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Former British Tabloid Editor Convicted of Phone Hacking

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FILE - Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks and husband Charlie Brooks, left image, and former News of the World editor Andy Coulson arrive at The Old Bailey law court in London.

FILE - Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks and husband Charlie Brooks, left image, and former News of the World editor Andy Coulson arrive at The Old Bailey law court in London.

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was convicted of phone hacking Tuesday after a months-long trial centering on illegal activity at the heart of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper empire.

But fellow editor Rebekah Brooks, the former boss of News Corp.'s British newspaper arm, was found not guilty by a London court of being part of an illegal conspiracy at a Murdoch tabloid to hack into phones and bribe officials.

Coulson, 46, who was forced to resign from his position with Cameron over the scandal, now faces jail following his conviction at the Old Bailey court in London.

The jury delivered their verdicts after eight days of deliberations at the end of a marathon 130-day trial.

Hacked voicemails

Both Coulson and Brooks were former editors of Murdoch's News of the World, the 168-year-old tabloid the media mogul closed in July 2011 amid a public outcry over revelations that journalists had hacked into the voicemails on the mobile phone of a murdered schoolgirl.

The scandal sent shockwaves through Britain's political elite, with prime ministers from both main parties shown to have been close to Murdoch and his senior staff, including Brooks.

Cameron, who ordered a public inquiry into press ethics in the immediate aftermath, faces embarrassment over Coulson's conviction.

After the verdict, Cameron apologized for hiring Coulson. "I'm extremely sorry that I employed him. It was the wrong decision and I'm very clear about that."

Cameron told parliament in 2011 he would make such an apology if it turned out that Coulson had lied to him and did know about phone hacking at the now defunct News of the World newspaper.

The 46-year-old Brooks was cleared of being part of a conspiracy to hack into phones to find exclusive stories, of authorizing illegal payments to public officials and of trying to hinder the police investigation.

On hearing the verdict at London's Old Bailey, Brooks showed little immediate emotion but was later led out of the court by a nurse.

Other court action

Three others - Brooks' husband, Charles Brooks; her former secretary Cheryl Carter, and News International security chief Mark Hanna - were acquitted of perverting the course of justice by attempting to hide evidence from police.

Former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner was found not guilty of phone hacking.

The defendants stood silently in the dock as the forewoman of the 11-member jury announced the verdicts.

The scandal led Murdoch to shut down the 168-year-old tabloid and spurred criminal investigations in which dozens of journalists and officials have been arrested.

Murdoch owns the business-related U.S. newspaper The Wall Street Journal.

The hacking scandal also prompted a judge-led inquiry into the ethics of Britain's famously aggressive press, which made recommendations for reforming the way it is governed, yet to be put into force.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.
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