Phone hacking trial: Recordings of David Blunkett’s love messages found in NI safe

Court hears of emotional voicemails in which former Home Secretary tries to prevent break-up

Tape recordings of emotional messages left by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett on the telephone of his mistress were found in the safe of a senior News International lawyer, an Old Bailey jury has heard.

The cache of tapes and transcripts was discovered in the office safe of Tom Crone, a lawyer then working at Rupert Murdoch’s UK print division in London.

The voicemails were left by Mr Blunkett on the phone of Kimberly Quinn, the former publisher of Spectator magazine. The court heard that the messages related to their affair  – which had begun in 2001 – and that the decision by Mrs Quinn to end their relationship was causing the then Home Secretary “great distress”. In messages read out to the court, Mr Blunkett tells Mrs Quinn: “You are breaking my heart.” Others profess his love for her and how upset he is over the prospect of the break-up.

The jury in the hacking trial, where Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and six others all deny charges relating to phone hacking, bribery and perverting the course of justice, heard the prosecution describe draft articles on the affair that were also found in the safe. 

These were written by the former chief reporter of the News of the World, Neville Thurlbeck, who coded the names of the couple as “Noddy” for the politician, and “Big ears” for the publisher.

The recordings from 2004 were among 330 voicemails messages, not all from Mr Blunkett, which had been taken from Mrs Quinn’s phone, according to evidence described to the jury by lead prosecutor Andrew Edis QC.

The Blunkett tapes found in the NI safe were inside an envelope. “Thurlbeck. News of the World. August 12, 2004. Noddy and Big Ears” had been written on the package. Thurlbeck, along with two other former news editors at the NOTW, has pleaded guilty to charges relating to illegally accessing voicemails. The jury were told of the guilty pleas at the start of the trial.

Voicemails belonging to Mrs Quinn, containing Blunkett messages, were also found at the home of Glenn Mulcaire, the specialist investigator who had a long working relationship with the NOTW.  He was jailed in 2007 for phone hacking and pleaded guilty to a hacking-related charge before the current trial began.

The court was told of one document recovered from Mulcaire’s files dated August 2004.  This was marked “Blunkett” and “£750”. It was described as an invoice. Phone billing records from the day the invoice was written, and in the two days following, showed telephone contacts between Mr Coulson and Mr Thurlbeck, and between Mr Coulson and Rebekah Brooks.

The draft articles found in Mr Crone’s safe, written by Thurlbeck, state the affair’s ending was being “instigated by Big Ears” and that “Noddy is devastated”. It describes the newspaper’s operation to gather further information involving “bikes and cars on her round the clock.” A suspected country location is noted as a possible meeting for the couple. Finding it, writes Thurlbeck “shouldn’t be too hard. It’s clearly next to a church as a church bell can be heard on one of the messages”.

The court was later played a full recording of a meeting between Mr Coulson and Mr Blunkett. The then editor of the NOTW had travelled to Mr Blunkett’s home in Sheffield with the aim of getting the Home Secretary to confirm he was having a long-term affair with a married woman.

The tape was made by Mr Blunkett on 13 August 2004. Throughout the conversation with Mr Coulson he would neither deny nor confirm his relationship with Mrs Quinn, insisting that his private life was different from his role as politician.

Mr Coulson repeatedly said he believed the information he had been given by “a source” was true. He tried to cut a deal, saying he would not name Mrs Quinn if he were given confirmation of the affair. That did not happen. Two days after the Sheffield confrontation, the NOTW published a story on Mr Blunkett’s hidden affair.

The trial continues.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam