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David Blunkett wanted person leaking private information to ‘rot in hell’, court told

By Press Association

David Blunkett told a female friend that whoever was talking to the media about his relationship should “rot in hell”, the phone-hacking trial has heard.

The Old Bailey was played recordings from the autumn of 2005 in which the politician said he hoped whoever had leaked information to the media would "rot in hell".

In one message 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 that were seized from the home of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, in which 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 that the messages were illegally accessed on behalf of journalists at the now-closed tabloid the News of the World (NoW).

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Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; ex- News of the World editor Andy Coulson, also 45, from Charing in Kent; former NoW head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London; and the tabloid's ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, are all on trial accused of conspiring with others to hack phones between 3 October 2000 and 9 August 2006.

In one message, Mr Blunkett warns the former estate agent, whose married name is King, to start thinking about who might have passed information to the media, and says: "I do think that someone has done a pretty good stitch-up job, chapter and verse, times, places, everything. That's pretty sophisticated to say the least."

In another message, 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 that Blunkett made to police, saying that his messages were "intended for Sally Anderson and for her alone".

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

In her statement, Mrs King, nee Anderson, said she found herself at the centre of a media storm in 2005 and travelled to the US with her partner.

She realised that a NoW journalist was on the same flight, but assumed it was "a coincidence", the court heard.

Woman offered £150k by News of the World for Blunkett kiss and tell

While they were at a cafe in the US, her partner was approached by a NoW journalist, Rob Kellaway, and offered £150, 000 to sell her story.

She said: "I couldn't work out how he knew how to find us."

Later, she agreed to allow the People to listen to some of her voicemails when she sold her story to the newspaper, and in March 2006 issued a public apology to Blunkett for doing so after he took legal action.

The court then heard from Blunkett's former special adviser, Huw Evans, who described a conversation he had with Andy Coulson, challenging the then NoW editor over a story it planned to run in 2004 about the politician's affair with former Spectator publisher Kimberly Quinn.

Evans said he was "puzzled" at how Coulson could be so certain that the affair story was true, because a photograph of Quinn and 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."

Evans later gave a transcript of a conversation between Coulson andBlunkett about the story to the Spectator, and said the former home secretary was angry that he had done so, and "shouted" at him.

The jury heard that Mr Evans believed 13 people would have known about the affair with Ms Quinn, including media advisers.

When questioned by Timothy Langdale QC, for Coulson, Evans agreed that he had been concerned that news of the relationship would come out "in due course".

Blunkett invited Coulson to Sheffield to discuss the story.

Evans told the jury: "The risk was that he was trapped in a conversation into standing up the story."

Langdale asked Mr Evans: "When you had a conversation with Andy Coulson, your conversation yet again stood the story up, in fact, didn't it?"

Evans replied: "I don't accept that, no."

He told the jury: "The only way I could have killed the story was to have said it was false, and that would have been a lie."

The former special adviser said he did not see any public interest in running the story.

"I can understand why it was considered a story, I didn't consider then and I don't consider now that it was in the public interest to expose it. It was a private relationship."

Blunkett and Ms Quinn had been on holiday abroad together in 2003 and 2004, and attended a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in November 2003, the court heard.

In a police statement, Evans said: "They were hiding in plain sight. I always thought that it was a matter of time before someone worked it out."

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