UK

Ex-NoW deputy editor Neil Wallis cleared over hacking

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Media captionNeil Wallis described his arrest as part of "a politically-driven campaign against the press"

Former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis has been cleared of conspiracy to hack voicemails.

Mr Wallis, 64, from Chiswick, London, was not accused of hacking phones, but prosecutors alleged he "knew" it was happening and "agreed" to it.

An Old Bailey jury cleared him after four days of deliberations.

He accused the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service of a "vicious politically driven campaign" against the press.

Mr Wallis broke down in tears as he was cleared of conspiring to illegally intercept voicemails between January 2003 and August 2006.

At that time he was editor Andy Coulson's right-hand-man.

'#StillStanding'

Outside court, Mr Wallis said he was feeling "very emotional".

The case, which began with his arrest four years ago, had taken a toll on his health, career, family and cost him his life savings, he said.

Earlier, he had tweeted: "Thanks so so much to all those who stood by me - so grateful #StillStanding."

Mr Wallis is the last of the journalists from the now-defunct News of the World to face legal action over the hacking the Sunday tabloid deployed in the hunt for exclusive stories.

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Image caption Neil Wallis was deputy editor to Andy Coulson

The prosecution claimed it was inconceivable that Mr Wallis had not known what was going on at the News of the World since his boss and a number of other journalists in the newsroom had all been convicted of their involvement.

But in his defence, Mr Wallis denied having been involved in the hacking plot, saying he had not been concerned with the details of the sources of big stories after they had already been vetted by company lawyers.

He also highlighted his work on the newspaper's behalf drawing up amendments to the Press Complaints Commission editors' code of practice.

Scotland Yard said it had carried out its investigation "without fear or favour".

It said: "It was only right that [we] carried out a full and thorough investigation to establish if crime had been committed and to hold to account anyone responsible. The victims deserved no less.

"All the evidence has been aired publicly in a court of law and the jury have made their decision. That is a decision we respect."


Analysis

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By BBC home affairs reporter Gaetan Portal

It's the best part of a decade since £100,000-a-year phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire and royal editor Clive Goodman were jailed.

Since then we have seen senior journalists, editors and executives face justice and the secrets of celebrities, politicians and royalty re-examined, often in excruciating detail, in open court.

We also learned about some of the secrets of the tabloid newsroom. The illicit, painful love affair between Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson was revealed. Emails sent by Mrs Brooks pointed to her close relationship with Tony Blair.

We saw how those in charge of a 168-year-old newspaper indulged in "dark arts" and illegal newsgathering on an "industrial scale" and how their disastrous conduct led to the Sunday tabloid's demise and lit the touch paper for a massive police investigation into illegal payments to public officials.

So, is this the end of the phone-hacking saga? Maybe.

Journalists at Mirror Group Newspapers also hacked phones to get the next scoop, but it remains to be seen if any of them will be charged. There is also the possibility of corporate charges against the News of the World's former owners.


NoW phone-hacking scandal

Six other former News of the World journalists have been convicted of phone-hacking since the scandal first came to light: Chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, investigations editor Greg Miskiw, features editor Jules Stenson, news editor Ian Edmondson, deputy news editor James Weatherup, and reporter Dan Evans

From golden couple to co-defendants

'Driven to brink of breakdown' by hacking

Why did case take so long to crack?


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