Highs and lows for outgoing NoW ed Coulson

When Andy Coulson stepped down as editor of the News of the World it marked the moment the so-called golden boy was forced to take "ultimate responsibility" for the murkier side of tabloid journalism.

Coulson was appointed editor of the biggest selling Sunday tabloid in January 2003, at just 34, after former chief Rebekah Wade departed to become editor of The Sun.

The Essex-born reporter had cut his teeth on the Basildon Evening Echo before his move on to the nationals.

He joined The Sun as showbusiness reporter on Bizarre in 1988 and rose through the ranks to become Bizarre editor, then assistant editor and associate editor of the paper.

Coulson was appointed deputy editor of the News of the World in May 2000, before moving into the top job three years later.

He was seen as the golden boy of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, but in his four year tenure as the NoW's editor the newspaper has hit highs and lows.

Under Coulson the tabloid scored some major scoops, including David Blunkett's affair with Kimberly Fortier, Sven Goran Eriksson's affair with Faria Alam and bigger still, Rebecca Loos's kiss and tell sensation about David Beckham.

But other stories led the newspaper into hot water, notably stings by the infamous "Fake Sheikh" Mazher Mahmood.

In 2003, it was at the centre of controversy about payments to witnesses and contempt of court after the collapse of the trial of four Romanians and an Albanian accused of plotting to kidnap Victoria Beckham and ransom her for £5 million.

Then in July last year, three men were cleared of trying to buy "red mercury" from Mahmood, in another undercover operation in 2004.

And, like other Sunday editors, Coulson had to watch circulation figures slide in the four years he was in charge.

But it was the arrest of his royal editor, Clive Woodman, that saw the golden boy having to face up to the consequences of the quest for the top story.

He apologised "unreservedly" to the princes and their aides and said he took "ultimate responsibility for the conduct of my reporters".

That ultimate responsibility forced him to step down over what "happened on my watch", a move he made two weeks ago but was only made public at the conclusion of the court case today.

His resignation is the first scandal-driven departure of a major newspaper editor since Piers Morgan was forced to resign from the Daily Mirror over the faked photos of British troops abusing Iraqis in May 2004.

 

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