Day 9: Transcripts of “deeply personal and intrusive” messages between Labour politician David Blunkett and his lover Kimberly Quinn were found in a safe at Britain’s biggest newspaper group, the hacking trial heard today.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC, told the jury that a series of mobile phone messages left for the publisher by the then Home Secretary were recovered from News International lawyer Tom Crone’s safe.
Tim Hargreaves, detective constable in the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Weeting, said that the transcripts had not been handed to the police hacking investigation in 2006.
Introducing the evidence about the long-serving Labour MP, Mr Edis told the Old Bailey that Mr Blunkett’s phone had not been hacked, but that those of people close to him had.
Mr Blunkett had left voicemails on Mrs Quinn’s mobile phone in July 2004, in the weeks before the News of the World revealed the relationship in a front-page splash. A “draft” story about the affair, in which the writer chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck had used the children’s character’s Noddy and Big Ears in place of Mr Blunkett and Mrs Quinn, was also discovered in Mr Crone’s safe.
The transcripts revealed that, on 19 July 2004, Mr Blunkett had left two messages for Mrs Quinn.
Directing the jury to read them, Mr Edis said: “They are messages in which Mr Blunkett is expressing his love”.
In further messages left by Mr Blunkett on 20 and 21 July 2004 Mr Blunkett was “again… expressing his love,” he added. However a subsequent message, Mr Edis told the court, ended: “You are breaking my heart.”
Asked about their nature, Det Constable Hargreaves said: “They are deeply personal and intrusive.”
Mr Edis asked: “But she was wanting to end the affair, and he was greatly distressed by that?”
“Yes,” replied Det Constable Hargreaves.
In a further message on 22 July 2004, Mr Edis told the jury: “He says he is going to a party with Rebekah Wade [Rebekah Brooks’s maiden name] she’s having for Ross Kemp’s birthday and then he will collapse into his bed.”
Phone records showed the News of the World’s editor, Andy Coulson, had been in extensive contact with the Sun’s editor, Rebekah Brooks, in the days leading up to publication of the News of the World’s exclusive, which was headlined: “Blunkett’s Affair With A Married Woman.”
The court was later played a tape of a 20-minute meeting between Mr Coulson and Mr Blunkett on 13 August 2004 in which the journalist asked the politician to confirm the affair.
During the meeting, which took place two days before the story was published and which Mr Blunkett recorded, Mr Blunkett maintained that his private life should stay private. He asked Mr Coulson: “You’re asking me to say I’ve had a relationship with a married woman?”
Mr Coulson responded: “I want nothing more.”
On that and the following day, Mr Coulson and Mrs Brooks spoke by phone. On Sunday 15 August, the day the News of the World published its exclusive “Blunkett’s Affair With a Married Woman”, they had a further 12 “contact events”, Mr Edis told the court.
Mrs Brooks’s Sun ran a follow up story on the affair on Monday 16 August.
Mr Edis said that that story included a line from Thurlbeck’s draft story later found in Mr Crone’s safe.
Mr Coulson and Mrs Brooks deny plotting to hack voicemails.
All eight defendants in the trial, scheduled to last between five and six months, have pleaded not guilty. Mr Crone has not been charged with any offence and is not on trial. The case continues.