LONDON (AP) — A prosecutor said Monday that senior editors “utterly corrupted” the News of the World, turning the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid into a criminal enterprise.
Andrew Edis told a sentencing hearing for ex-editor Andy Coulson and four others that the newspaper hacked the phones of a “Who’s Who of Britain” in the first years of this century.
Coulson was convicted last week of conspiring to hack phones.
A jury last week failed to reach a verdict on two other charges against Coulson — former communications director for Prime Minister David Cameron — and ex-royal editor Clive Goodman.
Prosecutors accuse them of paying police officers for royal phone directories.
Edis said Monday that prosecutors had decided to re-try Coulson and Goodman on those charges. A date has yet to be fixed.
Former News of the World journalists Nevile Thurlbeck, Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup, as well as private investigator Glenn Mulcaire all pleaded guilty to hacking offenses last year.
“Between them these defendants utterly corrupted this newspaper which became at the highest level a criminal enterprise,” Edis said. “This was systemic misconduct approved and participated in by the editor himself.”
Coulson and the others are due to be sentenced for hacking on Friday, after a judge has heard mitigation arguments from their lawyers. The maximum sentence for phone hacking is two years in prison.
“It may be thought that maximum penalty was not decided upon envisaging this kind of behavior,” Edis said.
Ex-editor Rebekah Brooks, the former chief of Murdoch’s British newspaper division, and five others were cleared of wrongdoing last week after an eight-month trial stemming from the revelation that the News of the World had eavesdropped on the voicemails of thousands of people in a law-breaking quest for scoops.
The resulting furor led Murdoch to shut down the 168-year-old newspaper. His media giant News Corp. has spent more than $500 million in legal settlements and other hacking-related costs.
Associated Press Writer Gregory Katz contributed to this report.
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