UK police drop bid to force newspaper to reveal phone-hacking sources

Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger: "We're happy that good sense has prevailed."

Story highlights

  • The Metropolitan Police say there was no intention to target journalists
  • The Guardian's editor: "We're happy that good sense has prevailed"
  • The newspaper has taken a lead in reporting on the phone hacking claims
Police in London dropped their bid Tuesday to force The Guardian newspaper to reveal confidential sources who provided information on the phone-hacking scandal.
After taking legal advice, the Metropolitan Police Service said it decided "not to pursue, at this time, the application for production orders" against the paper and one of its reporters. A hearing had been scheduled for Friday.
"This investigation ... has always been about establishing whether a police officer has leaked information, and gathering any evidence that proves or disproves that. Despite recent media reports there was no intention to target journalists or disregard journalists' obligations to protect their sources," police said in a statement.
The Guardian has taken a lead in reporting on the scandal around alleged phone hacking at the News of the World newspaper, which may have affected scores of celebrities, politicians and victims of crime.
In a story posted on its website Tuesday, the newspaper cheered the decision to withdraw the "ill-judged order."
"We would have fought this assault on public interest journalism all the way. We're happy that good sense has prevailed," the paper quoted its editor, Alan Rusbridger, as saying.
News of the World was shuttered in July amid public outrage that followed the Guardian's July 4 accusation that the voice mail of missing teenager Milly Dowler, later found murdered, was hacked by the paper's reporters.
More than a dozen people have been arrested and bailed so far in the course of the Metropolitan Police investigation into the allegations, codenamed Operation Weeting. A second inquiry is looking at claims that police were bribed.
The phone-hacking scandal has forced two top police officers to resign and put Prime Minister David Cameron under pressure for hiring another former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, to be his spokesman. Coulson resigned from that job earlier this year.