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Andy Coulson Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison For Phone Hacking

04/07/2014 10:26 | Updated 04 July 2014

Andy Coulson, former confidant of and advisor to the British prime minister, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for phone hacking.

Coulson, denied sanctioning hacking as editor of The News of The World (NoTW) all through his eight-month trial but was convicted by the jury.

At the sentencing today, Mr Justice Saunders said the hacking of murdered teenager Milly Dowler's phone was "unforgivable".

David Cameron said his old friend's sentence showed that "no-one is above the law".

Asked about the outcome on a visit to Scotland, Cameron said: "Well, what it says is that it is right that justice should be done and no one is above the law, which is what I have always said."

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Coulson, who was David Cameron's spin doctor until 2011, saw his former boss and love Rebekah Brooks acquitted of the same charge.

He arrived at court without his wife, Eloise.

andy coulson eliose

Coulson, pictured earlier in the trial, arriving with his wife a discreet distance behind

His former NoTW colleagues Nevile Thurlbeck, James Weatherup and Greg Miskiw were also sentenced along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. They had all admitted the offence before the trial began.

Coulson can expected to be released on licence halfway through his sentence after nine months. He could be released even earlier, if he is permitted to given a home detention curfew, where an electronic tag would confine him to his house.

Miskiw and Thurlbeck were each sentenced to six months in jail.

Weatherup was jailed for four months, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work.

Mulcaire was jailed for six months, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work.

The judge told the defendants: "I do not accept ignorance of the law provides any mitigation.

"The laws of protection are given to the rich, famous and powerful as to all."

andy coulson

Coulson arriving in court this morning

The judge said Coulson clearly thought it was necessary to use phone hacking to maintain the newspaper's "competitive edge".

And he said the delay in the NoTW telling police about the Milly Dowler voicemail in 2002 showed the motivation was to "take credit for finding her" and sell the maximum number of newspapers.

The judge said: "Mr Coulson has to take the major shame for the blame of phone hacking at the NoTW. He knew about it, he encouraged it when he should have stopped it."

He added: "There is a certain irony in seeing men who pride themselves on being distinguished investigative journalists, who have shed light in dark corners and forced others to reveal the truth, being unprepared to do the same for their own profession."

weatherup

mulcaire

Weatherup (above) and Mulcaire (below), the only defendants to not be sent to prison, leaving court after being sentenced

There was no reaction from Coulson as he was jailed.

Weatherup and Mulcaire both declined to comment as they left the courtroom.

The sentencings bring to an end one of the longest and most complicated trials in English legal history and a scandal that continues to reverberate across the press and Westminster.

Campaigners said the conclusion of the hacking trial was the inevitable consequence of a "colossal failure" which allowed criminal activities to "fester for many years" at the News of the World.

A spokesman for press reform group Hacked Off said: "No-one can take any pleasure from the sentences handed down today on News of the World journalists.

"But these sentences are the inevitable outcome of a colossal failure of corporate governance within News International that allowed a culture of criminal behaviour to fester for many years.

"It has taken far too long for the thousands of innocent victims of this industrial-scale criminal conspiracy to see its perpetrators brought to justice.

"It is only the beginning of the process. Those victims will insist that no stone is left unturned to get to the full truth of what happened - no matter how high up the scandal went."

He continued: "We now need a proper independent and effective press regulator that actually works for victims and the public in preventing this sort of institutional disregard for the rights of others."

  • Rebekah Brooks
    Getty
    Brooks was acquitted of all charges she faced over phone hacking. NOT GUILTY: Count 1: Conspiracy to intercept communications between 2000 and 2006. NOT GUILTY: Count 4: Conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office between January 2004 and January 2012, which related to an alleged attempt to bribe an official to acquire a picture of Prince William in a bikini. NOT GUILTY 5: Conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office between 2006 and 2008. NOT GUILTY: Count 6: Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in July 2011 - she was alleged to have tried to conceal notebooks. NOT GUILTY: Count 7: Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in July 2011 - alleged to have attempted to hide documents and computers from the police.
  • Andy Coulson
    Press Association
    Coulson was convicted of phone hacking in his time at the NoTW. The jury failed to reach verdicts in two other counts. GUILTY: Count 1: Conspiracy to commit intercept communications between September 2000 and August 2006. NO VERDICT: Counts 2 and 3: Conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.
  • Charlie Brooks
    Press Association
    Brooks was acquitted of one charge he faced that related to an alleged attempt to conceal evidence from police who were investigating phone hacking. NOT GUILTY: Count 7: Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in July 2011.
  • Stuart Kuttner
    Press Association
    The former managing editor of the NoTW was cleared of one charge of phone hacking. NOT GUILTY: Count 1: Conspiracy to intercept communications between September 2000 and August 2006.
  • Cheryl Carter
    Press Association
    Carter, Brooks' PA, was acquitted of the one count she faced. She was accused of conspiring to conceal Rebekah Brooks' incriminating notebooks. NOT GUILTY: Count 6: Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in July 2011.
  • Mark Hanna
    Press Association
    Hanna, News International's then head of security, was cleared over allegations he helped conceal evidence from police. NOT GUILTY: Count 7: Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in July 2011.
  • Clive Goodman
    Press Association
    The jury went back to consider verdicts relating to the charges Goodman, former royal editor at the NoTW, faces but failed to reach any verdict. NO VERDICT: Counts 2 and 3: Conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.
  • Neville Thurlbeck
    Thurlbeck, former news editor at the NoTW, admitted phone hacking before the trial began. GUILTY: Count 1: Conspiracy to intercept communications between September 2000 and August 2006.
  • Glenn Mulcaire
    Press Association
    The private investigator had already admitted phone hacking. GUILTY: Count 1: Conspiring to intercept communications between September 2000 and August 2006.
  • James Weatherup
    Press Association
    Weatherup, also a former news editor at the NoTW, has pleaded guilty to phone hacking. GUILTY: Count 1: Conspiring to intercept communications between September 2000 and August 2006.
  • Greg Miskiw
    Press Association
    Former journalist at The NoTW Greg Miskiw also pleaded guilty to phone hacking. GUILTY: Count 1: Conspiring to intercept communications between September 2000 and August 2006.
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