Former News of the World and Sun editor Rebekah Brooks was overcome with emotion as she walked free from the dock at the Old Bailey after being cleared of conspiracy to hack phones.

The 46-year-old's composure crumbled as she took in the enormity of the not guilty verdicts delivered by the jury of eight women and three men.

Her reaction was in contrast to the stony faced look of her former lover Andy Coulson, the ex-No 10 communications director and News of the World editor. She left him behind in the dock facing a likely jail sentence for conspiring to hack phones.

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Mrs Brooks gave a slight smile and appeared to mouth "thank you" to jurors as they found her not guilty of all the charges in the case.

The former News International chief executive brushed against her husband, the racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks, 52, as he was also cleared of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

After she walked from the dock as a free woman the strain of the last three years looked to have taken its toll on Mrs Brooks.

She appeared to be overcome with emotion as she walked from the courtroom accompanied by the court matron.

Walking behind her, Mr Brooks was asked how he felt. He said: "I'm not sure really."

Ms Brooks smiled slightly in approval as she was cleared of the first count. She had earlier maintained her composure as the other not guilty verdicts were read out before her attention seemed to turn to the fate awaiting her husband, who was sitting to her left, and her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter on her right.

Mrs Brooks appeared to hold her friend, Ms Carter's hand just before she was pronounced not guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. As she was cleared the pair looked at each other supportively.

Mr Brooks, who had been typing on a laptop in the dock before the jury returned to deliver the verdicts, showed little reaction as he was found not guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

He looked straight ahead with his arms folded in front of him.

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, a friend of Mrs Brooks, tweeted that he was "beyond ecstatic", while former newspaper editor Piers Morgan tweeted: "So happy for my friends Rebekah and Charlie, so sad for my friend Andy. A good man, who I will always support."

Coulson, seated to Mrs Brooks' left in the dock, who had stared straight ahead as he was found guilty of a charge of conspiracy to intercept voicemails.

Former News International head of security Mark Hanna was cleared of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Neither former NotW managing editor Stuart Kuttner nor the paper's ex-Royal editor Clive Goodman were present to hear they had been found not guilty of being part of the conspiracy.

The partial verdicts were delivered on the jury's eighth day of deliberations and the 138th day of the trial.

Coulson looked ashen-faced as he left the court at around 6pm.

He ignored questions from journalists and left in a black taxi.

The jury will return this morning to consider further charges against Coulson and the defunct tabloid's former royal editor Clive Goodman of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office by paying police officers for two royal directories. Coulson, 46, of Kent and Goodman, 56, of Surrey, deny the charges.