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Last updated: February 21, 2014 7:29 pm
Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor, held back tears as she told a jury about her “car crash” private life but denied prosecution claims she had a six-year affair with co-defendant Andy Coulson, another former editor of the newspaper.
Ms Brooks told her Old Bailey trial that she and Mr Coulson were “incredibly close” and he was her “best friend” and admitted there were periods of “physical intimacy” between them. However she denied they had a six-year affair ending in 2004.
“My personal life was a bit of a car crash for many years,” she told the jury at the Old Bailey, looking visibly distressed.
She was giving evidence for the second day in her trial where she is facing four counts, including one of conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages. She denies all charges, as does Mr Coulson, who faces three allegations.
Ms Brooks was asked about her relationship with Mr Coulson, and about three periods when there was physical intimacy – identified as 1998, between 2003 and 2005 and in 2006.
Prosecutors have claimed the pair were in a relationship in 2002, when the News of the World published a story based on the hacked voicemail messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Ms Brooks was on holiday at the time but prosecutors allege she was in close contact with Mr Coulson, who was editing the paper.
The Crown has relied on a 2004 letter to Mr Coulson found on Ms Brooks’s computer. She testified on Friday it had probably been composed after “a few glasses of wine” and at a time of “anguish”. It was never sent.
Ms Brooks, who earlier requested a short break from the witness box as she began to be questioned about her private life, told the court that in 2002, her relationship with her then boyfriend Ross Kemp was “pretty good”.
However the couple became “a bit remote” after she began working long hours as editor of the Sun newspaper in 2003, she told the court.
Mr Brooks also denied knowing anything about a £92,000 annual contract struck by the tabloid with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was hacking phones for the newspaper.
The use of private investigators by newspapers was “quite normal” practice and she testified that desk heads at the NoTW were given a “great deal of autonomy”, provided they kept to weekly spending limits.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, her defence barrister, read out an email Ms Brooks sent to news editors in the wake of a 2001 investigation by journalist Mazher Mahmood, who had disguised himself as a “fake sheikh” to examine the business interests of Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
In the email Ms Brooks wrote that: “all entrapment and subterfuge must be justified 110 per cent. we have to be so careful and make sure everything we do is inside the law”. The email added that the Countess of Wessex investigation used methods that were “right and proper”.
The court also heard that Ms Brooks had phoned Buckingham Palace offering to drop the NoTW story about the Countess’s business partner, if she could have an interview with the royal, who had made “horribly indiscreet” remarks about politicians.
Ms Brooks is on trial with six defendants who all deny the allegations against them.
The trial continues.
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