Six former News of the World journalists questioned by police about phone-hacking have been cleared

Six former News of the World journalists questioned by police on suspicion of involvement in phone-hacking for the News of the World have today been told they will face no further action.

But two further former journalists for the defunct tabloid face a longer wait for a decision on their cases.

The latest news means that out of 26 journalists arrested on suspicion of involvement in phone-hacking:

  • 14 have been cleared (either found not guilty or told they will not be charged)
  • five have been convicted
  • five remain on police bail.
  • Former News of the World news editor Ian Edmondson awaits a retrial after being found medically unfit to continue in the recent hacking trial
  • One individual is understood to remain under suspicion having been questioned for a second time.

The six cleared today include five former News of the World journalists arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept telephone communications on 13 February 2013. They have all now been told by police that they will face no further action.

Press Gazette understands that the cleared journalists include 

The five, who have not been named by the police, are:

  • A 40-year-old man (Weeting arrest B1) arrested in the London Borough of Greenwich
  • A 46-year-old man (Weeting arrest C1) arrested in the London Borough of Wandsworth
  • A 41-year-old woman (Weeting arrest D1) arrested in Cheshire 
  • A 35-year-old woman (Weeting arrest E1)arrested in the London Borough of Islington and 
  • A 42-year-old woman (Weeting arrest F1) arrested in the London Borough of Lambeth.

The sixth former News of the World journalist arrested that day, a 48-year-old man (Weeting arrest A1, arrested in the London Borough of Wandsworth), was rebailed to a later date in July. 

A 48-year-old former News of the World journalist who attended a central London police station by appointment on 14 October 2013 has also been told today that no further action will be taken. He was interviewed under caution by officers from Operation Pinetree in connection with suspicion of conspiracy to intercept voicemails.

A 63-year-old former News of the World journalist who attended a west London police station on Tuesday, 15 October 2013, by appointment, has been told that his file continues to be considered by the CPS. He was also interviewed under caution by officers from Operation Pinetree.

The Crown Prosecution Service said today that it received a file of evidence in December 2013 from the Met Police based on Operation Pinetree, an investigation into an alleged conspiracy to hack phone messages by journalists at the News of the World. Additional evidence in the case was provided in June 2014. 

Senior Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Gregor McGill said: "Following a careful review of the evidence, we have now reached decisions in relation to six of the individuals referred to us under Operation Pinetree. The evidence in relation to two further suspects remains under consideration.

"In relation to these six individuals, we have concluded that there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction in connection with allegations relating to the unlawful interception of telecommunications, namely voicemail messages.

"In addition, two of the six individuals were considered for an offence under the Data Protection Act 1998. In relation to the first individual, it was concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. In relation to the second individual, it was determined that there was sufficient evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and so we went on to consider the public interest.

"A determination that there was sufficient evidence does not mean that the CPS has made any finding concerning guilt or criminal conduct, it is the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors and one that is applied in all decisions on whether or not to prosecute.

"The public interest test of the code requires us to determine, among other factors, the seriousness of the offence, the level of culpability and the harm caused. In accordance with the code, it was concluded that a prosecution of one individual for an offence under the Data Protection Act would not be in the public interest.

"These decisions have been taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and CPS guidelines on assessing the public interest in cases affecting the media.

"Due to the ongoing review of evidence relating to the two remaining suspects in the case file we are unable to provide further reasoning for our decisions at this stage. We will of course consider what more can be said concerning these decisions in future."

Former News of the World journalists Dan Evans, Neville Thurlbeck, Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hack phones and were convicted last month, as was private investigator for the paper Glenn Mulcaire

Andy Coulson was convicted after pleading not guilty.

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