Four journalists, one police officer and six other people are being considered, according to director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC.

This is the first time that prosecutors have been asked by police whether charges should be brought since January last year when the investigation started.

They are being investigated over alleged offences of misconduct in a public office, data protection act breaches, perverting the course of justice, witness intimidation and breeches of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa).

Although he wouldn’t give a timescale for a decision on whether the suspects would be charged, Starmer said: “We are now entering a period where we are likely to make a decision one way or another.”

But he added that some of the individuals have not been questioned yet.

Forty-three people arrested over phone-hacking at the News of the World remain on bail, Starmer said.

The news of the cases being passed over comes on the same day that Starmer announced interim guidelines on how prosecutors should assess the public interest in cases affecting the media.

Starmer said these new rules would help lawyers make “very difficult decisions”.

He added: “Freedom of expression and the public right to know about important matters of public debate are an essential foundation of our society but there are limits for those who cross the line into criminality.

“Journalists, and those who work with them, are not afforded special status under the criminal law, but the public interest served by their actions is a relevant factor in deciding whether they should be prosecuted in an individual case.”