Mirror phone-hacking trial: Scotland Yard to find out 'before end of the month' if more work needed on criminal investigation

Operation Golding has been investigating allegations of illegal voicemail interception practices at MGN's three national newspaper titles

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The Independent Online

Prosecutors are expected to tell Scotland Yard before the end of the month if they require more work to be done on the criminal investigation into phone hacking at Mirror Group Newspapers.

The Crown Prosecution Service have confirmed that they had “recently” received four files from Operation Golding, the Metropolitan Police’s special unit which has been investigating allegations of illegal voicemail interception practices at MGN’s three national newspaper titles.

The CPS said the four files were in addition to other advice files that had already been sent to them.

Counsel representing eight MGN journalists, who have previously been arrested in connection with phone hacking, told the High Court that they understood a decision by the CPS on whether to bring criminal charges was “imminent”.

Details on another two former Mirror journalists, one of whom was questioned for a second time last month, are understood to part of the documentation now in the hands of the CPS.

There was speculation in the court that the outcome of the civil trial, which resulted in record damages being paid out to eight individuals, including the actress Sadie Frost and the former footballer, Paul Gascoigne, may have delayed the formal decision by the CPS.

The civil trial, which was widely reported, examined some of the territory likely to feature in any potential criminal prosecution.

The lengthy judgement by Mr Justice Mann was made available to the public but heavily redacted for legal reasons.

The document noted that  information obtained by one MGN specialist hacker, Dan Evans – who gave evidence in the civil trial  -  targeted groups of individuals. This became known inside the paper as “farming”.

Another journalist, said to have a bigger database than Evans, passed details “up the chain of command” inside the newspaper.  Going through his hacking database was said to take up “several hours a day.”

Emails examined in the civil trial were said to “reveal the levels at which phone hacking was known about, and indeed being conducted within the Sunday Mirror.”

Mr Justice Mann noted “It is apparent that the emails are passing to and from journalists and editors at all levels, and supports the inference that hacking was being carried out at all levels.”

A spokeswoman for Trinity Mirror said that no decision had been taken on whether it would lodge an appeal on the court’s ruling. The spokeswoman said it planned to announce its decision at a case management hearing in the High Court currently scheduled for the beginning of June.