(Adds later evidence)
LONDON, April 24 Prime Minister David Cameron's
ex-media chief was accused on Thursday of pure hypocrisy when,
as editor of a Rupert Murdoch tabloid, he exposed a government
minister's affair while conducting his own extra-marital
Appearing in the witness box for the sixth day at the
tabloid phone-hacking trial at the Old Bailey, Andy Coulson said
he regretted revealing in 2004 that then interior minister David
Blunkett was having an affair.
Coulson also admitted he had not disclosed any knowledge of
phone-hacking by a reporter involved in the story because he was
concerned about its impact.
Coulson, who denies conspiracy to hack into mobile phone
voicemails, had told the jury last week that reporter Neville
Thurlbeck on the now defunct News of the World had once played
him excerpts of voicemail messages left by Blunkett on the
mobile phone of a woman with whom he was having a relationship.
That enabled Coulson to confront Blunkett about the
relationship and splash the story on the paper's front page.
Coulson has also told the trial he was engaged in an on-off
relationship with his co-defendant Rebekah Brooks, another
former Murdoch editor who went on to run the British newspaper
arm of News Corp.
"This story was about someone's private life and, given what
is going on in my own private life, the irony is not lost on
me," the 46-year-old told the court.
"Pure hypocrisy isn't it?" he was asked by David Spens, the
lawyer for another co-defendant, Clive Goodman.
After a pause Coulson replied: "The irony is not lost on
Coulson left the mass-selling Sunday tabloid in 2007 when
Clive Goodman, his royal editor, admitted hacking into the
phones of royal aides. Coulson said he had not known about the
practice but had left to take full responsibility for the crime.
Facing questions from Spens, Coulson said he had not asked
Thurlbeck who showed him the hacked messages from Blunkett where
they had come from, saying that he had just told the reporter to
"You are a very bright, intelligent man with a questioning
mind," Spens said to him about his failure to ask questions.
Coulson replied: "I'm not telling the jury I wasn't curious,
I'm telling the jury what happened. The most important thing in
my mind was I stopped it."
The court heard that Coulson said he had decided not to
volunteer any information to detectives investigating Goodman
and phone-hacking in 2006, including knowing that Thurlbeck had
recordings of hacked voicemails.
"The reason was that would have come back to you and your
knowledge of phone-hacking, wouldn't it?" Spens put to him.
"Yes, I accept that," Coulson replied.
Spens said he had been "concerned to save your own skin".
"I would certainly accept that the impact on me was a factor
but there were other factors as well, the paper, the company,
they were all part of that decision," Coulson said.
Thurlbeck is one of four former News of the World
journalists who admitted phone-hacking offences before the start
of the trial.
Coulson and Goodman both deny charges of making illegal
payments to police officers. Brooks has also pleaded not guilty
to charges over phone-hacking and other offences.
The trial, which has now run for more than 100 days,
(Reporting by Kate Holton and Michael Holden; editing by