Everything You Need To Know About The Phone Hacking Trial
The truth is sometimes far stranger than fiction.
A former editor of the News of the World, Andy Coulson, was found guilty of phone hacking, while Rebekah Brooks walked free in one of the longest running and most expensive trials in British legal history.
After two historic days for the British media industry, that leave unanswered questions about the role of police and senior politicians in condoning or ignoring wrongdoing at News International:
• Andy Coulson, also a former chief press spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron, has been found guilty of one count of conspiracy to intercept communications.
• Rebekah Brooks, former editor of The Sun and former CEO of News International, was found not guilty of all charges, including conspiracies to intercept communications, pervert the course of justice and to commit misconduct in public office.
• The jury retired to consider counts 2 and 3 – conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office charges, both relating to Clive Goodman and Andy Coulson – but could not reach a verdict on Wednesday.
UPDATE June 30: Coulson and Goodman will face a retrial on counts 2 and 3, relating to their alleged purchase of internal contacts books from royal households.
• Stuart Kuttner, former managing editor of the News of the World; Mark Hanna, former head of security at News International; Charlie Brooks, Rebekah's husband and Cheryl Carter, her former personal assistant, were all found not guilty of all charges.
• All the verdicts handed down on Tuesday were unanimous.
• There were originally 11 defendants in this case – three have already pleaded guilty and one was deemed medically unfit to stand trial.
• The three News of the World journalists who pleaded guilty to phone hacking last year were: Neville Thurlbeck, Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup – while 15 other journalists are waiting to find out if they will be charged over another alleged conspiracies to hack phones at the News of the World and The Sunday Mirror.
Sentencing of those journalists – as well as Coulson, former News of the World reporter Dan Evans and Glenn Mulcaire – will take place on Friday next week.
Today we also learned that the trial judge dismissed calls from both Coulson's lawyers and Brooks's legal team for the trial to be abandoned because of prejudicial media coverage.
Last night The Guardian reported that News Corp's founder, CEO and chairman will be further dragged into the scandal when police interview him about phone hacking.
Coulson's old colleague Piers Morgan stood by him.
As Charlie and Rebekah Brooks walked free.
The story has dominated the British media this week.
The court sat for 138 days and heard some remarkable things. The jury was told that Charlie Brooks concealed evidence – and hardcore pornography – from police and may have used pizza to cover his tracks.
The jury saw CCTV pictures showing Brooks place the computer and a jiffy bag behind a bin, out of shot.
After disappearing out of shot, he emerges empty-handed.
Then Hanna appears and appears to walk away with the bag and lapop. He told the court the bag was filled with pornography, so it "became obvious why he didn't want it to fall into the hands of the police or Rebekah". He maintains that as this was Brooks's personal property there was no crime being committed.
Police can be seen leaving with notebooks and computers from the flat after their search.
At 9:30 p.m. that night a News International security guard appears to bring the bag, laptop and a suitcase back to the car park, long after the police have gone.
But somehow, the items aren't found by Brooks – as the prosecution said was the plan – but by a car park cleaner the next morning, leaving security staff perplexed.
Nevertheless, this has been an embarassing episode for everyone involved. The court heard in graphic detail the kind of pornography that Charlie Brooks owned.
Neil Saunders QC, for Charlie Brooks, told the court that there were seven DVDs plus the magazine Lesbian Lovers, which contained: "Approximately 25 images of female nudity, including breasts, female genitalia, female masturbation and images of a sexual nature portraying penetration by other females."
Brooks howled with laughter in court when his own QC said "there's not much reading" in Lesbian Lovers.
Plus we learned that Charlie Brooks once drank a pint of washing up liquid to make himself sick.
The trial judge, Mr Justice Saunders, called this Private Eye front cover, released on 1 November 2013 as the trial got underway, in "bad taste" but ruled that it wasn't in contempt of court.
The media coverage of the scandal was intense – and saw an unprecedented number of papers write about their rivals.
Gone was the unspoken Fleet Street rule that papers don't criticise each other.
As had long been rumoured, the trial heard that Brooks and Coulson, the former editor of News of the World, had an on-off affair that lasted six years, while both of them made careers out of exposing other people's extra-marital affairs.
Brooks wrote to Coulson in February 2004: "You are my very best friend. I tell you everything, I confide in you, I seek your advice, I love you, care about you, worry about you. 'We laugh and cry together. In fact without our relationship in my life, I am really not sure how I will cope."
Andrew Edis, prosecuting, said the letter and the pair's relationship was relevant to the trial because of the close working relationship of two of News International's most senior figures. The jury were asked to read the letter in silence.
Meanwhile, not long after of the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone in 2002, The Sun, under its new editor Rebekah Brooks, called Andy Gilchrist, head of the Fire Brigades Union, a "lying, cheating, fornicator... a hypocrite who lies about his famiy so he can drop his trousers," in a typically tub-thumping editorial column.
Ironically, Gilchrist was one of many public figures whose phones were hacked. He told the trial that journalists seemed to "know where I was going before I got there. I couldn't understand how they got this confidential information".
Andy Coulson was chosen as David Cameron's chief spokesman after leaving News of the World – bringing the Conservatives' political judgement into sharp focus.
The closure of the News of the World was just one aspect of what became a major international crisis for Rupert Murdoch's media empire.
This trial may have never happened if it wasn't for the tenacity of one Guardian journalist.
Reporter Nick Davies reported on 5 July 2011 that someone at News of the World had hacked into the voicemail of Milly Dowler, the schoolgirl who was murdered in March 2002.
Within 48 hours, after some 33 advertisers had withdrawn their support, the company announced the paper would close.
The final issue sold 4.5 million copies and its proceeds after costs, more than £3 million, were given to charity.
However, one of The Guardian's central claims – that News of the World journalists deleted Dowler's voicemails after listening to them and therefore gave hope to her family that she may still be alive – was untrue and the paper made a clarification.
It's about power and the power elite and the way that the power elite tend to look after each other. I think it's reasonable to observe that the Murdoch corporation has too much power and it's evident in the way that the police, the Press Complaints Commission and some politicians automatically backed off and said 'let's not cause trouble, they might hurt us', that they already had too much power when all this was going on on.It seems to me highly unlikely that it's in the interests of society as a whole to give that too powerful group yet more power.
In seven years we've gone from News International saying that hacking was only carried out by "one rogue reporter" to an admission that it was widespread.
Within weeks of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire's jailing in 2007, News International's PR machine was busy making it clear that corruption and wrong-doing had been rooted out. This line of defence continued for years – even in the face of increasing evidence to the contrary.
Les Hinton, the former chief executive of News International and for many years Rupert Murdoch's right-hand man in Europe, told a parliamentary select committee in March 2007, two months after Mulcaire went to jail, whether there had been a "full, rigorous internal inquiry" and whether he was "absolutely convinced that Clive Goodman was the only person who knew what was going on".
His answer was very clear: "Yes, we have, and I believe he was the only person, but that investigation, under the new editor, continues."
As The Guardian reported that News International had paid £1 million to victims of phone hacking, including £700,000 to former PFA chief exectuive Gordon Taylor, its denials got stronger. "All of these irresponsible and unsubstantiated allegations against News of the World and other News International titles and its journalists are false," it said.
The Press Complaints Commission initially dismissed much of the phone hacking allegations.
In report on phone-hacking, later withdrawn, the newspaper industry watchdog said there was no evidence that phone hacking was on-going and that the Guardian's claims had been overblown.
It said: "The Commission could not help but conclude that the Guardian's stories did not quite live up to the dramatic billing they were initially given.
"Perhaps this was because the sources could not be tested; or because Nick Davies was unable to shed further light on the suggestions of a broader conspiracy at the newspaper; or because there was significant evidence to the contrary from the police; or because so much of the information was old and had already appeared in the public domain (or a combination of these factors).
"Whatever the reason, there did not seem to be anything concrete to support the implication that there had been a hitherto concealed criminal conspiracy at the News of the World to intrude into people's privacy."
The sheer scale of the hacking operation at News International, according to the police, is staggering.
The court heard that Carter once told Rupert Murdoch that Brooks was unavailable because she was shopping at MFI, the furniture store.
A safe belonging to Tom Crone, NOTW's in-house lawyer contained the birth certificate of the son of Kimberly Quinn, who had an affair with David Blunkett.
Princess Diana gave Clive Goodman one of the "green book" internal royal phone directories, the trial heard.
Rebekah Brooks decided that all News UK emails up to 2010 should be deleted, instead of just up to 2007.
In a series of emails between the IT team at News UK and Brooks, the cutoff point for old emails was discussed and it was decided that the date should be brought forward from 2007 so that all emails up to and including January 2010.
The IT team asked if this action, given the scrutinity surrounding the company, could be "misconstrued." But Brooks held firm: "Yes to 2010. Clean sweep," she wrote.
The court heard evidence of the lengths the paper went to cover its tracks. One NOTW reporter smashed up equipment so it would never be found by the police.
Evans also alleges that he was asked to leave a recording he made of a call from Sienna Miller to Daniel Craig outside to make it look like someone had dropped it off.
Rebekah Brooks brokered a deal with disgraced PR guru Max Clifford – whose phone was hacked – to keep him quiet and to continue receiving celebrity scoops.
The detectives who investigated Charlie Brooks sought his racing tips and even joined a sweepstake he organised for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The horse trainer and former jockey got the very people who'd been investigating him to take part – with the £70 prize going to Stuart Kuttner's soliticitor, acording to The Times. Rebekah Brooks was reportedly tasked with dishing out his winnings but accidenally stuffed the roll of £10 notes into the pocket of Andy Coulson's solicitor.
Tony Blair gave Rebekah Brooks PR advice at the height of the scandal.
UPDATE: Operation Weeting, the police investigation into phone hacking, cost up to £20 million, it was revealed after the trial finished.
And that's not including the cost of operations Elveden and Tuleta, which were set up to examine claims of police payments and computer hacking.
At one point almost 200 detectives from the Met's murder squad, the serious crime unit and the Stephen Lawrence inquiry were diverted to the Brooks investigation.
The total cost for the hacking trial is estimated at about £100 million, with only a quarter of that covered by the public purse.
We don't even know the full cost to Rupert Murdoch's media empire – in terms of money and political power.
We said long ago, and repeat today, that wrongdoing occurred, and we apologised for it. We have been paying compensation to those affected and have cooperated with investigations.We made changes in the way we do business to help ensure wrongdoing like this does not occur again. And we are strong supporters of the Independent Press Standards Organisation that is expected to begin work this autumn, serving as a watchdog on the industry in the public interest.Out of respect for the fact that further legal proceedings will occur, we will have no further comment at this time.
Update - June 30, 3 p.m. BST: In a pre-sentencing hearing for the six former News of the World employees and contractors on Monday the full scale of the phone hacking operation was laid bare.
Chief prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told the court that the hacking was carried out by several people and that there were six separate phone hacking operations in 2004 and 2005, after the success the paper found from targeting David Blunkett.
Glenn Mulcaire, who was convicted of phone hacking back in 2007, was named and shamed as the "personification of the phone hacking scandal," according to his QC, speaking in mitigation today. While Mulcaire was hacking voicemails on an industrial scale, in fact journalists at the paper were doing their own hacking too.
The prosecution pointed out that one of Mulcaire's victims was – ironically – Coulson, the editor convicted of conspiring to hack phones.
The QC for Neville Thurlbeck, the former NOTW chief reporter who pleaded guilty to phone hacking before the trial, argued that the practice was a result of competition.
The six men to be sentenced on Friday are Andy Coulson, Neville Thurlbeck, Dan Evans, Glenn Mulcaire and Greg Miskiw. They will be sentenced on Friday.
The maximum prison sentence for the unlawful interception of phone messages is two years.