CPS confirms Gary McKinnon will not face charges in the UK

Gary McKinnon

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has confirmed that computer hacker Gary McKinnon will not face charges in the UK, bringing his 10-year legal battle to a close.

McKinnon had been accused of gaining unauthorised access to 97 US government computers between 1 February 2001 and 19 March 2002, prompting demands for him to be extradited to the US to stand trial.

He previously admitted accessing the computers, claiming he was looking for evidence of extraterrestrial life, and had been facing the threat of up to 60 years in prison.

I feel the last 10 years have been gruelling.

Earlier this year, Home Secretary Theresa May quashed calls for McKinnon to be extradited to the US to stand trial, citing medical factors.

In a statement, the CPS has now confirmed there are no plans to commence a new criminal investigation into McKinnon, adding that the prospects of a conviction against him are not high.

"The potential difficulties in bringing a case in England and Wales now should not be underestimated, not least the passage of time, [and] the logistics of transferring sensitive evidence prepared for a court in the US to London for trial," the CPS statement said.

"US authorities indicated...they would be willing to co-operate with a prosecution...[but] they do not consider making all the US witnesses available for trial in London and transferring all of the US material for this jurisdiction would be in the interests of justice," it added.

Speaking to BBC News, Janis Sharp, McKinnon's mother, said she was delighted by the ruling.

"Gary admitted to the intrusion, he always denied the damage. I feel the 10 years have been gruelling, it's been life-destroying. It's difficult to explain how bad it's been," she said.

"To have this over is amazing. Gary's gone through enough. Other people have been accused of more serious hacking in this country and they've been given a 1,000 fine and a very short community sentence."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.