Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was found guilty of plotting to hack phones while ex-colleague Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges in a dramatic end to Britain’s marathon media trial.
The jury delivered their verdicts after eight days of deliberations at the end of the 130-day trial sparked by the scandal that led to Rupert Murdoch shutting down the Sunday tabloid in disgrace in July 2011.
Coulson, who was forced to resign as British Prime Minister David Cameron’s media chief over the scandal, now faces jail following his conviction at the Old Bailey court in London.
But the flame-haired Brooks, once one of Australian-born Murdoch’s closest confidantes, will walk free after being cleared of conspiring to intercept mobile phone voicemails and of plotting to pay officials for information.
The jury at the Old Bailey court in London heard highly detailed evidence about the workings of the paper, known for its celebrity scandals.
The trial had its own dose of scandal worthy of the News of the World when the jury heard that Brooks and Coulson had an extra-marital affair while working at the paper.
Judge John Saunders had urged the jurors when he sent them out on June 11 to “put out of your head anything you have heard outside court”.
The News of the World shut down in a firestorm of disgrace and a boycott by advertisers just over three years ago after it emerged that the paper had hacked the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
The hacking scandal also prompted a judge-led inquiry into the ethics of Britain’s famously aggressive press, which made recommendations for reforming the way it is governed, yet to be put into force.
Brooks was overcome by emotion on hearing the verdicts and was taken away by the court matron.
Retired managing editor Stuart Kuttner was also cleared of being part of a conspiracy dating back to 2000 and spanning six years.
Brooks’s former personal assistant Cheryl Carter was cleared of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Her husband Charlie and News International director of security Mark Hanna were also cleared of perverting the course of justice.
But the jury, which has been considering verdicts since Wednesday, June 11, 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.