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Police drop hacking sources bid

Scotland Yard has dropped its legal bid to force the Guardian newspaper to reveal information about the source of its phone hacking stories.

The Metropolitan Police said it had "decided not to pursue" production orders against the broadsheet and one of its reporters after taking legal advice.

The force had said it wanted to identify evidence of "potential breaches relating to Misconduct in Public Office and the Official Secrets Act". It had intended to seek the orders in a court hearing at the Old Bailey on Friday.

An officer working on Operation Weeting, the force's investigation into phone hacking, was arrested last month on suspicion of misconduct in public office relating to the unauthorised disclosure of information. He has been suspended from duty and is on bail.

The Metropolitan Police's Directorate of Professional Standards on Monday consulted the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which asked for more information to be provided to them.

A police spokesman said: "In addition, the MPS has taken further legal advice and as a result has decided not to pursue, at this time, the application for production orders scheduled for hearing on Friday September 23. We have agreed with the CPS that we will work jointly with them in considering the next steps. This decision does not mean that the investigation has been concluded."

Guardian reporter Amelia Hill, the newspaper's special investigations correspondent, was interviewed under caution by Scotland Yard over alleged leaks from Operation Weeting. She has broken a string of exclusives about the phone hacking inquiry.

Met deputy assistant commissioner Mark Simmonds defended the investigation.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "In all the glare that has been thrown on to our relationships with the media, we have had to ask ourselves the question about how do we do more to ensure that public confidence in our officers treating information given to them in confidence appropriately is maintained."

Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I just hope that in our effort to clean up some of the worst practices we don't completely overreact and try and clamp down on perfectly normal and applaudable reporting. This was a regrettable incident, but let's hope it's over."


From Belfast Telegraph