Phone hacking trial: Court hears Blunkett messages

David Blunkett: Furious over allegations of an affair. Picture: Reuters
David Blunkett: Furious over allegations of an affair. Picture: Reuters
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Jurors have been played the recording of 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 the messages, dating back to the autumn of 2005, in which the politician said he hoped whoever had leaked information to the media would “rot in hell”.

In one recording 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 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 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 Oxfordshire; ex-spin doctor Andy Coulson, also 45, of Kent; former NotW head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from London; and the tabloid’s ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Essex, are all on trial accused of conspiring with others to hack phones between 2000 and 2006.

In one 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 Mr Blunkett made to police, saying his messages were “intended for Sally Anderson and for her alone”.

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

The court 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 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 court also heard former TV presenter John Leslie, of Edinburgh, and model Abi Titmuss with whom he had a relationship, also allegedly had their voicemails illegally accessed.

The jury was shown handwritten notes kept by Mulcaire that included references to Mr Leslie, his mobile phone number and his parents’ phone number. One note from October 2002, with the name Greg in the top left-hand corner, included the words “do both phones”.

The court heard Mr Leslie, who presented shows including Blue Peter and This Morning, was named in 2002 by TV presenter Matthew Wright over unproven 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 a statement from Ms Titmuss that said: “The level of press interest in myself and John at the time was high.”

The trial continues.