Media reports revealed that a former News of the World (NoTW) executive and a private eye used by the tabloid won’t be charged over computer hacking simply because prosecutors ran out of time to bring a criminal case.

We should remind that the investigators accused a former NoTW executive Alex Marunchak and Jonathan Rees, a private eye and one time murder suspect – both denied any wrongdoing. However, the Crown Prosecution Service finally concluded that Scotland Yard started investigation too late. The problem is that the claims centered on alleged hacking in the period from 2005 to 2007, but the police didn’t launch a criminal investigation until 2011. Under the law, charges have to be brought no longer than 3 years after any alleged offence.

In the meantime, the police investigated 15 suspects and 13 victims and claimed it found evidence of the use of spyware. One of the investigated cases involved a former intelligence officer, Ian Hurst, who claimed in a civil action that he was hacked by the NoTW. Hurst had worked as an army intelligence officer in Northern Ireland. He believes that his computer was targeted on Marunchak’s orders when hunting for data about an alleged IRA informant.

Ian Hurst insisted that he would continue to pursue his case, saying that the information he has identified can be used in a civil action against the News of the World.

According to the police, Philip Campbell Smith is alleged to have hacked Hurst’s computer 9 years ago by sending him an email with a trojan virus. The malware managed to copy the target’s emails and relayed them back to the hacker. Finally, Hurst found out about the hack and went on to tape Smith confessing to it. The BBC first reported on this story.

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