UK

News of the World phone hacking material to be reviewed

Actress Sienna Miller
Image caption Actress Sienna Miller is currently taking legal action against the News of the World

The Crown Prosecution Service is to review material held by police about phone hacking at the News of the World.

Prosecutors will assess if a fresh criminal trial is likely, following "developments in the civil courts".

A journalist was jailed in 2007 for hacking the phones of royal aides, but actress Sienna Miller has since claimed breach of privacy and harassment.

The review is seen as politically sensitive as ex-editor Andy Coulson is David Cameron's communications chief.

Mr Coulson quit the newspaper in 2007, saying he took responsibility for the scandal - despite not being aware of what was going on.

Last week detectives asked the newspaper for information after it suspended one of its news editors.

In a statement, the Crown Prosecution Service said the Director of Public Prosecutions Kier Starmer QC had agreed to conduct a "comprehensive assessment" of all material held by the Metropolitan police force relating to phone hacking.

"The exercise will involve an examination of all material considered as part of the original investigation into Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire and any material that has subsequently come to light."

'High profile cases'

The CPS statement said the assessment would "ascertain whether there is any material which could now form evidence in any future criminal prosecution relating to phone hacking".

The assessment is to be carried out by Alison Levitt QC, the CPS's principal legal advisor.

In a letter sent to the CPS, the Metropolitan Police's Acting Deputy Commissioner John Yates said both the force and prosecutors were aware that there "remain outstanding public, legal and political concerns" over the phone hacking claims.

"This is particularly so in relation to the various and recently reported high profile civil cases, as well as the inquiry to be undertaken by the Parliamentary Standards and Privileges Committee.

"As a result, I consider it would be wise to invite you to further re-examine all the material collected in this matter.

"This would also enable you to advise me and assure yourself as to whether there is any existing material which could now form evidence in any future criminal prosecution relating to phone hacking.

"We both understand that any future action will always be for the police to consider independently."

A News of the World spokesperson said: "We will of course co-operate fully with any inquiries relating to the assessment by the CPS."

'Full co-operation'

In 2007, the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and former News of the World reporter Clive Goodman were jailed after they admitted intercepting messages.

But the paper has since insisted the two men acted alone, and senior executives were unaware of phone hacking.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, who believed he may have been a target of phone-hacking, said: "The evidence that this goes far deeper than one rotten apple has continued to stack up, and so a fresh pair of eyes looking at the case is very welcome.

"The Met's credibility has been severely damaged with the supine approach it has taken and an independent review of its investigation is frankly long-overdue.

"A thorough exploration of the material held by the police is needed if we are to understand just how much a part of the culture phone-hacking became at the News of the World and begin to rebuild our media's reputation for journalistic integrity."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites