As the jury reach their verdict, it’s worth reflecting on the trial so far.
The six men on trial for conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office worked under the editorship of Rebekah Wade.
It was during this period that The Sun and the News of the World was hacking into the voicemail messages of celebrities and most notoriously the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowling.
The sordid business of phone hacking was dealt with in a long trial that saw Brooks being let off without charge (an astonishing result) and Andy Coulson, who had been editor of the News of the World was sent to prison after he was found guilty of conspiracy to intercept voicemails.
The trial garnered lengthy press coverage as would be expected, and involved everyone in the upper echelons. To his embarrassment, many personal emails that were sent between Brooks and David Cameron were read out in court, and questions were asked about the PM’s lack of knowledge as to Coulson’s suitability for post as communications.
The trial of the Sun journalists concerns a similar time frame to the period of the phone hacking. A key story was the Soham murders. A backhander was paid to a police officer in the county where the girl’s were murdered.
When the journalists were giving evidence in court, they returned time and time again to the understanding that what they were doing was in the public interest. Much of what they printed was true, and whether they got their stories from legitimate sources or from public officials was not important.
The trial has not been widely reported, although occasional reports surfaced from time to time in the Guardian. The press Gazette have covered the trial widely.
As to the journalists, two have already been found not guilty. Photo editor John Edwards and local reporter walked free from Kingston Crown Court on Friday afternoon, the jury having spent a week deliberating. That left Chris Pharo, Jamie Pyatt, Ben O’Driscoll and Graham Dudman waiting until Monday to hear whether they were guilty or not.
You can be sure I will be writing more when the verdict drops.