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Decision to Charge

Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

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Operation Elveden: Duncan Larcombe, John Hardy, Claire Hardy and Tracy Bell to be charged


Alison Levitt, QC, Principal Legal Advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), oversees CPS decision making and all potential prosecutions in relation to the ongoing phone hacking investigations and other related matters.

Ms Levitt said: "This statement is made in the interests of transparency and accountability to explain the decisions reached in respect of cases arising from Operation Elveden, which is the Metropolitan Police Service investigation into allegations involving the unlawful provision of information by public officials to journalists.

"This announcement relates to a file of evidence from the Metropolitan Police Service received by the CPS on 28 March 2013. The file concerned one journalist, two public officials and two members of the public.

Duncan Larcombe, John Hardy and Claire Hardy

"Following a careful review of the evidence, we have concluded that Duncan Larcombe, John Hardy and Claire Hardy should be charged with a conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. 

"Duncan Larcombe was employed as Chief Royal Correspondent at The Sun, John Hardy served as a Colour Sergeant based at the Royal Military Training Academy in Sandhurst and Claire Hardy is his wife. 

"It is alleged that from 10 February to 15 October 2008, 34 payments were made to either John Hardy or Claire Hardy totalling over £23,000 for stories relating mainly to the Royal Family or matters at Sandhurst.

Tracy Bell

"In addition we have concluded that Tracy Bell should be charged with one count of misconduct in public office. Tracy Bell was employed by the Ministry of Defence as a pharmacy assistant at Sandhurst Medical Centre. 

"It is alleged that Tracy Bell received £1250 between 17 October 2005 and 7 July 2006 relating to five articles published in The Sun regarding matters at Sandhurst.

"We have also concluded that there is insufficient evidence to charge the second member of the public with any criminal offence.

"All four defendants will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 8 May 2013.

"These decisions were considered carefully in accordance with the DPP's guidelines on the public interest in cases affecting the media. These guidelines require prosecutors to consider whether the public interest served by the conduct in question outweighs the overall criminality before bringing criminal proceedings.

"May I remind all concerned that these defendants have a right to a fair trial. It is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice that trial. For these reasons it would be inappropriate for me to comment further."

The full charge faced by Tracy Bell is as follows:

Between 17 October 2005 and 7 July 2006, whilst acting as a public official, namely a Pharmacy assistant, Tracy Bell wilfully and without reasonable excuse or justification, misconducted herself to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in that office, contrary to Common Law.

The full charge faced by Duncan Larcombe, John Hardy and Claire Hardy is as follows:

Duncan Larcombe, John Hardy and Claire Hardy, between 9 February 2006 and 16 October 2008, conspired together to commit misconduct in public office, contrary to section 1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977.


Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The DPP has set out what the public can expect from the CPS in the Core Quality Standards document published in March 2010.
  3. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three specialised national divisions: Central Fraud Division, Special Crime and Counter Terrorism, and Organised Crime. In 2011-2012, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Department of Health (DoH) prosecution functions were transferred to the CPS. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.
  4. In 2010-2011 the CPS employed around 7,745 people and prosecuted 957,881 cases with 116,898 of these in the Crown Court, and the remaining 840,983 in the magistrates' courts. Of those we prosecuted, 93,106 defendants were convicted in the Crown Court and 727,491 in the magistrates' courts. In total 86% of cases prosecuted resulted in a conviction. Further information can be found on the CPS website.
  5. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.