Sally Murrer, a journalist for the Milton Keynes Citizen, has had charges against her for receiving leaked information dismissed by the judge.
Murrer faced charges of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office brought by Thames Valley Police. An ex-police officer, Mark Kearney, his son, and another reporter faced related charges.
Mr Justice Southwell said the reporters were entitled to protection under the European Convention on Human Rights. The judge ruled that police bugging evidence was inadmissible because journalists have the right to protect their sources. Thames Valley Police's case relied on bugged conversations between Murrer and Kearney.
Southwell said: "The protection of journalists' sources is a cornerstone of the freedom of the press... which is so important for a healthy and democratic society," according to the BBC.
All four were formally acquitted at Kingston Crown Court today.
Murrer told the Press Gazette: "I’m totally numb, it’s a fantastic victory for all the press – not just me but every journalist in the country." Murrer doubts she will be able to work as a reporter again.
Mark Kearney was at the centre of a previous enquiry into the bugging of MPs. He was responsible for bugging conversations between MP and solicitor Sadiq Khan and one of his constituents at Woodhill Prison.
The judge's decision has cast further doubt over the arrest of Shadow Home Office minister Damian Green who could face similar charges for receiving information leaked by a Home Office official. ®