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  1. Media Law
March 31, 2015updated 08 Apr 2015 3:12pm

CPS: No retrial for NoW reporter whose conviction was quashed – review of other journalist prosecutions

By Dominic Ponsford

The Crown Prosecution Service is not going to seek a retrial for a News of the World journalist whose conviction for a paying public official was quashed by the Court of Appeal.

And it has asked for an adjournment in a further Operation Elveden trial involving a journalist which was due to start today while it considers the “wider implicatons” of last week’s ruling from the Lord Chief Justice.

The CPS said in a statement that is also looking at the "implications" the Court of Appeal ruling has for numerous pending trials and retrials involving journalists.

The News of the World journalist, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is one of only two journalists tried for misconduct in a public office offences (out of 18 who have stood trial) to be found guilty.

They were given a six-month suspended prison sentence last November.

The Lord Chief Justice last week found that trial judge Charles Wide had "misdirected" the jury in the case on a key aspect of the ancient common law offence of misconduct in a public office in relation to the "level of seriousness" required.

Under the offence, which can be traced back to the 13th century, the misconduct had to be "to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder" – he said.

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The appellants had asked the judge to tell the jury that the test for criminal misconduct was "high" and appealed on the grounds that it should have been made clear.

The CPS was given until today to decide whether or not it would be seeking a retrial of the journalist and two co-defendants who were also convicted (a prison official – who was jailed for three and a half years, and their friend).

A CPS spokesperson said today: “The Court of Appeal judgment from last week does not call into question the prosecution of the appellants concerned but considered that the jury needed greater direction on how serious offending must be to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust.
“This ruling has been very carefully considered in relation to the cases against these three individuals (appellants) and we have informed the Court of Appeal this afternoon of our decisions concerning retrials in each of those cases.
“We have also asked for an adjournment in the Operation Elveden trial due to start today in order to consider the wider implications of last week’s judgment on this case and others within Operation Elveden.”

Last week the Lord Chief Justice also gave ex-NoW reporter Ryan Sabey – the second journalist to be convicted following an Elveden trial – leave to appeal against his conviction.

Picture: Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions

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