Andy Coulson
Andy Coulson was editor of the News of the World while Ian Edmondson was conspiring to hack phonesGetty

Former News Of The World editor Andy Coulson knew voicemail messages on the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler had been intercepted, a court was told by the newspaper's ex-chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck.

Coulson, the 47-year-old former director of communications for PM David Cameron, is accused of lying under oath in the 2010 perjury trial of former Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan. He was acting editor of the newspaper at the time in Rebekah Brooks's absence.

Members of the jury at Edinburgh's High Court were shown a story about Milly that was in the News Of The World in April 2002, with the headline Milly Hoax Riddle Messages On Mobile Probed.

The article was published when the teenager had been missing for more than three weeks, containing exact timings and words that appeared to have been left on her mobile.

According to Thurlbeck, the schoolgirl's disappearance was "right at the top of the news agenda" and Coulson wanted to make sure the newspaper "was all over this story".

The former chief reporter also said he had instructed Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator, to work on the story and to research all possible suspects, including members of the family.

Advocate depute Richard Goddard, prosecuting, asked: "When did he become aware you had instructed Glenn Mulcaire?"

Thurlbeck replied when "Glenn came back with the voicemails".

Coulson did not press Thurlbeck on the exact source of the voicemails, with the ex-chief reporter adding: "He trusted the source because he trusted me."

Thurlbeck also told the court: "Andy did not micromanage the paper. He trusted me. If I told him it was from a trusted source it would be enough."

In later testimony, he said: "One must add, very importantly, that with regard to Milly, at no stage was Andy aware that the voicemails had been illegally intercepted."

The trial continues.