Phone-hacking trial: The home secretary, his PA and the tape
As regular readers will be aware the prosecution opens each alleged instance of phone hacking by having a police officer testify to the veracity of a bulky folder, a "timeline" which ties together all of the evidence of each case. When court resumed DC Hargreaves, the lead officer in the investigation of the allegations of hacking of people associated with the former home secretary David Blunkett, was called to the stand.
Hargreaves confirmed telephone numbers and addresses found in the notebooks of convicted phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire were Blunkett and his two sons, who the court is not naming for privacy reasons. The officer further confirmed that they had found numerous recordings in a safe at News International's Wapping HQ. These, it is alleged, were intercepted voicemails from the phone of Kimberly Quinn, Blunkett's personal assistant. The safe belonged to Tom Crone, a lawyer for the company. A draft newspaper article was also found referring, the prosecution says, to Blunkett and Quinn as "Noddy and Big Ears", There was also a copy of Quinn's son's birth certificate.
The police officer then confirmed a News of the World article based on these drafts was published on the 15 August 2004. A voicemail from Blunkett to Quinn in August 2004 was quoted in court in which Blunkett tells Quinn: "I yearn for you." Others mentioned in the draft article are Simon Hoggart, a journalist with the Guardian, and a publisher we are only allowed to refer to as "Mr X".
The jury was then given a hard copy of a sample of voicemail message transcripts from July 2004. In the prosecution's words, these were of "Mr Blunkett expressing his love" for Quinn. They were not read out or shown to the press apart from the line "you are breaking my heart", as they were "deeply personal". There was silence in court as the jury read the transcripts.
DC Hargreaves confirmed he had listened himself to the voicemail recordings and that the documents were, in substance, a correct account of their contents.
Also confirmed as accurate by the police offer were an invoice for £750 from Mulcaire to the News of the World marked "project Blunkett"; a list of phone contacts between Mulcaire and Neville Thurlbeck, news editor at the paper; and calls between Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks.
The court was then played a 20-minute recording, made by Blunkett on Friday 13 August 2004, of a meeting he had with the News of the World editor, Andy Coulson. This conversation, the prosecution has already alleged, shows Coulson trying to "stand up" the story as he needs confirmation other than the voicemail traffic to justify it. In the recording Coulson repeatedly tries to get Blunkett to agree he is "having an affair with a married woman". Blunkett refuses to do so. The conversation grows increasingly tense as Blunkett tries to find out who Coulson's source is while telling Coulson: "what I do in my private life is my business." Coulson tells him: "I have no desire to ruin anyone's life".
The jury were then shown the News of the World's published article on Blunkett - 'His love for mum of one' - which included photographs of Blunkett and Quinn together. There were also words in quotation marks from a "source". Mr Edis told the jury he would "Shut up while you read it", which they did.
When they were ready to carry on, Edis told the jury there were 10 "contact events" on the Sunday the Blunkett article was published between Coulson and Sun editor Rebekah Brooks. The jury was then given a copy of the following Monday's Sun, which also contains, the prosecution allege, quotes from the original draft article found, with the voicemail recordings, in the News of the World safe.
The next document brought into evidence was a witness statement from Simon Hoggart. This included his account of a call he received on 18 December 2004 from Stuart Kuttner, one of the defendants and then managing editor of the News of the World. In the call Kuttner told Hoggart the paper was planning to run a story about his affair with Kimberly Quinn. Hoggart denied the affair and hung up. The paper ran the story the next day. Hoggart also confirmed that a recording recovered from the News of the World was a voicemail he had left on Quinn's phone.
The judge then ended evidence for the day, thanking the jury for their diligence in reading documents in a case that so far had "hardly been a thrill a minute", adding "that might be a good thing".
The defendants deny all charges, the trial continues.