The media executive at the center of the British tabloid phone hacking scandal was cleared of all charges Tuesday, while another top editor at the now-defunct News of the World was convicted in the case that shook London's Fleet Street.
Rebekah Brooks, the paper's former top editor, broke down in court after the seven-month trial ended in her being cleared of phone hacking and three other charges, including seeking to obstruct the course of justice. Four other defendants who were part of the trial also were acquitted, but Andy Coulson, a former editor who has close ties to British Prime Minister David Cameron, was found guilty of conspiring to intercept communications.
The trial was triggered by revelations that for years the News of the World used illegal eavesdropping to get stories, listening in on the voicemails of celebrities, politicians and even crime victims.
Brooks also was acquitted of that charge and of counts of bribing officials and obstructing police.
"We said long ago, and repeat today, that wrongdoing occurred, and we apologized for it," a spokesman for News UK formerly known as News International told Sky News. "We have been paying compensation to those affected and have cooperated with investigations."
Three other defendants, Brooks' husband Charles, her former secretary Cheryl Carter and News International security chief Mark Hanna were acquitted of perverting the course of justice by attempting to hide evidence from police. Former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner was found not guilty of phone hacking.
The scandal led to the closure of the 168-year-old tabloid and spurred criminal investigations in which dozens of journalists and officials have been arrested.
The 11-member jury, which has been deliberating for eight days, still is considering two charges of paying officials for royal phone directories against Coulson and former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman.
Coulson now faces the possibility of a prison sentence, according to Sky News. While much of the publicity surrounding the trial focused on Brooks, Coulson's role had widespread political ramifications because he became a key adviser to Cameron. Before the trial, Cameron said that if evidence showed Coulson knew about the phone hacking, it would mean he lied to the prime minister.
"I have an old-fashioned view about innocent until proven guilty," Cameron told Parliament in 2011. "But if it turns out I have been lied to, that would be the moment for a profound apology. In that event I can tell you I will not fall short."
Cameron on Tuesday apologized for hiring Coulson.
"It was the wrong decision and I am very clear about that," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.