The intimate physical relationship between Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, which spanned six years, meant he trusted her enough to reveal “any confidence” including potential criminality, the phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey has heard.
On the second day of the prosecution’s cross-examination of Mrs Brooks’ evidence, the former chief executive of News International was questioned about the period in 2002 when the News of the World hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Mrs Brooks was then the paper’s editor and Mr Coulson her deputy.
The court was read details from an intimate letter found on Mrs Brooks’ computer which was seized by the police. Addressed to Mr Coulson, she wrote the words: “for six years I’ve waited”. She told the court this did not mean the affair lasted six years. “I hadn’t been sitting there like Miss Havisham,” she told the court.
When she said she had “trusted” Mr Coulson as a friend and a deputy, the prosecution’s lead counsel, Andrew Edis QC, asked if their relationship went further than that. He said: “If a deputy editor was committing a crime he might not want the editor, in normal circumstances, to find out about it. But he might if he trusted her.”
He then asked Mrs Brooks: “Was the relationship in 2002 such that Mr Coulson could trust you with any confidence?” Almost inaudibly, she answered: “Yes.”
Later, Mr Edis asked about an 81-second phone call that Mr Coulson made to her in August 2004, minutes before he interviewed the then Home Secretary, David Blunkett. The court has heard that Mr Blunkett’s phone was hacked around that time, leading to a story in the NOTW about his private life.
She denied that the brief call had been about this interview, telling the court: “Our relationship was complicated enough. I don’t remember him [Mr Coulson] telling me he’d gone to see Mr Blunkett.”
Earlier in the cross-examination, Mrs Brooks denied an allegation from Mr Edis that the NOTW’s “books had been cooked” to prevent anyone investigating the phone hacking practices of the private investigator, Glen Mulcaire. “I did not cook any books,” she said.
Mulcaire was jailed for hacking in 2006 and pleaded guilty to hacking-related charges earlier in the trial proceedings.
Mrs Brooks is among seven defendants charged with conspiracy to hack phones, bribing public officials, and being involved in conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. All deny the charges against them.
The trial will resume on Monday.