Tuesday 20 September 2011

Met drops action to obtain Guardian sources

Scotland Yard has dropped its widely criticised attempt to force the Guardian to reveal confidential sources for stories relating to the phone-hacking scandal.

The police wanted a court order to force Guardian reporters to reveal confidential sources for articles disclosing that the murdered teenager Milly Dowler's phone was hacked on behalf of the News of the World. They claimed that the paper's reporter Amelia Hill could have "incited" a source to break the Official Secrets Act.

The Guardian reports tonight: "The Yard said it would not go to the high court on Friday to demand the information."

A police spokesman said: "The Metropolitan Police's Directorate of Professional Standards consulted the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) about the alleged leaking of information by a police officer from Operation Weeting.

"The CPS has today asked that more information be provided to its lawyers and for appropriate time to consider the matter.

"In addition the MPS has taken further legal advice this afternoon and as a result has decided not to pursue, at this time, the application for production orders scheduled for hearing on Friday 23 September. We have agreed with the CPS that we will work jointly with them in considering the next steps."

The Met's action was condemned by leaders in the Daily Mail, The Times, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, the Independent and the Financial Times as well as by Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn.

At a Thomson Reuters debate in London tonight on "The Press We Deserve", former Sunday Times editor Harold Evans said about the Met's action against the Guardian: "It's such an outrage I can hardly contain myself"

James Harding, editor of The Times, described the Met action as an "abuse of police and state power" and said it had done an "impressive" job in bringing the press together.

  • Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said:"We are delighted that common sense has prevailed and the Met has woken up to the fact that they cannot get away with such flagrant abuse of the Official Secrets Act. This was an outrageous attack on a central tenet of journalism - the protection of our sources. This is a victory for journalism, democracy and press freedom."

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