'Massive ordeal' is over for Sun reporter Rhodri Phillips 13 months after dawn arrest by hacking cops - Press Gazette

'Massive ordeal' is over for Sun reporter Rhodri Phillips 13 months after dawn arrest by hacking cops

In depth: Sun reporter never saw the stolen mobile he was accused of handling

Sun reporter Rhodri Phillips has been cleared some 13 months after his arrest by police investigating computer hacking.

He was arrested by officers from the Met’s Operation Tuleta at 6.30am on the morning of 19 July at his north London home.

It was later revealed by the Met that he was questioned on suspicion of handling stolen goods. The arrest of Phillips is believed to be linked to an incident when the paper was contacted by a tipster who claimed to have found an MP's phone.

News UK chief executive Mike Darcey said today in an email to staff: "I am very pleased to be able to tell you that no further action will be taken against Rhodri Phillips, news reporter on The Sun, in relation to Operation Tuleta. 

"Rhodri was arrested in July 2012 and has continued to perform an outstanding job in his role as a reporter, going above and beyond his duties to edit Sun City on occasion, as well as breaking numerous exclusives for the paper…

"I am delighted that Rhodri can once again work without this huge burden. I remain mindful of all those on The Sun who are still enduring such a turbulent time." 

Phillips said in the same email: "I am delighted to have been cleared of any wrongdoing after my arrest 13 months ago but my thoughts today are with my colleagues who have been charged or remain on bail. This has been a massive ordeal but my family, friends and colleagues have been a tremendous support throughout."

At least 59 UK journalists have been arrested since April 2011 and Phillips becomes the 11th one to be cleared.

So far some 13 Sun journalists have been charged, all under the Operation Elveden inquiry into payments to public officials.

Phillips is one of six journalists arrested under Operation Tuleta. The other five are believed to be still on police bail.

At the time of Phillips' arrest Times crime editor Sean O'Neill tweeted: "Sun reporter arrested today had answered a call to nightdesk from someone who said he'd found MP's phone on a train. Went to check info… Examined phone to see if authentic and is there a 'security breach' story. Wrote email memo to newsdesk. No story published.. ..is that an offence that warrants an @metpoliceuk dawn raid on a family w v young kids? Sounds like a reporter doing his job."

One well-placed senior Fleet Street source told Press Gazette at the time: "Rhodri Phillips is the most decent straight reporter you could ever meet. This is an absolute outrage."

In March this year The Sun agreed to a "very substantial payout" after admitting accessing data on a mobile phone which MP Siobhain McDonagh said was stolen in 2010.



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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette