UK hacking prosecutor: Brooks, Coulson had affair
FILE - This combination of Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 file photos shows former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks and husband Charlie Brooks, left image, and former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as they arrive at The Old Bailey law court in London. On Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, a prosecutor in Britain's phone hacking trial revealed that Rebekah Brooks and Coulson — the two most senior U.K. tabloid editors accused of illegal eavesdropping and bribery — had a secret affair lasting at least six years. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, Lefteris Pitarakis)
LONDON (AP) — A prosecutor electrified Britain's phone hacking trial Thursday by revealing that Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson — the two most senior U.K. tabloid editors accused of illegal eavesdropping and bribery — had a secret affair lasting at least six years.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis said the relationship between the two powerful editors — both former top Rupert Murdoch aides and associates of Prime Minister David Cameron — goes to the heart of the case's key question: Who knew what during years of illicit activity at Murdoch's News of the World and Sun tabloids?
The fact they had an affair and kept it secret "means they trusted each other a lot," Edis said. He said there was "absolute confidence between the two of them" about issues at their work.
"Through the relevant period, what Mr. Coulson knew Mrs. Brooks knew too, and what Mrs. Brooks knew Mr. Coulson knew too, because it's clear ... that as at February 2004 they had been having an affair which had lasted at least six years," he said.
The two enjoyed close ties to Britain's media and political elite. Brooks has been friends with Cameron and Coulson served as his communications director before and after Cameron's election as prime minister in 2010.
Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie Brooks arrive at The Old Bailey law court in London, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Former News of the World national newspaper editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson went on trial Monday, along with several others, on charges relating to the hacking of phones and bribing officials while they were employed at the now closed tabloid paper. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Edis said their affair started in about 1998 and covered the period when Brooks was News of the World editor and Coulson her deputy — including the period in 2002 when the newspaper hacked into the phone of 13-year-old Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered.
The prosecution contends that Brooks and Coulson must have sanctioned the hacking.
Brooks and Coulson, both 45, Brooks' current husband Charles Brooks, and five others are on trial in the first major criminal case spawned by the revelation of the paper's eavesdropping. The eight defendants all deny a variety of charges related to phone hacking, bribing officials and obstructing a police inquiry.
The phone hacking scandal forced Murdoch to shut the 168-year-old News of the World, triggered police inquiries into phone hacking and bribery by journalists and has created intense pressure on Britain's freewheeling tabloid press to mend its ways.
In his opening statement Thursday, Edis laid out the prosecution's claim that Brooks, Coulson and other senior editors must have known about phone hacking that went on for years at the News of the World and its sister paper, The Sun.