Hacking trial: One rogue editor. After a trial that exposed the extent of illegal phone hacking in the Murdoch empire, former News of the World boss Andy Coulson is found guilty, but five other defendants walk free


Political Correspondent

Andy Coulson, the former tabloid editor once at the centre of Downing Street's communication operations is facing a prison sentence after being found guilty of conspiring to hack mobile phones when he worked for Rupert Murdoch’s News International. 

In a drama-filled day both inside and outside the Old Bailey, Coulson’s former boss at the News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, was cleared of all charges against her including hacking, involvement in elaborate operations to hide evidence from the police, and bribing public officials.

The verdict against Coulson - who is still awaiting the outcome of two further charges and facing a perjury charge in Scotland – causes immediate problems for David Cameron who first hired him as his spin doctor before taking him into Number 10.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader,  wasted little time in demanding the Prime Minister answer “very, very serious questions” about his government being “tainted by a serious error of judgment” adding: “Because now we know he brought at criminal into the heart of Downing Street.”

Mr Cameron appeared to suggest that Coulson had been allowed to by-pass any serious vetting from the security services, even though he would have had access to highly classified material.

Read more:
Coulson found guilty as Brooks cleared of all charges
Hacking trial: David Cameron issues 'full and frank apology
The scandal that led to press' self-examination
How hacking scandal punctured the puffed-up House of Murdoch

On what checks Coulson faced, Mr Cameron said : “I asked him questions, if he knew about phone hacking. He said he didn’t and I accepted those assurances and gave him the job.” He added “I am extremely sorry that I employed him.”

The decisions of the jury, who have so far spent just under nine days considering eight months of evidence, caused an outpouring of emotion.

The apparent calmness Coulson had shown throughout his time in the witness box continued. He stood, staring ahead,  looking almost emotionless in the dock as the verdicts were read out.

Mrs Brooks’ reaction suggested the scale of the stress she had been under during the months of the trial, and throughout the years since her arrest in 2011. Her relief was not fully evident till all the verdicts against her were completed.

She looked directly towards the jury foreman and appeared to smile and mouth “thank you”. Standing next to her husband Charlie, and her former assistant Cheryl Carter, both found not guilty of the charges against them, she reached to hold their hands.

Outside court 12, in the hallway that had been a source of brief calm during daily breaks from proceedings, she was helped to walk by the court matron and her solicitor, Angus McBride.

Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie arriving at the Old Bailey (Reuters) Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie arriving at the Old Bailey (Reuters)
Mr Brooks look unsure what the appropriate emotion should be and appeared to be both smiling and close to crying at the same time.

In the traditions of the Bailey, those cleared know the cameras are the photographers will be waiting outside. A victory speech, or a show of relief, is expected. The Brookses did neither. The couple were helped into taxi and left saying nothing.

However tonight  Mr Brooks,  speaking on LBC radio, accused Scotland Yard of treating him and his wife like "terrorists". Describing a dawn raid at their Oxfordshire home when Scotland Yard officers searched their baby daughter's cot, he said  "It was 4.45 in the morning and 18 of them came through our kitchen door. [They] treated us like terrorists and carted us off to different police stations."

Cheryl Carter, Ms Brooks' former personal assistant, was also found not guilty (Getty) Cheryl Carter, Ms Brooks' former personal assistant, was also found not guilty (Getty)
Mr Brooks said he now expected “an apology” from Mr Cameron, criticising the way the Prime Minister, once regarded as a friend, had reacted.

The NOTW’s former managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, who was absent from some of the trial due to illness, was also found not guilty on phone hacking charges. Outside the Central Criminal Court Mr Kuttner praised the passion of his defence team led by Jonathan Caplan QC as “extraordinary and remarkable” adding “I owe them huge and enduring thanks.”

David Blunkett, the former home secretary who was targeted by the NOTW and lied to by Coulson during an interview in Sheffield in 2004, said he had come close to a nervous breakdown [ at the that time]  telling the BBC “I don’t know how I managed to continue doing the job in the way I did.”

Just after 11am the judge revealed that the jury would were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the two counts of conspiracy against Coulson and the NOTW’s former royal editor, Clive Goodman. The judge later directed them that he would now accept a majority decision. The court will now accept a 10-1 decision. One of the jurors was discharged earlier in the trial proceedings after taking ill.

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett (Getty) Former Home Secretary David Blunkett (Getty)

Following concern that the still-live deliberations of the jury were not being respected, Mr Justice Saunders, in a separate hearing with defence counsel and attending media, urged politicians and the public to restrain from commenting on the case till the trial was completely concluded.

In the Commons parts of Treasury Question Time became dominated by the trial outcome. The Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, attacked George Osborne, saying that as he had conducted the initial 2007 interview with Coulson “Does the Chancellor now accept it was terrible error of judgement”. He further accused Mr Osborne of bringing the office of the chancellor into disrepute.

In reply, and citing the chequered career and reputation of Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor, Mr Osborne said: ” Can I say the person who worked alongside Damien McBride is no person to give lectures on anything.”

Read more:
How culture of News of the World's glory days led to its downfall
Coulson's future depends on privacy denied the hacking victims

The Speaker, John Bercow, intervened to end the spat.

News International spent four years insisting that hacking inside the NOTW was restricted to one “rogue reporter” despite knowing this was not the case   After the verdicts the rebranded Murdoch-owned company issued a statement saying: “We said long ago, and repeat today, that wrongdoing occurred, and we apologised for it. We have been paying compensation to those affected and have co-operated with investigations.” They added that “out of respect” of the on-going legal proceedings, they would make no further comment.

The guilty verdict against Coulson means five former NOTW journalists are now facing a jail sentence over phone hacking. They are former newsdesk editors, Greg Miskiw, James Weatherup and Neville Thurlbeck, along with the former reporter Dan Evans. The four, along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire pleaded guilty to hacking offences.

Go-to hacker: private investigator Glenn Mulcaire (Getty) Go-to hacker: private investigator Glenn Mulcaire (Getty)
Sentencing is expected to take place a few days after the jury decides on the remaining counts against Coulson and Goodman.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100... with this review
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam