LONDON — Condé Nast has been found guilty of contempt of court by a British judge who ruled that an article published in British GQ risked derailing a trial involving senior staff at the now-defunct tabloid News of the World.
Lord Chief Justice John Thomas ruled that the story, “The Court Without a King,” by Michael Wolff, published in the April 2014 issue, created a “substantial risk” that the trial of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson would be impeded or prejudiced.
Brooks and Coulson held top positions at News of the World, which was owned by Rupert Murdoch and has since been shut. Both stood trial, accused of obtaining information by illegal means, in what has become known as Britain’s phone hacking scandal.
Wolff’s article had made allegations about Murdoch and Brooks, some of which had never been put before the jury. Brooks was later cleared of all charges, and has been reinstated as chief executive officer of News UK, which publishes The Times, The Sunday Times and the Sun.
Coulson was convicted of conspiracy to hack phones and spent 18 months in jail.
In a statement following the court’s decision, British GQ said: “Having taken legal advice and acted on that before publishing, we are disappointed by the outcome, but we entirely accept the decision of the court.”
The court has not yet clarified whether Condé Nast will have to pay a fine.