"Justice Saunders said the paper's delay in telling police about hacking the voicemail of the missing Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002 reflected the motivation was to take credit for finding her and selling the maximum number of newspapers."
London, July 4 - Andy Coulson, ex-editor of the now defunct News of the World (NoW) newspaper, was sentenced to 18 months in jail Friday for conspiracy to hack phones, BBC reported.

The 46-year-old, who went on to become director of communications for British Prime Minister David Cameron, was found guilty last week at the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales.

Coulson was found guilty of conspiring to intercept voicemails at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid following an eight-month trial. He was one of four ex-journalists at the British tabloid to be sentenced, along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, the Guardian reported.

Though his offence carries a maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment, Coulson received a remission of several months due to his good character. He could be out in less than nine months. And, as a non-violent offender, he is required to serve just half his sentence.

Five defendants, including former News International chief Rebekah Brooks, were cleared of all charges last week.

Earlier, Coulson, of Kent county, had denied the charges against him. But he was found guilty of plotting to intercept voicemails between 2000 and 2006. His lawyer had argued his client did not know the hacking going on while he was editor, was illegal.

Sentencing the five men, the judge, Justice Saunders, said it was not his role to pass judgement on the relationship between the police, press and the government.

According to the judge, between 2003 and 2006, the right to privacy counted for little at the paper.

Coulson, Miskiw, Thurlbeck and Weatherup were distinguished journalists who had no need to resort to hacking to be successful, the judge said, adding but their careers are now irreparably damaged.

Justice Saunders said the paper's delay in telling police about hacking the voicemail of the missing Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002 reflected the motivation was to take credit for finding her and selling the maximum number of newspapers.

Mr Coulson has to take the major share for the blame of phone hacking at the News of the World. He knew about it, he encouraged it when he should have stopped it.


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