Hacking trial: Andy Coulson admits he knew that David Blunkett's phone had been hacked

 

Political Correspondent

Andy Coulson knew details of the private life of the former Home Secretary David Blunkett, published in a story in the News of the World in 2004, had been obtained from hacked voicemails, the jury at the phone hacking trial has heard.

The former News International editor and Downing Street communications chief, told the jury at the Old Bailey that in 2004, the NotW’s chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck told him of voicemails that detailed a three-year affair between Mr Blunkett and the former publisher of the Spectator magazine, Kimberley Quinn.

Mr Coulson said he was initially “shocked” and angry about what he was being told, asking Thurlbeck: “what on earth are you doing?”.

Mr Blunkett, he told the jury, was regarded as a “friend” of the  Murdoch-owned paper own and ordered the Thurlbeck-led investigation to stop. He said he regarded the accessing of voicemails  as “a breach of privacy”.

Appeals from Thurlbeck, citing grounds of public interest and that a home secretary may have been “distracted” from his job by the publisher of a Tory-leaning publication, resulted in a rethink by Mr Coulson, the court heard.   

Asked by his defence counsel, Timothy Langdale QC, about whether or not he had enquired where or how the voicemails had been acquired, Mr Coulson said he “assumed” this had “been done by Neville [Thurlbeck] himself. It was all coming from Neville.”

Mr Langdale asked Mr Coulson if the voicemails were played to him by Thurlbeck. “Yes, he did,” replied Mr Coulson, adding that he remembered a “declaration of love” by Mr Blunkett, along with a threat to make the relationship public.

“This was the first and only time voicemails were played to me,” Mr Coulson told the court.

The contents of the Blunkett voicemails, were, said Mr Coulson, discussed with an NI executive and with a lawyer. The lawyer, he said, had not examined the issue of illegality surrounding how the voicemails were obtained. The concern was Mr Blunkett’s privacy, the court was told.

Following the U-turn on the Blunkett investigation, Mr Coulson told the court that he decided he needed to stand up the story by travelling to Mr Blunkett’s Sheffield constituency home and putting the allegations of the affair directly to him in a face-to-face interview.

The accessing of his voicemails were not put to Mr Blunkett, Mr Coulson told the court. Although he initially planned to reveal this, Mr Coulson said he had changed his mind to minimise the risk of legal action against the NOTW. In retrospect, he told the court, this was “a mistake”.

The 2004 article on the Blunkett affair did not mention Mrs Quinn [then Kimberley Fortier].

However The Sun, the following day, did name her.

The court was told of text and calls between Mr Coulson and Mrs Brooks that took place after the NotW story appeared. Mr Coulson said there was no deal between himself and Mrs Brooks on the Blunkett-Quinn story.

Earlier in the trail’s proceedings the jury were told that Thurlbeck had pleaded guilty to hacking-related charges.

Mr Coulson, Mrs Brooks and five other are defendants in the trial. They are charged variously with conspiring to hack phones, bribing public officials and to pervert the course of justice. All the charges are denied.

The trial continues.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?