Former News of the World legal manager Tom Crone has been cleared of professional misconduct.
A disciplinary tribunal case brought by the Bar Standards Board accused Crone of six charges of attempting to uncover an alleged affair between two legal opponents for “leverage”.
The five-person panel of the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service, working to the criminal standard of proof that it be “beyond reasonable doubt”, unanimously rejected all charges.
Judge John Price said: “Our unanimous conclusion on counts one to four is we are not sure that Mr Crone’s intention was to force Lewis and Harris to withdraw their claim or to settle more favourably.”
After the hearing, where he represented himself, Crone told the Guardian: “I’m very relieved.
“The way the evidence was presented against me – a very serious allegation of criminal conduct – was wholly unfair and utterly unwarranted by the evidence, which thankfully the tribunal acknowledges.”
Crone was arrested on 30 August 2012 under Operation Weeting on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications contrary to Section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
In 2014, the Crown Prosecution Service announced Crone would not face prosecution over phone-hacking and that it would take no further action over an allegation of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.