Prosecutors decided on Tuesday not to charge a journalist from the Guardian newspaper and a Scotland Yard detective over leaks of sensitive information relating to the phone hacking scandal.
The Crown Prosecution Service said it would not be in the public interest to charge Amelia Hill, the Guardian’s special investigations correspondent, and a 51-year-old detective constable.
There was also “insufficient evidence” to bring charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, although there would have been sufficient evidence for charges over unauthorised disclosures, it said.
“In the circumstances, I have decided that a criminal prosecution is not needed against either Ms. Hill or the police officer,” prosecutor Alison Levitt said in a televised statement.
“I have decided that in her (Hill’s) case, the public interest outweighs the overall criminality alleged.”
The police officer should however face internal disciplinary action by the police, Levitt said.
Hill was interviewed under caution in September. She was one of the two Guardian journalists who revealed that the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been hacked by Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid.
The Guardian hailed the decision as a victory for press freedom.
“We welcome the Crown Prosecution Service’s sensible decision to abandon this worrying attempt to criminalise legitimate contact between journalists and confidential sources,” a spokesman for the newspaper said.
“Nevertheless, the paper makes no comment on the validity of the Met police assertion that the officer it identified was Amelia’s source in this case.”
The officer was working on Operation Weeting, the Metropolitan Police’s 16-month inquiry into voicemail interceptions by journalists at the News of the World.
He has been suspended since being arrested at his desk in August by officers from the force’s internal standards watchdog.
Murdoch shut down the News of the World in July 2011 after the revelations that it had hacked the voicemails of schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International and a one-time editor of the News of the World, was charged earlier this month with perverting the course of justice.
[A man reads a copy of the Guardian newspaper in London in 2009. AFP Photo/Leon Neal]