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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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Andrea Leadsom as Environment Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

A little over a week into Andrea Leadsom’s new role as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and senior industry figures are already questioning her credentials. A growing list of campaigners have called for her resignation, and even the Cabinet Office implied that her department's responsibilities will be downgraded.

So far, so bad.

The appointment would appear to be something of a consolation prize, coming just days after Leadsom pulled out of the Conservative leadership race and allowed Theresa May to enter No 10 unopposed.

Yet while Leadsom may have been able to twist the truth on her CV in the City, no amount of tampering will improve the agriculture-related side to her record: one barely exists. In fact, recent statements made on the subject have only added to her reputation for vacuous opinion: “It would make so much more sense if those with the big fields do the sheep, and those with the hill farms do the butterflies,” she told an audience assembled for a referendum debate. No matter the livelihoods of thousands of the UK’s hilltop sheep farmers, then? No need for butterflies outside of national parks?

Normally such a lack of experience is unsurprising. The department has gained a reputation as something of a ministerial backwater; a useful place to send problematic colleagues for some sobering time-out.

But these are not normal times.

As Brexit negotiations unfold, Defra will be central to establishing new, domestic policies for UK food and farming; sectors worth around £108bn to the economy and responsible for employing one in eight of the population.

In this context, Leadsom’s appointment seems, at best, a misguided attempt to make the architects of Brexit either live up to their promises or be seen to fail in the attempt.

At worst, May might actually think she is a good fit for the job. Leadsom’s one, water-tight credential – her commitment to opposing restraints on industry – certainly has its upsides for a Prime Minister in need of an alternative to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); a policy responsible for around 40 per cent the entire EU budget.

Why not leave such a daunting task in the hands of someone with an instinct for “abolishing” subsidies  thus freeing up money to spend elsewhere?

As with most things to do with the EU, CAP has some major cons and some equally compelling pros. Take the fact that 80 per cent of CAP aid is paid out to the richest 25 per cent of farmers (most of whom are either landed gentry or vast, industrialised, mega-farmers). But then offset this against the provision of vital lifelines for some of the UK’s most conscientious, local and insecure of food producers.

The NFU told the New Statesman that there are many issues in need of urgent attention; from an improved Basic Payment Scheme, to guarantees for agri-environment funding, and a commitment to the 25-year TB eradication strategy. But that they also hope, above all, “that Mrs Leadsom will champion British food and farming. Our industry has a great story to tell”.

The construction of a new domestic agricultural policy is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Britain to truly decide where its priorities for food and environment lie, as well as to which kind of farmers (as well as which countries) it wants to delegate their delivery.

In the context of so much uncertainty and such great opportunity, Leadsom has a tough job ahead of her. And no amount of “speaking as a mother” will change that.

India Bourke is the New Statesman's editorial assistant.