Andy Coulson has been jailed for 18 monthgs for his phone hacking offences. The former News of the World editor and press secretary to British PM David Cameron was convicted last week on phone hacking charges between 2000 and 2006.
He could have been given up to two years in prison.
Handing down sentences to Coulson and four of his former colleagues at the newspaper, owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., Judge John Saunders said the Prime Minister’s ex-aide had to face the heaviest penalty.
“There is insufficient evidence to conclude that he started the phone hacking, but there is ample evidence that it increased enormously while he was the editor,” he said.
“On the jury’s verdict he knew about it and encouraged it when he should have stopped it. It was his reputation as an editor and journalist, which was increased through the stories that were obtained by phone hacking and, even though he resigned, he did so with his reputation intact.”
Coulson’s former colleagues pleaded guilty to phone hacking charges before the case came to trial.
Two of the four, journalists Neville Thurlbeck and Greg Miskiw, were each given a six-month prison sentence, reduced in part from what it could have been in light of their guilty pleas, the judge said.
Journalist James Weatherup received a four-month sentence, suspended for a year, and 200 hours of community service. A suspended sentence means he should not go to prison unless he breaks the law in that time.
Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, and was also ordered to do 200 hours of community service.
Sentencing Mulcaire, the judge described him as “lucky.” The sentence was complicated by the fact that he had already been sent to prison for six months for phone hacking in 2007. This trial involved additional charges.