Trial brings taxpayer cost of investigating journalists to £40m - Press Gazette

Trial brings taxpayer cost of investigating journalists to £40m

The cost to the taxpayer for the hacking trial was at least £1,745,752.58, the Crown Prosecution Service said last night.

The figure included paying for lawyers, expert witnesses and CPS staff up to 31 May this year.

Meanwhile the costs so far of the various police investigations into newspapers is approaching £33m. The Daily Mail noted today that this contrasts with the £75m annual budget of the Met's Homicide Command, which investigates 100 murders a year.

An un-named recently retired Met murder detective told the Daily Mail: "The costs are heavily disproportionate. We have some 20 unsolved murders every year in London and yet some good senior investigating officers (from the murder squads) were being drafted over to Weeting, to do that job instead."

The prosecution counsel of five core members in court, plus occasional "bespoke instructions" on top made up the bulk of the cost.

Lawyers for all the defendants, except Clive Goodman who was on legal aid, were understood to have been paid for by News International – and are estimated by some to have exceeded £10m.

The cost of the Scotland Yard investigations into allegations of illegal newspaper practices stands at around £32,700,000.

According to police, the Operation Weeting investigation into phone hacking cost £18,723,141.

Operation Elveden into paying public officials cost £9,978,138; Operation Appleton which supported the Leveson Inquiry costs £1,310,000; and Operation Tuleta into other breaches of privacy cost £2,699,018.

A further £5.4m was spent on Leveson, meaning costs to the taxpayer of the hacking scandal (not including the huge amount of Government time spent dealing with press regulation) of £40m.

So far News Corp, the parent company of the now defunct News of the World, has paid out £268 million to alleged hacking victims. News Corp's total defence legal costs have been estimated by some as £50m.

Greg McGill, a senior lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This case was not about whether phone hacking took place or whether public officials were paid for information; there are a significant number of recent convictions which show that both did happen.

"This has been a lengthy and complex trial which was required to explore a culture of invading privacy.

"Despite a number of applications by the defence to have the case thrown out, the judge agreed that the evidence was sufficient for consideration by the jury.

"The jury has found that Andy Coulson, former editor of a national newspaper, conspired with others to hack phones.

"Others who have admitted their role in this illegal practice – Greg Miskiw, Neville Thurlbeck, James Weatherup, Glenn Mulcaire and Dan Evans – all now face sentencing for phone hacking.

"We respect the verdicts and will inform the court on Monday of our decision on whether to retry the outstanding counts.

"As closely linked criminal proceedings are under way, I have nothing further to add at this time."

At least 63 journalists have been arrested over the last three years by the various police investigations stemming from the hacking scandal. Some 23 journalists who have been charged are yet to stand trial. There may be another 30 journalists who have been secretly interviewed under caution and who could also yet face charges.



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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette