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Met police no longer seeking court orders against journalists over sources

Scotland Yard is no longer looking for court orders to force journalists to reveal their sources behind certain phone hacking stories.

Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

POLICE IN BRITAIN have said they will no longer look for court orders to force journalists to reveal their sources behind phone hacking stories.

The Metropolitan Police said it took the decision to drop the investigation following legal advice received this afternoon.

In a statement, Scotland Yard said:

This decision does not mean that the investigation has been concluded. This investigation, led by the DPS – not Operation Weeting – has always been about establishing whether a police officer has leaked information, and gathering any evidence that proves or disproves that. Despite recent media reports, there was no intention to target journalists or disregard journalists’ obligations to protect their sources.

It also said that it was not acceptable for police officers to leak information about any investigation.

Although the statement does not mention any specific publications, The Guardian reports that the police have dropped attempts to force its journalists to reveal their confidential sources.

The newspaper claims that investigators wanted a court order to force reporters to hand over details of sources who disclosed information about the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone by people working for the News of the World.

According to the paper, a Met source said that the attempt to identify potential police leaks is “off the agenda”.

“The last thing we want to do is get into a big fight with the media,” said the source.

Editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger welcomed the decision to withdraw the “ill-judged order”.

“Threatening reporters with the Official Secrets Act was a sinister new device to get round the protection of journalists’ confidential sources.

He added, “We would have fought this assault on public interest journalism all the way. We’ve happy that good sense has prevailed.”

Arrest

One police officer working on the phone hacking investigation has been suspended from the force and is on bail after he was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office. He is accused of the unauthorised disclosure of information.

Today’s decision to drop the pursuit of court orders came after the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards met with the Crown Prosecution Service about the alleged leaking of information by a police officer from Operation Weeting.

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