Last week saw Andy Coulson found guilty of the crime of phone hacking. Rebekah Brooks was acquitted on these counts and in addition Ms Brooks was also acquitted on two counts of perverting the course of justice and two counts of paying public officials.
In a trial that has lasted eight months Brooks and Coulson were amongst seven different people associated with News International put on trial in what is thought to be one of the longest criminal cases in English history. Although the charges against each individual varied from full involvement in phone hacking to perverting the course of justice the cases centre around the discovery that thousands of individuals’ phones may have been hacked for stories including members of the royal family, high profile celebrities and even crime victims like Milly Dowler. This, it has now been revealed was a particular problem at the now defunct News of the World; one of the papers owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International.
Coulson’s verdict is by no means the first in the case of phone hacking indeed News of the World Royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire have already served sentences for their involvement. Perhaps Coulson’s is the most high profile of those so far due to his close connections with the Prime Minister. Nor is this the end for the phone hacking trial itself; Scotland Yard has over ten different operations on going looking at various different aspects of the phone hacking scandal. The case is by no means a simple one and is set to stay this way as Scotland Yard looks at a possible corporate prosecution for News International who’s parent company Newscorp also faces questions in the US.
But what’s next for Coulson and Brooks? Well for Coulson this is not the end as he still faces possible charges in Scotland in reference to evidence he provided in the case of Tommy Sheridan in 2010 and a possible retrial along with Clive Goodman on the charge of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office after the jury failed to come to a verdict on this charge. David Cameron got himself in trouble last week as he took to publically denouncing the selection of Andy Coulson as his Chief of Communications a move that Mr Justice Saunders considered potentially harmful to the jury in their deliberations over their final verdicts.
For Brooks the future looks uncertain but by no means a problem. Many sources note that Ms Brooks has many options to choose from; as she highlighted during her talk with the press her main concern for the moment is to look after her young daughter but the prospect of Brooks remaining a full time mother permanently looks unlikely. Talks of returning to Newscorp in the UK or moving to Australia have abounded, it looks uncertain that Brooks will slow down any time soon.
Coulson along with three journalists and a private investigator is due to be sentenced on Friday.