Coulson admits exposing affair ironic when he was having one
Former News of the World editor exposed David Blunkett’s affair
Former editor of the News of the World Andy Coulson: “Given what has gone on in my private life the irony is not lost on me”. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Reuters
Andy Coulson was accused in the Old Bailey court in London yesterday of “pure hypocrisy” over attack on former home secretary David Blunkett for having an affair when he was having one himself with Rebekah Brooks.
The former News of the World editor said he recognised the irony of exposing Blunkett’s affair when he himself had had a clandestine relationship the with former chief executive of News International.
Coulson admitted for the first time in the hacking trial that he had listened to voicemails left by Blunkett for a married woman, Kimberly Fortier, in 2004.
Jurors have already heard a tape of Coulson’s meeting with Blunkett in which he claimed to have “sources” confirming the affair.
Coulson told the court: “That was misleading, yes.” Asked if he felt any shame for what he had done, Coulson said: “I regret the decision I made, yes.”
He was answering questions put to him by David Spens QC on behalf of Clive Goodman, the News of the World ’s former royal editor.
After admitting his “regret” Coulson said to Spens: “This story was about someone’s private life. Given what has gone on in my own private life the irony is not lost on me.”
“Pure hypocrisy, isn’t it?” Spens said.
“The irony is not lost on me,” replied Coulson.
The jury has already heard that Coulson had an on-off extramarital affair with Brooks between 1998 and 2004.
Earlier Coulson said he had made a decision not to tell Blunkett that his “sources” were voicemail messages because that would have made the story an “aggressive” one which would have involved “criticism of him and that he wasn’t doing his job properly”.
Coulson is facing three charges including one that he conspired with others on the newspaper to hack phones. He denies all the charges.
Spens reminded Coulson that he had told the jury last week that he was “shocked” when chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck told him he had voicemails from Fortier’s phone and that he immediately ordered him to stop his investigation.
If he was shocked, did he not ask Thurlbeck “how on earth” he had managed to access Blunkett’s voicemails?
Coulson replied: “The most important thing in my mind was to tell him to stop.”
Spens continued: “Weren’t you curious about it, at the very least?”
Coulson answered: “Mr Spens, I’ve explained my reaction at the time.”
He admitted that Thurlbeck was not subjected to disciplinary action, or reported to the Press Complaints Commission for a breach of its code.
Coulson admitted that he didn’t tell police that he knew Blunkett’s phone was hacked partly “to save his own skin”.
The trial continues.
– ( Guardian service)