In 2011, the phone-hacking trial involving journalists of the News of the World tabloid took the United Kingdom by storm. Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman, Andy Coulson, who also happened to be the editor of the 168-year-old tabloid, was caught in the storm that finally led to the closure of the tabloid, after a trial that cost up to a 100 million pounds!
The trial that rocked News of the World was covered by the magazine GQ in an article titled, “Hacking Exclusive! Michael Wolff at the Trial of the Century”, while it was still going on in the month of April 2014. GQ UK was found guilty of contempt of court over the story that it published in the month of November and has been asked to pay a fine of ten thousand pounds.
In a statement released by the Attorney General’s Office, the spokesperson informed that the Lord Chief Justice had ruled that GQ UK was indeed guilty of contempt “over an article published” when the “phone hacking trial” was still an ongoing one, and that by doing so, they had gone against the “most fundamental principle” of fairness and equality that the justice system in the United Kingdom embodied. In addition to the fine, the publisher’s also had to pay an additional amount of 50 thousand pounds as the legal fees of the Attorney General.
The Attorney General had complained that there were four major points where the article by the publishing house actually qualified for the charge. Three of these key points referred to Rupert Murdoch, and that he was aware of the hacking undertaken by the News of the World tabloid, and that he supposedly paid to protect himself.
It was also suggested that in place of Rupert Murdoch, the erstwhile editor Andy Coulson decided to take the responsibility of the hack. The fourth point made in the article concerned CEO Rebekah Brooks and mentioned that she was trying to save her career from sinking during the trial. GQ UK was supposedly aware of all the guidelines and tried their best not to break them lest they should be charged with contempt.
Coulson was sent to jail for serving a sentence of 18 months in 2014, and after he did so, he was rehired by News UK. The lawyers of the CEO of News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, had complained about the article; following which, GQ had taken down most of the copies of the magazine from the racks. Nearly, ten thousand copies were said to have been withdrawn in the light of the complaint.