Six journalists and senior staff at the Sun accused of corrupting public officials have been cleared of an "overarching" conspiracy, a court has heard.
Judge Richard Marks QC ruled at Kingston Crown Court in south London that the men had no case to answer with regards to a charge that they had all been in on a single agreement with a number of public officials and other journalists.
But they are still charged with conspiring separately in "sub-plots" with staff at Broadmoor secure hospital, police officers and prison officials.
And the prosecution continues to maintain that there was a "culture" at the newspaper of paying bribes to public officials for confidential information.
The jury was also instructed to find Sun head of news Chris Pharo not guilty on one of the five charges he was still facing.
It had previously heard that Pharo was involved in paying a soldier based at Sandhurst for a picture of a fellow soldier who was charged with manslaughter following a fatal road traffic accident.
But the judge explained that he had no case to answer because the picture, a commemorative photo, was not confidential.
Pharo now faces a total of four charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office, while ex-managing editor Graham Dudman and ex-Sun deputy news editor Ben O'Driscoll are accused of three.
Thames Valley district reporter Jamie Pyatt and picture editor John Edwards are charged with two counts each and ex-Sun reporter John Troup is accused of one count.
Pharo, 45, of Sandhurst, Berkshire; Pyatt, 51, of Windsor, Berkshire; O'Driscoll, 38, also of Windsor; Edwards, 50, of Brentwood, Essex; Dudman, 51, also of Brentwood; and Troup, 49, of Saffron Walden, Essex, deny the charges against them.
Prosecutors say the men's aim was to "steal a march" on their competitors by paying contacts to obtain exclusive stories, rather than serving the public interest.