One edi­tor con­victed, one cleared in UK scan­dal

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

LON­DON (AP) — It was a sim­ple trick — punch­ing pass­codes to lis­ten to mes­sages left on other people’s phones.

For years the il­le­gal tech­nique, known as phone hack­ing, helped Bri­tain’s News of the World tabloid get juicy sto­ries about celebri­ties, politi­cians and royalty.

But the fall­out even­tu­ally led to the shut­down of the coun­try’s best-sell­ing news­pa­per, split Ru­pert Mur­doch’s pow­er­ful me­dia em­pire and brought a storm of ou­trage down on the coun­try’s ram­bunc­tious press.

On Tues­day, the scan­dal brought a crim­i­nal con­vic­tion for for­mer edi­tor Andy Coul­son on a charge of con­spir­ing to hack phones — and an apol­ogy from Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, who em­ployed Coul­son as his spin doc­tor.

Fel­low News of the World edi­tor Re­bekah Brooks, a Mur­doch pro­tege who was the chief ex­ec­u­tive of his Bri­tish news­pa­per oper­a­tion, was ac­quit­ted of all charges, as were her hus­band and three other de­fen­dants.

The nearly eight-month trial — one of the long­est and most ex­pen­sive in Bri­tish his­tory — was trig­gered by dis­clo­sures in 2011 about the scale of the News of the World’s il­le­gal eaves­drop­ping.

Sev­eral re­porters and ed­i­tors at the tabloid have pleaded guilty to hack­ing, as has pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor Glenn Mul­caire, who was paid al­most 100,000 pounds (now about $168,000) a year by the paper for his scoop-gath­er­ing prow­ess.

Prose­cu­tors ar­gued that se­nior fig­ures such as Brooks, who was edi­tor from 2000 to 2003, and Coul­son, who suc­ceeded her, must have known about the prac­tice, a claim both de­nied.

Af­ter de­lib­er­at­ing for seven days, a jury at Lon­don’s Old Bai­ley unan­i­mously found 46-year-old Coul­son guilty of con­spir­ing to eaves­drop on mo­bile-phone voice­mails. The charge car­ries a max­i­mum two-year jail sen­tence.

The jury is still con­sid­er­ing charges against Coul­son and for­mer News of the World royal edi­tor Clive Good­man that they paid po­lice of­fi­cers for royal phone direc­to­ries.

Brooks was ac­quit­ted of that charge and of con­spir­ing to bribe of­fi­cials and ob­struct a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The jury also found for­mer News of the World man­ag­ing edi­tor Stu­art Kut­tner not guilty of phone hack­ing.

AP Photo/lefteris Pitarakis

Re­bekah Brooks, for­mer News In­ter­na­tional chief ex­ec­u­tive, left, ac­com­pa­nied by her hus­band Char­lie Brooks, leaves the Cen­tral Crim­i­nal Court in Lon­don, Tues­day, June 24, 2014. For­mer News of the World edi­tor Andy Coul­son was con­victed of phone hack­ing Tues­day, but fel­low edi­tor Re­bekah Brooks was ac­quit­ted af­ter a months-long trial cen­ter­ing on il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity at the heart of Ru­pert Mur­doch’s news­pa­per em­pire. A jury at Lon­don’s Old Bai­ley unan­i­mously found Coul­son, the for­mer spin doc­tor of Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, guilty of con­spir­ing to in­ter­cept com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Brooks was ac­quit­ted of that charge and of counts of brib­ing of­fi­cials and ob­struct­ing po­lice. The nearly eight-month trial was trig­gered by rev­e­la­tions that for years the News of the World used il­le­gal eaves­drop­ping to get sto­ries, lis­ten­ing in on the voice­mails of celebri­ties, politi­cians and even crime vic­tims.

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