Trials of journalists alleged to have paid money to public officials for private documents halted as CPS holds urgent review of its decision to prosecute

 

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The Independent Online

The first of the eight trials involving journalists alleged to have paid money to public officials for private documents and due to take place between now and September, has been adjourned at the Old Bailey.

The Crown Prosecution Service is understood to be holding an urgent review of its decision to prosecute 11 journalists facing trial or retrial as a result of evidence gathered by Operation Elveden, the Metropolitan Police’s special unit which has spent years investigating illegal payments made at tabloid newspapers.

The CPS has been granted just over three weeks to consider the legal impact of a Court of Appeal ruling made last week which quashed the conviction of a former News of the World reporter.

 

The ruling by the Lord Chief Justice, Mr Justice Cranston and Mr Justice William Davis, concerned the conviction last year of a prison officer, his friend and a former NOTW journalist. Another journalist was acquitted. The CPS has said it will not be seeking a retrial of the NOTW reporter.

The Lord Chief Justice said the judge in the case had misdirected the jury on the “seriousness” of the leaks and should have been more explicit about how misconduct could be construed as crossing into criminality.

The Appeal Court’s decision was widely regarded as a significant legal setback for both the CPS and Scotland Yard. Both had worked together to bring trials against 24 journalists who were charged with involvement in paying cash for leaks and information supplied by public officials.

The CPS said last week it would “consider the contents [of the Appeal Court decision], and its implications, very carefully”. So far two journalists, who both worked for the tabloid division of Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper company, have been convicted, while 10 have been cleared.