News of the World features editor Jules Stenson pleads guilty to phone-hacking as Neil Wallis denies offence - Press Gazette

News of the World features editor Jules Stenson pleads guilty to phone-hacking as Neil Wallis denies offence

A senior former News Of The World editor has become the latest journalist to be convicted of plotting to hack phones at the now defunct Sunday tabloid.

At a hearing at the Old Bailey former features editor Jules Stenson (pictured, Reuters) admitted conspiring to intercept voicemail messages between 1 January 2003 and 26 January 2007.

The plot targeted a range of high profile figures, including politicians, footballers, celebrities and royalty and also included editor Andy Coulson, Greg Miskiw, James Weatherup, Neville Thurlbeck, Dan Evans, Ian Edmondson and private detective Glenn Mulcaire.

Stenson was the boss of NoW journalist Evans who admitted phone-hacking and was the star witnesses in the hacking trial at the Old Bailey earlier this year.

The 48-year-old, from Wandsworth, south London will be sentenced on a date to be fixed next year.

Former deputy editor Neil Wallis appeared beside Stenson and pleaded not guilty to the same offence and was given unconditional bail as he awaits a six-week trial on June 3 next year.

Stenson and Wallis, 64, of Chiswick, west London, were arrested and charged as part of Operation Pinetree, a Scotland Yard investigation into claims that features staff at the now-defunct tabloid obtained information through phone hacking.

In July, Coulson, 46, was found guilty of the hacking plot while former editor Rebekah Brooks, 46, and retired 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 last year.

Evans, 38, of Kilburn, north London, was handed a ten-month jail term suspended for 12 months plus 200 hours of community service.

Miskiw, 64, from Leeds, and chief reporter Thurlbeck, 52, of Esher, Surrey, were each jailed for six months while Weatherup, 58, of Brentwood in Essex, was jailed for four months, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work.

The trial judge Mr Justice Saunders described private eye Mulcaire, 43, of Sutton, south London, as ''the lucky one'', as he handed him a six-month jail term, suspended for 12 months, plus 200 hours of unpaid community work.

Last month, news editor Edmondson, 45, was jailed for eight months after admitting his part in the hacking conspiracy before facing a retrial after being dropped from the original hacking trial on health grounds.

The hacking trial has previously heard how Evans was recruited by Stenson and Coulson to bring in big exclusive stories cheaply through phone hacking. He started work at the NoW in January 2005 on a salary of £53,000.

On his first day, Evans told how he came armed with a suggestion for an investigative story about a soldier selling a Browning gun but was "crestfallen" after being taken into a meeting room and handed a contacts list to work through.

Among the names were Heather McCartney, Esther Rantzen, Chris Evans, Ed Balls, Ronnie Biggs, Elle Macpherson, the father of soap star Jessie Wallace, Michael Parkinson, John Leslie, Geri Halliwell and Michael Jackson.

Asked how many of the numbers he hacked, Evans said there were 80-100 names on the list and the features department was spending a "couple of grand a week" on data, including phone numbers.

Evans told the court that he hacked a host of celebrities, including James Bond star Daniel Craig who received a message from Sienna Miller ending "I love you" while she was dating Jude Law.

He was caught out by Miller's stepmother the designer Kelly Hoppen who sued after she found her voicemails had been accessed.

Stenson could not be named in the hacking trial for legal reasons and was previously referred to as a NoW journalist.

Evans told the court how he got the story about Miller's brief affair with Craig after Stenson told him he may as well "jump off a cliff" if he did not come up with a big story.

Spurred on, he listened to a message from Miller on Craig's voicemail saying that she was at the Groucho club with Law and that she "love" him.

Giving evidence in the trial, Miller explained that it was a "very brief encounter". She said: "This is a very difficult and uncomfortable period of my life to discuss. To be gossiped about and analysed and vilified. Whether or not I was in a relationship with Daniel Craig at the time, it was a very brief encounter."



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