December 11, 2015 / 10:02 AM / 5 years ago

No further UK action over tabloid phone hacking allegations

LONDON (Reuters) - Prosecutors ended one of the biggest scandals in British journalism on Friday saying they would take no more action over phone hacking charges against two of the country’s largest newspaper groups.

Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News UK, arrives at her office in London, Britain September 7, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said in a statement it would not pursue a corporate charge against Rupert Murdoch’s News UK and individual charges against 10 people at rival publisher Mirror Group Newspapers.

Among the individuals no longer facing the threat of possible prosecution is former CNN television host and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who said on his Twitter account: “I’m now going to get spectacularly drunk. Happy Christmas.”

Reporters on both group’s tabloid newspapers have admitted hacking into phones to find stories, a practise that caused uproar when it became public in 2011, resulting in the closure of Murdoch’s News of the World title.

The CPS said it had brought 12 prosecutions and secured nine convictions for hacking over the last three years, but would take no further action.

“After a thorough analysis, we have decided there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction and therefore no further action will be taken in any of these cases,” said Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders.

“These decisions bring the CPS’s involvement in current investigations into phone hacking to a close.”

An eight-month trial into hacking featuring some of the most high-profile names involved in the scandal ended in June last year after shaking the political establishment.

It forced an apology from Prime Minister David Cameron for hiring former News of the World journalist Andy Coulson as his communications director.

Coulson was convicted of conspiracy to intercept messages. Rebekah Brooks, the former boss of Murdoch’s British newspaper arm, was acquitted.

Morgan, 50, currently a presenter of ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” current affairs programme, edited the Mirror from 1995 to 2004. He had been twice questioned by police over phone hacking at the paper but was never charged.

“I’ve today been informed by CPS that no further action will be taken against me re Met Police phone hacking investigation,” he said on Twitter.

“As I’ve said since the investigation began four years ago, I’ve never hacked a phone and nor have I ever told anybody to hack a phone.”

Trinity Mirror confirmed in a statement that no further action would be taken against its journalists but made no comment on the decision.

Piers Morgan gives a thumbs-up as he arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington in this April 28, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files

News UK welcomed the decision not to pursue a corporate charge.

“Long ago, we apologised for the conduct that occurred, immediately took steps to pay compensation to those affected, and updated and instituted substantial reforms in our business to ensure our governance is second to none,” it said in a statement.

“Following a thorough and exhaustive investigation, and after many long trials, enquiries and proceedings, this matter has been concluded and the right decision has been taken.”

Reporting by Stephen Addison and Paul Sandle; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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