[IMAGE: Infographic on Operation Elveden in numbers]
On Wednesday, 24 February following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has informed a serving prison officer, who was arrested on 15 September 2015 for misconduct in a public office, that he will face no further action.
This decision brings Operation Elveden, the MPS investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments by some journalists to police and public officials to a close.
Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan, said:
“Elveden ends with the convictions of 34 people. They include nine police officers and 21 public officials, who all breached the trust of the public by leaking confidential information for nothing other than financial gain.
“Their actions caused irreparable damage to public confidence, and it is right that they faced prosecution. These were not whistle-blowers, but people working in some of the most trusted positions in the police, prisons and healthcare, who were only seeking to profit.
“Elveden has been one of the most difficult and complex investigations the Met has dealt with. Having received from News International what appeared to be evidence that crimes had been committed by police officers, an investigation was inevitable.
“It was right that we followed the evidence where it took us without fear or favour. As the police, our responsibility is to investigate crime and present evidence to the CPS for them to consider appropriate charges, and this is what we did.
“In order to secure evidence and build cases detectives reviewed over 200,000 e-mails, 28,000 documents and in excess of 12,000 exhibits. They also established that confidential information was leaked over 400 times, and over 400 victims were informed that personal data relating to them had been sold.
“Some of these people were already victims of crime. The mother of a British Soldier who was killed in Iraq told officers that she was ‘totally sick to her stomach and devastated’ that someone could make money out of the death of her daughter. Another, the mother of a teenage girl who died in tragic circumstances, was devastated to learn that a police officer had sold information about the death of her child.
“The decision to arrest journalists for conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office was not one taken lightly. Elveden was certainly not an attack on journalists or a free media. It was necessary and right that we investigated all suspected crimes from the evidence News International provided to us, which directly led to the arrest of suspects. We presented the evidence we found to prosecutors.
“I would like to thank the detectives and staff who worked tirelessly on Elveden. Their continued professionalism is a credit to them. Many have already moved on to investigate homicide and sexual offences, and over the coming months their remaining colleagues will join them.”
Operation Elveden started in June 2011 as a direct result of documents voluntarily supplied by News International that revealed payments to police officers and public officials by some journalists. This followed revelations of phone hacking during parliamentary committees and the Leveson Inquiry.
Following an internal review News International chose to disclose their sources to the MPS due to concerns about potential criminality. This included material that appeared to be evidence that crimes had been committed, by public officials and potentially by those involved in paying them, which the MPS were duty bound to investigate.