Hacked Off is surprised and disappointed by today’s CPS decision that there will be no corporate prosecutions of News International or any prosecution of former editors at Mirror Group Newspapers. The civil cases have revealed widespread wrongdoing at several of the country’s biggest newspapers. This decision means that the companies which profited from criminal wrongdoing over many years will not be held accountable in the criminal courts.
The way is now clear for the second part of the Leveson Inquiry. This will deal with the full extent of the wrongdoing and failures of corporate governance in the press. It will also investigate police misconduct and corruption. Lord Justice Leveson was not able to investigate these important areas until all the criminal prosecutions had concluded. The next part of the Inquiry can now begin. The public has the right to know what really happened at our police forces and newspapers so that steps can be taken to make sure it never happens again.
Dr Evan Harris, Joint Executive Director of Hacked Off said:
“Many people will find It hard to believe that there wasn’t corporate wrong-doing at news International, especially in relation to a cover up. Rebekah Brooks was involved in the deletion of emails and making massive secret pay offs to victims to “defend the company’s reputation”. The company profited from the phone hacking and corrupt payments to public officials but then shopped its own journalists and sources. News Corp has now achieved its aim of avoiding corporate charges but at great cost.
Hacked Off and most of the victims we represent have never wanted to see journalist foot soldiers prosecuted while their bosses who gave out the orders – and were promoted on the basis of their scoops – have escaped prosecution.
Given what came out at the Mirror civil trial, and the whistle-blowers that came forward it is surprising that the CPS are now claiming that there isn’t enough evidence to prosecute. The hundreds of people who were victims of illegal conduct by the Mirror will be surprised and disappointed”.
Professor Brian Cathcart, Co-Founder of Hacked Off said:
“We call on the Prime Minister to honour his promises to the victims of press abuse and to take immediate steps to set up Leveson Part 2. The first inquiry was not able to question individuals about the details of phone hacking and other misconduct. Now that the prosecutions are over a Judge led inquiry will be able to get to the bottom of what happened. We need to ensure that the widespread abuse and criminality which has poisoned the British press for many years will never happen again”.
Note for Editors
The terms of reference of Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry were as follows:
3. To inquire into the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News International, other newspaper organisations and, as appropriate, other organisations within the media, and by those responsible for holding personal data.
4. To inquire into the way in which any relevant police force investigated allegations or evidence of unlawful conduct by persons within or connected with News International, the review by the Metropolitan Police of their initial investigation, and the conduct of the prosecuting authorities.
5. To inquire into the extent to which the police received corrupt payments or other inducements, or were otherwise complicit in such misconduct or in suppressing its proper investigation, and how this was allowed to happen.
6. To inquire into the extent of corporate governance and management failures at News International and other newspaper organisations, and the role, if any, of politicians, public servants and others in relation to any failure to investigate wrongdoing at News International
7. In the light of these inquiries, to consider the implications for the relationships between newspaper organisations and the police, prosecuting authorities, and relevant regulatory bodies – and to recommend what actions, if any, should be taken.