The “Hacked Off” Campaign – on behalf of the victims of phone hacking – is calling for a truly effective and urgent inquiry into the scandal and its causes
A) The terms of reference of the Judge-led statutory inquiry need to be capable of (and not be limited to) covering…
Getting to the bottom of the News of the World Scandal
1 Establishing exactly what happened at the News of the World after 2000 in relation to illegal or improper information gathering, payments to police officers, the exercise of influence over police, prosecutors and politicians and the subsequent cover up.
All newspapers and all illicit activity
2 Establishing the nature and extent of all illegal information gathering methods (including but not limited to interception of voicemails) by national newspapers over the past decade; including, in particular, the use of private
investigators and the obtaining of information by means of payments to police officers; and practices which are legal only when justified by the public interest, such as unauthorised payments for personal information
The press and the police
3 Establishing the nature and extent of the contacts between national newspapers and law enforcement agencies, in particular, the Metropolitan Police, other police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service over the past decade, and whether those contacts were properly and lawfully conducted in the public interest;
The press and Government and other politicians
4 Establishing the nature and extent of the contacts between national newspapers and politicians in relations to press regulation and information gathering, including meetings, correspondence or agreements between Government and News International/News Corp executives in relation to these issues and on matters of
media policy matters (eg cross-media ownership and media regulation); the extent to which such contacts were proper and transparent and whether undisclosed agreements or understandings existed between ministers and newspapers or proprietors relating to policy matters.
The Press and Parliament
5 Investigating and reporting on the relationship between national newspapers and their proprietors, and parliament, including allegations that MPs have been threatened over their work into media standards; and the nature of extent of the hacking of MPs’ and ministers’ phones; and – if parliamentary approval is given to this specific term of reference – the truthfulness of testimony given to parliamentary committees and the refusal of
media executives to appear before parliamentary committees.
Conduct of Regulators
6 Investigating and reporting on the effectiveness and propriety of the conduct in these matters of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), the Office of the Information Commissioner and the mobile phone companies.
Corporate governance of media corporations
7 Investigating and reporting on the failures, in respect of these matters, of corporate governance in powerful media corporations and any implications of such failures for cross-media ownership and the protection of the public interest in having a diverse media.
B) Process issues
i. The judge-led inquiry should include lay panel members, should start without delay and without waiting for the conclusion of the police investigation or any prosecutions. We believe that the judge can navigate any issues as required to avoid prejudicing the criminal process.
ii. The judge-led inquiry should have the power, after consultation with the law officers, to grant, in appropriate and exceptional cases, immunity from prosecution to witnesses to the inquiry.
iii. The judge-led inquiry should be required to report within a period of one year after the completion of existing police enquiries..
iv. All the material held by the police to be made available to the judge-led inquiry.
v. The judge-led inquiry should be held in public (save and insofar as private hearings may be necessary whilst prosecution are pending), and the evidence put before the inquiry should be made publicly available without delay (subject to proper protections for privacy and the criminal process).