LONDON (Reuters) - Rebekah Brooks, who once ran Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper arm, was acquitted on Tuesday of orchestrating a campaign to hack into the phones of celebrities and crime victims, as well as bribing officials in the hunt for exclusive news.
But a jury found her ex-colleague Andy Coulson, also a former media chief of British Prime Minister David Cameron, guilty on phone hacking charges. The jury at London’s Old Bailey court is still deliberating on two further charges that Coulson faces.
Below is a timeline of the phone hacking scandal which has outraged the British public and shaken the political establishment.
Jan. 26, 2007 - News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman is sentenced to four months in jail after pleading guilty to intercepting the voicemail messages of royal aides.
Editor Andy Coulson quits, saying he had not known about the offences but that he should take responsibility. The company says it was an isolated incident.
July 2009 - The Guardian newspaper reports that journalists at the News of the World worked with private investigators to access the messages of “two or three thousand” private mobile phones. After a brief examination, the police say they will not reopen the investigation.
2010 - In a civil case brought by actress Sienna Miller against Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper arm News International, three emails come to light showing the involvement in phone hacking of another senior journalist at the tabloid.
Jan. 21, 2011 - Coulson quits his job as communications director to Prime Minister David Cameron, which he had taken after leaving the News of the World, due to renewed interest in the hacking scandal.
Jan. 26, 2011 - Police reopen their investigation.
June 2011 - The Guardian reveals new victims of phone hacking throughout June, raising pressure on News International and its parent company News Corp which was trying to buy out the rest of pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB.
The political storm prompts the media regulator to examine whether News Corp would make a “fit and proper” owner.
July 4, 2011 - A lawyer for the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler says police believe her voicemail messages were hacked in 2002. Three days later News Corp announces it will close the News of the World. The July 10 edition is the last.
July 8 - Coulson is arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications.
July 13 - News Corp withdraws its bid for BSkyB.
July 15 - Rebekah Brooks, a former News of the World editor, resigns as chief executive of News International. Les Hinton, Murdoch’s right-hand man and head of Dow Jones, also quits.
July 17 - Brooks is arrested as part of an investigation into allegations of phone hacking and illegal payments. Two of London’s top police officers quit over two days due to their close ties to Murdoch’s firm.
July 19 - Murdoch, questioned by parliament’s Media committee, says he was “shocked, appalled and ashamed” when he heard about the Dowler case. He describes his appearance alongside son James at the hearing as the most humble day of his life.
Nov. 14 - A public inquiry, chaired by judge Lord Leveson, begins its investigations into media ethics.
March 13, 2012 - Brooks is arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
May 10 - Coulson appears at the Leveson inquiry and says Cameron’s Conservative Party had asked few questions about his past and not carried out full security checks. Brooks appears on May 11 and provides colourful details of her friendships with leading British politicians.
May 15 - Brooks is charged with interfering with a police investigation into the phone hacking scandal.
Nov. 20 - Coulson and Brooks are charged with conspiring to make illegal payments to officials for information for stories.
July 24, 2012 - Coulson and Brooks are charged with offences relating to phone-hacking.
Oct. 29, 2013 - The phone-hacking trial begins at London’s Old Bailey, with the judge John Saunders telling the jury that justice itself is on trial, in a case which reveals the close links between press barons, police chiefs and senior politicians.
June 24, 2014 - The jury hands down its verdicts. Brooks is found not guilty of all the charges and Coulson is found guilty of a conspiracy to hack into phones. Brooks’s husband, her personal assistant and head of security are also found not guilty of attempting to hinder a police investigation.
The jury is still deliberating on further charges for Coulson of paying a public official.
Reporting by Kate Holton
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