Rebekah Brooks not guilty, Coulson convicted in U.K. hacking

coulson-brooks-guardian.jpgThe eight-month trial over phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch's tabloid editors in the United Kingdom ended in a split decision for two of the biggest characters in the media drama. Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of News of the World and CEO of Murdoch'd News Corp. UK, was found not guilty of all four of the charges she faced. They included bribery and perversion of justice. Her husband and her secretary were also cleared. Andy Coulson, Brooks' successor as editor of the tabloid — and former communications chief for Prime Minister David Cameron — was found guilty of conspiring to hack phones while at News of the World. Coulson faces two further charges that the jury has not yet settled.

From the Guardian story:

In a brief statement to camera, the prime minister offered a "full and frank apology" for employing Andy Coulson at 10 Downing Street, saying: "It was the wrong decision and I am very clear about that."

He said he had given Coulson a second chance after he left the News of the World but conceded this was the wrong decision.

Cameron said he had asked Coulson about whether he knew about phone hacking, and he said he did not. "Knowing what I now know, those assurances were not right," Cameron said. "It was obviously wrong of me to employ him. I gave someone a second chance. It turned out to be a bad decision."

Coulson has spent the last seven years denying he knew about hacking and shocked everyone bar his defence team in court when he revealed for the first time he had listened to the voicemail of former home secretary David Blunkett in 2004, three years before he was hired by Cameron.

From the New York Times:

The verdicts after a week of deliberations by a jury came after lengthy hearings into a scandal at the Murdoch news empire that shook the British police, news media and political elite, and forced the closure of a leading Murdoch-owned Sunday tabloid, The News of the World.

The findings drew an apology from Mr. Cameron, under fire from opponents who have accused him of poor judgment in hiring Mr. Coulson. β€œI am extremely sorry that I employed him. It was the wrong decision and I am very clear about that,” Mr. Cameron said.

Ms. Brooks, 46, and Mr. Coulson, 46, had been among seven defendants facing an array of charges including phone hacking and perverting the course of justice. The seven-month trial, tense and at times tawdry, has given a rare view of the inner workings of British tabloid journalism and of the systematic eavesdropping on the mobile phones of celebrities, sporting figures, politicians members of the royal family and ordinary people caught up in the news. One defendant said the intercepts were β€œon an industrial scale.”

Mr. Coulson, who had denied the hacking charges, was the only person among the seven who was found guilty of conspiracy to intercept mobile phone calls and messages.

The phone hacking scandal burst into the open in July 2011 with reports that the voice mail of an abducted teenager, Milly Dowler, was intercepted by an investigator employed by The News of the World in 2002. At that time, Ms. Brooks was editor of the newspaper and Mr. Coulson was her deputy.

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