Former News of the World (NotW) editor Andy Coulson told the phone hacking trial his affair with Rebekah Brooks “shouldn’t have happened”.
The 46-year-old said the affair started in 1998, but was not “continual”. The married father-of-three acknowledged the “pain” the relationship caused.
He followed Brooks as editor of the now-defunct Sunday tabloid between 2003 and 2007, and before that, in 2000, was appointed her deputy. The pair became colleagues in 1998 when Brooks was made deputy editor of the Sun.
Asked about their personal relationship, the former Downing Street spin doctor said: “I take my full share of responsibility for the pain it has caused other people, not least my wife.”
Brooks and Coulson are accused of conspiring to hack phones and conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. They deny all charges.
Earlier, Coulson told how he spent a weekend with David Cameron after he resigned as his media adviser amid controversy over what he knew about phone hacking while he was at the NotW. But he said he had not spoken to the Prime Minister since that pre-arranged occasion in spring 2011.
Coulson resigned as NotW editor in 2007, after the conviction of former royal editor Clive Goodman for hacking, and joined Mr Cameron’s team, in opposition and then in Downing Street, after the 2010 election.
He resigned his post as Mr Cameron’s media adviser in January 2011 amid the phone hacking controversy, and was charged in 2012.
Coulson described an atmosphere of secrecy under Brooks when he joined the paper from the Sun. His lawyer, Timothy Langdale QC, went on to ask about private detective Glenn Mulcaire’s £105,000 annual contract in 2005 – listed under his company Nine Consultancy for “special inquiries”.
But he denied knowing about Mulcaire, saying: “I did not know the name Glenn Mulcaire until he was arrested with Clive Goodman.” Asked about the figure paid to Mulcaire’s company, Coulson said: “In the context of a £32 million budget, it’s not a massive sum.”