John Butterfield QC defends acquitted news of the world journalist

Mon, 30 Mar 2015

A former News of the World journalist, who was the first to be found guilty of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office under Operation Elveden, has had the conviction quashed.

The reporter was given a six month suspended sentence following a trial at the Old Bailey last November. The public official that received the money from the journalist, who was sentenced to three and a half years, and one of his associates, who was jailed for 30 weeks, have also had their convictions quashed.

A Court of Appeal judge ruled that the trial judge had misdirected the jury on a key aspect of the law being used to prosecute the three, after their lawyers argued the jury should have been told the test for criminal misconduct in such cases had to be “high”.

The judgment concluded: “Each appellant contended on the first issue in the appeal that the judge had misdirected the jury on the third element of the offence, namely the requisite level of seriousness.

“We have set out our conclusion that there was a misdirection and considered very carefully whether it affected the safety of the conviction; the considerations were finely balanced given the great care the judge took and overall approach taken by the judge and the parties in the case to the public interest.

The Crown have been given until next Tuesday to decide whether to seek a retrial.

Please click here to read articles reported in the media: 
Telegraph - "News of the World journalist has conviction quashed" 
The Sun - "Journalist on Trial at Old Bailey Means Free Press is in the Dock" (subscription required)
The Sun - "Journalists Must be Able to Pay Whistleblowers" (subscription required)
The Daily Mail - "We need a free and brave press, look at Rotherham: Top barrister defends paying whistleblowers in public interest"

A further article from No5 website can be found here: Barrister John Butterfield QC knew whistle-blower case was 'Genuinely important'

Please click here to view John Butterfield QC’s profile.

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