Coulson to be re-tried over royal payments

July 01, 2014 - 3:34:51 am

LONDON: British Prime Minister David Cameron’s ex-media chief Andy Coulson, found guilty last week over phone-hacking while editing a Rupert Murdoch tabloid, will stand trial for a second time over alleged illegal payments, prosecutors said yesterday.

Coulson was convicted by a jury of being complicit in widespread tapping of voicemails by journalists at Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World Sunday tabloid following an eight-month trial at London’s Old Bailey.

However, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on whether Coulson and the paper’s former royal editor, Clive Goodman, were guilty of making illegal payments to a police officer to obtain telephone directories for Britain’s royal family. They denied the accusations.

Rebekah Brooks, the ex-chief executive of News Corp.’s British newspaper arm News International who was also tried over phone-hacking allegations and other crimes, was cleared on all charges.

The announcement of the re-trial was made as Coulson and three other senior journalists, who ran the tabloid’s news desk and have admitted their role in phone-hacking, appeared in court for a sentencing hearing. “For a period of years there was industrial-scale phone-hacking at the News of the World,” prosecutor Andrew Edis said.

“These defendants utterly corrupted that newspaper which became at the very highest level a thoroughly criminal enterprise.”

The 46-year-old Coulson edited the News of the World, then Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, between 2003 and 2007. He stepped down after Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire admitted hacking into phones of royal aides to generate front page news stories.

Just months later he went to work as the communications director for Cameron, first in opposition and then in Downing Street when the Conservative leader was elected as prime minister in 2010.