Andy Coulson, former communications chief for David Cameron, found guilty of phone hacking conspiracy
Rebekah Brooks, former editor of News of the World, acquitted on all four counts
The jury in the News of the World phone hacking trial has returned a guilty verdict for Andy Coulson, the former editor of the Murdoch tabloid, and at one time the Conservative Party’s director of communications under Prime Minister David Cameron. He resigned that position less than a year after his appointment when the phone hacking scandal became public.
The case involved the interception of voicemail messages by reporters at the News of the World, the News International tabloid that the company subsequently shuttered. Coulson was arrested in July of 2011 and formally charged one year later, along with seven others, for conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority from 3rd October 2000 to 9th August 2006.”
The case has been a major story, especially for The Guardian, and the charging of Rebekah Brooks, who after her time at News of the World became News International’s chief executive, brought the case dangerously close to Rupert Murdoch.
Coulson was the only one of the seven charged to have been found guilty in the case, and while his conviction will be a major embarrassment to the Prime Minister, the fact that a jury was not nearly as bothered by the phone hacking conspiracy as might have been expected. While some have seen that the British tabloids have scaled back their outrageous ways a bit since the breaking of the scandal, the failure to successfully prosecute the actions of the editors and reporters involved may well signal a return to business as usual at many of Britain’s more steamy newspapers.
Update: The Prime Minister issued a statement concerning Andy Coulson, saying “I am extremely sorry I employed him. It was the wrong decision and I am clear about that. I gave someone a second chance and it turned out to be a bad decision.”