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Ex-Murdoch editor Coulson: Hung jury on two charges

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson may face another trial after the jury in the current phone hacking case failed to reach a verdict on two bribery charges.

Coulson, who worked as one of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron's closest aides, must wait until Monday to find out if the U.K.'s Crown Prosecution Service will seek another trial for him and his former colleague Clive Goodman, on two counts relating to allegations they paid a police officer for a royal phone directory.

Coulson was found guilty Tuesday on one charge of conspiracy to intercept communications via phone hacking Tuesday.

The months-long court case has cast a cloud of scandal and suspicion over the UK newspaper industry and in particular Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Murdoch's trust in Rebekah Brooks, which had led some senior News Corp executives and investors to question his judgment, was vindicated Tuesday when she was found not guilty on four charges related to phone hacking.

Yet, according to a report in the Guardian, the newspaper that aggressively pursued Murdoch over phone hacking, the media mogul and his son James may face questioning under caution by U.K. police now the trial has concluded.

News Corp declined to comment on the report when contacted by CNBC.

If Murdoch is questioned, what could be key to mounting a case against him is the not guilty verdict for Stuart Kuttner, former managing editor of the News of the World. If, as the verdict implies, News Corp executives further level down the ladder from Brooks did not know about phone hacking and other nefarious practices, it will be much more difficult to make a case that the company's New York-based founder should have known.

Rupert Murdoch
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Rupert Murdoch

"We said long ago, and repeat today, that wrongdoing occurred, and we apologised for it…We made changes in the way we do business to help ensure wrongdoing like this does not occur again," a spokesman for the media company said on Tuesday.

One of the more worrying aspects of this scandal for executives and shareholders at News Corp has always been the specter of possible charges in the U.S. on bribing public officials under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.



News Corp itself is not just paying the price for footing its former employees' legal bills at one of the costliest trials in U.K. legal history. The fallout from the scandal led to the break-up of the company, NewsCorp losing out on acquiring its U.K. satellite broadcasting arm BSkyB, and a cloud over the place of James Murdoch, once his father's heir apparent, in the company's succession planning.

Both James and Lachlan gained more responsibility in a reshuffle at News Corp earlier this year, while their father remains executive chairman of News Corp and chairman/chief executive at 21st Century Fox, which split from News Corp in 2013.

It remains to be seen whether his continued closeness to Brooks can bring her back to the company. Despite her exoneration, early signals from one News Corp shareholder who spoke to CNBC suggest not.


- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle

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