Rebekah Brooks: I feel vindicated

Hampshire Chronicle: Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie Brooks make a statement outside their property in central London, following their acquittal in the hacking trial Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie Brooks make a statement outside their property in central London, following their acquittal in the hacking trial

Rebekah Brooks, speaking for the first time since she was cleared of phone hacking charges this week, has declared: "I am innocent of the crimes that I was charged with and I feel vindicated by the unanimous verdicts."

Flanked by her husband Charlie and surrounded by a media scrum outside their London home, she said the last three years had been "tough" for her and her husband and those close to them.

She added: "But more importantly they've been tough for everybody on all sides that have been affected by the issues highlighted by this case and therefore throughout the three year police investigation and through our eight month trial at the Old Bailey we've always tried to keep our troubles in perspective."

She went on: "After all, we have a happy and healthy daughter. We have our brave and resolute mums who have been at court most of the time and we have had strong and unwavering support from all friends, our family and from our legal teams that have believed in us from the beginning.

"I am innocent of the crimes that I was charged with and I feel vindicated by the unanimous verdicts. When I was arrested, it was in the middle of a maelstrom of controversy, of politics and of comment. Some of that was fair but much of it was not so I am very grateful to the jury for coming to their decision.

"I would like to say it has been a time of reflection for me. I have learned some valuable lessons and hopefully I am the wiser for it.

" I am incredibly proud of the many journalists I have worked with throughout my career and the great campaigns that we have fought and won.

" All I can say to you all is that today my thoughts are with my former colleagues and their families who face future trials. I am going to do everything I can to support them as I know how anxious the times ahead are.

"What I am going to do now and I hope you don't mind...I can't say too much today. I have to be careful for my former colleagues' sake what I say. My thoughts are with them like I said and their families. Now we are going home to spend some much needed time with Scarlett.

Mr Brooks, who was cleared alongside his wife, said he was proud of her and the dignity she had shown.

The former Sun and News of the World Editor editor was appearing in public for the first time since she was found not guilty on all charges on Tuesday, day 138 of the Old Bailey hacking trial.

Her ex-lover and NotW deputy Andy Coulson faces jail after the jury of eight women and three men found him guilty of the hacking conspiracy between 2000 and 2006.

Mrs Brooks, 46, made no direct reference to Coulson as she faced a barrage of questions from reporters.

But racehorse trainer Mr Brooks, 51, said: "Obviously I am really concerned for Andy and (his wife) Eloise and their family. I would like to say I am really sad."

Asked if he thought Coulson was guilty, he would only say that was "sad".

Speaking before Mrs Brooks, Mr Brooks said: " In the last 48 hours I have had to focus on being a racehorse trainer but actually I have very little do add to what we have both said two years ago when we were charged.

"Everything, absolutely everything we said two years ago has proved to be true. Rebekah has been through an unprecedented investigation of an incredibly forensic and personal nature, the likes of which we have probably never seen.

"And I would just like to say how proud I am of Rebekah and the dignity she has shown."

After eight days of deliberation the jury cleared Mrs Brooks of hacking, plotting to commit misconduct in a public office by agreeing to pay a Sun journalist's "number one military contact" and perverting the course of justice.

Her former PA Cheryl Carter, Mr Brooks and News International head of security Mark Hanna were also found not guilty of charges of perverting the course of justice over allegations of destroying or hiding potential evidence from police. Former News International managing editor Stuart Kuttner was also cleared.

Mrs Brooks always maintained she knew nothing about hacking at the News of the World while she was editor between 2000 and 2003.

The only story to result from a voicemail during that time was about Milly Dowler, which appeared while she on holiday in 2002.

The revelation that the murdered schoolgirl's phone was hacked by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire led to the closure of the paper in July 2011 and Brooks's resignation as NI chief executive.

She became the focus of public anger over the Milly hacking and received hatemail even though she said she was as shocked as anyone over it.

Coulson's conviction prompted an apology from David Cameron, who had appointed him as his Number 10 spin doctor after he resigned as NoTW editor following the first hacking trial, when Mulcaire and NoTW royal editor Clive Goodman were jailed.

But the Prime Minister's apology drew criticism from the trial judge as the jury were still considering others charges against Coulson and Goodman at the time.

Coulson faces up to two years in prison when he is sentenced next week along with former colleagues who have already pleaded guilty - Greg Miskiw, Neville Thurlbeck, James Weatherup, Mulcaire and Dan Evans .

Coulson, 46, was recruited by Chancellor George Osborne to head the Tory media operation within months of resigning as NotW editor in January 2007.

He admitted in court he did not tell the Conservatives what he knew of hacking at the newspaper because he thought they would not have offered him the job.

When Mr Cameron entered Downing Street, he took on duties heading the No 10 spin operation, quitting shortly before he was arrested when the phone-hacking scandal erupted again four years later.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said that Mr Cameron had "brought a criminal into the heart of Downing Street" and his Government was "tainted" as a result."

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