January 27, 2007 2:00 am

News of the World editor quits

The editor of best-selling Sunday tabloid the News of the World resigned yesterday after taking blame for a scandal that sent one of the newspaper's reporters to jail.

Andy Coulson resigned soon after Clive Goodman, the royal correspondent, was sentenced to four months for tapping the phones of royal aides and listening to messages left by royals including Prince William.

"I have decided that the time has come to take ultimate responsibility for the events around the Clive Goodman case," Mr Coulson said. "His actions were entirely wrong and I deeply regret that they happened on my watch."

Mr Goodman and two associates were arrested last August after a seven-month police investigation.

The royal household alerted Scotland Yard to possible phone-tapping after noting a series of leaks about Prince William's schedule, including his appointment with a knee surgeon. The information, reported in Mr Goodman's articles was so private that only the Prince and his close aides would have known it.

Mr Goodman, 48, apologised to the Prince of Wales' household last month after admitting the charges.

Pronouncing sentence at the Old Bailey yesterday, Justice Gross said: "This case is not about press freedom. It is about grave, inexcusable, and illegal invasion of privacy."

The judge sentenced Mr Goodman's accomplice, private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, to six months in jail.

Mr Mulcaire admitted intercepting voicemail messages for five other people unrelated to the royal family, including Elle Macpherson, the model, and Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat MP.

Mr Goodman and Mr Mulcaire pleaded guilty to conspiracy to intercept telephone calls "without lawful authority" between November 1 2005 and August 9 2006.

The News of the World, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, is Britain's biggest-circulation newspaper, selling on average 3.3m copies a week. Sometimes called News of the Screws for its fixation on celebrities and their private lives, the paper is also known for breaking scandals.

Mr Coulson said he felt strongly that "when the News of the World calls those in public life to account on behalf of its readers, it must have its own house in order".

He formally resigned two weeks ago to News International executive chairman Les Hinton, according to the company, but delayed his announcement until the outcome of Friday's sentencing.

Colin Myler, former Daily and Sunday Mirror editor, was appointed editor of the News of the World following Mr Coulson's resignation.

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