Sir Keir Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions who oversaw the police investigation into alleged criminality by the News of the World has called for ongoing police investigations into industry malpractice to be wound up.
Calling for an ‘exit strategy’ Starmer said journalists should not face ‘automatic’ prosecution if they break the law as they needed ‘space’ to carry out investigations in the public interest.
Speaking to LBC Radio Starmer said: “There needs to a way of winding up the investigation in a sensible way. There needs to be a way of managing the cases down, I think, because it isn’t healthy in the long term if there are continual prosecutions of journalists. There has to be a space for the public interest.”
Instead Starmer is calling on his successors to be cognisant of “what the journalist was seeking to do” when weighing up whether to prosecute, adding: “The message going out of this should not be, every time a journalist transgresses the law, they will automatically be prosecuted. I think that would be a very bad message.”
214 journalists and public officials have been arrested thus far in three parallel investigations costing £31.4m; Operation Elveden into corrupt payments to public officials, Operation Tuleta into computer hacking and Operation Weeting into phone hacking.
At their peak these three inquiries drew 150 investigating officers between them, compared to just 27 tasked with tracking paedophiles in London.