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Hack journalist gets eight months

A news editor who lost his home, health, job and reputation in the wake of the News Of The World phone hacking scandal was told he only had himself to blame as he was jailed for eight months.

Ian Edmondson, 45, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to conspiring with private eye Glenn Mulcaire and NotW colleagues to hack a host of celebrities, sports personalities, politicians and even royalty between October 3 2000 and August 9 2006.

The married journalist had been dropped as a defendant in the original hacking trial of ex-editors Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks in December last year, after the trial judge deemed him "unfit" to continue.

Last month, before he could stand trial again, he admitted the offence and became the eighth person to be convicted of phone hacking at the now defunct Sunday tabloid.

The court heard that the case had a devastating effect on Edmondson's personal and professional life and he had become depressed and dependant on alcohol as a result.

Sentencing him, Mr Justice Saunders said: "I am satisfied that he is suffering from depression as well as having other medical problems. Mr Edmondson was dismissed from his job at the NotW and he has lost his reputation as a journalist. He has only himself to blame for that.

"The list of victims of hacking with whom Edmondson was involved included celebrities, politicians and one person who was famous because of his links with the royal family. Taken together they amount to a substantial invasion of privacy which has caused distress to many people, the majority of whom cannot be accused of courting publicity."

The judge did, however, accept that he had pleaded guilty on the basis that hacking was "common knowledge and industry wide".

He also referred to a "very moving letter" from Edmondson's wife on the effect the prosecution had on their young family.

As Edmondson was sent down from the dock, he mouthed "I love you" to his wife in the public gallery above, and she mouthed the endearment back.

Defending, Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC said: "The reality of the proceedings and the effect on him is really this in short terms - that his life whether it was professional or personal was left in tatters in the wake of the phone hacking scandal."

She added: "There is a man who has brought against himself and loved ones the full glare of publicity from which he himself had made his living.

"It is a bitter irony. His remorse for the gross invasion of people's privacy is very deeply held and he comes to it with a deal of understanding."

Edmondson, of Raynes Park, south-west London, worked as an executive on the NotW newsdesk - the "engine room of the newsroom" - between 2005 and 2010 when he was suspended and later sacked for "gross misconduct".

At first, Edmondson had been keen to terminate Mulcaire's £100,000 a year contract, but in 2005 he signed off its renewal once he realised its value, the court has previously heard.

He went on to issue 334 out of the 8,000 newsdesk orders to Mulcaire, according to an analysis of detailed notes kept by the private eye.

Three emails revealing Edmondson's taskings for stories on Tessa Jowell, Freddie Windsor and Lord Prescott in April 2006 led to the launch of the police investigation into phone hacking, codenamed Operation Weeting.

Phone records show that between July 2005 and August 2006, there were 900 calls and texts between Mulcaire and Edmondson, demonstrating their "close working relationship", prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron QC said.

In 2006, he received an incriminating email from Coulson ordering him to "do his phone" in an apparent reference to the celebrity Calum Best.

Edmondson was also copied into emails discussing hacking target Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association in 2005.

And he was involved in stories about actors Sienna Miller, Jude Law and Sadie Frost as well as singers Sir Paul McCartney and Kerry Katona which all came from phone hacking.

Edmondson not only tasked Mulcaire to hack phones, he also passed on details including mobile phone pin numbers to colleagues to phone hack.

Mr Bryant-Heron said: "There was an aggressive news-gathering culture.

"The ends seemed to justify the means to get the story in an extremely competitive market."

In July, Coulson, 46, was found guilty of the hacking plot while Brooks, 46, and retired managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 74, were cleared of any wrongdoing.

Other NotW journalists had pleaded guilty to being part of the voicemail interception conspiracy before the trial started.

Reporter Dan Evans, 38, of Kilburn, north London, was handed a 10-month jail term suspended for 12 months plus 200 hours of community service.

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.

Mr Justice Saunders described Mulcaire, 43, of Sutton, south London, as ''the lucky one'', as he handed him a six-month jail term, suspended for 12 months, plus 200 hours of unpaid community work.

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