Operation Elveden: CPS drops cases as more journalists acquitted – James Doleman

18 04 2015

Old-BaileyThere were understandable scenes of jubilation from the friends and family of the two Sun and one Daily Mirror reporters at the Old Bailey yesterday as a jury found them not guilty on all charges. The Mirror’s Graham Brough and Neil Millard and Brandon Malinsky of the Sun walked free from court.

The other two defendants Tom Wells and former immigration detention officer Mark Blake will have to wait until next week to hear if they will face a re-trial after the jury deadlocked on two charges against them and failed to reach a verdict.

In contrast prosecution counsel and police officers looked glumly on as another failure to secure a conviction unfolded. The statistics make grim reading for the Crown Prosecution Service (“CPS”) of the 29 reporters charged under Operation Elveden only three have so far been convicted, with one of those convictions later quashed by the Court of Appeal and another invited to appeal. While 25 public officials have been found guilty, and have often been jailed, two journalists being found guilty after an operation costing over £12 million is not an outcome that the prosecutors either anticipated or can be happy about.

We should always be careful about trying to guess why a particular jury made a particular decision, each case is different. However it is now obvious that a pattern is emerging. The public officials who received money from reporters are generally being found guilty, while the journalists who paid them are being acquitted.

There are sound legal reasons why this might happen. In the case of the official the prosecution has to prove that they knew their actions were “serious enough to constitute a breach of the public trust”. To convict a journalist a jury also has to be sure that the reporter knew or ought to have known (at the time they made the payment) that the actions of the official were serious enough to cross a criminal threshold not just an employment disciplinary one. A defendant testifying that he had no idea that paying money for stories could be a crime until they were arrested, that he did not know the source was a public official, and that he believed all the stories published as a result to have been in the public interest creates a doubts in the minds of juries that even the most hard-bitten prosecution counsel have struggled to dispel.

In April 2015 the CPS announced it was carrying out a review to decide if it should proceed with the 12 outstanding trials of reporters over allegations of corruption. An announcement was expected on the 24 April on whether pending trials would go ahead. But the CPS announced yesterday that two journalists facing forthcoming trials and seven facing re-trials will now no longer face charges. Trials of four public officials and three journalists will be proceeding. The two people who have just been told that the jury was ”hung” in their cases will find out if there is to be re-trial in their case on Friday.

Elveden in numbers

  • 30 charged (one faced more than one set of charges).
  • 3 convicted (1 quashed on appeal, and one invited to appeal – neither of whom will now be re-prosecuted).
  • 1 Not prosecuted.
  • 1 left on file.
  • 13 jury acquittals.
  • 12 subject to CPS review – of which only 3 will now face charges.
  • £12 million cost of operation (excluding court costs).

Actions

Information

2 responses

18 04 2015
sdbast

Reblogged this on sdbast.

19 04 2015
Andy J

In light of these developments, I wonder if we will ever see Leveson Part 2? Given the possibility of a Labour led next government, will there be the political will to go ahead, or will the long grass of summer look very appealing? I suspect the odds of it happening are about the same as IPSO seeking charter recognition.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: