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News Of The World Closed Six Years Ago Amid Phone Hacking Scandal - But Where Are The Key Figures Now?

09/07/2017 5:14 PM AEST | Updated 10/07/2017 7:59 PM AEST

Six years ago, the phone hacking scandal engulfed Britain’s most notorious newspaper.

The final edition of the News Of The World was published on July 10, 2011, amid public revulsion at reports in The Guardian that the tabloid hacked the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Thousands of potential phone hacking victims were later identified by police - from Prince Charles to politicians, celebrities, journalists and victims of crime.

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Printer Sean Leo reads the final edition of the News of the World newspaper as it rolls off the press in Hertfordshire

The scandal led to the one of the most complex cases in English legal history that saw the ex-editor Andy Coulson, ex-News International boss Rebekah Brooks and five others stand trial for eight months in 2013 and 2014.

It also led to the Leveson Inquiry, a raft of investigations, arrests and prosecutions of journalists and a series of compensation claims by victims.

After six years, the case casts a long shadow over the press and the police and fuels anger and argument over what has changed and what should still change.

Mark Lewis, the solicitor who represented the Dowler family and pioneered phone hacking claims against News Of The World and Mirror Group newspapers, told HuffPost UK he believed phone hacking could still be happening.

He said hacking was no longer an embedded part of newspaper culture but said individual journalists could still be doing it discreetly.

While he emphasised he had no specific suspicions about individuals or publications, he said: “Possibly the difference is, in the past, journalists at the News Of The World were so busy looking for stories so they would hack the phones of various people in the hope that that would then give them a story.

“Whereas now it’s probably, if there is a story, there might be some temptation [to hack phones] because they think ‘well I’ve got the story already, can I get any more on it?’ 

“I can’t think it’s stopped.”

Andrew Winning / Reuters
Rupert Murdoch closed The News Of The World after it was revealed Milly Dowler's phone was hacked

Lewis has previously said he fears the scale of a phone hacking has caused “fatigue” among those tasked with investigating it.

He added the cases had become “yesterday’s story” to the press.

Phone hacking claims relating to The Sun are due to go to trial at the High Court in October.

News Group, which owns the tabloid, has denied phone hacking took place at The Sun.

“News Group sacrificed the News Of The World. They fought tooth and nail to protect The Sun,” Christopher Hutchings, lead solicitor for the claimants, told HuffPost UK.

“What they’ve not yet done is admit hacking [at The Sun]. Let’s see over the next month or two where we get.” 

News UK, News Group’s parent company, declined to comment about the case.

The key figures in the News Of The World’s management, journalism and downfall have mostly tried to put the events behind them.

Some have become aggressive advocates for hacking’s victims and backed calls for the second phase of the Leveson Inquiry - which was meant to look at alleged corrupt dealings between the press and the police and which the Tories committed themselves to ditching in their manifesto.

Here is what 13 key figures in the affair did next.

  • 1 Rebekah Brooks
    PA Archive/PA Images
    When Rupert Murdoch was asked what his priority was, he turned to Rebekah Brooks and said: "This one." Four days later, she quit as News International boss amid the growing outrage.
    Brooks had edited News International's tabloid titles, News of the World and The Sun.

    She and her husband Charlie were acquitted of all charges after the trial in 2014.

    There were initially rumours she might move to work in Rupert Murdoch's Australian business to escape the attention.

    But 14 months after the verdict, she was appointed chief executive of the now-renamed News UK, back in the old job she had resigned from four years earlier. Shadow Culture Secretary Chris Bryant said her re-appointment was "giving two fingers up at the British public".

    In June, Ofcom sounded reassured when it said Brooks was re-appointed after "new corporate governance arrangements" were put in place that were intended to "prevent heads of business units, like her, from dealing unsupervised with matters involving possible systematic illegality".
  • 2 Andy Coulson
    Barcroft Media via Getty Images
    Phone hacking cost Coulson two jobs: The News of The World editorship in 2007 and David Cameron's communications director in 2011. Coulson was the only one of the seven defendants who stood trial who was convicted. He was imprisoned for his one count of conspiring to intercept phone messages.

    During his five months in prison, he was visited by his friend Piers Morgan. In 2015, he was cleared of perjury because, the judge ruled, any alleged lies he told about phone hacking during the 2010 trial of Scottish politician Tommy Sheridan, even if ultimately found to be lies, would not have affected its outcome.

    Coulson brushed with controversy in March, when it emerged his PR firm Coulson Chappell was working for The Telegraph. The Telegraph confirmed to HuffPost UK it was still working with the firm. With his former political advisor hat on, Coulson appeared as a commentator on what went wrong with Theresa May's campaign, as the snap election's results came in.
  • 3 James Murdoch
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    Rupert Murdoch's youngest son has been haunted by claims he should have known about the scale of phone hacking. In 2012, he stood down as executive chairman of News International and chairman of BSkyB.

    But he has bounced back. In 2015, his father stood down as chief executive of the newly created 21st Century Fox, which he formed to run his television and film empire. James Murdoch took over. In January 2016, it was announced he would return to chairing Sky. He was voted in despite a shareholders' rebellion against the re-appointment at the company's AGM.

    In June this year, Ofcom said he and his father were "fit and proper" people to hold Sky's broadcasting licence but Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said she was minded to refer the bid to competition authorities for investigation.

    Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson told the House of Commons: "If the current rules mean that James Murdoch can pass a fit and proper person test, given everything we know about his and his companies’ behaviour over phone hacking, and given everything we know about Fox’s behaviour over the ongoing sexual harassment scandal in the United States, that says more about the rules than it does about Mr Murdoch."
  • 4 Glenn Mulcaire
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    The private investigator went to prison alongside Clive Goodman in 2007. When he admitted phone hacking charges for the second time, he was given a suspended sentence and community service. 

    Like others involved in the scandal, Mulcaire wrote a book. The News Machine, written with journalist James Hanning, says Mulcaire thought the hacking he did for News of The World was legal and meant to help the police. Mulcaire now runs a security company, whose website promotes him as "arguably the most experienced 'poacher turned gamekeeper' when it comes to recognising security vulnerabilities".
    When asked how he was doing now, Mulcaire sent HuffPost UK a treatment for a film called The Glenn Mulcaire Story. It says he has been an expert witness on behalf of people suing for phone hacking. It also says he still coaches Sutton United's under-13 side and is training to be a psychotherapist.
  • 5 Colin Myler
    PA Archive/PA Images
    Myler became News Of The World editor in 2007, when Royal correspondent Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire went to prison and Andy Coulson resigned. When the tabloid closed, he was out of a job. After the final edition (pictured) was produced, Myler praised his staff's work and said: "And now in the best traditions of Fleet Street, we’re going to the pub."

    Six months later he crossed the Atlantic to edit The New York Daily News, a left-wing rival to Rupert Murdoch's New York Post. In 2015, Myler quit to return to Britain. Daily News staff were told the 63-year-old and his wife wanted to be closer to their family. When The Guardian asked him what might happen if he ran into Rebekah Brooks, he said: “I don’t think we’ll be exchanging Christmas cards." In September 2016, parliament's privileges committee found Myler was in contempt of parliament when he gave evidence about phone hacking to MPs in 2009.
    He was "answering questions falsely about [his] knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone-hacking and other wrongdoing", the committee found.

     "The correct information was within Colin Myler’s knowledge," MPs said.
    Myler disputed the committee's findings. He told The Telegraph: "Had the appropriate standard of proof been properly applied, the Privileges Committee could not have reached a finding of contempt against me, given that the report identifies evidence which plainly contradicts their conclusions."
    The House of Commons later decided not to bring Myler before them to be reprimanded over the evidence he gave.
    HuffPost UK understands he is now retired.
  • 6 Neville Thurlbeck
    PA Archive/PA Images
    Thurlbeck, The News Of The World's former chief reporter, was the recipient of the 2008 'For Neville' email that contained the transcripts of voicemails. It was an early indication that phone hacking went beyond one journalist.

    He admitted conspiring to hack phones before the 2013-14 trial began. Thurlbeck spent 37 days in prison. He shared a cell with Andy Coulson.

    "Apologies for the late posting of this but as I’m sure many of you are aware, I’ve been unavoidably detained in south-east London for the past 37 days," Thurlbeck wrote on his website after his release. He said he was "a stone lighter" thanks to the "Belmarsh Diet" and shared remarks he had made at the Oxford Union about press reform.
    He launched an unlawful dismissal claim against News Group, owners of The Sun and News Of The World, alongside former colleagues Ian Edmondson and James Weatherup. They had all been dismissed in September, 2011. They won the right to sue in 2014. Speaking through his lawyer, Thurlbeck said his case had been resolved "amicably".

    The statement read: "Neville Thurlbeck reached an agreement with News Group Newspapers Ltd to settle his Employment Tribunal claim amicably. This ended a very difficult and complex four years. He wishes News UK and all his former colleagues good fortune and a bright future. He will be issuing no further comment on this matter."
    Thurlbeck is now managing director of PR company Clear Vista Media, which specialises in crisis communications and "building the profiles of businesses, business leaders, celebrities and entertainers". Since 2011, he has given speeches about journalism and appeared as a talking head on Russia Today.

    "I have been very lucky indeed and the past three years have been a brand new chapter in my life and I'm grateful for it," he told HuffPost UK.
    He published a memoir, Tabloid Secrets, in 2015 about his career. "[Phone hacking] came onto my radar less than a handful of times in twenty-five years," he wrote. "That it came onto my radar at all is, of course, extremely regrettable and I apologise to anyone affected by it."
  • 7 Greg Miskiw
    Rob Stothard via Getty Images
    The one-time News of the World news editor once said of tabloid journalism: "This is what we do. We go out and destroy other people's lives." He is credited with introducing Glenn Mulcaire to the paper. Like Thurlbeck, he admitted conspiring to hack phones before the trial.

    Miskiw also served 37 days in prison. He broke his silence in 2015 with a piece for Byline.com, in which he called the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone a "disgusting and shameful act". He is now retired.

    His daughter Sophie Miskiw has said how her workaholic father's unloving childhood meant he entered journalism with a "fundamental misunderstanding of empathy".

    "He may have been branded the 'prince of darkness' but in recent years the darkness has given way to a faint light," she wrote in the Spectator in March.

    "Without the News of The World, he's had the chance to see what's really important in life, and for once it wasn't splashed across the front page of a newspaper."
  • 8 Ian Edmondson
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    Ian Edmondson, the former news editor, was dropped from the trial in 2013 as he was deemed too unwell to continue. When he returned to court in late 2014, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack phones. He was sentenced to eight months in prison and served eight weeks.

    Edmondson launched an unfair dismissal claim against his former employer, alongside Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup. HuffPost UK understands it has been resolved.
    In 2011, Edmondson founded PR company Eggmedia Ltd. 
    Last year, PR agency Talker Tailor Trouble Maker announced they had hired Edmondson. PR Week reported he would lead on "media strategy and crisis and issues response".
    One agency co-founder was quoted as saying: "PRs underestimate the power and importance of editorial news and the value of newspapers. Ian doesn’t and that makes him... essential to our business successes moving forward."
  • 9 James Weatherup
    PA Archive/PA Images
    Former news editor Weatherup also pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack phones. The judge accepted he was "less involved" in hacking than others and was "unhappy" about the practice. His four-month prison sentence was suspended.

    In 2015, he made a legal complaint against The Guardian over an extract of Nick Davies' book Hack Attack that appeared in the paper and made accusations about Weatherup he disputed. The paper apologised and paid him damages and legal costs. Subsequent editions of the book removed the allegation. Weatherup told The Press Gazette: "Some of the tripe he wrote was laughably inaccurate – for instance, turning up for work in tightly-fitting white tennis shorts – utter nonsense. Other material, relating to my conduct at work, was more sinister and it needed to be corrected urgently as it was damaging and affecting my future job prospects."

    Like Thurlbeck, he sought to sue his former employer for unfair dismissal. HuffPost UK understands it has been resolved. Weatherup, who refused to speak to HuffPost UK, now works in PR.
  • 10 Tom Crone
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    "He is a unique lawyer in that he has great journalistic instincts. He is sort of 10% journalist and is incredibly streetwise," someone who knew News International's legal affairs manager well once told The Guardian.
    Crone's departure from the company was announced a few days after News of The World closed. He later told the Leveson Inquiry that James Murdoch had seen evidence that phone hacking was widespread at News Of The World in 2008, contradicting what Murdoch had said.

    Crone was arrested in 2012 on suspicion of conspiring to hack phones but prosecutors announced they would not pursue the matter, citing "insufficient evidence"
    Last year, a tribunal cleared him over allegations he placed two lawyers, who were litigating against the News Of The World, under surveillance to gain leverage over them.

    Crone told The Guardian: "The way the evidence was presented against me – a very serious allegation of criminal conduct – was wholly unfair and utterly unwarranted by the evidence, which thankfully the tribunal acknowledges.”

    Crone was, along with Colin Myler, deemed in 2016 to have been in contempt of parliament for evidence he gave about phone hacking.

    The privileges committee said it was "significantly more likely than not" Crone tried to mislead MPs in 2009 on a settlement reached with Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, who was paid damages for phone hacking before the scandal broke. Crone told them Taylor was not given a larger payout to keep the matter secret but told MPs in 2011 that the priority "was to settle the case, get rid of it". The privileges committee also found him in contempt for not telling MPs his suspicions about the scale of hacking at News Of The World.

    Crone told Press Gazette: "I do not accept that I can be criticised for failing to answer questions I was not asked." Crone added the claim he misled them on his suspicions on the scale of hacking was "without any evidential foundation".
    As was the case with Myler, the House of Commons later decided not to bring Crone before them to be reprimanded over the evidence he gave.

    HuffPost UK understands Crone is now retired.
  • 11 Dan Evans
    Dan Evans
    Having pleaded guilty, Dan Evans gave evidence at the trial about how he was recruited to News Of The World from The Sunday Mirror specifically for his ability to hack phones. He said he had listened to more than 1,000 voicemails. He received a suspended prison sentence.

    Evans went on to, in his words, "embark on a personal journey to start setting right Fleet Street's wrongs of the past". He started working for Byline, the crowdfunded journalism project and makes documentaries, including one about the Grenfell fire. He says he has helped phone hacking victims win settlements and apologies and backs the second phase of Leveson. He said he could not discuss the live civil cases he is involved with.

    "It was such a cleansing process [the trial]. To me it was a relief, it was like - thank fuck I'm finally free of it," he told HuffPost UK.

    "I have always supported the victims of phone hacking. I accept my part in it but I also feel like, I laid that to rest for me personally."
  • 12 Clive Goodman
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    Goodman, who went to prison for hacking phones in 2007, was also a defendant in the 2013-14 trial. But the jury failed to reach verdicts on the two charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office he faced, alongside Andy Coulson.

    In 2015, prosecutors said there was no public interest in a retrial and abandoned their case against them.

    In 2015, Goodman was a witness at Coulson's perjury trial. While describing phone hacking, he said he was "not the slightest bit proud" of it and added: "Nobody seems to let me move on." HuffPost UK has heard Goodman was, at one point, writing a book.
  • 13 Nick Davies
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    Nick Davies did more than any other journalist to expose phone hacking. His Guardian article in July 2009 alleged phone hacking was more widespread. In the face of repeated denials, he persisted. It culminated in July 2011 with his story about hacking of Milly Dowler's voicemail, which triggered the whirlwind that followed.

    After the trial, Davies wrote a book, Hack Attack, about the scandal. George Clooney is set to adapt it into a film.

    After 40 years uncovering people's misdeeds, the Guardian reporter announced in 2016 he was quitting journalism to go travelling. "Today is my last as a journalist. It's been interesting," the 63-year-old tweeted in September. 

    His twitter feed is mainly updates on his travels ("travelling in Patagonia, so much amazing natural beauty"), retweets of big news stories in the UK and attacks on editors and press barons he dislikes.

    He tweeted to call the snap election result "a big bloody nose for the cynical liars who disgrace their profession on Daily Mail, Sun, Express".

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