Neville Thurlbeck, the former chief reporter at News Corp. (NWSA:US)’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, was cleared by prosecutors over allegations he threatened a witness in a police investigation of phone hacking.
Thurlbeck, 50, won’t be charged for posting on his blog the home address of a News Corp. executive who is helping run the company’s internal probe of the scandal, the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement today. Thurlbeck remains a suspect in the underlying phone-hacking investigation.
“Given that the journalist in question remains on bail for further offenses we do not intend to give any further information at this point,” the CPS said.
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch testified yesterday at a media-ethics inquiry triggered by the scandal that he and the company were the victims of a cover up. The review was ordered by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron to help quell public outrage after the extent of the paper’s illegal behavior became clear. About 45 people have been arrested in three probes stemming from the scandal.
In a post on his blog today, Thurlbeck thanked his “family, friends and colleagues in the industry for their unswerving loyalty, support and continued belief in me.”
Daisy Dunlop, a spokeswoman for News Corp.’s U.K. unit, News International, declined to comment.
The Met gave evidence to the CPS on April 18 with details on possible criminal charges against as many as 11 people, including up to four journalists, a police officer and six members of the public. Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News International, was arrested last year in probes of phone hacking and bribery. She was detained again in March on claims of conspiring to pervert the course of justice in relation to the probe.
Thurlbeck had been arrested in March for alleged witness intimidation and harassment, prompting the journalist to call the claims “far-fetched” in another blog post. In April 2011, he was the first person arrested after police opened a new investigation into phone-hacking by News Corp. journalists.
Thurlbeck started the blog in December and uses it to comment on coverage of the inquiries into phone hacking and U.K. media ethics. His old employer, the News of the World tabloid, was shut in July after reporters were found to have hacked into a murdered teenager’s voice mail for stories.
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