Hacked Off director claims phone hacking trial verdict proves “the entire orchard was rotten”

By Ishbel Macleod | PR and social media consultant

June 24, 2014 | 3 min read

Andy Coulson has been found guilty of conspiracy to hack phones, with Hacked Off claiming this shows News of the World was involved in an extensive criminal conspiracy.

Following the news of the verdict, Brian Cathcart, executive director of pressure group Hacked Off, said: “For years the Murdoch press clung to the story that one rogue reporter was responsible for phone hacking. We now know this was a lie. Far from being an isolated incident involving a few ‘bad apples’, the trial has shown that the entire orchard was rotten.

“The trial also shone a light on the appalling, systemic newsroom culture of bullying, lies, intimidation and intrusion that has devastated the lives of many people. From royalty and Cabinet ministers to victims of crime and bereaved families, nobody was safe.”

The group added that the “one rogue reporter line from Mr Murdoch's company was clearly a cover-up and that is not acceptable,” stating the only way to protect the British public from press abuse in the future is for his newspapers to now adopt the Leveson recommendations in full.

Rebekah Brooks, Charlie Brooks, and Cheryl Carter were amongst those found not guilty, while the jury is still deliberating on two further charges faced by Coulson.

News UK, formerly News International released a statement, repeating an apology for previous 'wrongdoing'.

It added: “We have been paying compensation to those affected and have cooperated with investigations."

"We made changes in the way we do business to help ensure wrongdoing like this does not occur again. And we are strong supporters of the Independent Press Standards Organisation that is expected to begin work this autumn, serving as a watchdog on the industry in the public interest.

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"Out of respect for the fact that further legal proceedings will occur, we will have no further comment at this time," it concluded.

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary, also released a statement following the verdict: "It has felt as if the whole of journalism has been put on trial over this period, when instead there should have been an investigation into what was happening at the top of News UK, where a dysfunctional culture was created and presided over by the Murdochs and their lieutenants.

“This should be the time to draw a line under the bullying behaviour in newsrooms which put journalists under pressure to act unethically. Plus, there are still many journalists, who were arrested, whose lives have been put on hold because of the fall out of what occurred at the News of the World."

The full details of the phone-hacking trial can be followed in James Doleman's dedicated blog for The Drum.

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