Thursday, 26 June 2014
CQ-Rupert Murdoch colleague found guilty in phone hacking case
Former newspaper editor and ex-Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson was found guilty of conspiracy to hack phones in what is widely seen as an embarrassment for British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The verdicts came three years after it was revealed that journalists on News of the World hacked the phone of then-missing teenager Milly Dowler in 2002, raising hopes that she was alive and checking messages, when in fact she had been murdered.
The resulting public and political outrage led to the closure of the 168-year-old paper and the setting up of a public inquiry to examine journalistic ethics.
Coulson resigned as News of the World editor in 2007 after its then-royal editor, Goodman, and a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, were jailed for hacking into voice-mail messages left for royal aides.
Coulson denied any wrongdoing and later became David Cameron's director of communications. The former editor resigned from his Downing Street position in 2011 as coverage of the phone hacking scandal broadened.
Cameron, who has faced criticism for hiring Coulson, gave what he called a "full and frank apology" .In a statement to the media, saying he took "full responsibility" for his former aide's recruitment.
The Prime Minister said he had decided to give the former editor "a second chance" on the basis of promises Coulson had given that he did not know about phone hacking.
"I am extremely sorry that I employed him, it was the wrong decision, and I am very clear about that," Cameron said.
He added that there had been no complaints about the work Coulson did for him either at Downing Street or beforehand when Cameron was leader of the opposition.
Coulson's guilty verdict on the charge of conspiring to hack phones "raises important questions about David Cameron's judgment in employing him," said Matthew Ashton, an expert in politics and the media at Nottingham Trent University.
"In particular what warnings did he receive beforehand, and how rigorous was the vetting and interview process?
"Regardless of the verdicts, this trial has raised important questions about the relationship between the political, economic and media elites in the UK."
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