£150,000 mole hunt case is thrown out of court

A crown
court case brought after the “mole hunt” following the leaking of a
confidential document to a news agency journalist has ended with the
case thrown out after only the first witness.

The prosecution
decided not to continue at Chester Crown Court after the jury heard
that the leaked document could have been handled by far more people
than the limited number originally claimed, and that the information
was already in the public domain anyway.

The trial is estimated to have cost at least £150,000.

Retired chief superintendent Peter Bolton, 51, of Bryn Castell, Abergele, denied a charge of misconduct in public office.

Bolton,
assistant clerk to the North Wales Police Authority, had been accused
of sending a report, related to allegations of bullying, in the post to
freelance journalist Elwyn Roberts of Dee News Agency at Mold.

Judge David Hale entered a verdict of not guilty and said defence costs would be awarded out of public funds.

Journalists
had complained to the chief constable that the freedom of the press was
being compromised when the document was seized by detectives from
Roberts’ offices in Mold.

He said: “We live in a democracy, a free country. Leaks at all levels are a fact of life – from Westminster down.”

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