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Phone hacking: Prosecutor to decide on cases this month

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Police investigate News of the World journalists over alleged phone hacking

© Rex Features / Jeff Blackler

Various former News of the World journalists are expected to find out by the end of this month whether they will face charges related to phone hacking.

Kier Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, told The Guardian he was "reasonably confident" that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) would soon reach a conclusion on action to take in a series of cases.

It is understood that 13 case files have been handed to the CPS relating to alleged phone hacking offences by reporters and editors at the now defunct Sunday tabloid.

Starmer said that the CPS was examining the cases "as a batch", meaning all the journalists under suspicion could find out at once whether they will face trial.

None of the individuals have been named, although the around 13 journalists previously arrested include ex-News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.

Former News International chief executive Brooks is already facing charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice in the police hacking probe, and is due to go to trial in September.

News Of The World paper
Other people arrested by Scotland Yard's Operation Weeting probe into hacking include the paper's former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, ex assistant editor for news Ian Edmondson and former managing editor Stuart Kuttner.

Starmer said that prosecutors would use a "broad interpretation" of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which covers the interception of communications.

The Guardian said that for a criminal prosecution to stick, it would be necessary to prove that a voicemail message had been hacked by, or on behalf of, the News of the World before it was heard by its intended recipient.

But Starmer also said that other hacking charges could be brought against the individuals, including conspiracy to intercept communications, and computer misuse charges.

Should any of the cases go to trial, this would mark the first criminal trial related to phone hacking since News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were successfully prosecuted in 2007.

Last week, a committee of MPs recommended that all private investigators working in the UK should be licensed or registered to prevent the kind of "rogue" behaviour exposed in the hacking affair.

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