Daily Mirror and Sun journalists cleared of bribery charges at Old Bailey
After over 40 hours of deliberations the jury at the trial of reporters from the Sun and Daily Mirror have cleared three of the defendants but said they had so far failed to reach a verdict on one count involving an immigration detention officer and another journalist.
Cleared by the jury were the Sun's night editor Brandon Malinsky, Sun reporter Neil Millard and the Mirror's Graham Brough who was the first non-News UK reporter to face trial. They all faced charges relating to payments made to prison officers for information, including stories about singers Boy George and George Michael who both served time at Pentonville prison.
In their defence the Sun journalists told the court that they were not aware that paying prison officers was a criminal offence and had never been told by their newspaper's management or lawyers that they were doing anything illegal. Brough testified that he had not known that his source was a prison officer and would never have paid him if he knew that was the case.
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When the verdicts were announced cheering and applause broke from friends and relatives of the accused who had gathered in the public gallery.
The celebrations continued outside court where a number of staff from the Sun, including associate editor Trevor Kavanagh and Royal editor Duncan Larcombe waited to greet their colleagues as they left the building.
The jury's decision will be a further blow to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the police who were already facing widespread criticism over their investigation into newspaper payments to public officials, Operation Eleveden. While over 25 public servants, including police officers and civil servants have been convicted and often jailed, the prosecutions of journalists have mostly ended in failure. Of the 29 reporters charged, only three guilty verdicts have been returned, and one of those was quashed by the court of appeal.
In April the CPS announced it was carrying out a review to decide if it should proceed with the 12 outstanding trials of reporters over allegations of corruption. An announcement is expected on the 24 April.
Earlier this week it was announced that former editor of the Sun, Andy Coulson's trial was to be delayed until after the general election.