The story broke earlier today that Andy Coulson, head of press at 10 Downing Street, would not face prosecution over allegations that he was aware of phone hacking by staff when he was editor of the News of the World. For those who are interested, here is the statement from the Director of Public Prosecutions. (Curiously it is not on the Crown Prosecution Service website but rather on the CPS ‘blog’.)
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, said today:
“In September 2010 the New York Times published allegations that phone hacking at the News of the World newspaper was more widespread and more widely known than was outlined at the 2007 prosecution of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire.
“This prompted a number of associated reports and wide media coverage and speculation.
“The police have investigated these allegations and, on 12 November 2010, requested advice from the Crown Prosecution Service about the prospects of bringing criminal charges against anyone for offences relating to the interception of communications.
“Sean Hoare, who made significant allegations in the New York Times and elsewhere, was interviewed by the police but refused to comment. A number of other witnesses were interviewed and either refused to cooperate with the police investigation, provided short statements which did not advance matters, or denied any knowledge of wrongdoing.
“Against that background, there is no admissible evidence upon which the CPS could properly advise the police to bring criminal charges. The contents of the reports in the New York Times and the associated reports and coverage are not enough for criminal proceedings unless those making allegations are prepared to provide the police with admissible evidence to support their assertions. None have been prepared to do so.
“It is possible that further allegations will be made and the CPS remains willing to consider any evidence submitted to us by the police. To facilitate this, the CPS and the Metropolitan Police Service intend to convene a panel of police officers and prosecutors to assess those allegations with a view to determining whether or not investigations should take place.
“I have made it clear that a robust attitude needs to be taken to any unauthorised interception. But a criminal prosecution can only take place if those making allegations of wrongdoing are prepared to cooperate with a criminal investigation and to provide admissible evidence of the wrongdoing they allege.”