A detailed review of the prosecution of eight journalists as part of Operation Elveden, an investigation into alleged payments to public officials, is to be carried out by the director of public prosecutions in the wake of criticisms by the Court of Appeal.
Alison Saunders will decide over Easter whether to press ahead with the trials following a succession of acquittals and split juries which have cast doubt on the likelihood of securing convictions.
Yesterday a case due to come before the Old Bailey was adjourned pending the nature of Saunders findings. This follows a Crown Prosecution Service decision not to seek a retrial in the case of a former News of the World journalist who was cleared of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office last week.
The CPS has come under fire for resorting to an obscure common-law offence dating from the 13th century to pursue journalists, leading to questions as to whether such trials are in the public interest or have a genuine chance of conviction.
Thus far 20 journalists have been tried as a result of Operation Elveden, which has cost taxpayers £20m since its launch in 2011. Of those 10 have been acquitted, 7 face a retrial and one has had their conviction quashed. Yet another has been invited to appeal and only one has pleaded guilty.