ANDY Coulson’s on-off affair with Rebekah Brooks went on for nine years and stopped for good only around the time he resigned as editor of the News of the World, the hacking trial has heard.
The relationship began before Coulson became Brooks’s deputy at the News of the World in 2000 and continued for periods after he took the helm and she moved to the Sun in 2003, the court heard.
In a letter Brooks wrote but never sent in February 2004, she said she had been “waiting for six years” for him. But yesterday, Coulson, a married father of three, said it was “not a wholly accurate representation” of events and revealed the affair ended around the time he left the Sunday tabloid in January 2007.
Under cross-examination by prosecutor Andrew Edis QC, the ex-No 10 spin doctor said the affair started in 1998 and stopped “soon after” but it resumed around the end of 2003 or early 2004.
He said: “In between time, there was a very long period the relationship was what it should have been, which was friendship.
“From 2004 it was by no means continuous but the affair did continue until around the time I left the News of the World.”
Coulson denied that he “turned a blind eye” to the hacking of a voicemail in which Sheffield MP David Blunkett declared his love for Spectator publisher Kimberly Fortier in 2004.
Coulson had earlier told the jury it was the one and only time he heard about phone hacking during his time at the paper.
He was asked why he never inquired of chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck where he got the taped phone message when he first rang him on holiday in Italy to tell him about it.
Mr Edis said: “There’s only one reason why you would not ask him and that’s because you already knew Neville had Mulcaire hacking voicemails.”
Coulson said: “That’s not true.”
Coulson, 46, of Charing, Kent, and Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, deny conspiring with others to hack phones. They also deny separate charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office. All seven defendants deny the charges against them. The trial continues.