UK

Operation Elveden corruption probe ends

Elveden infographic Image copyright Met Police

The Metropolitan Police investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to police and public officials by journalists has officially ended after nearly five years.

Nine police officers were among 34 people convicted as part of Operation Elveden, which cost almost £15m.

The Met said it had been one of the most difficult and complex investigations it had ever dealt with.

Those convicted had caused "irreparable damage to public confidence", it said.

Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan said: "It is right that they faced prosecution. These were not whistle-blowers but people working in some of the most trusted positions in the police, prisons and healthcare, who were only seeking to profit."

Those convicted during the course of the operation included a senior officer in the Met counter-terrorism command, Det Ch Insp April Casburn, who was jailed in 2013 for offering to sell information to the now-defunct News of the World newspaper.

Others convicted following Operation Elveden investigations included:

  • Scott Chapman, an ex-prison officer who admitted selling details about James Bulger's killer, Jon Venables, to a journalist and was sentenced last year to 28 months' imprisonment
  • Former Met anti-terrorism officer Timothy Edwards, who pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office for selling stories to newspapers when he worked at Heathrow Airport
  • Sun reporter Anthony France, who was given an 18-month suspended sentence for paying for tip-offs from Edwards, and is appealing against his conviction
  • Former police officer Simon Quinn, who was jailed for 18 months last year, for leaking information to journalists about murder inquiries, including the investigation into the death of Surrey teenager Milly Dowler
  • Former Met officer Paul Flattley, who was jailed for two years in 2013, for selling information about celebrities including Paul Gascoigne and John Terry
  • Ex-News of the World journalist Dan Evans, who received a suspended 10-month sentence after pleading guilty to phone hacking and making illegal payments to public officials
  • Lynn Gaffney, an ex-partner of Chapman whose bank account he had used, who was initially jailed alongside him for conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. Her conviction was subsequently quashed

The Met said Operation Elveden had uncovered payments totalling more than £300,000 that had been made in exchange for confidential information.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan denied Elveden had been an attack on journalists

Ms Gallan said: "In order to secure evidence and build cases detectives reviewed over 200,000 emails, 28,000 documents and in excess of 12,000 exhibits. They also established that confidential information was leaked over 400 times, and over 400 victims were informed that personal data relating to them had been sold."

In all, 90 arrests were made.

As the operation unfolded, the Met faced criticism that it was impinging on press freedom by trying to stop a long-standing and, to that point, accepted practice of journalists paying for information.

When charges were dropped against a group of journalists, the Society of Editors called Elveden an "incredible fiasco". A number of other journalists had been cleared in trials.

Only two journalists were convicted in cases relating to Elveden - France, whose appeal is expected to be heard soon, and Evans, who pleaded guilty.

Ms Gallan rejected the criticism, saying: "The decision to arrest journalists for conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office was not one taken lightly. Elveden was certainly not an attack on journalists or a free media."

Other commentators noted that News International, which owned the News of the World, had triggered the investigation itself by providing evidence to the Met.

"It was necessary and right that we investigated all suspected crimes from the evidence News International provided to us, which directly led to the arrest of suspects," said Ms Gallan.

The final investigation under Elveden concerned a serving prison officer who was arrested last September on suspicion of misconduct in a public office, and told on Wednesday he would face no further action.

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