Hacking trial: Former NOTW editor Rebekah Brooks cleared of all charges as Andy Coulson found guilty of conspiracy to hack phones

Brooks cleared on all counts of phone-hacking, misconduct in a public office and perverting course of justice

Adam Withnall
Tuesday 24 June 2014 16:32
Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie leave the Old Bailey this afternoon
Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie leave the Old Bailey this afternoon

The former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has been cleared of all charges in the phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey.

Brooks, the one-time editor of the News of the World, was overcome with emotion as she was found not guilty of involvement in a conspiracy to hack phones between 2000 and 2006, as well as misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice.

But while Brooks walked free from court to a waiting black cab today, her fellow former editor and ex-Downing Street spin doctor Andy Coulson was found guilty on one count of phone hacking.

The jury returned this morning after continuing its deliberations for an eighth day, following the high profile trial that began in October last year.

Brooks and Coulson, along with retired managing editor Stuart Kuttner, had been accused of being part of a conspiracy to hack phones over the course of a six-year period.

The scandal saw Coulson resign from his then-role as David Cameron's director of communications, and he now faces the possibility of jail. The Prime Minister today issued a "full and frank apology" for bringing him into Number 10.

Along with her husband Charlie, and the News International director of security Mark Hanna, 51, she was further charged with perverting the course of justice around the time of police searches in July 2011.

Brooks' former personal assistant Cheryl Carter was also accused of being involved in the alleged conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Appearing at court to hear the verdicts, Brooks maintained her composure as the other verdicts were read out. She appeared to hold Carter's hand before she was cleared, and brushed against husband Charlie as he was pronounced not guilty.

It was after she walked from the dock as a free woman that the strain of the last three years looked to have taken its toll on Brooks, and she appeared to be overcome with emotion as she walked from the courtroom accompanied by the court matron.

Kuttner was also cleared today of being part of the conspiracy to hack phones, while Hanna was found not guilty on the charges of perverting the course of justice.

Speaking outside court, Kuttner said he gave his "enduring thanks" to his legal team. He said: "It is clear to me at this point that this is not the moment to make long statements or to go into great detail.

"But what I do want to say is the diligence, the dedication, and perhaps above all the passion of my lawyers over the last three years has been extraordinary, most remarkable, and it is to them that I owe the huge and enduring thanks for the result, the unanimous verdict of the jury today. Thank you."

Rebekah Brooks' former personal assistant Cheryl Carter was cleared of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The jury, which has been considering its verdicts since Wednesday, 11 June, is still deliberating further charges against Coulson and the 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.

Reacting to today's verdict against Coulson on the charge of conspiracy to hack phones, the Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Prime Minister had "brought a criminal into the heart of Downing Street" and his Government was "tainted" as a result.

Earlier, Mr Cameron issued a "full and frank apology" to the nation for appointing him as his media adviser and said he took "full responsibility" for the situation.

Brian Cathcart, a spokesperson for the campaign group Hacked Off, said today's verdict showed phone-hacking at the now-defunct News of the World was not down to "one rogue reporter".

He said Rupert Murdoch's UK newspapers should now abandon their plans - with other newspapers and magazines - to establish a new regulatory body, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), and sign up to the Royal Charter agreed by the three main political parties.

A spokesperson for News UK - the British newspaper publishing arm of Mr Murdoch's media empire - said that they had put in place measures to ensure that the wrongdoing at the News of the World could not happen again.

The spokesperson said: "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.

"Out of respect for the fact that further legal proceedings will occur, we will have no further comment at this time."