British phone-hacking editor Andy Coulson freed from prison

21st November 2014, Comments 0 comments

Andy Coulson, the former British newspaper editor and one-time communications chief of Prime Minister David Cameron, was released from prison on Friday after serving his sentence for phone-hacking, the justice ministry said.

Coulson served less than five months of the 18-month sentence handed down at the Old Bailey in July after he was found guilty of conspiring to intercept voice-mails at the now-defunct Sunday News of the World tabloid.

Owner Rupert Murdoch closed the paper in July 2011 amid public outrage after it emerged that Britain's biggest selling paper had illegally accessed the voice-mails of a murdered schoolgirl.

Coulson was editor of the News of the World from 2003 to 2007, and resigned after private detective Glenn Mulcaire and former royal editor Clive Goodman were jailed in the first ever phone-hacking prosecutions.

Inmates in Britain can be released under home detention arrangements before they have served half of their term, the justice ministry said ahead of his release.

"Public protection is our first priority," a ministry spokesman said. "Only prisoners who pass a strict risk assessment can be released on home detention curfew (HDC)."

Coulson left Hollesley Bay, an open prison in Suffolk, on Friday morning and said nothing to waiting reporters, the BBC reported.

© 2014 AFP

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