Phone-hacking trial: Brooks tells of 'car crash' personal life

Mrs Brooks' eyes "welled up" in the witness box, as the BBC's Mark Easton reports

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Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks spoke of her "car crash" personal life as she gave evidence at the phone-hacking trial.

Mrs Brooks told the Old Bailey she had had a "dysfunctional" affair with ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson during her marriage to actor Ross Kemp.

She also said she did not know about the NoW's £92,000 contract with phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire while editor.

Mrs Brooks, Mr Coulson and five others deny all charges against them.

Mrs Brooks asked for, and was granted, a short break as she was asked about her personal life.

Her barrister, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, apologised for asking questions about her relationship with former EastEnders actor Mr Kemp, and her "physical intimacy" with her former deputy Mr Coulson.

She said she met Mr Kemp in 1995 and, after getting engaged and then separating, they got back together and married in 2001.

But she said their marriage came under strain in 2003 when they were both working "incredibly long hours" at the start of the Iraq War, and that she moved to a hotel to be close to work. The marriage ended amicably in 2005, she said.

'Thrown together'

Speaking about Mr Coulson she said they were "close" in 1998 and became so again between 2003 and 2005.

"Any affair, by its very nature, is quite dysfunctional. It certainly added a complexity to what was a very good friendship," she said.

Mrs Brooks said there was a "further brief period of intimacy" with Mr Coulson in 2006.

"My personal life was a bit of a car crash for many years," she said.

"It's probably very easy to blame work but the hours were very long and hard and you got thrown together in an industry like that. It was wrong and it shouldn't have happened but things did."

Rebekah Brooks arriving at the Old Bailey Rebekah Brooks is one of seven defendants on trial at the Old Bailey over alleged phone hacking

Asked about a letter to Mr Coulson, seen by the jury earlier in the trial, she said it was written at a time of "emotional anguish" and possibly "after a few glasses of wine".

She said the letter was never sent, but police investigating phone hacking found it on her computer.

In the letter, she wrote: "The fact is you are my very best friend. I tell you everything, I confide in you, I seek your advice, I love you, care about you, worry about you. We laugh and cry together... in fact without our relationship in my life, I am really not sure how I will cope."

Mrs Brooks denied prosecution claims that she and Mr Coulson had been in a relationship for six years.

She said Mr Kemp was a "good man", but her relationships with him and Mr Coulson were not "meant to be".

She met her current husband Charlie Brooks - also a defendant in the case - in March 2007.

"When I met Charlie, I was happy for the first time," she said.

Using Mrs Brooks's cousin as a surrogate, the couple's daughter was born in January 2012.

'Sign-off level'

Earlier, Mrs Brooks said she should have been told about the £92,000 annual contract with Glenn Mulcaire.

The court heard the contract was an "arrangement" between private investigator Mulcaire and senior journalist Greg Miskiw - who have both pleaded guilty to offences relating to phone hacking.

Mrs Brooks, editor of the News of the World from 2000 to 2003, was asked: "Did you know anything about that contract?"

She responded: "No, not at the time."

Who are the defendants?

Hacking trial defendants

She said her "sign-off level" for payments in 2000 and 2001 was around £50,000, so requests for larger sums should have come to both her and then-managing editor Stuart Kuttner.

On Thursday Mrs Brooks said she had never heard of Mulcaire while she was News of the World editor.

Speaking about spending she did authorise, she said the News of the World would spend thousands of pounds on celebrity pictures.

She also said David Beckham was paid £1m for the Sun and the News of the World to run excerpts from his autobiography.

Asked about the extent to which private investigators were used by the News of the World from 2000 to 2003, she said: "It was quite normal to have private detectives working on the paper."

She said they helped in tracing people who were difficult to find.

On Thursday, Mrs Brooks was formally cleared of one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Mrs Brooks, 45, still faces two charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, one of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and one of conspiracy to hack voicemail messages - all of which she denies.

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.

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