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Director of public prosecutions issues new statement on phone hacking

January 25th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, Legal

The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC issued a statement last night via the Crown Prosecution Service blog to say that evidence relating to recent allegations of phone hacking, as well as new “substantive” allegations, should be subject to “the same rigorous assessment as Alison Levitt QC is applying to material already in the possession of the Metropolitan Police Service”.

I have asked Alison Levitt QC (who has had no previous involvement in the case) to take a robust approach with a view to advising whether the Metropolitan Police Service should carry out any further investigation or deciding whether any prosecutions can be brought.

This builds upon the previous request by the MPS to the CPS to assess all the material relevant to phone hacking.

Earlier this month the CPS announced that it will conduct a “comprehensive assessment” of evidence held by the Metropolitan Police.

Last night’s statement followed allegations that phone-hacking scandal was “endemic” throughout Fleet Street by lawyer Mark Stephens, and reports that lawyer Mark Lewis has been instructed by four clients with complaints against other national newspapers.

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Independent.co.uk: Solicitor general to look into phone hacking concerns

MP Tom Watson has speculated that his question in the House of Commons last Thursday, like many other phone hacking concerns, will receive scant attention by the press.

Linking to an Independent on Sunday report, he tweeted: “yet another phone hacking story that won’t be reported anywhere else”.

And Google News shows us Watson is right so far – only the IoS appears to have picked up the solicitor general’s response to his question about the investigation of the News of the World phone hacking case.

[From Hansard: PDF at this link]

Mr. Tom Watson (West Bromwich, East) (Lab): Will my hon. and learned Friend satisfy herself that the Crown Prosecution Service has not successfully prosecuted cases on the basis of police files that were compiled using evidence illegally obtained by News of the World phone hacking?

The Solicitor-General: Yes – I am not sure that any connection has been made, but I am very well aware of the issue, and it is an issue well raised.

Further to that, the Independent on Sunday reports:

Whitehall sources said that there would not, at this stage, be a full-blown investigation into any concerns, but that the issue would be examined. A more detailed investigation would take place if substantial evidence was put forward, sources said.

According to the paper: “a spokesman for the Met said it would not be commenting on the parliamentary exchange. A News International spokesman declined to comment.”

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Index on Censorship: ‘Girls Aloud obscenity case dropped’

The Index on Censorship reported yesterday that the Crown Prosecution Service has abandoned its case against Darryn Walker, a civil servant ‘who was facing trial under the Obscene Publications Act for writing a violent pornographic fantasy story about pop group Girls Aloud.’

Jo Glanville, editor of Index on Censorship said:

“This prosecution should never have been brought in the first place. Since the landmark obscenity cases of the 60s and 70s, writers have been protected from such prosecutions and have remained free to explore the extremes of human behaviour. This case posed a serious threat to that freedom. In future, obscenity cases should be referred directly to the director of public prosecutions before any prosecution is triggered.”

Full post at this link…

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Evening Leader launches online courtroom project

February 21st, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Multimedia, Newspapers, Online Journalism

North Wales Media title the Evening Leader is offering readers the opportunity to play judge and jury in an online court on its website.

The aim of the Your Justice project, which has been launched with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Wrexham, is to raise awareness of the processes involved in the CPS.

Here’s how it works:

  • Real lawyers present their cases on a fictional court case to the reader in a video
  • Viewers are given legal advice and will then be asked to give their sentence
  • Finally a real magistrate will appear and explain what their decision would be.

“This kind of working partnership shows great common sense by the CPS – they can use our website’s traffic to get their message across and we can use their content to add more value to our site,” Christian Dunn, digital editor for the Evening Leader, said in a press release about the project.

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