Bloomberg News

Phone-Hacking Probe Could Hurt Criminal Trials, Prosecutors Say

October 26, 2011

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Britain’s government inquiry into press standards, triggered by the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal, could damage parallel criminal trials if evidence is divulged too soon, British prosecutors told a judge.

The first phase of the civil investigation shouldn’t cover which people were aware of the criminal activity or where they “sat within the hierarchy of any named newspaper,” the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service said today in a joint filing to Judge Brian Leveson, who is overseing the inquiry. A hearing was scheduled for Oct. 31 in London to discuss the concerns.

Government lawyers “should not be put in a position where an otherwise credible prosecution might be stopped by the court on the basis that the defendant cannot have a fair trial,” lawyers for police and Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said in the filing.

The inquiry was announced in July by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron nine days after the revelation that journalists at News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid hacked into the phone of a murdered school girl in 2002. The probe’s scope extends beyond the now-shuttered tabloid, covering press ethics and its relationship with politicians and police.

--Editors: Peter Chapman, Christopher Scinta

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Scinta at cscinta@bloomberg.net


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