Former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner escaped jail this week after he was praised for his “Jewish values” in the course of the phone-hacking trial.
As former News International boss Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges at the Old Bailey, Kuttner was similarly found not guilty of conspiracy to intercept telephone messages from 2000-2006.
It followed a glittering array of character witnesses writing in support of Kuttner, 74, who was portrayed as an old-school journalist of integrity.
The line-up included former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, who said Kuttner was “a man of integrity, of deep loyalty, whose Jewish ethics went through his life and echoed mine as a deeply Christian ethic”.
The unanimous verdict came at the end of a sensational trial, one of the longest and most expensive criminal court cases in British legal history which led to the paper’s former editor Andy Coulson being found guilty.
The prosecution had originally claimed that Kuttner knew private investigator Glenn Mulcaire was hacking phones for the newspaper.
The jury heard how Kuttner signed off several cash payments and alerted police to information from a voicemail on missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone in spring 2002, which suggested she was alive when in fact she had been murdered.
Among his other character witnesses was Sara Payne, the mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah, together with former Police Complaints Commission chairman Lord Black, who said of Kuttner: “He did not just talk about the code and ethics, he believed in them. They were in his DNA.”