'News of the World' deputy editor cleared of phone hacking

A former deputy editor of the now- defunct 'News of the World' was today acquitted by a UK court of conspiracy to hack phones at media tycoon Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid, whose eight reporters have been convicted of illegally accessing voicemails.

London: A former deputy editor of the now- defunct 'News of the World' was today acquitted by a UK court of conspiracy to hack phones at media tycoon Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid, whose eight reporters have been convicted of illegally accessing voicemails.

A jury at London's Old Bailey court, after four days of deliberations, cleared Neil Wallis, 64, of conspiracy to hack phones while he was working alongside former editor Andy Coulson, who was jailed for hacking last year.

Wallis was not accused of hacking phones, but prosecutors alleged he "knew" it was happening and "agreed" to it.

He accused Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of a "vicious politically driven campaign" against the press.

Wallis broke down in tears as he was cleared of conspiring to illegally intercept voicemails between January 2003 and August 2006.

At that time he was editor Coulson's right-hand-man, who has been previously found guilty and prosecuted for his role in hacking phones at the erstwhile Sunday weekly.

Wallis is the last of the journalists from the 'News of the World' to face legal action over the hacking the tabloid used in the hunt for exclusive stories.

In total eight of the tabloid's reporters have been convicted of illegally accessing voicemails, including Coulson, a former director of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron.

A Metropolitan Police statement said: "It was only right that (we) carried out a full and thorough investigation to establish if crime had been committed and to hold to account anyone responsible. The victims deserved no less.

"All the evidence has been aired publicly in a court of law and the jury have made their decision. That is a decision we respect."

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