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U.K. to Review Police Bail Times After Reporter Arrests

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Britain’s Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the U.K. should review the time police can bail a suspect without charge after complaints that people are being held in legal limbo for as long as three and a half years.

Data released under Freedom of Information legislation in May showed more than 57,000 people are on police bail in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Of those, 3,172 have been waiting for more than six months. Suspects released on police bail are told they must return to the police station at a given time while a decision is made on whether to charge them.

The Law Society in England and Wales, which represents solicitors, has called for a 28-day time limit on police bail.

“Serious sensible questions have been raised and the matter does need consideration,” Grayling said in an interview late yesterday in his London office. He said his cabinet colleague, Home Secretary Theresa May, is responsible for “what and how” the matter is reconsidered.

Police investigating illegal behavior by journalists at U.K. newspapers including Rupert Murdoch’s Sun and News of the World, and Trinity Mirror Plc, have arrested more than 60 reporters since April 2011, according to industry magazine Press Gazette. Of those, 26 have been charged, 12 have been cleared and 23 remain on police bail, the magazine said.

Neil Wallis, former Deputy Editor of the now defunct News of the World, was arrested in 2011 and put on police bail for 20 months until 2013 when prosecutors said he wouldn’t be charged. Wallis described the experience as “purgatory” for the uncertainty it imposed on him and his family.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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