No further action will be taken against journalists being investigated for phone hacking, prosecutors have announced. In a move that brings an end to possible corporate charges against Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers (NGN) and criminal cases against individuals at the Mirror Group, the director of public prosecutions announced the investigations would be dropped due to "insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction".
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was probing phone hacking as part of Operation Weeting, looking into NGN (publisher of The Sun), and Operation Golding, which was investigating 10 journalists and individuals at Mirror Group (publisher of the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People).
Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said on 11 December: "The CPS has looked in great detail at the comprehensive files submitted to us by the police, both in relation to corporate liability at News Group Newspapers and against 10 individuals at Mirror Group Newspapers for alleged phone hacking.
"After a thorough analysis, we have decided there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction and therefore no further action will be taken in any of these cases.
"There has been considerable public concern about phone hacking and invasion of privacy. Over the past three years, we have brought 12 prosecutions and secured nine convictions for these serious offences. These decisions bring the CPS's involvement in current investigations into phone hacking to a close."
Former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who was previously interviewed under caution, welcomed the news, tweeting: "I've today been informed by CPS that no further action will be taken against me re Met Police phone hacking investigation.
"As I've said since the investigation began four years ago, I've never hacked a phone and nor have I ever told anybody to hack a phone. Thanks to all my family & friends, and kind people on here, for all their support. It was greatly appreciated.
"I'm now going to get spectacularly drunk. Happy Christmas."
Investigations into alleged phone hacking under Operation Weeting began in 2011 and led to the closure of the News of the World (NOTW), once Britain's biggest selling newspaper. It was published by Murdoch's News International, a predecessor of NGN.
There have been 12 prosecutions under various investigations into phone hacking and practices at UK newspapers. Nine people have been convicted, and three others acquitted. One of the most high profile convictions was former adviser to David Cameron and ex-editor of the NOTW, Andy Coulson, who was jailed for 18 months.
For three years, the CPS has been investigating allegations of phone hacking at the Mirror Group. The CPS said it considered "a number of strands of evidence" in the investigation and said while call data scrutinized was "suspicious", it was not proof of phone hacking.
A police file as part of Operation Weeting, investigating NGN, was handed to the CPS in July 2015. Potential charges for phone hacking and perverting the course of justice were considered, prosecutors said, but after a "thorough analysis" of the evidence it was decided no further action would be taken for either.
The CPS said while Coulson was convicted of phone hacking, there is "no evidence to suggest that any member of the Board of NGN had knowledge of phone hacking when it was taking place".
A spokesman for News UK, parent company of NGN, welcomed the news, saying: "We now relish the chance to focus fully on what this company does best – world class professional journalism."