Andy Coulson has been found guilty of phone hacking while he was a senior executive in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
The former editor of the now-defunct News of the World conspired to intercept voicemail messages of public figures between 2000 and 2006. Rebekah Brooks, a previous editor of the tabloid, was found not guilty on all charges.
The phone hacking scandal has gripped the British establishment for years as the relationships between senior media figures, politicians and the police force were placed under unprecedented scrutiny. The guilty verdict at the Old Bailey in London is a blow to Murdoch and Prime Minister David Cameron who hired Coulson as his chief communications advisor.
Cameron is expected to make a formal apology this morning for inviting the former editor of Britain’s most notorious tabloid into Downing Street despite the allegations against him having already been made public. The Conservative prime minister said he had believed Coulson’s claims that he knew nothing about the hacking that had gone on at his newspaper. “If it turns out I have been lied to, that would be a moment for a profound apology,” he told the House of Commons in 2011.
The court heard that the News of the World, formerly Murdoch’s biggest-selling newspaper, had listened in to the voicemail messages of Prince William and Kate Middleton, actors like Daniel Craig and Angelina Jolie, senior political figures including the deputy prime minister, and victims of crime including Milly Dowler, who was murdered at the age of 13.
The jury, which has been considering verdicts in the seven-month trial since June 11, is still deliberating on further charges against Coulson and the former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman for conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office by paying police officers for two royal directories.
Brooks, who was the most high-profile of the defendants, smiled and then broke down in court as she heard that she had been found not guilty on all charges. Retired managing editor Stuart Kuttner was cleared of conspiring to hack phones, Brooks's former personal assistant Cheryl Carter was cleared of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Brooks's husband Charlie Brooks, a racehorse trainer, and News International’s director of security Mark Hanna were also cleared of perverting the course of justice.