There were calls for the “witch hunt” to end amid emotional scenes outside court after four senior Sun journalists were cleared of wrongdoing over payments to public officials for stories.
Royal editor Duncan Larcombe appeared tearful as he left the Old Bailey with his arm around his wife who had supported him throughout the trial.
He told waiting reporters: “I’m not going to say much but 1,060 days ago, eight policemen raided my house at six in the morning.”
The 39-year-old journalist said he was “just relieved” at the verdict, but said: “There is no celebration while this witch hunt continues against my colleagues who are still facing the nightmare that I hopefully one day will wake up from.”
Asked if he thought charges against other journalists should be dropped, he said: “Of course I think that, but this is all I’m really allowed to say.”
Thanking family and friends who stood by him, Sun chief reporter John Kay, 71, said: “It’s a great relief that a three-year ordeal is over.
“I just hope that this result bears fruit for other colleagues in a similar predicament.”
Asked about his source Bettina Jordan-Barber, who was jailed for a year after pleading guilty, he said: “I’m very, very upset that a trusted source of the Sun ended up in jail as a result of betrayal by my own company.”
After hugging supporters outside court, Fergus Shanahan, 60, said: “Obviously I’m very grateful to the jury for taking such time over the verdict. They put an enormous amount of thought into it.”
He said the issues that the jurors in the case had to deal with were complicated and “complex”.
The executive editor told reporters that the trial had been a “terrible ordeal” for the families of the people involved.
While journalists may have “thick skin” and “can look after ourselves”, the loved ones had been put under “the most appalling strain for three years”, he said.
The journalist added that his thoughts were with colleagues facing trial in the future and he expressed the hope that there would be a “sensible result, a right result”.