The Director of Public Prosecutions

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

These guidelines set out the approach that the crown prosecution service in England and Wales ('the CPS') should take to such decisions where they affect the media and, in particular, how prosecutors should approach the question of whether a prosecution is required in the public interest. However, they do not cover possible breaches of reporting restrictions or contempt of court, which are dealt with in other guidance and policy.

Prosecutors may only start a prosecution if a case satisfies the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors ('the Code'). This test has two stages: the first is the requirement of evidential sufficiency and the second involves consideration of the public interest. In cases affecting the media where freedom of expression and the right to receive and impart information are in issue, prosecutors are required to apply a number of specific principles in addition to the general principles set out in the Code. Annexed to the guidelines is a list of the criminal offences most likely to be committed in cases affecting the media. These include but are not limited to the Bribery Act 2010, Computer Misuse Act 1990, Data Protection Act 1998, Official Secrets Act 1989, Misconduct in Public Office, Protection of Harassment At 1997 and Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

The guidelines can be found here.