Prosecutors will today continue to lay out the case against former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson and other colleagues accused of phone hacking, after it was revealed that the former colleagues had an affair for at least six years.
The affair between Coulson and Brooks was revealed by prosecutor Andrew Edis QC during the second day of his prosecution opening at the Old Bailey as he used it to demonstrate how close the former colleagues were.
Edis read extracts from a letter Brooks sent to Coulson in February 2004, in which she declared her love for her then deputy editor Coulson.
He went on to succeed Brooks as editor of the NotW, while she went on to edit its sister daily paper The Sun, later becoming chief executive of News International.
The jury of nine women and three men heard that while Brooks was on holiday to Dubai in April 2002, she remained in contact with Coulson in the days leading up to a planned story about murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; Coulson, also 45, from Charing in Kent; former NotW head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London; and the tabloid's ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, all deny conspiring with others to hack phones between 3 October 2000 and 9 August 2006.
The jury has been told that private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was paid around £100,000 per year, has admitted phone hacking, and Edis said that as management at the now-defunct tabloid, including Brooks, Coulson and Kuttner, battled to rein in spending there is no way they could not have known what Mulcaire was being paid for.
Prosecutors claim that Mulcaire, Brooks, Coulson and Kuttner were involved in a conspiracy to hack Milly Dowler's voicemail as the schoolgirl's family went through an "agony of hope" until her body was found in the autumn of 2002.
The court also heard other allegations of hacking, including how Brooks allegedly told Eimear Cook, former wife of golfer Colin Montgomerie, that phone-hacking had been used for a story about ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney.
The trial was told that Lord Prescott was another victim of phone-hacking, as well as former home secretary David Blunkett, whose affair with married Kimberly Quinn was discovered when the NotW hacked her voicemails.
As well as the phone hacking charge, ex-NotW and Sun editor Brooks is also accused of two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office – one between January 1 2004 and January 31 2012 and the other between February 9 2006and October 16 2008 – linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.
Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with former royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and other unknown people to commit misconduct in public office – between 31 August 2002 and 31 January 2003, and between 31 January and 3 June 2005.
It is claimed that Goodman paid palace policemen for copies of royal phone directories, allegedly authorised by Coulson, to get information on members of the Royal Family.
Brooks also faces two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – one with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, from Chelmsford in Essex, between 6 and 9 July 2011; and a second with her husband, Charles Brooks, and former head of security at News International, Mark Hanna, and others between 15 and 19 July 2011.
Edis is expected to conclude his opening today, when he is likely to describe further instances of alleged hacking by the News of the World, with alleged victims including other senior politicians.