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Saturday 5th
posted by Paddy McGuffin in Britain

Michael Dugher MP slams 'tainted' Prime Minister for ignoring all warnings and evidence

Disgraced No 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson was jailed for 18 months yesterday on phone hacking charges.

Labour branded the jail term an indictment of Prime Minister David Cameron’s judgement.

Mr Coulson, from Charing, Kent, was found guilty last week of conspiring to intercept voicemails at the now-defunct News of the World following an eight-month trial at the Old Bailey.

He was sentenced yesterday alongside three former colleagues and private detective Glenn Mulcaire, who all admitted their part in hacking before the trial commenced last year.

Judge Mr Justice Saunders told the defendants: “I do not accept ignorance of the law provides any mitigation. The laws of protection are given to the rich, famous and powerful as to all.”

The judge singled out former editor Mr Coulson for the heaviest punishment, describing the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler as “unforgivable” and said he “has to take the major share of the blame for the phone hacking at the News of the World.”

NotW news editor Greg Miskiw and chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck were jailed for six months each. News editor James Weatherup received a four month sentence suspended for 12 months and was ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work.

Mr Mulcaire was jailed for six months, suspended for 12 months, and also ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work.

Mr Coulson’s co-defendants Rebekah Brooks and managing editor Stuart Kuttner denied any wrongdoing and were cleared of all charges last week.

Responding to the sentencing Labour shadow minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Dugher MP said: “This a damning verdict for David Cameron as well as Andy Coulson.

“David Cameron brought a criminal into the heart of Downing Street. He was warned, ignored mounting evidence and refused to act.

“Now, not only is trust in the Prime Minister’s judgement deeply damaged, his government is tainted.

“This did not happen by chance but by choice. Repeatedly, David Cameron put his relationship with Rupert Murdoch ahead of doing the right thing.”

A spokesman for campaign group Hacked Off said: “It has taken far too long for the thousands of innocent victims of this industrial-scale criminal conspiracy to see its perpetrators brought to justice.”

He called for an independent press regulator to be implemented.