Rebekah Brooks ‘vindicated’ by UK phone-hacking verdict

The former head of Murdoch’s British newspaper arm said her thoughts were with colleagues still facing legal action

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Former Rupert Murdoch protege Rebekah Brooks said on Thursday she felt vindicated after she was cleared in Britain's News of the World phone-hacking trial.

In her first comments since Tuesday's verdict, the one-time head of Murdoch's British newspaper arm said her thoughts were with colleagues still facing legal action.

But the brief statement she delivered with husband Charlie outside their rented London house made no mention of her ex-colleague and lover Andy Coulson, who was found guilty.

"I am innocent of the crimes that I was charged with and I feel vindicated by the unanimous verdict," Brooks told reporters in a wavering voice.

"The last few years have been tough for us and for those closest to us," the 46-year-old mother-of-one said.

"But more importantly they've been tough for everybody on all sides that have been affected by the issues highlighted by this case."

She refused to reply directly when asked if she had a message for Coulson, her successor as News of the World editor who faces jail after being found guilty of phone hacking at the same eight-month trial.

"All I can say to you all is that today my thoughts are with my former colleagues and their families who face future trials," she said.

"I am going to do everything I can to support them because I know how anxious the times ahead are."

Her husband, a racehorse trainer, who was found not guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice during the trial at the Old Bailey in London, said the couple had been through an "unprecedented investigation of an incredibly forensic and personal nature".

News Corporation boss Murdoch flew in to the country earlier in the day to visit the headquarters of his British operation, but he has not yet commented on the trial.

Murdoch strongly supported Brooks following her arrest in 2011, which came shortly after he shut down the News of the World following revelations that the paper had hacked into the voice mail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Brooks, 46, rose from relatively humble beginnings to become editor of the News of the World and The Sun, which is read by millions.

She had close links to politicians including Prime Minister David Cameron and his predecessor Gordon Brown.

Cameron has apologized for hiring Coulson as his media chief after Coulson quit the News of the World.

Coulson finds out on Monday if he will face a retrial on charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office by paying police, and he is due be sentenced for hacking on July 4.

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