Cleared former Mirror journalist Greig Box-Turnbull has condemned Rupert Murdoch's "betrayal" of journalists' sources and a police "assault" on public interest journalism.
He spoke out after the case against him for conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office was formally dropped at the Old Bailey today.
He was one of nine journalists to be told a week ago that prosecutions against them were being abandoned in the wake of a Court of Appeal ruling which quashed the conviction of former News of the World journalist Lucy Panton.
Prosecutions are continuing against alleged public sector sources and against three Sun journalists. Of 34 journalists arrested and/or charged under the Operation Elveden investigation into public official payments, one conviction stands.
Box-Turnbull said: “I feel completely vindicated that the Crown Prosecution Service has finally dropped its ill-conceived case against me and I can start to look forward to my future.
“But my victory is very much tempered by its decision to continue to pursue fellow journalists and public officials.
“Operation Elveden has been a vicious assault on public interest journalism and press freedom by the Met Police and the CPS. “
Box-Turnbull was arrested on 4 July 2012, three months after he took voluntary redundancy from the Daily Mirror. Since then he has worked in PR.
Much of the evidence fuelling Operation Elveden has come from work emails supplied to police by News Corp’s Management and Standards Committee.
Box-Turnbull, 40, said: “Nearly three years ago I became the first reporter to be arrested from Trinity Mirror, as Rupert Murdoch's betrayal of journalists and their sources crossed over into a second news organisation.
“However, I remained steadfast in my total conviction that, at all times, I had done my job professionally and lawfully as a hard-working journalist in accordance with the PCC Code of Conduct.
“My work exposed security failings, illegality and serious impropriety in British public institutions, revelations the government would have preferred to have withheld from the public. My stories were in the public interest and in a democracy one would hope that such information would never be suppressed. Investigative, probing journalism is a cornerstone of a free society. We should never risk Britain becoming a country where only the state-sponsored version of the truth is permitted.
“The impact of Operation Elveden has affected many areas of my life and that of others. But, with time, I hope the scars will eventually heal for everyone.
“The Met and CPS have claimed recently to operate independently from political pressure. I was one of the journalists to be subjected to an early morning raid by officers from the Serious Organised Crime Squad.
“After much public criticism, these raids ceased in favour of interviews by appointment for other journalist colleagues. This gives precisely the impression that these organisations are influenced by public pressure.
“It was clear from the outset of Operation Elveden that the Met Police failed to apply sufficient consideration to public interest journalism and the public’s right to know.
“This major lapse of judgement resulted in millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being wasted, for which there should be a public inquiry.
“Despite a long legal fight to clear my name I have gained strength from the experience and am firmly focused on the future, driving my career and life forward with positivity and maximising my opportunities.
“I'd like to thank my family, friends, colleagues, the NUJ and brilliant legal team who have fully believed in me and backed me throughout.
“My unrelenting support remains with the three journalists still facing trials and those who provided stories the public had a right to read."