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Coulson jailed for running cabal of hackers at paper

By Staff Reporter

Disgraced former No 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson was handed the "major share of the blame" for phone hacking at the News of the World (NotW) as he was jailed for 18 months.

The 46-year-old father-of-three was found guilty last week of conspiring to intercept voicemails at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid following an eight-month trial at the Old Bailey.

The judge, Mr Justice Saunders, singled out the former editor for the heaviest punishment, describing the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler as "unforgivable".

He said: "Mr Coulson, on the jury's verdict, has to take the major share of the blame for the phone hacking at the News of the World."

On the Milly voicemail interception in 2002 which suggested she may be alive in Telford, he said: "The NotW delayed telling the police the contents of the voicemail until they realised that they were not going to find Milly.

"That was unforgivable and could only, in my judgment, have happened with the knowledge of the person editing the paper that week, Andy Coulson."

He said their "true motivation" in hacking Milly's phone was to sell the most newspapers and not the best interests of the child. Following the sentencing, Coulson's former boss David Cameron said the sentence showed no one was "above the law".

There was no reaction from Coulson who arrived at court without his wife Eloise. He stood in the dock flanked by three former colleagues and private detective Glenn Mulcaire, who all admitted their part in hacking before the trial started last year.

NotW news editor Greg Miskiw (64), from Leeds, and chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck (52) of Esher, Surrey, were each jailed for six months.

News editor James Weatherup (58), of Brentwood in Essex, was jailed for four months, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work. While Coulson was in charge, the NotW was hacking a host of royals, celebrities, politicians and ordinary members of the public on an industrial scale amid intense competition for exclusive stories, the trial heard.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said the Sunday tabloid was "utterly corrupt" and "became a thoroughly criminal enterprise".

Coulson's co-defendants Rebekah Brooks and managing editor Stuart Kuttner denied any wrongdoing and were cleared of all charges last week.

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