One of the longest and most expensive court cases in British history came to a conclusion yesterday as former News of the World and The Sun editor Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges, but Andy Coulson, who was editor at the newspaper between 2003 and 2007 was found guilty of one charge of conspiracy to hack voicemails.
Along with Mrs Brooks, her husband Charlie Brooks and other former members of staff at the paper including her personal assistant Cheryl Carter were also found not guilty of the charges levelled against them- all of which they all strenuously denied.
The trial was a fall out of investigations by Scotland yard when it came to light that members of the press had been hacking into the voicemails of celebrities and people of interest, including members of the royal family in order to source news for the tabloid magazine.
The court heard that at the height of the hacking, the paper employed the services of a private detective Glenn Mulcaire who specialised in hacking voicemails. It was also revealed that a few staff at the newspaper were aware of the crime including Neville Thurlbeck and Greg Miskiw who was also a former editor.
One of the cases which caused widepsread outrage was the hacking into the voicemail of the murdered school girl Milly Dowler whose parents have since expressed ‘disgust’ at the actions of press during what was a very difficult time for the family.
Mr Coulson’s conviction is a big blow to prime Minister David Cameron who hired him as part of his press team at No 10. The prime Minister defended his actions at the time saying that even though he was aware of the accusations against Mr Coulson at the time, he was assured that his press officer was not guilty of any of the accusations. He added that he was only guilty of ‘trusting’ Mr Coulson by giving him a second chance.
Mr Cameron swiftly made a televised apology to the public on Tuesday after the verdict saying he was ‘sorry’ for having made the ‘wrong decision’ of bringing Mr Coulson into number 10.
His opposition, particularly Labour Party Leader Ed Milliband has seized on the opportunity to accuse Mr Cameron of ‘bringing a criminal into Downing Street’.
Despite the verdicts, Scotland yard have signalled that the investigation is far from over as they are said to be interested in speaking to Rupert Murdoch who owns News Corp and his son James Murdoch.