LONDON: Prime Minister David Cameron’s ex-media chief was accused on Thursday of pure hypocrisy when, as editor of a Rupert Murdoch tabloid, he exposed a government minister’s affair while conducting his own extra-marital relationship.
Appearing in the witness box for the sixth day at the tabloid phone-hacking trial at the Old Bailey, Andy Coulson said he regretted revealing in 2004 that then interior minister David Blunkett was having an affair.
Coulson also admitted he had not disclosed any knowledge of phone-hacking by a reporter involved in the story because he was concerned about its impact.
Coulson, who denies conspiracy to hack into mobile phone voicemails, had told the jury last week that reporter Neville Thurlbeck on the now defunct News of the World had once played him excerpts of voicemail messages left by Blunkett on the mobile phone of a woman with whom he was having a relationship.
That enabled Coulson to confront Blunkett about the relationship and splash the story on the paper’s front page. Coulson has also told the trial he was engaged in an on-off relationship with his co-defendant Rebekah Brooks, another former Murdoch editor who went on to run the British newspaper arm of News Corp.
“This story was about someone’s private life and, given what is going on in my own private life, the irony is not lost on me,” the 46-year-old told the court. “Pure hypocrisy isn’t it?” he was asked by David Spens, the lawyer for another co-defendant, Clive Goodman. Coulson replied: “The irony is not lost on me.”
Coulson left the mass-selling Sunday tabloid in 2007 when Clive Goodman, his royal editor, admitted hacking into the phones of royal aides. Coulson said he had not known about the practice but had left to take full responsibility for the crime. Reuters