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Starmer weighs public interest in Dowler hacking

Director of Public Prosecutions Kier Starmer has denied that the dozens of British journalists currently facing the prospect of criminal charges are victims of a politically-motivated witch-hunt

Speaking exclusively to Press Gazette, he has also revealed the considerations he will weigh in deciding whether the journalist, or journalists, who hacked Milly Dowler’s phone could possibly escape prosecution on public interest grounds.

More than one year on from the first phone-hacking arrests, some 50 individuals have now been bailed by police investigating computer and phone hacking and corruption.

In April, the CPS released a set of guidelines detailing how it plans to weigh the public interest in dealing with this unprecedented wave of police actions against journalists.

The guidelines are in place but Starmer spoke to Press Gazette to encourage more feedback on a public consultation over them which closes on 10 July.

Last month, the CPS revealed that a prosecution of Guardian journalist Amelia Hill for breaching the Data Protection Act and publishing stories leaked from inside the phone-hacking inquiry would not be in the public interest.

It also revealed that Rebekah Brooks, her husband Charlie and four others would face trial for perverting the course of justice.

Charlie Brooks said that with 172 police officers on hacking-related inquiries there was pressure to bring “weak prosecutions” and that his wife was the subject of a “witch hunt”.

For more see Press Gazette