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Decision to end hacking probe 'could be challenged'

Published 12/12/2015

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said the CPS has
Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said the CPS has "looked in great detail" at "comprehensive" files submitted by the police

The decision to end the long-running inquiry into phone hacking could be challenged, a lawyer representing some of the victims has said.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) concluded there is "insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction" in relation to corporate liability at News Group Newspapers (NGN), the company that published the now defunct News of the World (NotW), for alleged phone hacking.

The same decision was reached in relation to 10 journalists who worked at Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).

Former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who was previously interviewed under caution, vowed to get "spectacularly drunk" after being told the news.

But Gerald Shamash, who represented former footballer Paul Gascoigne who was awarded £188,250 in relation to action against MGN, said it would be "right and proper" to review the decision.

He told the Guardian: "Subject to client's instructions, we would want to have a review of the decision-making process. It's available, it's (a) quite right and proper process to go through and we would want it reviewed. No doubt a number of the other (law) firms would want to join on this."

Following Friday's developments, campaign group Hacked Off said it was "surprised and disappointed".

The decision to end the inquiry signals the end of the CPS's involvement in phone hacking investigations, which were launched in 2011 in the wake of revelations about the practice at the NotW.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman confirmed: "Police investigations into phone hacking have concluded."

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said the CPS has "looked in great detail" at "comprehensive" files submitted by the police.

She added: "After a thorough analysis, we have decided there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction and therefore no further action will be taken in any of these cases.

"There has been considerable public concern about phone hacking and invasion of privacy.

"Over the past three years, we have brought 12 prosecutions and secured nine convictions for these serious offences. These decisions bring the CPS's involvement in current investigations into phone hacking to a close."

Those convicted include former NotW editor and Downing Street spin doctor Andy Coulson.

Three people were acquitted, including Mr Coulson's predecessor at the paper Rebekah Brooks, while several others were arrested before being told they would face no further action.

Operation Weeting, the central phone hacking inquiry launched by Scotland Yard in January 2011, had cost £22.8 million as of the end of last month.

A spokeswoman for News UK, of which NGN is a subsidiary, welcomed the decision, saying they had apologised "for the conduct that occurred" and "updated and instituted substantial reforms in our business to ensure our governance is second to none".

Files relating to 10 journalists were considered under Operation Golding, an investigation into allegations of phone hacking at MGN, but it was determined there was insufficient evidence against any individual suspect to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.

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