The Sun's executive editor Fergus Shanahan, 60, said despite the acquittal of four journalists at the Old Bailey their families had been through a "terrible ordeal".
After hugging supporters outside court, Mr Shanahan said: "Obviously I'm very grateful to the jury for taking such time over the verdict. They put an enormous amount of thought into it."
He said the issues that the jurors in the case had to deal with were complicated and "complex".
The executive editor told reporters that the trial had been a "terrible ordeal" for the families of the people involved.
While journalists may have "thick skin" and "can look after ourselves", the loved ones had been put under "the most appalling strain for three years", he said.
The journalist added that his thoughts were with colleagues facing trial in the future and he expressed the hope that there would be a "sensible result, a right result".
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