Afternoon Hearing on 27 February 2012

Brian Paddick and Lord Prescott of Kingston upon Hull gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(2.00 pm) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, Mr Jay. MR JAY Mr Paddick, may I turn to the issue of phone hacking and the background to the judicial review proceedings? In 2006, you were, I think, a commander or were you Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the police?
A. Deputy Assistant Commissioner.
Q. Is this right: that you had no involvement into the investigation into phone hacking in News of the World; is that right?
A. None at all.
Q. Because the investigation was firmly located within SO13, which is the anti-terrorist unit, which has special responsibility for royal security; is that right?
A. Yes. On recollection, I think SO14 is royalty protection, but I think probably SO13 took responsibility for the investigation because of the terrorist threat to the Royal Family. But I could be corrected on that.
Q. Thank you. Did you have any direct dealings with Mr Andy Hayman, who was then Assistant Commissioner for specialist operations?
A. I knew him from dealings I'd had with him before when he was head of internal investigation, before he left the Met and became Chief Constable of Norfolk and then came back again, but otherwise it was just at meetings where I was standing in for my boss. Because we knew each other, we used to have informal conversations, but nothing formal.
Q. You draw attention in paragraph 30 of your statement to a piece Mr Hayman wrote in the Times on 11 July 2009 under the caption "News of the World investigation was no half-hearted affair". I have a copy. I don't know whether you've seen this. (Handed) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Thank you very much. MR JAY This was three days after the Guardian article of 8 July. I'll just read one or two bits out. Five lines down: "This was not the time for a half-hearted investigation. We put our best detectives on the case and left no stone unturned, as officials breathed down our neck. The Guardian has said it understands that the police file shows that between 2,000 and 3,000 individuals had their mobile phones hacked into, far more than was ever officially admitted during the investigation and prosecution of Clive Goodman. Yet my recollection is different, as I recall the list of those targeted which was put together from records kept by Glenn Mulcaire went to several hundred names. Of these there were a small number, perhaps a handful, where there was evidence that the phones had actually been tampered with." That sentence may need to be considered with Mr Hayman in due course. "Had there been evidence of tampering in the other cases, they would have been investigated, as would the slightest hint that others were involved." Again that's something which may have to be considered. "As is so often the case in the storm of allegation and denials, the facts get lost. Well-known figures such as John Prescott are said to have been the victims of the hacking without any clear evidence that their phones were in fact hacked." Then it continues, but you draw this to our attention, for which we are grateful. Paragraph 31, you take the story forward to the judicial review proceedings, and the first step there was 26 November 2009, when you instructed your solicitors, Bindmans, to write to the MPS with a specific Inquiry. This is at the first page of your exhibit, which is going to be about page 05518, I think, of our numbering. You'll have it as page 1 of the exhibit bundle: "We are instructed to ask you for the following information on behalf of our client: is the Met police aware of or in possession of any evidence to suggest that our client was the subject of unlawful investigative activities You, I suppose, would wish to draw attention to the breadth of that request, Mr Paddick?
A. Indeed.
Q. by Goodman or Mulcaire or other News of the World or News International journalists? "2. If so, what was the exact nature of those activities? "3. Is the Metropolitan Police in possession of any personal information about our client obtained by Mulcaire or others?" Then there's a standard DPA request. The answer came back at page 2. This is nine days later, 12 February: "We have now completed a search of all the material that was seized as part of our investigation into the intercept activity of Mulcaire and Goodman in 2005/2006. I can confirm that we have no documentation to suggest that your client was subjected to unlawful monitoring or interception of his mobile telephone." Do you have any comment at all to make about that answer?
A. Well, it didn't seem to answer the question. It seemed to be very specific about unlawful monitoring or interception, and it specifically didn't for example, it didn't answer the question as to whether or not there was personal information about me contained in Mulcaire's documents, for example.
Q. Yes. Then there was a further requests by Bindmans, which made that point. We don't have it, but it doesn't matter because page 3 is the answer from the police on 12 April: "Material we seized as part of our investigation was obtained as part of a criminal investigation and is therefore confidential. Disclosure of this material can only be made pursuant to a court order. However, I can confirm that your client's name appeared on one piece of paper, together with an address which appears to have been attributed to your client by Mr Mulcaire, and the words 'police commander'." Of course, at the relevant time, you were a commander; is that right?
A. That's right, yes.
Q. "However, as set out in my letter dated 12 February 2010, we have no documentation to suggest that your client was subjected to unlawful monitoring or interception of his mobile telephone. Although much of the material that was seized during our investigation could be classed as personal data, it is reasonable to expect that some of this, eg addresses, was in the legitimate possession of Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman due to their respective jobs. It is not necessarily correct to assume that their possession of all this material was for the purposes of interception alone and it is not known what their intentions were or how they intended to use it." So they're saying there that because it might have been for a lawful purpose, you can't infer that it was part of an unlawful conspiracy?
A. Yes.
Q. When in fact well, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but do you have any comment at all on that suggestion?
A. It appeared to us that Mulcaire was mainly, if not solely, employed by News International to hack into people's phones, and therefore the fact that I think the one piece of paper they're talking about in fact, there are more than we subsequently discovered there's more than one piece of paper with my name on it, but that piece of paper is from the printout from Mulcaire's computer, which shows me as a "project", and so I think it was reasonable for us to for there to at least be a prima facie case that I was the target of Mulcaire for the purposes of phone hacking.
Q. We're going to look at the project document in a moment. This is when you're one of 320 names on a list. It's tab 157 in the judicial review bundle, which we're going to come to in due course. At paragraph 33 of your statement, you refer to the victims' charter, and you say there was, at the very least, the strong possibility that confidential personal information had been unlawfully obtained. There were then judicial review proceedings which were instituted. Can we move forward to paragraph 34. That locks into, or dovetails with, page 4 of the exhibit bundle, which is the Metropolitan Police's response to the pre-action protocol letter which started the judicial review, where they make really the same point as has been made in the previous letter we looked at. Page 5, under the heading "Mr Bryant Paddick", they refer to the correspondence. We've seen the correspondence. Then at page 7 on the internal numbering, they refer to the press statement of Assistant Commissioner John Yates dated 10 July, which I think it's the same statement which I quoted parts from in my opening submissions.
A. Indeed.
Q. At the top of page 9: "The claimants are not victims of crime in relation to telephone tapping activities." And I think it just says: "There is no new evidence to justify reopening or reviewing the original police investigation." Well, "victims of crime" looked at broadly to cover victims of a conspiracy, that statement would be incorrect. But if "victims of criminal" is interpreted to mean specifically you were the subject of unlawful activity under section 1 of RIPA, would you say that that was accurate or inaccurate, Mr Paddick?
A. I still don't know, is the frank answer, because we haven't got access to all the material that we would need in order to make a judgment on that. There is certainly prima facie evidence for example, in Mulcaire's notebook, my mobile phone number is recorded, for example to indicate that at least it is worth further investigation to establish whether or not I was a victim under section 1 of RIPA.
Q. Thank you. To be clear then, your position is there's prima facie evidence to suggest that you were, but not necessarily proof to the criminal standard.
A. Indeed.
Q. Is that how you would summarise it? The formal defence to the JR application you refer to at paragraph 35 of your statement and in the exhibit bundle, it's between pages 10 and 27. Just one statement perhaps I'd ask you to comment on. Kindly go to page 13 of the exhibit bundle, and six lines down, the sentence beginning: "Therefore it was not possible for the defendant to surmise that interception of voicemail messages had occurred simply because a name and associated mobile telephone number and a remote retrieval PIN number was present within the seized documents. It would have been for the mobile telephone network providers to have provided evidence as to whether there had been unusual activity occurring with regard to that particular account." You see the point that's being made there. Do you agree with it or disagree with it?
A. I think if the police have a record in Mulcaire's notebook of people's identities, that there's a journalist in the top left-hand corner of the page who has instructed Mulcaire to carry out this activity, that there is a phone number and a PIN number I think that there is sufficient evidence there for the police to at least ask the telephone provider to investigate whether there was any unusual activity, rather than it being incumbent as is suggested here, that it's incumbent on the telephone company to complain to the police, albeit, remembering, of course, that the actual user of the telephone would have had no knowledge that any of this was going on at all.
Q. Yes. One might liken this to a form of jigsaw puzzle where you need to have 12 pieces in case to prove your case of interception according to the criminal standard. You have about 10 of the pieces in place, you're missing two, and then you're asking, "What do we need to do to get the last two?"
A. Indeed.
Q. It may be the last two are very difficult piece to obtain?
A. Indeed.
Q. Paragraph 36 of your statement. You move forward to Operation Weeting and you tell us that you were shown documents which related specifically to you; is that right, Mr Paddick?
A. Yes.
Q. For the purposes of clarity, did the documents include reference to a unique voicemail number and/or a PIN number?
A. In my case, no, from what I can recall.
Q. Without that information have I understood this correctly Mr Mulcaire could not have hacked into your phone? Or it would depend whether he'd written down those numbers in a different place? How are we to interpret the absence of this information?
A. From my understanding, one of the methods that Mulcaire used was posing as a member of the telecoms company, would phone the telecom service centre posing as an employee, and getting the telephone company to reset the PIN to the default. So even if I had put my own unique PIN number to protect my voicemails, potentially he could have reset it to the default number by phoning the help desk at the telephone company.
Q. You're
A. Therefore he did not need my PIN in order necessarily to access my voicemails.
Q. So the missing piece of the jigsaw, to make up my 12 pieces, he would have had to have phoned in to customer services and reset it to default. Had he done that we don't know whether he did or did not then everything would have been in place to get access to your voicemail?
A. Indeed.
Q. Have I correctly understood it?
A. Yes.
Q. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So there's plenty of activity preparatory to the commission of an offence. Whether he's actually got that far, who knows?
A. Exactly so, sir. Exactly so.
Q. But plenty sufficient, on my understanding of criminal law and yours is going to be larger than mine to prove a conspiracy; is that right or not?
A. That's my understanding.
Q. Thank you. The section which begins at paragraph 38 of your statement deals with the investigation itself, and here, to be fair to you, you are commenting, but with your considerable experience, on documents which are or were made available to you in the judicial review proceedings on 30 September 2011, when disclosure was given in those proceedings. But have I correctly understood this: you're not giving evidence from your own knowledge; you're just providing a commentary?
A. Indeed, that's the case.
Q. Your commentary has proved to be extremely helpful in our analysis of the documents, which will be undertaken with the officers starting on Wednesday, but are there any specific matters which you would wish to draw to our attention or you are prepared to leave it to me to raise these points and various other points with Mr Williams and his colleagues on Wednesday?
A. I'm reasonably content to allow you to probe these things. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I like the word "reasonably".
A. Well, you know, I'm very concerned about the aspects concerning the witness protection scheme. I don't know whether we're going on come on to that. MR JAY Let's come on to that specific document. Maybe not in the version that Lord Justice Leveson has, but certainly in the version I've seen as from this morning, paragraph 48, Mr Paddick, the original version of your statement made reference to nearly 800 victims.
A. Yes.
Q. Which was a deciphering and I must say, your deciphering was the same as mine, but that might not amount to very much of the handwriting of an officer in a conference note at the meeting with counsel on 21 August 2006. That officer it's Detective Superintendent Williams has confirmed that what looks like 800 is in fact 200 victims.
A. Yes. We both appear to have mistaken the 2 for an 8.
Q. Everybody has.
A. Everybody has, yes.
Q. He's corrected that, and given that he'll confirm that on Wednesday, we will certainly correct that. The specific document, though, that you are concerned about is dealt with at paragraph 50 of your statement, which, in your bundle, is page 102 but in the master judicial review bundle we're working from is in file 3, tab 157. It starts at page 911. You don't, I think, have page 911.
A. No.
Q. I can read it out and if you do need to see t we can get you the page. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON 911, did you say? Page 5 internal numbering? MR JAY Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. MR JAY Or perhaps, to make it even clearer, if you don't mind turning back to 908, please. The document you've exhibited is part of a printout of an analysis which a computer expert has made of one of Mr Mulcaire's computers; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. At page 908, under the heading "Tasking", it explains the circumstances and then carries on to say: "This case relates to two individuals who were obtaining details of mobile phone voicemail messages from prominent individuals, including members of the royal household and senior politicians. Attempts have been made to obtain personal details of [and then the politician has been redacted; we know who it is actually in this case] and Commander Brian Paddick. It is also believed attempts may have been made to corrupt serving police officers and misuse the police national computer." That, we think, is a reference to obtaining access to the witness protection scheme; is that right? Have I correctly understood that reference in the document?
A. I'm yes. From what I can see now, that appears to be talking about the same thing.
Q. Yes. To the uninitiated, Mr Paddick, can you explain this in clear terms? The attempts which are being referred to, to corrupt serving police officers and misuse the police national computer, how at all does that relate to the witness protection scheme?
A. Well, I don't quite see the direct connection, but it's the reference to the DPS, the Department of Professional Standards Hi-Tech unit, who have done an analysis of the computer, and it is the result of that analysis, a printout from Mulcaire's computer, when shown to a member of the witness somebody who was working on the witness protection programme, that it appeared to that officer and to the detective sergeant working on the phone-hacking investigation that included in that printout from Mulcaire's computer were the details of people under the witness protection programme of the police. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Does it say that here? MR JAY It doesn't but if you cross-reference it, I think, with Mr Williams' witness statement.
A. It's the Detective Sergeant's witness statement.
Q. Oh, it's Maberly's?
A. Maberly's. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right.
A. What Maberly says is he got the printout from DPS of what was on the computer, and as a result of what he saw, he brought in an officer from the witness protection programme and the detective sergeant says something to words to the effect that it was quite clear to that there were names of interest to the officer from the witness protection programme. So I read from that that what Mulcaire was in possession of was the identities of people the new identities of people under the witness protection programme, and these would have included people like the people who were convicted of Jamie Bulger's murder, for example, giving them a new identity, and also similar to the case we heard of a few weeks ago, of a 16-year-old who gave evidence against a violent gang, who was given a new identity to protect him and the new identity was appearing in Mulcaire's computer when they examined it. Clearly, people are only put into the witness protection programme when the police believe that their lives potentially are at risk or they're in serious danger, and therefore, for this information to be in the hands of Mulcaire and, by implication, potentially in the hands of the News of the World, is clearly worrying. MR JAY And certainly worthy of further investigation, to put it as low as it can be put; is that right?
A. Well, both in terms of further investigation to establish who was putting these people's lives in danger, but also in terms of taking further steps to protect those people whose new identities had become compromised.
Q. Thank you. You feature in this documentation, either at page 102 of your exhibit bundle or at page 966 of the bundle we're just looking at, and you're described as a "project name".
A. Yes.
Q. Whatever inferences one can draw from that I think are pretty obvious.
A. Indeed. But, of course, I was never told about it.
Q. No. The consequences of this are set out in paragraph 51 of your statement: "With public knowledge of the scale of the voicemail interception conspiracy, it would have been very obvious that numerous journalists were also involved. There would no doubt have been a thorough investigation. At that time, evidence would have been available which has now been lost, such as data from phone companies, which is only kept for a certain period of time." That is an evidential problem which Operation Weeting is either encountering or surmounting, we don't know. "However, that did not happen and at the time the public were left with an impression this was a small scale operation involving two rogues." You also make the point that that was the public position which News of the World promulgated from 2006 onwards.
A. Indeed.
Q. Paragraph 52, Mr Paddick. We've seen that email now and there are certain issues which arise from it which will need to be addressed. You do say, in contradistinction to the arguably secret position which was adopted vis-a-vis victims in general this is paragraph 3 that the MPS adopted a difference stance in relation to the Mail on Sunday, because they provided them with the names of journalists which were discovered in Mulcaire's notebooks. That's page 105 of your exhibit bundle, or page 852 of the judicial review bundle we've been looking at.
A. Indeed.
Q. At paragraph 54, you draw attention to meetings which took place between those in a high level in the police and the News of the World. The meeting, Hayman, the Deputy Commissioner, Fedorcio and Wallis in April 2006 again, that's reference to a diary entry, is it?
A. That's my understanding, yes.
Q. And a further meeting in 2006. There certainly was, to my recollection, a dinner in April 2006, but we'll be looking at those documents probably on Thursday. We've covered paragraph 57 and 58 is the witness protection programme issue. I think we can move forward to your concluding remarks and recommendations, unless there's something en passant which I've missed which you'd like to cover specifically?
A. No, not that I can see.
Q. Thank you very much. You do say in paragraph 63 and you've heard DAC Akers give her evidence this morning, really seeking to contradict you that you don't have confidence in the current investigations. Could you expand on that, please?
A. I think the important thing here is about perceptions. It's about, you know, does the public really believe that this is being thoroughly investigated? With the best will in the world Sue Akers I have the utmost respect for. I worked with her. She investigated me on occasions and I have no doubt about her integrity at all. But where you have the Metropolitan Police Service investigating corruption, payments to Metropolitan Police officers, and I don't quite understand my understanding is that the committee in under that is working with the police
Q. Lord Grabiner's committee, yes.
A. Yes still comes under the same umbrella organisation, News Corp, as News International, so whilst it's maybe not in it is independent of News International, it's not independent of the parent company, as it were, and my understanding is and even from what Sue Akers said this morning that requests are put in to this committee by the police. If that committee decides that actually, as far as they're concerned, there's no criminal implications, that it is subject to journalistic privilege, then that committee does not reveal the information that the police are asking for. Now, bearing in mind the Metropolitan Police is heavily implicated, both in terms of allegedly not perhaps going as far as they should have done with the original investigation as well as officers from the Met receiving payments, then it's difficult to see how everybody could have complete confidence that the things we're getting to the bottom of what's going on. And I think about this or I talk about this hypothetical case where perhaps somebody very senior in the Metropolitan Police is seen to be having received inappropriate payments from somebody very senior in News International, how it might be in the interests of Rupert Murdoch or News Corp and in the interests of the Metropolitan Police for that not to be made public. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But your view of the integrity of the Deputy Assistant Commissioner demonstrates that if she thought she was being brushed off, she'd probably do something about it.
A. I do. I do believe that Sue Akers would say something. The difficulty is and as she is saying, for example, all the issues that we've had around the Sun newspaper she never asked for. It's been volunteered by this committee. What information are they not volunteering that Sue Akers is not aware of? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Sorry? MR JAY Sorry, something was set to me sotto voce. MR WHITE What was said sotto voce was a reminder about Lord Grabiner's integrity. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I'm aware of that. So there's her, there is Lord Grabiner himself, as Mr White is saying, who is a very distinguished Queen's Counsel. There is the fact that the present Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner are not recently of the Met, as I understand it.
A. Well, I think I don't remember the exact timing, but Bernard Hogan-Howe may have been a senior officer in the Met at the time this was happening. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON He spent at fair amount of time in Merseyside, didn't he?
A. Yes, but he was an Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I know, I know, I know. The other problem I'm sure you appreciate is that obtaining a warrant under PACE in relation to journalists' material has its own complication. I put it no higher than that.
A. I understand. All I am saying is in terms of public perception, some people may not be convinced by the current arrangements and it may be better if it was an outside force who were investigating, purely from a public perception point of view. But I am not in any way casting doubt on either Sue Akers' integrity, nor the head of the MSC, I think it's called, is it? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You see, if you say that, you could say, "Well, you could go to Greater Manchester", but of course Mike Todd, who was the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, was indeed himself at the Met, I think if he's the same person you referred to before.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So the Met is a comparatively small I mean, the police force is comparatively small.
A. Yes, but it is possible to find ACPO officers who have no previous history with the Metropolitan Police who could lead up this investigation. Whether they would be better at it, I don't know, but in terms of public perception, I'm saying that it might be better. In my opinion. MR JAY Looking forward, Mr Paddick, in your recommendations for changes, paragraph 66, first of all: "A thorough revision of the rules so that they are clear and all police officers are aware of what is and is not permitted." How would you define in the rules what is and is not permitted?
A. I think that's fairly complicated, but certainly in terms of meetings between very senior officers and editors and other senior officials from newspapers, those meetings should all be formal meetings, they should all be minuted and those minutes should all be published, for example. Clearly there are, as with all of the this you know, the whole purpose of the Inquiry there's a lot of complexity and it's very difficult to actually make hard and fast rules, but certainly it needs to be made explicit as far as that sort of thing is concerned, simply on the basis that one of the first things that I was told when I went to initial training at Hendon was you shouldn't take free kebabs from the local kebab shop owner because you never know, in a couple of months' time, it might be that you catch him drink driving and that will compromise you. And a similar problem appears to have happened here, where senior police officers are entertaining people in a senior position at the News of the World and then end up having to investigate them, which puts them in a difficult position.
Q. Perhaps part of the difficulty is they never thought for one moment that they would be investigating News International, that unlike your kebab owner who might be done for drink driving, this was an area which was outside possible scope of investigation. Is that possible? I don't know.
A. Well, it's possible, but I don't think journalists enjoy the highest of reputations, and therefore the possibility that some of them might be involved in some sort of criminality shouldn't be beyond the wisest imaginations of senior police officers.
Q. Thank you. Then a change in culture led from above. That's obviously a very important point. How do you change culture from above? I appreciate it has to change from above, because that's where culture comes from, but how do you do it, do you think?
A. You start by setting the right example, and therefore accepting lavish hospitality, for example, if you are the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, does not set a good example in terms of the conduct that you expect from all junior officers. Also, going back to what I was saying this morning, if there is evidence that there is a culture of covering up inappropriate behaviour, then clearly officers who were engaged in that sort of activity will feel more confident that they can get away with it, bearing in mind if there was such a culture of cover-up, as I suggest that there certainly was when I was in the Metropolitan Police, that you know, that encourages or could encourage people to engage in inappropriate behaviour, as opposed to being completely open and honest, and justice being seen to be done when there's misbehaviour by the police would send a message to the junior ranks that such behaviour would not be tolerated under any circumstances. So there are various things that can be done from the top, and I have to say Bernard Hogan-Howe, in inviting in an independent person to look at culture and ethics within the police, is a very positive step forward along that path.
Q. Thank you. The final question I have, and this really comes from another source, as it were: it might be suggested that you have a hostile animus towards the Metropolitan Police Service, given the circumstances of your departure, and maybe ambitions were thwarted and this has coloured the evidence you've given to this Inquiry. Is that a fair observation or not?
A. It's quite interesting because I think people were referring to an interview I did with Bob Wellings on a programme called Nationwide in about 1978 where, as a very young and immature police constable, in answer to a leading question from Bob Wellings about where did I see myself at the end of my career, I said, "Commissioner." I became far more realistic within a very short space of time as to what my ambitions were, and in fact at the end of two years, I told my then boss, my chief superintendent, that I wanted to be a commander, and he looked rather aghast at me and said, "When I was in your position, I wanted to be a sergeant." But being a commander was the limit of my ambitions, and when I became a commander in charge of Brixton, I did not feel that I wanted to progress any further. It was only when people in the press tried to derail my career that I felt it incumbent on me to prove that they hadn't done that by seeking one more promotion. And I have to say, my whole purpose for being here is because there are thousands of honest, decent police officers who, like me, are horrified by the sort of conduct that Sue Akers was talking about this morning, albeit a very limited number of people, and a lot of junior officers feel very let down by their senior officers, and I want and they want a Metropolitan Police Service that they can be proud of, and I think that's what the public want as well. The whole reason for me coming here and giving this evidence is to try and improve things, rather than to run the police down. MR JAY Sorry, there's one question I've missed out on the list that others have put to me. You've mentioned Mr Ken Hyder, who was a journalistic contact of yours. Is this right: that you, together with him, decided to develop a campaign to not arrest people for cannabis use and part of that campaign was to organise a front-page splash in the Evening Standard? Is that, broadly speaking, right?
A. I wouldn't put that spin on it. What happened was I became the commander in Brixton. Ken Hyder came to interview me as the new police commander, and he said, "All of your predecessors have failed. How are you going to succeed? What are you going to do different?" And I said, "One of the things I'm thinking of doing is not arresting people for cannabis." For three months, Ken Hyder and I worked on all the arguments that could possibly be put against it. We did research into whether or not it was a waste of police time to do that as opposed to what I thought we should be doing, which was concentrating on more serious drugs, and after that three-month period and bearing in mind how conservative, with a small C, I thought Mike Todd was I felt the only way to get the debate of this issue going was to allow Ken Hyder to publish a story in the newspaper that I was thinking about the possibility of police officers not arresting people for cannabis. Some years later, I came up with a policy to deal with stop-and-search. Instead of taking that potentially career-limiting route to get the debate going, I instead put it through the proper channels to my boss, and it never went further than him. So bearing in mind that that policy on cannabis is now national policy and bearing in mind that very little has happened on stop-and-search, I think I was justified in taking that rather unorthodox approach to getting the debate on cannabis rolling. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That actually identifies an enormous problem, doesn't it? Let me explain what I mean by that. You've made a significant point, with which I entirely agree, that policing is consensual and requires the buy-in of the public. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that the public are on side. The example of which I have spoken publicly and made speeches concerns witnesses to crime.
A. Mm-hm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's all too easy to say, "Well, the forensics will solve it and therefore we don't need to help", whereas in fact forensics are only available in a limited number of cases because of their expense.
A. Absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So one has to get the public involved and participating.
A. Mm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If that is so, isn't a relationship with the press, who are or can be a medium through which you can communicate with the public, going to be critical, as you found in relation to drugs? And once you've made that an exception, and said, "I can decide to do that in relation to a policy which I want to implement", you've created a blur to the I was going to say the blue line, but I'll say the red line that you were drawing which is essential to establish cultural probity. Do you see the point I'm making?
A. Yes, I do. On the strategic command course at the police staff college, which is a course you have to do you have to qualify to get onto it and then you have to do it and succeed it at before you can become an ACPO officer one of the important lessons that I paid perhaps rather too much attention to was the fact that as lower ranks you have to work within the existing paradigm, but it is your job as an ACPO officer to see the world in a different way and then try to convince other people that your way of seeing things is the right way of seeing things, and therefore, as an ACPO officer, I believed it was my duty to try and get people to see the world in a different way around the policing of cannabis, and therefore it was legitimate for me to provoke that debate. It would not have been appropriate for me to provide details of an ongoing investigation or to do something else that was detrimental to the delivery of justice, but in those circumstances, at the level that I was at, I understood that that was part of my job. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I quite understand that, but if you unpick that, then maybe at that level or maybe at different levels, is it not equally important that the police have a relationship with the press so that they can, as it were, rely on that to encourage the public to assist in investigation of crime? If you say there is going to be a piece of plate glass between the press and the police, for the reasons which I quite understand and I'm not being critical of what you've said at all then do you risk undermining the opportunity to obtain that critical assistance which you will always require in order to detect crime?
A. I think it's very important for there to be a close and healthy and above-board relationship between the press and the police, and that's what I tried to maintain. So not giving away secrets, but on the other hand having a good working relationship, particularly with those journalists who shared a common interest, whether it was to deal with racism in the police as far as Jimmy Burns was concerned, or around the reform of drugs laws, as far as Ken Hyder was concerned. I'm not saying at all that there shouldn't be, at every level, good, healthy communication between the press and the police. What I'm saying is that we have to draw a line when it comes to police officers being paid for information. I do not accept you know, I might be old-fashioned in this, but I do not accept that if a story is in the public interest, you can pay a public official to disclose confidential information. I think it is an acid test of whether or not it is genuinely in the public interest that a public servant is prepared to put their job on the line for no money to put something which is in the public interest into the public domain. So I'm not at all saying that there should not be a good working relationship between the two. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, I can follow that, but let's just pursue it a bit. You develop a relationship. Once you allow that to involve favours I'm not talking about money and I understand what you're saying about money entirely but meeting for a coffee, buying him a pint or a meal, you blur the line which you have identified and you run the risk of running into your kebab owner problem, don't you?
A. Exactly, exactly, and that's why you know, I'm not saying that I was not putting myself in a potentially difficult position if, you know, I stumbled across Mr Hyder when he was drunk in charge of his car, except that he never took me for a coffee or for lunch. But no, I accept completely your point, and that's why I think there needs to be a resetting of the rules around the relationship between the press and the police. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So it is much more nuanced?
A. Absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And I'm sure you're right. So how you would and you don't need to answer this question now reset that relationship, using your experience, having reached the rank of deputy assistant commissioner? You don't need to answer that now
A. But I will, if you would allow me. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON By all means.
A. And that is to say, both in terms of setting a good example to rank and file officers but also to avoid the kebab shop scenario, relationships between the police between police officers and journalists should be on the basis of formal meetings, not on the basis of gossipping over dinner or booze. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Would you say the same about the remarkable fact that when famous people are being arrested, there is a photographer present? Sometimes.
A. Well, not only that, but we saw when one or two of the suspects for the 21 July failed bombings in London when the police were going into the premises to arrest those people, it was broadcast live on television. How on earth does that happen without inappropriate collusion between the press and the police? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It may be considered appropriate, because it may be said by senior police officers: "This is a wonderful opportunity for us to demonstrate how effective the police are in connection with the investigation and detection of crime." Now, that may work for that. It may not work if it's a celebrity whose house has been burgled; I take that point.
A. Yes. I suppose that could be argued, but the fact that these people were arrested within days of the incident taking place I would have thought is enough testimony to the expertise and the diligence of the anti-terrorist branch without needing to tip off the media in advance that that's where it's going to happen and what's going to happen. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So you would draw a line there?
A. I would. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No prior tip-offs of any sort? Information that comes into the police about specific incidents must be retained purely within the police?
A. There is a real danger, in tipping off before that sort of raid, that somebody tips off the suspects and they escape. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. MR JAY Yes, thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed, Mr Paddick. Thank you. Yes, Mr Garnham? MR GARNHAM Sir, I gave my questions to Mr Jay. He was not able to ask all the questions which were suggested, and I'm grateful to him that he's asked many of them, but I would make an application under Regulation 10 LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And the topics are? MR GARNHAM The topics are these: the present investigation, the allegations of a culture of cover-up and the propriety of contact with the press, something you've touched on, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right, I don't think that's unreasonable. Questions by MR GARNHAM MR GARNHAM Can I begin by asking you about paragraph 63 of your statement, Mr Paddick, about which you've already been asked questions by Mr Jay and by the chairman, and that is your comments about the current investigation under DAC Akers. In answer to Mr Jay, just a few moments ago, you said that your concern was whether the public would have confidence in that investigation. Your statement actually says that you have difficulty having confidence. Do you?
A. I do, for the reasons that I explained.
Q. You do have confidence or you do have difficulty having confidence?
A. I have difficulty in having complete confidence.
Q. And that is despite the view you take of the competence and integrity of the officer in charge of that investigation, is it?
A. Yes, it is.
Q. And it's despite the confidence you've expressed today in the integrity of the man in charge of the committee at News International?
A. Yes, it is.
Q. Have you also taken into account the fact that for the Operation Elveden element of this investigation, which is the matter that attracted particular criticism from you a moment ago, that investigation is subject to IPCC review?
A. I have concerns about the independence of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Q. And it is also despite the fact that investigation Weeting has been the subject of a review by the County Durham police?
A. I wasn't aware of that.
Q. Do you not think that those four factors, Mr Paddick, justify complete confidence in the integrity of this investigation? You have an officer of the highest reputation, with whom you have confidence, you have provision of documentation by a committee headed by Lord Grabiner, you have jurisdiction being supervised by the IPCC and you have a review by an outside force? What more would it take to satisfy you, Mr Paddick?
A. I think it should be led by a senior officer from another force who has had no previous service with the Metropolitan Police.
Q. Yes, thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If Durham have reviewed it and found it to be in keeping, then that at least deals with that aspect.
A. It's reassuring, sir, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Right. MR GARNHAM Thank you. You use an expression in your statement in describing the approach of other commissioners in the past to the press of being engaging in "a charm offensive".
A. Yes.
Q. That sounds something of a pejorative expression. Do you mean it so?
A. I mean that the Commissioners tried to develop good relationships with editors.
Q. Are you critical of that?
A. I think it depends how far that goes and in what circumstances it's done.
Q. Let's test it with the two examples you gave. First of all, John Stevens, who took over the commissionership at a difficult time for the Met, didn't he? The report into the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry had just been published. Morale was at a low ebb. Do you think there was anything wrong in John Stevens embarking on a charm offensive to better present the Met to the press and to better understand what the press were saying about the Met?
A. John Stevens was given the specific job of improving morale in the Met police and therefore he developed good relationships with the media in order to try and ensure that the best possible image of the Metropolitan Police was put forward, but
Q. Do you criticise him for that?
A. as I have indicated, he also was apparently not very happy were anything critical to be said or published, and I know that that's his job, but it depends how close that relationship is and whatever the press are therefore fairly reporting on police activity or not.
Q. Do you criticise him for attempting to engage with the press in the way he did, in the circumstances he came into the commissionership?
A. I think I've just said that I think that the relationship between newspaper editors and very senior officers should be limited to formal meetings that are minuted.
Q. You observe in your statement what a bad press Sir Ian Blair received when he took over that job. Do you think he was wrong to attempt to engage with the press?
A. Again, it depends on the circumstances in which he engaged with them, but clearly it's important for the Commissioner to try to ensure that the Met is seen in the best possible light.
Q. You had a relationship with a number of journalists during your time at the Met. You've told us that you spoke to, on a number of occasions, three in particular I made a note of that you mentioned: Margaret Gilmore, Mr is it Hyder? and Piers Morgan. You had contact with journalists?
A. I didn't have relationships with them. I had contact with them.
Q. I'm happy to take your word, that word, "contact". You did so because you thought it was appropriate in each case?
A. They were mainly approaches to me by them rather than the other way around.
Q. Yes, but you didn't simply snub them?
A. No, of course not, no.
Q. You responded?
A. Yes.
Q. And you spoke to them?
A. Yes.
Q. You did so in circumstances which you regarded as appropriate?
A. Yes.
Q. What was your objective in view in having that contact with them?
A. To try and improve things in the Metropolitan Police, for example, around the way that drugs were dealt with, in terms of improving the police race relations, that sort of things.
Q. Legitimate MPS objectives?
A. Absolutely.
Q. If that is the test, Mr Paddick, if the test that senior officers apply in deciding whether or not to have contact with the producer, is "am I pursuing a legitimate MPS objective", is that acceptable?
A. Again, depends on the circumstances, but generally speaking, yes.
Q. Thank you. You talk about the receipt of excessive hospitality and receiving gifts or payments. Putting aside what is frank corruption of paying a police officer for information, what do you have in mind when you talk about inappropriate hospitality?
A. Three weeks' residential at a health farm at the expense of somebody else who has a connection with a company that's under investigation.
Q. You're talking about Sir Paul Stephenson?
A. Yes, and his wife as well. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm not sure that's entirely fair, given the fact that I think the person who ran that organisation was his daughter's father-in-law, but that's doubtless something that we'll discuss with him. MR GARNHAM Let me ask at a more prosaic level, Mr Paddick: when is it acceptable for a policeman to accept a drink from a journalist? Never? A cup of coffee?
A. In the light of the discussion that we've had today, and bearing in mind the example that is well, the conduct that is expected of patrol officers, for example, I would hope that the same applies throughout all levels of the organisation.
Q. So where do you draw the line?
A. I guess having coffee over in a formal meeting, it doesn't really matter who pays for it, but when it comes to wining and dining, then I think that puts people under obligations.
Q. Would you say it's never acceptable for, for example, the Commissioner to entertain a journalist, an editor, at a formal dinner?
A. I think it raises
Q. Sorry, I think Mr Prescott has something to say. Sorry, I was interrupted. Mr Prescott appeared to want to say something. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, carry on.
A. Could you repeat the question? MR GARNHAM Yes. Would you say it's ever appropriate or inappropriate tell us which for a commissioner to entertain a newspaper journalist or editor for dinner?
A. In the light of what's happened, with the benefit of hindsight, maybe not, but it's certainly not appropriate for that to take place when that editor's newspaper is currently under investigation by the police.
Q. And in circumstances where the editor is not under investigation, would you regard it as appropriate?
A. As I say, from now onwards, I would say that it was inappropriate, but that wasn't the case then.
Q. Without that hindsight, looking at your state of mind before this had happened, would you have regarded it as inappropriate?
A. If that newspaper was under investigation, then it was entirely inappropriate.
Q. If they were not under investigation at the time, would you have objected to a Commissioner having dinner with an editor?
A. No.
Q. Can I ask you about Jean Charles de Menezes? Mr Jay has asked you a good deal about that already. I only want to ask you this: there was criticism in the press of Sir Ian Blair for the interview he gave that Mr Jay referred you to.
A. Was there?
Q. It was said, in the criticism that was taken and considered by the IPCC the question they were investigating was whether he told the truth when he said that at 5 o'clock that evening, he did not know that Jean Charles de Menezes was an innocent tourist, a Brazilian visitor.
A. Sure.
Q. Is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. When did you know that?
A. About five hours after the shooting.
Q. The shooting was about 10 o'clock in the morning?
A. Yes, so it was about 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
Q. Did you attend the meeting at 5 o'clock that evening when the case was discussed with Sir Ian Blair?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you tell him that you knew that the suspect was an innocent Brazilian tourist?
A. No, because the person who confirmed the identity of Jean Charles de Menezes in a meeting that I attended that afternoon, before the 5 o'clock meeting, was Andy Hayman. He was of higher rank than me. He was the head of counter-terrorism. He did not choose to raise that with the Commissioner in that meeting, and I felt it was not my place to contradict Andy Hayman and to raise that issue when Andy Hayman quite clearly did not want the Commissioner to know.
Q. Why not? Why did you let the Commissioner go on and make that incorrect assertion if you knew it wasn't the case? Why didn't you say, "I'm sorry, I don't think that's right"?
A. I've just told you why.
Q. What, because of rank?
A. Yes, and it's very difficult for anybody who has not been a police officer, as I was for 30 years, to understand the hierarchical nature of the police service and how it would be a career-limiting thing to go against a more senior officer who was present in the same room.
Q. You would simply be pointing out a fact that you knew that in fact
A. No, if I did, I would be pointing out a fact that Andy Hayman, a more senior officer, had pointed out to me, and therefore I felt that it was his responsibility and not mine to tell the Commissioner.
Q. Did you say to him afterwards
A. In addition, the two people who initially told me that we had shot an innocent Brazilian were the Commissioner's staff officer and his chief of staff LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sorry, can I just understand this. Did this come up in this meeting? In the meeting to which you've been referred that you were present
A. Yes. Yes, it did come up. Alan Brown was the assistant commissioner in overall charge of the operation. He started to talk about the fact that this person had been shot, and Andy Hayman interrupted him and said, "Yes, but we don't know we haven't established definitely what his identity is, we need to get DNA and other things", and that gave a very clear signal to me that Andy Hayman did not want that issue discussed further. But the other point in terms of informing the Commissioner was it was the Commissioner's chief of staff and staff officer who told me, at an earlier meeting, five hours after the shooting, that the person was innocent. I could not believe in my wildest dreams that they would have told me that information and not told the Commissioner. So I also assumed that the Commissioner knew, at least what his staff officer and chief of staff had said. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. MR GARNHAM But you let the discussion continue on the misapprehension, on this vital question of this important case, that the man was potentially the suspect, when you knew he wasn't?
A. I told you I'm afraid I can't explain any further than I have done about how the hierarchy in the Metropolitan Police works.
Q. Yes, I see.
A. But that's something that perhaps you don't understand.
Q. You commented about an incident in, I think, 2001 in Brixton during the course of the riot, and you told the chairman how you had heard second-hand that the Commissioner, then Sir John Stevens, was furious at the way you proposed to deal with it. Sir John Stevens had quite a reputation for wanting these matters dealt with openly and frankly, didn't he? That was his repeated mantra?
A. I don't recall that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. MR GARNHAM Were you suggesting that evidence of assaults was being suppressed or simply that it was being dealt with in a different way?
A. All I'm saying is I informed members of the community because I thought that it was my duty to do so, and I was told by my immediate boss that the Commissioner was unhappy with that.
Q. Was that not entirely inconsistent with the way Sir John Stevens went about his business?
A. I'm afraid I can't comment on that. All I can tell you were the facts.
Q. All you can tell us is what you were told by somebody else?
A. Yes, who was an assistant commissioner, Mike Todd.
Q. Thank you. Can I just, sir, to finish LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you can certainly do that. MR GARNHAM I thought that might be enthusiastically received. Can I suggest a correction is made to your statement? Look at paragraph 40. You quote or purport to quote from the witness statement of police officer Mark Maberly.
A. Yes. That other person is actually a pseudonym used by is that what you're going to point out?
Q. No. I'm going to suggest and I'm sure it's an innocent error, but your quotation misses a word out in the first sentence. You put in inverted commas, in italics, as if you are quoting exactly from that paragraph. The word "tangible" is missing. Would you accept that from me?
A. I'll accept that, certainly. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So it's "the first tangible indication", is it? MR GARNHAM Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much, Mr Paddick. We'll have just a few minutes off, then we'll go to your next witness. Thank you. (3.13 pm) (A short break) MR JAY Sir, the next witness is Baron Prescott, please. JOHN LESLIE PRESCOTT, BARON PRESCOTT (affirmed) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Thank you, Lord Prescott. Your full name, please, for the Inquiry.
A. John Leslie Prescott.
Q. Thank you. You provided us with a witness statement dated 17 February this year, underneath a statement of truth. Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry?
A. It is. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much for the effort you've obviously put into this statement. I'm grateful. MR JAY You, of course, were a Member of Parliament for 40 years, Deputy Prime Minister for ten years, and you're now a life peer; is that correct?
A. Yes.
Q. In paragraph 36 your statement, you touch on one aspect of press intrusion into your personal life. Do you consider it was appropriate at all for the Daily Mirror to publish information relating to your personal life?
A. I didn't object; I didn't like it.
Q. Is the implied objection that you make in your statement in paragraphs 3 and 4 to the extent and nature of the publications rather than the fact of the extramarital affair to, as it were, cut to the quick?
A. No, I recognise I'm a public person and it would be of interest in the way the press define what is the public interest. I didn't complain about that at all. The other person involved had gone to the story, had clearly been paid for it, and I just admitted to it immediately and tried to deal with the difficulties obviously personally.
Q. Thank you. Paragraph 6, please, of your statement and paragraph 7. We're about now 2006, when of course you were deputy prime minister. Did you have some concern at that point that your voicemails may have been hacked into, Lord Prescott?
A. No. I think I'm a figure of attention to a lot of the press over a lot of my lifetime, so I had to deal with many stories. Some I thought: "Where did they get the information from?", but I never thought for a moment it was anything like phone hacking.
Q. Thank you. Paragraph 8, the reports in the Guardian on 8 July 2009, the claim that a large amount of information was obtained about a large number of individuals, many of whom were public figures who had been targeted by Goodman and Mulcaire. Guardian sources revealed that your name and the names of other politicians were referred to in the documents obtained by the Metropolitan Police in 2006. So you, as a result of that the information, wrote to Mr Yates on 9 July 2009?
A. I did.
Q. Your personal assistant at the relevant time was Joan Hammell
A. She was.
Q. and she features significantly in this story. The letter you wrote, exhibit JP1, which I hope you have in front of you, this was to the Commissioner, dated 9 July 2009, referring to the allegations in the Guardian. It also states that: "The Metropolitan Police have in their possession the names of all those whose phones were targeted. I would like to know if you have such information and, if so, why we were not informed and why no action was taken. It's important that you make the police's position on this issue clear."
A. Yes, I think he did it in a few hours. He gave me a telephone call and he said, "I've done an investigation and there's no evidence against you at all in phone tapping." I thought it was a rather quick inquiry, but that's what I got (inaudible).
Q. So that was a conclusion that you had with Mr Yates on 9 July when you were in your car; is that correct?
A. Yeah. He rang me and told me he was doing a press conference this afternoon, going to announce that there was no evidence. I thought it's a rather unusual way but accepted it but did ask him to put it in writing to me. It took him seven weeks and another reminder before I got a reply in writing.
Q. Can we be clear, because this may be important in terms of what happened on 9 July, when exactly was that conversation with Mr Yates? Was it the morning or the afternoon?
A. I think it was the afternoon. It was 15 minutes before he was going to make his do his press conference.
Q. So it was probably about 5 in the afternoon?
A. I thought it was earlier than that, because I think I've got in my mind something like 2 or 3 o'clock.
Q. Thank you. You say in paragraph 11 of your statement, Lord Prescott, that he gave the press conference he'd referred to in his conversation with you and he made the following comment: "There's been a lot of media comment today about the then deputy prime minister John Prescott. This investigation has not uncovered any evidence to suggest that John Prescott's telephone had been tapped." Then he later said: "Where there was clear evidence that people had potentially been the subject of tapping, they were all contacted by the police." Were you, at the time, concerned by that statement?
A. Yes. I mean, they were reluctant to give me any information. What they were suggesting there's no evidence at all, but I think the play of the word is on "tapped". They would say, properly so, that my phone wasn't tapped because I never took messages on it and they didn't have my phone number. That comes from the evidence that has taken place. So they got the number of my chief exec, or chief of office, and followed all my messages, which they did not admit to at all, not even that.
Q. This is the Joan Hammell we've been speaking of a few moments ago?
A. Yes.
Q. To be clear, did you use the voicemail on your own mobile phone for any purpose or not?
A. No. Means you have to reply to them if they leave you a message.
Q. Okay. Your solicitors were then involved, and on 10 July they wrote we shouldn't pass over the letter at page 2 of the exhibit bundle. This is a letter back from the Commissioner's office. The letter which you sent on 9 July, which I think your statement suggests you wrote to the Assistant Commissioner Mr Yates, was in fact to the Commissioner, and what happened was the Commissioner passed it on
A. He did.
Q. To to Mr Yates. But then on 10 July, your then solicitors were involved and wrote to the editor of the News of the World, Mr Myler.
A. Yes.
Q. And this contained a standard request under the Data Protection Act.
A. Yes.
Q. The essence of the request at page 4: "Would you therefore please inform us whether any personal data of which John Prescott is the data subject is being held by or on behalf of the News of the World." So that was a request to the News of the World, not, of course, to the police?
A. Yes. It was an attempt to find out if they were prepared to tell us whether they had information or not. By then, I believed that these acts had occurred. I just wanted to hear whether they would admit it or not because I knew that eventually it would come out.
Q. A letter also went to the DPP by your solicitors at page 9.
A. This is under the appendices, is it?
Q. Yes, your exhibit. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do you have these, Lord Prescott?
A. I have it, yeah. Sorry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR JAY Mr Starmer, Queen's Counsel, was the DPP. Of course, he still is the DPP. A copy of the letter is enclosed.
A. Yes.
Q. You're seeking, at that stage, access to the material allegedly sealed in the Taylor case; is that right?
A. Partly, yes. I did enquire with the Data Commissioner as to whether I could get this information via that route, and he said probably not, but try and write to the public prosecutor. Failing that, as we come to later, he advised me to write to the legal officer of the Metropolitan Police.
Q. Thank you. The CPS write to you at page 11 on 16 July and we can see from the first page reference to the DPP's statement on 9 July.
A. Yes.
Q. Last paragraph: "You have asked the director give consideration to making the appropriate application to gain access to material allegedly sealed in a civil case involving Mr Gordon Taylor."
A. Yes.
Q. Then on the next page: "The CPS was not a party to any litigation that may have been conducted by Mr Taylor. Your letter is also vague as to the details of what may or may not have happened in the course of the litigation. Additionally, the CPS does not have any powers of investigation." All that may or may not have been technically correct
A. But it was part of the agreement in the civil case that no information be given to anyone about the settlement, which is quite normal with these people.
Q. Thank you. Then, at page 17 we needn't look at the DPP's statement, we can look at that with him in due course solicitors acting for News International write to your solicitors on 7 August. Do you have that?
A. Yes.
Q. Where reference it is made to the Assistant Commissioner Mr Yates' statement on 9 July. That's referred to at the bottom of page 17. Then, the middle of page 18: "In the circumstances, your client was, in July, acting under the misapprehension that his mobile telephone had previously been tapped on behalf of the News of the World. The police have corrected this in clear terms." Was that denial, as it were, correct or not?
A. My concern with the public prosecutor is that I got the view they were working very closely with Mr Yates in their common description of what had happened to me; namely: "Your phone has not been tapped and that's all." Now, is it an offence for your messages from your phone to on one of your own staff is that illegal? I would have thought it was illegal for the person who has the phone, but tapping into my messages I was trying to get them to tell me what the position was, and then we got that silly nonsense: "If you've heard it first, it's not illegal." Now, the police wrote to me with that excuse and so did the public prosecutor, which was unsatisfactory and was evidence of them working together on it.
Q. Okay. Paragraph 15 of your statement. You say: "John Yates had still not responded in writing to my letter of 9 July." Well, that was the letter to Paul Stephenson which was passed on to
A. Yes.
Q. Mr Yates. On 21 August, you wrote to him again, enclosing a copy of your previous letter and asking for a response. That's page 20. You get a response on 11 September 2009 at page 21.
A. Seven weeks later.
Q. He apologised, at page 21, for not replying to your letter of 9 July. He says this: but I'd assumed that your enquiry had been answered by my telephone to you on that day
A. Nonsense. The first thing I said to him: "You don't give me that sort of information over the telephone. Put it to me in writing." "Right," he said. Now he's ducking behind that.
Q. Thank you. I read on: when I informed you that out investigation in '05/'06 did not uncover any evidence to suggest that your phone had been tapped. For your information, at the time of our investigation, police did inform and provide briefings to those individuals who fell into the category of royal household, MPs, cabinet office, police and military."
A. Am I in those categories? I was a bit confused about that. Perhaps they didn't like me being the Deputy Prime Minister. I would have thought I'm supposed to be in those categories. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I suppose one goes back to the use of words, because there may be a distinction between your phone and a phone of a member of your staff.
A. But is it an offence to tap a member of (inaudible) with my messages? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand that.
A. No, is it? I'm asking, because that's what I was trying to get at. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. So they always use "your phone", and in that sense you could probably say that's right, but the offence was committed with the messages between, interception. MR JAY In terms of what Mr Yates said because I'll probably have to ask him about this on Thursday when I come to question him.
A. Good. I hope you do.
Q. He might say, "If you look very carefully at what I said at page 21, there's a reference to" do you see the fourth line of the second paragraph?
A. On the sorry?
Q. Page 21.
A. From the Met police, yeah.
Q. This is the business about informing royal household, et cetera.
A. Yeah.
Q. who we knew and could evidence had had their voicemail You see that personal pronoun, "their"?
A. Yes.
Q. So he might say that although you fall into at least one of the foregoing categories, it wasn't your voicemail; it was your agent's voicemail.
A. Well, it's interesting. Later, they were to change their position and say I'd been that I had been offended. An offence had been certainly, Commissioner Akers actually made that clear and gave me that apology when we changed. But I think what's happened with Mr Yates, he had one position and didn't want to change from it. So he kept it and kept narrowly to that. But we now know all the evidence and clearly they had all the evidence. He just didn't want to look in the bag.
Q. Whatever emphasis is put on the personal pronoun "their", it might be said that that surely includes an agent of yours. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It requires them to have made the link, doesn't it, between the lady whose voicemail was the subject of interest and Lord Prescott?
A. But there was more than that because they were later to tell me when I wrote to the legal department of the Metropolitan Police, I asked them, did they have any evidence at all that payments concerned myself? And then she told me, despite what Yates had been saying, they'd found two envelopes with my name on and payments of ?250.
Q. We're going to come to the evidence as it unfolds in your statement, but that was Mr Yates' position as at 11 September 2009. On 24 November 2009, you wrote to the director of illegal services at the Met police, so that's page 22.
A. Yes.
Q. You have that. You say: "I understand that Scotland Yard has now analysed and logged the contents of all the material which was seized by Metropolitan Police officers from Mulcaire and Goodman in the course of enquiries into the interception of voicemail messages. This is a formal request for you to notify me of any reference of any kind to myself in the material, including but not limited to references in computer records, paperwork, audio or video recordings dealing with any and all instructions, actions, recordings, notes, messages and payments concerning myself." But the point was made later on LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's pretty clear. You've put everything in.
A. Yes. It was because I thought a legal would not lie but the police probably would. MR JAY It's certainly pellucidly clear. I think the point was made later on, as we'll see, that you're broadening your request here. You hadn't been quite as clear and as broad before. Do you accept that or not?
A. I do, because the story was coming out all the time. I mean, the Guardian particularly was bringing out every day different parts of the stories, so that was reflected in the requests we were making. But there was one good reason why I did it this way. The Data Commissioner told me that he couldn't do anything, had no power. "Why don't you write to the legal arm of the Metropolitan Police?" So I did.
Q. So at this time you were in contact behind the scenes, as it were, with the Information Commissioner, who I think now had become Sir Christopher Graham; is that correct?
A. Yes. I'm sorry, it is the Information Commissioner.
Q. Page 23, more and different information comes back from the police on 15 December 2009, where they say this is the second paragraph: "Having now done a further search of all the material that was seized as part of the investigation into Mulcaire and Goodman, I can confirm that we have no documentation in our possession to suggest that Mulcaire attempted to intercept any of your voicemail messages. The only documentation in our possession to suggest that you may have been a 'person of interest' to Mulcaire is, firstly, one piece of paper, on which is written the name John Prescott. The only other legible word on this document is 'Hull'. Secondly, the name 'Prescott' appears on two self-billing tax invoices, which we believe are from News International Supply Company Limited to Mulcaire's company, Nine Consultancy Limited. One appears to be for a single payment of ?250,000 on 7 May 2006 with a reference containing the words: "'Story: other Prescott '" I think that must be "assistant"?
A. "Assist", yeah.
Q. But that's short for "assistant", is that?
A. Yeah.
Q. And that again is your PA, Joan Hammell, or it might be. Then it says: "'-txt.'"
A. Yeah. I did suspect at first they meant my son, because the Murdoch press and the Times had done a couple of number stories on him, so I was wondering whether that was the connection. I think I've since been assured it's probably not. Same Murdoch group.
Q. and the other, again, appears to be for a single payment of ?250 on 25 May with a reference containing the words: "'Story: other Prescott assist-txt urgent.' "We do not know what this means or what it is referring to."
A. It would have been a good clue to any policeman that perhaps there is something there.
Q. Thank you. You say in paragraph 19 of your statement
A. Paragraph, sorry?
Q. Paragraph 19. Sorry to dart around from your statement to the exhibit: "To my mind, it is perfectly clear that this documentation alone shows that the Met police were in possession of some evidence that my phone could have been compromised in some way and my privacy might have been invaded." That, of course, may be correct, although we know that the compromise related more specifically to the phone of your personal assistant.
A. Yes.
Q. Not that it makes that much difference, you would say?
A. By then I had accepted that as probably what was probably true, as I said at the time.
Q. You would say it was also clear that by then you had become, in evidential terms, at least, a person of interest to Mr Mulcaire; is that right, Lord Prescott?
A. Yeah, I think that's right, yeah.
Q. Okay. A pre-action protocol letter, as it's formally called in the judicial review proceedings, was sent to the then Commissioner on 5 August 2010. We're now back to page 256 the exhibit bundle. This sets out the relevant history, most of which we have looked at. The rest of it is in the public domain. The basic point that was made at the top of page 28, really: "Our client, even on Mr Yates' analysis, was and remains entitled to know how his privacy had been invaded so that he can protect himself from further violations and seek remedies in respect of past violations. The information our client requires would include not only the documents naming our client or containing his mobile telephone numbers but the documents showing how and when those numbers were accessed, by way of information such as Mr Mulcaire's telephone records and those of his contacts at the various newspapers. Our client would also require information to assess whether his contacts were also targeted, as he suspects from the behaviour of the press at the time, in order to listen to messages left by him or to ascertain information about him. Your failure to provide this information represents an ongoing breach."
A. Correct.
Q. The police, or their solicitors, rather, wrote back, page 30 on 15 September, where they make a number of points. The first point that is made on page 30, in the first paragraph. Under the heading "Previous correspondence", they say: "The MPS investigation in 2005/2006 did not uncover any evidence to suggest that the claimant's mobile telephone had been unlawfully intercepted. This remains the position today. The MPS does not have in its possess any information to suggest that the claimant's mobile telephone voicemail had been unlawfully intercepted by anyone, or that any attempt was made to intercept the claimant's mobile voicemail messages." I think, strictly speaking, that's right, isn't it, lord Prescott? Or is it right?
A. Well, I suppose the way I look at it, in a simple way, is they found an envelope on which there's payments made to me, actually billed through an international company. My assistant, Joan Hammell, clearly they had information. It's now known, in the information and it's said today between 2006 and '7 that the messages from me to her were intercepted. If you're sticking on the strict interpretation that you must have the phone hacked and messages then received, the type of messages I was receiving between the two parties, it's quite proper to do that. It's that kind of thinking, I think, that gave us you know, you don't prosecute if you've heard the message first. So I've got all this in my background, looking at this, and you're not in this this is the category you're in but you're not going to be named or given the information. I have a further one with Mr Hayman. I mean, I was working with this man in the cabinet office when Tony Blair was away and we had the problem of the 7/11 difficulties that came from that, of course, terrorist difficulty. But he was the man I was working with, and they might have just said to me: "Watch your phone." So I was beginning to feel they were hiding things, not telling me the truth, and as we'll see later, conspiring with the press to conspire to hide the truth.
Q. Thank you. Then you refer in your statement to the evidence Mr Yates gave to the Home Affairs Select Committee, this time on 7 September 2010?
A. Sorry, can you give me the number?
Q. Paragraph 22, Lord Prescott?
A. Oh, I'm sorry. Got it.
Q. His statements obviously they're in the public domain and may have to be considered when he comes to give evidence. You say in paragraph 24: "These misleading statements and the continuing failure of the police to investigate this matter fully and provide me with the information I was entitled to left me deeply dissatisfied, so I decided to join the judicial review of the Metropolitan Police and instructed Bindmans to make an application." So that's what happened. But initially, the application for permission to apply for a judicial review was refused by Mr Justice Foskett, I think, on 4 February 2011?
A. On the withholding of information about the Metropolitan Police. This just all fed my suspicions constantly. The first judicial review was refused.
Q. Yes.
A. The second judicial review was granted simply because the police had not given them the information about the Inquiry that was underway, and the second judge in the judicial review accepted that was wrong.
Q. Yes. Sorry, I've got the wrong judge. It was Mr Justice Foskett on the second occasion which you just referred to and I think Mr White is right; he's reminding me it was Mr Justice Mitting on the first occasion. But part of the developing picture we can see this now from the exhibit bundle, if you don't mind at page 34A. There's a reference to reopening the investigation. Now, of course, Operation Weeting has started, Lord Prescott, there are new and continuing enquiries, I quote from the letter. About four paragraphs in, Page 34A: "Leading counsel has advised that in his opinion, the new material does not affect the decision made by Mr Justice Mitting in relation to the relief sought in grounds one and two of your claim for judicial review. However, owing to the new investigation, we can make the following additional disclosure in relation to your client, which we were not aware of previously. In the recent material supplied to the MPS by News International, there's an email dated 28 April 2006 which contains the subject line 'Joan Hammell (adviser for Prescott) [the name wrongly spelt there]'. In the body of the email that contains the information, there's a mobile number, there's a mailbox number and then there's reference to a PIN number." So this is all information do I have this right which would lead one to suggest that the mobile of Joan Hammell could have been hacked into. Is that right?
A. I would have thought it's a fair interpretation, yeah.
Q. It's then said on the bottom, on page 34B, the conclusion of the letter: "The situation remains the same, in that at present, to the best of our knowledge and belief, the MPS have no other material indicating that your client's voicemail messages were intercepted, but obviously there's now material that your client's adviser may have had her messages intercepted. This is being investigated by the new investigation team." So we have the first recognition there that your agent, as it were, her voicemails may have been intercepted. Is that correct?
A. It is, but what is the date of that letter?
Q. It's 9 February 2011. It's five days after
A. 2011?
Q. It's five days after the judicial review application had been refused.
A. Well, I think there's already been evidence that that information was known before. It didn't simply come in an email from the News of the World. It just wasn't acted on.
Q. Mm. This is documentary evidence which may or may not have been part of the original seizures from Mulcaire and News International on 8 August 2006, but I think the inference is that it probably was part of that material but they had re-examined it and had noticed something which, by implication, had not been noticed before?
A. Let me be clear what they have. There's all sorts of evidence we know is there. There's a blue book with all the names on, we've already heard. It wasn't just one rogue; it's hundreds of them. So they have all this information. Now they're saying, "We only got it through another source", and as late as that, and that's having told the courts basically, I think in the misleading of the first judicial inquiry. So I think that the information was there. Whether it's payments to be made, names to be used I mean, how much evidence do you want unless you don't want to look for it?
Q. Thank you. We're now back to paragraph 27 of your witness statement.
A. 37 or 27?
Q. 27.
A. Sorry.
Q. You had a meeting with officers from Operation Weeting
A. Yes.
Q. on I think two occasions, you say, both the 9th and 11 February 2011.
A. Yeah.
Q. They showed you various materials
A. Yeah.
Q. and one of those materials was one of the 11,000 pages, is this right, in the Mulcaire notebook?
A. Yes.
Q. Which had Prescott adviser Joan Hammell and her mobile number. Have I correctly understood what you're saying there?
A. You're right, and the extent of the messages.
Q. But the material which is referred to in the letter at 34A and 34B, that was material which they were stating had only been recently provided to Operation Weeting by News Group; is that correct?
A. I'm not sure. Can you take me through that again? From the date that she came to see my, Assistant Commissioner Aker
Q. The letter we've just been looking at, 34A and 34B
A. Yeah, got it. That was dated the
Q. 9 February.
A. Yeah.
Q. It was sent by fax, so you may or may not have known about this when you had your first meeting with Operation Weeting officers, Lord Prescott, because it bears the same date.
A. You're absolutely right, that may well have been the case because this is almost admitting until I saw Assistant Commissioner Aker, that was the first time I realised that they were saying, "We got it wrong."
Q. You don't say this in your statement, but was it DAC Akers who attended one or both of the meetings in February 2011 with you?
A. She said to me: "We want to tell you we're going to make an announcement tomorrow about an Inquiry", I think it was. "A new Inquiry is being set up and I wanted to tell you personally that we now have information that it was 44 times that the messages were tapped into. We're going to do an Inquiry," she said, "we have the evidence." She showed me one or two papers but I didn't take too much notice of the papers because I made a judgment about the lady. I thought she'll do a good job and I frankly think she has. She said to me at that time: "You'll have to trust us to get on with the job, we want to do it properly", and I said, "Fine", and I think I went on the radio the next day, Radio 4, to say I had faith in this woman, that she'll get on with the job, and I think she's proved it.
Q. Thank you. Then to go back to your statement, at paragraph 28, you refer to Mr Yates' evidence, this time to the DCMS Select Committee in March 2011. Again, this evidence will be considered with Mr Yates, or the key points will, when he gives his evidence on Thursday. Then you draw attention to the fact, paragraph 30, that Mr Yates sent a letter to the Select Committee on 13 April 2011 which confirmed that only 36 people were told about the way in which their private information was unlawfully accessed. I think it might be helpful to turn up this letter, because it's at the very end of the exhibit bundle at page 45, dated 13 April. If you go to page 46, four lines down, we get to the 36 people: "28 people were notified in 2006/2007 that they may have been affected. In 2009, we revisited this issue, resulted in an additional eight people being contacted and a number of attempts being made to contact others." It's quite interesting there, the formulation "may have been affected".
A. Well, those formulations clearly didn't involve my name.
Q. No.
A. Am I right I think I'm right in saying that, and given the dates we have, it wouldn't have been possible to include me when they say they first got the information. So those amount of people there that makes me believe on a number of these things: "What the hell have they got against me?" I mean, if you've got that information and the information about the 36, 40, who's making a decision who should be contacted? We've already been told who the categories are. Clearly, I fit in the categories, but I don't appear as a name, except to simply use this narrow interpretation whether it was my phone but not my messages that were intercepted. By the way, I think that enquiry was also about the dispute between the prosecuting and the police about whether who gave advice under what piece of legislation you can prosecute on, which seemed absurd to me, and we've already heard the comments about it today.
Q. Yes. This is advice on the true interpretation of section 2 of RIPA as to which arguably there isn't a consistent position as between the CPS and the MPS, but it's not something that we need go into. Mr Yates gives other quite interesting information about his dining activities with the editor of the News of the World at page 45. Went to a restaurant, well-known restaurant, the third bullet point. Again, that's something picked up on to ask him about on Thursday.
A. That was probably what was taken as an interjection by myself, for which I apologise. I thought it was, just mention it, quite common, but it was really about: if you're investigating somebody, do you have a meal? But I think that was answered by Mr Paddick later.
Q. Again, I'm just putting a marker down. It's arguably of some note.
A. May I just give you one other point which began to influence my mind at this, which it wasn't right?
Q. Of course.
A. As I go to each body and I went to the prosecuting office. They sent a letter to me, and I think it's not Mr Starmer, but one before, Mr Macdonald
Q. Ken Macdonald, yes.
A. to comment on. The same answers coming from the police were coming from the public prosecutors. If it's right, I can understand that, but they gave me one answer, which they tried to say, "Look, there's an understanding between us" and I think it's been referred to today "that if we prosecute two and we do six more, we don't have to do anymore, because that's common practice." They only get a few of them and leave the rest on the side, and I just found that very difficult to accept. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you can
A. I know it does happen. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON One could visualise: if somebody has been stealing money from a company for five years, you may very well get all the evidence for one at the beginning, one after one year, one after two years, three years, four years. To get all the documents together for every single instance of theft would be extremely expensive, very time-consuming, so one can understand people taking a view about the overall position. What is more interesting is the question that I asked this morning about what you do, first of all to demonstrate to the person who can control this what you're doing about this, and secondly to-make sure you have got the four corners.
A. It's the four corners that concern me. Everything has to be in the perspective of that time. We all knew there was a blue book with all the names in. That's what the Guardian was really referring to. So we knew there were more than just a few. So when I asked of that, with my suspicious mind wondering you know, we're getting no response, et cetera, things we've been dealing with I actually accepted your interpretation that that was probably right, that in some of these mass cases, then you deal with those at the top and perhaps have to leave the rest. But what we have to answer in this case: didn't they think this there was anything in the sacks of evidence? Didn't they open the blue book and say, "Well, this is bigger than one or two"? The story from the police, from the useless Press Complaints Commission, all of them accepted the argument it was a rogue company a rogue individual. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, and that's why I made the fact that there were two points. First of all, those who might have been affected needed to know so they could make appropriate arrangements.
A. Yeah. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Secondly, the company that was employing those that were involved in this activity needed to know that actually there was far more to it than, on the face of it, it appeared.
A. I agree. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Those were the two points
A. I think that was the proper way they could have done it. They chose not to, and it's when you don't take these other avenues that you get a bit suspicious about it. It's like when we had to have an extra interview with Yates and the public prosecutor over who gave advice about what legislation can be used, both of them writing to me, saying, "This is possible", and then the other one blaming "Well, I acted on the advice I received", and then the other party saying, "I didn't give it." So I mean, when you hear these things going on, you just believe it's not straight talking. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sure you've heard the phrase "cock up and conspiracy" before.
A. You sound more charitable than me. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, I've not reached any conclusions, Lord Prescott.
A. Yeah, I'm just saying I don't call it a cock up. These are highly paid, highly intelligent people. I think there's more a conspiracy of silence to hide the facts and frankly I'm stronger of that view in the last few months. MR JAY Let's go back to the JR proceedings. They were renewed on the basis of that further information?
A. Yeah.
Q. Mr Justice Foskett granted permission. There was disclosure in the judicial review proceedings on 30 September last year and you began to see some documents. There is one very interesting document at paragraph 33 of your statement, you refer to it. This is the interview of Mr Mulcaire on 8 August 2006.
A. Sorry, paragraph? I missed you.
Q. Paragraph 33. We needn't turn it up, but it's on page 660 of our bundle. Mr Mulcaire gave a "no comment" interview, but a document was put to him and you've correctly quoted from it verbatim in paragraph 33 of your statement. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Where is this? Page 660? MR JAY At tab 123. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON One second. MR JAY You don't have this, Lord Prescott.
A. I know. MR JAY It's within one of the interviews which took place. You've got the date wrong, Lord Prescott; it's 9 August, not 8 August. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, assuming it's this. 6 MR JAY The top of page 660. Do you see "DC Gallagher"? DC Gallagher is putting a page of the notebook to Mulcaire. He, DC Gallagher, says: "Another page here, this has got the name John Prescott. There's another name underneath. First of all it says 'adviser' and then the name 'Joan Hammell'. You've got her telephone numbers and DM1 numbers, password numbers and Vodafone passwords that I've already mentioned, and an address [in a London postcode]. Have you got that information to access John Prescott's network or that of his advisers? "[Answer]: No comment."
A. With "no comment"? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, well, he's entitled to say "no comment", because
A. No, no, but I'm saying I'm a bit surprised at the "no comment" because in the evidence I was reading recently he'd actually said that they'd got the number they hadn't got Prescott's number and couldn't get it, and then so I think the papers was given to me, and they couldn't get it, but one of the reporters apparently said that, "I've got Joan Hammell's number", and that's how they broke into it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What this is, this is the formal police interview under caution, so "no comment" simply means he's exercising his right to silence.
A. Yeah. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you're entitled to make the point that they've joined the dots
A. Absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON as early as 9 August 2006. That's entirely a fair point. MR JAY Yes, and equally importantly, paragraph 33, with respect, doesn't do full justice to the citation of the question from DC Gallagher, because you need all of it. Well, we have all of it now.
A. Yes.
Q. Paragraph 35 now, Lord Prescott. You brought a claim for damages for breach of privacy, and you've referred to a draft application for a warrant which referred specifically to you, and that's correct, and this is at tab 139, which is this time in file 3 at page 716. Whether it's necessary to turn it up, I'm not sure, but this is the draft application for a warrant under case. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What paragraph am I looking at? MR JAY It's the paragraph 16 at the bottom of 716. The reference to Lord Prescott is the top of page 717. The result of the High Court action for damages was that settled and you received damages and cost?
A. I joined the group, they were already in the process of doing it, a little later, but yes, it was concluded against the News of the World, or News International. My concern all that time, and why I was late in joining in the action, was I thought the most important thing was the role of the police and they hadn't carried out their responsibilities and that's why I pursued that as the main course of action.
Q. And the point wasn't taken in the privacy claim that your breach of privacy hadn't been proved because it was your assistant's voicemail that was hacked; is that correct?
A. Yes. Yes, that was yeah. In the News International case.
Q. That raises
A. I assume that's the assumption they came to. They gave me the same damages as they gave the press(?) so perhaps they even
Q. It's a point of law which
A. saw a connection between it.
Q. might or might not have been tested with interesting results, but fortunately for you it wasn't, Lord Prescott. I'm not suggesting that the settlement was on any wrong legal basis; all I'm suggesting is that it's not wholly clearcut. Your paragraph 42, if I can move forward to that, Lord Prescott, you set out in bullet point form the matters which arise subsequent upon the MPS's failure to warn victims or properly to investigate. All of these are in the public domain, but you're right to highlight them: a public statement made by Mr Hinton, for example, on 6 March 2007; what the managing editor said in 2008, which is, in effect, the one rogue reporter; what Mr Yates said in July 2009; News International's own statement in July 2009; and then the Andy Hayman statement in the Times newspaper, which we've seen with Mr Paddick.
A. I don't know if it was the same article in which he attacked me in saying there's no truth in this. Having left the investigation and joined the Murdoch press, writes for the Times and said, "If there's any truth in these accusations that Prescott is making, I'll eat my paper", so when he appeared before the Select Committee, they asked him to do that. I don't know whether he did. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think you probably do, Lord Prescott.
A. But it was really scandalous, that here's the guy in charge of the investigation joins the Murdoch press and then writes constantly attacking you. I haven't heard from him since, but up till then it was. MR JAY It's not in the Times piece, but there is a piece in the News of the World which Mr Hayman wrote, which we haven't managed to get hold of, but your recollection is write about the offer made to the Select Committee to eat the piece of paper.
A. Sounds like the News of the World offered a better deal.
Q. And then you refer to other similar matters in relation to the editors. It's intending now there may be some questions from others which relate to that which your witness statement covers, but I was intending now to ask you a few general questions which bear on the relationship between the politicians and the press; in other words, what we're calling module three of our Inquiry. Do you think there was too close a relationship between, in particular, News International and, let's take that which directly concerns you, if I can put it in those terms, the Labour government in 1997 and 2010?
A. Well, Murdoch operated with all governments, but if I can just make this first point: I'm not the best to ask about the relations with the press, because mine's never been good, but I'll give you my opinion. In regard to Murdoch press, I always thought it was wrong that politicians at the highest level were just too close to Murdoch, because Murdoch asks the price. It might be about Sky, it might be about, "Will you reduce legal aid?" which he's just convinced this government to do, about the costs of legal aid for the press. I think that's wrong, so there's always a price. And I did used to say it in my case, in the circus I had, to say it was wrong. Politicians always argued and indeed if you look at Coulson and Cameron, that there's always a price. It's not exactly corruption and I'm not confusing them of that, but they do have interests, they do have power, they do have and in the Murdoch press it's particularly organised to achieve that, so they have good relations. It's all the social dos. I never ever went to one. I thought you paid too much of a price for it. But all the leaders of parties and it's the present one as well, Mr Cameron and others they believe you have to have access to all the editors that he controls, as if somehow those editors would act independently. I don't think the evidence is that. But then it was like the paper might say, "We won it." I don't know the exact term; you know, the Sun used to claim which government they put in. I thought it gave a kind of corrupting influence, not in the payment sense, but in the political sense, that they had too much influence and power and I think it corrupted the relationship between the press and indeed the leaders. But I might say, when it was asked in earlier evidence being given, what about the relation at the top, it didn't take much to encourage the journalists below to work within that framework, because they buy papers. I mean just look at the Telegraph, bought by those brothers and they changed it from the Telegraph into the Daily Mail 2. They do politically act and politicians look at this and say, "We're not going to get a fair crack from them", and I can give you a dozen instances in the last six months which has happened, that's particularly with me. They give you apologies or they might put something on page 2, but it sours the relationship when they're not fair in any way, and then you're invited either to sue them sue them? For God's sake, unless you've got a lot of money, be very careful, you go down that road, because they will carry that story, might put it on page 2 if it's an apology, and then you go to the PCC and you think that might the Press Complaints Commission, go to them and you think, well, perhaps they will deal with it. Well, as you know, as evidence has been given, they were lying to her anyway, Baroness Buscombe, and quite frankly the whole damn thing is useless and I hope you'll give some indications of change with the framework as you have said and which I agree with, Mr Leveson.
Q. You said there was always a price. Can you be more specific about the consideration?
A. Yeah. Well, look at let's take Murdoch, because that's the one we're actually considering particularly, though most of them would agree. One was whether Murdoch should buy have more than 50 per cent of control of the press. Everybody basically went along with it, because they were too scared to say no, quite frankly. Secondly, if you want another one, the evidence we've just received from every newspaper about the legal aid, there's a proposal now, which we rejected as a government, but this one has accepted it, that they will
Q. Tiny bit slower.
A. I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
Q. Sorry to cut you off in full flow.
A. No, I can feel the sympathy for the Hansard writer. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We have one here as well.
A. I went to see it before, and that's it. I hope they always tidy up my grammar because I never get it right. Allows the press to have something to write about. But anyway, if you look at the case of the legal aid bill that we have in the House of Commons today, they asked the Labour government, we said no, they're asking this government and we're dealing with it in the House of in Parliament. That is, they believe the legal costs should be cut. And what we're going to reduce is limit the damages on risk (inaudible), which I won't go into all the details, to those who the papers who say have got a complaint against them. What they're going to do is put the costs on the person who wins the case in complaint against them. Now, you've got to have influence to get that. One government refuses it, another gives it. I've got to tell you, there is an indication, it depends how you fit out with the Murdoch organisation. The other one is Sky. We have to fight in Parliament to say they're not fit and proper person this is publicly a big debate that went on and whether they should increase their share of Sky. It's that kind of relationship and power that influences the relationships between the parties and the press. It's not limited to Murdoch, but in the main he's the one that uses it most effectively.
Q. Could you give examples, though, of inappropriate influence exerted by the presses on the workings of the government in which you were directly involved?
A. Well, I could give you Coulson on the other one, but I'll leave that, but if it comes to my own government you're talking about, they did ask particularly the competition one, I think, was involved with us as well, but we believed that they could have a greater share monopoly usually was defined as 30 per cent they can is have a greater proportion of that in the regions and the centre, and it was given to him. That was the Murdoch press, because that was important to them. Now, he could legitimately argue, and I would accept, he's going to ask the government, the government of the time, "I want this", and if they can say "yes" or "no". I don't think that's corruption; it's just political influence of a considerable kind to get what is a legislative requirement. And so that and other ones that I've mentioned are obvious. Why do they have these relationships? I mean, he's not interested in the dinners, is he? He just wants what he wants. That's: selling newspapers and influence over political parties and play a part in influencing the politics.
Q. The example that you referred to, I think, is the Communications Act of 2003.
A. Yeah.
Q. The effect of which you've summarised, but was there direct evidence evidence that you yourself have received or heard of improper influence being
A. No, I can't say it's improper. I think it's an exercise of political power over an interest group which I don't like and argue against and did do at that time. But I have to the one I've given you is before what we are voting in Parliament today. Why is it now that we want to actually strengthen the strong party in such deals over the legal aid changes and weaken those who win the case but have to pay more of the costs? Now, you can't say that's corruption, but every newspaper and every television have sent a petition to the House of Commons with exactly the same words, exactly asking the same thing. That's not just Murdoch. That's the lot of them.
Q. Sorry to go back to 1997 to 2010, if I can focus on that. You've explained what happened in relation to the Communications Act of 2003, but did the Murdoch press in particular, in your view, give anything in exchange for
A. No.
Q. what might have happened?
A. No, to be honest, I can't think they gave them an exchange, but they will be hoping that the paper comes for them in the election. That papers actually believe they win the elections, and so I think the politicians get to think it best to have them on your side than against you. That's proper political influence. I can't argue about it, but I should say you should resist it and not accept it.
Q. But was news, for example, reported in a certain way take the Murdoch press to reflect the fact that favours may have been given in the commercial field, for example in the context of the Communications Act 2003, or whatever other context one might choose to
A. If you take the debate that's occurred over this, about Sky. There was a very vigorous debate, both in the Commons and in the House of Lords, where we made clear that what evidence we had that this man wasn't a fit and proper person to have majority control of SkyB. Now, that is an argument about Murdoch. He's not offering us any favours. I don't think he should be given that, although frankly some might say what was also wanted for Sky Television was some of the jewels we talk of: the National, the football. These are all part of Sky Sport. Now, these are arguments in the political field. I can't say that that is what you get if you do that, but politicians are very sensitive, I think, about what the papers think. I think that's unfortunate. It's never troubled me, quite frankly, but it is the a problem. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is the difference between genuine lobbying all businesses and all interests will come to you, as a minister or you as an MP, and say, "Please take on board my arguments for my industry or my business" is the problem that actually politicians might see that the press can give them something back in return?
A. I think LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Whereas for the normal lobbying, there is no possibility of getting something, except you might say, "I'll build a factory in your constituency" or whatever. I'm just trying to get to grips with whether there's a difference here, because I'm not going to be able to affect the way in which interest groups work across the piece, am I?
A. In a democracy, it's absolutely essential that interest groups work that way. Take the health bill we've got at the moment. The doctors may be against it, others may be for it. There are debates going on. We have them in Parliament, we'll get it again today and we'll deal with controversial bills, and that's quite proper. Trade unions, I come from basically will come and ask for certain things they want to do and the politicians have to make up their mind what they want to do. Now, it's from the unions there are people who accuse us that we do it because the unions are lined up with us. It might be the businessmen with Tories. That is the rhetoric and the debate that goes on, but you have to connect the corruption direct. When I say the corruption of press, not money. I don't think there's in any way an exchange of money. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's influence.
A. There is influence. It's different from a few constituents getting together or even the doctors' organisation, and a big media operation like Murdoch, who will then say, for example, whether this government is worth supporting or not and it happens. You can see it with the Coalition at the moment. They're picking different sides. That's politics. But they have excessive if you give them the right to reduce their costs when they're very a wealthy organisation and put the burden, this legal aid, onto those that have won the case but still get penalised in it under the no win, no pay, which is an effective way of pursuing an action against the press, that's a different kettle of fish to ordinary interest groups. That's giving them something they want. You could say the health people are getting what they want if you scrap the bill, but that is particular to that interest. But the press go much further. They actually give a judgment, very often against Labour Party. Some did once, regretted that but it did do it, and every paper acts politically and the statements throughout the statements you only have to read out a paper to see what side they're on and see how they present the stories, and that's why politicians get annoyed. There's no appeal. There's no fairness you can go to. I'm not on about whether a fellow hits somebody in a bar or perhaps I should keep off that or kind of salacious things that we're talking about. I'm really talking about real political influence used to their interests. Now, politicians have to make the judgment what the proper balance is, but if it's solely because you're scared you're going to offend Murdoch and his press, then I think it gets a little bit of corrupting in the political influence. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So what's the answer?
A. A proper balance, which you're going to have to address yourself to anyway. I think we will be quite happy you see, I hear the arguments going on about the PCC at the moment, press complaints people as if somehow it's about statutory. I don't want to see a statutory control of the press. I have as much reason as anyone to have a go at the press. But basically what we need is a regulated framework, not for the politicians to decide and you might have to find where that balance is. And I think from what you said before, there's an awful lot of common sense. It must be common sense that applies. But if they go beyond what the definition of "public interest" I do believe it's a judge that should make that judgment and the judges have been attacked by Dacre and the Mail simply because they exercise the function we've given them in Parliament, and then attack them as a judiciary for defining what the public interest is, and I'll leave out the human rights argument, but just public interest. So you have to find a balance that people think is fair. It's not fair at the moment and it doesn't apply to every paper in the press complaints thing. See, you've got to find a framework they either come in because they're willing and there's got to be a form of sanctions if you get it wrong. Why should I have to decide or ordinary citizens have to decide that the only way I can get the truth out is to sue the press? They're quite contemptuous of you. What's made the difference now is no win, no cost. I mean, in that sense, people can do that and it's causing alarm now and the expenditure through that in the legal aid framework. Now, I just think if you can't get redress and I know people have given evidence here and I might even take the opportunity you offered us this morning to put some of my own ideas into what it could be, but you have to have a sanction. Let me give you an example. If you look at the business secretary LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Cable?
A. Vince Cable. The two people were sent in to take a recording, quite against the Editors' Code, no doubt about it, and then the apology given by the Daily Telegraph put in the paper actually says, "Yes, we knew the Editors' Code didn't allow it", but it had not been used against anyone so they went ahead. But what the hell is the Editors' Code if it's all on a voluntary position like that, with useless people chairing it like Baroness Buscombe and Redsocks before her? I can't remember what his name was. So you have to have an authority, really, in the press complaints and I think I can't just moan about it. I'll give you my thoughts on the matter, as you've invited us to do so. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'd be very interested to receive them because you bring to the issue an enormous amount of experience, both political experience and practical experience, and you may have heard that I've said to many people that it's critical for me that I develop a suggestion it will be for Parliament to decided whether they adopt it or not that works. It has to work
A. It has to work. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON for the press, but it has to work for everybody else as well. It has to work for the public.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And that, to my mind, is extremely important.
A. I talked to a number of people about that, and I've been thinking, and then this morning you sparked me off to say so long as you get it in before May, we could give some comments too, and I'd like to take that opportunity. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'd be very interested to read them.
A. Thank you. MR JAY I've been asked to put this to you: in your view, did the press, in particular the Murdoch press, report the true extent of the dysfunctional relationship between Mr Blair and Mr Brown?
A. I acted as a kind of bed and breakfast from time to time, you know, get another story in the journalism, but I mean, look, these were two brilliant men who had different agreements about certain aspects of policy. Of course they disagree, and I would look at the record and say it was very good, but when they had a disagreement I'm a trade union negotiator from my past and I'd like to see the party going forward, the government balancing, and these two guys, you know, have got a disagreement, so LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I won't ask which one was the employer and which one was the employee.
A. I think you could say the one who became the master thought he would be the pupil, and the man who became the pupil thought he would be the master, and that was the problem. MR JAY Thank you very much. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just one moment. MR GARNHAM Sir, I don't apply to cross-examine, but there are two matters. The first is Lord Prescott referred to the blue book as if that was a document produced by Mulcaire, whereas it was a document produced by Met police. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. MR GARNHAM The second is that Lord Prescott appeared to say at one stage that Mr Yates was lying. For the record, that's not accepted. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand that. Mr Yates will come and give evidence and we'll go through it all.
A. Oh yes. I won't say that he's lying, just withholding the truth. The second one is that on the blue book, I thought I heard when evidence was given that it was the police who decided to lock away the book. They may have got it from Mulcaire, but they had information in that book that told them. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We'll look at all that. One of the advantages of this Inquiry is that I'm looking at culture, practice and ethics, so to make decisions of fact about every single detail, which would take me literally years and years, is not going to be necessary. Lord Prescott, I'm very grateful to you for your assistance, and I'll be even more grateful if you have some very clever ideas.
A. I can't promise the clever. I'll certainly give the contributions. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed. Thank you. Right. Is there anything else? MR JAY There were some statements we're taking as read, tail end of module one, which will be on the website from the very near future. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do I gather, from the fact that you are asserting that fact, that you're not now in a position to identify the names of the witnesses? MR JAY You're correct, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right, well, doubtless you will. Thank you very much. 10 o'clock tomorrow. (4.30 pm)


Gave statements at the hearings on 27 February 2012 (AM) and 27 February 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 1 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 27 February 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 4 pieces of evidence


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