Major Phone Hacking Bombshell Drops

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Prosecutors told a London court today that Murdoch’s top deputies Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson carried on a six-year affair while running the News of the World, and that they colluded together to hack celebrities’ phones.

Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, the two biggest names in the ongoing trial over phone hacking, had an affair for at least six years, the jury in the trial was told on Thursday.

The Guardian's Caroline Davies tweeted news of the shocking revelation. The affair reportedly spanned from 1998 to 2004, starting before and ending after Brooks' tenure as editor of News of the World. Rumors of the relationship have been running rampant for months, but nothing had been confirmed until Thursday.

The Daily Beast reports:

"The alleged love affair was disclosed during a trial into phone hacking by prosecutors who argued that their illicit relationship—which was conducted while both worked at News International—was evidence of a wide-ranging conspiracy inside Murdoch’s media empire.

Andrew Edis, a lawyer for the prosecution, said a note between the senior News International executives had been found by police officers investigating phone hacking. “It is clear from the letter that, as of February 2004, they had been having an affair which had lasted at least six years,” he said.

The court heard on Wednesday that three News of the World news editors and a private investigator have already pleaded guilty to charges of phone hacking. Edis alleged that Brooks, who later ran Murdoch’s British newspaper division, had been personally involved in signing-off on illegal payments to public officials and employing investigators who were engaged in phone hacking.

The prosecution is seeking to show that Brooks and Coulson were in cahoots. They both deny all charges. Edis conceded that details of the affair were likely to attract a “great deal of publicity” and might result in “unfair, unkind and unnecessary” comment. “Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson are charged with conspiracy and, when people are charged with conspiracy, the first question a jury has to answer is: How well did they know each other?” he said. “The fact that they were in this relationship, which was a secret, means that they trusted each other quite a lot with at least that secret and that’s why we are telling you about it.”

The prosecution read aloud from a letter from Coulson found on Brooks' computer:

“The fact is you are my very best friend, I tell you everything, I confide in you, I seek your advice,” she wrote. “I love you, care about you, worry about you, we laugh and cry together.

The trial is continuing.

[Editor's note: Headline previously stated Brooks and Coulson entered guilty pleas at trial today, that was incorrect. Sincere apologies for the error.]

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