The affair between Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, former editors of the defunct News of the World Sunday tabloid at the heart of the phone hacking scandal, began around 1998, the court was told.
Prosecution lawyer Andrew Edis went on to tell the court that the evidence emerged from a letter found on Brooks’ computer. Dated February 2004, the letter from Brooks to Coulson, who was said to be trying to end the affair, read in part: “You are my very best friend. ... I tell you everything. ... I confide in you, I love you, I care about you.”
Edis said he was not revealing such details to make a moral judgment but because Brooks and Coulson are accused of conspiracy to hack phones, bribing public officials and concealing evidence during the time of the affair. The two defendants deny all the charges against them.
“When people are charged with conspiracy the first question the jury has to ask is how well did they know each other?” said Edis.
Brooks was editor of the News of the World in 2002 when 13-year-old Milly Dowler was kidnapped. In July 2011, the Guardian newspaper reported that journalists working on the tabloid hacked into Dowler's mobile phone while police were searching for the missing teen, who was later found slain.
Coulson followed Brooks as editor of the tabloid and in 2007 became communications director for Prime Minister David Cameron, a position he left in 2011 as the phone hacking scandal intensified.
Coulson and Brooks are on trial with six other defendants. On Thursday, the court also heard evidence of hacking methods used by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator in the pay of the News of the World who has pleaded guilty to phone hacking charges and is awaiting a further trial. He served a six-month jail term, along with the tabloid’s royal correspondent, Clive Goodman.
Stobart is a news assistant in the Times' London bureau.