A former newspaper’s editor justification for exposing Sheffield MP David Blunkett’s affair – because he let slip to his married lover there had been a terror arrest – was dismissed in the hacking trial as an ‘invention’.
Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was being questioned in the witness box about a meeting in August 2004, when chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck played him hacked voicemails, including one in which Mr Blunkett, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, talked about his lover Kimberly Fortier.
Coulson said the then Home Secretary sharing ‘sensitive’ information about terrorism convinced him there was a public interest in pursuing the story based on hacking.
But the Old Bailey heard the resulting story did not contain reference to either.
Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, asked Coulson: “If it’s something the public ought to know, why didn’t you tell them?”
Coulson said: “I made a mistake.”
Mr Edis went on: “This public interest stuff is just an invention by you built around the voicemails.”
Coulson, aged 46, of Charing, Kent, is charged with conspiring to hack phones with former The Sun editor Rebekah Brooks, 45, and others.
The two former editors also face separate charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.
All seven defendants deny the charges against them.