Statement from the Hacked Off campaign in response to Paul Dacre’s accusations:
“The Hacked Off campaign and the Media Standards Trust categorically refute Paul Dacre’s baseless accusations that we have “attempted to hijack” the Leveson Inquiry by somehow putting pressure on Hugh Grant, a supporter of the Hacked Off campaign, to “wound” Associated Newspapers at the time Mr Grant gave oral evidence to the Inquiry.”
A few quotes from Paul Dacre’s written witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry:
“I am disgusted by the revelations of phone hacking at the News of the World. By hacking into the mobile phones of Milly Dowler and the families of victims of crime, those responsible showed a disregard for the most basic standards of human conduct. Such actions, if proved, are flagrantly against the law. I unequivocally condemn the bribing of police and use of phone hacking, and I support sensible moves to ensure that such malpractices never occur again. But there is a danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Self-regulation has been a success story. The News of the World’s activities should not be allowed to besmirch the whole British newspaper industry.”
“ANLs DPA [Data Protection Act] policy sets out the clear requirement that our journalists must contact the Editor or deputy Editor in the event that they come into possession of apparently illicitly obtained material or believe there is a potential public interest in obtaining information which they
know or suspect to have been illicitly obtained. Where it is decided that there is a clear and compelling public interest to justify obtaining or trying to obtain such information, the reasons should be recorded in writing where possible.
“The steps we have taken to ensure that we are complying with the DPA and clause 10 of the Editors’ Code since the Information Commissioner’s reports of 2006 are set out in Schedule 1 to this witness statement. Those steps were reviewed with Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner (as he then was), at my meeting with him on 4 June 2008. At that meeting Mr Thomas expressed his satisfaction with the measures we had put in place to ensure journalists at Associated Newspapers were aware of and complied with the DPA.”
Paul Dacre, editor in chief of the Daily Mail, now giving evidence to the inquiry.
At the beginning of the afternoon session, the inquiry took Jemima Khan’s written witness statement as read. It related to claims by the Mail on Sunday she had been the source of the story about a ‘plummy-voiced’ woman leaving messages on Hugh Grant’s voicemail.
Jemima Khan has denied any knowledge of a “plummy-voiced woman” leaving Hugh Grant messages.
Khan, who dated Grant from 2004 until 2007, categorically denied having been the source of the story about a “plummy-voiced woman” who left messages on Grant’s mobile phone voicemail.
The Mail on sunday claimed the story came from a source close to Khan as a defence for running the article, after Grant suggested the story might have originated from phone hacking while giving evidence to the inquiry.
Khan’s statement read: “I wish to make it clear that I did not talk to anyone about some ‘plummy-voiced’ woman calling Hugh. Indeed, the explanation given by the Mail on Sunday cannot be correct since the first I heard about any ‘plummy-voiced’ woman calling Hugh, or anything similar, was when I read it in the Mail on Sunday.
“I therefore could not have spoken to anyone about such matters prior to the article, because I knew nothing about it.”
Grant told Hacked Off he was in America for much of the time the messages were being left, but that his phone was still on UK time. Hence messages saying “see you soon” would have been voice-stamped as the middle of the night, even though they were left in the middle of the day in California.
Khan finished her statement saying she would be “keen for the suggestion that the origin of this story was me to be publicly corrected” and that she would be “happy to give evidence to the inquiry under oath on this matter if necessary”.
Lunch break now. We’ll be back at 2pm with Paul Dacre, editor in chief of the Daily Mail.
Background from DAC Sue Akers’ written witness statement ot the inquiry, on Glenn Mulcaire:
“Documents seized in 2006 by Operation Caryatid included Mulcaire’s notebooks which run to some 11,000 pages. The number of potentially identifiable persons who are contained within the documents seized (and who therefore may be victims) where names (a surname and at least an initial) are noted is 5,795. The quality of the data referring to these individuals varies greatly from a simple mention on one page to entries on multiple pages covering extensive enquiries into a potential victim and those associated with them. It has also been established that the person being ‘targeted’ by Mulcaire, may not always have been the person identified in the document, as often the hacking was directed at associates of the true target with a view to finding information about the true target. Accordingly, this figure is very likely to be revised as further analysis of the documents continues and as more and more potential victims are interviewed.
“The range of the persons contained within those documents is extensive and not only include politicians, members of the Royal Household, high profile figures such as sports personalities and actors, but also victims of crime, other journalists (e.g. from the News of the World itself) and police officers, including very senior officers such as a previous MPS Commissioner. It is a general matter of concern and legitimate public interest as to how Mulcaire obtained these details and this is a strand that is under active investigation.”
Full statement here.
A bit of background on Nick Owens’ encounter with Chris Atkins, from Atkins’ oral evidence to the inquiry:
Q. Can we turn very briefly to the Sunday Mirror and the meeting with Nick Owens. Again, this is summarised in your witness statement, paragraph 45 onwards, and the reason why I ask you about this is you say later on that you believe Nick Owens’ behaviour to be in the most blatantly in breach of the rules. So as we’re going through, perhaps you could tell us why you take that view.
A. Certainly. I think this — they all sort of cross the line to different degrees, and I’d be — I think it’s important to make that point, and I think with Owens, as he says right at the start, he has the eye and the ear of the news editor and the editor as well. I think he seemed to be a much more senior journalist in the organisation than maybe Sarah was in hers. Paragraph 47, I found this very interesting. When we were talking about the confidentiality issue and the source potentially losing her job for giving me information, Nick Owens said:
“I understand that. I cover a lot of health stories, and I work with a lot of health professionals … I work with people in that area as well.”
Now, we come to paragraph 48, and this is where — we’ll come to the public interest in a minute, but this, I think, sets that up in terms of how tabloid journalists view the subject of public interest, because they’re talking about potentially reporting a story that’s in the public interest and saying:
“There isn’t a public interest in reporting that somebody has had a gastric band operation unless they are a massively big name, then you might make a decision.”
You know, he comes on to say:
“It’s always up to the editor. Put it in front of the editor and she will make the decision.”
He steers the conversation onto documentation, paragraph 50:
“Is there a document somewhere, piece of paper? Is there an email that would prove that she had it?”
Then paragraph — I didn’t notice — sorry, actually paragraph 51, there is quite a curious phrase. I’d like to note what he has to say about this.
“It’s not like the NHS, obviously, where you phone up and they tell you about an operation that has happened on such a such a date.”
I don’t know whether this is something they would do at the NHS, but I noted that earlier. So we’re discussing about the process, about how he might have to go to his news desk and they might then come back and ask for documentation and he suggests a way around this, so:
“Have you got anything available now? Do it in one.”
So he’s essentially asking us to go away and start collating information right now and get as much as possible.
Natalie Peck reports from the Royal Courts of Justice on Met Police DAC Sue Akers’ evidence given earlier this morning:
A deputy assistant commissioner of the Metroplitan Police has updated the Leveson Inquiry on several investigations into press practices.
DAC Sue Akers QPM, who is heading several police investigations into illegal press and police activity, said the team investigating police bribery would be expanded from 40 to 61 officers, in order to deal with allegations regarding journalists from the Sun.
The investigation carried out by Operation Elveden saw 14 journalists arrested last month, and one in 2011. Four of those arrests were based on information handed over by News Corporation’s managing standards committee.
DAC Akers said: “If the public think that information is being leaked by police officers to journalists then it is investable that public confidence is eroded, so as far as we’re concerned there’s is a very legitimate public interest in investigating this.”
She told inquiry 581 “likely” victims of phone hacking had been contacted by the police in relation to Operation Weeting, and that a further 231 were uncontactable. Seventeen had not been told for undisclosed operational reasons.
Documents obtained by Met Police from private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, including email exchanges and audio tapes of hacked voicemails, suggested they are 6,349 potential victims of phone hacking. Around 2,900 people have contacted the police to ask if their voicemails have been hacked. Of these, 1,578 appear in Mulcaire’s 11,000 pages of notes.
Akers said that two of the 17 journalists arrested in relation to Weeting had been released and would not be facing further action, and the remaining 15 had been bailed until March. She added a number of key witnesses had come forward, and a database of 300 million News International emails had been reconstructed by experts.
An investigation into email hacking, Operation Tuleta, is currently examining 57 allegations of data intrusion. Akers said a team of 20 officers were assessing whether a full investigation should be launched, and that some claims of blackmail, breaching of anonymity and telephone interception had been discarded. The team will continue to work from four terabytes of digital information.
Lord Justice Leveson said police officers would be questioned more throughout on operations between 2006 and 2011 in module 2 of the inquiry.
He is now explaining why he agreed to meet Atkins and seemed to have shown interest for the records.
He tells David Barr, junior counsel to the inquiry, he works in a very busy newsroom and when Atkins called with the story he was simply engaging in conversation and “certainly what I wanted to do was to meet up and find out more”.
About whether the story was going to be published or not, he said it was not his final decision “whether a story gets published in the newspaper or not”.
Dan Wootton just finished giving evidence.
We suspect we’ll hear from Sunday Mirror reporter Nick Owens next, and editor in chief of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, will most likely be giving evidence in the afternoon.
Wootton has just argued some stories have enough public interest to justify intrusion into a celebrity’s private live.
He gave the example of when Kerry Katona was caught doing drugs at home when her children were in the house, at the same time as she was the face of a supermarket ad where she was portrayed as a good mother. She was then dropped by the supermarket.
He was referring to this story .
Wootton added he believes all celebrities have a right to privacy and that he works carefully around sexuality, pregnancy, health and children/family.
Dan Wootton, former showbiz editor at the News of the World, now giving evidence to the inquiry.
Wootton now works at the Daily Mail.
A few tweets from reporters covering the inquiry from the Royal Courts of Justice:
Natalie Peck tweets from @hackinginquiry:
“Wootton says he felt in competition with the Sun but not NoW features desk. No culture of bullying, he adds. #Leveson”
Ben Fenton (@benfenton), FT’s media correspondent, tweets:
“Individual desks ran as separate entities. As feats desk, I had no contact with news desk. Wootton tells #leveson”
DAC Akers has just finished giving evidence to the inquiry.
She was asked about details from all three Operations, Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta, and Operation Kalmic (illegal accessing of third-party computers for financial gain) and their progress.
It was clear from the start neither Robert Jay QC, inquiry counsel, nor Leveson would ask DAC Akers to go into any detail that could prejudice the police ongoing investigations.
Numbers from Operation Weeting:
- 11,000 pages on Mulcaire’s notebooks
- 6,349 potential victims (identifiable names)
- 4,375 names with phone numbers
- 2,900 contacted by police (some of them who police thought were victims, but were not)
- 1,578 contacted, who do actually appear in Mulcaire’s notes
- 829 people defined as “likely victims”, some of whom have associated voicemail recordings
- 581 were successfully contacted
- 231 were uncontactable
- 17 were not contacted for operational reasons
- 17 people have been arrested by Operation Weeting
- 2 will face no further action, most of the remaining have been bailed to reappear in March
- 90 staff work at Weeting
- 35 dedicated to dealing with victims
Numbers from Operation Elveden:
- 300m emails are being analised
- 40 officers currently working at the operation, to be expanded to 60
- 14 people have been arrested under the operation. One arrest carried out by the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission).
- 4 journalists from the Sun have been arrested on Jan 28
- 1 police office has been arrested on Jan 28
- 1 journalist from the Sun who is abroad at the moment likely to be interviewed by Elveden upon their return
Numbers from Operation Tuleta:
- 20 police officers work at the operation
- 57 allegations being investigated, some overlapping with Weeting
- 4TB of electronic data being looked into
DAC Sue Akers, deputy assistant commissioner of the Met Police, is giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. She is head of Operations Weeting (phone hacking), Elveden (payments to police), and Tuleta (computer hacking).
She has just told Leveson 2,900 people have been contacted by police investigating phone hacking, 1,578 appear in material (Glenn Mulcaire’s notebooks) and 829 were defined as “likely victims”.
Akers added that 581 likely victims were contacted, 231 were uncontactable and 17 of them were not contacted for operational reasons.
Lord Black, chairman of the Press Board of Finance is giving evidence to Leveson at the moment.
He has been director of the PCC, director of communications for the Conservative Party and became press secretary to Michael Howard MP in 2003. Black is executive Ddirector of the Telegraph Media Group and a Conservative peer.
Stephen “Stig” Abell, now giving evidence to Leveson.
Abell is director of the Press Complaints Commission. He took over the position in 2009, having been complaints officer, press officer, assistant director and deputy director.
Natalie Peck reports on Tim Toulmin’s evidence:
There was no collusion between newspaper editors and the industry regulator, a former director of the Press Complaints Commission has told the Leveson Inquiry.
Tim Toulmin, director of the PCC from 2004 to 2009, was questioned today over the relationship between PCC chairman Sir Christopher Meyer, Les Hinton, former executive at News International and Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre.
He said claims there had been a “tri-partite axis” in operation were an “absurd conspiracy theory”.
He added: “There was never any interference by those two men, or indeed anyone else in the industry about what the PCC should say about individual complaints. That was entirely up to the PCC.
“If that sort of subversive relationship had been going on at that level, people would have spotted it – members of staff, members of the commission. It clearly wasn’t there.”
He denied public members of the board were chosen for complying with industry desires.
He said: ”People who work at the PCC… are motivated by trying to assist people who are having difficulties with the press, particularly those vulnerable people who cannot perhaps afford a lawyer. But it would be impossible to work there if you took the view that there should be no free press.”
Toulmin was also asked about the PCC’s involvement in the phone hacking scandal.
He told the inquiry that the body was responsible for examining journalistic culture, but not the details of Clive Goodman and Glen Mulcaire’s arrests in 2006.
He said: “The press and editorial content is subject to a number of rules and laws.
“There are a number of laws which regulate what the pres can do, and then there’s the PCC over and above that, if you like, which is concerned with those other issues that the press are sort of imposed on itself.
“The PCC was faced with a decision… about whether to do nothing on the grounds that the police had looked into the matter… or whether it was in a position to establish what was going to be done to make sure it didn’t happen again. The whole industry took note.”
He added: “All the questions that the PCC asked have been well established in the public domain…with the sorts of general public interest in mind that the public had a right to know that these things weren’t ongoing or going on elsewhere and that sort of lessons would be learned more broadly.”
Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked Toulmin about a letter sent to the PCC by the editor of the Guardian in 2005. Alan Rusbridger had outlined concerns that journalists at other organisations were engaging in illegal activities.
Toulmin said taking action may have lead to speculation and “talking in circles”, when asked why the body had not taken steps to investigate the allegations.
He added: “This is about something that doesn’t involve a complaint and does involve a legal problem…I suppose the PCC could have asked yes but what [the reply to Rusbridger] is saying is that it’s likely in the circumstances…to have ended up being fruitless.”
He later told the inquiry that it had been a mistake to ignore the Guardian’s evidence.
Jay said the PCC had taken a “somewhat restrictive and timorous approach” following the resignation of Andy Coulson as editor of News of the World in 2007.
Toulmin said Coulson had not been asked questions by the body and he feared they would have held “little traction” with the former editor.
He added: ”I said to Parliament that I think that was a mistake, and at least the PCC should have been seen to ask him even if he’d said: ‘No, I’m not helping you’.”
Toulmin was questioned on the PCC’s response to Operation Motorman in 2004, and a request by then-Information Commissioner Richard Thomas that the commission issue a guidance note to journalists on ethical practice.
He said the matter was largely outside of the PCC’s remit and that Thomas had “come to the wrong place”.
He added: “Richard Thomas had all the information. He came and said, ‘This is what’s been going on’, but there was no detail to it at all.”
“The PCC’s role should be fairly obvious from the title of the organisation…We tried to support Richard Thomas. It was his campaign and the Data Protection Act was his responsibility. And we did what we were asked to do by him in furthering the campaign.”
On regulation, he said: “I think that the word self-regulation does have a virtue, in that it explains to the public that the industry is behind what’s going on. It’s not making any claim to be any sort of formal statutory regulator.”
When pressed by Leveson he added: “I don’t think it’s a regulator, no.”
He said the consensus around the PCC had been “fractured” by Richard Desmond’s decision to withdraw his papers from self-regulation, and the cultural landscape around the commission had changed.
Toulmin defended the PCC, saying it is able to adapt and change structurally because it has no statutory basis.
He also said the PCC had improved considerably at handling complaints, based on “powers of persuasion”.
He said: “I think at the start the press probably was, if you’re talking in total generalities, eager to publish these things with less prominence than they should have been.”
He added: “One thing that used to strike me and upset me was hearing from members of the public who had perfectly reasonable complaints to make, or we could have helped them in some way in stopping harassment…they’d never heard of the PCC. That was a matter of regret because although it does have a quite high name recognition it’s by no means universal.”
Toulmin said third-party complaints were very rare, preventing the privacy of individuals who have not complained directly.
He said: “What we tried to do was not use this rule as an excuse, but to reach out to people that we could see might be having some problems and try and get them to complain and come to us…If people don’t want to complain to a complaints body then ultimately that was what had to be respected.
“The point of the code, so far as it protects the public, is about the people who are in the newspapers and magazines…it’s about protecting their rights.”
A few quotes from Toulmin’s witness statement to the inquiry on “Phone message hacking at the News of the World”:
“There was never a complaint about phone message hacking by News of the World journalists while I was Director of the PCC. The PCC’s involvement in the matter was pro-active and rooted in its ability, under its Articles of Association, to make pronouncements relating to the Code of Practice when it sees fit. This was because phone message hacking would likely also raise a breach of Clause 10 of the Code of Practice, which says:
‘The press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using hidden cameras or clandestine listening devices; or by intercepting private or mobile telephone calls, messages or emails; or by the unauthorised removal of documents or photographs; or by accessing digitally-held private information without consent.’
“The Code of Practice (which is overseen by a committee of editors) was amended in 2004 to include a specific reference to mobile telephone messages.”
“Following the convictions of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, the PCC could not institute an inquiry into other possible instances of phone message hacking at the News of the World, or more generally in the press, since it had neither the legal powers nor the authority vested in it by the newspaper industry to do so. Even so, it wanted to do something useful to complement the police inquiry so that light could be shone on what went wrong at the newspaper, and so that lessons could be learned generally for the industry to ensure that there was no repetition.”
Good Morning. Tim Toulmin now giving evidence to the inquiry.
Toulmin is a former director of the Press Complaints Commission (2004-2009). He is currently director of public relations company Alder Media.
Natalie Peck reports from the @hackinginquiry twitter account:
“Toulmin: There was never any interference by Dacre or Hinton on what PCC should say about complaints. #Leveson”
Camilla Wright, one of the founders of newsletter and website Popbitch now giving evidence to Leveson.
Natalie Peck, reports on the @hackinginquiry account:
“Wright: We are trying to do no more than poke fun at people in the world of celebrity. Humour is our extra defining process. #Leveson”
Natalie Peck reports on the evidence from Google executives:
A giant internet corporation has said self-regulatory traditions rule the online world.
David John Collins, vice-president of global communications for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Google, told the Leveson Inquiry self-regulation was important, but could be aided by a legal backstop.
He added: “There is already a body of regulation…particularly in areas around data. [But] self-regulation doesn’t cover everything.”
Collins and Google’s legal director Daphne Keller appeared jointly before the inquiry.
Collins said Google took privacy very seriously and provided users with transparency, choice and control over sharing data.
Keller said the company worked in accordance with UK law, despite the website servers being in America, and took extensive advice from lawyers in Britain.
Collins said: “For removing results from our search index, it’s much better for those users if those judgments have been made by a court or a legal process.
“Google is not the internet. We’re also not the only entry point to the internet. Whatever robust system you recommend will have to cover those multiple entry points.”
Keller told the inquiry that the company had no editorial control over third-party website, and merely reflected the internet content in its search results.
She was asked about Max Mosley’s privacy case against News of the World, and said he had done the right thing in approaching individual websites to have invasive material removed.
She added: “I can tell you that in his case we have removed hundreds of URLs [webpage addresses]…but taking it out of our search results doesn’t make it disappear.”
Collins said: “It’s much better for users if judgments are essentially made by a court or legal process that has weighed all of the evidence.”
Keller told the inquiry that over 30 per cent of removal requests were from businesses trying to take down lawful material from competitors’ websites.
She said 65 UK content removal requests made between January and June last year had an 82 per cent compliance rate.
Keller said any future media regulator could give publishers the opportunity to defend remove claims and told Lord Justice Leveson the company would continue to “comply with what UK law requires”.
The chairman said regulation may be inquisitorial rather than adversarial.
He added: “It’s a question of how best to achieve a result when a complainant might not have the benefit of legal representation, and therefore there’s a mismatch of power.”
He asked the pair about the potential to filter search results, so jurors are unable to access certain information about criminal cases.
Keller said: “There is not a technical way through…the legal obligation is with the jurors not to search out information.”
Collins added: “The inevitable result would be over-filtering to the detriment of webmasters, a small business or a small newspaper.
“There’s been all kinds of news coverage about this very inquiry, and other coverage, that is legitimate and that you wouldn’t want to disappear from search results.”
He said Google “absolutely” did not accept payment from news organisations to promote their content in search results.
He added: “We don’t say, ‘we don’t like this particular newspaper this week’ or someone sits in an office and says, ‘let’s just take those people out’. That’s not how it works.”
Richard Allan, Facebook’s director of policy in Europe, Middle East and Africa, is now giving evidence.
Natalie Peck, tweeting @hackinginquiry, reports:
“Barr is quoting Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, saying privacy is no longer a social norm. #Leveson”
Natalie Peck reports on the Information Commissioner being questioned about the use of PI Steve Whittamore by Express Newspapers until 2010:
The inquiry heard on January 12 2012 that Express Newspapers had continued to use Whittamore until 2010, when several representatives of the group, including proprietor Richard Desmond, gave evidence. The private investigator was convicted of breaching data laws in 2004.
Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked the commissioner why he had not served notices on search agencies, including JJ Services, the company run by Steve Whittamore, to determine whether the Data Protection Act was being breached.
Jay said: “We don’t know one way or the other…[the press] themselves accept they don’t know one way or the other. You are the regulator – you have the power to find out.”
Lord Justice Leveson added: “The absence of evidence does not mean that something isn’t going on.”
Graham said he had to prioritise his resources and focus on “current problems where there is evidence of abuse”.
He added: “I haven’t asked [my investigators] to drop everything and go and see how Mr Whittamore is getting on.”
Christopher Graham’s written evidence to the inquiry explains the rights, duties and public interest defences available to journalists on the Data Protection Act:
“Section 55 of the Act, which was the focus of the What Price Privacy? and What Price Privacy Now? reports, and which addresses the unlawful obtaining or disclosure of personal data by any person, currently applies in the same way to journalists as it does to other persons (76).”
“Section 55 of the Act makes it an offence knowingly or recklessly, and without the permission of the data controller, to obtain, disclose or procure the disclosure of personal data. It is commonly know as the “blagging” offence. Journalists are not provided with a specific defence under the Act at present, although there is a general “public interest” defence where the obtaining, disclosing or procuring was justified as being in the
public interest. There is provision for a further defence to the section 55 offence, introduced by section 78 of the Criminal Justice and immigration Act 2008 (“CJIA”) (342). This is specifically directed at circumstances where a person acted for the special purposes, including
journalism, with a view to the publication by any person of journalistic, literary or artistic material, and in the reasonable belief that the obtaining, disclosing or procuring was in the public interest. However, this provision has not as yet been commenced.”
“As to how the Act applies to journalism more generally, there is the exemption in section 32 of the Act (the “special purposes” exemption) that provides that the processing of personal data solely for special purposes will be exempt from any or all of the following, provided that conditions are met:
- all the data protection principles (except the duty to keep data secure)
- the right of subject access
- the right to prevent processing of personal data
¯ the rights in relation to automated decision-making
¯ the rights of rectification, blocking, erasure and destruction”
“The conditions that must be satisfied in order for section 32 to apply are:
- the processing must be undertaken with a view to
- the publication by any person of any journalistic,
- literary or artistic material,
- the data controller must reasonably believe that, having regard in particular to the special importance of the public interest in freedom of
expression, publication would be in the public interest, and the data controller must reasonably believe that, in all the circumstances, it would be incompatible with the special purposes for him to comply with the particular provision from which he claims an exemption.”
“When considering whether the data controller’s belief that publication would be in the public interest was, or is, a reasonable one, regard may be had to his compliance with any code of practice which is relevant to the publication in question and has been designated by order. The codes that have been so designated are those published by the Press Complaints Commission (“PCC”), the Ofore code and the Producers Guidelines published by the BBC.”
If you missed Christopher Graham’s evidence in the morning, check out this Storify of tweets about it, compiled by Hacked Off. Graham is the current Information Commissioner.
David-John Collins, chief of communications for Google EMEA and Daphne Keller, legal director for copyright and products at Google Inc, now giving evidence.
One of the issues they are debating is the removal of defamatory material from Google’s index. Natalie Peck, tweeting from the @hackinginquiry account, reports:
“Keller: Victims of defamation can go directly to webmaster to remove pages, and we operate a “clean up” by taking it out of index. #Leveson”
Natalie Peck reports on Christopher Graham’s response to Hacked Off campaign’s letter during his evidence to the inquiry:
The Information Commissioner has told the Leveson Inquiry it is not necessary to inform all victims of press data breaches.
Christopher Graham was asked about a letter sent to the ICO by Hacked Off, requesting that people mentioned in the Operation Motorman files are notified that personal data may have been obtained illegally.
He told the inquiry: “I would have to take on a veritable army of extra people [to do this]… I’m also going to say I don’t think it’s necessary.”
He said it is often not clear who Operation Motorman files are referring to as many individuals named are not celebrities. He said he was “very ready” for subject access requests from those concerned.
He later added: “If Hacked Off and their lawyers are representing particular individuals then that’s what we’re here for. Subject access requests, here we go.”
The Hacked Off letter says: “It is likely, if not inevitable, that media organisations have illegally retained and processed data which the ICO has judged to have been illegally obtained.”
Hacked Off believes that targets, many of whom do not realise they have been targeted, should be able to challenge the public interest of personal information breaches.
Hacked Off yesterday wrote to the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, asking him to take steps to notify those who were subjects of data-mining by national newspapers, as revealed by evidence discovered through Operation Motorman. This is the text of the letter, as sent on 25th January 2012:
Dear Mr Graham,
We are writing to ask you to take steps to notify those who were subjects of data-mining by the national press where you are in possession of such knowledge by virtue of the information that you obtained in Operation Motorman. Such individuals should be told that information had been sought on them, possibly illegally; what information that was; and who (newspaper and journalist) procured it.
We believe that this is justified morally and legally for the following reasons:
1. As a public authority you have a positive obligation to assist people in protecting their Article 8 rights.
2. It is the assertion of the ICO that hundreds of journalists procured personal information unlawfully (in breach of section 55 of the Data Protection Act) thousands of times in respect of hundreds of individuals.
3. Various press organisations, for example Trinity Mirror Group, have accepted the ICO’s view that many, if not most, of these transactions were illegal in that there was no public interest defence and that the data sought was of a nature that could only be obtained unlawfully.
4. Some press organisations have however denied that any of their journalists involved in the Motorman transactions did anything wrong.
5. Some press organisations have now admitted continuing to use Steve Whittamore many years after his conviction and many years after the press were told by the ICO in 2006 that the bulk of his work was illegal.
6. It is likely, if not inevitable, that media organisations have illegally retained and processed data which the ICO has judged to have been illegally obtained.
7. Some individuals are now hearing from the media that they were victims of this operation as information leaks out that they were targeted (we refer to articles in the Independent and the Guardian). It is entirely wrong that they should read about this in the national press and not hear from the ICO.
8. Other individuals in the public eye or otherwise of interest to the media, some of whom have been shown to be victims of other press misconduct, do not know whether they have been victims of data-mining. They therefore do not know whether their phone lines, ex-directory phone numbers, mobile phone numbers, home addresses (where confidential), pin numbers, car registration numbers (where confidential) are secure anymore. Nor do they know who might have had access to confidential material such as their medical or bank or police records.
9. We understand that the newspapers who perpetrated thisunlawful data-mining are being allowed to see a list of their journalists who procured information and a list of the victims of this data-mining. While we do not object to newspapers being told who these journalists were, we believe it is wrong that the newspaper groups – some of whom have not accepted the illegality of this activity – should be shown the names of those that their newspaper have data-mined in the past, without the permission of these individuals.
10. If the newspapers, armed with the knowledge of who the victims were, were to claim that there is a public interest defence then the victims should be notified so that they have an opportunity to contest these claims.
11. We understand that the lawyers for the newspapers have now been shown all the confidential data that all the newspapers obtained, presumably in order to make their best case in the Leveson Inquiry, while the victims remain ignorant of the fact that they were data-mining targets and are therefore unable to provide counter-evidence.
By virtue of points 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10 and 11 there are material changes in the circumstances in favour of notification since the ICO last decided that it would not be lawful, under section 59, to notify the data subjects that they were victims in this criminal enterprise. We believe that this earlier decision was wrong but that these material changes make an even more compelling case for making this information available to victims.
We believe the people we are in touch with have a right to know that – to the best of the knowledge of the ICO – they were victims of data-mining so that they can steps to protect their privacy.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Dr Evan Harris
Hacked Off Campaign
The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, is giving evidence to Leveson at the moment. He is being questioned by Robert Jay QC, inquiry counsel.
Jay questions Graham whether he believes he should be doing checks to find out whether wrongdoing has occurred [he was referring to the fact that the Daily Express admitted using JJ Services, PI Steve Whittamore's company, until 2010].
Graham said he did not believe there was reason to suspect wrongdoing.
He added: “What you described to me doesn’t compell me to start scatering around s43 notices.”
The directions hearing has ended. Back at 10am tomorrow.
Leveson says he will be careful not to prejudice any criminal proceedings when examining the history of police investigations into press intrusion, including Operation Weeting.
Leveson says the Metropolitan Police Authority will be granted core participant status in Module 2 of the inquiry.
Leveson says: ”It may be…that each one of these applicants has an account to provide which will assist me in the overall discharge of my responsibility to consider the conduct, practices and ethics of the press, in context of their relationship with the police.
He said he did not know whether their particular issues “are so substantial in the context of the overall picture to require core participant status” but any statements provided will be considered.
Jonathan King, singer and record producer, is applying for core participant status. He was convicted over child sex offences in 2001 but maintains his innocence.
Mr Adigua, a survivor of the 7/7 bombings is applying for core participant status, as is Robert Henderson, who claims he was libelled by the Mirror in 1997.
The Metropolitan Police Authority and the Mayor’s Office for policing and crime will make applications to gain core participant status, and make submissions to the inquiry.
From the Hacked Off Twitter account: “Tamsin Allen of Bindmans is the solicitor who will be assisting David Sherborne on module 2″.
David Sherborne tells Leveson there is a “direct interest” from core participant victims in a number of matters to be addressed in Module 2.
Leveson says of Module 2: “It is no part of my function, except in certain illustrative ways, to descend into the detail of specific incidents. That is not to show disrespect to those who believe they have been wrongly treated by the police or the press, or to suggest that their issues are not important. It is merely to underline the fact that were I to do so, the time I would require to examine each individual incident, many of which are exceedingly complex, would overwhelm the available time resource for this inquiry.”
Lord Justice Leveson says it will be necessary to recall some witnesses who have given evidence already. He says anonymous witnesses should have been heard today.
He asks Jonathan Caplan QC, representing Associated News, to confirm whether the publisher will appeal a decision on anonymous evidence by Lord Justice Toulson (judgment here).
Break for lunch. The hearing will resume at 2.15pm.
Natalie Peck reports on RMT union chief Bob Crow’s evidence:
A trade union leader has spoken to the Leveson Inquiry about being targeted by a private investigator.
Bob Crow, of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport, told the inquiry about a Mail on Sunday story published in 2003, featuring a photograph of Crow on the back of his assistant’s scooter.
He accused private investigator Steve Whittamore of “blagging” confidential information from the DVLA.
Crow said: “The issue is a non-story as far as I’m concerned. The issue to us is how they obtained the information.”
Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, said the information had been obtained by Whittamore, who then passed it on to the Mail on Sunday.
Crow said police were investigating whether his phone had been targeted by a private investigator on behalf of a newspaper, but said he had no proof of phone hacking.
Jay said a letter from News International’s legal representatives confirms Crow was placed under surveillance in January 2011. Crow told the inquiry that a private investigator followed him on a holiday to the Caribbean.
He also described being doorstepped by Sun reporters in 2009, and said someone claiming to be a journalist working for the Sunday Times searched through bins outside a RMT meeting to retrieve a copy of the agenda.
David Allen Green has finished giving evidence. Jonathan Grun, editor of PA, is on the stand.
Background on NightJack by Natalie Peck:
Last week The Times revealed the name of a journalist responsible for outing an anonymous blogger in 2009.
Patrick Foster, now a freelance journalist, currently contributes to the Guardian as a media correspondent.
Richard Horton, author of the Night Jack blog, was a police detective writing about his work life in an unspecified location. He won the first Orwell Prize awarded for blogging in April 2009 when still anonymous.
Later that year, Mr Justice Eady overturned an injunction that had prevented the Times from revealing Horton’s identity. Horton closed his blog shortly after the ruling and was issued with a written warning from Lancashire police.
Eady told the court blogging was “essentially a public rather than a private activity”.
James Harding, editor of the Times, Tom Mockridge, CEO at News International, and Simon Toms, acting director of legal affairs, mentioned the computer hacking in their evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.
A piece in the Times last week said Foster had informed managers before the story was published that he had into Horton’s e-mail account.
It said: “The role the hacking played in Mr Foster’s investigation remains unclear. Mr Foster identified Mr Horton using a legitimate process of deduction based on sources and information publicly available on the internet.”
Foster was temporarily suspended from Oxford University for computer hacking in 2004. He and another student said they hacked into the university’s computer to expose weakness in the IT system.
Barr asks Allen Green about the outing of anonymous bloggers Night Jack, Girl With a One Track Mind and Belle de Jour.
David Allen Green’s New Statesman piece on the Wikileaks NDA agreement can be found here.
Blogger Nelson Jones, aka Heresy Corner, is mentioned by David Allen Green. His blog can be found here.
Allen Green says his there is a great deal of self-regulation and responsibility amongst social media users.
He adds: “The notion that bloggers are out there in cowboys…is looking at in a very wrong way. Social media can be misused just like mainstream media and the law can be misused.”
Allen Green says his blog, Jack of Kent, averages 1,000 to 2,000 hits a day, and says the statistics for his New Statesman blog are higher than this.
Bob Crow has finished giving evidence. David Allen Green is now up.
David Allen Green is a lawyer and legal correspondent for the New Statesman. He works for The Lawyer as media correspondent and writes the Jack of Kent blog. In 2010 he was shortlisted for the George Orwell prize for blogging.
The inquiry has heard News International hired Derek Webb, a former police officer to undertake surveillance of Crow in November 2010 and January 2011.
Robert Jay QC said confidential information from the DVLA was obtained by private investigator Steve Whittamore, who passed it on to the Mail on Sunday.
Natalie Peck reports on Roy Greenslade’s challenge of Mazher Mahmood’s evidence:
Evidence from an undercover reporter known as the ‘Fake Sheikh’ has been challenged by his former editor at the Leveson Inquiry today.
Mazher Mahmood, whose image was not broadcast to protect his identity, was questioned over his resignation from the Sunday Times in 1988. A written statement from Roy Greenslade, managing editor of the paper at the time, was read out to the inquiry.
An article written by Mahmood in 1988 reported that a chief inspector, convicted for drink driving, had been demoted to constable rather than inspector.
The journalist claimed the error had been made by a news agency supplying the story, but was later found to have covered up his mistake by altering the original copy. He told the inquiry he regretted his actions and realised he had acted improperly.
He added: “I had a series of run-ins with Mr Greenslade while at the paper… I foolishly thought the best thing was to cover my mistake, it was the wrong thing to do and I resigned.”
Greenslade responded on Twitter: “Mahmood #Leveson Continues to say I had disagreements with him at Sunday Times – Can’t remember one. Treated him same as other reporters [sic].”
David Barr, junior counsel to the inquiry, asked Mahmood why he was not forthcoming on the “act of dishonesty” when appearing before Lord Justice Leveson in December 2011.
Mahmood replied: “It wasn’t a highlight of my career, obviously, it wasn’t something that I elaborated on.”
He said a claim made by Michael Williams, former news editor at the Sunday Times, was “completely untrue”. Williams said a reporter, believed to be Mahmood, offered a financial bribe to staff to falsify his copy in an article written last year.
Mahmood added: “It’s a completely untrue allegation. Can I point out that Mr Williams also left the Sunday Times under something of a cloud.”
Mahmood, who now works as an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times, was employed by the News of the World until its closure last year.
Bob Crow is now giving evidence.
Crow is a trade union leader. He is general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) and a member of the general council of the TUC.
Mahmood has finished giving evidence. Short break.
A section from Mahmood’s second witness statement, read to the inquiry by Barr:
“In a related libel trial (brought by a member of the gang who had been reported to have been involved in the discussions – the newspaper apologised to him) Eady J said:
“Mr Mahmood may be hard bitten and cynical but I found no support for the proposition that he had made the whole thing up”. He also said: “There was deafly a plan to kidnap Victoria Beckham. however desultory some of the discussions may have been” and “lt is clear that real crimes were regularly discussed… There is no reliable way to determine that the Beckham discussions are to be distinguished from the others as not real”.”
Greenslade has posted on Twitter: ”Mahmood #Leveson He asserts that I encouraged Gashi to talk to police. I didn’t. Gashi contacted Scotland Yard independently”.
Mahmood is now being asked about the Victoria Beckham kidnap plot. The case was dropped by the CPS in 2003, after the main witness Florim Gashi was found to be unreliable.
Mahmood calls him “mentally unstable”.
The written witness statements submitted to the inquiry by Mahmood can be found here.
The link to Roy Greenslade’s recent blog on Mahmood can be found here.
The passage from Michael Williams’ article for the British Journalism Review, read out by David Barr:
“I summarily dismissed a reporter who was caught trying to cover his mistakes by offering a financial bribe to the staff in the newspaper computer room to falsify his copy (something he has never subsequently denied). Shortly afterwards he went seamlessly on to a senior job at our sister paper, the News of the World, where his “scoops” were celebrated. This autumn he was re-hired by The Sunday Times as an “undercover reporter”. All corporate memory of scandal had been erased.”
Mahmood says: “I had a series of run-ins with Mr Greenslade while at the paper…I foolishly thought the best thing was to cover my mistake, it was the wrong thing to do and I resigned.”
David Barr, junior counsel, calls it “an act of dishonesty”.
Mahmood has started giving evidence. He has submitted a third witness statement to the inquiry.
Mahmood is an undercover reporter at the Sunday Times. He worked for the News of the World until its closure last year. He is known as the “fake sheik”, often posing as a sheik for investigations.
The evidence of Roy Greenslade is being summarised. It concerns the dismissal of Mazher Mahmood from the Sunday Times when Greenslade was managing editor.
Mahmood has always disputed covering up a mistake, by altering files sent in by a news agency.
Inayat Bunglawala just gave evidence.
He works for Engage, a non-profit organisation working in the media and politics on behalf of British Muslims. He is also media secretary for the Muslim Council of Britain and founded Muslims4UK.
Representatives of women’s and equality groups now giving evidence to the inquiry.
Heather Harvey is research and development manager for Eaves Housing for Women.
Eaves is a charity which works to re-house victims of violence.
Anna Van Heeswijk is campaigns manager for Object, a human rights organisation that challenges the sexual objectification of women.
Jacqui Hunt runs the London office of Equality Now. Jacqui Hunt runs the London office of Equality Now. She has worked for Amnesty International and joined Equality Now in 1992.
Marai Larasi is joint chair at the End Violence against Women Coalition.
Kampfner says it is clear “we don’t lack for laws” governing the press.
He adds: “I would simply argue that there have been many last chance saloons before but with the right robust and considerable changes…[we could have] a strong system of self-regulation”.
Robert Jay QC asks about regulation. Heawood says the Guardian “have blazed a trail” in appointing an internal ombudsman, to resolve complaints quickly and effectively.
Kampfner adds: “More broadly we see a strong independent framework of self-regulation, where the regulator does the complaint and mediation work that is done now…should have a very strong standards arm to it”.
Heawood adds: “The cost of defending a libel or defending an application for an injunction is so great that it does have a potentially chilling effect”.
Kampfner says there is “already an assumption of a requirement in good journalism” to test stories against the subject.
He adds: “There are often editorial reasons for not doing that”.
Heawood says prior notification in privacy cases can be asking for an individual to “slap an injunction” on a publication.
Kampfner says the “copious laws” governing the press should be better enforced and there is “no such thing” as perfect regulation.
Heawood agrees, and says “one would rather live in a too-noisy society” than a “quiet”, over-regulated society.
Kampfner tells the inquiry about his time in the Westminster lobby. He describes a “culture of feeding” and compliance between spin doctors and the media.
He says he was told: “The more faithfully you write the story, the more stories you will get in the future”.
Kampfner says there is “convergence” but also “difference” between press freedom and freedom of expression.
He adds: “Without a vigorously free press, free expression is damaged”.
Jonathan Heawood and John Kampfner are up first.
Jonathan Heawood is director of English PEN. He has worked for the Fabian Society, the Observer and has written for the Independent on Sunday, the New Statesman and Prospect magazine.
John Kampfner is chief executive at Index on Censorship. He is stepping down to become a part-time adviser to Google on free expression and culture issues in February this year. He has worked as a journalist for the BBC, the Telegraph, the Financial Times and was editor of the New Statesman from 2005 to 2008.
Good morning. The Leveson Inquiry is hearing from NGOs and some News International and Trinity Mirror employees.
John Battle has finished giving evidence. Back at 10am tomorrow.
Battle calls this a “difficult and dark time for the press” but says he believes in protecting freedom of expression.
He says he has a “very strong view” that the press and broadcast media should not be regulated together.
Barr is questioning Battle over the ITN compliance code.
Battle says cases are “fact sensitive” but public figures are not open-season, even if a celebrity puts their private life into the public domain.
John Battle is head of compliance at ITN, which includes London Tonight and Channel 4 News. He teaches media law at City University London and was previously group legal advisor at Associated Newspapers.
Gray said a change in regulation must not happen at the same time “as any other moves” in relation to freedom of expression.
He said the “broader context” should be considered, including “curbs” placed around the police and public officials being able to talk to journalists.
He has now finished giving evidence.
Gray says the internet has been “the single biggest shift in all our lives”. He tells the inquiry that Channel 4 employees’ tweets are not moderated until after publication, but blogging content is always double-checked.
Lord Patten has finished giving evidence. Channel 4′s Jim Gray is up next.
Gray is an editor for Channel 4 News. He joined the team in 1997 as a deputy editor. He has worked for Newsnight and Radio 4.
Patten says he has “consistently” given collegues and at least one prime minster the advice that they shouldn’t worry as much about the newspapers”.
He adds: “I think it is the case that politicians have got closer to editors and journalists…and not always to their advantage or been, indeed very, often the reverse”.
“I think it’s a questions very often of how seemly it is for a minister or politicians to behave in a certain away. To appear to be manipulated by some newspaper or a group of journalists doesn’t make very good sense.”
Patten says the major political parties “have often demeaned themselves” by “pay[ing] court” to proprietors and editors, and “allowed themselves to be kidded” that they “determine the fate” of politicians.
He adds: “I’m not in favour of grovelling”.
Some quotes from the written witness statement of Lord Patten:
“Executive action plans and accompanying Trust audits following serious editorial breaches (one in 2008 following both the competitions issues and separate issues relating to a press trailer about the Queen, and the other following Ross/Brand incident in 2009).”
“The BBC aims to produce the best journalism in the world. That means it will not only report the news and analyse it but it will also undertake investigations in the public interest. Some of those will involve journalists going under-cover – for example John Simpson in Zimbabwe or Russell Sharp joining the British army as an infantry recruit to expose bullying. Another example is the recent Panorama programme which used secret recording and subterfuge in order to uncover abuses taking place at a care home in the West Country. Occasionally this sort of investigative journalism will require a considered, planned and deliberate decision to breach privacy or even come into conflict with the-law. However any such act must be carefully considered.”
Mark Thompson has finished giving evidence. Lord Patten Lord, chairman of the BBC Trust, is now giving evidence.
Patten was the last governor of British Hong Kong and one-time party chairman for the Conservatives under John Major.
Thompson says as the economics of local press has “deteriorated” and ITV’s investment out of London has “diminished”, people have started substituting local news with BBC service.
Leveson reads from a speech given by Thompson in September 2011:
“They are all people for whom the ‘public interest’ is not some infinitely elastic concept to justify any intrusion or journalistic malpractice, but it means something precise: the civic benefit, not just in terms of the public’s right to know, but also – at least in principle – in terms of better policies and laws, and better conduct by public and commercial bodies alike, that may be derived by exposing the kinds of serious wrong-doing, deception, hypocrisy and unjustified secrecy that go beyond the private to have real and significant public ramifications.”
The judge asks: “Do you believe that that concept is or should be different for a public broadcaster to an independent broadcaster to the press generally? Are you setting for yourself…is a higher standard than should apply…to the press?”
A letter from Surrey Police to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on the Milly Dowler story has been published online. More on this soon.
Hacked Off co-ordinator Thais Portilho-Shrimpton has tweeted: “NoTW confirmed with Milly’s school colleagues that that was her phone number #hackgate”.
Some quotes from Mark Thompson’s witness statement:
“…the 2010 Guidelines have incorporated the lessons learned from the serious editorial breaches that occurred in programmes using interactivity and payments from calls to programmes, “Queengate” (the BBC promotional video which wrongly suggested the Queen stormed out of a photo session with Annie Leibovitz) and the Jonathan Ross / Russell Brand editorial breaches in 2008.”
“Based on the reviews and to the best of my knowledge, the BBC has not engaged in phone hacking nor has it commissioned anyone to do so…the BBC has not engaged in computer hacking nor has it commissioned anyone to do so, save for where a programme has been about the subject of computer~hacking (for example the programme Click’s botnet experiment in 2009-where no damage was inflicted). Additionally, computer hackers may have been used as contributors or sources of information about how hacking is used by others and to help test the security of computer systems. I consider this type of journalism to be in the public interest.”
Thompson says: “The Brand-Ross incident is again a very serious lapse of editorial judgement, but of a different character”. He says it questioned the “boundaries of comedy and taste” and went ”far, far, far beyond the line”.
He added: “It exposed two isses…a serious lapse of judgement…and secondly a weakenss in the way in which programme compliance was taking place in that part of the BBC”.
Tom Watson MP has tweeted: “News Corp source tells me Rupert Murdoch has seen the draft designs of the Sunday Sun with a launch in April…”
Thompson says: “I don’t believe we’ve lost a defamation action in court for a decade”. He admits some cases are settled, and says the BBC receives 4-6 actions a year which do not always reach a conclusion.
Leveson comments: “Changing culture seems an extremely difficult problem”. Thompson says the “core” of culture at the BBC is strong, and does not need to be changed.
Thompson says the BBC is “extraordinarily careful” with user-generated content - attribution and limited nature of the content must be made clear.
Thompson says he expects that specific points on phone hacking will be added to the next edition of BBC guidelines. He says “historically” it has not been a consideration.
Thompson says private investigators are used by the BBC, largely for “security and surveillance as a whole”, including protecting journalists when they are at work. PIs are often used to track down subjects of right of reply letters.
Thompson says: “The BBC is a public service broadcaster…we want to maintain the highest possibly standards in all matters, including matters related to privacy”.
He says a widespread investigation was carried out at the BBC into hacking, blagging and payments to private investigators and mobile phone companies.
Thompson refers to a Panorama programme on Primark as an example where secret filming process was not followed. He says it proved ”very damaging to that piece of work and the BBC”.
Thompson says: “The core of the BBC’s editorial mission is to deliver the most trustworthy and accurate journalism that we can”.
Good morning. Mark Thompson is first on the stand.
Mark Thompson has been director-general of the BBC since 2004. He was chief executive at Channel 4 and has worked for several BBC programmes including Watchdog, Newsnight and Panorama.
McGeoghan says: “I think there has been a backlash. I’ve lost count now of the number of times I’ve been asked how you hack a phone or what the going rate for paying off a policeman is and it’s not funny anymore”.
Doran says he has heard about phone-hacking on an anecdotal bias, not at his publication but in Belfast.
All the editors point to a growing online readership but decline in print circulation.
The next set of editors to give evidence are Peter Charlton, Noel Doran, Maria McGeoghan and Nigel Pickover.
Peter Charlton is editor of the Yorkshire Post. He previously edited the Star (Sheffield).
Noel Doran is editor of the Irish News. He has held the position since 1999.
Maria McGeoghan is the editor of the Manchester Evening News. She joined the paper in 1998 and has held positions of deputy editor and acting editor. She previously worked at the Liverpool Echo.
Nigel Pickover has been editor of the Ipswich Evening Star since 1996. He has worked for the Star (Sheffield), the Daily Express (Manchester) and Yorkshire Evening Press.
The editors discuss the decline of local press coverage, as journalists have less time to cover public meetings and court hearings.
Gilson says: “Bloggers don’t go to town halls or the courts”.
Feeney says: “If a town loses its paper then clearly courts and councils aren’t being reported and held up for public scrutiny”.
McLellan says restricting journalists from talking to police officers would be wrong, and calls it “counter to everything we’re about”.
Leveson has suggested that representatives from internet search engines will be called to give evidence.
The editors discuss the threat of legal action. Russell says it causes him to think “very deeply” before publishing anything.
The editors are being asked about subterfuge. They agree that serious cases will be discussed and reviewed before going ahead, and must be in the public interest.
Gilson adds that a recent decision made on using subterfuge took four months.
McLellan says paid online content could “reenergise” the industry.
The Prime Minister David Cameron just said at Prime Minister’s Questions he would be “delighted” to appear at the Leveson Inquiry “whenever I’m invited”.
John McLellan, Spencer Feeney, Jonathan Russell and Mike Gilson are giving evidence.
Spencer Feeney is editor of the South Wales Evening Post.
Mike Gilson is editor of the Belfast Telegraph. He has previously edited The Scotsman, The News (Portsmouth) and the Peterborough Evening Telegraph. He has also worked at The Western Mail, Cardiff and the Hull Daily Mail.
John McLellan has been editor of the Scotsman since 2009. He is one of two Scottish representatives on the PCC.
Jonathan Russell is editor of the Glasgow Herald. He was previously assistant editor of the Daily Record and Sunday Mail, editor of the Paisley Daily Express and Scottish editor of the Daily Mail.
The magazine editors have finished giving evidence.
Byrne is questioned over pieces on Sienna Miller, JK Rowling and Kate Middleton. Patry-Hoskins asks whether they could be seen as misleading.
Miller and Rowling have both complained over respective articles claiming to be exclusive interviews in OK.
Nixon is asked about Douglas v Hello. She says it was a commercial decision and not about privacy.
She says: “It was a vey costly mistake…the situation has never occurred again”.
Cave says a sticker set given away with Heat, featuring the disabled son of Katie Price, was “a grave mistake”. A PCC complaint made by Price and Peter Andre was resolved in 2008.
Carine Patry-Hoskins is asking Cave about various articles, pictures and sections in Heat, including “Our men love our wobbly bits” headline and Spotted pages.
Nixon and Byrne advocate a regulatory system with a reduced number of serving editors involved. Byrne suggests members of the public could sit on a future body.
Cave says Heat has received eight complaints in 14 years. Nixon says Hello has not received a complaint under her editorship.
Cave and Byrne agree that private lives are not “open season” just because they agree to appear in a magazine.
All of the editors say they check the circumstances under which paparazzi pictures are taken before using them.
Nixon says celebrities are not “public property” even if they open up homes or weddings to Hello! and other magazines.
All the editors say their websites, with separate editors, adhere to the PCC code and the same guidelines as print editions. OK! is owned by Northern & Shell and not part of the PCC.
Rosie Nixon is editor of Hello! Magazine. She joined the publication in 2008 as assistant features editor, and has worked at Grazia, Glamour, Red and New Woman.
Lisa Byrne is editor of OK! Magazine. She has written for the Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People, and Chat magazine.
Lucie Cave is editor of Heat Magazine and a media pundit. She was previously an interviewer and features editor for Heat, and has worked in TV and radio. Cave has ghostwritten autobiographies for Abi Titmuss and the late Jade Goody.
Rosie Nixon (Hello editor), Lucie Cave (Heat editor) and Lisa Byrne (OK editor) are giving evidence together.
The inquiry is done for the day. Back at 10am tomorrow.
Leveson asks Rusbridger if he wants to say anything on the Milly Dowler deletions. He says various sides should be able to interrogate each other, “other source material” would help get to the bottom of the matter, and it is “not a simple question”.
The judge said it was “not a primary focus”.
“The debate about statute is a fairly central one,” says Rusbridger. He says the inquiry has opened it up as a “nuanced question” and it has moved his thinking on the matter.
He adds: “The blunt truth of our industry is we’ve been under-regulated and over-legislated”.
Rusbridger says he wants to see the Guardian “thrive” in the face of a “ferocious digital revolution”.
Rusbridger is discussing his Orwell lecture from November 2011.
The full text can be found on the Guardian website. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/nov/10/phone-hacking-truth-alan-rusbridger-orwell]
Rusbridger says the PCC’s phone-hacking investigation was “worse than a whitewash”, when asked about his resignation from the code committee.
He adds: “It could have done a better job than it did with the powers it had”.
During the evidence given by Alan Rusbridger, Sky news reader Adam Boulton tweeted he could not believe junior counsel Carine Patry Hoskins had been called to “simper at Alan Rusbridger”.
We have asked Boulton on twitter what he meant by his tweet, but have had no reply.
“It would be a shame if a minister or politicians couldn’t talk to an editor without that nesscarily becoming a public event,” says Rusbridger. He adds: “It was a surprise to me in July to see extensive contact between David Cameron and senior editors in News International”.
Rusbridger says that every Wednesday a guest is invited to speak at the Guardian’s open conference, and this is often a politician. The editor says he has met David Cameron once since he became Prime Minster.
Rusbridger tells the inquiry the Guardian readers’ editor is a “really good model” for other publications, and “tremendously liberating” for him as an editor.
Rusbridger says he would print a single source story if the Archbishop of Canterbury told him he was resigning, but would want a second source if a bishop relayed the information.
Some quotes from the written evidence of Alan Rusbridger:
“In December 2006 the Information Commissioner’s Office (“the ICO”) published a report entitled “What Price Privacy Now” which in a table revealed that The Observer had extensively used the services of Steve Whittamore, a private investigator – not for hacking phones but for obtaining information in circumstances which could infringe the Data Protection Act (“the DPA”) in the absence of a public interest defence.”
“To the best of my knowledge, while we have been served with injunctions for breach of confidence, we have never been sued for invasion of privacy, or been in receipt of injunctions on grounds of breaching privacy.”
Rusbridger says the privacy dials “are set pretty high” at the Guardian.
His witness statement says: “It is a matter of fact that the Guardian and The Observer carry little by way of celebrity ’private life’ journalism beyond interviews where celebrities may choose to disclose private material about themselves or coverage of what is already publicly known”.
Some quotes from Chris Elliott’s written statement:
“More often than not the process is an amicable one. Complainants dealt with fairly and quickly rarely stay angry. That doesn’t happen every time and there are a small number of complainants which I will either refer to the external ombudsman, or the complainant may go to the PCC and in some extreme cases to a lawyer.”
“It is second nature for a journalist to believe that the better and more important the story, the more likely it is that someone won’t want you to tell it. Reporters expect to be told that he or she had got something wrong by an interested party wanting to keep something out of the newspaper. The knee jerk denial of error grew into a more bullying, aggressive culture where reporters and newspapers in were in fierce competition; journalists simply felt it was not good policy to admit error.”
Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, is up now.
He joined the paper as a reporter in 1979 as a reporter and feature writer and under his editorship the Guardian relaunched in 2005 in the Berliner format. He is on the board of Guardian News and Media, the main board of the Guardian Media Group, and the Scott Trust.
Elliott gives examples of identifying children without parental permission and the misrepresentation of statics as “serious” complaints, and says members of the public want mistakes fixed “as soon as possible” and are not as concerned over the prominence of corrections.
Elliott says the “Open Door” column in the paper demonstrates that a “culture of discussing journalism and what goes wrong…is encouraged in the office”.
Elliott says Guardian readers feel “very close” to the paper, and people often ask for things to be removed or changed online - there are 1.5 million pages in the archive.
He says the Guardian received 26,700 emailed complaints and queries last year, and three to four corrections and clarifications are printed in the paper six days a week.
Elliott has held the position since 2010, having formerly been managing editor GNM, news editor and reporter.
John Witherow has finished giving evidence. Chris Elliott, Guardian readers’ editor, is up next.
Some quotes from John Witherow’s written evidence:
“Certainly many of the paper’s most important investigations over a period of many years could be said to have used means that have raised ethical questions, In the case of The Sunday Times’ exposure of the Thalidomide drug, the paper bought for £100.000 (in today’s money) documents protected by legal confidentiality. With the exposure in the 1980s of financial links between the striking National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Colonel Gadaffi, our reporter ’blagged’ confidential data from a hotel and BT. In the ’cash for questions’ story, which revealed that MPs were prepared to take money for asking parliamentary questions, a reporter posed as a businessman in order to deceive the MPs.”
“Investigative journalism can sometimes stretch rules when the newspaper is seeking to expose wrongdoing, criminality and unethical behaviour. In order to do that, we may, paradoxically, employ methods that on the face of it appear unethical. For example, the use of subterfuge can involve a journalist posing as someone else, lying to an informant in order to get to the truth and secretly taping theme I believe it is vital that we maintain this form of journalism, as long as it is in the public interest, because it produces some of our most significant reporting which can affect the way the country is governed.”
Natalie Peck reports on James Harding’s evidence:
Politicians could control the press if statutory regulation is introduced, the editor of the Times has claimed.
James Harding told the Leveson Inquiry he was uncomfortable with the idea of any statutory regulation having a “chilling effect” on press freedom, and allowing politicians to “loom over” the media.
He added: “We don’t want the prime minister deciding what can go in or out of newspapers”.
Harding referred to the creation of a “Leveson Act” and said a statutory backdrop for independent regulation would either be “meaningless” or equivocal to state regulation.
Lord Justice Leveson challenged him, and said a new system would need authority and “statutory underpinning”. Harding said he did recognise the need for a “muscular” independent regulator in order to “bind” newspaper publishers.
Leveson said the Times leader article on the inquiry, published this morning, was helpful in understanding the editor’s point of view. The piece called the paper “an implacable opponent of government oversight — direct or indirect — of the press”.
He added: “I am anxious to create a system that actually does what it says on the tin”.
Harding asked the judge whether he would advocate a compulsory system resulting in “the licensing of newspapers”.
Leveson told the editor to “watch my lips” and reminded the inquiry that he had not made his mind up on a future regulatory framework.
Harding added that press freedom would be ensured by more substantial public interest defences.
John Witherow now giving evidence.
He has edited the Sunday Times since 1994. He worked for Reuters and the Times before joining the Sunday Times. He has held a number of positions at the paper including defence editor, foreign editor and managing editor of news.
James Harding is back in the stand.
A mysterious case of computer hacking at the Times was highlighted in evidence put before the Leveson Inquiry last week. Little was mentioned in the courtroom today but witness statements from the Times editor and CEO of News International referenced the incident.
The written witness statement of Simon Toms, interim legal director of News International, was published last week when he took to the stand. It described “one instance on The Times in 2009…an act of the journalist and was not authorised by TNL. As such, I understand it resulted in the journalist concerned being disciplined”.
As editor James Harding and NI’s Tom Mockridge gave evidence today, their statements were put on the inquiry website.
Harding said: “There was an incident where the newsroom was concerned that a reporter had gained unauthorised access to an email account. When it was brought to my attention, the journalist faced disciplinary action. The reporter believed he was seeking to gain information in the public interest but we took the view he had fallen short of what was expected of a Times journalist. He was issued with a formal written warning for professional misconduct”.
Mockridge submitted two written statements, and was keen to correct his original text in which he said he was “aware of an incident in 2009” that the reporter had “denied”.
The correction stated: “At the date of my first witness statement, it was my understanding that the reporter in question had denied gaining such access. Following further enquiries, I now understand that the reporter in fact admitted the conduct during disciplinary proceedings, although he claimed that he was acting in the public interest. The journalist was disciplined as result, He was later dismissed from the business for an unrelated matter”.
James Harding will continue giving evidence at 2pm.
Harding says the press must move away from a system where they are “marking their own homework”.
Harding discusses the future of regulation. He says he is against state regulation, and a statutory backdrop for an independent model would either be “meaningless” or actual state regulation.
James Harding refers to computer hacking in his written statement:
“The Times has never used or commissioned anyone who used computer hacking to source stories. There was an incident where the newsroom was concerned that a reporter had gained unauthorised access to an email account. When it was brought to my attention, the joumalist faced disciplinary action. The reporter believed he was seeking to gain information in the public interest but we took the view he had fallen short of what was expected of a Times journalist. He was issued with a formal written warning for professional misconduct.”
Harding is defending agenda-driven journalism. He says the Times editorial team are are a “pretty independent-minded bunch of people”.
He adds: “If you’re not providing a broad range of opinion… you are disappointing [readers]“.
Jay asks: “How often since May 2010 have you met with Mr Cameron?”
Harding says doesn’t “have the number to hand” and estimates “around half a dozen times”.
Harding says Rupert and James Murdoch ”never raised a finger” to stop the TImes reporting on the phone-hacking scandal.
He says he wished the paper had reported on the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone sooner, but he had delayed publishing information to “get to grips” with the story.
Some quotes from the written witness statement of James Harding:
“There are, I suppose, two views of ethics in journalism, one encapsulated by a man who once worked for The Times, the other, who, sadly, didn’t. In ’The Quiet American’, Graham Greene suggests that reporters are all about getting the facts of the story, not about bending it or shaping it to a greater moral purpose. Thomas Fowler, the war-weary reporter, looks on at Alden Pyle, the young American idealist, and says: “Perhaps if I wanted to be understood or to understand, I would bamboozle myself into belief, but I am a reporter, God exists only for leader-writers.” On the other hand, Thomas Jefferson, who had his fair few grumbles about newspapers, saw a free press as itself a measure of an ethical society: “The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents. There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves, nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.”
“Journalists are right to consider whether they do their job properly. And we should reflect that generally we know too little, not too much. Did our readers get to know enough before we went to war in Iraq? Did we really get inside what was happening inside the banking system before it was too late? Why did we not fully understand the dysfunction in Downing Street over the last decade or, more recently, the trouble brewing on the streets of London until after the event.”
Harding says: “I don’t want my newsroom to spend more time reporting on itself rather than what’s going on elsewhere”.
Natalie Peck reports on Ian Hislop’s appearance this morning:
The editor of Private Eye has told the Leveson Inquiry he does not believe in a regulated press.
Ian Hislop, who gave evidence this morning, said papers should obey the law and be accountable to the public.
He said: “I do hope you’ll call some members of the public, and ask them why they bought the News of the World”.
Hislop said his magazine is “unique” and he did not want to be “tarred with the same brush” as Northern & Shell owner Richard Desmond.
He admitted it was “embarrassing” that Desmond’s publications were the only other papers not in the PCC. He said he could “reconsider” joining regulation if the body was to change but was against being forced into arbitration.
Hislop pointed out Private Eye publishes “two pages a week attacking individuals and newspapers” and he would not expect to get a “fair hearing” from fellow editors. He made it clear Private Eye worked in line with the PCC code, and the principles and ethics of journalism should be “self evident”.
He added Desmond was the “worst” example of a proprietor setting the agenda for his newspapers, and comments he made on ethics before Lord Justice Leveson should not be taken as a “rule of thumb” for the industry.
Hislop said press coverage of the inquiry had been selective, and journalists had not reported “critical” information about their publications.
The editor was also asked about public interest and gave the example of Sir Fred Goodwin, who took out an injunction to prevent details of an affair with a senior colleague, as a “grey area” that should be judged by editors. He said that any “reasonable editor” would not have thought it acceptable to “hack into a murdered girl’s phone”.
Hislop told the inquiry that he had been personally targeted by private investigator Steve Whittamore, who obtained numbers of his family and bank manager.
Jay asks Harding about the MPs’ expenses story, which the Times turned down.
He says: “There may have been a public interest defence in that case…you have to have a set of rules in a newsroom…and you have to be willing to break them if you are presented with a story overwhelming in the public interest”.
Harding says there is “no absolute right of privacy and no absolute right of freedom of expression” and judgements must be made on individual cases “on a sliding scale”.
Some quotes from Rupert Pennant-Rea’s witness statement, compiled by the six independent national directors of Times Newspapers:
“Without wishing to exaggerate the importance of our own role, we suspect that editors welcome protection against arbitrary pressure – whether that pressure comes from a powerful proprietor, the commercial interests of advertisers, an overheated public, disgruntled colleagues or a knee-jerk government. In that sense, Independent Trustees might also act as a useful sounding-board for an editor in the tricky decisions of taste and relevance he or she often has to make; and their presence might reassure politicians and the public that a crusading editor was not pursuing a purely personal agenda, but one that had been through a dispassionate filter.”
“Editors are used to being treated with the extremes of sycophancy or contempt; they seldom get candid advice from supportive friends.”
“In effect, such Trustees might come to act as mini-PCCs in each individual media organisation: without statutory powers, but with a brief to patrol the borders where press freedom, privacy and the public interest meet.”
James Harding, editor of the Times, is now on the stand.
He joined the paper in 2006 as business editor, having worked at the Financial Times since 1994.
Panuccio says she has seen of cash payments in the range of £30,000 to £40,000.
Some quotes from Tom Mockridge’s witness statements:
“In relation to The Times, I am aware of an incident in 2009 where there was a suspicion that a reporter on The Times might have gained unauthorised access to a computer, although the reporter in question denied it. I understand that that person was given a formal written warning as a result and that they were subsequently dismissed following an unrelated incident.”
“At paragraph 20,2 of my first witness statement I referred to a reporter at The Times who might have gained unauthorised access to a computer in 2009. At the date of my firstwitness statement, it was my understanding that the reporter in question had denied gaining such access. Following further enquiries, I now understand that the reporter in fact admitted the conduct during disciplinary proceedings, although he claimed that he was acting in the public interest. The journalist was disciplined as result, He was later dismissed from the business for an unrelated matter.”
Susan Panuccio, now giving evidence, is chief financial officer at News International. She joined the company in 2002.
Pennant-Rea calls the Times and Sunday Times coverage of the phone-hacking scandal “fearless”.
Rupert Pennant-Rea, chairman of the Economist Group, is now giving evidence.
Thomas Mockridge is the next witness.
He replaced Rebekah Brooks as News International chief executive last year. He was previously head of Sky Italia, and has held several positions under News Corp. He sits on the board of BSkyB.
Hislop mentions the injunction taken out by Sir Fred Goodwin, citing it as an example of the “grey areas” that can be defended as being in the public interest.
Hislop says that a new regulatory body must ensure media organisations are not “tried twice”.
Leveson points out that other professions are often subject to internal disciplinary action and legal action simultaneously.
Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, has been giving evidence this morning.
Bailey is discussing corporate governance and ethics at TMG.
She tells the inquiry she will consider including a conscience clause into employee contracts, but says no system will be completely “bomb proof”.
Bailey says it was a board decision to fire Piers Morgan following the hoax pictures published in the Mirror in 2004.
She says the board lost confidence in Morgan as an editor, and it was this rather than the photographs themselves that caused him to lose his job.
Sly Bailey has been CEO at Trinity Mirror since 2003 and sits on the Press Association Board. She was previously chief executive of AOL Time Warner’s IPC Media Group and has worked in advertising sales for the Guardian and the Independent. Bailey launched an investigation at Mirror Group newspapers following phone hacking allegations in 2011.
Embley has finished. Sly Bailey, Trinity Mirror CEO, is up after a short break.
Embley says the Palace has expressed concern over pictures taken of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and there are certain photographs not published by the People that have been picked up by other UK papers and publications overseas.
Embley notes that People’s picture editor has submitted a statement to the inquiry.
He adds: “Every week there are two, three, four, five sets of pictures that are ruled out simply on e grounds of intrusion”.
Embley points out that the People became politically independent under his editorship, a choice that the Trinity Mirror CEO was “completely supportive of from the start”.
He says he has “infrequent” meetings with politicians including David Cameron.
Embley says he does not believe any hacking has occurred at the People.
He adds: “I’ve never seen anyone hack a telephone, I’ve never heard anyone else ask anyone to hack a telephone”.
Embley addresses the inaccurate story on Charlotte Church with the headline “Marryoake”.
He points out that proceedings are active, as Church is seeking damages of up to £100,000.
He jokes the money is “presumably the £100,000 she didn’t get from Mr Mudoch’s birthday party [for singing]“.
Penman has finished giving evidence. Lloyd Embley, editor of the People, is now on the stand.
He previously worked at the Daily Mirror as night editor and assistant editor.
Penman explains the type of investigatory work he does for the Mirror, and how prior notification affects this.
He says he generally does contact subjects of stories, but in some cases it can alert “crooks and fraudsters” and so is fearful of prior notification becoming compulsory.
Weaver has finished. Andrew Penman, investigations editor at the Daily Mirror, is now giving evidence.
Penman co-writes the weekly “Penman and Sommerlad” column with reporter Nick Sommerlad. The pair were awarded the Cudlipp Award for campaigning popular journalism at the 2010 British Press Awards. The column began in 1997 as “Sorted”.
Barr raises the interaction between reporter Nick Owens and filmmaker Chris Atkins.
Atkins approached Owens with a fake celebrity story involving medical records, when filming undercover for Starsuckers.
Owens will give evidence before the inquiry at a later date, when unedited tapes from the film have been reviewed.
Weaver says she was away on holiday during initial reporting on Chris Jefferies, following his arrest in 2010.
The paper apologised for an article stating that Jefferies’s favourite poem was Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’. Weaver says she realises there was an “issue” with the story.
Weaver gives the example of a story on bailiffs and treatment of debtors for using subterfuge in the public interest. She says information came from a whistleblower who approached the paper.
Weaver says she “wrestled with the competing tensions” over the Rio Ferdinand story.
She adds although everyone is entitled to a private life, the interpretation of what is in the public interest is “too narrow”.
She says that “a series of injunctions that rained down on us like confetti from rich and powerful men” last year.
Weaver resumes giving evidence. Barr asks about the paper’s relationship with the police.
The editor says she has had lunch with Ian Blair once but not any of his successors. She adds that the crime correspondent may have dealings with senior police.
Break for lunch. Weaver will continue giving evidence later this afternoon.
Barr says the ICO table shows 143 transactions between Whittamore and 25 Sunday Mirror journalists.
Weaver says she is not aware of phone-hacking at the Sunday Mirror, or Daily Mirror and the People.
She says claims made by BBC Newsnight in 2011, that hacking went on at her paper, are unsubstantiated.
Leveson tells the inquiry that statutory regulation and self-regulation are not binary concepts.
Weaver is discussing the future of regulation and says the PCC needs teeth, but is an effective mediator.
Wallace has finished. Tina Weaver, editor of the Sunday Mirror, is up now.
Weaver has edited the paper since 2001. She has previously worked for the Sunday People, Daily Mirror and Today. She was responsible for the Mirror’s Saturday “M” magazine and was appointed to the Press Complaints Commission in 2008.
Wallace apologises to Chris Jefferies and his friends and family. He says that the Mirror’s coverage is a “black mark” on his editing record.
Wallace believes the Mirror stopped using Whittamore in August 2004 but says other private investigators may have been commissioned by journalists until 2011.
Wallace addresses example raised by Sienna Miller in her evidence. The actress claimed the Mirror incorrectly portrayed her as being drunk at an event. She said a picture accompanying the story had been cropped to exclude child she was playing with.
He says the paper made a mistake in using one source for the story, and it was his editorial decision not to include the child in the picture as the paper did not have permission.
Wallace does not believe the Mirror has asked for names of journalists from Operation Motorman investigation, offered by ICO in 2009.
The ‘What Price Privacy Now?’ report revealed 681 transactions involving 45 Mirror journalists.
Wallace tells the inquiry that Rupert Murdoch “has so much power” because “we choose to give it to him” and says not all of the press are as close to politicians as News International.
Wallace describes Sir Paul Stephenson, former chief constable of the Metropolitan Police, as a “coppers’ copper” and that he did not seek to influence Mirror coverage. He says they met for dinner four of five times to discuss police operations.
He says politicians often try to “influence the message” of the press, but Tony Blair was more likely to “go with the flow”. He adds: “I think Mr Cameron views us as a lost cause”.
Wallace explains the problem with social media goes “beyond the press” and poses greater challenge to the law.
He puts forward kitemarking system for “legitimate bloggers” and online news sources but advocates freedom of expression online.
Wallace is keen for serving editors to perform an “advisory” role in reformed regulation. He put forward a body made up of former editors and lawyers.
He commends the PCC for “fast [and] efficient” mediation system that services the public.
Wallace admits the Mirror has made “mistakes” but aims to settle libel and privacy disputes before proceedings take place.
He says he has broken the code in the past although it was not his “intention” to do so, and he does not believe the paper has fallen foul of the law under his editorship.
Wallace claims 15 percent of Mirror readers are from ethnic minorities, the highest from the tabloid mid-market.
He says this is due to a tradition of “justice and fairness” of the paper.
Wallace tells the inquiry that phone-hacking “might well have been” going on at Mirror showbiz desk, but not to his knowledge.
Richard Wallace is up first. He became editor of the Daily Mirror in 2004, replacing Piers Morgan. He has worked for the paper since 1990 as showbiz editor and head of news and created the popular “The 3AM Girls” gossip column. He was deputy editor of the Sunday Mirror from 2003 to 2004 and has worked for the Daily Mail and the Sun.
Good morning. Sly Bailey, Lloyd Embley, Nick Owens, Andrew Penman, Richard Wallace and Tina Weaver from Trinity Mirror appearing before Leveson today.
Jay accuses Desmond of making a “grotesque characterisation” of the McCanns, as he says it took a long time for the family to get involved in legal dispute with the press.
Jay says there is no comparison between the death of Princess Diana and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Desmond says it has been alleged that the royal family were behind Diana’s death. He apologises again to the McCanns but says there “are views” on what happened.
Desmond says that the body replacing the PCC should “ban biscuits”.
Leveson asks what the suggested “RCD” board stands for. Desmond replies: “Richard Clive Desmond!”
Desmond says: “Everybody was interested in the McCanns, and everybody had a view on the McCanns”.
He adds newspaper editors “have to believe” that circulation goes up with big stories, countering Peter Hill’s claims about boosts when running stories on the McCanns.
He tells Leveson: “This inquiry is probably the worst thing that’s happened to newspapers in my lifetime”.
Interesting quotes from Peter Hill’s written statement to the inquiry:
“It is sometimes easy to get carried away with stories because of the public interest.
There are times when the interest of the public is insatiable, for example the story of Ian Huntley abducting Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.”
“Sometimes it is difficult to balance the family interest against the genuine demand for knowledge in a story. In those situations, I tried to make sure that the paper did not intrude too closely into any private grief, but sometimes this was unavoidable.”
Richard Desmond takes the witness stand.
Desmond is owner of Northern & Shell. He founded the company in 1974 and acquired Express Newspapers in 2000, which also publishes OK!, New and Star magazines.
Paul Ashford, group editorial director of Northern & Shell now giving evidence.
Ashford has been group editorial director of Northern & Shell since 1989. He joined the group in 1979 and has held positions of executive editor and managing editor. He took over the majority of Channel 5’s programming in 2010.
Hill says he was not “obsessed” with the McCann story, as suggested by former Express reporter Nick Fagge.
He says: “It was more to do with a method of working”.
Jay questions Hill over the Express’s coverage of the McCanns.
Hill says: “I felt that the stories should be published…reason to believe that they might possibly be true.”
Hill objects to Jay’s line of questioning and says he is giving evidence at a public inquiry and is not “on trial”.
Hill tells the inquiry it was his decision to switch the paper to supporting the Conservative Party in 2005. Richard Desmond accepted it was the “appropriate thing to do”, despite being a supporter of Tony Blair.
Hill says the decision to support Labour had cost the paper ”an enormous number of readers who had abandoned it in despair”.
Peter Hill is a former editor of the Express, leaving the paper February 2011. He was employed by the Daily Star in 1978, becoming editor in 1998, and has also worked for the People, Mirror and Daily Telegraph.
Peter Hill, former editor of the Daily Express, is giving evidence.
He tells the inquiry that Express Newspapers did not like the way the PCC was being run by various individuals, and decided to withdrawn in January 2011.
He added that it used to be a “convention” that people would not sue once they had been to the PCC, but this changed.
Natalie Peck reports on Hugh Whittow’s evidence from this morning’s session:
“A national newspaper editor has claimed harm caused by defamatory articles published in his paper could have been prevented if the Press Complaints Commission had stepped in.
Hugh Whittow, editor of the Daily Express, told the Leveson Inquiry press coverage of the McCanns was allowed to “go on and on”.
He added: “I feel perhaps they should have intervened…everybody had too much leeway”.
Whittow said it was one reason behind Northern & Shell’s decision to pull out of the PCC in January 2011. The publishers stopped paying into the commission’s fund a month before Hugh Whittow took over as editor.
Robert Jay, counsel to the inquiry, appeared surprised when asking Whittow whether he believed the PCC had let down the Express. He added: “Have you got some better reasons for leaving the PCC?”
Whittow replied: “I don’t blame the PCC, I just think in hindsight they might have been able to intervene and perhaps this will reflect in the body that you set up”.
Express Newspapers was ordered to pay £550,000 to the McCanns in 2008 after articles were published by group titles, including the Express and the Star, alleging Kate and Gerry McCann were responsible for the death of daughter Madeline.
Friends of the McCanns, with the family when Madeline went missing, received a £375,000 libel payout from the group later that year.
Dawn Neesom, editor of the Daily Star, who gave evidence before Whittow, told the inquiry that running the story was a “risk” and said: “I regret what happened in the McCann case and all I can do is repeat the apology on page one for the hurt and distress we caused them”.”
Interesting claim from Hugh Whittow. He just told the inquiry:
“I will not publish anything unless I’m confident it’s accurate and I will never break the law intentionally.”
Whittow seems to be blaming the PCC for not stopping him from publishing damaging articles about the McCanns.
Jay asks: “Do you have some better reasons for leaving the PCC or not?”
Whittow: “I think it’s better if others answer those questions because I was not editor at the time.”
Natalie Peck reports on Daily Star editor Dawn Neesom’s evidence:
“The editor of the Daily Star admitted sometimes headlines “go too far” at the Leveson Inquiry today.
Dawn Neesom, who has edited the paper since 2003, was presented with front-page stories from the paper, including “Telly king Cowell is dead” and “Terror as plane hits ashcloud”.
She claimed to be unaware that the latter was removed from sale at airports in 2010. Neesom agreed that the story was “overegging the pudding” and could have been interpreted as reporting a real event. The headline actually referred to a fictional event portrayed on a television programme.
Neesom was also questioned on the article “English Defence League to Become Political Party”, claiming the story had been run due to concern about the EDL from the paper’s “Jewish-owned company”.
The editor also said she would provide the inquiry with pro-Islamic stories published in the Star, after it was put to her that the paper had an anti-Islamic agenda. She added: “We are not biased against Muslims”.
She described the Star as a “young tabloid” that relied on “eye catching” front pages to sell copies, and said the paper had a “certain style of writing which appeals to the readers”. She answered questions on the paper’s coverage of Chris Jefferies and the McCann family. An apology issued to the McCanns apology was printed on the front pages of the Star and Express in 2008.
Robert Jay QC asked the editor about the Star’s coverage of Katie Price, after former reporter Richard Peppiatt told the inquiry that the paper was “obsessed” with the glamour model.
She said: “I’ve known Kate since she was 17… believe me, she doesn’t need any help embroidering her life. She does that for herself.”
Neesom told Lord Justice Leveson that it was a “dangerous area” to have editors on a self-regulatory panel because of personal agendas.
She said the judge was “far more intelligent” her and added : “I know you’re going to come up with something very good”.”
Editor of the Daily Express Hugh Whittow is the next witness.
Whittow is the editor of the Daily Express, taking over the role from Peter Hill in 2011. He was editor of the Daily Star Sunday when it launched in 2002 and is a former deputy editor of the Daily Star.
Some quotes from Nicole Patterson’s written evidence to the inquiry:
“As I understand the system for commissioning of, and payment of, external providers,
any story of interest in editorial meetings will be followed up by the commissioning editor who will instruct an in-house reporter to write and research the story or they may instruct a freelance reporter to write the story. The reporter may instruct a search agency to find any contact details that he or she may need in order to interview a subject or to do further research on the story.”
“Each Editor is responsible for their own employees, and they all work within the Editor’s Code of Practice, the Press Complaints Commission Code and their own ethical and commercial practices.”
“I do not consider that Express Newspapers has been complacent in light of the phone
hacking scandal. There is certainly a deep awareness of the issues. We simply do not
have the budgets to carry out such methods of investigative journalism, nor would we
consider doing so.”
Interesting revelation that Express and Star newspapers were using the services of convicted private investigator Steve Whittamore until 2010. Natalie Peck reports:
“Express and Star newspapers were still using the services of a private investigator until 2010, the Leveson Inquiry heard today.
Nicole Patterson, head of legal at the group, was questioned over invoices from J.J. Services, a company run by Steve Whittamore.
She told inquiry counsel Robert Jay she did not know whether Whittamore, found guilty of obtaining and disclosing information under the Data Protection Act in 2005, was still used by her newspapers.
Jay said this was surprising, given the “cloud hanging over” the private investigator.
The documents shown in court mentioned celebrities including Charlotte Church, Davina MacCall, and the late Jade Goody. Patterson said the invoices had been reviewed but it was “impossible to marry up a story with a source” in most cases.
They also showed a project under the name “Rothermere”.
The inquiry heard that payments made to J.J. Services ranged from £176 to £2687. Patterson said the total amount spent on information services from 2000 to 2010 was £115,000, and payments for “basic computer searches for names and addresses” were “very small amounts for very little work”.
She added: “More often than not it was £75, £80, £100. It’s very little money compared to our total spend.”
Patterson told the inquiry that Express titles had used Whittamore about 65 times, and the Star four times.
Express Newspapers launched an internal investigation into phone-hacking and “blagging” in 2011. Patterson said she had seen “no evidence” to suggest phone-hacking had taken place.”
Daily Star news editor Dawn Neesom now up.
Neesom is editor of the Daily Star, taking over from Peter Hill in 2003. She was previously in charge of the paper’s features department. She has worked for the Sun and Woman’s Own.
Patterson says there is “no evidence” to suggest phone-hacking took place at Express Newspapers, going back to 2000 when Northern & Shell purchased the group.
She is unaware whether Steve Whittamore’s company, JJ Services, is being used.
Good morning. Nicole Patterson, head of legal at Express Newspapers, is up first.
Natalie Peck reports on Liz Hartley’s evidence:
The editor of the Daily Mail was one of the people responsible for a statement accusing a celebrity of “mendacious smears” against the paper, heard the Leveson Inquiry.
Paul Dacre, who is on holiday this month and giving evidence to the inquiry on February 6, was one of several members of Associated News staff who compiled the statement in November 2011, according to Associated News head of legal Liz Hartley.
The statement rebutted allegations made by Grant that the Mail on Sunday hacked his phone and stated: ”Mr Grant’s allegations are mendacious smears driven by his hatred of the media”. Grant’s solicitor David Sherborne accused the paper of issuing “a personal attack” on the actor, after it was published in the Daily Mail.
The Mail on Sunday printed an article in 2007, alleging the breakdown of Grant’s relationship with Jemima Khan, claiming that phone calls to a “plummy-voiced woman” were to blame. According the the paper, the story came from “a freelance journalist who had been told by a source who was regularly speaking to Jemima Khan.”
Grant told the inquiry: “I cannot for the life of me think of any conceivable source for the story in the Mail on Sunday except those voice messages on my mobile phone.”
Associated News also countered claims that details regarding the birth of Grant’s daughter had been obtained from a hospital source. “In fact the information came from a source in his showbusiness circle,” said a separate statement, which added: ”We did not publish anything until Grant’s publicist issued a statement describing the baby as the product of a ‘fleeting affair’.”
Jay asks Liz Hartley about choosing Associted News representatives to see ICO evidence last year, including John Wellington. he said:
“I thought it was important that people went who understood the documentation…I regard him as a man of great integrity.”
Liz Hartley talks about an injuntion application made by Elton John against the Daily Mail. He was photographed on the street outside his house.
Eady J ruled that John had no reasonable expectation of privacy and injunction was not granted.
Associated Newspaper’s Liz Hartley now giving evidence.
Hartley is head of legal services at Associated News. She was formerly head of Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP’s media litigation group, before moving to AN in 2008. Hartley – along with Peter Wright, also giving evidence today – appeared before the Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions in December 2011 to discuss press regulation.
Leveson asks: “Why shouldn’t [The PCC] listen to third party complaints?”
Wright points to the example of Stephen Gately. The PCC approached his family over complaints about an article written by Jan Moir for the Daily Mail.
Peter Wright tells the inquiry “there’s a proposal that membership of the PCC should be put on a contractual basis.”
On press regulation Wright says:
“I think there is a strong indication that all major publishers will join a reformed PCC.”
He adds: ”How you get Private Eye in I’m not sure.”
Jay questions Wright again over Whittamore, pointing out that he was still working for the paper after being arrested and charged. The editor admits he was used by only in a “small number of cases” and says:
“The use of him became a lot last frequent after February 2004.”
Wright says: “I’ve seen how changes in technology and people’s habits can newspapers…into loss-making, struggling businesses.”
He adds that he will continue to “produce the sort of journalism that he wants to produce”.
Back with Wright’s evidence now.
Wright had to answer quite a few questions on Operation Motorman. Natalie Peck reports:
“The editor of the Mail on Sunday “rebuked” the newspaper’s managing editor for not telling him about the use of “inquiry agents”.
Editor Peter Wright answered questions on private investigator Steve Whittamore at the Leveson Inquiry today.
Wright told the inquiry he rebuked managing editor John Wellington because he had been filing invoices for the use of “inquiry agents” as accommodation expenses.
Robert Jay, the inquiry counsel, pointed out that even after Wright knew Wellington had been concealing the use of private eyes, he was sent by Wright to examine evidence produced by the Information Commissioner’s Office on Operation Motorman last year, and might have been “overanxious” to check it.
Wright said Wellington was not someone “who deliberately hides things” and it had not been suspected that Whittamore was engaged in illegal activities.
A 2006 ICO report showed 266 transactions for allegedly illegally-obtained information between Whittamore and the Mail on Sunday, who was commissioned by 33 journalists.
In his statement to the inquiry Wright said that he wasn’t aware of the practice until Operation Motorman, when he imposed restrictions. Whittamore continued to work for the paper until late 2004, following his arrest in 2003. He was paid a total of £20,000.
Leveson told Wright: “[There was] something going on in your newsroom that you clearly weren’t aware of”.
Wright pointed out that Whittamore, found guilty of obtaining and disclosing information under the Data Protection Act in 2005, may not have been commissioned for all the data he supplied to journalists. He said journalists may have been offered some of the data by the investigator.
He also said he had “absolutely no evidence” to suggest phone-hacking had taken place at the paper.”
We’re still on lunch break and will return shortly to hear more from Peter Wright, editor of Mail on Sunday.
Natalie Peck reports on Mail’s picture editor Paul Silva’s evidence to Leveson:
“The picture editor at the Daily Mail appeared before the Leveson Inquiry today to answer questions on the alleged harassment of Hugh Grant.
In November, Grant gave the inquiry a supplementary witness statement, explaining the intrusion he and Tinglan Hong, the mother of his baby daughter, had suffered at the hands of photographers following the birth.
Paul Silva, who has worked for the Daily Mail for over 20 years, suggested Grant should have issued a picture of the child to the press and that interest in the birth was “normal”.
Silva answered questions on the treatment of other celebrities including Sienna Miller, who he said the Mail were not “interested in”, and Pippa Middleton. He said the picture desk receives 300 to 400 images of Middleton every day and most are not printed.
He was asked about pictures taken of the McCann family after they returned to the UK in 2007. He said consent had been given to photograph twins Sean and Amelia, aged two when Madeline was abducted, in Portugal and paparazzi continued under this premise when stationed outside the family’s home in Leicestershire.
Silva said the Mail receives over 30,000 images from around the world everyday and has to make quick decisions over which pictures to print in the paper. He explained his approach to privacy, saying that pictures should not be taken in private places but were acceptable in public.
Leveson replied: “I understand where the line is drawn, the question is whether it’s reasonably drawn.”
The picture editor said he does not deal with pictures for Mail Online, which has come under criticism for using intrusive paparazzi photographs, but picture editor Elliot Wagland follows the same standards as the print edition.”
A few quotes from Peter Wright’s witness statement:
“The use of inquiry agents came into our newsroom at a grass-roots level, having spread, I now believe, from the City and the legal profession…Payments to inquiry agencies for research and information were classed with payments for taxis, flights, accommodation etc and were monitored by our Managing Editor. I rebuked him for failing to alert me to the practice of employing inquiry agents.”
“Early in 2004 we discovered from the Operation Motorman inquiry that we were regularly using the services of the inquiry agent, Steven Whittamore. We issued an instruction to all staff in February that year that inquiry agents were not to be used without clearance from department heads, who had to be satisfied that other means of obtaining information had been exhausted.”
“We were approached by a member of the public who had heard that Lord Mandelson had bought an £8million house in an exclusive area of London. We considered it a matter of considerable public interest that he was able to afford such an expensive house within little more than a year of leaving office…Lord Mandelson has complained to the PCC and we will fight the case vigorously. It would have been possible for The Mail on Sunday to have published the article without a photograph of the house, but that would ignore the realities of journalism.”
Peter Wright, editor of Mail on Sunday now giving evidence.
Wright has been the editor of the Mail on Sunday since 1998. He started working for the Daily Mail in 1979 and has held positions of Femail editor, features editor and deputy editor. He sits on the Press Complaints Comission. Under his leadership the Mail on Sunday led the “Sachsgate” coverage, and launched talked-about campaign where the paper gave away a new Prince CD for free.
Silva has now finished giving evidence.
Silva is questioned over photographs of the McCann family. He says that photographers were allowed to stand outside the family’s home in the UK and take pictures.
He adds: “It was the most intense story I’ve ever worked on.”
Jay asks whether pictures of the McCann’s twins, used in the Daily Mail, usurped the paper’s own code on using pictures of children. Silva says that pictures were taken of the whole family in Portugal with no objections.
Jay brings up the case of Hugh Grant and the recent birth of his child. A Mail photographer was sent to the house of Tinglan Hong, the mother.
“The purpose of going to the house was to get a close-up photo of Hugh with baby, or mother.”
He suggests that Grant should have issued a photograph to the press.
Jay puts it to him that this is a personal decision regarding a private matter, and that history suggests Grant would say no to this. Silva disagrees.
Jay points out examples from the Mail Online; long lens pictures of Simon Cowell on a yacht and pictures of Sandra Bullock with her son and son’s friend.
Silva said he will comment but does not provide pictures for the online section of the Mail, so is not responsible.
Silva tells the inquiry that the Daily Mail is “not interested” in Sienna Miller, and prefer to feature other celebrities. He gives Kate Winslet as an example.
Jay questions Silva over paparazzi pictures taken of celebrities on holiday or out with their children. Silva says that pictures from holidays shouldn’t be used if they are on private grounds such as a hotel or private beach.
He also says that he is “careful” with pictures of celebrities’ children and will pixilate faces or crop them out of photographs.
Leveson asks whether there should be a system to protect those in the public eye who do not court attention. He suggests an approach where the press as a whole could be notified of this.
Silva explains that paparazzi photographers and agencies have been questioned more over the past three of four years over how pictures are taken. He puts this down to a “change in culture” and says:
“I always want to satisfy myself that [pictures] are taken in the proper way.”
Silva tells the inquiry that the Daily Mail receives over 30,000 images from around the world every day. He is questioned by Jay on the divide between public and private places regarding paparazzi photographers.
Leveson says: ”I understand where the line is drawn, the question is whether it’s reasonably drawn.”
Paul Silva, Daily Mail picture editor, is up first. He is a last minute addition to the witness line-up today.
John Caplan QC, representing Associated News, is keen to point out that the organisation is not at fault for this oversight.
We are back at the Leveson Inquiry on Wed 11 Jan. Leveson addresses two points – firstly that his statements yesterday on press regulation should be taken as testing possibilites rather than “emerging findings”. He also expresses concern over Kelvin MacKenzie’s speculation over the credibility of another witness.
We’ll be back tomorrow, from 10am, with Liz Hartley, head of editorial legal at Associated Newspapers, and Peter Wright, Mail on Sunday editor.
A couple of quotes from Murdoch McLennan’s written evidence to the inquiry. McLennan is CEO of the Telegraph Media Group:
“A newspaper performs a watchdog role in society, and from time to time we have to push hard at the boundaries where we are in pursuit of the public interest: exposing a crime or serious misdemeanour as we did in the case of MPs’ expenses.”
“It is important to understand the division between the newspaper’s commercial and editorial teams. It is a ‘church and state’ relationship, at the heart of which lies editorial independence.”
Natalie Peck reports on the debate around regulation on today’s Leveson hearing:
“Lord Justice Leveson revealed his personal feelings on press reform today, telling the inquiry he “would be surprised if government regulation ever even entered my mind”.
The judge was speaking to TMG chief executive Murdoch MacLennan, who gave oral evidence to the inquiry. MacLennan had expressed concern over the affordability of future regulation, especially in regard to privacy and libel actions.
Leveson also expressed his desire for change, telling the inquiry that he does not wish his eventual report to be something “everybody likes or rubbishes” and that ends up just sitting “on a shelf”.
The inquiry also heard from Financial Times editor Lionel Barber, who put forward ideas on independent regulation. He advocated a regulatory body with new powers – including the power to investigate – that would ensure compliance from all newspapers and some online organisations.
He said “for too long, the PCC was dominated by insiders”, adding that “outsiders”, including experienced journalists and other professionals, should have a seat on the body.
Barber expressed relief when Leveson said he was not interested in setting up a body “full of lawyers” but was interested in a low-cost libel mediation system.
Both MacLennan and Barber confirmed that PCC chairman Lord Hunt is consulting newspapers over press reform and plans to announce his suggestions before the inquiry ends later this year.”
Will Lewis has finished giving evidence. Editor of the Daily Telegraph, Tony Gallagher, now up.
Gallagher has been editor of the Daily Telegraph since 2009, working as deputy editor on the paper 2007-2009. He was previously news editor for the Daily Mail and has worked for the Today programme. Gallagher was credited with the Telegraph’s coverage of the MPs’ expenses scandal.
Some quotes from Will Lewis’ written witness statement:
“To the best of my knowledge, the answer to this question is “Yes, in all but a handful of minor instances.” Most complaints to the PCC were resolved without the need for a ruling. Of those complaints that were adjudicated, almost all (85%) related to alleged breaches of Clause 1 of the PCC’s Editors’ Code of Practice, which concerns Accuracy.”
“I recall one occasion when a journalist was accused of a technical breach of electoral law in the reporting of a by-election. He was suspended immediately. The matter went no further, but upon returning fi’om suspension, he was warned about his future conduct. I can recall no other occasion on which a member of staff was accused of unlawful conduct during my tenure as Editor and Editor-in-Chief.”
“A sum in the order of £150,000 (the precise figure can no doubt be obtained from TMG) was paid to John Wick in connection with the DT’s investigation into MPs’ expenses. Mr Wick could be described as a private investigator, although I believe he prefers to describe himself as an intelligence expert and security consultant (he has a background in the armed forces). In any case, Mr Wick’s involvement in the MPs’ expenses investigation was limited to that of conduit between the DT and the ultimate source of the information upon which the investigation was based. He was not engaged to investigate any individual or organisation.”
Will Lewis defending passionately his decision to publish the MPs expenses story.
He said: “Ultimately I was obliged… to bring this profound wrongdoing at the heart of the House of Commons into the public domain…”
Associated Newspapers judicial review on Leveson’s anonymity for journalists ruling will be heard on Friday, January 13.
Brian Cathcart, co-founder of the Hacked Off campaign, comments on Associated Newspapers’ hypocrisy:
“The Daily Mail is going to court on Friday to press its case that the Leveson Inquiry should be barred from taking evidence from anonymous witnesses on the grounds that this is a departure from natural justice.
Here are four ways in which the paper is being hypocritical.
Hyprocrisy 1. Imagine this was a public inquiry into gross failures at a leading bank and well-placed witnesses offered to give evidence anonymously because they thought their careers would be damaged if they were named. The bank, however, has objected and demanded that all witnesses be named.
In those circumstances, whose side would the Mail be on? My bet is that it would lambast any bank that behaved in this way. It would accuse it of bullying and intimidation and call on the courts to reject its case out of hand.
Yet when it comes to anonymous whistleblowers in its own industry, the Mail is on the side of the intimidators. (It may be worth recalling that the Mail is an intimidator itself when it chooses: ask anybody it has monstered in its pages.)
Hypocrisy 2. Like almost every organisation in the news business, the Mail itself relies sometimes on anonymous sources.
In public interest journalism these are people who have important information to share but have good reason to fear being identified. In such cases a responsible journalist will often agree not to name them as sources in an article, and sometimes should even be prepared to go to jail rather than breach that anonymity.
No doubt Daily Mail journalists occasionally find themselves in this position and no doubt their editor stands by them in protecting anonymous sources. Now, however, in a case where a legally-constituted public inquiry wants to adopt a similar approach, the paper wants to deny anonymity.
Hypocrisy 3. The Mail does not reserve anonymity in its reporting for public interest cases. It allows its reporters to grant anonymity pretty freely. Think of those “onlookers” who always have a marvellously pithy quote about celebrities photographed by paparazzi in the street (“She’s put on a lot of weight, hasn’t she? Must have been at the pies”). Those onlooker are always anonymous. I wonder why.
More significantly, take the Mail’s coverage of Christopher Jefferies at the time of his arrest a year ago (for a crime he did not commit). It would be wrong to repeat the many libels for which the Mail later apologised in open court and paid damages, but it is safe to say that the great majority of them were anonymous. Many false suggestions about Jefferies’s character and behaviour, some of them presented as quotations and some merely reported, were published without named sources.
Hypocrisy 4. The Mail is claiming that, if anonymous witnesses are allowed to testify before Leveson, the newspaper’s rights under the Human Rights Act would be breached. That right, the Daily Mail is using the Human Rights Act. Does Richard Littlejohn know?
The Mail complaining about anonymity is like a pornographer complaining about decency. It should be laughed out of court. But it is worse than that, because it is also intimidation. Who can doubt that the Mail’s real motivation here is to deter people who fear the paper’s huge power to destroy reputations from telling Leveson what they know?”
Former Telegraph editor William Lewis up now.
Lewis became the Telegraph’s youngest ever editor when he was appointed in 2006. He was later promoted to manage TMG’s digital businesses. In 2010 he was appointed general manager of all four News International newspaper titles. He previously worked as city editor and deputy editor at the Telegraph, and has been employed by the Mail on Sunday, Financial Times and Sunday Times. He won ‘Journalist of the Year’ at the 2009 British Press Awards for the MPs’ expenses scandal.
Murdoch MacLennan’s evidence over. Next witness is Finbarr Ronayne, Finance director of Telegraph Media Group since 2008.
He was previously the finance director at MGN for eight years.
We’re back for the afternoon session. Murdoch MacLennan, from the Telegraph, now up.
MacLennan is chief executive of the Telegraph Media Group. He was previously managing director of Associated News from 1994-2004. He has worked for the Mirror Group and Express Newspapers in a number of roles. In 2010 he became chairman of PA and is vice-chairman of the World Association of Newspapers.
Natalie Peck reports on editor Chris Blackhurst’s statement that Johann Hari will return to the Independent shortly:
“Johann Hari will return to the Independent as a columnist in “four to five weeks”, according to editor Chris Blackhurst.
He told the Leveson Inquiry that everything written by Hari will be “heavily looked at” by editorial staff and members of the public, and that he will no longer interview individuals for the paper.
The disgraced journalist will return to the publication after four months of unpaid leave and a self-funded trip to study ethics at universities Columbia and NYU in New York.
It was discovered last year that Hari had been fabricating details of interviews, including lifting quotes from other interviews and work published by his subjects, and editing profiles of professional rivals on Wikipedia.
“He should have known what he was doing was wrong but nobody told him,” said Blackhurst. “In terms of plagiarism it wasn’t as stark and severe as the Jayson Blair case. He wasn’t fabricating hard news as far as I was aware.”
He described the “shock” caused by the scandal on Independent staff and the impact on the paper’s reputation but said: “I don’t think we covered it up at all”. He added “nobody had complained” to the paper before Hari’s actions were outed by several bloggers and online commentators.
An internal investigation into Hari’s conduct was carried out by Independent founding editor Andres Whittam Smith but will not be made available to the public as it is considered to be a disciplinary review.
Blackhurst pointed out that he had only been appointed as editor of the Independent two days before Hari’s plagiarism allegations were made public, moving from the Evening Standard where he had been city editor since 2002.”
After quick evidence from Manish Malhotra, it’s now Chris Blackhurst’s turn.
Blackhurst became editor of the Independent in 2011, replacing Simon Kelner. He has also held positions as deputy editor of the Independent, deputy editor of the Express and city editor of the Evening Standard. He worked for the Sunday Times’s Insight team in the 1990 after training in law at Cambridge. He was named Business Journalist of the Year at the 2011 London Press Club awards.
Very quick evidence from Andrew Mullins. He addressed the Johann Hari case very briefly, hinting that Chris Blackhurst, who will be up soon, might talk about that instead.
Manish Malhotra, the finance director and company secretary for IPL (Independent and Evening Standard included), now giving evidence.
Andrew Mullins, from The Independent, now up.
He has been managing director of Independent since 2010, and managing director of the Evening Standard. Mullins, who previously held a senior role at News International before joining the London Evening Standard, has also joined the board of Independent Print Ltd.
Barber tells the inquiry that libel is the one area that “concerns” him the most. He says every time his journalists write about certain individuals, London lawyers (especially one law firm) send threatening letters.
Barber tells Leveson: “The public needs to feel that the press…is accountable and can say in public why it considers its journalism to be robust, following certain standards.”
He adds that a “strong culture” is the starting point for an accountable publication.
Barber tells Leveson: “I would not pass a law or any statutory form of compliance because I’m against that.”
“For too long the PCC has been dominated by insiders… We need to have some outsiders.”
From Barber’s written witness statement to the inquiry:
“Accountability for the FT’s journalism and practices takes place every day, not as part of one-off reviews or such like.”
“The aim of a journalist must be to supply the public with solid, reliable information and to gather that information in a professional manner.”
“Naturally, journalists will entertain their sources, for example over lunch, dinner, a drink or even by taking them to an event – for the purpose of developing a relationship.”
“Privacy issues do not arise in the same way that they do on other titles. I like to think that when they do arise we impose a higher bar than what might even be permitted by the public interest. I can recall instances where we have been in possession about an individual’s private life and decided not to publish it because it was, quite frankly, unrelated to our general coverage.”
“Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s alleged rape of a Manhattan hotel maid was certainly a story in the public interest – this related not to an affair, but to a serious criminal allegation against the head of the IMF. These are representative examples of where individual’s private lives are in our view matters of public interest, since they unavoidably raise questions about an individual’s judgment and professional conduct.”
Natalie Peck reports on Lionel Barber’s oral evidence to the inquiry:
“Financial Times editor Lionel Barber has said the PCC failed to enforce its code during the phone hacking scandal.
Barber, appointed as editor in 2005, was questioned over the code and internal Financial Times standards at the Leveson Inquiry.
He went on to say that the code must be seen to be credible and in the case of phone-hacking this clearly had not happened – and it was a matter to be discussed between editors.
He added the code needs to be “enforced before it is substantially amended”.
Barber was also asked about internal procedure within the Financial Times and explained how staff must confirm they have read the FT code and sign an investment register.
He said that it was “fundamental” that the paper upheld the “highest standards” of journalism to maintain the trust of readers, firmly stated: “Financial Times journalists do not break the law”.
He added: “We are making sure that we are not in any way conflicted or behaving unethically.”
Barber explained that although the Financial Times is focused on business and finance news, it was also interested in the “private lives” of others. He referenced a story broken by the paper last year that exposed António Horta-Osório, Lloyds Banking Group CEO, as suffering from stress.
The editor has worked for the Financial Times for over 26 years and has held several positions during this time including U.S. managing editor and Washington correspondent.”
FT’s Lionel Barber has just told the inquiry he “would rather be right than first”. He added it is the way the FT operated.
He said: “We don’t want to be first and get it wrong.”
He also told barrister Carine Patry-Hoskins, asking the questions, that he is quoted on that at the FT to “the point of being boring”.
Our very own Gavin Freeguard tweets:
Morning. It’s Tuesday, Jan 10, and we are back covering the Leveson Inquiry.
The editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber, is now giving evidence.
Barber was as appointed editor of the Financial Times in 2005. He held several positions at the paper before this, including U.S. managing editor, editor of the Continental Europe editor, news editor and Washington correspondent. Barber was Laurence Stern fellow at the Washington Post in 1985 and has worked for the Scotsman and Sunday Times. He has co-written several books including ‘The Price of Truth: Story of the Reuters Millions’. In 2011 he gave the Fulbright lecture on the future of news in the digital revolution.
We’ll be back at 10am tomorrow.
Mohan’s evidence over. Jay and Leveson just mentioning the other witness statements from The Sun to be put in the public domain.
Republishing, from earlier today:
“Labour MP Tom Watson tweeted earlier today a link to a New Statesman story, by their legal correspondent David Allen Green, about Dominic Mohan thanking Vodafone at the Shaftas (showbiz journalism’s most glamorous event) for the Mirror’s showbiz exclusives:
“I see the Sun editor, Dominic Mohan is before #leveson today. Will he mention vodafone?”
The upheld PCC complaint Dominic Mohan was just asked about here :
“Adjudication upheld against the Sun for inaccuracy and breaching the privacy of a young boy who was living as a girl, having passed on the child’s identity to a tv company. Adjudication not upheld for discrimination or harassment as it had not breached the code, and not upheld with regard to another couple who’s daughter had been misidentified by the article.”
Mohan says maybe he is being a little bit more cautious in publishing stories because of the Leveson Inquiry.
A few quotes from Mohan’s written witness statement:
“In October this year, a member of our online staff was sent a warning letter after publishing the wrong verdict in the Amanda Knox appeal against her convictions on The Sun’s website.”
“The Sun’s readers are also a great barometer and I pay close attention to their letters, phone calls and emails.”
“Corrections are never placed further back in the newspaper than the original article, except for those connected with page one stories where the correction is printed on page two.”
“Staff at a mass market tabloid newspaper like the Sun are constantly having to balance the public interest against an individual’s right to a private life.”
“The Sun is a powerful force for good. It has a strong moral compass and I am proud to be its Editor.”
“I believe that a sportsman who trades on a family image to secure sponsorship and commercial deals has a responsibility to behave in a certain way. Therefore it may be justifiable to expose that individual for indiscretions or lapses in their behaviour.”
“Private Investigators have been used in the past without the permission of the chief executive officer, but now there are new controls in place.”
Dominic Mohan just told the Leveson Inquiry The Sun is in discussions to appoint an ombudsman:
“Was having a discuassion with my senior executive recently about perhaps appointing an ombudsman.”
Kelvin MacKenzie had told the inquiry earlier that there was no need for an ombudsman in The Sun.
Natalie Peck reports on the oral evidence from royal editor Duncan Larcombe and pictures editor John Edwards, given this morning:
Duncan Larcombe has claimed that the Sun does not publish “more than fifty percent” of paparazzi photographs showing the royal family.
The evidence submitted by Larcombe, who has been royal editor at the Sun since 2011, included several examples of refusing pictures of the royals for publication.
He described a member of the public calling the Sun newdesk in 2009, claiming to have “explosive” pictures of Prince William and Kate Middleton. After asking for £25,000 the individual was arrested with the paper’s cooperation after it was discovered that the pictures were obtained from a camera stolen from Pippa Middleton.
Larcombe also said he checks exclusive stories about the royals “every time” with the palace or Clarence House press office to make sure they are “100 percent” right.
He added: “If we get royal stories wrong then readers may well be on the prince’s side rather than ours.”
The discussion over paparazzi pictures was continued in the evidence of John Edwards, the Sun’s picture editor, who told the inquiry that pictures of a heavily-pregnant Lily Allen shopping in London were not run in the paper after a discussion with the singer’s agent.
Edwards also mentioned the harassment of Hugh Grant and Tinglan Hong following the birth of their child last year, but claimed photographers working on behalf of the Sun left Hong’s house before a PCC letter was issued to the press.
Edwards went on to defend photographers, saying: “I do think paparazzi is not a great name – we all think of it as a nasty word – but they are effectively freelance photographers.”
Mohan will be giving evidence in about 15 minutes.
He is the current editor of the Sun, having replaced Rebekah Brooks in 2009. He joined the Sun as a reporter in 1996 was become editor of the paper’s Bizarre column two years later. He quickly moved through the ranks becoming associate features editor in 2004 and deputy editor in 2007. Mohan was previously employed at News of the Word and the Sunday Mirror, starting his career at the London News Service press agency in 1990.
Dominic Mohan, the current editor of The Sun, will be up giving oral evidence soon.
Walford: “Counsel can give advice, the editor can consider that advice or not consider that advice.”
We are back after a lunch break and Justin Walford now giving evidence.
Walford is editorial legal counsel at News Group Newspapers. He joined the organisation in 2005 as deputy legal manager. He works under Simon Toms, News International’s director of legal affairs (who will provide written evidence at the inquiry today) and, until last year, former legal manager Tom Crone. Walford has previously worked for Express Newspapers as an in-house legal advisor covering the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday. He works alongside solicitor Ben Beabey.
A few more Kelvin MacKenzie pearls, courtesy of his written witness statement to the inquiry:
“Journalism is not a profession. There aren’t professional bodies, exams or the like. It’s a trade.”
“The dictionary defintion of ehtics is; the philosophical study of the moral value of human conduct and the rules and principles that ought to govern it. They were not issues I bothered with. I do hope that this inquiry is not seeking to impose them on print journalism – that would be bloody funny to watch.”
“One of the attractions of your morning paper is that it contains stuff you didn’t know when you went to bed. It’s not like television where they can roll out any old nonsense as long as it has video to go with it.”
From Sun’s picture editor John Edwards’ written witness statement, examples of pics turned down:
“Victoria Beckham attending a medical appointment; Prince Harry partying in the US; Fabio Capello on holiday; the children of Holly Willoughby; and Gordon Brown shopping with his children.”
From Gordon Smart’s written witness statement:
On picture taken of band at wake: “After careful consideration I decided the story of their reunion was such a positive piece of news, I felt we could publish the picture despite the circumstances in which it had been taken.”
“I believe there is a clear public interest in exposing truth and setting the record straight; I also believe there is a public interest in publishing personal information if a person has been guilty of hypocrisy.”
“In my experience pressure, or rather high expectations, encourages people to produce their best work.”
John Edwards, The Sun’s picture editor is giving evidence at the moment. Told Leveson he couldn’t think of any complaints against any staff photographers under his control.
Natalie Peck reports on Gordon Smart’s evidence. Smart is The Sun’s showbiz editor:
“A Sun article containing private information about Hugh Grant rushing to hospital has been defended by showbiz editor Gordon Smart.
He told the Leveson Inquiry that he had discussed the story – published in March 2011 – with his team and decided that it was in the public interest given Grant’s celebrity status and the fact that he was in a public place.
The article described Grant as feeling faint and short of breath. It mentioned he sat “without making any fuss” in a hospital waiting room, and also stated that a spokesman for the actor was approached for comment but that this was declined.
Smart said that he had a “duty to his readers” to publish the story.
He added: “I’m not passing the buck – I handled it very sensitively…It appeared on page three as a six-par story. It was probably the least important story on that page.”
Smart agreed with Mr Jay, counsel to the inquiry, when the point of Grant’s level of celebrity was raised, admitting that this tipped the balance in publishing the story.
Grant described how details of his medical records had been published in the Sun and Daily Express when he gave evidence to the inquiry in November last year.
He told Lord Justice Leveson that he had suffered from years of press intrusion into his private life, including into his relationship with Tinglan Hong, the mother of his baby daughter. He said was also chased by paparazzi photographers on numerous occasions.
Grant also told the inquiry that he believed members of the press was responsible for a break-in at his London flat in 1995, after details of the interior were described in a national paper.”
Duncan Larcombe, royal editor of The Sun:
“We have a good relationship with the palace. The boys and Kate recently came to our military awards… It’s only possible to have that deference… with the palace because I can ring then with a story asking them if it’s true and they won’t lie to me…”
Both Kelvin Mackenzie’s and Gordon Smart’s written statements now up on the Leveson Inquiry website.
Jay just told the inquiry Tom Mockridge, the new News International chief will be taking the stand next week.
Larcombe also said he had no knowledge of phone hacking in The Sun and was threatened with the sack by the editor if he got involved in phone hacking.
Duncan Larcombe, royal editor at The Sun now giving evidence. He has explained he needs to have a good relationship with both Buckingham Palace and Clarence House.
Robert Jay QC, inquiry counsel, asked him of that was the case. Larcombe said “yes”.
Natalie Peck points to some of Gordon Smart’s quotes. Smart is editor of the Bizarre column:
“It’s a balancing act between the public interest and an individual’s right to privacy. There is a grey area there and we walk that line every day and think we get it right more than we get it wrong.”
“I wouldn’t lob it in, we place our stories Mr Jay.” (In reference to Sarah Harding and Guy Ritchie stories made up by Chris Atkins).
“There will be some issues in these stories, they are trivial stories.”
A few MacKenzie pearls from his witness evidence earlier today:
“The paper changed under Rebekah Brooks and continued to change under Dominic Mohan in the sense that they are much more cautious about their approach.”
“What are standards when you are trying to discover truth?”
“My character had a punchy, antiestablishment feel.”
“Why on earth should everyone accept her (Anne Diamond’s) version of events and not accept my version of events?”
Natalie Peck reports on MacKenzie:
“Kelvin MacKenzie has told the Leveson Inquiry that the Sun would have come “very, very, very close to being shut down” if they had “got the Milly Dowler story wrong”.
The former Sun editor was referring to a series of Guardian articles stating that private investigator Glenn Mulcaire was responsible for deleting messages from the missing teenager’svoicemail while working for the News of the World.
Lord Justice Leveson reacted by saying it was an “interesting assertion” to call the Guardian stories “completely wrong”.
MacKenzie added: “People view the Sun at the bottom of the pile and for as long as it exists I think they view papers like the Guardian as the top of the pile.”
He also referred to “snobbery” in the industry and press standards are “really defined by outcome, not by the income”.
Sally Dowler told the Inquiry in November 2011 that her family had been given false hope after voicemail messages were deleted from her daughter’s phone, believing they could have been accessed by Milly.
She said: “I rang her phone and it clicked through on to her voicemail and I just jumped and said: ‘She’s picked up her phone. Bob, she’s alive’. When we heard about the hacking that was the first thing I thought.”
The Guardian published a correction on 13 December last year stating that “new evidence” had led the Metropolitan police to conclude the original theory to be incorrect and that “while the News of the World hacked Milly Dowler’s phone the newspaper is unlikely to have been responsible for the deletion of a set of emails from the phone that caused her parents to have false hope that she was alive”. A footnote was appended to 37 stories dating from July to November 2011 on the Guardian website.”
Gordon Smart is now giving evidence.
Smart has been showbiz editor at the Sun since 2009. He began his career at the paper as showbiz reporter in 2004. He was promoted to deputy showbiz editor in 2005 and editor of Bizarre, the paper’s celebrity gossip section, in 2007. Smart worked at News of the World at a casual features and showbiz reporter for two years from 2003, having worked as a news reporter for Deadline Scotland. He has appeared on the Xtra Factor and TalkSport as a commentator.
Kelvin MacKenzie’s phone was hacked by the News of the World too, according to a piece he wrote for the magazine Spectator, in September 2011. He said he felt “uneasy” when receiving the news:
“For the first time I felt uneasy. If you have been editor of the Sun for 12 years, if you have floated and run a public company as founder, chairman and chief executive, very little worries or concerns you any more; your nerve endings have become encased in cement. But oddly I felt quite threatened by this invasion and understood more clearly why celebrities — no matter if they were A or Z listers — felt they had been violated. You see, there are three sides to this triangle and it’s the last side where the money and the hurt lies.”
Full story here
MacKenzie now referring to Anne Diamond’s evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. He claims he cannot remember conversation about funeral picture (of her baby boy), but she invited The Sun to help set up cot death charity.
Her statement here.
CORRECTION: I meant The Sun and not the News of the World in the earlier posts. Apologies.
A member of the public interrupted the hearing shouting at Leveson that he should ask MacKenzie about Michael Stone. Ben Fenton, from the FT, tweeted he thinks the man was referring to the Northern Irish loyalist who murdered three at a funeral. Leveson asked the man to leave the courtroom.
Kelvin MacKenzie just claimed Rupert Murdoch wasn’t please with the outcome of Elton John’s libel claim against the News of the World.
Here’s a Guardian story from 2006 about the £100k libel payout: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/may/24/dailymail.pressandpublishing
Robert Jay QC has just denied claims by Neville Thurlbeck on the former NoW’s chief reporter’s blog that he said the “NoW was nothing but smut”. Jay explained he was referring to one particular story.
Leveson now raising the issues of anonymous evidence, which is subject of a judicial review, to happen later this week
Order of witnesses for today is MacKenzie, Gordon Smart, Duncan Larcombe and Dominic Mohan. Check the beginning of this feed for their profiles.
The live feed on the Leveson Inquiry website is not working. Leveson having a very popular first day! http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk
Marta Cooper, from Index on Censorship, just reminded twitter how MacKenzie called the inquiry “ludicrous” at the October seminar…
Looks like former editor Kelvin MacKenzie will be up first.
MacKenzie was editor of the Sun from 1981 to 1994 and is best known for the controversy surrounding the paper’s coverage of the Hillsborough disaster. He is now a Daily Mail columnist and writes for a variety of publications. He worked briefly at BskyB as managing directory in 1994, moving to Mirror Group Newspapers a few months later. He bought radio station Talk Radio, converting it into TalkSport and selling the company in 2005.
Labour MP Tom Watson tweeted earlier today a link to a New Statesman story, by their legal correspondent David Allen Green, about Dominic Mohan thanking Vodafone at the Shaftas (showbiz journalism’s most glamorous event) for the Mirror’s showbiz exclusives:
“I see the Sun editor, Dominic Mohan is before #leveson today. Will he mention vodafone? http://bit.ly/hnYxdx”
Duncan Larcombe, royal editor of The Sun, Kelvin Mackenzie, its former editor, Dominic Mohan, the newspaper’s current editor, showbiz editor Gordon Smart, and Justin Walford, editorial legal counsel for News Group Newspapers, are all giving oral evidence today.
Good morning. We’re up and running at the Royal Courts of Justice, where the first Leveson Inquiry hearing of the year will kick off at 10am.