Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor, approached former Home Secretary David Blunkett in 2004 to reveal that the newspaper had evidence that Blunkett was having an affair with Kimberly Quinn, information that the prosecution at the Old Bailey said on Thursday was gleaned from phone hacking.
While still working at the now defunct newspaper, Coulson spoke to Blunkett about his affair in a meeting that was recorded by the politician. According to Coulson, who went on to work for David Cameron as his communications chief, the newspaper was given the information by “extremely reliable sources”, however Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said the information had in fact come after the newspaper hacked Quinn's phone.
The recording of the meeting was played in front of jurors, who heard Coulson tell Blunkett that they were to publish a story about the affair. He told the politician: "There's no desire at all to cause you damage, politically or otherwise. We would not want to see anything published that would cause you damage."
Blunkett replied: "A private life is private. If you don't have a private life we don't have anything."
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In the recording, Coulson told Blunkett that he was confident in the information, which proved the politician had had a three-year affair, and told him: "My job is to sort out the nonsense from the accurate. I believe if I don't do this story at least one of my sources will take this information to another newspaper. People talk. It's known."
But when asked about information that the story was based on, he said: "It is based on extremely reliable sources," and he added: "I am not able to lay out clear cut evidence but I believe it to be true. All I would ask is that you look at what I have done here and perhaps accept that the information I have got is pretty solid. I would not be exposing myself in this way unless I believed the story to be true."
The court heard that a story about Mr Blunkett's affair with a married woman, who was not named in the initial story, was published on August 15. Recordings of voicemails left on Quinn's phone revealed the affair, the court heard. They included a message from a "clinic" telling her that she was due to come in for a scan, revealing that she was pregnant, the court heard.
Edis told the jury: "We say it is absolutely inconceivable that a newspaper would publish a story of that kind about a serving Cabinet minister without knowing it was true. Mr Coulson did know it was true... because of the voicemails which had been obtained as a result of tasking Glenn Mulcaire, who by August 2004 had been working regularly for the News of the World for four years.
"We say to you that's very strong evidence against Coulson of involvement in phone hacking at the News of the World