| 5.2°C Belfast

Brooks tells of Coulson rivalry


Rebekah Brooks gave details of "strained" relations with fellow defendant Andy Coulson.

Rebekah Brooks gave details of "strained" relations with fellow defendant Andy Coulson.

Rebekah Brooks gave details of "strained" relations with fellow defendant Andy Coulson.

More details of Rebekah Brooks's troubled personal life emerged today as she told the hacking trial about competition with her ex-lover Andy Coulson over David Beckham stories.

Brooks told how her "complicated" relationship with Coulson came under strain as they edited rival newspapers.

She used her friendship with Victoria Beckham and her footballer husband to demonstrate the "Chinese Wall" between them as they edited sister papers, the Sun and the News of the World in 2004.

She also spoke of her problems with EastEnder husband Ross Kemp which led to her arrest for allegedly assaulting him in 2005.

Denying she had laughed while regaling the story at a business lunch, she said: "At the time that happened, it wasn't funny.

"It was a trying incident in my life, being thrown in a police cell - it's happened a lot in the last few years but it was the first time it had happened."

Brooks began editing the Sun in 2003 while co-defendant Coulson took over from her at the NotW, the Old Bailey heard.

Giving evidence for a fourth day, Brooks, 45, told how she had lunch with Mrs Beckham as the stories about her husband's alleged affair were afoot.

She told the Old Bailey trial: "The two papers were rivals and pretty strong rivals. I think Andy and I had been very good at keeping the Chinese Wall.

"It was a hostage to fortune discussing what we were working on. He was on the weekly, I was on the daily with more opportunity to publish.

"Beckham is a good example. So Andy would have known that I knew the Beckhams a little socially, we are not close friends but would see them occasionally for dinner. I was also trying to get Victoria or David to do things for the paper.

"He would know I had direct access to them so if he is working on a story and there is something afoot as the paper was working on the fact David Beckham was allegedly having an affair with a woman, to even mention that to me could be fatal to his paper.

"He would not know the day he mentioned it I had lunch with Victoria.

"So he may say on Thursday 'we will have the Beckham story this weekend' and I may respond 'sorry we are doing it tomorrow'. It was too complicated. Things were difficult, it was strained for a while."

The former News International chief executive denied telling Eimear Cook, the then wife of golfer Colin Montgomerie, about her arrest in 2005, or that she had told her how easy it was to hack phones, when they met to discuss press coverage of the woman's marriage problems.

She went on to claim she only knew about a NotW story on Dave Blunkett's alleged fling with Kimberly Quinn the night before it ran.

Asked by her lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw QC whether she knew Mr Blunkett's voicemails had been hacked in 2004, Brooks replied: "Absolutely not."

Ms Quinn had not been identified in the NotW, but the Sun ran an exclusive story the next day naming her after standing up the detail with a special adviser, the court heard.

Brooks said: "The Home Secretary's office had not denied it. One clue must have been in their statement, which was 'We are not commenting', which in newspaper-speak is not denying.

"It was inevitable her name was going to come out."

Brooks told the court "things were much better" between her and Coulson when they exchanged a series of late-night texts shortly before he travelled to Sheffield to meet Mr Blunkett in August 2004.

"My guess is they (the texts) would have been pretty personal," she said.

Brooks, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, denies conspiring to hack phones, conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and conspiring to cover up evidence to pervert the course of justice. All seven defendants deny the charges against them.