Hacking trial: Kingsley Napley client Brooks acquitted, DLA client Coulson guilty

Former News of the World (NotW) editor, DLA Piper client Andy Coulson has been found guilty of phone hacking charges while Rebekah Brooks, who was represented by Kingsley Napley partner Angus McBride, has been acquitted.

The pair were among seven defendants on trial, which included Brooks’ husband Charlie, her PA Cheryl Carter, former NotW managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former royal editor Clive Goodman and News International head of security Mark Hanna.

Coulson, who was represented by DLA Piper partner Jo Rickards, was today found of guilty of conspiracy to hack phones. Rickards had originally instructed Matrix Chambers’ Claire Montgomery QC as counsel but reshuffled the counsel team ahead of the start of the trial to draft in Cloth Fair’s Tim Langdale QC. The former Downing Street spin doctor is awaiting judgment on two further charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct on public office.

McBride instructed 2 Hare Court’s Jonathan Laidlaw QC for Brooks. Laidlaw was drafted in to replace renowned criminal Cloth Fair Chambers’ silk John Kelsey-Fry QC last year. Mr Justice Saunders had originally prevented reporting of the counsel switch ruling that under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 an order was necessary “for avoiding a substantial risk of prejudice to the administration of justice” (29 October 2013).

Brooks was cleared of five charges, including plotting to hack phones, conspiring to pervert the course of justice and two counts of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office between 2000 and 2006. She was also found not guilty of sanctioning corrupt payments to a Ministry of Defence (MoD) official for stories.

She and her husband, racehorse trainer Brooks, and Hanna denied a third charge that they hid evidence from police investigating the allegations in July 2011 (26 September 2012). They were acquitted of the charge. 

Hanna, Charlie Brooks and Brooks’ PA Carter were also cleared of one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice as well as Kuttner.

2 Bedford Row’s William Clegg QC led 6 King’s Bench Walk Duncan Penny QC for Hanna, instructed by Howard Kennedy FSI partner Ian Ryan.

Carter was represented by Henri Brandman & Co named partner Henri Brandman, who instructed Three Raymond Buildings’ Trevor Burke QC leading Emma Collins of the same set.

Three Raymond Buildings’ Neil Saunders was instructed for Brooks by Kingsley Napley partner Louise Hodges.

Kuttner was represented by Five Paper Buildings’ Nicholas Griffin QC, instructed by Simons Muirhead Burton partner Anthony Burton.

For the Crown Prosecution Service

2 Hare Court’s Andrew Edis QC

For the defendant Andy Coulson

DLA Piper partner Jo Rickards instructed Cloth Fair’s Tim Langdale QC

For the defendant Rebekah Brooks

Kingsley Napley partner Angus McBride instructed 2 Hare Court’s Jonathan Laidlaw QC

For the defendant Charlie Brooks

Kingsley Napley partner Louise Hodges instructed Three Raymond Buildings’ Neil Saunders

For the defendant Mark Hanna

HowardKennedyFSI partner Ian Ryan instructed 2 Bedford Row’s William Clegg QC led 6KBW’s Duncan Penny QC

For the defendant Cheryl Carter

Henri Brandman & Co named partner Henri Brandman instructed Three Raymond Buildings’ Trevor Burke QC leading Emma Collins

For the defendant Stuart Kuttner

Simons Muirhead Burton partner Anthony Burton instructed Five Paper Buildings’ Jonathan Caplan QC leading Nicholas Griffin QC

For the defendant Clive Goodman

Farrell Matthews and Weir partner Neville Gray instructed Hollis Whiteman Chambers’ David Spens QC and Benn MacGuire