Operation Elveden closed by Met after nearly five years, £15m and arrest of 34 journalists - Press Gazette

Operation Elveden closed by Met after nearly five years, £15m and arrest of 34 journalists

The police investigation into payments by journalists to public officials has closed, Scotland Yard has said.

Operation Elveden started in June 2011 in the wake of the News of the World hacking scandal.

It was prompted by News Corp's Management and Standards Committee disclosing confidential emails sent between sources and journalists to the police.

It has seen the convictions of 34 people including nine police officers and 21 public officials.

The latest figures released under to Press Gazette under the Fredom of Information Act state that Operation Elveden has cost the Met £14.7m (not including legal fees). This figure does not include CPS and prosecution costs.

Out of 34 journalists arrested and/or charged under the Metropolitan Police's Operation Elveden inquiry, two have been convicted.

The rest have all now been cleared of offences linked to payments made to public officials.

Some 29 were charged. One, former Sunday Mirror and News of the World reporter Dan Evans, was convicted after admitting the offence of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office (as well as phone-hacking and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice).

Seven journalists had the charges dropped after a U-turn from the Crown Prosecution Service. Two were convicted only to be cleared on appeal.

Only one conviction stands of a journalist who was brought to trial, that of The Sun’s Anthony France. His legal team are currently pursuing an appeal.

On Wednesday, a serving police officer who had been arrested in September 2015 for misconduct in a public office was told that he would face no further action, marking the close of the operation.

Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Patricia Gallan said those who had been convicted breached the trust of the public by leaking confidential information for "nothing other than financial gain".

She said: "Their actions caused irreparable damage to public confidence and it is right that they faced prosecution.

"These were not whistleblowers, but people working in some of the most trusted positions in the police, prisons and health care, who were only seeking to profit."

Gallan added: "Elveden has been one of the most difficult and complex investigations the Met has dealt with.

"Having received from News International what appeared to be evidence that crimes had been committed by police officers, an investigation was inevitable.

"It was right that we followed the evidence where it took us without fear or favour.

"As the police, our responsibility is to investigate crime and present evidence to the CPS for them to consider appropriate charges, and this is what we did."

She said that the decision to arrest journalists for conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office was "not one taken lightly" and insisted the operation was not an attack on journalists or a free media.

Gavin Millar QC, who specialises in media issues, said Operation Elveden was right to pursue public officials for misconduct, but the prosecution of journalists "crossed a fault line".

He said: "You can question the ethics of whether a journalist or news organisation were justified in paying for information, or whether it was in the public interest.

"But what makes this different is that the Met took journalists into the criminal justice system.

"These cases could have been taken up in civil complaints, but I think this has set a bad precedent for democracy.

"If you look at the countries with the worst press freedoms in the world, Russia, China, these are the nations where criminal proceedings are taken out against journalists."

Millar said that in many cases taken out against journalists, it quickly became apparent to juries that those on trial had been "doing their job and acting in the public interest", and added: "Given that the Met, the courts and the CPS are under great pressure in terms of budgets, I think that in terms of priorities, it was an inappropriate use of resources."

Here are the 34 journalists arrested and/or charged under Operation Elveden (those with asterisks were never arrested). 'Cleared' denotes the case was dropped before trial, or in some cases before a retrial.

Name Title First arrested Charged Result
Andy Coulson NoW 08/07/2011 Yes Cleared (guilty hacking)
Clive Goodman NoW 08/07/2011 Yes Cleared
Rebekah Brooks NoW, Sun 17/07/2011 Yes Not guilty verdict
Dan Evans NoW, Mirror 19/08/2011 Yes Guilty plea 
Jamie Pyatt The Sun 04/11/2011 Yes Not guilty verdict
Lucy Panton NoW 15/12/2011 Yes Guilty verdict overturned on appeal
Chris Pharo The Sun 28/01/2012 Yes Not guilty verdict
Graham Dudman The Sun 28/01/2012 Yes Cleared
Mike Sullivan The Sun 28/01/2012 No Cleared
Fergus Shanahan The Sun 28/01/2012 Yes Not guilty verdict
John Sturgis The Sun 11/02/2012 No Cleared
Geoff Webster The Sun 11/02/2012 Yes Not guilty verdict
John Kay The Sun 11/02/2012 Yes Not guilty verdict
Nick Parker The Sun 11/02/2012 Yes Not guilty verdict (guilty handling)
Virginia Wheeler The Sun 01/03/2012 Yes Charges dropped health grounds
Duncan Larcombe The Sun 19/04/2012 Yes Not guilty verdict
Clodargh Hartley The Sun 25/05/2012 Yes Not guilty verdict
Neil Millard The Sun 14/06/2012 Yes Not guilty verdict
Greig Box-Turnbull Daily Mirror 04/07/2012 Yes Cleared
Tom Savage Daily Star Sunday 11/07/2012 Yes Not guilty verdict
Justin Penrose Sunday Mirror 11/07/2012 No Cleared
Vince Soodin The Sun 08/08/2012 Yes Cleared
John Coles The Sun 19/09/2012 No Cleared
Tom Wells The Sun 19/09/2012 Yes Not guilty verdict
Woman, 38   06/12/2012 No Cleared
Anthony France The Sun 17/01/2013 Yes Guilty verdict
John Troup* The Sun 21/05/2013 Yes Not guilty verdict
John Edwards The Sun 21/06/2013 Yes Not guilty verdict
Ben O'Driscoll* The Sun 12/09/2013 Yes Cleared
Man, 43 Freelance 13/09/2013 No Cleared
Graham Brough* Daily Mirror 26/02/2014 Yes Not guilty verdict
Brandon Malinsky* The Sun 26/02/2014 Yes Not guilty verdict
Stephen Moyes*  NoW, Sun 16/04/2014 Yes Cleared
Ryan Sabey* NoW 15/08/2014 Yes Guilty verdict overturned on appeal




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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette