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  1. Media Law
July 2, 2015updated 09 Sep 2015 9:22pm

Three years after arrest, ex-News of the World journalist Alex Marunchak left in English ‘Guantanamo’

By Dominic Ponsford

Former News of the World senior executive editor Alex Marunchak has said that he is stuck in a sort of English “Guantanamo” nearly three years after his arrest on suspicion of computer-hacking.

He was one of 26 former News of the World journalists to be arrested in the wake of the hacking scandal and is the last to find out whether he will be charged.

Those arrested include nearly every senior news executive who worked on the paper in the Coulson era, between 2003 and 2007.

Yesterday, Coulson’s deputy Neil Wallis was found not guilty at the Old Bailey of conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages.

Coulson himself was found guilty of this offence last year. Former news editors for the paper Neville Thurlbeck, Ian Edmondson, Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup were also convicted of phone-hacking after admitting the offence.

Former News of the World features editor Jules Stenson has admitted hacking and is awaiting sentencing.

Those found not guilty and/or cleared include former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks and former managing editor Stuart Kuttner (see full table below).

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Marunchak (pictured above, credit: BBC Panorama) was arrested in a dawn raid in September 2012 and questioned on suspicion of computer-hacking.

This followed claims reported by BBC Panorama in 2011 involving former British army “intelligence officer” Ian Hurst.

It was claimed Marunchak had commissioned a computer-hacker to access Hurst's emails in 2006. Marunchak denies any knowledge of this.

Press Gazette understands that Marunchak was told a year ago that he was no longer on police bail, but that he was not in the clear. His barrister told him he had been “de-arrested”.

The Crown Prosecution Service is believed to have been given a file on Marunchak by police last September. The CPS now makes the decision on whether or not he should be charged.

Meanwhile, Marunchak has himself accepted a settlement from News Corp over the hacking of his own phone by staff at the News of the World.

A civil damages claim was filed against Marunchak by Ian Hurst in the High Court four years ago over the alleged computer-hacking.

Marunchak estimates that he has spent £60,000 on legal fees over the last four years.

He said: “I am in the most dreadful limbo. It can’t be right that it has gone on for so long.

“Part of the punishment is the process, Hugh Grant will be delighted to hear. Justice delayed is justice denied.

“Never mind Guantanamo Bay, what about the English Guantanamo created by [Director of Public Prosecutions] Alison Saunders and this state of limbo.”

Some 65 journalists have been arrested over the last four years as a result of police investigations stemming from the hacking scandal at the News of the World. Around another 35 are believed to have been questioned under caution.

This week The Guardian reported that former News International head of security Mark Hanna is suing the company for unfair dismissal.

He reportedly left the company with a £30,000 pay-off but has been unable to find work after being a co-defendant in the hacking trial. He was found not guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The 26 arrested and/or charged News of the World journalists

Name Title Offence First arrested Charged Result
Neville Thurlbeck NoW Hacking 05/04/2011 Yes Guilty plea
Ian Edmondson NoW Hacking, payments 05/04/2011 Yes Guilty plea (hacking)
James Weatherup NoW Hacking 14/04/2011 Yes Guilty plea
Andy Coulson NoW Hacking, payments, perjury 08/07/2011 Yes Guilty verdict (hacking)
Clive Goodman NoW Payments 08/07/2011 Yes Cleared
Neil Wallis NoW Hacking 14/07/2011 Yes Not guilty verdict
Rebekah Brooks NoW, Sun Hacking, payments, CPCJ 17/07/2011 Yes Not guilty verdict
Stuart Kuttner NoW Hacking 02/08/2011 Yes Not guilty verdict
Greg Miskiw NoW Hacking 10/08/2011 Yes Guilty plea
James Desborough NoW Hacking 18/08/2011 No Cleared
Dan Evans NoW, Mirror Hacking, payments, CPCJ 19/08/2011 Yes Guilty plea (all three)
Ross Hall NoW Hacking 02/09/2011 No Cleared
Raoul Simons NoW Hacking 07/09/2011 No Cleared
Bethany Usher NoW Hacking 30/11/2011 No Cleared
Lucy Panton NoW Payments 15/12/2011 Yes Guilty verdict overturned on appeal
Douglas Wright NoW Hacking, perjury 17/08/2012 Yes Cleared
Bob Bird NoW CPCJ 29/08/2012 Yes Cleared
Alex Marunchak NoW Computer hacking 02/09/2012 No De-arrested
Matt Nixson NoW Hacking 13/02/2013 No Cleared
Rav Singh NoW Hacking 13/02/2013 No Cleared
Rachel Richardson NoW Hacking 13/02/2013 No Cleared
Jane Atkinson NoW Hacking 13/02/2013 No Cleared
Polly Graham NoW Hacking 13/02/2013 No Cleared
Jules Stenson NoW Hacking 13/02/2013 Yes Guilty plea
Stephen Moyes* NoW, Sun Payments 16/04/2014 Yes Cleared
Ryan Sabey* NoW Payments 15/08/2014 Yes Guilty verdict overturned on appeal

*Ryan Sabey and Stephen Moves were never arrested, but questioned under caution. So the date given is when they were charged.


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