In the Media

Phone hacking: prosecutors asked to decide on 11 suspects

PUBLISHED April 18, 2012

The suspects are believed to include Rebekah Brooks, the former News International chief executive.

The files relate to four journalists, one police officer and six other individuals and cover a range of alleged offences stemming from the investigation which began when the full extent of the phone hacking scandal was exposed last year.

The four files, which were handed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) within the past few weeks, relate to a variety of alleged offences covering journalists from beyond the now-defunct News of the World.

While the CPS refused to reveal the identities of those journalists named in the files, it is believed those whose cases are with prosecutors include Mrs Brooks, Amelia Hill, a reporter on The Guardian, and the former News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck.

A total of 43 people are on bail in connection with the various police operations and it is thought more files will be passed to the CPS in the coming weeks.

Giving details of the latest development in the hacking saga, Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the four files now under consideration had resulted from investigations carried out by the Metropolitan Police.

The files now with the CPS include:

One journalist and one police officer with relation to alleged offences of misconduct in public office and the Data Protection Act.

One journalist and six other members of the public with relation to alleged offences of perverting the course of justice.

One journalist with relation to alleged offences of witness intimidation and harassment.

One journalist with relation to alleged offences under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

Scotland Yard is carrying out five investigations into the scandal: Operation Weeting which is looking at allegations of phone hacking; Operation Tuleta, which is looking at allegations of computer hacking; Operation Elveden, which is looking at allegations that journalists illegally paid public officials for information; Operation Kilo, which is focused on alleged leaks from Operation Weeting and Operation Sacha, looking at allegations that attempts were made to destroy material related to the other investigations.

Miss Hill, who is The Guardian's special investigations correspondent, was questioned under caution in September last year over allegations that she had received leaked information from the phone hacking investigation.

A 51-year-old detective, who worked on Operation Weeting, was also arrested in connection with the allegations.

Mrs Brooks was arrested for a second time last month, along with her husband Charlie and four other people, by officers investigating allegations of a cover-up in the phone hacking inquiry.

Mr Thurlbeck was also arrested last month by police investigating claims that he posted information related to a member of the News Corporation's management and standards committee on his blog.

Mr Thurlbeck said yesterday that he had not been formally told of the latest development but added: "I am pleased that the legal process is moving forward to what I believe will be a confirmation that these allegations are completely without foundation."

It remains unclear who the journalist is in the file connected to alleged breaches of the RIPA, but it is understood the offences now under consideration relate to the illegal interception of telephone calls by a News of the World journalist.

The CPS will now consider the evidence collected by police before announcing whether to bring charges in any of the cases.

Yesterday Mr Starmer published guidelines setting out how journalists may have broken the law. He said the new rules would help lawyers with "very difficult decisions".

"We have got to make a decision because these cases are coming. We cannot duck that, he said."