Ian Edmondson pleads guilty to conspiring with hacker Glenn Mulcaire to listen to the voicemails of a host of celebrities, politicians and royalty between 2000 and 2006.
The 45-year-old former NoW news editor is the eighth person to be convicted of the phone hacking plot at the newspaper. At the Old Bailey on Friday, Mr Justice Saunders warned Edmondson that he could face a jail sentence despite admitting his part in the conspiracy.
Edmondson was dropped as a defendant in the original phone hacking trial in December last year after the judge deemed him “unfit” to stand trial. It can now be reported that Mr Justice Saunders deemed him “fit” again in July, leading to today’s retrial.
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 for “gross misconduct” a year later.
After he joined the now defunct tabloid, 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 percent 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 former NoW editor Andy Coulson ordering him to “do his phone” in an apparent reference to the celebrity Calum Best.
At today’s hearing, prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron QC outlined how Edmondson had become involved in the “systematic phone hacking” at the NoW.
He said: “There was an aggressive news-gathering culture. The ends seemed to justify the means to get the story in an extremely competitive market.”
Following the trial, Coulson, 46, was found guilty of the hacking plot while former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, 46, and retired NoW managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 74, were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Other NoW journalists had pleaded guilty to being part of the voicemail interception conspiracy before the trial started. Reporter Dan Evans, 38, was handed a 10-month jail term suspended for 12 months plus 200 hours of community service.
NoW news editor Greg Miskiw, 64, and chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, 52, were each jailed for six months. News editor James Weatherup, 58, was jailed for four months, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work.
Mr Justice Saunders described Mulcaire, 43, of Sutton, 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.