LONDON: Former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were having an affair throughout much of the time they were allegedly involved in phone hacking at the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid, their trial heard yesterday.
Prosecuting lawyer Andrew Edis said the affair from 1998 to 2004 proved “they trusted each other”, which he said was relevant given they were both accused of conspiring to hack phones along with other News of the World staff.
Brooks, Murdoch’s protegee, edited the tabloid from 2000 to 2003. Coulson was her deputy and then took over as editor, before becoming Prime Minister David Cameron’s media chief.
Both deny hacking and other related allegations in the trial at the Old Bailey in London, which involves a total of eight defendants.
The affair was revealed in a love letter found on Brooks’ computer in February 2004, which she apparently wrote in response to Coulson’s efforts to end the relationship.
Edis said he was not deliberately intruding on the defendants’ privacy — they were both married for at least part of the affair — but argued their relationship was important to the case. “Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson are charged with conspiracy and, when people are charged with conspiracy, the first question a jury has to answer is how well did they know each other? How much did they trust each other?” he told the jury.
“And the fact that they were in this relationship which was a secret means that they trusted each other quite a lot with at least that secret and that’s why we are telling you about it.”
In the letter, Brooks wrote that Coulson is “my very best friend... I love you, care about you, worry about you, we laugh and cry together. In fact without our relationship in my life I am not sure I will cope.”
As the affair was revealed, Brooks bowed her head and Coulson looked towards the prosecutor.
Brooks married her first husband, actor Ross Kemp, in 2002 and Coulson had married two years earlier.