Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Blunkett voicemails played in court

Jurors have been played furious voicemail messages left by former Home Secretary David Blunkett in the wake of false press claims about his relationship with a female friend.

The Old Bailey was played recordings from the autumn of 2005 in which the politician said he hoped whoever had leaked information to the media would "rot in hell".

In one message left on his friend Sally Anderson's phone, he said: "Someone very, very close has done a really phenomenal piece of work on destroying both our lives at this moment in time and it's vile.

"Whoever it is I hope they rot in hell."

The jury of nine women and three men were played recordings of a series of messages that were seized from the home of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, in which Mr Blunkett repeatedly says the media storm over the false affair claims is "vile".

He said: "I don't know who's done this to us but they're real bastards, they've done it for money and they've done it for themselves and the world stinks."

It is claimed that the messages were illegally accessed on behalf of journalists at the now-closed tabloid the News of the World (NotW).

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; ex-spin doctor Andy 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, are all on trial accused of conspiring with others to hack phones between October 3 2000 and August 9 2006.

In one message, Mr Blunkett warns the former estate agent, whose married name is King, to start thinking about who might have passed information to the media, and says: "I do think that someone has done a pretty good stitch-up job, chapter and verse, times, places, everything. That's pretty sophisticated to say the least."

In another message, Mr Blunkett said: "The hyenas are still trying to get me but when I'm back I will shed a little light and they will all run back into the jungle again."

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC read statements that Mr Blunkett made to police, saying that his messages were "intended for Sally Anderson and for her alone".

Mr Blunkett successfully sued the People over an article it ran incorrectly claiming that the pair had a sexual relationship and that he had made her pregnant.

Mrs King agreed to allow the People to listen to some of her voicemails when she sold her story to the newspaper, and in March 2006 issued a public apology to Mr Blunkett for doing so after he took legal action.

The court then heard from Mr Blunkett's former special adviser, Huw Evans, who described a conversation he had with Coulson, challenging the then NotW editor over a story it planned to run in 2004 about the politician's affair with former Spectator publisher Kimberly Quinn.

Mr Evans said he was "puzzled" at how Coulson could be so certain that the affair story was true, because a photograph of Ms Quinn and Mr Blunkett together proved nothing.

He said: "I told him that the photograph in itself proved nothing. I remember the tone of his voice... it was flat, unequivocal that he was absolutely certain that the story was true and he was going to run it. I remember at that time remaining puzzled as to why he could be so certain."

The jury heard that Mr Evans believed 13 people would have known about the affair with Ms Quinn, including media advisers.

Mr Blunkett and Ms Quinn had been on holiday abroad together in 2003 and 2004, and attended a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in November 2003, the court heard.

In a police statement, Mr Evans said: "They were hiding in plain sight. I always thought that it was a matter of time before someone worked it out."

Later the court heard that former TV presenter John Leslie and model Abi Titmuss, who had a relationship, also allegedly had their voicemails illegally accessed.

The jury was shown handwritten notes kept by Mulcaire that included references to Leslie, his mobile phone number and his parents' phone number.

One note from October 2002, with the name Greg in the top lefthand corner, included the words "do both phones".

The court heard that Leslie, who presented shows including Blue Peter and This Morning, was named in 2002 by TV presenter Matthew Wright over unproved allegations that he had raped Ulrika Jonsson. No charges were ever brought.

Leslie then faced further claims from other women that were dropped when prosecutors offered no evidence.

He said in a police statement that 2002 was "a traumatic time in my life", and the intense media interest in him only abated three or four years later when he moved to Scotland and stopped working in television.

Prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron read the court a statement from Titmuss that said: "I've been in the public eye since 2003 when I was working as a nurse and was in a relationship with the TV presenter John Leslie. The level of press interest in myself and John at the time was high.

"They were very interested in me and John as a couple and wanted to know everything about me. Ever since then I've been in the media spotlight and between 2003 and 2007 I would consider myself extremely high profile."

Former 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 2006 and October 16 2008 - linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.

She faces another two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice - one with her former personal assistant Carter, 49, from Chelmsford in Essex, between July 6 and 9 2011; and a second with her husband, Charles Brooks, and former head of security at News International, Mark Hanna, and others between July 15 and July 19 2011.

Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with former NotW royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and other unknown people to commit misconduct in public office - between August 31 2002 and January 31 2003, and between January 31 and June 3 2005.

The jury was sent home until tomorrow.


From Belfast Telegraph