Coulson set for hacking sentence

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Disgraced No 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson will be reunited with former workmates from the News of the World this week as they face up to two years jail for their part in the phone-hacking plot.

Coulson, 46, was found guilty last Tuesday of being involved in the conspiracy to snoop on the voicemails of a host of celebrities, royals, politicians and ordinary members of the public in the hunt for stories at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid.

His former lover and colleague Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges on the 138th day of the marathon trial at the Old Bailey in which four more defendants were also found not guilty.

Coulson, a married father-of-three from Charing in Kent, will be joined in the dock by private detective Glenn Mulcaire and four journalists from the NotW who have already admitted taking part in the hacking.

Last year, the NotW's news editor Greg Miskiw, 64, from Leeds; chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, 52, and reporter James Weatherup, 58, of Brentwood in Essex all admitted one general count of conspiring together and with others to illegally access voicemails between October 2000 and August 2006.

Mulcaire, 43, from Sutton in Surrey, has admitted three counts of conspiring to phone hack plus a fourth count of hacking the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002 - an act which eventually led to the downfall of the NotW in 2011.

Reporter Dan Evans, 38, who gave key evidence against Coulson during the trial, will also be sentenced for two counts of conspiring to hack phones - one when he worked at the Sunday Mirror between 2003 and 2005 and the other from 2004 to 2010 at the NotW.

Evans, of Kilburn, north London, has also pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office between 2008 and 2010 and perverting the course of justice between 2009-2010 by making a false witness statement in the High Court.

The prosecution said because of the sheer scale of the hacking going on while Coulson was in charge at the NotW, he must have known about it and the jury agreed.

He was appointed as Brooks's deputy in 2000 and then took over as editor in 2003 when she moved to the Sun.

Mulcaire was mainly "Greg Miskiw's man", the court heard, but Thurlbeck and Weatherup also tasked the detective to hack phones, according to documents seized from the PI's home.

Thurlbeck, of Esher, Surrey, asked him to hack 13-year-old Milly's phone as well Spectator publisher Kimberly Quinn, the ex-lover of David Blunkett.

Coulson was in charge of the paper on both occasions but only admitted he knew about Mr Blunkett's 2004 message when he gave evidence towards the end in the trial.

He resigned his editorship in January 2007 after Mulcaire and royal editor Clive Goodman first admitted phone hacking but kept quiet about his own involvement, relying on the newspaper's "rogue reporter" line to get a job with the Conservatives.

He was recruited by George Osborne to help the Tories with their public relations while they were in opposition - moving on to 10 Downing Street with David Cameron when they were elected.

But Coulson resigned his head of communications job in 2011 when the NotW once again became embroiled in the hacking scandal.

Following his conviction, Mr Cameron issued an immediate "full and frank" apology to the nation for hiring Coulson.

Nevertheless, the Prime Minister faced a continuing political fallout for his poor judgment from MPs and victims and was criticised by the trial judge Mr Justice Saunders for not waiting until all verdicts were in before commenting on the case.

The following day, the jury of eight women and three men concluded they could not agree on two further counts against Coulson and Goodman of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office by paying a police officer for royal directories.

They will learn today whether the Crown Prosecution Service will seek a re-trial.

During the eight-month trial, Goodman, 56, of Addlestone, Surrey, said his own phone hacking activities went further than what he had previously admitted but he did not face any further charges over it.

Sentences are expected to be handed down by Mr Justice Saunders on Friday following mitigation by lawyers today and tomorrow.

The maximum penalty for phone hacking is two years in jail.

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