'Former News of the World editors on trial were lovers'
The two most prominent defendants in Britain's phone-hacking trial, former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, had a six-year affair, prosecutors said on Thursday.
Lawyer Andrew Edis told London's Old Bailey court that the pair were lovers from at least 1998 to 2004, which includes the period they worked together at the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid.
Edis said the relationship was laid bare in a 2004 letter found on Brooks' computer and insisted it was directly relevant to the charges against them of conspiracy to hack phones.
'It is clear from that letter that, as of February 2004, they had been having an affair which had lasted at least six years,' he told the jury.
'The point that I'm going to make in relation to that letter is that over the relevant period, what Mr Coulson knew, Mrs Brooks knew too. And what Mrs Brooks knew, Mr Coulson knew too.'
He added: '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? How much did they trust each other?'
'And 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.'
Brooks, Coulson and Brooks' husband Charlie - who she married in 2009 - are among eight defendants appearing on charges ranging from hacking mobile phone voicemail messages to concealing evidence and bribing officials for stories to be printed in the tabloid.
Murdoch was forced to shut down the News of the World in July 2011 amid a storm of revelations that it had illegally accessed the voicemail messages of a murdered schoolgirl as well as hundreds of celebrities.