Pair who traded in kiss-and-tell stories but hid own affair

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The News of the World was well known for its kiss-and-tell stories but its editors, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, kept their own affair under wraps – until it was exposed in the hacking trial.

Coulson said he was all too aware of the hypocrisy when he outed David Blunkett’s relationship with married Spectator publisher Kimberly Quinn following a phone hack in 2004 despite the then home secretary’s protestations.

The editors’ own private relationship only came to light during the hacking trial in a letter that Mrs Brooks wrote but never sent to Coulson in February 2004, saying she had been waiting for him for six years.

Prosecutors said the letter demonstrated that Mrs Brooks and Coulson shared their work confidences and that may have included hacking secrets.

They said it suggested that although Mrs Brooks was on holiday in April 2002 when murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked, Coulson, her then deputy who was left in charge, would have kept her in the loop.

But the pair denied it and Mrs Brooks maintained that the first time she heard about the Milly phone hack was in July 2011.

There were contradictory accounts of how long the affair had been going on when Mrs Brooks and Coulson were quizzed in the witness box. But they agreed it started in 1998 and continued on and off for some years.