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Journalist acquittals

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Journalist acquittals

Postby dls » Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:56 pm

The several acquittals of journalists prosecuted by operation Elvedene are remarkable.

We are not party to what has happened but it seems that the journos were prosecuted for conspiracy, the allegations being that in paying the respective public officials they were acting in concert with those officials in their crimes.

There have been several trials and several journalists in each. What appears also to be likely is that in law, there would be little or no defence. There can only be an invitation by defence counsel to the several juries collectively to put two fingers up at the CPS, (and no doubt the judge's directions) and to acquit.

That in itself is unusual, and worthy of remark. It is usually taken as the severest rebuke of an oppressive prosecution. That it might have happened repeatedly is astonishing.

Well it would be if I am right. I may easily not be,
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Re: Journalist acquittals

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:41 pm

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Re: Journalist acquittals

Postby dls » Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:12 am

ABC and Others, Regina -v- - CACD - 26-Mar-2015 - Lord Thomas LCJ, Cranston, William Davis JJ (Bailii, [2015] EWCA Crim 539, [2015] WLR(D) 146, WLRD) - Crime - Media
Several defendants sought to appeal against convictions. They were public officials accused of having committed misconduct in public office in the sale of information relating to their work to journalists. The journalists were convicted of conspiracy with the public officials and aiding and abetting them to commit the offence.
Held: The direction as to the seriousness of the breach by the public officer was insufficient.
Lord Thomas LCJ said: "The jury must, in our view, judge the misconduct by considering objectively whether the provision of the information by the office holder in deliberate breach of his duty had the effect of harming the public interest. If it did not, then although there may have been a breach or indeed an abuse of trust by the office holder vis-a-vis his employers or commanding officer, there was no abuse of the public's trust in the office holder as the misconduct had not had the effect of harming the public interest. No criminal offence would have been committed."
Statutes:
Criminal Law Act 1977 s. 1(1)

Cases Cited:
Rex -v- Bembridge 1783 ((1783) 3 Doug K B 32, Commonlii, [1783] EngR 170, (1783) 3 Doug 327, (1783) 99 ER 679 (B))
Regina -v- Dytham CACD 1979 ([1979] 1 QBD 722, (1979) 69 Crim App R 722)
Shum Kwok Sher 2002 ([2002] 5 HKFAR 381)
Attorney General's Reference (No 3 of 2003) CACD 7-4-2004 (Times 22-Apr-04, Bailii, [2004] EWCA Crim 868, [2005] QB 73)
Rex -v- Borron 1820 ((1820) 3 B&Ald 432, Commonlii, [1820] EngR 136, (1820) 3 B & A 432, (1820) 106 ER 721)
Regina -v- Shulman, Regina -v- Prentice, Regina -v- Adomako; Regina -v- Holloway HL 1-7-1994 (Times 04-Jul-94, Independent 01-Jul-94, Gazette 21-Jul-94, [1995] 1 AC 171, Bailii, [1994] UKHL 6, [1994] 3 WLR 288, [1994] 3 All ER 79)
Regina -v- Misra; Regina -v- Srivastava CACD 8-10-2004 (Times 13-Oct-04, Bailii, [2004] EWCA Crim 2375, [2005] 1 Cr App R 328)
Johnson -v- Youden 1951 ([1951] KB 544)
Regina -v- Rimmington; Regina -v- Goldstein HL 27-10-2005 (Bailii, Times 28-Oct-05, House of Lords, [2005] UKHL 63, Bailii, [2005] 3 WLR 982, [2006] 1 AC 459, [2006] 1 Cr App R 17, [2006] 2 All ER 257, [2006] Crim LR 153, [2006] UKHRR 1, [2006] HRLR 3)
Saik, Regina -v- HL 3-5-2006 (Bailii, [2006] UKHL 18, Times 05-May-06, [2007] 1 AC 18, [2006] 4 All ER 866, [2006] Crim LR 998, [2006] 2 AC 18, [2006] 2 Cr App R 26, [2006] 2 WLR 993)
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Re: Journalist acquittals

Postby dls » Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:56 am

These were nevertheless jury acquittals. The case identifies and emphasises the need for it to be shown that the breach by the public official was substantial enough. If the official then has committed no offence, there was no possibility of a conspiracy by the journalists.

The decision has made a difference, but these remain jury verdicts on the evidence, and reported largely as acquittals of the journalists - which does not suggest that the acquittals follow failed prosecutions of the public officials.

Jury verdicts are not annotated, but the case referred to does not alone explain the results.
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