Solicitors for the Four said yesterday's announcement by the CPS "beggared belief" and even David Calvert-Smith, the new Director of Public Prosecutions, said he appreciated the decision could be seen as "difficult to understand".
Ann Whelan, the mother of Michael Hickey, one of those wrongly convicted, said the CPS action was "horrendous, outrageous, and deplorable". She vowed to fight on.
Supporters of the wrongly convicted men had expected police officers to face charges after the Court of Appeal raised "grave concerns" last year over the police investigation.
Michael Hickey, Vincent Hickey and Jim Robinson were freed by the court after spending 17 years in prison. Pat Molloy, the fourth man convicted of murdering the newspaper boy Carl Bridgewater, died in prison in 1981.
Eight detectives - one of whom has since died - were implicated in the Court of Appeal ruling delivered in July last year over the way Staffordshire Police gathered evidence in the case.
But Mr Calvert-Smith said there was no realistic prospect of convicting the officers. He pointed out the Court of Appeal had access to material that would not be admissible in a criminal trial.
Allegations focused on claims that Pat Molloy confessed to being at the scene of the crime only after being shown records of a forged interview with co-defendant Vincent Hickey.
James Nichol, the solicitor representing all three freed men, said there was clear evidence against at least two of the officers who had signed statements denying a fake interview report had been drawn up concerning Michael Hickey, a fact contradicted by scientific tests proving the existence of the report and which formed the plank of the appeal case.Reuse content