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Interim Guidelines for Prosecutors on Assessing the Public Interest in Cases Affecting the Media

Volume 543: debated on Wednesday 18 April 2012

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has today launched a public consultation on his interim guidelines for prosecutors on assessing the public interest in cases affecting the media. The DPP undertook to produce the guidelines when he gave evidence on 8 February 2012 to the inquiry being conducted by Lord Justice Leveson into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. The guidelines set out the additional considerations which are relevant when prosecutors assess whether a prosecution is required in accordance with the code for Crown prosecutors. Each case will be considered on its own facts and on its own merits before a decision is made on prosecution. Such decisions are also likely to be finely balanced as prosecutors must carefully consider the public interest served by the journalist when set against the overall criminality.

The guidelines have been issued on an interim basis as they are the subject of a public consultation exercise that will last for three months. The DPP will publish his final guidelines later this year, once he has considered the responses to the consultation, and any cases that have fallen to be considered by prosecutors during the period in which the interim guidelines have been in place will be reviewed in the light of the final guidelines if changes have been made. Copies of the interim guidelines will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.