21 Feb 2014

Rebekah Brooks denies six-year affair with Coulson

Rebekah Brooks laid bare her “car crash” personal life in court this morning, but denied having a six-year affair with her former colleague Andy Coulson.

As she gave evidence at the Old Bailey for a second day, the former editor of the now-defunct News of the World told jurors that she had had periods of “physical intimacy” with Mr Coulson, but said the prosecution’s depiction of their contact as an affair was wrong.

The 45-year-old appeared close to tears as she described her relationships with former and current partners, and told the court that fertility treatment was disrupted by the Iraq war in 2003.

She denied any knowledge of a contract worth £92,000 a year given to the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who has already admitted phone hacking.

Questioned by her barrister Jonathan Laidlaw QC, who apologised for having to ask her about her love life, she told the court that she had met her former partner Ross Kemp in 1995.

The couple became engaged the following year, but split a year after that, she said. She added that a year later they rekindled their relationship, talking about marriage and children by 2001.

Iraq war

Ms Brooks welled up and asked for a break before talking about her fertility treatment, which came to an end at the start of the Iraq war.

“It was a tough year for us,” she said. “Basically, life was put on hold for Iraq.”

The couple split amicably in 2005, Ms Brooks said. Asked about her relationship with her co-defendant Mr Coulson, she said there were periods of “physical intimacy” between 1998 and 2006.

Rebekah Brooks denied prosecution claims that she and Andy Coulson had been in a relationship for six years.

Earlier, the court had been read a letter Ms Brooks wrote to Mr Coulson, which she did not send. “I love you, care about you, worry about you,” she wrote. “I’m frightened to be without you.”

However, Ms Brooks denied prosecution claims that they had been in a relationship for six years.

“Firstly, it’s not true,” she said. “I know that’s what the police and prosecution say, having analysed the letter. At the time I wrote this, I was in a great deal of emotional anguish, as I think you can tell from the letter, and the six-year period was me referring back to 1998.”

She added: “I don’t know if anyone has been in this situation but at a time of hurt you come home at night and have a few glasses of wine and you probably shouldn’t go on a computer but obviously that’s what I did. I wrote my feelings down at that moment… I wrote it in a letter form.”

Personal life

Ms Brooks met her husband, the racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks, in March 2007. “My personal life was a bit of a car crash for many years. It’s probably very easy to blame work but the hours were very long and hard you got thrown together in an industry like that. It was wrong and it shuldn’t have happened, but things did,” she said.

“Ross was a good man but the two of us weren’t meant to be and certainly Andy and I weren’t meant to be. When I met Charlie I was happy for the first time.”

She told the court that her cousin was the surrogate mother of her two-year-old daughter Scarlett.

Asked by Mr Laidlaw whether she knew anything about Muclaire’s contract, Ms Brooks said: “No, not at all.”

The court has heard claims that the contract was organised by the former news editor Greg Miskiw, who has pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack phones.

Ms Brooks told the court however, that despite a “sign off level” for payments being around £50,000, the £92,000 contract should have been brought to her attention, but was not.

Ms Brooks, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, is charged with conspiring to hack phones, conspiring to commit misconduct in public office, and conspiring to cover up evidence to pervert the course of justice.

She denies the charges.