CPS to take no action against ex-Times lawyer Brett in NightJack phone hacking case

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced that it will not take any action against former Times legal chief Alastair Brett, who had been facing allegations of perjury and perverting the course of justice related to phone-hacking at News International.

In a statement released today (15 August), senior CPS lawyer Gregor McGill said: “In April 2014 the CPS received a file as part of Operation Tuleta. The file concerned allegations against two individuals of perverting the course of justice and perjury, and an additional allegation of unauthorised access to computer material against the second individual. In relation to the allegations of perjury and perverting the course of justice, it has been decided that no further action should be taken, as there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for any offence.”

A spokesperson for the CPS confirmed that Brett was the individual who had been facing the perjury and perverting the course of justice charges.

Former Times journalist Patrick Foster was cautioned for an offence contrary to Section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act 1989.

McGill added: “Any decision by the CPS does not imply any finding concerning guilt or criminal conduct; the CPS makes decisions only according to the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors and it is applied in all decisions on whether or not to prosecute.”

The pair were under investigation as part of the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Operation Tuleta’ into phone hacking at News International (now News UK), publisher of The Times and in particular their role in the exposure of the NightJack blogger in 2009.

Brett was interviewed under caution by the police in late 2012 (21 September 2012) and News International reported him to the SRA over the NightJack affair (25 April 2012).

NightJack, whose real name is Richard Horton, wrote anonymously about his experiences as a police officer until his identity was revealed in a 2009 story in The Times. Horton had tried to get an injunction to stop The Times publishing the story, but Mr Justice Eady found in favour of the paper.

It was later discovered that Foster had initially hacked into Horton’s personal email to get the story – later standing it up by legitimate means – and had discussed it with Brett, leading to accusations that Brett had misled the High Court by failing to mention the hacking at the injunction hearing.

In December last year the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) suspended Brett from practice for six months for failing to act with integrity and knowingly allowing a court to be misled in the conduct of litigation (6 December 2013).

Brett has appealed the decision, with the case heard by Lord Chief Justice Judge and Mr Justice Wilkie in the Divisional Court on 23 July (16 July 2014). A decision is yet to be handed down.

Brett stepped down as the head of legal for The Times in 2010.