British Prime Minister David Cameron was heavily criticised for almost collapsing the phone hacking trial in its final stages by commenting on ex No 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson’s conviction for phone hacking while the jury was still deliberating, it can now be reported.
Trial judge Mr Justice Saunders said he was “very concerned” about the comments Mr Cameron made after Coulson was found guilty of plotting to hack phones at the News of the World but while verdicts were pending on other charges.
Yesterday, Mr Cameron led the way in what the judge described as “open season” by immediately offering a public apology for hiring Coulson in 2007.
At the time, the jury was still deliberating on two remaining counts against Coulson, 46, of allegedly conspiring with former royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, to commit misconduct in a public office in relation to paying police officers for two royal phone directories.
Jurors have now been discharged, not because of prejudicial comments but because they failed to reach verdicts on the final charges after nine days deliberation.
Coulson now faces up to two years in prison when he is sentenced next week. His ex-lover and colleague Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges yesterday. A decision will be made on Monday whether to order a re-trial for Coulson and Goodman.