Last week the senior editor in Rupert Murdoch’s British news empire was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to intercept communications. Four former colleagues were also sentenced after an eight month trial.
The U.K.’s Telegraph reported that judge John Saunders said, “Mr. Coulson has to take the major blame for the shame of phone hacking at the News of the World. He knew about it, he encouraged it when he should have stopped it. 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.”
Coulson, who was at one time a trusted aide of Prime Minister David Cameron, faces a retrial along with former royals editor Clive Goodman on separate charges that they made illegal payments to police officers to obtain royal phone directories.
All the other defendants in the case were cleared, including Coulson’s onetime lover Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Murdoch’s British newspaper subsidiary.
Over a period of more than a decade, journalists at the now-shuttered Sunday paper listened in on thousands of voicemails belonging to celebrities, politicians and crime victims.
Also sentenced were news editor Greg Miskiw and chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, both for six months, and news editor James Weatherup for four months. Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who carried out most of the hacking, received a suspended sentence of six months.
Judge Saunders told the defendants, “All the defendants that I have to sentence, save for Mr. Mulcaire, are distinguished journalists who had no need to behave as they did to be successful. I accept that their reputations and their careers are irreparably damaged.”