Tabloid editor Brooks says "vindicated" by hacking acquittal

Rebekah Brooks, former News International chief executive, is surrounded by security detail and members of the media as she leaves following making a statement to the media in central London, Thursday, June 26, 2014. Brooks was acquitted after a long trial centering on illegal activity at the heart of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire but Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was convicted of phone hacking. The nearly eight-month trial was triggered by revelations that for years the News of the World used illegal eavesdropping to get stories, listening in on the voicemails of celebrities, politicians and even crime victims. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) AP

LONDON - Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks said Thursday she is innocent of phone hacking and other crimes and feels vindicated by a jury's unanimous decision to acquit her.

The ex-tabloid editor made her first public statement since being cleared after an eight-month trial on charges of conspiring to hack phones, bribe officials and obstruct police.

Standing outside her London home beside her husband Charles - who was also acquitted - Brooks said the last few years "have been tough."

"It has been a time of reflection for me," she said. "I have learned some valuable lessons and hopefully I am the wiser for it.

"I am innocent of the crimes that I was charged with and I feel vindicated by the unanimous verdicts."

Brooks, 46, said she would offer support to former colleagues who still face trial.

Dozens of journalists have been arrested since the revelation that Rupert Murdoch's now-shuttered News of the World tabloid eavesdropped on the voicemails of thousands of people in a law-breaking quest for scoops.

Brooks has said she was unaware of phone hacking while she was editor of the tabloid between 2000 and 2003.

Brooks, her husband and four of her former employees were acquitted of wrongdoing on Tuesday. But ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson - Brooks' sometime deputy and former lover - was convicted of conspiring with other staff to hack phones.

Andy Coulson
Former News of the World editor and Downing Street communications chief, Andy Coulson, leaves the High Court in central London on May 10, 2012 where he gave evidence at the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics.
MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/GettyImages

He faces up to two years in jail when he is sentenced next week.

The hacking scandal sent tremors through the top of British politics. Brooks is a friend and neighbor of Prime Minister David Cameron, and Coulson was his director of communications for years.

The scandal also shook Murdoch's media giant News Corp., which has spent more than $500 million in legal settlements and other hacking-related costs.

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