The Sun has today condemned the Crown Prosecution Service, the police, The Guardian and “Twitter’s know-nothing trolls” after former editor Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges in the phone-hacking trial.
An editorial, headlined “CPS on trial”, declared the verdict a “triumph for British justice and two fingers up to the baying mob”. The newspaper’s front page pictured Brooks outside the Old Bailey yesterday with the headline: “GREAT DAY FOR RED TOPS”.
It praised the 11 jurors in the eight-month trial for not being “swayed by the hysterical clamour on social media, gleefully stoked by The Guardian, which vilified The Sun’s former editor long before a word of evidence had been heard”.
On the handling of the case, it said: “The CPS and police now have obvious questions to answer over the weakness of much of their case after such a long and costly trial.” It added that this is not an “isolated failure”, pointing to the “string of celebrities cleared on sex charges”.
And questioning the £20m cost of the trial to the public purse, The Sun noted that funding for the Foreign Office counter-terror unit has been cut by £15m.
Sun associate editor Trevor Kavanagh also hailed the verdict as a “triumph for British justice”, but criticised the way the prosecution was handled, “with defendants lumped together on different counts”. He added that “all will be permanently tainted by the allegation of phone hacking… And, quite unfairly, so will The Sun.”
He criticised The Guardian for the “false claim” that the News of the World’s hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone disrupted the police’s hunt for her killer and accused it of wanting to “smear this newspaper and the whole News UK company”.
Kavanagh added: “The Guardian, BBC and Independent will be in mourning today. Sanctimonious actors like Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan will be deliciously Hacked Off. We have now, thank goodness, taken a tentative step back towards a genuinely free press.”
Elsewhere, it has emerged that Rebekah Brooks’s husband, Charlie, has said he was “disappointed” by Prime Minister David Cameron’s treatment of his wife when the phone-hacking allegations emerged.
In an interview with LBC, recorded in December 2012 but only released yesterday, the racehorse trainer also accused police of treating them "like terrorists" when their home was raided and even their daughter's cot was searched for evidence.
Brooks told LBC's Kay Burley (who also a presented on Sky News): "At 4.45am in the morning, 18 of them (police) came through our kitchen door, which was a little bit of a surprise. Searched our baby's cot. Treated us like terrorists and carted us off to different police stations.
He added: "'This isn't a game', I was told. There's a system here and you just say 'no comment' and give a written statement at the end of it, so that's exactly what I did.
"I must admit, you know, I am prone to talking and it was quite hard to resist coming back at them but I had a lawyer sitting next to me who just shook his head."
The Daily Mail today also raised questions about the why the police "though it necessary to launch melodramatic dawn raids on journalists' homes, rampaging from room to room and rifling through damily posessions.
"After all, they knew they weren't dealing with terrorists, gangland killers or armed robbers. The accused were professional people, suspected (in five out of seven cases, wrongly) of nothing more life-threatening than eavesdropping on celebrities' voicemail messages…
"Isn't the 6am knock on a journalist's door the mark of a totalitarian state?"
The Guardian said in a lead column that yesterday's verdicts were a vindication of its investigation into the hacking scandal.
Tuesday's verdicts were the primary ones to date to follow from this paper's 2009 reporting which showed that the lone "rotten apple" theory of phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch's Sunday tabloid was simply not true. At the time News International and the police rubbished the Guardian's reporting. The regulator shrugged. Most politicians stayed silent.
The trial that is ending at the Old Bailey produced incontrovertible evidence that the Guardian's reporting was not only true, but ratherunderstated the extent of criminality within the News of the World. The paper's main private investigator targeted well over 6,000 victims for hacking or blagging. To date News International has paid compensation to more than 700 victims – many multiples of the "handful" the police originally claimed. Of eight journalists charged with hacking, six have now been found, or have pleaded, guilty – one editor, three news editors and two hackers. Twelve more trials of NI journalists are currently scheduled.