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By Costas Pitas
LONDON, June 26 Rebekah Brooks, the former boss
of News Corp.'s British newspaper arm, said on Thursday
she felt vindicated after being found not guilty this week of
hacking phone messages and other crimes while editing Rupert
Murdoch's British tabloids.
Brooks, 46, was speaking for the first time since she was
cleared on Tuesday by a jury at London's Old Bailey court of
charges relating to phone-hacking, illegal payments to a public
official and perverting the course of justice.
"I am innocent of the crimes that I was charged with," she
said, her voice shaking with emotion. "I feel vindicated by the
"It's been a time of reflection for me. I've learnt some
valuable lessons and hopefully I'm the wiser for it," she told a
large scrum of reporters outside the plush townhouse in central
London where she has been staying during the eight-month trial.
Prosecutors had alleged that Brooks was complicit in the
widespread hacking of voicemails on mobile phones carried out by
journalists working for the now defunct News of the World, a
Sunday tabloid and Britain's then biggest-selling paper which
she edited from 2000 to 2003.
She was also accused of authorising thousands of pounds in
illegal cash payments while editing the sister daily paper the
Sun, and then bringing in staff and her husband Charlie to try
to thwart the police investigation when the hacking scandal
engulfed the British political establishment in July 2011.
However, following one of the most expensive criminal trials
in British legal history, of the seven defendants only Andy
Coulson, Prime Minister David Cameron's ex-media chief and
Brooks' former lover, was found guilty.
Her successor as editor of the News of the World, Coulson
now faces jail for conspiracy to hack phones along with four
other former senior journalists who had already admitted their
When she was first arrested, her husband Charlie angrily
accused the authorities of pursuing a witch hunt, a line her
defence team echoed during her trial.
"When I was arrested it was in the middle of a maelstrom of
controversy, of politics and of comment," said Brooks, with her
husband's arm wrapped tightly around her.
"Some of that was fair and much of it was not. So I'm
grateful to the jury, I'm very grateful to the jury for coming
to their decision."
Called Murdoch's "fifth daughter" by British media because
she was so close to the media tycoon, she did not respond to
questions about what her future held.
"Today my thoughts are with my former colleagues and their
families who face future trials. I'm going to do everything I
can to support them as I know how anxious the times ahead are,"
Dozens more journalists, nearly all from Murdoch's tabloids,
are still awaiting trial over alleged offences arising from the
huge police investigation into phone-hacking.
Brooks' appearance coincides with a visit by Murdoch to
London. Relations between the 83-year-old media mogul and his
British journalists have been strained ever since he shut the
News of the World to appease public anger at the hacking
scandal, and started helping police with their inquiries.
Many journalists at the Sun tabloid were left seething after
the company formed an internal committee to search emails and
internal documents for any sign of illegality.
(writing by Michael Holden; editing by Kate Holton)