The Metropolitan Police Service have announced the end of their five year investigation into corrupt payments, with the last suspect being told he will face no further action. There has been outcry at the £14.7 million spent on the investigation which was seen by some as an attack on the freedom of the media.
According the Met’s own figures, there were 34 convictions as a result of their work, the majority of whom were public officials who accepted money from journalists for information.
The investigation led to the high profile trials of Andy Coulsen and Rebekah Brooks, both of whom were prosecuted over phone-hacking. Coulsen, the former director of communications for David Cameron, was found guilty of one charge of consipracy to intercept voicemails and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Brooks was editor of the Sun at the time when, it later emerged, the voicemail of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler was hacked. She was acquitted of all charges and is now working back at News UK, the publisher of The Sun and The TImes.
The announcement has brought criticism from some quarters, particularly in light of the costs of the investigation revealed by the police today.
The Met defended itself from accusations that Elveden was an attack on investigative journalism and a free media. The operation arose out of the aftermath of revelations during parliamentary committees and the Leveson inquiry, and News International voluntarily supplied the police with documents revealing payments to public officials by journalists. The police found evidence of 400 victims, whose personal data had been sold. Over 200,000 emails were reviewed by officers, 90 people were arrested and nine police officers were among those convicted.
The statistics provided by the Met at the close of Elveden will bring the media’s attention to this contentious investigation, and comes alongside growing criticism of the conduct of the force in historical sexual abuse investigations.