Anthony France, the UK Sun reporter who was convicted for paying public officials and police officers, is free. He successfully appealed his conviction and the Court of Appeal said it “quashed” his conviction and won’t re-try him, the Press Gazette reported.
“I am delighted that this serious miscarriage of justice has ended today, allowing me to rebuild my life after 1,379 days of sheer hell,” France said in part after the verdict, according to the Press Gazette.
A Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson told iMediaEthics by e-mail: “We respect the judgment of the Court. While the Court of Appeal did not call into question the decision to pursue this prosecution, the Crown Prosecution Service does not believe it would be in the public interest to seek a retrial in this case.” iMediaEthics has written to the Sun and France’s lawyer for comment.
France was convicted last year of aiding and abetting misconduct in public office by paying a police officer about $35,000 U.S. for information. France said he didn’t know his actions were illegal and pleaded not guilty. His source, police officer Tim Edwards, who worked at Heathrow Airport, pleaded guilty to misconduct and received a two-year prison sentence, as iMediaEthics reported.
After his conviction was overturned, the Sun‘s publisher News UK said in a statement in its own news story: “Today Anthony France’s conviction has been overturned on appeal and we are delighted that these proceedings are now over for him. In the course of the last five years, 19 journalists from the Sun were prosecuted as a result of Operation Elveden and not one has resulted in any conviction being upheld.”
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The Court of Appeal ruled that France’s original judge didn’t explain well enough to the jury the conditions for a conviction. “He did not give the jury any help on how to assess seriousness and harm, for example, by providing them with a list of possible factors that they might wish to consider,” the Court of Appeal ruled.
The court went on,
“As part and parcel of that direction, the jury should have been directed to consider whether the information passed was so trivial or inconsequential that the public interest could not, in the particular circumstances of the case, be harmed.”
Press Gazette noted before his appeal was granted that “France is the only journalist whose conviction at trial under the Met Police’s Operation Elveden still stands.”