THERE is a certain irony in the phone hacking trial ending on the day journalists around the world protested over the jailing of colleagues in Egypt.

'Journalism is not a crime' has become the phrase most used by those supporting the three al-Jazeera journalists jailed for 'spreading false news'.

Indeed it is not. But that does not mean journalists are above the law.

A British jury proved that yesterday when it found former News Of The World editor Andy Coulson guilty of phone hacking at the end of a 138-day trial and a police investigation that cost £30 million.

Phone hacking is illegal. A jury has decided Coulson was guilty of it and he is therefore a criminal and will pay the price for his crime, most likely with a jail sentence.

Whether the al-Jazeera trio are guilty of what most people would think to be a crime is another matter.

There is global outrage at their treatment and their imminent appeal must be heard properly and fairly.

Reporting what someone somewhere does not want the general public to know is the basis of journalism across the world.

On some occasions, laws have to be broken to expose the truth. That is how the scandal of MPs' expenses was revealed.

Hacking into phones to create stories or report tittle-tattle is not journalism. But it is a crime.