Ex-editor of News of the World Andy Coulson sentenced to 18-months jail over phone hacking

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson has been sentenced to an 18-month jail term for conspiracy to hack phones.

The Old Bailey found the 46-year old who rose to become director of communications for prime minister David Cameron, guilty last week.

Coulson was one of four ex-journalists at the tabloid to be sentenced, along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

Five defendants, which included former News International chief Rebekah Brooks, were cleared of all charges last week.

The sentences handed down for unlawful interception of communications are:

Coulson, 46,  - 18 months

Former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, 52,  - six months

Former news editor Greg Miskiw, 64,  - six months

Former reporter James Weatherup, 58,  - four-month suspended sentence

Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, 43, - six-month suspended sentence

Cameron has apologised for hiring Coulson s his media advisor while the Labour Party said he brought "a criminal into the heart of Downing Street", with  the court finding Coulson guilty last week, ABC /Reuters reported.

During the trial Coulson admitted to being aware of one hacking incident during his time as editor of the now defunct newspaper, but said staff had kept the widespread criminal activity from him.

The newspaper had a practice of intercepting the voicemail messages of thousands of people, including politicians and members of the royal family.

Coulson could have faced a maximum sentence of two years.

"Mr Coulson, on the jury's verdict, has to take the major blame for the phone hacking at the News of the World," judge John Saunders said when delivering the sentence on Friday.

"He knew about it and encouraged it when he should have stopped it."

Coulson's verdict was handed down after eight days of deliberations following a 130-day trial.

The News Of The World shut down following scandalous revelations that the paper had hacked the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

According to the police there were probably over 1,000 victims of hacking, including Prince Harry, Prince William and his wife Catherine.

The targets also included politicians, celebrities, sporting figures and even rival journalists.

Coulson and former royal correspondent Clive Goodman would have to face retrial for bribery charges after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on those charges.