Andy Coulson arriving at the Old Bailey for sentencing. Photo: Getty
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Andy Coulson jailed for 18 months for conspiracy to hack phones

Former No 10 communications director and News of the World editor is sentenced.

Andy Coulson has been sentenced to 18 months in jail for conspiracy to hack phones.

The 46-year-old former Downing Street communications director was found guilty at the Old Bailey last week.

The maximum sentence for his offence is two years, but Coulson received a reduction of several months “for previous good character”.

He will be taken to HM Belmarsh Prison at lunchtime, before being sent to an open prison in the next few days.

Coulson, a former News of the World editor, is one of the four ex-journalists from the now retired tabloid to be sentenced.

The former news editor Greg Miskiw and ex-chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck were jailed for six months. Former private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was tasked with phonehacking, was given a six-month suspended sentence, and former reporter James Weatherup was given a four-month suspended sentence.

The Prime Minister commented that Coulson's sentencing shows, "no one is above the law".

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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