The Sun has condemned a decision to award the Queen’s Police Medal to the officer in charge of Operation Elveden – chief superintendent Gordon Briggs, who retired in January.
Operation Elveden began as a result of disclosures by Sun owner News Corp of emails revealing payments made by the paper to public officials.
Some 34 journalists were arrested and or charged (including 21 from The Sun) but none were successfully convicted at trial.
However 32 sources were convicted of selling information to journalists (mainly The Sun), most of whom were jailed.
Many of the arrested journalists never returned to their former jobs after spending years on police bail and facing criminal trials. Police were criticised for dawn-raid arrests on journalists which were seen as heavy handed.
Sun columnist Trevor Kavanagh wrote: “The persecution of journalists after the Leveson Inquiry will go down in infamy as a travesty of justice.
“A political witch-hunt was driven by vengeful politicians abusing their power. Dozens of Sun journalists were dragged through trials with not one enduring conviction.
“Yet the man in charge of this fiasco, ex-Detective Chief Supt Gordon Briggs, has got the Queen’s Police Medal.
“The operation sprang from the furore over phone hacking, for which a few journalists were rightly convicted. But it was allowed to morph into a Labour-led political vendetta that wrecked lives and careers.
“Briggs, who gloated as journalists were led to the dock, should be ashamed of his so-called ‘honour’. If he had any decency he would hand it back. And apologise.”