Rebekah Brooks: I feel vindicated by phone-hacking verdicts

Rebekah Brooks: "I am innocent of the crimes which I was charged with and I feel vindicated by the unanimous verdicts"

Ex-News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks says she feels "vindicated" after being cleared of all charges in the phone-hacking trial.

Speaking for the first time since the verdict, Mrs Brooks - found not guilty on all four counts - said it had been "tough" for all affected by the case.

Appearing with her husband, Mrs Brooks said the police inquiry and trial had put their "troubles in perspective".

Royals, celebrities and crime victims were among those who had phones hacked.

Her former News International colleague and one-time lover Andy Coulson was found guilty of conspiracy to hack phones and faces a prison sentence of up to two years.

Cleared

Speaking to a crowd of reporters outside her London home, Mrs Brooks said: "I am innocent of the crimes that I was charged with and I feel vindicated by the unanimous verdicts."

She continued: "We have a happy and healthy daughter. We have our brave and resolute mums who have been at court most of the time and we have had strong and unwavering support from all friends, our family and from our legal teams that have believed in us from the beginning.

"When I was arrested, it was in the middle of a maelstrom of controversy, of politics and of comment. Some of that was fair but much of it was not so I am very grateful to the jury for coming to their decision."

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Media pack surrounding the Brooks There was a media scrum of waiting photographers and reporters outside the Brooks's London home
At the scene

Robin Brant, BBC political correspondent

Her legs were shaking, her voice timid as she spoke to cameras assembled - for the first time in eight months - not outside the court.

"I am innocent," Rebekah Brooks said as she thanked her family and her lawyers.

Shouted questions about her failure to detect the criminality at the News of the World and her thoughts on Andy Coulson were ignored.

As the scrum around the pair moved to their waiting car, her husband Charlie told the BBC he was "sad" for Coulson.

The only defendant found guilty of phone hacking in the mammoth trial, he faces the prospect of sentencing next week and almost certainly prison.

The Brookses left in a car with their clothes and bags already packed up for them, probably heading home to Oxfordshire.

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Five other people pleaded guilty in the case before the trial begun, while Stuart Kuttner - another of those cleared - told Channel 4 News he was "deeply sorry... appalled" and "ashamed" about what happened at the News of the World.

News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch closed the 168-year-old tabloid in 2011 after revelations that voicemails intended for the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been intercepted.

That year Mrs Brooks stepped down as chief executive of the newspaper's holding company, News International.

But speaking to the BBC outside the Brooks's home, media commentator Steve Hewlett said: "Rupert Murdoch likes her, he's very close to her.

"I'm sure if there was a way to bring her back into the fold perhaps he would."

The Australian media magnate - who stood by Mrs Brooks when she resigned amid a crisis for his business - flew into the UK on Thursday but has yet to comment on the trial.

Rebekah Brooks: "I'm very grateful for the jury coming to their decision"

Mrs Brooks said it had been a "time of reflection" for her and she had "learned some valuable lessons and hopefully I am the wiser for it".

"I am incredibly proud of the many journalists I have worked with throughout my career and the great campaigns that we have fought and won," she went on.

"All I can say to you all is that today my thoughts are with my former colleagues and their families who face future trials. I am going to do everything I can to support them as I know how anxious the times ahead are."

Her husband Charlie Brooks added: "Rebekah has been through an unprecedented investigation of an incredibly forensic and personal nature, the likes of which we have probably never seen.

"And I would just like to say how proud I am of Rebekah and the dignity she has shown."

'Good result'

On Tuesday at the Old Bailey in London, Mrs Brooks was found not guilty of conspiracy to hack voicemails, two counts of conspiracy to pay public officials and two counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Mr Brooks, Mrs Brooks' former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, and News International's former head of security Mark Hanna were also cleared of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Mrs Brooks' successor as editor of the News of the World, Andy Coulson, was found guilty of a charge of conspiracy to intercept voicemails.

He could face a re-trial on two further charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Meanwhile, former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Blair has defended the phone-hacking trial, saying it was a "good result for the public".

Lord Blair said the investigation showed the "absolute toxicity of the News of the World newsroom".

He also described allegations the Met Police's witness protection scheme had been targeted by phone-hacking as "extraordinary".

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