Andy Coulson, former News of the World editor-in-chief and temporary media aide to Prime Minister David Cameron, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. He was indicted for bribery, obstruction of justice and phone hacking, but was only found guilty of conspiring to hack into a cell phone. His charges were in relation to a girl who was kidnapped and found dead in 2002. When Mill Dowler, 13, was kidnapped, Andy Coulson sent his reporters to the scene where he thought she would be found before he called the police.
Although News of the World was shut down by its owner, Rupert Murdoch, in July of 2011 due to the questionable business practices and reporting techniques of its staff, it seems trouble is still following some who worked there. In 2002, when the kidnapping was all over the news, Coulson was the second-highest ranking editor at the paper. When Dowler was kidnapped, the newspaper allegedly hired, or was at least aware of the hiring of, the paper’s private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, to attempt to hack into the girl’s phone, which is where the trouble started. After they had access to the phone, Dowler received a voicemail posthumously. At the time, Coulson was the acting editor-in-chief while his boss, Rebekah Brooks, was on vacation in Dubai. The message left on Dowler’s phone led Coulson and Mulcaire to believe that she would be at a certain location. Coulson is said to have sent his subordinate reporters to that location before notifying police of the missing girl’s possible reappearance there.
The editor was brought up on charges of conspiring to hack several phones in the six years between 2000 and 2006. He was editor-in-chief starting in 2003 until he resigned in 2007, four years before the hacking of Dowler’s phone surfaced. Coulson will be returning to trial soon, as the jury was not able to reach a verdict on whether or not he and the former royals editor of the paper, Clive Goodman, were guilty of bribing police officials into giving them the royal directory of phone numbers. However, Goodman already received a prison sentence when he was found guilty of hacking into royal voicemail in 2007.
The two were not the only ones brought up on charges. Another editor, Greg Miskiw, was found guilty and given a six-month sentence along with Neville Thurlbeck, the ex-chief reporter, but Brooks was found innocent. Two others received reduced sentences, while James Weatherup, former reporter, was given four months. The prosecution claimed the News of the World used the services of private investigator Mulcaire 1900 times to hack into voicemails on the request of various reporters for the paper. This prompted his lawyer to claim that he could not be tried for the same crime twice; an argument that did not keep him from receiving a six-month sentence.
Of the seven prosecuted over the past eight months. only Brooks was found innocent, and while Goodman has not been convicted of another crime since 2007, he will soon be re-tried for bribery. That left five of the seven present in the courtroom for sentencing at Old Bailey, London’s central criminal court. Judge John Sanders gave all five their sentences on Monday, Jun 30, 2014, after a stern rebuke for Coulson, in which the judge said that even if Coulson had not sent the reporters in 2002, he must have at least known what they were doing beforehand, as he was editor-in-chief at the time, and still he failed to call the police.