Sun reporter Neil Millard (pictured PA) says his life has been a “bad dream” ever since eight police officers from the Met's Operation Elveden launched a dawn raid on his family home in the summer 2012.
Life since then has, he says, been like an “out of body experience” involving a level of stress which he finds difficult to put into words.
Millard was today cleared at the Old Bailey, along with Sun night news editor Brandon Malinsky and former Daily Mirror journalist Graham Brough,of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
They were all accused of involvement in paying public officials for stories.
The jury also cleared Sun reporter Tom Wells of two charges but failed to reach a verdict on another count.
Millard spoke to Press Gazette outside court before the news broke that the CPS was scrapping the planned prosecutions of nine journalists in the wake of today’s Old Bailey verdicts. Three trials of journalists accused over payments to public officials are still set to go ahead.
Millard said: “It’s a massive relief, my family and I have lived through three years of hell. The stress has been like nothing I’ve experienced before. To have that pressure over such a long period is not something you would wish on your worst enemy.
“None of these cases should have come to court. People have been dragged through a huge ordeal for doing nothing more than their jobs.
“My sincere hope is that somebody in the CPS sees sense and bins every single pending trial that’s left.”
His ordeal began with a raid on the home he shares with his wife in June 2012 at 5.50am in the morning.
At the time she was seven months pregnant and in tears as officers went through all his and her private belongings.
He said: “When this began I was recently married and my wife was pregnant. I now have two young girls, the oldest is two and a half. I credit the children with actually getting me through this.
"I’m 33, Operation Elveden has taken one fifth of my adult life.
“All I wanted to do was work for the biggest and best newspaper in Britain. The only crime I am guilty of is ambition.”
Asked about the strength of the evidence against him, he said: “There were public interest elements to every single story that went before the court in this trial. The problem for the police and the defence is that we all went to court and gave evidence before we knew what this law really went.”
Last month, in the middle of the Millard's trial, the Court of Appeal quashed the first trial conviction of a journalist for conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. The court found that the trial judge had misdirected the jury about the high level of seriousness needed in order to convict.
Millard said: “We can’t have a situation in this country were you can unknowingly commit a crime doing what people have done for decades before you in industry custom and practice which is old as the hills. It makes no sense."
Sun night news editor Malinsky also spoke to Press Gazette after leaving court in the wake of his acquittal.
He said: "These charges should never have been brought to court. The police and the Crown Prosecution Service should hang their heads in shame.
"They’ve put honest journalists through hell.
"They need to stop all these prosecutions now and concentrate on arresting real criminal not journalists.
"We have had police officers stood at the back of the court every day for eight weeks watching this. I think the British taxpayer would rather they were out on the streets rather than trying to convict honest journalists. .
“For the sake of my colleagues they need to stop the outstanding Operation Elveden prosecutions.”