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CPS to draft new guidance on the prosecution of journalists

By Hamish Mackay

February 9, 2012 | 2 min read

New guidelines are to be drawn up on the prosecution of journalists, the Leveson Inquiry into press standards has heard.

Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, told the inquiry yesterday that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is drafting an interim policy on the factors to consider when deciding whether to prosecute journalists over illegal newsgathering methods.

The Guardian reported that the CPS had confirmed that the new policy on the prosecution of journalists will include a public interest defence for journalism that uncovers a miscarriage of justice.

The CPS said that the potential public interest defence of revealing miscarriages of justice would be balanced against considerations including whether the journalist used threats or intimidation, or put criminal proceedings in jeopardy.

This is the first time the CPS has drawn up a formal policy on the prosecution of journalists over activities including email hacking, bribery and perverting the course of justice.

Starmer told the inquiry, said The Guardian, that it would be "prudent" to release an interim policy that is set out the proposals "in one place" before unveiling formal guidelines later in the year.

Starmer explained: "It seems to me that it would be prudent to have a policy that sets out in one place the factors that prosecutors will take into account when considering whether or not to prosecute journalists acting in the course of their work as journalists.

"Therefore what I propose is that an interim policy will be drafted. That interim policy will draw on the existing principles and reflect the existing approach but put it in one place. That will make things clearer."


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