The Times weeps for ex-Murdoch employee Andy Coulson and buries his hacking conviction

The paper invites us to sympathise with a man who was jailed for conspiracy to hack phones


The Times has today spared us nothing by way of Andy Coulson love.

In reporting yesterday’s acquittal of the former editor of the News of the World (RIP) on the charge of perjury, the former paper of record invites us to sympathise with a man who was jailed last year for conspiracy to hack phones.

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now:

“As a boy growing up in a council house in Essex he had been intent on following his father into the RAF. It was a week’s work experience on his local paper, when he ‘fell in love with’ journalism. […]

Mr Coulson has not been able to earn anything since leaving his job as the government spin doctor. […]

For almost a decade, Mr Coulson’s life has been dominated by allegations […] At his recent trial, he asked outside court, almost defeated: ‘When will this ever be over?’

There’s more:

“His first trial, in October 2013, opened with the revelation he and his co-defendent Rebekah Brooks had been lovers. For some of the time they were both married to other people.”

Revelations of marital infidelity, seized on by the press, can surely be unpleasant – as the many victims of such outings (with no legal justification) by Brooks and Coulson’s News of the World can tell you.

This tearjerker of a piece tells us Coulson’s ‘friends believe he will bounce back’. No doubt including friends at the Times, whose parent company News UK used to pay Coulson’s salary before he went to work for the paper’s hero, David Cameron.

Coulson’s old boss and proprietor of both papers, Rupert Murdoch, also happens to be godfather to his former colleague and lover, Ms Brooks. How cosy!

(The soppy piece does mention in passing that News UK owns the Times, but only when complaining about legal fees.)

But that’s not all. The Times front page has a large picture of Coulson outside court, and the piece mentioned above runs alongside two news stories on the judgement, both of which rather take the Coulson view of things.

The main news story slips in at the end Coulson’s sentence last year for what it breezily calls ‘phone hacking offences’. That’s the last half of the last line of the story.

A picture on the front page and absurdly positive coverage. Anything else? Why, yes! Today’s top editorial column decries the ‘Enemies of Free Speech’ who would dare to put such a fine chap on the stand.

As it happens, Coulson has not been cleared of lying in court. He was acquitted by a judge because his alleged lies in court were not relevant to the case in question, and were therefore not technically perjury.

Does such a technicality really warrant such lavish and generous news coverage?

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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