not flying a Buckingham Palace flag at half mast.
He told the Old Bailey: “People wanted the flag at half-mast but the palace got caught up in stuffy protocol because the Queen wasn’t there.
“Then a flag shot up a pole for about 20 minutes and then came down again. The palace said it was a mistake but we had a tip-off that it was a palace fireman who was so enraged.”
Goodman said he used the contacts book to track down the fireman, who confirmed the story off the record.
The defendant said he also used the information database to confirm a story that an intruder dressed as Osama bin Laden gatecrashed Prince William’s 21st birthday.
He said an agreement not to cover Princes William and Harry during their childhood following the death of their mother had a “depressive” impact on royal coverage.
Goodman said: “All we had left to write about was Camilla and Charles.”
The court has already heard how Goodman was offered a backroom job in 2007 following his release from prison for his part in phone hacking.
But he declined the job offer and instead accepted a financial settlement from the company.
Earlier, Goodman told the court that competition at the News of the World was so fierce that a colleague deliberately ruined an expose about an A-list model moonlighting as a prostitute.
He said the tabloid’s investigative reporter Mazher Mahmood had been setting up a sting involving the £2,000-a-night model – who he declined to name in court – only for a jealous NotW colleague to call the model’s agent and warn them.
He said: “There were regular byline counts, who wasn’t performing. It was extremely competitive – very fast, busy. It was competitive between everyone, with each other and other departments.”
He said: “Maz had a household name – a model. The suggestion was that she was working as an up-market prostitute in Europe.
“If Mazher had a huge hit in the paper, (the colleague) didn’t. So he (the colleague) quietly phoned the model’s people and the meeting never took place.”
Goodman, who worked at the tabloid from 1986 until he was dismissed in 2007 following a conviction for hacking the phones of members of the Royal Household, denies the charges against him. Six other defendants also deny all charges against them.
The trial continues.