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June 30, 2014

Former DPP: ‘It isn’t healthy in the long term if there are continual prosecutions of journalists’

By William Turvill

Former Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer has said “it isn’t healthy in the long term if there are continual prosecutions of journalists”.

Speaking after the eight-month-long hacking trial came to an end last week, Starmer told LBC yesterday that the case had proved “journalists aren’t above the law”.

But he said: “There needs to a way of winding up the investigation in a sensible way.

“There needs to be a way of managing the cases down, I think, because it isn’t healthy in the long term if there are continual prosecutions of journalists.

“There has to be a space for the public interest.”

But he also defended the hacking trial – which is estimated to have cost taxpayers £1,745,752 – saying it was right for it to have gone ahead.

He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday morning: "Before this trial there was a feeling that journalists were above the law. I don't think there is that feeling any more."

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He added: "So far as Rebekah Brooks is concerned, the judge determined on a number of occasions there was a case to answer so it was a perfectly good case to bring.

"She answered it and I fully respect the jury's verdict. She put her case and she answered it."

According to The Daily Telegraph, Starmer told LBC presenters Stig Abell and Kay Burley that prosecutors will in future look at “what the journalist was seeking to do” when considering whether to prosecute for criminality.

He said: “The message going out of this should not be, every time a journalist transgresses the law, they will automatically be prosecuted. I think that would be a very bad message.”

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