Morning Hearing on 14 March 2012

Jeff Edwards , Sandra Laville , Paul Peachey and Jonathan Ungoed-Thomas gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(10.06 am) Discussion re procedure LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, Mr Garnham? MR GARNHAM Sir, good morning. May I raise a matter before the evidence begins today? Those I represent are becoming, sir, increasingly concerned about the fairness of certain parts of the Inquiry's procedures in the light of the allegations against a number of senior police officers being articulated in recently disclosed witness statements, particularly that of Mr Tickner. We also have concerns about the evidence of Mr Clive Driscoll. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON About? MR GARNHAM Mr Clive Driscoll, a witness for tomorrow as well, although we understand he may be indicating to the Inquiry that he is unhappy with his statement as presently drafted, and has certainly not signed it. The allegations made by Mr Tickner are made against witnesses who have already given evidence and to whom these allegations, at least for the greater part, were never put. We understand the Inquiry is intending to call Mr Tickner tomorrow, and given the nature of the allegations, they are certain to receive significant publicity. There is, we submit, sir, a real unfairness in this procedure. The allegations being made are unproven and unsupported by independent evidence. They have, we would say, the flavour of attempts to use the Inquiry as a vehicle to settle old scores, and those criticised have had no chance to deal with the issues when they gave evidence. These previous witnesses face being traduced in the press without any possibility of effective redress or rebuttal. It is, we would submit, sir, not enough, with respect, for the Inquiry to indicate a willingness to receive written evidence in response, or to say that the Inquiry is not a fact-finding tribunal in respect of matters such as this. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, I'm not sure that quite the same principles apply in relation to this aspect of the work of the Inquiry. The reason that I've not gone into the detail of individual behaviour in the first module, and indeed in aspects of this module, is because of the ongoing investigation. I'm not sure the same issues quite arise here. MR GARNHAM Well, sir, that reinforces the submission I make then, because if in fact it is the case that this is, on these matters, a fact-finding tribunal, then even more important is it that allegations as serious as those anticipated from Mr Tickner are put to the witnesses when they give their evidence. Certainly, sir, merely permitting a written response doesn't meet the case, because those are not to be aired or tested in public, and the damage to the reputation of the witnesses concerned will, as a result of the procedure being adopted, already have been done. Sir, I will, of course, be seeking leave to cross-examine, but I'll be obliged first to give Mr Jay notice of my questions. He will take those that he thinks appropriate, probably the lines he thinks strongest, and I will be left at best, and with your consent, with a time-limited opportunity to construct a cross-examination out of the residue left behind. Although I can put the contrary case to the witness, the public will hear only Mr Tickner's side of the story. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, it becomes a question, doesn't it, of who speaks first. I think I'm right in saying that Mr Tickner comes to the Inquiry through the general request for evidence that was published on the website. MR GARNHAM I'm sure that's right, sir, because he begins by saying, "I have not received a section 21 notice." LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There you are. And it's probably quite important that we don't ignore important evidence. Where that should take us is a fair question, and I don't know whether you've discussed that with Mr Jay. I don't want to traduce anyone without giving them the opportunity to respond. I hope that I have demonstrated a very keen appreciation of being fair to all, but of course the dynamic changes. I have no doubt that had we seen this statement in advance, the thing could have been dealt with differently. MR GARNHAM I too have no doubt about that, sir. I'm sure that if Mr Jay had had sight of that statement at the time these senior Met witnesses were giving evidence, he would have put the points to them, but the point is by the witness timing the submission of his statement to when all these witnesses are finished giving the evidence, the opportunity for that to be done disappears and that's where the unfairness lies. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I understand that might be slightly oversubtle, but I take your point. MR GARNHAM Sir, I'm conscious of the fact that these were concerns raised by other core participants during Module 1. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MR GARNHAM But the difference is that the evidence that's now to be called from Mr Tickner is being volunteered by the witness after the people about whom the criticisms were made have given their evidence, so they couldn't deal with it then, and furthermore, unlike some of the other core participants, the MPS are not in a position to publish a rebuttal of his evidence in the press tomorrow as they don't own a convenient organ of the press to do that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I understand that point, too. MR GARNHAM It is, with respect, not a trivial point. The allegations being made against people like Lord Blair, Sir Paul Stephenson and others are very serious. They come, to use the popular expression, from left field. They've not been prefaced or anticipated before, they've not been dealt with, and we know what the headlines will be tomorrow as a result of them, and that, sir, is unfair. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I take the point. Have you discussed this with Mr Jay? MR GARNHAM I've warned Mr Jay that I was going to raise the matter with you, but I haven't discussed the contents. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. MR GARNHAM We would invite you and Mr Jay, sir, to devise a mechanism that if this witness is to be called, and in passing, sir, we would question its relevance, but if he is to be called, that a mechanism can be adopted that makes it clear that this evidence does not go unchallenged and has not been tested. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh, well, I think we'd probably do a bit more than that. At least that's what I would want. At this stage let me just think about what you've said. I apprehend that contrary to my best endeavours, today will be rather shorter than even the last few days, so we'll have some time to return to this later on today, and in the meantime Mr Jay can consider what you've said. MR GARNHAM Thank you, sir. MR PHILLIPS Sir, before you hear the evidence, may I make a couple of points, because of course Mr Tickner was an employee of my clients. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MR PHILLIPS The statement, as I hope was clear from what Mr Garnham said, came as a complete surprise certainly to me yesterday afternoon. It is not, I should make absolutely clear, served as part of the MPA/MOPC's section 21 notices response. We hope in the three statements we have provided that we've dealt with all of the issues raised in your notices, but this is the statement of a volunteer. I'm not going to say anything about the specific points in addition to that raised by Mr Garnham, certainly not going to take issue with anything, but, sir, I wanted that to be absolutely clear. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. I'm not sure that I'm going to let you sit quite so much on the fence in that regard, and it may be that equally the authority or its successor body ought to be considering that which its former employee has said, to find out whether there is material which I ought to know about that would either utterly undermine that which he has said, in which case I may take a view about whether it should be called, or alternatively, a different line is taken, in which case I may have to make all sorts of arrangements to make sure that I've been fair to everybody concerned. Fairness will remain my touchstone, for everybody, contrary to some views. That's what I believe in. But therefore it's important to have a balanced approach to everybody's perception of this evidence. MR PHILLIPS Yes. The potential implications of the statement are being considered and investigated as I speak. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. If it's necessary for me to put the evidence back, then I would be prepared to contemplate doing that, to allow an orderly understanding of what's going on. MR PHILLIPS Sir, in my submission, that would be an obvious first step. Obviously that's without prejudice to the larger arguments that Mr Garnham has advanced. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Phillips, it's the second step. The first step is to find out this afternoon what the broad position is, and then we can decide. I don't want to disrupt the timetable, not least because, although there are some spaces, they are rapidly diminishing as issues are raised and have to be resolved in fairness to everybody. So we don't have an unlimited end date for this, as everybody who has been involved in this Inquiry only too well appreciates. MR PHILLIPS No, sir, although it is also fair to say that the timetable is subject to rapid change. I've made the point about Mr Tickner's statement arriving yesterday afternoon. I now gather from Mr Garnham, which I didn't know, that there may be a yet further witness to be called on Thursday, Mr Driscoll. So, sir, there are changes LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh, we make changes all the time. MR PHILLIPS Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But we only, I hope, make changes for good reason. And there may be good reason here, but we'll revisit it again later on in the day. MR PHILLIPS Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Jay, have I correctly understood where this evidence came from? MR JAY (Nods head). LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Right. MS BOON Sir, the first witness today is Ms Sandra Laville, please. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed. MS SANDRA ELIZABETH LAVILLE (affirmed) Questions by MS BOON MS BOON Please give your full name.
A. Sandra Elizabeth Laville.
Q. You've provided the Inquiry with a witness statement dated 8 February of this year. You've signed a statement of truth in the standard form; that's right, isn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry?
A. Yes.
Q. I'd just like to begin by setting out your career history. You say at paragraph 5 of your statement that you've been a journalist for 23 years and you have wide experience of covering both home and foreign news.
A. Yes.
Q. You started your career on local papers in Northampton and then Plymouth before moving to London?
A. Yes.
Q. You worked for the Evening Standard for four years and you then joined the Daily Telegraph, where you covered major home and foreign news stories for six years; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. Your work there included covering some of the major conflicts of that period, investigative reporting, feature writing and working as a senior reporter on the home news team?
A. Yes.
Q. You also worked on the news desk from time to time. You then moved to the Guardian seven years ago, where you worked as a senior news correspondent and, latterly, as the crime correspondent?
A. Yes.
Q. And that's the position you now hold?
A. Yes, that's right.
Q. You explain that most Guardian News and Media Limited journalists are expected to write for both the Guardian and the Observer, so you give evidence today you say on behalf of the Observer as well; is that right?
A. Yes, that's right.
Q. You say throughout your career you've had experience of dealing with police officers, one way or another?
A. Yes.
Q. In your witness statement, would it be a fair description of your evidence to say that there are the following key themes, if I set them out? The first key theme is that, as a journalist, you're the people's eyes and ears, that your job is to hold powerful organs of the state, like the MPS, to account and ensure that they do not abuse their powers?
A. Yes, absolutely.
Q. That's the first. The second is that the official Met police outlets of information are of value to you but of limited value, for a variety of reasons which we'll explore, and they don't always give you the full picture, all of the information that you need to do your job?
A. That's right.
Q. The next theme is that for that reason you rely on informal contacts with police officers?
A. Yes.
Q. And that there's nothing inherently wrong with this informal contact, you say; it can operate lawfully and in the public interest?
A. Yes.
Q. And finally you'd be extremely concerned if anything were done that had the effect of suppressing that informal contact?
A. Yes.
Q. I would like to take you through those themes, but before I do, I'd like you just to highlight as you see it the historical context to the culture of relations between the media on the one hand and the Metropolitan Police Service on the other. In your witness statement you described something of a pendulum swing. Where do you say the pendulum is swinging to and from?
A. The pendulum tends to swing from openness and back to a clampdown on the flow of information to pressure upon individual officers to stop them talking freely, and then back to openness again when there's a reaction against that. And then if there's another the Commissioner comes in or there's an incident that the police perceive as coming from too much openness, if you like, the pendulum swings back again, and predominantly there's the polarity of the kind of position of prohibition, of stopping people talking, making the information come from the official channels only, and then there's the position of openness, where officers of inspector rank and above currently are allowed to speak freely to the press without getting authority from above.
Q. You refer to Lord Condon's tenure as Commissioner. What was the position then, from your perception?
A. From my experience at the time, you could not talk to a police officer without a press officer present, and even if you met that officer outside court, they would want to talk to you, but they would say, "I can't do it, Sandra, you have to call the press office". The press office would then arrive the next day, or possibly the next week, and stand on the shoulder of that officer and control what he was saying, in my perception.
Q. When did things change?
A. Well, then Lord Stevens' policy of Met-wide communication came in, and that changed the policy to what I perceived as more openness, and that's kind of where we stand at the moment, but obviously there's a huge consideration being taken now as to where to go from there.
Q. And you say in your statement that since Lord Stevens became Commissioner, the MPS has encouraged informal contact?
A. Yes.
Q. Informal relationship-building between officers of the rank of inspector and above and members of the media?
A. Yes, absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Are there any lines?
A. Yes, there are obviously lines. We should know the boundaries. There's the law and there's ethical considerations and the police officers should know the boundaries and the journalists should know the boundaries, and you operate within those boundaries. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The question, therefore, is where are the boundaries? Doubtless we're going to come to that. MS BOON We are. Dealing first of all then with the official channels of information, in your own words, what are the limitations on or problems with relying exclusively on official communications from the Metropolitan Police Service?
A. Well, official communications tend to be on issues that the Metropolitan Police wants publicised. They tend to be quite narrow. They don't add colour and texture that comes from talking to an individual officer. They don't address, as I refer to in my statement, issues potentially where the Metropolitan Police is not going to be perceived in a good light. You know, the official channels of the Metropolitan Police did not inform me or others of Kirk Reid, the serial rapist, the trial going on in an outside court in London, in which they had failed several times to intercept him. We found that out through informal contacts. So one can take the official information and the official contacts and what they say on the one hand, but you always have to probe deeper and talk to others to find out the truth, I suppose.
Q. In the case of Kirk Reid, that was a trial that was taking place in a public court?
A. It was a trial in a public court, but there are hundreds of public courts, you know. There's only one of me, and there's only one of my other colleagues, and news agencies don't cover all the courts. You rely on your informal contacts with police officers to alert you to things happening in courts that you might know about or investigations that are going on which are interesting, so you need a pointer, and I got a pointer from informal contact. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But there always used to be reporters in court.
A. There are reporters in some courts; there are not reporters in all courts by any means at all any more, no. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So what you're saying is because reporters can't afford to cover courts now for commercial reasons
A. That's part of it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON they have to rely on somebody else to tell them where the dirt is?
A. Well, I don't think it's necessarily that. I think the reporters do not cover all courts across the country, and police officers who are aware of cases coming up will let you know of cases of interest. And police officers who might have been concerned that this case wasn't being highlighted and should be highlighted brought it to people's attention. MS BOON You say in your statement that senior management are concerned about protecting the force's corporate image, which can lead to them being secretive and defensive. Is that your evidence?
A. Yes.
Q. So is defensive an adjective that you say can be fairly applied to the MPS when responding to media enquiries? Is that what you're saying?
A. They tend to be defensive, yes.
Q. How does this manifest in practice?
A. Well, they give you limited answers to the questions. They don't expand. They rely on you to continue probing, and to continue probing you need to know what you're asking for. In order to know what you're asking for, you need to have had a conversation with someone, to have an open dialogue with an officer who can help you ask the right questions, I suppose.
Q. In fact, you do give a balanced picture in your witness statement, don't you, because you give two examples of what you would describe as quite excellent official briefings from the MPS, and one was the briefing in relation to the sentencing of Robert Napper for the murder of Rachel Nickell. What was it in particular about that briefing that impressed you?
A. Firstly, it was run by senior officers and officers on the investigation. They knew what they were talking about. They were allowed to talk freely. They gave information about past mistakes, which had never been never seen the light of day before. They were honest, they were open, they didn't lie. And it just made for an accurate picture of the unsolved murder, what had gone wrong and what had gone right, because the team who finally solved it did an excellent job.
Q. You say it was an example of the Met at its best.
A. Yes, I think so.
Q. Willing to admit mistakes, make amends and go on to solve the crime many years later. You also give another example in your statement of the briefings over the riots last summer. Again, what was it about those briefings that were positive?
A. Well, it was obviously a fast-moving situation. Journalists were under a lot of pressure to get information and get it fast and write stories quickly, and the Met briefings were they provided facts and figures quickly. They gave us an insight into the difficulty of what they were facing, the kind of knife-edge decisions they were making, and they were honest, most importantly.
Q. Do you have a comment generally on the speed with which you can obtain information through official channels?
A. Generally it tends to be too slow. I mean, we all work in a digital age nowadays. You have to get things on the web, on the Internet fast, you have to respond very quickly. Another example I give during the riots is wanting to portray the human face of what police officers were going through at the time, which hadn't been covered. I wasn't able to do that through the official channels of the Metropolitan Police, I had to use informal contacts, I had to go out and make approaches to officers myself, and that resulted in an article which one of the only articles actually at the time that showed what these police officers were going through.
Q. Who were you contacting to get information about the human side of the riots from the police perspective?
A. Police officers.
Q. Sorry, before, which official channels did you try?
A. The Scotland Yard Press Bureau.
Q. And what sort of response were you getting when you posed the question?
A. The response was, "Yes, we understand, we want to do it, we're very busy, we can't do it today, we probably can't do it tomorrow, we're really busy, I understand". That was the response. I mean, they were trying, but they were very busy. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I mean, all those answers are probably entirely valid.
A. Absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Of course, what you did then was go to other officers, who presumably took the time to speak to you in their own time?
A. No, I did it in a couple of hours in an afternoon. I mean, I had to file a story that day for that evening's web. So I made approaches through social media sites, I then spoke to officers on the phone, if they agreed. I contacted the Police Review magazine to see if they had any officers. You know, I made every effort to find officers through other means. MS BOON I've been asked by one of the core participants to ask you whether you consider that the limitations that you've described, or the difficulties you've described, can be corrected by the MPS or whether it's more a symptom of the institution itself and it's not going to get any better?
A. I think if you're saying can you repeat the question?
Q. I have been asked to ask you whether the limitations you've described, the speed, the fact that the MPS is seeking, as you say, to protect its corporate reputation, can this be corrected? Can this be improved do you think?
A. Well, it can be corrected and improved, in my opinion, if you allow police officers who are adults and experienced people to talk freely to the press and understand the legal boundaries that they should walk between, and I think 70 press officers in an enormous organisation are never going to be able to give out information quickly and correctly and in enough detail to cope with the huge demands from journalists.
Q. So for you it's not about necessarily improving the corporate message, it's just allowing officers to speak freely to the media themselves, trusting them to do that?
A. Yes, empowering them, trusting them to do that and understanding that for years we've had a mutually beneficial relationship, journalists and police officers, and that relationship is in the public interest because it talks to openness and it talks to transparency. And it's lasted for a long time because it actually works. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's not been without its own difficulties, as we've been hearing in the last few weeks.
A. Of course it's not been without its own difficulties, but I think you're talking about a minority in an organisation of 52,000 people, and a minority of journalists in a trade where most people are honourable, most people do their job correctly and understand the law, both on the police side and on the journalist side. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand that, but unfortunately the way human systems operate in this country is that we have to legislate I don't mean legislate. We have to make decisions based upon failing safely. You have to fail safely. In other words, you have to be in a position to protect what is important against those who may not observe the rules, because failure to observe the rules might be beneficial to one side of the story, damage everybody else, but itself be damaging.
A. I understand that, but don't you also have to legislate or regulate or encourage best practice and empower and train and teach people, reiterate the legal boundaries and not overreact to something that is we're talking about a minority of people, and we're talking LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do you think that we're overreacting?
A. I think there's been an overreaction within the Metropolitan Police already, yes. Absolutely. It affects everything I do at the moment. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's different. The fact that your work has been affected at the moment doesn't mean to say there's been an overreaction. It may be that new lines have to be created, it may be that's right, but do you think that what has emerged is really being blown up into something it isn't and is not serious? Or do you think that it is serious and therefore does need to be addressed?
A. I'm not saying it's been blown up into something that's more serious than it is, it is serious, but I'm saying the reaction of the police and the way they are responding to that I perceive as an overreaction because what they're doing and what is already happening is that open lines of communication, which have been there for many years, are being closed down. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Some of your colleagues might say exactly the same has happened in relation to the way in which the press report stories generally, but maybe I'm taking you outside what you've come to talk about.
A. I think you mean that the press are being more careful? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mm.
A. Yes, and in some ways that's not a bad thing, it's a good thing. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's not always how it's been portrayed by the press.
A. Well, I'm a responsible journalist. I think it's a good thing if people think about what they're doing a little more carefully and examine the facts and have a personal integrity about the fact that the people they're writing about are human beings and you affect their life with everything you write, and I think that's a good thing if they're reflecting more on that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It so happens that so do I, but here the boot is on the other foot, isn't it, because what you're saying is that greater care is now undermining the work that you do. That's what you're effectively saying.
A. But I think there's a difference between a corporation, an organisation from the top reacting to something in the way they're reacting, and after all these decisions are being made at the very top, and the officers who haven't done anything wrong, the middle-ranking officers, are the ones who are being affected by it. So in order to tackle a scandal, if you like, what they seem to be doing is handing more power to senior officers to control the flow of information, and actually you could argue that you should open it up and allow officers to speak freely, because in that way you could highlight future scandals, you could allow your officers empower them to highlight future scandals. It's happened in the past, it happened under Robert Mark. So I perceive it as an overreaction, I do. If you stop it's already happening. I have relationships with officers that the press office are trying to stop me talking to now, for no no decisions have been made, but this is happening already. MS BOON Can you describe those circumstances? You were trying to speak to somebody informally and you were stopped by a press officer, is that
A. An officer of quite senior rank who I've known for many years, I asked him to talk to me about a subject that he knew very well, he'd been the senior investigating officer, both cases had concluded, he was quite happy to talk to me but he said I had to ask a press officer. I asked a press officer in an email and on the phone and she refused me access to the officer.
Q. Did you then go back to the officer to ask
A. I went back to the officer. He said, "Sorry, that's the way it is now."
Q. That's not what would have happened before, you're saying?
A. Absolutely not.
Q. Before I move on to explore in more detail your informal contacts and the benefits that you say you derive from them, I just want to explore what you say at paragraph 36 on page 09442. That's about the head of public affairs. Sorry, I don't think it is paragraph 36. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There is a paragraph 36. MS BOON It may or may not be the one LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's all to do with favouritism. MS BOON Ah, that is the right one. I did have the right reference. 09442.
A. Sorry, I'm not
Q. It's page 15 if you don't have the MOD number in the bottom right-hand corner. Paragraph 36.
A. Yes, I think I'm there.
Q. "I think if the head of public affairs is the gatekeeper to senior officers for example and acts in the same way to all crime journalists that is one thing, but if that head of public affairs is seen to favour certain news organisations, or certain journalists, then that is unhealthy and raises questions about why that is taking place." I've been asked by a core participant to ask you whether you're saying there that Mr Fedorcio is in your view someone who favoured certain news organisations or journalists in a way that was unhealthy?
A. I think there was something of an inner circle that was created, but to my perception that was more about the length of time certain individuals had been covering crime and they had built relationships over many years; in fact, you know, seven or eight years, and they knew each other very well. But, yes, there was certainly at times a perception that you would have a briefing and then maybe another briefing with a smaller group of people would go on, but, you know, then you negotiate that and you make sure you get in the smaller briefing. I mean, that's what journalists do. It's our job to go to the source of the information and find it out, and I don't it never struck me as anything dodgy, it just struck me as these people were good at their jobs and, you know, they'd managed to make a very good contact over many years.
Q. So there would be a formal briefing and you say then others would go on. So some journalists would go to a different room with those who had been giving the briefing and continue the conversation?
A. No, I think sometimes you might go to a pub afterwards, and sometimes you might see a few journalists with the press with Fedorcio afterwards, but that wasn't you know, and then when I negotiated, I would be there as well. I mean, it wasn't anything I didn't perceive it as anything wrong. I perceived it as these people had known each other for a very long time and it was my job to get that access as well.
Q. Were there any journalists or titles that were notably not in the circle?
A. No, I don't think so. You know, I've worked for the Standard, the Telegraph and the Guardian, and I managed to get myself in the circle, if there was one, if I perceived there to be one. It's about how you operate, really. I didn't see it as being any particular newspaper. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What you're saying is that this is unhealthy.
A. I think it's unhealthy LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's your word, not mine.
A. Well, I think it's unhealthy. I didn't actually say that this was what I'm describing now was unhealthy. I'm saying that if there was a perception that the head of press was feeding stories to one particular organisation, I don't know whether that was happening, that is unhealthy. Sorry, to be clear on that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I see. MS BOON So you're not saying that it's your evidence that there was a favouring of certain news organisations in terms of access or provision of information?
A. Not that I was aware of, no. Not clearly, no.
Q. So moving on then to the informal contacts, we should be clear, first of all, what you mean when you say "informal contact". Is this informal but authorised, informal in the sense of being secret, in the sense that the police officer you're speaking to wouldn't want their line manager to know? What do you mean when you say "informal contact"?
A. Well, informal contact, as I perceive it, is there was a broadbrush authorisation for officers, as I've said, of inspector rank and above to be able to talk to journalists, so informal contacts would be after work, in a pub, in a cafe, in a restaurant, that kind of informal.
Q. So not necessarily something they'd want to hide from their line manager, if their line manager asked them, "What were you doing last night?"
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Why must it always be in a pub, a cafe or a restaurant? Why does it have to be linked with food and drink?
A. Because it's part of human relationships. I think if an officer has worked all day and takes time out from his family to come and meet me, I see nothing wrong with buying him a drink or having a meal with him. As long as it's reasonable, as long as common sense is applied, I see it as part of normal human relationships, and journalists do it with every profession. They do it with doctors, they do it with trade union leaders, they do it with lawyers, they do it with pharmaceutical companies. You know, scientific reporters do it with scientists. MS BOON On page 09431, that's page 4 if you don't have the MOD reference, the second substantive paragraph on that page, you describe "informal dialogue with police officers" as "vital" and going to the heart of your role in a democracy. These are quite strong words. Why is such informal contact so important, do you say? I appreciate you've touched on this to some degree already, but is there anything you want to add to why it's so important?
A. Because the police force is a very powerful organisation in this country. They need to be held to account. You can't hold them to account by taking information from the official channels only. They have the power to lock people up for a long time. We've had miscarriages of justice. You know, we have to journalists have to be able to hold the police to account, and you can't do that by using official sources only.
Q. What sort of ranks are you talking about of people that you have contact with? Is there any particular level of seniority within the Met?
A. Well, probably mostly inspector and above, detective superintendent, you know, that kind of rank.
Q. You've explained why you like to have or why you see it necessary to your role to have informal contact with police officers. Why do you consider they wish to maintain that contact with you?
A. Because often police officers feel that their work isn't coming across through the official channels. They are also interested in talking to journalists who are interested in crime and policing. They want to add colour and texture to an investigation that they might have been involved in. You know, for example, Trident. It's not Trident the unit that now covers gangs and used to cover gun crime in the black community, that wasn't something the media wrote about, and I've written stories about the work that Trident does through my informal contacts with Trident officers. And I would never have been able to write those stories through official channels, and those stories, many of them, show the police up in a very good light. So that's why officers like to talk to journalists.
Q. You set out some noble reasons for speaking to you, but in your experience, have you had cause to doubt the legitimacy of the motives of your contacts or to doubt the accuracy of the information they are providing you? First of all, their motives, have you had reason to doubt their motives?
A. Well, I think it depends on the contact, and obviously you have to have a sort of thought process in your head: if someone's telling you something, why are they telling you this? So there's always that going on, and you would have to have those caveats, if you used that information. You would try and check the information in another way, if you were suspicious of it, but yes, I mean even with my best contacts I sometimes think, "Why you are telling me this?"
Q. And what about the accuracy of the information? Do you sometimes doubt that you're being told the truth by your informal contacts?
A. Far less than by the official contacts.
Q. Have you known or sensed in your contact, informal contact, that a police officer or member of police staff is trying to put pressure on you to dilute a story or not to publish facts or to pursue an agenda of their own? Do you ever feel you're being manipulated?
A. I think you're constantly aware that you mustn't be manipulated and that you shouldn't take everything that they say without question. I have been asked not to run a story because it potentially might cut across a criminal investigation. If I have found something out myself that I then speak to an officer I know about and he says, "Look, there's an ongoing criminal inquiry here; if you write this, it's going to jeopardise it", I would listen to that officer, obviously.
Q. That's of course one thing, an officer saying, "Don't publish this information because it might jeopardise a future trial". What about, "Don't run that story, don't include that information, because it puts me in a bad light or it puts the MPS in a bad light", have you had that sort of conversation?
A. I haven't openly recently, no, I don't think so, and I would be very suspicious of that and I probably wouldn't I would disregard it.
Q. You appear to be quite confident in your statement that maintaining these lines of communication doesn't necessarily involve breaking the law or officers committing disciplinary offences. How can you be so confident about that?
A. I think there's criminality and then there's a journalist going out about their legitimate activities. I think I know the law and the police should know the law, and those boundaries shouldn't be crossed. And if they are crossed, each party should know that they've crossed them and should you know, they shouldn't cross them, and if somebody crosses them with me, I will say to them, "Should you be telling them that? You know, I can't use that."
Q. But are the boundaries always clear about where information can lawfully be provided and where it can't?
A. I think the boundaries are quite clear, yes.
Q. And how do you know that the officer you're speaking to understands where the line is drawn?
A. Well, if an officer it's never happened to me, but if an officer meets me and says, "Look, here's this victim, here's her telephone number and address", I would be horrified. It's never happened, and I would be absolutely questioning that officer as to why they were doing that.
Q. But do organisational formal checks on contact not help in ensuring that an officer doesn't cross those boundaries? Doesn't there need to be some input from above?
A. I think there is input from above. I think they you know, if you're talking about a senior investigating officer talking to a journalist, I mean he would know what he can and can't say. I'm not sure I mean, it's all very well to tell an officer to write everything down, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to write down the bits that they don't want their bosses to find out about, does it? It doesn't actually provide the checks and balances that you're suggesting. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, one way it might is that if somebody can see that a particular journalist seems to be meeting a particular police officer three times a week every week, that might give rise to some concern, mightn't it?
A. Yes, I yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So might that not be a way of monitoring the position? I entirely agree that one can stultify and remove or create a barrier which might be damaging, and if one required a tick-box type culture to be put into place, that may be retrogressive. I can understand that point. But doesn't there have to be some mechanism for check, if only to ensure that everybody understands that there has to be some it isn't a free-for-all, and if so, what could that be?
A. Yes I think it's not unconditional, the contact, and I'm not sure. I mean, part of me thinks that what you need to do is empower police officers and trust them and instill them with examples from above, you know, with examples of integrity and what they should and shouldn't do as part of that, and ethical training about what they should and shouldn't say and, you know, reiterating the law. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There's all that, I entirely agree. Of course
A. I'm not sure that that kind of supervision that you're talking about, if an officer wants to break the boundaries, if an officer wants to break the law, he's not going to write it in his notebook. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Of course he isn't, of course he isn't, but if then he hasn't, as it were, recorded a contact, without talking about what he discussed, necessarily, if he hasn't recorded a contact and that's caught, then that raises some questions, doesn't it?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Which are legitimate.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So there's the check. By all means maintain the line above the rank of inspector, but if you are speaking to a reporter, that ought to be auditable.
A. In a diary or whatever. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Whatever. So that there is a mechanism of control, and if you don't write it down, well, then that raises concern.
A. I wouldn't have a problem with that myself at all, no. I think that's a good idea. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. MS BOON One can conceive of circumstances where a relationship can form where a journalist, for instance, might suppress a story that puts an individual or the organisation in a negative light in exchange for a promise of further information in the future or a better exclusive in the future. Is that something that you are aware of happening, that you've witnessed?
A. You're going to have to repeat that, sorry.
Q. The sort of quid pro quo, the I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine, that a journalist, on a police officer's request, doesn't publish a particular article in exchange for the officer promising in the future to give an exclusive, give further information. Is that sort of inappropriate relationship
A. The only time in my experience that's happened has been totally legitimate in that I have come across something which has cut across an inquiry and I've been told that, "Can you wait until the end of the inquiry and then you'll be briefed on the investigation, you can run your story", so that's my only experience of that kind of conversation.
Q. Moving on to the question of hospitality and entertainment, to what extent do you agree with Lord Condon's view that hospitality can be part of a grooming process that leads to unethical or criminal behaviour?
A. Well, I don't agree with it. I don't perceive I think that's a very strong thing to say. I think, as I've said, there's criminality and then there's legitimate journalistic activity, and socialising to a reasonable extent, using common sense, with police officers is not a grooming process. These people are grown-ups. Some of them make life and death decisions about they deal with organised crime, they investigate rape. You know, the idea that me buying them a couple of beers or a meal is grooming them in any way is faintly ludicrous, to be honest. I don't agree with that.
Q. What about a higher level of hospitality, dinners in expensive restaurants with champagne, that sort of level, as opposed to a meal after work?
A. Again there's the law, there's the Bribery Act. I think if it's not reasonable, if you're repeatedly taking an officer to the Savoy and throwing in a lap dancing club repeatedly, obviously that's not reasonable or common sense and it potentially is illegal, so there's your criminality.
Q. So what levels of hospitality do you offer or provide to your contacts?
A. Reasonable levels, and we have a policy at the Guardian where everything I claim has to be supervised.
Q. So what is reasonable?
A. I think there's a guideline we don't do hospitality there's a guideline at the Guardian that it should be no more than ?40 to ?45 for two people having a meal, but I mean sometimes it goes above that. Obviously we live in London. But, you know, reasonable amount.
Q. And the level of hospitality that you feel comfortable accepting from the police, where would you draw that line?
A. I wouldn't be comfortable about being taken to lavish restaurants and wined and dined, no, I wouldn't.
Q. Why wouldn't you? That might seem like an obvious question, but why wouldn't you?
A. Because I think you would be wondering what are they trying to get out of this, why are they taking me here? Why couldn't we have just had a reasonable meal somewhere? Why is this happening?
Q. Paragraph 31 of your statement starts at 09440, page 13. In fact it's 09441 that I want to take you to, over the page. Do you have that?
A. Yes.
Q. You say: "In addition, it is always important to remember that you as a journalist have your agenda of seeking out information to call the police to account, and they have their agenda. I am always aware that as a specialist you might be in danger of getting too close, or going native, as some put it. I have a constant checks and balances going on in my head when dealing with the police, in order to try and avoid this." There are a few questions that arise out of that paragraph. What first of all are the dangers that you're referring to?
A. Well, I think if you're a specialist and you spend your time talking to police officers, you start to see things from their perspective and their perspective only, and that's dangerous and you need to check yourself and think, well, they're telling me they're arresting all these people after the riots and maybe I need to flip the coin over and go and speak to the people who have been arrested. You can't take the information from one source only.
Q. That's what you mean by "going native"?
A. Mm.
Q. Have you ever felt that you've got too close in the way you've highlighted there as a risk?
A. I think I've sometimes examined things through the prism of knowing what the police are thinking, and I have checked myself and thought, "You know, you need to think about it from the other side", yes, I do, but I've never put anything into print that I would be embarrassed about in that way, it's a process that goes on.
Q. It's not about getting too close to individuals on a friendship level, you're talking about getting too close in the terms of unconsciously becoming biased towards the police, is that what you're
A. Yes.
Q. The checks and balances in your head, is there anything you want to add to what's going through your mind to make sure that you remain independent you preserve your independent approach to the information?
A. I think it's just that, that you have to question what you're being told all the time.
Q. Moving on to the culture of relations between the media and forces other than the Metropolitan Police Service, in your own words, how do these compare with the MPS?
A. They tend to take their lead from the Metropolitan Police. There are notable examples. I've mentioned Devon and Cornwall do a very good media operation, but they tend to look to the Metropolitan Police so they follow their lead.
Q. Are there variations within the regional forces, within the other forces, or can you say that there's a culture on the one hand of the MPS and on the other hand the other police forces?
A. No, I think they follow the MPS, most of them. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Are you surprised to read that actually there are different policies across the country?
A. Yes. I mean obviously I don't you know, I don't every day deal with every single police force in the country. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, but you may have read it in these reports.
A. Yes, yes, yes. Some forces seem to be more helpful than others, but I'm not aware of all their individual policies, no. MS BOON Page 09437, paragraph 17 of your statement. You describe the way Suffolk police handled the media during the murders of the prostitutes in Ipswich as a "very powerful and deeply impressive media operation". What was it about that operation that made it such a success in your view?
A. They had hundreds of journalists from the national press and international press on their doorstep, they had a crime unfolding in front of their eyes, but they managed to hold briefings, release details that they were able to release, keep us informed of the investigation so that we could keep our beast back on the news desk fed, if you like. There was incredible pressure from the news desks and a demand for stories, and they also acted as human beings. This was an incredibly powerful, upsetting thing that was happening, and police officers are human beings and they showed that to us in a way, so you know it was just honest and it was impressive in that way.
Q. Yes. The use of the phrase "police source", I've been asked to explore this with you. Do you ever use the phrase "police source"?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. And when you do, who or what organisations fall under that umbrella? Who are you encapsulating potentially?
A. Anybody linked to policing, I would say.
Q. So how do you define that, anybody linked to policing?
A. Police authority, IPCC, you know, a police officer. Broadly anybody linked to policing.
Q. And what about, say, a family member of a police officer or member of police staff?
A. Sorry?
Q. What about a family member of a police officer or member of police staff?
A. A family member I would describe in a different way. A member of police staff, depends what they did, to be honest.
Q. Sorry, it was more I was asking you whether you would describe a family member of a member of police civilian staff as a police source.
A. No.
Q. So the police authority, IPCC, the police itself, although not necessarily a member of police staff?
A. No, it wouldn't necessarily be a police officer, so to speak.
Q. What about a government source, from government?
A. Only if they were linked to policing would I call them a police source. I wouldn't say police source for somebody that wasn't linked to policing. I think that's misleading.
Q. I suppose it's how you define "linked to policing" that is of interest to the core participant who asked me to ask the question, and also perhaps of general interest to the Inquiry. Can you say where you would draw the line, because "linked to policing" could be quite broadly defined.
A. It is quite broad. It's necessarily broad because you don't want to identify the source, but my policy is not to mislead, so I would try and keep it quite tight.
Q. Can you comment on whether other journalists adopt the same approach as you?
A. I can't comment on that.
Q. The question of involvement in police operations or ride-alongs, as some might call them LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just before you go on to that, on the same topic of other police authorities and your recent evidence, what should be the priority, in your view, of "feeding the beast" in the context of a major inquiry? In other words, lots of things to do in a major inquiry. How important is it to deal with media demand, in your view? Where should it rank?
A. It does depend on the inquiry, because some inquiries absolutely require publicity as they're hunting suspects, so it depends on the individual inquiry. I think the police understand that in a major investigation, there is a lot of public concern. In a child abduction, for example, there's a lot of fear created, so they need to provide as accurate as possible information. I don't you know, that was my phrase, "feeding the beast". It's my beast, not their beast. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, I understand that, and you just identified two reasons why it might be in the interests of the police to help you, because they want help to get witnesses or to hunt a suspect or to deal with fear. Those are very, very good police-orientated reasons. But because I was very conscious that feeding the beast was your beast, I was actually asking a slightly different question, which is: how significant is it, do you think, for the police to have to pay attention to your needs? Not their needs, your needs?
A. I don't think you know, if I am making demands on them that they don't want to satisfy, they're perfectly entitled to say, "We're not giving you that information at this stage", and they do say that, "We can't go there at this time", they say that, and they say that during major investigations and they said that in Suffolk, and we understood them and we trusted them because they were being honest, and therefore we listened. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And the next question, before we pass on to the new topic that Ms Boon wants to deal with, is you said in your statement that some forces, and you mentioned one of them being Merseyside, are very helpful, and I wanted to pick you up on Merseyside because there a link between the present Commissioner and Merseyside, namely he was the Chief Constable of Merseyside.
A. Yes. I didn't intend to make that link, but LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I wanted to know what Merseyside were doing well that you could pick up. Here is an opportunity for you to provide some publicity for a view that Mr Hogan-Howe might want to listen to.
A. Well I don't deal with the Commissioner level all the time. If I phone Merseyside press office and I ask to speak to a police officer, they generally try and accommodate, they don't obstruct. Nine times out of ten, they've been able to provide me with that officer or an officer that can talk to the issue I want. They don't make me talk to the press officer only and they are just generally helpful in that way. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MS BOON So the topic of media involvement in police operations. You say you've been asked in the past to get involved in operations and write a piece. If you want to become involved, if you want to shadow officers during an operation, who do you ask, who do you approach in the first instance?
A. Depends on the operation. You'd probably go to a specialist press office within the Met, if it's specialist crime or serious crime or
Q. And if it's not serious crime?
A. You'd go to the Press Bureau, or if you knew an officer who was running an operation, you might ask him first, and then he would probably go to the press office and liaise with them.
Q. Can you give examples of operations to which you have been given access?
A. I haven't actually done it for a long time because I don't think I get much out of it, to be honest, so I can't actually give you examples.
Q. Why don't you feel you get much out of it?
A. Because it's all about the official lines of the Metropolitan Police showing themselves, whatever they want to show, whether it's being tough post the riots or being tough on drug gangs or being tough, currently, on street gangs. I'm not sure you'd get much out of it beyond a picture of someone being arrested, a door being broken down or
Q. Why is that not of interest to you if the police want to show that they're reacting robustly to a particular problem?
A. It is of interest, but it's only of interest if I flesh it out with other information. You know, there's currently at the moment going on an anti-gang operation in the Metropolitan Police. We don't seem to be able to get access to that at the moment. All we seem to get at the moment is being bombarded with facts and figures and information, which is pretty meaningless without context and colour and texture and more of an insight, and I don't think you really get that from just going along, riding along like that.
Q. The operations that you have witnessed, although you say some time ago, what conditions were imposed on you or limitations were imposed on you by the force concerned?
A. From memory, and I haven't done it for a while, it's very tightly controlled. You're absolutely controlled about what you can and can't photograph and where you can stand and what you can say, I suppose.
Q. That's in the interests of the privacy of the people
A. Privacy, legal proceedings, yes, exactly.
Q. And protecting your safety potentially as well, if they've
A. I'm not I don't know, that's never happened, that's never kind of been an area that's happened to me.
Q. What do you have in mind when you're attending those operations in terms of making sure that you don't cross the privacy boundaries?
A. Well, you're not allowed to across the privacy you're not given that kind of access, in my mind, in my experience, and obviously if we did, if a picture was taken of somebody being arrested, I think editorially we would decide to black out the face. I think that's happened in the past.
Q. So generally do you consider that the media being present at operations can be beneficial to the public interest?
A. Yes, I do, and I think different organisations you know, if you're the Evening Standard, it probably is very much part of your bread and butter to do those operations because it's your it's a different kind of newspaper, and yes, I think they can be beneficial, but I think they need to be caveated by an insight that's not just going to come from that operation and listening to the official source on that operation.
Q. Yes, so they have their place, but your concern is that there needs to be more texture to it, to the
A. That's part of my broad concern that you can't just trust the official sources of information, yes.
Q. The question of tipping off, and what I mean by tipping off is an officer or the police generally contacting a media organisation and letting them know when a raid or an arrest is going to take place so that the media can be present, so it's not that you're formally shadowing them, but you're just told about it. Have you ever been tipped off in that way?
A. What, in an authorised way or unauthorised way?
Q. Well, either.
A. I don't think I have, no.
Q. So you haven't been in the sort of situation where you've been for a drink or a meal with an officer, built up a good rapport, a few weeks later had a telephone call saying, "We're going to arrest someone of interest next week, come along", nothing of that ilk has
A. No.
Q. But are you aware of that happening?
A. I'm not aware of it, no. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you
A. I mean I'm not aware of it personally. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No.
A. Obviously I've read, of course, but I'm not aware LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you've seen the photographs too, I mean these people being photographed as they're taken away from their homes or photographed as they emerge from police stations.
A. Yes, but I'm not aware where that information is coming from, and I'm not aware of my colleagues or other people on other papers being told by police officers. I am not aware of that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, but do you think that's the right side of the line or the wrong side of the line?
A. What are we talking about here? Because I think any journalistic organisation, if it discovered through a source, not a police source but another source, that somebody of note might have been arrested, I think lots of organisations would send photographers to that police station. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Of course, but you've just removed the question I'm asking by saying it's not a police source. A policeman has said to you, "We're going to arrest X", or "Y is going to be at the police station being interviewed about his or her conduct". It's not public, but everybody turns up and takes photographs.
A. I think if that's coming from a police officer, that's wrong. MS BOON Off-the-record briefings. What is your view of those?
A. Off-the-record briefings can be very helpful. I mean, you have to clarify what you mean by "off-the-record".
Q. Yes, I was going to ask you, because it seems to mean something different to
A. I think most British journalists see "off the record" as you can use the information but you can't quote me and I wouldn't necessarily quote off-the-record information, I would try and use it as a context.
Q. Do misunderstandings occur?
A. Yes, but I personally always clarify with the person I'm talking to about what they mean by that phrase, so I know where I am.
Q. So if someone says, "I want to tell you this off the record", you say, "Hold on, what do you mean?"
A. I think first of all I'd listen, and then I'd say, "For clarity, what can I use and what do you want to be do you want some of this to be unreportable?" You know, I'd clarify.
Q. So you don't leave it ambiguous?
A. No. I have done in the past when I was younger and it leads to big misunderstandings.
Q. You appear keen to say in your witness statement that giving information off the record is not about secrets being passed down necessarily.
A. No
Q. It's not necessarily something illegitimate?
A. No, it's not at all. I don't think so, no.
Q. You say it's about journalists and police officers being able to have an open conversation about an issue?
A. Yes.
Q. And preventing mistakes in reporting, correcting inaccuracies, that sort of thing?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you consider that there should be any kind of limitations on police officers speaking off the record? Do you consider that they should be regulated in any way?
A. I think I keep repeating myself, but I think we already have laws and guidelines in place, and I think they should be reiterated. I'm sure they have been now. I think you have to trust police officers, who are, after all, trusted with investigating serious crimes in this country, and suddenly we don't trust them to have a conversation about something that they're involved in and not give away secrets. I think you can regulate as much as you like, but unless you instill people with integrity and trust them, I don't think that's going to work, so I wouldn't encourage more rules and regulations, no.
Q. When officers are speaking off the record to you, are there occasions where what they're saying to you distends in your view into what's just gossip or tittle-tattle, matters that they shouldn't really be sharing with you?
A. What, about an operation, you mean?
Q. Well, whether it's gossip about a colleague, gossip about the competence of their line manager
A. Human beings do gossip. I can't say that I haven't had any conversations with a police contact who hasn't gossipped about a colleague, but whether I print that or not is another thing.
Q. But there might be occasions where you would print that?
A. It depends. It depends whether it was in the public interest, who the police officer was, whether it was accurate, whether it talked to a serious issue or not.
Q. What about your experience of speaking to senior officers, so Deputy Assistant Commissioner and above? During those conversations, to what extent have you had experience of gossip and tittle-tattle?
A. Not really.
Q. Not really?
A. No.
Q. So nothing marked that you can remember now, nothing of any particular note?
A. I don't think so, no. I mean, having heard last week's evidence, there was certainly a lot of tension at Scotland Yard at the time of Bob Quick leaving and all of those issues and it was very marked, the tension, and the hostility at times was open if you were in a room with them, but I wouldn't say anyone gossipped to me about it, no.
Q. I might risk asking you to repeat yourself, but I do want to finish the questions by asking you about the future and how you see relationships between the police and the media can remain appropriate to ensure that the information flow is not unnecessarily curbed by any measures that are put into place. What are your views on what, if anything, needs to be done to ensure that the relationships remain appropriate?
A. I think, as I've said, the way to stop corruption, to my mind, is to have openness and to have integrity and to perhaps give people more training in ethical issues and encourage personal responsibility, to reiterate the law, but I think closing down communications and only allowing information to come from one source is not necessarily going to reduce abuse or corruption. It could actually drive it underground, drive the flow of information underground and create a black market, if you like. So I think we need to use the laws we have and use them, you know.
Q. No one is suggesting, are they, that you ought to be confined to one source, the official source, only; that's not been a recommendation that anyone has published?
A. We don't know what they're suggesting yet, but certainly it feels like that at the moment, because information is being constantly channelled through the official sources and police officers are not willing to talk, and they're scared of talking. That's what's happening.
Q. And that's your experience as you described earlier
A. Yes, it's more than one
Q. of the current environment?
A. Yes.
Q. You've said that the heart of the matter is personal and organisational integrity, or you would agree, would you, that that's at the heart of it, really, in enforcing integrity, using the laws that we already have, but ensuring that officers know where the boundaries are? Is that a fair way of summarising?
A. Yes. I think if you respect your organisation, you don't tend to brief against it, you don't tend to leak about it.
Q. Before you finish, is there anything else that you would wish to take the opportunity to say about that or any matter that you've considered today or matter that I've not brought to the Inquiry's attention today that's in your witness statement?
A. Just briefly on the issue of training for both parties, I feel certainly for reporters the traditional route was up through local newspapers, where if you made a mistake, you soon found out about it. That doesn't tend to happen any more. You would have to go and call on people who had lost children in accidents or criminal investigations. It teaches you humility, it teaches you to be sensitive and it teaches you that these people are human beings, and I think that kind of training needs to be somehow we need to teach journalists again what that means. I don't quite know how we do that. On the same hand, I think police officers need they need better media training. The media training they currently get, as far as I understand, is how to hold a press conference, where to stand when you're being filmed, but I think they need some kind of training about ethics, media training, their role in a democracy, the fact that you can't have unnecessary secrecy and the things you can say to the press legitimately, not necessarily the things you can't say, all the time.
Q. Yes.
A. On both sides we need to understand each other's worlds a little more, perhaps, as well.
Q. Do you have any proposals for how that might be achieved?
A. I think you could build training on both sides, couldn't you? I don't quite know how you do that. MS BOON Those are all the questions I have. There may be some further questions. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. You have one other well it's not your suggestion, but it's the acknowledgment of the possibility that you wouldn't have a problem with my suggestion, that is having some sort of mechanism to audit contact merely so that if there are problems, it can be spotted.
A. Mm-hm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Thank you very much. MS BOON Sir, is that a convenient moment or shall I call Mr Peachey? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, that's convenient. Yes. MR GARNHAM Sir, before you rise, you asked me yesterday about the briefings that have been advanced to the Home Office. One was released to the Inquiry soon after that first arose, the other one has been released to you, your team, this morning. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed. Thank you. (11.28 am) (A short break) (11.39 am) MS BOON Sir, the next witness is Mr Paul Peachey, please. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR PAUL PEACHEY (affirmed) Questions by MS BOON MS BOON Please give your full name.
A. Paul Peachey.
Q. You provided the Inquiry with a witness statement dated 31 January of this year. You've signed a statement of truth in the standard form. Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry?
A. Yes, it is.
Q. Beginning with your career history, you say you've been a journalist since 1994.
A. Yes.
Q. You've worked at the Worcester Evening News as an editor for an international news agency, you've worked as a researcher/assistant producer for two television documentaries and as a producer for two radio documentaries. You are on your second stint at the Independent now, having previously worked there as a general reporter and as an assistant foreign editor; is that right?
A. I've worked in this current stint as the assistant foreign editor.
Q. In this current one, but you're now the Independent's crime correspondent?
A. That's correct.
Q. And you have been since November 2011?
A. Correct.
Q. You were also the crime correspondent for the Press Association between 1999 and 2000?
A. That's right.
Q. And are you a member of the Crime Reporters Association?
A. I am, yes.
Q. I've been asked by one of the core participants to ask you what you needed to do to join the Crime Reporters Association?
A. You just have to be a full-time crime reporter for one of the media outlets. It can be television, press, radio.
Q. For what reason did you want to become a member?
A. It's useful as a conduit between the police and between the police, there are briefings that are organised perhaps to make it less unwieldy, just purely for the crime reporters. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Full-time crime reporter? That means that if a journal can't afford a full-time crime reporter, they can't get in?
A. I thinking it used to be fairly strict. I think it's less strict now. There are freelancers, for example, as well on the association. It's a fairly broad church now, I think. MS BOON So your contact with police officers and press officers, you say, has generally been at formal events such as press conferences, briefings, conversations outside court, that sort of thing; is that right?
A. Certainly for the last four months it's been since I was taken back on the job, it's been largely the context, yes.
Q. Please remember to keep your voice up. It just dropped a little at the end there. But it hasn't been, even in the few months that you've been in this present role, your contact hasn't been exclusively confined to formal contact?
A. No.
Q. What sort of informal contact have you had with police officers or police staff?
A. Well, it could be meetings around events, it could be meetings at court, it could be going out for drinks, that sort of thing.
Q. What is discussed at these informal meetings?
A. Could be a range just a range of matters. It could be about current cases that are ongoing, future events, perhaps areas that might be of interest coming up in the future. I'm obviously still working out where the best avenues and directions of policing are going. So a broad range of subjects.
Q. For what purpose are you attending these informal meetings? Are you seeking to establish long-term relationships or is it more an impromptu meeting and you attend to see what information you can get on that particular day?
A. Again, a range of things. It's about getting information on current cases, getting information on particular stories that I'm trying to write. It will be to make long-term contacts, you know, identifying people who obviously are key to providing information that I may require in the future.
Q. You say in your statement that you have in the past had the home telephone numbers or mobile telephone numbers of the director of public affairs, some deputy assistant commissioners and some assistant commissioners, but you say you've been provided those as standard contact numbers on business cards?
A. Yes, home numbers I don't think so, but mobile telephone numbers certainly, yes.
Q. Right. Page 00764, paragraph 5 of your witness statement. This is where you refer to the phone and home numbers. But you'd like to correct that, would you? You don't believe you've had the home land line numbers?
A. No, sorry, I don't think I've had the home numbers for those.
Q. You say in the last sentence of paragraph 5: "It would not be possible for either side to do their jobs without having such contact details." Why not?
A. Well, part of our job is through contact with police officers that we are dealing with on a daily basis. Obviously it's important for them to be able to get in touch with us on particular stories on an hourly basis.
Q. Because the MPS's press department is open 24 hours a day, isn't it?
A. It is, yes.
Q. But that's not sufficient for you to be able to do your job?
A. No, it's not.
Q. Because you need to have that contact with officers who are dealing with the operations, you say, themselves?
A. Correct.
Q. For what reason do you consider that police officers have contact with you and other reporters?
A. What we're building here is a relationship, it's a better relationship between press and police. I mean, it would you know, as well as us being able to contact them, they may wish to contact us to highlight particular stories or take issue with something that's been written, for example.
Q. At paragraph 7 of your statement, again on 00764, you say: "Speaking from my relatively limited experience I think there is no doubt that the Met's intention in its contacts with me as with other reporters has been to seek to control the information available to the press." One could read that with slightly sinister connotations. Is that what you're meaning to convey, that there's an attempt to control what you're reporting?
A. I don't think it's an attempt to control what we're actually writing, but there's certainly an attempt to provide certain information that put their organisation in the best light.
Q. Similarly in a later paragraph you say there's an opportunity to attempt to mould coverage?
A. There are thousands of stories out there, I'm sure, every day, through the Press Bureau, through their releases and through their contacts with us. There are limited numbers that are put through to us, mostly the most significant ones of the day, but obviously there's an element of selection that goes along with that.
Q. Is there anything else you wanted to say about why the police have contact with you, things about them having an opportunity to give you stories and to paint the organisation in the best possible light? I don't want to put words into your mouth. That's as I understand your evidence to be.
A. No, it's broader than that. It's about a full range of contacts between the press and the police. I mean, you know, there's policing by consent in this country. We are acting as a conduit between the to an extent in sort of writing about what the police are doing and also holding them to account, but, you know so in order to get the biggest picture possible, you have to have as many contacts as you can.
Q. I see. At paragraphs 8 and 9 of your statement, you describe the really very moderate hospitality that you accept. You say that during briefings at New Scotland Yard, you would accept tea and biscuits or drinks during an informal meeting. Is there a reason why you don't enjoy more generous hospitality than tea and biscuits or
A. No, I think this is the nature of the this is just referring to the nature of the meetings that do take place in an official capacity at Scotland Yard. This is within the building, sort of set piece events that are made, whether it's a briefing with officials that's been organised by the Press Bureau, by the DPA, or whether it's a briefing with the Commissioner, that is the sort of thing that they will provide. That is purely for how it works.
Q. I see. Page 00766, paragraph 24. The third sentence that begins: "While there are no formal mechanisms for monitoring hospitality I may be offered, the Independent is a small newsroom and I believe it would be fairly obvious if I was regularly being wined and dined by police officers. Moreover, I am obviously expected to explain any absences from the newsroom. It is also made clear in our internal code of conduct that I must uphold high standards of integrity at all times I take that obligation seriously." Is a fair reading of this paragraph that if you're being wined and dined by police officers, you are not upholding high standards of integrity?
A. No, I'm that's very different. You know, the idea of being of going out and having meals with officers is a perfectly proper and essential part of what I would do as a journalist, although if there are issues of me being you know, police officers paying for large sums of being paid for expensive meals, then obviously that is an issue of concern, but that doesn't happen.
Q. So you say that having meals with officers is an essential part of your role?
A. I would say it was potentially, yes. I mean, the if, you know, meeting an officer on a regular basis is you know, or officers on a regular basis is an essential way to go ahead and depending upon the situation, time of day, et cetera, then, you know, or their choice of venue, that's fine.
Q. Adopting Lord Justice Leveson's question, why does it have to be over a meal? Couldn't there be a meeting just over tea or coffee? Why does there have to be an evening meal?
A. It doesn't have to be an evening meal. It can be over coffee. I've gone for coffee plenty of times with officers. But if it's the end of the day, we've both finished our work and we're meeting outside of work, I think a perfectly reasonable thing for me to do is pay for dinner. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm not ignoring the reality of human relationships, and I'm not opposed to people meeting in whatever circumstances they think is appropriate. But the risk is that if it's always expense account dining, somebody is expecting to get something out of this.
A. Depends on the level of the expense account. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Does it?
A. Well, I think absolutely, you know. For example, at the Independent we have a ?30 a head rule. I think the idea of a meal at that level being a potentially corrupting influence I think would be LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, of course it isn't. I'm not even suggesting that a meal rather more expensive would be corrupting somebody of integrity. But if you're saying, "We're meeting somebody regularly", and you've just said a moment ago, talking about meeting officers on a regular basis, and you're constantly providing something, whether it's a drink or a meal or whatever, then don't you think there is inherent within that a risk of the perception of obligation?
A. Obligation on them to supply me with something? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, something.
A. Well, when I talk about meeting regularly with officers, I'm not talking about a single officer, I'm talking about regularly with other people, you know, the number of range of LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It may be I misunderstood the answer that you gave. But you understand the point I'm making
A. I understand the point. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If you think there's nothing in it, say so. But if there is something in it, then how does one cope with that?
A. I don't think there is anything in that, in that, no. MS BOON Just to complete the picture, at paragraphs 10 and 11 you describe the hospitality that you provide as part of meetings as very low level.
A. Yes.
Q. You said that at the Independent there's a limit of ?30 per head?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's rather greater than the Guardian, which was ?40 to ?45 for two. I mean I'm not looking at the precise sum of money. I'm looking at the underlying issue rather than anything else.
A. I think it's also fair to say that what I'm talking about here is the last four months in which I've been in the crime reporter's role and, you know, the Commissioner of Scotland Yard is talking about a period of austerity and that is certainly the picture that we are that is the scenario in which we're operating in. The you know, the opportunities for dining with officers are very limited. MS BOON Are you able to comment on whether the position is any different with forces other than the Metropolitan Police Service in terms of the level of hospitality that's offered and accepted?
A. I can't give any great insight into that, into the period of time that I've been working in this I've largely been focused on the Metropolitan Police over the last few months.
Q. And you say you're beginning to build up your contacts with
A. I am indeed.
Q. You say at paragraph 22, page 00766, that you have occasionally been given prior warning of a raid, although not in your current role. You say: "I cannot recall the particular circumstances and feel confident that I did not, in fact, attend raids about which I was forewarned since they were not regarded as sufficiently newsworthy, or another reporter was sent." Can you recall the particular circumstances in which you were given that prior warning? Was this a secret tip-off or was this more official?
A. No, my it was no, it was an official tip-off. My recollection was that it was something like Operation Bumblebee, which was about stolen goods and the recovering of stolen goods, there were a series of raids across London. There would have been a this is while I was at the Press Association, that we probably wouldn't have covered it for news judgment reasons.
Q. Do you know whether you were chosen exclusively or whether other titles or journalists were offered the same opportunity?
A. It could possibly have been other organisations, but most likely it was because I worked for the Press Association, which supplies pictures and text to everybody, really. So by if I went along on such an event, then the details of that operation would be disseminated widely anyway.
Q. Have you ever yourself been involved in a police operation or witnessed a police operation on the invitation of a police source?
A. No.
Q. Do you see a benefit to that involvement?
A. Possibly. It depends on the operation, it depends on the story, depends on the context.
Q. You consider there could be benefits in the public interest to members of the media shadowing police during operations in order to write an article from their perspective of what they've witnessed, it's not something that you see as without any merit?
A. Yes. I mean there's you know, it could be of interest for some newspapers in certain circumstances. I mentioned earlier the Evening Standard and, you know, covering stories about, you know, local crime in London.
Q. Can I ask you then, Mr Peachey, about off-the-record conversations or briefings. First of all, the preliminary question. What does "off the record" mean to you?
A. It's a term that needs clarifying. I work for an American organisation and they have very different views about what "off the record" means. "Off the record" can mean that that detail cannot be used for writing, so shall we say "off the record" means it's just for your knowledge and you don't use it for an article or it's often confused with background, which can be used in an article. So most situations it has to be defined, so often, you know, it can mean purely for my own background use, it could mean for something to be printed unattributably.
Q. So it's not that you have a definition in your mind. You will ask the person you're speaking to what they mean by it?
A. I have a definition in my mind, but I think it's a term that is often confused by other people, particularly not in the profession.
Q. And are there dangers associated with officers providing information on an off-the-record basis?
A. Yes, I mean there are, yes. I mean, if something's been given off the record, then it's not attributed to anybody particular, so they are perhaps handing over that information without the responsibility that it entails, so, you know, so such information would always have to be checked perhaps more thoroughly than information that would be given by a named source and in the name of a particular organisation.
Q. Are there any other dangers or is that the main one?
A. Well, I mean off the record, you know, particularly in political spheres, we've seen off-the-record briefings being used as a sort of way of targeting an opponent, so you have to sift through why that information is being given to you and, you know, how you would use it.
Q. Do you consider there are advantages to off-the-record communications?
A. Yes, I mean it's part of that part of the relationship of trust that you have to build. I mean, that's part of the job that I do, is try to build trust between myself and officers in the organisations. To enable a free flow of information in the knowledge that some things will be told to you not for use, but so that they could effectively allow you to write your story.
Q. We've heard other witnesses describing them as a useful tool for providing context, preventing incorrect reporting or errors being made. Would you agree with that?
A. Yes, that's a fair way of saying it, yes.
Q. In terms of the future, what is your view on how relationships can or what needs to be done, if anything, to ensure that relationships between the media and the police remain appropriate or are or remain appropriate?
A. Well, we have you know, we are in a situation at the moment where, certainly the situation I've inherited, where there are very tight restrictions on what officers are saying to members of the media. Obviously our great concern is that it will lead to lessened contact, which has knock-on effects with police being answerable to the public and being accountable for a full flow of information that will provide the full story for any particular issues that we're examining.
Q. What are the restrictions now that you're alluding to?
A. The fact that there is an eagerness for communications between press and police to go through official channels such as the press office, who obviously have as previously mentioned a vested interest in putting a gloss on those news events.
Q. Is this something of which you have direct experience, an eagerness to channel contact through official channels?
A. Yes, yes, I have, yes. You know, you speak to officers on an informal basis and they will say, "No, I can't speak to you, talk to the press office".
Q. Is that without exception at the moment?
A. It's not without exception, but it's certainly, as I understand it, more common than it has been over the last few years.
Q. One of the recommendations of Elizabeth Filkin is that there is greater openness and transparency accompanied by a wider ranging permission to police officers to speak to the media. What is your reaction to that as a recommendation?
A. Well, I would certainly welcome any wider ranging contact between police and press. And, you know, for those links to be built up and that trust to be built up. Any restrictions that go with it is a matter of concern.
Q. Sorry?
A. Any restrictions that may go with that is a concern. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, there has to be a balance, hasn't there? I mean in the same way you may have heard me before, that there's no doubt that the way the press are reporting matters is at the moment rather different to the way in which matters used to be reported, for entirely understandable reasons. There's a nervousness about what's happening and there's likely to be a similar nervousness in relation to police officers who are, after all, only human beings. But doesn't there have to be a system which allows for sensible, intelligent contact, but not a free-for-all? In other words, there has to be some mechanism whereby that contact is at least monitored. Not what you're saying, but if you are meeting a police officer three or four times a week, that would legitimately, if I were a senior police officer, raise concerns. Or do you think that, well, that's quite unnecessary, we just have to be allowed to do our job irrespective?
A. No, I accept that is the case, but no, that would be understandably a cause for concern. But looking at the wider picture as well, if we're looking at the broader issues of contact between press and police in this country, there is no right to information in this country, you know, as a right we have, for example, no access to police disciplinary hearings. There are a lot of things about the police that we can't report. So in order to restrict that flow of information further I would suggest is a worrying trend for the way that we hold police forces in this country to account. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Of course it also requires somebody to be guarding what the guardians are doing, if I use a phrase I've used before, because of course the police must be held to account as much as everybody else, but who is holding the press to account?
A. Well, the in the issues that we're talking about here in terms there are laws that exist, you know, there are laws that are enforceable. The question of whether or not they've been enforced or not is pertinent to this Inquiry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But the criminal law identifies a minimum standard. It doesn't seek to identify what may be an appropriate standard.
A. No, but we have a code of conduct. We are there are acceptable norms of behaviour, and part of our contract have to abide by that and there are sanctions that our employers can take if that is not the case. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So one goes to a press code of conduct?
A. That is one part of it, but also internal rules of conduct as well, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, all right. MS BOON You say that the suggestion for note-filling and monitoring would inevitably discourage already hard-pressed officers from taking further steps. If there is a culture of wide-ranging permission to speak to the media, do you consider, if I can test it in that way, if the officer is encouraged to be open to share information with the media, would that officer be discouraged from speaking to you on an informal basis by the fact that he or she needs to make a pocket book entry of what information briefly they've given to you?
A. I think you ask if you're adding to the it depends what they're being asked to fill out and, you know, what point will that have? A full note of the discussion that takes place, obviously that's impractical I would suggest that's impractical and adds some extra burden on an officer who has agreed to meet you on that particular occasion.
Q. You say in the final paragraph of your statement, 00768: "Provided that media organisations and police forces remain vigilant, I believe that situation will continue [that's relationships remaining above board] especially given the recent, renewed scrutiny of the relationships." If you're concerned about note-filling, overbureaucracy, do you have any proposals or suggestions for how the police can remain vigilant without hampering the free flow of information?
A. It's previously been mentioned that, you know, senior officers already do take make diary notes of who they are meeting, and, you know, very briefly for you know, potentially for what purpose as well. I don't see why that should be any great, you know, problem to do.
Q. So a diary note of the fact of the meeting and the purpose of the meeting?
A. Certainly a diary note of the meeting, yes.
Q. Thank you. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
A. I think that's everything. MS BOON Thank you, I have no further questions. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed. MR JAY Sir, the next witness is Mr Ungoed-Thomas, please. MR MICHAEL FERGUS JONATHAN UNGOED-THOMAS (sworn) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Mr Ungoed-Thomas, make yourself comfortable.
A. Thank you.
Q. Your full name, please?
A. It's Michael Fergus Jonathan Ungoed-Thomas.
Q. Thank you very much. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sorry, I must ask a question which I've wanted to ask for many, many years. There was a chancery judge of that name.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is he related?
A. He was my grandfather. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. I thought it might be so. Right. MR JAY You've kindly provided the Inquiry with a witness statement, it was under compulsion of a section 21 notice, but it's dated 31 January. There's a standard statement of truth. This is your formal evidence to the Inquiry; is that right?
A. That's correct.
Q. If we can just pick up then who you are, Mr Ungoed-Thomas. You are chief reporter at the Sunday Times. You've worked there since 1998. Although you are not a crime reporter as such, you write on a number of themes, including major crime stories; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. Does it follow from what I have said that you're not a member of this fabled group, the Crime Reporters Association?
A. No, I'm not.
Q. Does that create any difficulties for you?
A. It doesn't in terms of the nature of the stories and investigations that I work on, no.
Q. But you don't have access, self-evidently, to the briefings which take place, whether on the record or off the record. Does that create a problem?
A. No, it doesn't, as far as I'm concerned, no.
Q. Another aspect of your LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is there any reason why you shouldn't be?
A. I'm not a specialist crime reporter. I mean, the reporters that we've heard from today are daily newspaper reporters, and they are crime correspondents with a specialised brief. At the Sunday Times, we don't have a specialised crime correspondent. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But that's the point. I understand that, and I understand you're the Sunday Times, but there must be stories which the Sunday Times are interested in which are the subject of briefings from the Metropolitan Police, and I'd just like to understand why those briefings should in any way be closed, because presumably there isn't anybody from the Sunday Times who is a member of the Crime Reporters Association.
A. As I understand it, that's correct, but I don't think necessarily not attending those briefings would preclude you getting information from other sources and from indeed the Press Bureau. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So you're not concerned about it?
A. It's never been I've never covered a major crime story, for instance in London, we're talking here about the Metropolitan Police, where it's been raised as an issue that we have missed a significant part of the story because we didn't attend a briefing and whether we should now consider becoming a member of that association. It's never been raised with me as an issue, and I've never, in terms of Sunday newspapers and the coverage that we cover, ever seen anything where we've significantly missed something which I later found out came out as a result of those briefings. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's quite important, because one of the issues that has been raised, as I'm sure you're aware, over the last few weeks is whether there's an inner group and
A. I understand, but if there is an inner group and you weren't a member of it, I think you might find it would affect you more if you're on a daily newspaper, but a Sunday newspaper is a different thing, where often on a major, major crime story, for instance, like a bombing, we're doing a big piece at the end of the week that is going to draw in a lot of the material that's already been published and may have already been briefed out to some of the reporters. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right, so my concern is not necessarily misplaced, but it's misplaced insofar as the Sundays or may be misplaced insofar as the Sundays are concerned?
A. As far as I'm concerned, it's never been an issue for me in coverage of crime stories at the Sunday Times. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand. I'm not suggesting you're speaking for any of the other Sunday newspapers. MR JAY You tell us in paragraph 17 of your statement, our page 00697, that you haven't accepted any hospitality from the Metropolitan Police nor offered it, apart from coffees in meetings and at press conferences. Is that a deliberate policy on your part or the Sunday Times' part?
A. I say to the best of my recollection I have never accepted it. No, it's not deliberate. Again, it comes back to the type of stories that I do and the newspaper I work on. Often when I'm seeking a police briefing, it may be a part of the investigation that I'm working on, and I have a very good idea of the information I'm after. And the best environment for getting that information is sitting opposite someone at a desk with a notebook or a tape recorder and interviewing them about it. So it's less of a discursive kind of exchange, which would be more of an issue where I was kind of looking for stories. But usually I'm either on a major crime story which has broken, I need specific information and I need it pretty quickly, and the police, on an incident like that, do not have much time themselves, or I have an idea for an investigation and I want a specific briefing. So it doesn't really lend itself to the culture of, well, shall we go for a drink or a coffee or a meal? But I wouldn't have any issue at all with doing that in the right environment. You know, if I was looking for particular stories in an area and it was suggested, I would be absolutely fine with it. It just hasn't happened because of the brief I have.
Q. And so other domains, other types of story, you might have a social interaction over lunch or dinner; is that right?
A. Yes. It's not a conscious decision not to either accept hospitality or provide it to police officers.
Q. Is it part and parcel of the same idea, if we look at paragraph 11 of your statement at page 00695, you say you haven't had any individual direct contact with the Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner, assistant commissioners, deputy assistant commissioners or the head of public affairs. Is that because you haven't needed to as part of the sort of stories you've been writing?
A. That's correct. I mean, typically the type of story I would be working on, if I'd asked for a briefing, I would expect would be inspector rank and above for a specialist area in an area where they would be investigating.
Q. Thank you. Go back, please, to paragraph 4 of your statement, page 00693, where you set out your view of the Metropolitan Police Press Bureau, carefully restricting access to officers and senior officers. First of all, presumably implicit in this is that you have a preference to speak to the officers investigating a case rather than be given the press line; is that right?
A. Well, I don't think there's anything wrong with the press line and knowing what it is and whether you need more information, but if it's a story that we want to publish, I would rather speak to an officer directly.
Q. Not because you'd been given anything misleading by the press office, but rather you would be given something more detailed, more textured, from the individual officers?
A. I think Sandra put it well, texture and colour. And information. By the nature of what press officers and press bureaux do, they give quite limited information. It's come through another person. You're not actually speaking directly it's second-hand by its nature.
Q. So it's mediated, as you say, and is it also seeking to put the best possible gloss on events in your view, or would that be an unfair observation?
A. I think that would be unfair. I think it deals with the facts of the issue.
Q. In recent months, have you detected a chilling effect as a result of the events of last summer and of this Inquiry? In other words, you've been given less access to police officers?
A. I don't have the same day-to-day interaction that Sandra and Paul have spoken about. I will be brought in when there is a very major crime story or where I have an idea or an idea has been suggested to me for an investigation. So I haven't noticed the change in the culture of relations that they've spoken about.
Q. In your dealings with investigating officers directly, which you touch on in paragraph 13 and elsewhere in your statement, what is your general experience? That they are forthcoming? They are guarded? How would you characterise those dealings?
A. Well, it obviously varies from officer to officer, but the best possible officer you could find yourself in front of is someone who's got quite significant experience of dealing with the media and feels that they're able to trust you.
Q. It's a question of building up a relationship of trust, or maybe they already have that because you come from the Sunday Times. I don't know.
A. They I expect where it's been arranged through a press office, the press office will have looked at your previous articles. You will have provided a kind of parameter of information that you're after and how you would use that information. It wouldn't be trust based on a relationship going back years, because it will be I've taken a particular area that I'm interested in and asked to talk to a senior officer.
Q. Thank you. Paragraph 15, please, where "the press office sometimes make senior officers available for interview to highlight particular issues of concern for the force on which they believe there ought to be increased public awareness". Is that the sort of thing that you're interested in or is it more the particular stories you've been telling us?
A. Sorry, I don't understand the point you're making there.
Q. Well, the generalised briefing on a matter which the Metropolitan Police might wish to give out, have you attended many of those?
A. No, what I will seek is a one-to-one briefing on an area where I might be looking at a story. So, for instance, I give an example of computer crime or child trafficking. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is that because you've had the idea and facts "I think there's a very interesting story on child trafficking, I'm writing this", and then you've said, "I'd like access to somebody to talk about it", or could it also work the other way around, that the police have done something which then sparks your interest off and then you want to follow up what they've previously done?
A. A bit of both, but it might be that a contact, for instance an MP says to me, "I've had a dialogue with some constituents or even the police and I know they're looking at this area, it's very interesting, perhaps you should have a look at it and see if you could get a briefing", or they may even say, "I know a particular officer, it would be worth your while sitting down with him", but what's absolutely vital for a Sunday newspaper is you're not sitting there with seven other journalists, because you'll pick it up in the newspaper the next day and you'll read it, so you want to be on your own and you want to have one-to-one briefings. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I can see it's very different.
A. Yes, it is different. MR JAY In your interactions with officers on a one-to-one basis, is this the position, that you will always have a tape recorder or a dictaphone or whatever going, and you'll always be taking a note; is that right?
A. No, I would always ask if I could record an interview. Even if it was even if it was actually off the record, I would I might ask if I could record it to refer back, and they may say, "Well, no", or because often I know this term "off the record" has been discussed, but it may be that an interview is conducted in which it's agreed some of it may be on the record at a later stage and I go back and say "It would be good to use this specific quote". So I might ask if I could record an interview, but it wouldn't always be automatic I would take a note. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What proportion are you able to record? I would have thought it was a wonderful protection, but I've grown up in an environment where every single word that I utter is written down.
A. I would always record where people give me permission. If possible, I will record, because there's no doubt then about what's being said. It's not that it's an issue, because no one's going to row back from what they've said because the terms of the briefing are agreed, but it's useful to have the record. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What proportion?
A. I would say most. Almost always. Whenever I go for a meeting this is with police officers. Because it's a fairly formal setting usually, with a desk and a notebook and a cup of coffee, I'll ask if I could use a tape recorder. Meeting with contacts who I meet for meals and cups of coffee I would never tape. It's not that environment, because it's not an interview for publication. That's more of a discursive meeting. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I see. MR JAY Presumably the main ground rules which have to be established, you're an experienced journalist, the police officer will often have experience of dealing with journalists, is which parts are on the record, which are off the record and which parts are non-reportable at all; is that basically it?
A. Yes, you have to it's not too difficult, because you can agree terms and you can always go back and you have that luxury on a Sunday newspaper of phoning them or a press officer and saying, "It's great, this story's gone down very well, I would like to use this information and this comment", and they may say, "I'm not sure about that comment, but you could use this". So there's a process there. I mean the terms of if you meet someone for an interview or a briefing, if you say, "This is on the record", then as far as I am concerned that means it's on the record, and if they say something, then it will be to our discretion, which if they later want to recall it, that will be at our discretion. I agree that if it's agreed that it's off the record or under certain conditions, then I will abide comply with those conditions. I might seek advice first of all from the news editor or the managing editor news.
Q. Is this right, Mr Ungoed-Thomas, that in the nature of the journalism you're conducting, or perhaps the nature of your practice, you don't often speak to officers on the mobile phone, hoping to pick up tips and information more informally?
A. No. No, I don't.
Q. You say in paragraph 44 of your statement, page 00702: "It is fair enough that the head of public affairs acts as a gatekeeper." Mr Fedorcio told us he didn't think he acted as a gatekeeper. In what way were you using that phrase "acts as a gatekeeper"?
A. Of course a head of public affairs and a press office is a gatekeeper. That's what they do. They restrict access to officers. For good reasons. You can't have officers who are on operational duties being phoned up the whole time by journalists who would like to speak to them. There needs to be some kind of mediation point. So if you want to speak to an officer, you may approach directly, but it can often make very good sense to go to the press office and ask if you can speak to them. That's what I call a gatekeeper. That's what he does.
Q. Do you use the term "police source" in your stories?
A. I do, and I have done, yes.
Q. And when you use that term, what do you mean by that term?
A. It may mean people who provided information that's off the record but can be used unattributed.
Q. That's the first and most obvious category. What else might it mean in terms of your practice?
A. It wouldn't that's what it means, generally. It doesn't mean in my in the articles that I have published unauthorised disclosures. I know it could mean that in other newspapers and other reporters, but it doesn't LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Or somebody linked with the police, as we've just been hearing.
A. I heard that. I would I would tend to just use it for police officers. I can see the issue, if it's a police authority source, you might be a bit reluctant to identify so narrowly the organisation it's coming from, ie by putting "a Metropolitan Police Authority source", but I would tend just to use I have just used it for officers. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's rather interesting, because it creates the problem of a confusion. I mean, because you may have heard that some witnesses have complained that "police source" may mean little more than, "Well, this is what I've decided to put in as a quote".
A. What would you mean? That someone's invented it? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. That wouldn't happen. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's what's been said. I'm not for the world suggesting that's what you mean at all, and I'm not asking you, but the lack of clarity about the meaning of these phrases may itself cause confusion, which is unhelpful.
A. It may cause confusion, and it may be unhelpful, but there's a good reason why there's quite a lot of latitude in the use of the term "source". It's so that you do not identify the source. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. If you become too specific in narrowing down what a source is, then you can risk the source being identified. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, and that's a breach of the holy grail.
A. These things have to be balanced, don't they? I agree, you might confuse the reader, but on the other hand you're always going to want to protect the sources and even maybe the nature of the sources. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MR JAY I'm going to ask you about the future in a moment, Mr Ungoed-Thomas. I know you were observing the evidence of the previous two witnesses. I don't want to cover the same ground they've given, but I do want to give you the opportunity of saying whether you either agree strongly with anything they said or disagree with anything they said. Could you help us with that?
A. Well, there seems to be slight bit of consensus in the evidence that exchanges between journalists and police officers should be recorded, and I think that was one of the recommendations of the HMIC report, and I don't agree with that.
Q. You don't?
A. I don't, no.
Q. We'll come to that in a moment. You make that clear in your statement. But aside from LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do you mean should be recorded or the fact of the meeting should be recorded?
A. I don't LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Which are you disagreeing with?
A. If what is being suggested is that all exchanges between police officers and journalists should be recorded and then kept somewhere in a document which can be audited, that is not something that I agree with. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You've still not answered my question. My point is I'm not talking about content, I'm talking about fact. In other words, that there should be an ability to audit the number of times individual police officers are talking to individual journalists. I'm not talking about what they're talking about.
A. I understand that, and I don't agree with that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You don't agree with that either?
A. No. MR JAY I think you should explain why, Mr Ungoed-Thomas.
A. Because I think as is set out in the HMIC report, some officers are already wary of dealing with journalists, and I think that the key is the training of officers, and they understand the parameters in which they have exchanges with journalists. I think the difficulty is whenever you put in an audit trail, for whatever it is, you have to have a very, very good understanding of the possible impact and the amount of work that it generates, and what I'm concerned at is that it will be easier for police officers just to say no, and not bother with the monitoring procedures, rather than just have a quick conversation with a journalist. For an organisation which is ie the police, which is so reliant on an inflow of public information, I think that would be a mistake to unnecessarily restrict exchanges between journalists and police officers, and I think that the consequence of that kind of mechanism would be a restriction of exchanges.
Q. Even the bare fact that an exchange has taken place, rather than anything about its nature, its content, the record by itself would have a chilling effect, that's your view?
A. You say a record. We've already heard that it's often recorded in diaries or recorded in notebooks. I think the mechanism which would evolve would be a central store of some information of the exchanges, so people could check it, otherwise there would be little point in having it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's really to alert it's as an alert if it's getting out of hand, and I think that's the only value. It would not necessarily be to check up on what's being said. That could be followed up if there is some problem, but it's so that officers know that although it's a good idea and it could be encouraged, for all the reasons you've said, it's the flipside of encouraging more and more dialogue, that that has to be exercised responsibly and it's not just open season. That's the aim of it.
A. I can understand what the motivation is. I'm just I just I'm saying that I think the consequence of it will be less exchanges between journalists and police officers. For the simple reason, if a police officer is to record every exchange he has with a reporter and he knows that is later going to be audited, the natural thing for him always to do may be to check with the press office before he speaks to the reporter. Well, then he can't get hold this happens to us all the time. They can't get hold of the particular press officer they need to get hold it's not just the police, but all organisations, they can't get hold of the press office, there's no authorisation to talk to you, you don't get the information you need for your story, you're having to rely on a very narrow band of information from the press office. So I can see what the motivation is for doing it, I just think it LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's actually to avoid the need to get prior authorisation. It's trusting officers to authorise themselves, but then simply not making it a free-for-all. I'm not trying to persuade you, I'm merely trying to test the concern. I understand what you're saying.
A. But if we're to trust the police officers, can't we trust them to understand that it's not appropriate or may not be appropriate to see the same reporter every day for two weeks or to meet the same reporter, you know, seven or eight times over two weeks and have lots of hospitality? I mean senior police officers have this kind of discretion. I mean, that's what they're trained in. You have to give them a certain amount of credit. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you've read the last two weeks' worth of evidence, or maybe not.
A. Look, you will have to balance these issues. All I'm saying as a reporter is I think it will hamper access to officers. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, that's fair enough. MR JAY We've heard a lot about unauthorised disclosures, leaks, whatever you might choose to call them. It's not part of your practice, you've made that clear. Do you have any views about why those originate?
A. I don't, really, and it's not I don't have specific examples within my own stories of unauthorised disclosures.
Q. The last point, Mr Ungoed-Thomas, whether you're prepared to comment on the piece you wrote in the Sunday Times last week. Was that information obtained wholly from material in the public domain? I'm referring to Mr Quick's statement, paragraph 14.
A. It was from information in the public domain. MR JAY Okay. I'm not going to go further into that issue. Those are all the questions I have for you. Thank you very much. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed, Mr Ungoed-Thomas.
A. Thank you. MR JAY Mr Edwards, please. MR JEFFREY ALAN EDWARDS (sworn) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Your full name, please, Mr Edwards.
A. Yes, my name is Jeffrey Alan Edwards.
Q. You obviously don't have to hand the two statements you provided to the Inquiry, but
A. I don't have them to hand, no.
Q. you will be provided with them as we speak.
A. Thank you.
Q. The first and your main statement is dated 21 February 2012. You've signed it and it has a statement of truth in the standard form.
A. Yes.
Q. Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry?
A. Yes, it is.
Q. You provided us with a supplementary statement, which deals with two main issues. First of all, the evidence which the Inquiry heard from Jacqui Hames on 28 February
A. Yes.
Q. and secondly your experiences some time ago now at the News of the World.
A. Yes.
Q. The version I have is not signed and dated by you, but are you, as it were, formally prepared to absorb this within your testimony to the Inquiry?
A. Yes, I am. If the court is happy for that to happen, yes.
Q. Certainly. Can I deal first of all with your career, Mr Edwards? Did it start with the News of the World in 1981?
A. Oh no, it didn't. I started my career, I think, in 1969 on local papers in East London. Later on an evening paper in Hertfordshire and then the London Evening News, I think I joined them it's now defunct, of course but in 1974 or 75.
Q. It disappeared in 1981, and it may be for that reason that you moved across to the News of the World?
A. That's right, they had an opening at the time for a crime specialist, and I'd already had worked a lot in that field at the Evening News, and so I was absorbed by them for that purpose.
Q. You left them in 1985, and we're going to go back to that issue. I think you then went to the Daily Mirror or was there an intervening
A. There was an intervening. I left them to join an embryonic paper which failed, which was called the London Daily News, which some of you might recall was Robert Maxwell's attempt to launch a 24-hour daily and evening issue for London, but unfortunately it was stillborn, really. After that I went to work in television for a while with London Weekend Television. I was the head of research for a television programme called "Crime Monthly", which was a regional version of Crimewatch. It had crime appeals by the police, but also had some content where we were allowed to work alongside various police units to look at their methods and what they did. I then came to the via a short spell at the Sunday Times, I went to the Sunday People, I think for about two years, and then in essence I was an in-house transfer to the on request the Daily Mirror had a vacancy then for a crime specialist and they asked me if I would come across and I was very pleased to do so.
Q. And you were therefore their chief crime correspondent. You started there in 1992?
A. I think that's right, yes.
Q. Is this right; if it isn't you'll tell me: you spent the rest of your career there?
A. That's right.
Q. Can I deal by way of background with the Crime Reporters Association, which you touch on in your first statement? You say that from 1993 to 2009 you were Chairman of the Crime Reporters Association and you remain as their President?
A. That's right.
Q. A couple of other background matters. You have been for about 13 years now an associate lecturer at the Police National Leadership Academy at Bramshill?
A. Yes.
Q. And you cover matters such as media awareness. Is there anything that you could share with this Inquiry which is relevant to what we're considering, as part of what you lecture about?
A. Well, my role has been has transmogrified, I suppose, over the years, into sitting into what has been called an overseeing group, what they call the diamond syndicate, which is to oversee officers of certain ranks in critical incident training, but then I have with a particular view to how they would deal with media issues in the context of a critical incident. So, yes, I mean it dovetails in with I can bring you know, I engaged them in debate about what they think about the media coverage, what kind of media coverage might they expect in this set of circumstances and then I might input the real a form of media coverage and then get their reaction to that and say, "This is how the Daily Mirror would report it, this is how the Guardian might report the affair". It's a forum.
Q. You carried out a review of media training programmes at the college in 2009. What were the essential findings you made?
A. Well, that was because, again, a new tranche of courses was about to be introduced, and all of those had a media input into them, so I gave advice, if you like. I reviewed the structure of the courses and gave advice as to how they might be made more realistic, more representative, to make them yes, to make the experience of those officers undergoing training more authentic.
Q. I'm going to go back to 1981 and the News of the World, which is your supplementary statement. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just before you do. So that's not really been touching the sort of issues that I've been hearing about or talking about for the last few weeks; this is to provide officers with a view of what it's really like to face a press
A. There's a large element of that, my Lord, but also it would be to talk about to talk about all aspects of contact with the media and perhaps you know, it's not all necessarily formal, but it would be to give broad advice on perhaps strategies and tactics or LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You've probably heard this morning that one of your colleagues said actually a great deal of this could be done with rather more training. Is there such training? Do you agree with that? Do you think the training ought to be adjusted in the light of that which you've been hearing?
A. Yes, I would endorse the need for more training. And what I thought was interesting about the at the Bramshill college, there was in fact, I helped to orchestrate one in 2009, which I think was the last one there was a media training week as part of their syllabus down there, but it was only the candidates who were put forward, it was of a voluntary basis, that's to say that not all forces were represented, and it was really a case of whether individual chief constables thought it was a good idea or not. Sadly, with cutbacks in the public sector, this all these training programmes came under the auspice of the National Policing Improvement Agency, and of course that has been it's got into a sort of suspended animation at the moment and no one knows what the future of it is going to be, and I suspect that in fact, rather than there be an expansion of this kind of training, we'll probably see a reduction of it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, without in any sense trying necessarily to drum up business, if you have ideas of what might be included within training of police officers not now, but I'd be grateful to hear.
A. I would certainly be happy to oblige. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR JAY Mr Edwards, shortly after your arrival at the News of the World in 1981, you were appointed crime correspondent; is that right?
A. Yes, I was.
Q. Can you in your own words tell us the circumstances in which it was suggested to you that you might do something inappropriate?
A. Yes, I'm glad to do that. As Mr Ungoed-Thomas has observed to you, the world of working in a Sunday paper environment is quite different from that, I discovered, working for, say, a London evening paper, as I had been previously, and I found the adjustment quite difficult. And it became apparent, I suppose, that I wasn't doing the job to the satisfaction of my then boss, my news editor, and he became quite animated about this issue and we had a discussion one day, and I was it's one of these things that you never forget, frankly, and he said to me, "Look, you have to up your game, you have to up your performance", and I said, "Well, it's really really difficult. You know, I'm struggling to make the adjustment to this different world" and so forth, and he said to me, "Look, there's money available; you should be out there spending it on your contacts", and I I can't remember exactly how the dialogue flowed now, but I said, "I'm sorry, but what are you suggesting?" and he said, "Well, you know, you need to sort of put some inducements out there", and I said, "Right, okay", and I sort of recoiled from this, but he was my boss so I dealt with it in a measured way and I went away and I thought: did I hear this correctly? Anyway, about three or four weeks later, clearly my performance was still not satisfactory, and he took me to one side and he was quite cross with me, I suppose it's fair to say, and he said to me, "Look, have you taken up my suggestion? I don't see anything here. You're not invoicing me for money to be splashed about. You should be essentially bribing more police officers." At the time, and I realised it was probably an unwise thing to do, but I said, "I don't think I came into journalism to do that sort of thing, and also, isn't there a contradiction here? Part of what we're about is exposing wrongdoing in public life, and here you are suggesting you know, anyway clearly the debate was over at that point, and a couple of weeks later I was removed from the post and replaced. I wasn't removed from the company, I was simply moved to other work away from crime reporting. It was 30 years ago, I can't talk about how things proceeded after that, but I thought it was indicative of the culture in that particular organisation at the time.
Q. Mr Edwards, did you observe any of your colleagues providing inducements to police officers or taking preparatory steps to doing so?
A. I cannot honestly say that I did observe anything like that.
Q. When you refer to the culture of the organisation, you make it clear in your statement, and therefore it should be made explicit, you say that at your time at the News of the World you met and worked with many excellent and enterprising journalists who upheld the best traditions of the profession. So are you intending, therefore, to be referring just to a minority?
A. Yes. I think what I might have said and certainly what I know I thought at the time, and again it's a sort of a phrase that's always remained in my mind that there was an element in there that had a tendency towards questionable, unethical behaviour. And that manifested itself in a variety of ways. You know, I think that there were some reporters there then who played very fast and loose with the truth, and I think there were probably reporters there who had it wasn't just in the world of policing, they probably had informants who were being paid in other areas of private life. But it was only sort of anecdotal evidence. I could not say that I actually witnessed anything that I could actually identify as being a direct piece of evidence.
Q. You of course left the News of the World in 1985, so you don't have any direct knowledge of untoward behaviour since then; is that right?
A. That's right.
Q. But what about the Mirror, which you joined in 1992? In your own words, please, what was the culture there?
A. I thought the culture was very you know, was much more it was a different type of journalism altogether. Obviously it was a daily paper. It was much more immediate. It was quite it was very professional, quite earnest. I don't mean to say it wasn't on occasions fun and the people weren't a joy to work with and good company, but there was a very high ethical standard there, and I think that remained all the way through, although the focus of the paper changed over many years, I think that there was always a baseline, a core running through, part of the identity, possibly, of the company, that it was it always tried to behave properly.
Q. You presumably, as the chief crime correspondent there, had your own contacts, your own sources; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. From what you've said, you didn't cultivate those sources by corrupting them or bribing them, but in your own words, how did you keep them onside, as it were?
A. I think it was a combination of an open countenance I think that one of the reasons I got invited to work at the police academy late in my career was probably I'd built up a reputation of integrity through my work over the years. I like to think that a lot of police officers I encountered over the years, you know, that I was not what they might have expected me to be, if you see what I mean. There's a certain there's some mythology out there about the newspaper business and so forth, and I think that I had a genuine enthusiasm for the business. And as I said, I think that I was and also I think a readiness to find common ground, to find accommodations, to find compromises in some situations, to build accords and to try and find ways of taking things through which left everybody satisfied.
Q. May it also have been your ability to empathise with the police point of view?
A. Sometimes. I mean, some reference I've heard made to that sort of thing this morning, and I think that it would be it's important to note that in all my dealings with police officers over the years and I would unhesitatingly say many of those developed into personal friendships at all levels I have on occasions had to say to people, "Look, we get along very well, but if you were to ever transgress, if I ever discovered that you were guilty of corruption or huge incompetence or whatever, you have to understand that I will be writing about it, in the same way as if you were to discover that I was a criminal, I would expect you to arrest me, to do your job", and I think there was an acceptance that that would be the case, and I would emphasise that although I had a good relationship with them, I certainly was no lap dog, and there were times when we would have to have frankly, agree to disagree about issues concerning the media, and that would even come down to matters that were published sometimes.
Q. We're going to come back to the issue of socialising in a moment, but can I ask you, please, to clarify one piece of your evidence on the final page of your supplemental statement, when you say just above the upper hole punch: "I think it's fair to say that it's well-known in the newspaper business that there have been former police officers who have been very active as informants for certain companies supplying with them with tip-offs about stories which have been passed to them by former colleagues still serving in the police." It's a little bit cryptic that, Mr Edwards. I'm not asking to you name anybody, but could you just explain that a little bit?
A. I think actually that Sir Ian Blair made a reference to this in his evidence last week. I think a fairly pernicious influence on some journalists where a small number of former police officers some of whom I would have to say had an excellent sense of what was news and what wasn't, better than some journalists, I think in some cases, who realised that there were exploitable scenes there. As ex-journalists, they sorry, as ex-police officers, they could legitimately be paid for information, and there was always a suspicion I don't think anything's ever been proven that of course they were receiving information from serving police officers, brokering that information in to certain journalists and certain organisations, and then sharing the profits. This has been well-known to the police for a long period of time. I've had discussions with officers, even in the anti-corruption command, on occasions, where I've said to them the dialogue has been, "What are we going to do about this?" and I've said, "It's a matter for you to do something about it. If you want to do something about it, you need to apply yourself to the task." There were one or two half-hearted attempts to deal with it, and eventually, I think 2006 or 2007, one of these people was arrested, along with a serving police officer, and the serving police officer, I think, got a custodial sentence, but I can't remember now what the offence was, but it involved the passing on of some restricted documents, but there was never really a satisfactory outcome to all that. I don't know, I suspect that that kind of thing has gradually sort of withered on the vine, because I think, you know, the people who were carrying out those kind of activities have got old, their contacts have died off, and I have no knowledge of anybody who's replaced them in that world.
Q. Thank you. Now, Mr Edwards, we've had a look at the hospitality records for a number of police officers and the head of the DPA. You don't feature very often, but and of course a lot of this is a long time ago there's a record, for example, on 29 June 1999 that you met with Dick Fedorcio, you had lunch with him in July 2003, another lunch with him 1 February 2004, with him and John Twomey. Obviously you can't remember the individual occasions, but in general terms, what sort of things would have been discussed?
A. Whatever were the issues, the current issues, the issues of the day in policing, particularly as they pertained to the Metropolitan Police at that time. They would be matters of actual events, of policy, procedure, really all matters that might affect the way that the police operated, the way that they might talking with Mr Fedorcio, obviously a lot of it would relate to the interreaction between the police and the media. I seem to recall, if I remember rightly, I've only ever once had a I think I had a lunch with Mr Fedorcio once on his own, on a one-to-one basis. I think all the other occasions, of which that would probably number less than five or six, were with other reporters present.
Q. Were these occasions for gossip or inappropriate disclosures or not, to the best of your recollection?
A. No, I don't think they were about inappropriate disclosures. I think that there was a certain amount of the certain amount of what was discussed would be politics of policing, but I don't mean, you know, in the tittle-tattle sense. I think, you know, it might be if there was a if they were going to appoint a new Commissioner, you might be talking about who the front runners might be and what their strengths and weaknesses were and why this candidate might be in a better position than that candidate, for instance, things like that.
Q. And if there were difficulties, ripples in the management board, were those things that you got to learn about, particularly in about 2006, 2008?
A. I can't recall Mr Fedorcio ever disclosing that kind of information to me. However, I was aware that many I think and I can't remember exactly who coined this remark, but somebody said to me one day that there was a level of toxicity in management board meetings at that time, which may have been 2006 or 2007, which, you know, nobody had ever experienced before. There was undoubtedly you could not escape the fact that there was clearly a lot of infighting going on, and my view was this must be distracting from the right and proper purpose of why they were there. MR JAY We may come back to Mr Fedorcio, but probably after our break. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, that's convenient, thank you very much. 2 o'clock. (1.01 pm)


Gave statements at the hearings on 14 March 2012 (AM) and 14 March 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 2 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 14 March 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 1 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 14 March 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 1 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 14 March 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 2 pieces of evidence


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