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Ex-News Corp. Editor Avoids Phone-Hacking Charges in Britain

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Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- A former editor of News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid in Britain won’t face criminal charges as part of the company’s phone-hacking conspiracy, U.K. prosecutors said.

Police evidence provided in June was insufficient for a “realistic prospect of conviction,” the Crown Prosecution Service said today in an e-mailed statement. While the agency didn’t name the ex-employee, former editor Neil Wallis posted an online message on his Twitter Inc. account today, saying he wouldn’t be charged.

“After 21 months of hell for my family, CPS have just told my solicitors that there will be NO prosecution of me re my phone-hacking arrest,” Wallis said in a tweet.

Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, former lead editors of the newspaper, are among eight former News Corp. journalists and a private investigator who were charged in July with conspiring to intercept voice mail to get stories. Prosecutors are still considering whether to charge a ninth journalist in the matter, while three others were cleared last year.

The group charged in July sought to hack the mobile-phone messages between 2000 and 2006 of more than 600 people, including U.S. actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and murdered British schoolgirl Milly Dowler, who went missing in 2002, prosecutors claim. Another group of six more suspects were arrested earlier this month.

News Corp., controlled by Brooks’s friend Chairman Rupert Murdoch, closed the News of the World in July 2011 in response to the scandal that led to dozens of arrests and revealed cozy ties between the company’s U.K. publishing unit and politicians. Coulson served as Prime Minister David Cameron’s press chief until January 2011, when questions emerged about his role in the affair.

The others charged with hacking are former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Ian Edmondson, former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, former assistant editor Greg Miskiw, former assistant news editor James Weatherup and former private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who worked for the tabloid. A parallel bribery probe is also under way.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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