Former Rupert Murdoch confidante Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges, while British Prime Minister David Cameron's one-time media chief Andy Coulson was convicted of phone hacking in a dramatic end to the News of the World trial yesterday.
A jury unanimously found Coulson, the paper's former editor, guilty of conspiring to intercept communications. Fellow editor Brooks was acquitted of that charge and of bribing officials and obstructing police.
The trial at London's Old Bailey was triggered by revelations that for years the News of the World used illegal eavesdropping to get stories, listening in on the voicemails of celebrities, politicians, even crime victims.
Three other defendants - Brooks' husband Charlie, her former secretary Cheryl Carter and News International security chief Mark Hanna - were acquitted of perverting the course of justice by trying to hide evidence. Former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner was found not guilty of phone hacking.
The defendants stood silently in the dock as the forewoman of the 11-member jury announced the verdicts. Brooks mouthed "thank you" after she was cleared of all charges.
The scandal led Murdoch to shut the 168-year-old tabloid and spurred criminal investigations in which dozens of journalists and officials were arrested.
The jury, which has been deliberating for eight days, is still considering two further charges of paying officials for royal phone directories against Coulson and former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman.
Brooks and Coulson, both 46, were accused of conspiring to hack phones between 2000 and 2006. She edited the News of the World from 2000 to 2003 with Coulson as her deputy - and, the trial revealed, sometimes lover.
Coulson then took over as editor, before becoming Cameron's communications chief, a post he held from 2007 to 2011.
In a statement after the judgment, Cameron gave a "full and frank" apology, saying he had been wrong to hire Coulson. "It was the wrong decision and I am very clear about that," he said.
One lawyer called the case the "trial of the century", and it drew intense interest globally.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse