LONDON — A prosecutor electrified Britain's phone hacking trial Thursday by revealing that Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, the two most senior U.K. tabloid editors accused of illegal eavesdropping and bribery, had a secret affair lasting at least six years.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis said the relationship between the two powerful editors, both former top Rupert Murdoch aides and associates of Prime Minister David Cameron, goes to the heart of the case's key question: Who knew what during years of illicit activity at Murdoch's News of the World and Sun tabloids?
The fact they had an affair and kept it secret "means they trusted each other a lot," Edis said.
Edis said their affair started in about 1998 and covered the period when Brooks was News of the World editor and Coulson her deputy, including the period in 2002 when the newspaper hacked into the phone of 13-year-old Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered.
The prosecution contends Brooks and Coulson must have sanctioned the hacking.
Brooks, Coulson, Brooks' current husband Charles Brooks, and five others are on trial in the first major criminal case spawned by the revelation of the paper's illicit eavesdropping.
The eight defendants all deny a variety of charges related to phone hacking, bribing officials and obstructing a police inquiry.