A former News of the World news editor has pleaded guilty to plotting to hack phones in the pursuit of exclusive tabloid stories.
Ian Edmondson, 45, was dropped as a defendant in the original hacking trial of ex-editors Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks in December last year after the trial judge deemed him “unfit” to continue.
But today at an Old Bailey hearing, Edmondson, of Raynes Park in south west London, pleaded guilty.
He admitted conspiring with colleagues and private detective Glenn Mulcaire to intercept the private voicemails of a host of celebrities, politicians, sports stars and royals between October 3 2000 and August 9, 2006.
During the original eight-month trial, jurors were told how Edmondson had worked as an executive on the newsdesk – the “engine room of the newsroom” - since 2005.
He was suspended in 2010 after three emails emerged implicating him in the hacking conspiracy and he was sacked a year later.
After he joined the now defunct News of the World, Edmondson had been keen to terminate Mulcaire’s £100,000 a year contract, but in 2005 he signed off its renewal once he realised its value, the court heard.
In all, he was responsible for 23.9% of the newsdesk orders to Mulcaire, including ones relating to Tessa Jowell, Freddie Windsor and Lord Prescott, according to an analysis of detailed notes kept by the private eye.
In 2006, he received an incriminating email from Coulson ordering him to “do his phone” in an apparent reference to the celebrity Calum Best.
The court was told that there was a culture of secrecy and competition in the Sunday tabloid newsroom under Coulson.
In July, Coulson, 46, was found guilty of the hacking plot while Brooks, 46, and retired managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 74, were cleared of any wrong doing.
Other NotW journalists had pleaded guilty to being part of the voicemail interception conspiracy before the trial started.
Reporter Dan Evans, 38, of Kilburn, north London, was handed a 10-month jail term suspended for 12 months plus 200 hours of community service.
News of the World news editor Greg Miskiw, 64, from Leeds, and chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, 52, of Esher, Surrey, were each jailed for six months.
News editor James Weatherup, 58, of Brentwood in Essex, was jailed for four months, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours’ unpaid community work.
Trial judge Mr Justice Saunders described Mulcaire, 43, of Sutton, south London, as ”the lucky one”, saying it would be wrong to jail him again after he had already served a sentence in 2006 when he was first convicted of phone hacking with ex-royal editor Clive Goodman.
The judge sentenced Mulcaire to six months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, plus 200 hours unpaid community work.