Morgan still under pressure in fallout from City Slickers trial

DTI to review evidence involving ex-'Mirror' editor and in-house lawyer after last week's convictions
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The Independent Online

Piers Morgan, the former editor of the Daily Mirror, and Martin Cruddace, the paper's former in-house lawyer, could face regulatory action over their involvement in the City Slickers scandal.

James Hipwell, a former journalist on the Mirror, and share trader Terry Shepherd, were found guilty last week of share manipulation. Hipwell's former partner in the City Slickers team at the paper, Anil Bhoyrul, had earlier pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Mr Morgan and Mr Cruddace both bought shares around the time they were tipped by the Slickers. But neither faced any charges relating to this.

Hipwell told Southwark Crown Court that Mr Cruddace and Tina Weaver, the Daily Mirror's then deputy editor, had put pressure on him to protect Mr Morgan during a probe by lawyers hired by the Mirror.

The Department of Trade and Industry will review the evidence to see if there are any new facts that could lead to further action against Mr Morgan and Mr Cruddace, The Independent on Sunday has learnt.

"There is nothing new that came out," said Mr Morgan, who now runs journalism trade paper Press Gazette. "The DTI did a four-year investigation and decided not to prosecute."

Although the case is closed against the three people convicted, unless they appeal, the DTI refused to confirm whether its file was closed on Mr Morgan and Mr Cruddace.

Mr Cruddace, who is now company secretary for Betfair, an online gambling group, could also face censure from his professional body, the Law Society.

Mr Cruddace, a close friend of Mr Morgan, had spent more than £6,000 buying shares in three companies around the time they were tipped.

He told the court he had been cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal investigation and the timing was a coincidence.

The Law Society's Consumer Complaints Service (CCS) investigates solicitors if people complain about them but can also launch probes by itself. A society spokesman said Mr Cruddace was "not the subject of complaint or investigation at the moment" but added that the CCS could opt to look at his behaviour.

If a case is particularly serious, it is taken to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, which has the power to reprimand, impose fines of up to £5,000 per allegation, suspend lawyers or strike them off.