Ex-editor Coulson: Affair with Brooks was 'wrong'

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LONDON (AP) — Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson took the stand at Britain's phone hacking trial Monday, saying his affair with fellow executive Rebekah Brooks was wrong but didn't lead him to share work secrets with her.

Coulson, who is on trial alongside Brooks and five others, also denied knowing while he was editor that a private investigator employed by the tabloid had been hacking phones.

Britain's hacking scandal erupted in 2011, when it emerged that the scoop-hungry News of the World had secretly listened to the voicemails people in the public eye. The furor led Rupert Murdoch to shut down the newspaper and ensnared Britain's police and political establishments.

Coulson, 46, told jurors at London's Central Criminal Court that his on-again, off-again affair with Brooks, which began in 1998 and ended in 2004, "was wrong and it shouldn't have happened."

He denied the relationship led him to share sensitive information with Brooks.

Prosecutors have suggested the affair meant that if one was aware that phone hacking was taking place, the other must also have known.

Brooks, Coulson and the other defendants deny all charges.

Coulson was News of the World editor when its royal correspondent and a private investigator were arrested in 2006 for eavesdropping on the voicemails of royal aides. Coulson said until those arrests he had never heard of private eye Glenn Mulcaire, who has admitted hacking phones for the paper.

Coulson was asked about a budget mentioning a 105,000 pound payment to Mulcaire's company for "special inquiries." He said he did not ask what the money was spent on.

"I don't want to be dismissive of 105,000 pounds, but the reality is it wasn't a lot of money in the business I was running," Coulson said. "We paid double that, I think, to the astrologer."

Coulson later became Prime Minister David Cameron's communications chief but said he had not spoken to Cameron since shortly after leaving that job in early 2011.