11 phone-hack suspects referred to prosecutors

Eleven suspects have been referred to prosecutors by Scotland Yard’s phone-hacking squad.

The cases of four journalists, one police officer and six other individuals are being considered, director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said.

Offences under consideration include misconduct in a public office, data protection act breaches, perverting the course of justice, witness intimidation and breaches of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa).

Starmer refused to give a timescale for a charging decision but said: “We are now entering a period where we are likely to make a decision one way or another.”

Some of the suspects referred to in the files have not been questioned by police yet, the DPP said.

A total of 43 people arrested under the various operations sparked by disclosures of phone-hacking at the News of the World remained on bail, Starmer added.

The announcement came as Britain’s top prosecutor published guidelines setting out how journalists may have broken the law.

Starmer said the new rules would help lawyers with the “very difficult decisions”.

“The decisions we are going to make are going to be extremely difficult and extremely sensitive,” he said.

“We have got to make a decision because these cases are coming. We cannot duck that.”

Press Gazette understands that individuals currently on police bail have not yet been told whether they are among those whose cases are being considered.

The journalists, and many others, arrested and questioned by officers on Operation Weeting over the last year are due to begin having their police bail renewed next week.

It is expected that people will be told at that point whether they there cases are to dropped.

A CPS spokesperson said: “We have received: one file for charging advice relating to one journalist and one police officer with relation to alleged offences of misconduct in public office and the Data Protection Act; one file for charging advice relating to one journalist and six other members of the public with relation to alleged offences of perverting the course of justice; one file for charging advice relating to one journalist with relation to alleged offences of witness intimidation and harassment; one file for charging advice relating to one journalist with relation to alleged offences under Ripa.

“We are not prepared to discuss the identities of those involved or the alleged offences in any greater detail at this stage as a number of related investigations are ongoing. We are unable to give any timescale for charging decisions, except to say that these cases are being considered.”

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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