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FOCUS OF U.K. HACKERGATE PROBE WON’T BE CHARGED

December 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

British prosecutors said Friday that they have insufficient evidence to bring charges against Andy Coulson, the former editor of Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday tabloid the News of the World and now Prime Minister David Cameron’s director of communications.

Andy Coulson

Coulson had been accused by former reporters of the publication of encouraging them to use private detectives to hack into the voice mail of celebrities and politicians. Following investigative reports by Britain’s Guardian newspaper and the New York Times, Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) questioned reporters named in the articles and alleged victims of the hacking. However, the reporters maintained that they were treated not as potential witnesses but as potential suspects and given the British equivalent of a Miranda warning. In a statement on Friday, Britain’s chief prosecutor, Keir Starmer, said that those interviewed “either refused to cooperate with the police investigation, provided short statements which did not advance matters or denied any knowledge of wrongdoing,” thereby leaving the Crown Prosecution Service with “no admissible evidence” on which to bring about charges. Appearing as a witness at an unrelated trial in Scotland on Thursday, Coulson reiterated that he had no knowledge of the hacking. “I certainly didn’t instruct anyone to do anything at the time or anything else which was untoward,” he maintained. The case had threatened to undermine Prime Minister David Cameron, who had stood by Coulson, as well as Rupert Murdoch’s news empire, which still faces the possibility of dozens if not hundreds of costly lawsuits resulting from the alleged hacking. Moreover, Coulson is not completely off the hook. A parliamentary committee continues to investigate the matter, but it, too has complained that throughout its probe it has “repeatedly encountered an unwillingness to provide the detailed information that we sought, claims of ignorance or lack of recall, and deliberate obfuscation.”