Bloomberg News

London Police Won’t Pursue Order Against Guardian Over Leaks

September 20, 2011

(Updates with police comment in third paragraph.)

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- London’s Metropolitan Police Service said it won’t pursue a court order compelling the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper to reveal information related to allegations an officer leaked details of its phone-hacking investigation.

The department, known as Scotland Yard, today said it made the decision after prosecutors met with members of its Directorate of Professional Standards. A court hearing was scheduled for Sept. 23.

“This decision does not mean that the investigation has been concluded,” the police said in a statement. The department said the directorate’s probe “has always been about whether a police officer has leaked information and gathering any evidence that proves or disproves that.”

Dubbed “Operation Weeting,” the Metropolitan Police investigation into telephone hacking by News Corp.’s now-closed News of the World tabloid led to the arrests of at least 14 people, including a London police detective on Aug. 18.

U.K. newspapers on several occasions published details of phone-hacking arrests before public announcements were made. The Daily Telegraph and Sky News reported the detective’s arrest was linked to information given to the Guardian newspaper.

While the Metropolitan Police had sought an order compelling production of information by the Guardian and one of its reporters, the department said prosecutors had asked for more information and for additional time to consider the matter.

‘Sinister New Device’

“We greatly welcome the Met’s decision to withdraw this ill-judged order,” Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian’s editor-in- chief, said in a story published today in his newspaper. “Threatening reporters with the Official Secrets Act was a sinister new device to get around the protection of journalists’ confidential sources.”

Scotland Yard, in its own statement, said the information sought from the newspaper and the reporter was under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and not the Official Secrets Act.

The arrested officer, who wasn’t identified, is on bail and is suspended from duty, police said.

--With assistance from Erik Larson and Kit Chellel in London. Editors: Michael Hytha, Peter Blumberg

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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