Former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner gave his "enduring thanks" to his legal team as he was cleared of being part of the phone-hacking conspiracy.
As Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges at the Old Bailey, Kuttner was also cleared of being part of a conspiracy dating back to 2000 and spanning six years.
He told reporters outside the court: "It is clear to me at this point that this is not the moment to make long statements or to go into great detail.
"But what I do want to say is the diligence, the dedication and, perhaps above all, the passion of my lawyers over the last three years has been extraordinary, most remarkable, and it is to them that I owe the huge and enduring thanks for the result, the unanimous verdict of the jury today. Thank you."
Kuttner, according to those who know him, is an old-school journalist, a man of integrity, a family man and a gentleman.
But despite the glowing testimonials, the former managing editor of the News of the World ended his long career in newspapers in the dock at the Old Bailey, embroiled in the hacking scandal.
The married 74-year-old was absent for weeks during the trial due to ill-health and appeared frail in the courtroom.
Since retiring four years ago, he has suffered two heart attacks and a stroke which affected his memory of events.
Before joining the Sunday tabloid, he had a distinguished career in national newspapers as a reporter covering big stories such as the Profumo affair and the Moors Murders.
His job at the News of the World involved signing off cash payments and contributor payment requests and keeping the newspaper on budget during his 22 years in the role of managing editor.
The prosecution said this meant Kuttner must have known about private investigator Glenn Mulcaire who was hacking phones for the newspaper.
It was Kuttner who alerted police to information from a voicemail on missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone in spring 2002, which suggested she was alive and in Telford when in fact she had been murdered by predator Levi Bellfield.
But the veteran journalist denied knowing anything about hacking at the News of the World, saying he believed reporters should be out getting their own stories the old- fashioned way. He also said heads of department at the newspaper controlled their own weekly budgets.
He called upon three high-profile character witnesses to vouch for him: former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey; Lord Black, the former director of the Police Complaints Commission; and Sara Payne, the mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah.
When he was quizzed by prosecutor Andrew Edis QC, he said: "I have spent a lifetime in newspapers. You have heard from three character witnesses. I have said, perhaps for the last time, that such conduct, such behaviour, such activity is as remote from my concept of newspapers as it is possible to be."
Lord Carey told jurors: "Mr Kuttner is a man of integrity, and a man of deep loyalty to his paper, wanted to do the best for it. He is a man whose Jewish ethics went through his life and echoed mine as a deeply Christian ethic."
Mrs Payne said: "Stuart is a gentleman. He is everything my parents taught me about being a gentleman and having manners. He is a good guy."
Lord Black said: "From a professional point of view he is a reporters' reporter. He is intrepid in the pursuit of a story. He is always immensely professional and he would never play fast and loose with the rules with these stories.
"He was somebody who did not just talk about the code and ethics, he believed in them. They were in his DNA."
He added: "As a friend I have always found him to be a man of the greatest integrity. A caring and loving family man and I'm very proud to have him as a friend."