Andy Coulson arrives at the Old Bailey. Photo: Getty
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Andy Coulson found guilty of phone hacking; Rebekah Brooks cleared of all charges

The outcome of the phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey.

Former News of the World editor and No 10 communications director Andy Coulson has been found guilty of conspiracy to hack phones.

Co-defendant Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges, including conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. Her husband Charlie Brooks was also cleared of all charges. Other verdicts are pending, as court reporter Peter Jukes explains:


This is what David Cameron said about his former spin doctor Coulson in the House of Commons on 20 July 2011:

I have an old-fashioned view about innocent until proven guilty. But if it turns out I have been lied to, that would be the moment for a profound apology. In that event, I can tell you I will not fall short.

The case is sure to be brought up during tomorrow's PMQs.

Following an eight-month trial, the verdicts so far are:

  • Brooks found not guilty on all charges.
  • Brooks' husband Charlie, the former head of News International security Mark Hanna, and Brooks' secretary Cheryl Carter all cleared of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
  • Stuart Kuttner, managing editor of the News of the World, cleared of conspiring to hack phones.
  • Coulson has been found guilty of conspiring to hack phones. 

The jury, which has been considering verdicts since Wednesday 11 June, is still deliberating on further charges faced by Coulson and former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office by paying police officers for two royal directories. Here's the Guardian's Lisa O'Carroll on this:

The Prime Minister will stand by his decision to apologise if Coulson were to be found guilty of hacking phones. Here's what a spokesman said:

During Treasury Questions in the Commons, Labour's Ed Balls asked George Osborne, who advised Cameron to hire Coulson, if he accepts that he damaged his own and the Treasury's reputation. 

Update, 14.50: David Cameron and Ed Miliband have now given statements on the verdicts. Cameron said: "I am extremely sorry that I employed him. It was the wrong decision and I’m very clear about that." Read his full remarks here

Ed Miliband said: “I think David Cameron must do much more than an apology – he owes the country an explanation for why he did not act.” Read his full statement.

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Will Euroscepticism prove an unbeatable advantage in the Conservative leadership race?

Conservative members who are eager for Brexit are still searching for a heavyweight champion - and they could yet inherit the earth.

Put your money on Liam Fox? The former Defence Secretary has been given a boost by the news that ConservativeHome’s rolling survey of party members preferences for the next Conservative leader. Jeremy Wilson at BusinessInsider and James Millar at the Sunday Post have both tipped Fox for the top job.

Are they right? The expectation among Conservative MPs is that there will be several candidates from the Tory right: Dominic Raab, Priti Patel and potentially Owen Paterson could all be candidates, while Boris Johnson, in the words of one: “rides both horses – is he the candidate of the left, of the right, or both?”

MPs will whittle down the field of candidates to a top two, who will then be voted on by the membership.  (As Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, notes in his interview with my colleague George Eaton, Conservative MPs could choose to offer a wider field if they so desired, but would be unlikely to surrender more power to party activists.)

The extreme likelihood is that that contest will be between two candidates: George Osborne and not-George Osborne.  “We know that the Chancellor has a bye to the final,” one minister observes, “But once you’re in the final – well, then it’s anyone’s game.”

Could “not-George Osborne” be Liam Fox? Well, the difficulty, as one MP observes, is we don’t really know what the Conservative leadership election is about:

“We don’t even know what the questions are to which the candidates will attempt to present themselves as the answer. Usually, that question would be: who can win us the election? But now that Labour have Corbyn, that question is taken care of.”

So what’s the question that MPs will be asking? We simply don’t know – and it may be that they come to a very different conclusion to their members, just as in 2001, when Ken Clarke won among MPs – before being defeated in a landslide by Conservative activists.

Much depends not only on the outcome of the European referendum, but also on its conduct. If the contest is particularly bruising, it may be that MPs are looking for a candidate who will “heal and settle”, in the words of one. That would disadvantage Fox, who will likely be a combative presence in the European referendum, and could benefit Boris Johnson, who, as one MP put it, “rides both horses” and will be less intimately linked with the referendum and its outcome than Osborne.

But equally, it could be that Euroscepticism proves to be a less powerful card than we currently expect. Ignoring the not inconsiderable organisational hurdles that have to be cleared to beat Theresa May, Boris Johnson, and potentially any or all of the “next generation” of Sajid Javid, Nicky Morgan or Stephen Crabb, we simply don’t know what the reaction of Conservative members to the In-Out referendum will be.

Firstly, there’s a non-trivial possibility that Leave could still win, despite its difficulties at centre-forward. The incentive to “reward” an Outer will be smaller. But if Britain votes to Remain – and if that vote is seen by Conservative members as the result of “dirty tricks” by the Conservative leadership – it could be that many members, far from sticking around for another three to four years to vote in the election, simply decide to leave. The last time that Cameron went against the dearest instincts of many of his party grassroots, the result was victory for the Prime Minister – and an activist base that, as the result of defections to Ukip and cancelled membership fees, is more socially liberal and more sympathetic to Cameron than it was before. Don’t forget that, for all the worry about “entryism” in the Labour leadership, it was “exitism” – of Labour members who supported David Miliband and liked the New Labour years  - that shifted that party towards Jeremy Corbyn.

It could be that if – as Brady predicts in this week’s New Statesman – the final two is an Inner and an Outer, the Eurosceptic candidate finds that the members who might have backed them are simply no longer around.

It comes back to the biggest known unknown in the race to succeed Cameron: Conservative members. For the first time in British political history, a Prime Minister will be chosen, not by MPs with an electoral mandate of their own or by voters at a general election but by an entirelyself-selecting group: party members. And we simply don't know enough about what they feel - yet. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog. He usually writes about politics.