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Metropolitan Police statement on dropped action against Guardian

September 21st, 2011Posted by in Legal, Newspapers

The Metropolitan Police has said it will no longer pursue plans to apply for a court order which would force the Guardian to hand over documents revealing sources of some of its phone hacking coverage.

Here is our story on how the Met has dropped plans to order Guardian source disclosure. Below is the police force’s statement in full, as issued yesterday (Tuesday):

The Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards yesterday consulted the Crown Prosecution Service about the alleged leaking of information by a police officer from Operation Weeting.

The CPS has today asked that more information be provided to its lawyers and for appropriate time to consider the matter. In addition the MPS has taken further legal advice this afternoon and as a result has decided not to pursue, at this time, the application for production orders scheduled for hearing on Friday, 23 September. 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. This investigation, led by the DPS – not Operation Weeting, has always been about establishing whether a police officer has leaked information, and gathering any evidence that proves or disproves that. Despite recent media reports there was no intention to target journalists or disregard journalists’ obligations to protect their sources.

It is not acceptable for police officers to leak information about any investigation, let alone one as sensitive and high profile as Operation Weeting.

Notwithstanding the decision made this afternoon it should be noted that the application for production orders was made under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), NOT the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

The Official Secrets Act was only mentioned in the application in relation to possible offences in connection with the officer from Operation Weeting, who was arrested on August 18 2011 on suspicion of misconduct in a public office relating to unauthorised disclosure of information. He remains on bail and is suspended.

Separately, the MPS remains committed to the phone hacking investigation under Operation Weeting.

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