Regular readers may remember this post back in December, when we examined the evidence given to the Leveson Inquiry by the Guardian’s self confessed phone hacker, David Leigh. This blog posed a rhetorical question… is it possible that the Guardian frames the law in this country?
The post argued that at the very least, senior editorial staff at the Guardian appear to be using their close relationships with people in the highest echelons of the legal establishment to subvert the course of justice for their own ends. Perhaps it is less a case of subversion and more a case of wielding undue influence. A Daily Mail story today that Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, will introduce an interim policy in a ‘matter of weeks’ to set out ‘in one place’ the factors to be taken into account when considering whether to charge a journalist with a crime.
The story explains how Starmer has outlined six factors which would be looked at when weighing up prosecutions against journalists, although others also exist. These include:
- The relative gravity of any potential offence committed and/or harm caused compared with the public interest;
- Whether there was any element of corruption in the commission of the offence;
- Whether the conduct included the use of threats or intimidation;
- The impact of the conduct on any course of justice, e.g. whether it put criminal proceedings in jeopardy;
- Whether the public interest in question could have been served by lawful means;
- The impact on the victim or victims of the conduct in question.
Currently there is no public interest defence for a journalist intercepting the voicemails of someone’s mobile phone. So quite why David Leigh has not been arrested and prosecuted for his actions, when a raft of staff from News International have been arrested ‘on suspicion of unlawfully intercepting mobile phone voicemail messages’ by the Metropolitan Police, defies logic and reason.
However, it appears that Starmer’s ‘factors’ give rise to the possibility that Leigh’s ‘defence’ of public interest, when deliberately accessing the voicemails of someone he was investigating for a story, might be accepted as reasonable and therefore ensure he doesn’t face prosecution for the criminal act he has openly confirmed he committed.
Is this yet more circumstantial evidence that the DPP is working in the interests of his friends and former co-writers at the Guardian, placing them above the law that is being applied to others? We need to watch for the interim policy to see if its contents contain a get-out clause for Leigh that ensure charges are not brought against him.
And in the meantime questions must continue to be asked about why David Leigh has not been arrested as part of the phone hacking investigation. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that his fellow left wing activist and friend occupying the office of the DPP has got his back, rigging the deck to ensure Leigh holds a keep out of jail free card. This rank injustice is a scandal that the mainstream media continues to turn a blind eye to, to its enduring shame. Their silence is deafening.