Andy Coulson, who will be sentenced this week over phone hacking, will be retried on bribery charges after a London jury failed to reach verdicts following an eight-month trial into wrongdoing at News Corp. tabloids.
Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World, and former News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman will go through the process again, prosecutors said today. The pair are charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in public office by paying police officers for two royal phone directories.
Coulson, 46, is one of five people who will be sentenced to as long as two years in prison this week over phone hacking at News Corp. (NWSA:US)’s now defunct News of the World. Four other journalists and a private detective at the tabloid who pleaded guilty before the trial may also receive prison terms.
The defendants “can be properly described as highly paid and influential employees at a national newspaper,” prosecutor Andrew Edis said today. “These defendants utterly corrupted that newspaper which became, at the very highest level, a thoroughly criminal enterprise.”
Sentencing hearings started today in London and Judge John Saunders will issue a ruling by the end of the week. Former News of the World assistant editors Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup, chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and private detective Glenn Mulcaire will also be sentenced.
Between them they hacked many hundreds of phones and targeted hundreds of victims. Hacking at the newspaper “reads like a Who’s Who of Britain in the first five years of the century,” Edis said.
Coulson, who is also a former communications adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, was one of seven defendants on trial for conspiring to hack phones and bribe public officials in a trial that was triggered by one of the biggest media scandals in U.K. history. The other defendants, including his former lover and boss, Rebekah Brooks, were cleared of charges related to the phone-hacking scandal at News Corp.
Miskiw, Weatherup, Thurlbeck and Mulcaire pleaded guilty before the trial started.
Phone hacking at the 168-year-old tabloid was an “approved corporate policy,” by executives including Coulson and managing editor Stuart Kuttner, Hugh Davies, a lawyer for Thurlbeck said today.
Kuttner was acquitted by jurors on phone-hacking charges last week. Davies said his client wasn’t willing to testify against his former colleagues. Anthony Burton, a lawyer for Kuttner, didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.
Coulson was the lone person convicted in the trial largely because he was the only defendant who had colleagues testify against him. Goodman -- who was also a defendant in the case -- and former reporter Dan Evans both said that Coulson was aware of phone hacking at the paper.
Goodman, 56, testified in March that he discussed monitoring mobile phones with Coulson as far back as 2005 and even showed him a transcript of a message left by Prince Harry on a royal aide’s phone.
Evans, who pleaded guilty to hacking phones at another newspaper, said that Coulson heard messages left on James Bond star Daniel Craig’s mobile phone by actress Sienna Miller. Evans will be sentenced after hearings next month, prosecutors said today.
Coulson was found guilty of hacking last week with the conviction derailing his career for the third time. He resigned as editor of the News of the World, then Britain’s best-selling newspaper, in 2007 after Goodman went to prison for intercepting voice mails. Four years later, he quit his job as communications adviser to Cameron as the scandal refused to subside.
During his testimony in April, Coulson admitted that he might never have been offered the job with Cameron if he had been open about his knowledge of hacking.
“I can’t say for sure,” Coulson said. “I think it could well have meant that I wouldn’t have got the job.”
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