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Andy Coulson guilty of hacking as Rebekah Brooks acquitted

Prime Minister's former spin doctor could face jail after jury verdict

By Emily Pennink

Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor, has been cleared of all charges in the phone hacking trial, but a jury has convicted her ex-lover and subsequent successor Andy Coulson.

The former No 10 spin doctor was found guilty of plotting to hack phones while he was editor of the now-defunct Sunday tabloid.

Coulson, who was forced to resign as Prime Minister David Cameron's director of communications over the scandal, now faces the possibility of jail following the high-profile trial at the Old Bailey.

The jury is still considering further charges against Coulson and former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office by paying police officers for two royal directories.

Mrs Brooks appeared to try to keep her emotions in check when the first of the not guilty verdicts was announced, simply nodding towards the jury with a slight smile. Coulson, dressed in a dark suit, showed no immediate reaction to the guilty verdict, standing with his hands behind his back and clenching his jaw while looking forward.

A few moments later he took a deep breath in and out.

Rebekah and her husband Charlie Brooks, who was also on trial and also cleared, left the Old Bailey just before 12.45pm.

Greeted by a throng of media, the couple left court holding hands and made no comment as they got into a waiting black cab.

The partial verdicts were delivered on the jury's eighth day of deliberations and the 138th day of the trial.

Coulson (46) of Charing, Kent; had denied all the charges as had Goodman (56) of Addlestone, Surrey.

Brooks (46) was cleared of hacking, misconduct in a public office for allegedly signing off payments to a Sun journalist's "number one military contact" between 2004 and 2012, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and perverting the course of justice.

The prosecution had alleged that because of the the sheer scale of phone hacking at the News of the World, Brooks and Coulson must have known what was going on while they were in charge.

After Clive Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire were convicted of phone hacking in 2006, all three bosses were alleged to have been involved in a cover-up to keep the full extent of phone hacking secret.

It was Brooks who was the editor when Mulcaire got his first annual contract with the paper for £92,000 in 2001.

She was still in charge in 2002 when Mulcaire hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler – an act which led to the eventual downfall of the Sunday tabloid.

Even though she was on holiday in Dubai at the time, the prosecution said her on-off love affair with her deputy Coulson meant they shared such confidences.

After Coulson took over the editorship in 2003 and Brooks went to the Sun, hacking really took off at the News of the World, the court heard.

Goodman said it was going on on an "industrial scale", while reporter Dan Evans told jurors even the "office cat" knew.

Evans said he showed Coulson a voicemail from the actress Sienna Miller to Bond star Daniel Craig indicating an affair.

An email about George Best's son Calum in which Coulson wrote "do his phone" was, the prosecution said, a direct hacking order from the boss.

The jury will resume deliberations from 11am today.

Background

The hacking scandal erupted when it emerged that journalists had hacked into the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler.

It was then revealed that the practice appeared to be widespread at the News of the World and a host of politicians, sports people, celebrities and members of the royal family were targeted by the paper's staff and private detective Glenn Mulcaire.

The then Kate Middleton was hacked 155 times, Prince William was hacked 35 times and Prince Harry nine times.

Phone hacking is the practice of intercepting telephone calls or voicemail messages, often by accessing the voicemail messages of a mobile phone without the consent of the owner.

Trial in quotes

"My personal life was a bit of a car crash for many years... it was wrong and it shouldn't have happened but things did."

– Rebekah Brooks on her affair with Andy Coulson"Even though I didn't know it was illegal, I still would have felt that it was absolutely in the category of a serious breach of privacy."

– Mrs Brooks on phone hacking"It was wrong and it shouldn't have happened and I take my full share of responsibility for the pain it has caused other people, not least my wife."

– Coulson about his affair with Mrs Brooks"I'm mortified about the way I have embarrassed my wife. I'm furious with myself for being so stupid."

– Charlie Brooks reflecting on his bungled bid to hide porn and other property"I don't think I turned a blind eye – to turn a blind eye, you would have to have some knowledge. What I'm saying is it was a mistake, a bad mistake."

– Coulson on the hacking of former Home Secretary David Blunkett's voicemail

 

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