Afternoon Hearing on 27 March 2012

Barbara Brewis , Amanda Hirst and CC Jonathan Stoddart gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(2.00 pm) MR JAY There's one small point I need to cover with Mr Jones which I forgot to, so may I recall him to deal with that? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON By all means. MR JAY Mr Jones, the point is this: in relation to a reward which the Sun newspaper were keen to offer, do you have any direct knowledge of that?
A. Yes, I do, sir. I think very early on in the investigation there was initially a ?10,000 reward offered by Crimestoppers. Some time in early January, I think around about 7 January could have been earlier than that the Sun offered a reward.
Q. Yes.
A. Which was ?50,000.
Q. That was 6 January.
A. Okay. What we were seeking to do is to facilitate link that reward in with the work Crimestoppers were doing and to have a single point of contact for information. I think initially there were difficulties and challenges around that, and I think initially the Sun wanted telephone calls to go directly to them on a particular number. Clearly we were concerned about that, and then I understand that there was a mutual agreement with Crimestoppers and the Sun and there was actually a telephone number published, which I recollect was the Crimestoppers number, and that was around about 7 January.
Q. You have provided a comment or quote for the Sun, which was published, which says that: "I am grateful for the generosity of the Sun. I am sure Jo's family will be touched by this kind gesture demonstrates the level to which the murder has touched the nation and the commitment of the media in supporting our efforts to bring whoever is responsible to justice." Was that comment freely and fully given?
A. Yes, it was, sir, yes. MR JAY Okay. Thank you very much, Mr Jones. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you, Mr Jones.
A. Thank you. MR JAY The next witness, please, is Amanda Hirst. MS AMANDA HIRST (affirmed) Questions by Mr Jay MR JAY May I invite you, please, to turn up your witness statement, which is signed and dated by you on 28 February of this year. Is this your true evidence to the Inquiry?
A. Yes, it is, sir.
Q. In terms of who you are, you are head of corporate communications at the Avon and Somerset constabulary. You have been since April 2009. You have previous experience in the public sector and you report, as indeed do others in your position, to the Deputy Chief Constable. Is that all correct?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. May I ask you, please, about question 6, first of all, page 10511. You say: "All requests for media interviews with Avon and Somerset police officers and staff are managed through CCD." Do you have knowledge or experience of journalists making direct contact with police officers which you learn about subsequently?
A. That does happen occasionally, but those officers would contact members of my team before speaking to journalists, and we would support them in doing that.
Q. In your own words, please, what are the advantages of having a central point, which is you, for the dissemination of information to the media?
A. I think in this day and age, especially where we have 24-hour media and social media and a high level of media enquiries coming in, it makes an awful lot of sense for them to be managed through one point. Obviously, quite often one enquiry from a journalist may well be replicated over a number of different occasions by different journalists, therefore from the point of view of consistency and just relieving the officers so that they can continue with the job they need to do, it makes more sense.
Q. In paragraph 8, you make it clear that your team's dealing with the media is generally positive. There can be tensions from time to time that's normal, you say but you hint or suggest that the relationship tends to be better with the local, regional and some national crime reporters rather than generalist reporters. Is that right?
A. That is correct. I think we obviously have a lot more contact with local and regional reporters, and we have a number of reporters who are regional representatives for a lot of the national papers and we have regular contact with them as well.
Q. If one were to take a paper such as the Sun, do they have a regional reporter?
A. They do, sir, yes.
Q. Is your relationship with him or her a good one?
A. I would say it's a reasonable relationship, yes.
Q. Is it simply a case that because you get to know the local and regional members of the press better, your relationship is better or is it because there's a different standard of practice between the regionals and the nationals? How would you define that?
A. I think it's a combination of both. We obviously work on a very regular basis with local and regional journalists because they're an important tool for us in feeding information into the community and reassuring the public and so on, and they also have a better understanding of what we do on a day to day basis and the communities that we serve, whereas the national media will quite often come in, report and then go away again. So there's quite a significant difference between the two.
Q. Thank you. May I move forward, please, to question 13, page 10514. The question was: "What is the media's attitude towards the press office?" You say: "On a day-to-day basis, the attitude is pretty positive but I think it is fair to say that the media suffer the existence of a corporate communications department/press office. Any journalist would say that their preference is to deal directly with an individual officer because they believe that they would get more from them. We know from direct conversations with individual journalists subsequent to the Joanna Yeates murder investigation that the media became particularly frustrated by the perceived barrier of the CCD because of the paucity of information they felt they received from us." That's clearly a frank answer, Ms Hirst. Just two points on it. The direct conversations with individual journalists, were these regional or national journalists?
A. In the context of the Joanna Yeates investigation, we dealt with regional, national and some international journalists.
Q. The reference to their feeling that they were receiving from you a paucity of information, do you feel that there was any justification behind the perception they had?
A. I think in the Joanna Yeates case, it was unusual in the sense, as Mr Jones has already said, that it happened at a time of the year when there was an awful lot of airtime and print space to fill and there wasn't a lot of other things about. I also think that on that in those occasions, obviously there is significant pressure from journalists to answer an unrelenting number of press enquiries, and it becomes very difficult.
Q. The point that Mr Jones made as well was that there was a huge amount of speculation around this case, and in order not to foment that speculation and attempt to reduce it, the policy was to cease to engage as fully as you might have wished. Was that also a factor?
A. That was, and in my statement I talk about the issue of jigsaw identification and I think it's the first time that we'd come across that in the context of a case that wasn't relating to child victims. In this case it was actually very different because we had many, many journalists asking numerous questions and making numerous enquiries on a day-to-day basis, and through a process of elimination there was a concern that they would get to the heart of the investigation. So we did draw a line in the sand at one stage and we continued to respond where we could, where we felt it was appropriate, always in consultation with the SIO, and of course, I discussed that at the daily meetings with the Chief Constable and the ACC, but on some things we did say we would neither confirm nor deny.
Q. Question 26 next, please. Page 10518. I'm not covering all the ground in your statement. You've given very full and clear answers to many questions. I'm just dealing with matters which may require some elaboration or clarification. The question here relates to training, and your answer is: "Each new member of corporate communications staff receives a personal induction by me and is made fully aware of the need to maintain appropriate relationships with the media." Are there any particular messages which you give during this personal induction, and are there occasions on which the recipient of those messages is ever surprised by what you say because it might be counter-intuitive or for whatever other reason?
A. The key messages are around openness, honesty and proportionality and working to the rules and the letter of the law, which I think are very important. I can't think of any member of staff who has come into the department since I've been head who has been surprised at that. I think it's common practice and recognised that the relationship between media relations officers, communications officers and the media has to be there has to be a bit of distance and a bit of a firewall between the two. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON To some extent, that description openness, honesty, proportionality, working to the rules and the letter of the law might be described as comparatively obvious. Why does it cause problems then? Not with you, but with your dealings with the press.
A. I think in the context certainly of investigations like the Joanna Yeates investigation but there have been others: the M5 collision in the autumn and other major cases that we've been involved in I think the problem is the media constantly want more, and in the context of Joanna Yeates in particular, one of the constant refrains that we had from some journalists was that it was in the public interest, they had a right to know, and I think certainly our perception was very much that they wanted to be inside the investigation, which clearly was never going to be tenable. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. I've said earlier on in this Inquiry that everybody behaves well until the next big story, and then the whole thing goes to pot, and that might be summarised by what Mr Morgan said: "Fame and crime sends most of the usual rules out of the window." So at some stage you may not have an answer Mr Jay will come to it. I'd like to know whether you do have an answer, whether there is an approach that will work, that will demonstrate that actually the rules are even more important in these very big, very, very high-profile cases, not less important.
A. I welcome very much that comment that you made, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you welcome the comment, but what's the answer?
A. I think the answer is that in my view, the rules of media handling in large cases are not that different to the normal rules that we follow, and the issue is that in the significant cases that have substantial media attention, the demand from the media is more constant and more unrelenting. But I don't think the rules are any different. We should still abide by the rules that we apply across all of the cases we are dealing with. The difference is with the big cases that, as you said, each time we have a big case, we agree that things need to change, but when the next case comes along and the media make all the right noises, but when the next case comes along, it's exactly the change. I don't think the rules need to change from the perspective of the way we're dealing with it. I think there's got to go recognition, though, that there has to be some I don't agree with regulation. I think overregulation is not the right route, but I think there has to be some acceptance by the media that perhaps their behaviour needs to change. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I would agree that overregulation is not the right route; that's not quite the same as saying that regulation isn't the right route. I'm not saying it will be, I say immediately, but anyway. Yes, Mr Jay. MR JAY Your definition of appropriate contact, Ms Hirst this is question 27 is both axiomatic and common sense. It's just the last point you make: reflective of an agreed organisational view." Why is it inappropriate contact if the view which is being imparted is not an agreed organisational view but may be a reasonable minority view?
A. There will always be a case where, for example, the chair of the Superintendents Association will give a different view to the view of the organisation, and I think there's room for that, and I think we have to respect that, but if a police officer is speaking to the media, then in the context of whether it's cannabis or whether it's organised crime or sexual assaults or whatever, I think it's very important that that police officer is representing the policy and the view of the force as opposed to a personal opinion.
Q. So on matters of strategy, of policy, there may be a difference between junior officers expressing views which are heterodox, personal views off-piste, on the one hand. If you look higher up the chain, though, more senior officers may have greater latitude; is that what it amounts to?
A. Yes. If the Chief Constable were asked for a view, then obviously the Chief Constable would give his view. I imagine that I'm sure it would be in the context of the way that we operate within the constabulary. But that comment was reflected was meant to reflect much more the views of more junior officers, the rank and files. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, obviously Mr Port is the leader.
A. Absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And he will have a view. Doubtless he will consult his senior colleagues, but ultimately that's the job he's paid to do.
A. Yes, sir, and I would expect the organisation to be reflective of that view. MR JAY Thank you. In question 29 now, still on page 10519, general question about incidents that attract national media interest presenting particular challenges. You answer that question with reference to your own experience to the Joanna Yeates case and a number of issues come out of your answer. The first issue is that of contempt and the need to maintain anonymity. Do you share Mr Port's view that the reference to the 65-year-old being arrested, that may have been too specific in that particular case or not?
A. I do, sir, yes.
Q. Then jigsaw investigation. We touched on this already, but you put the point quite fairly and squarely, because you say that during the investigation the print media in particular adopted a tactic of elimination via multiple speculative media enquiries. Do you really put it as high as that, that it was a deliberate tactic, or is that just the way it appeared to you?
A. It certainly appeared to be a deliberate tactic, sir, yes. Perhaps I should just give you a bit of context.
Q. Yes.
A. With the Joanna Yeates investigation, we had some of the national media organisations sent down three or four or five journalists to investigate, to look at the to report the case, and on many occasions we were fielding multiple enquiries from one media organisation and that was multiplied by a number of media organisations on a very regular basis. Whether it was a deliberate tactic, it certainly felt at the time as though it was, and certainly I think the point of it was very much to get to the heart of the investigation. My view was that obviously we had to do everything in our power to prevent that, which is why, when we discussed with the chief and the ACC and the SIO at one stage, we decided to stop answering speculative media enquiries and issued a statement to that effect. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Isn't there a further risk here, which is the fact that what is being overlooked is that the investigation is dynamic? In other words, different information can change the view. So looking at a fact through one set of spectacles may lead to one conclusion, but if you add another fact, then the picture looks very different, and if you have gone into print on fact one, it becomes more difficult and potentially creates problems for the investigation if fact two changes the perception of fact one. Is that sufficiently clear?
A. Yes, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. But is it right?
A. It is right. It is right, and I think that was one of the real dangers, that fact one would get published and then other journalists would pick it up and would take a lead from that, and pursue that particular line or go off in a number of other tangents. So we ended up with a lot of very, very inaccurate reporting, which created problems for the SIO and the investigation team at times. MR JAY Your next heading but you're perhaps grouping here different contexts: "Leaks and investigative journalism". Those two aren't synonymous, of course, but your answer is really directed to the use of experts, in inverted commas, who comment on the investigation from afar with imperfect knowledge and not always with the right expertise. That's really your point, isn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. "Dangers of comparison". Well, that point speaks for itself. Differences between a case where the offender is still at large and you're trying to catch them and cases where the identity of the offender was known. You can't draw analogies between the two. Your last point is an interesting one: "The public have a right to know", which is presumably the line many journalists give you in an attempt to prise more information out of you. What's your attitude to that?
A. Yes. The public have a right to know within bounds, within boundaries, and I think throughout that investigation and throughout other investigations, we provide the media with as much as we can, always led, of course, by the SIO. I think there's another point to make here as well, which is a really crucial one. Certainly in the Joanna Yeates case, we know that Vincent Tabak was actually following the progress of the investigation via the media, and also on our own website and through other social media, and that was something that the investigation team picked up and was also discussed openly in court. So it was very, very important for us to preserve the integrity of that investigation and ensure that anything that was inappropriate or shouldn't get out into the public domain was contained. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So you can summarise that as saying the public have the right to know what it is appropriate and safe to let them know. What they most certainly do not have the right to know is anything that, by its publication, may interfere with or even prejudice ongoing inquiries. Is that
A. Yes, sir. That was a constant refrain to journalists, was that we could not in any way prejudice or allow their reporting to prejudice the integrity of the investigation, nor whatever trial might ultimately take place. MR JAY Was it your experience at the time, to pick up a point you made earlier, that when you made that point to an experienced crime reporter, the point was readily understood, but when you made the point to a generalist reporter, it was less readily understood?
A. Yes, sir, it was. We had at one stage during the investigation, we had one feature writer for a national newspaper who wanted to come and spend a day with the investigation team to write a feature piece on a day in the life of the investigation team, and of course we declined, but such was the varied nature of some the requests, the more bizarre ones that we got.
Q. You prepared a log which you called "The inside story". It's under your tab 21 and starts at our page 11320. If I can just understand the genesis of this document, is this something you were preparing at the time or at the end of the 34 days, I think it was, did you come back to your records and prepare this document?
A. Yes, sir, it was prepared at the end of the investigation. We have a like a number of other forces, we have a computer logging system, so every contact with the media is logged, and in this case was obviously logged throughout. That includes questions from the media, it includes our responses, it includes statements, and, as you can see, all of this information was picked up from that log. I prepared it at the end of the process because the Chief Constable and I felt that it would be something that would be very useful for us just to see exactly what the issues had been and, I suppose, see it in black and white. It was also shared selectively by the chief with one or two other people, other ACPO members.
Q. Can I just ask you about a few of the entries, please. 2 January, on the next page, 11321, this is the Mail asking you about low copy DNA. Were you concerned, when you learnt of that, that there was a leak from somewhere within your organisation? I don't mean your department, but I mean the force as a whole.
A. Yes. Clearly there was a concern that the Mail had got that information, but I think that the most important thing for us was really to deal with what they had and carry out that negotiation so that we could try and minimise the impact on the investigation. I spoke at length with Mr Jones, also with Ms Dorsey(?), who is our head of legal services and with the ACC for protective services, in order to try and resolve what the best outcome would be, and in the end it was a negotiation with the journalist and the editor to come to a compromise which meant that not all of the information was disclosed in the newspaper.
Q. By the use of the adjective "lengthy", are you intending to suggest that it was difficult in the sense that the journalist and the editor were not seeing your point of view or is it just neutral?
A. Yes, sir, it took some time. It took probably most of that Sunday evening with phone calls going backwards and forwards between myself and the journalist and the editor and also, of course, consulting with Mr Jones and Ms Dorsey and Mr Hampton(?). It was a lengthy process so
Q. Did you ask the Mail where they got their information from?
A. No, I didn't, sir.
Q. I'm not saying you would have got an answer.
A. No.
Q. Move on to 4 January. This is the items of clothes missing. Can we be clear what the position was here? Is it right that two journalists from the Sun separately corporate communications on 4 January?
A. My recollection is that it was one journalist and my recollection is that it was the crime editor of the Sun who contacted us.
Q. Do you remember a Mr Coles contacting you later on that day in the evening?
A. I don't recollect contact with Mr Coles that evening.
Q. Fair enough. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We just pass by: "ITN, 10 pm. News report very negative. Expert at Longwood Lane critiquing investigation and alleging glaring omissions. No right to reply or comment given in advance of broadcast. Expert is Is that "detective constable"?
A. Yes, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON "Ex-family liaison officer"?
A. Yes, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON from Surrey with PPU There you've got me. What does that mean?
A. Public protection unit, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON but no murder investigation experience."
A. Yes, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So it's not surprising that you put the word "expert" in inverted commas.
A. Yes, sir. MR JAY 6 January, 11323, where you say: "Media starting to ask very specific questions relating to particular aspects of investigation; long lists of questions and criticisms from Sunday Telegraph and the Mirror." Did you feel there that the questions were well targeted or did you feel they got their information from somewhere close to the investigation, in other words they were acting on leaks, or did you feel something else?
A. At that stage, sir, I don't recall certainly the Sunday Telegraph's questions weren't didn't appear to be subject to or arising from leaks. There were a number of questions. We had multiple questions from many newspapers which I think Mr Jones used the term "scattergun" earlier, and that's very much how it was. So they came up with a whole range of different questions, some of them quite a lot of them focusing around certain lines of the investigation, but also the 28-day turnaround, the abilities of the SIO, the abilities of the investigation team. So it was a wide range of questions that we were getting, but they were very specific. They weren't general. They weren't: "How is the progress of the investigation?" They were focusing on very particular themes.
Q. Can I ask you about the fourth bullet point there: "Extensive negotiations with Sun news editor; says they will go ahead with ?50,000 reward offer even if Crimestoppers and police say no; persuaded to give police only contact details rather than Sun telephone number; brief statement from Phil Jones but no conditions referring to the reward." I know you deal with it in your statement later on, but what is your evidence in relation to that sequence of events?
A. Yes, sir. The we had an initial contact from the Sun earlier on. Crimestoppers had offered a ?10,000 reward and the Sun were proposing to add an extra ?25,000 to that. The SIO wasn't especially keen on us doing that at that stage because there were some concerns about the administrative processes. We said that that would be okay if Crimestoppers were involved because of course they have those processes set up. The manager from Crimestoppers contacted the Sun and started to carry out some of those negotiations, and they ground to a halt, and about a week elapsed and then, on 6 January, the Sun called us again and said that they wanted to offer a ?50,000 reward. At that stage, they were saying that Crimestoppers couldn't facilitate that because it was too short notice, so the proposal from the Sun was that they were going to do it anyway and they were going to include in their front-page lead a number that would be a Sun number. We negotiated with the Sun that the number should be the incident room number rather than a Sun newspaper telephone number, and it eventually went ahead.
Q. Mm?
A. It was at that stage that I think I say in my statement that the news editor freely admitted that this story was selling newspapers and there was a strong drive from on high to keep the exclusives and the stories on the front page.
Q. Are you intending to convey by that answer that you were reluctant to participate in the reward offer in the sense of providing the phone number or not?
A. No, sir. I think once the negotiation had been completed and they used our own incident room number, we were happier. I did have discussions with Mr Jones during the course of those negotiations and there was some concern about the ability of the incident room, which, as he's already said, was dealing with significant numbers of enquiries, to actually deal with additional enquiries that would come from people who potentially could provide misinformation on the basis that they thought there might be a reward. We reached a resolution in the end and it went ahead.
Q. I move on to 9 January, Ms Hirst. You see the reference to the Sun again at the bottom of the page: "Follow-up on Saturday piece; text from Jo to young man on night she disappeared; Sun knows who he is; looking for a steer because there's someone giving the media hoax information; wants off-the-record steer that name is correct." Can we deal with two points there? First of all, did you give any offer-the-record steers?
A. No, sir.
Q. Were they barking up the wrong tree?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Perhaps I should ask you about the first bullet point from that day, when the ITV contacted you: "He's no longer a suspect [that's Mr Jefferies, of course]; can we confirm?" Again, did you confirm that or not?
A. We would have spoken to Mr Jones and would have gone back to the to ITV with a response to that, sir.
Q. The next page, two points on the Mail. We're still on 9 January: "DNA sampling and elimination of suspects through proximity and location of two mobile phone masts; asked by editor to check whether we had problems with either line but would be running these lines anyway."
A. Yes, sir. This happened on a number of occasions. The media were selective quite often about what to respond whether to use some of the responses that we gave them, if it didn't fit their story, and this was an example of that. It didn't happen with every media organisation but it happened with a number of them, sir.
Q. So can I just understand that last answer. Whether the information you might give them would fit their story what was the story here? Can you be clear about that, please?
A. The story was that the through as it says, through DNA sampling and the elimination of suspects through proximity and location of two mobile phone masts, that we were using those two techniques to actually eliminate people from the inquiry. Again, we would have spoken to Mr Jones and clearly those were investigative tactics that, even if we were using them, we wouldn't have wanted to disclose. And that's sorry, sir, I think that's also a good example of what I mean by this process of elimination in terms of lines of inquiry.
Q. But they were making clear to you that whatever you said, is this right, even if you had had problems with either line, they would have published the story anyway?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Is that what you're saying?
A. Yes, sir. That particular incidence, I think, happened over a weekend and it was the media relations manager who had those conversations with the Mail. There is an entry in our Prologue system to that effect, sir.
Q. The next item for the Mail: "Reliable source tells of discussion this week about an overhaul of enquiry team. Serious meeting planned. Concerns about number of experienced detectives working on case. Will be running this story tomorrow despite our denial their source is 'very good'." Did they run the story, to your recollection, despite your denial?
A. I don't recollect. I suspect they must have done, because otherwise I don't think I would have included that entry in here, sir. There was a lot of discussion and debate, as I said earlier, about the reliability and the abilities of the SIO and the investigation team. I took a decision not to share that with Mr Jones, because I felt it was information that he just didn't need at that point, and he only found out about this when he saw this when he saw this material through the Inquiry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All this must put an intolerable pressure on any senior investigating officer, and indeed on those who are supporting the senior investigating officer, who after all is trying to detect a murder, and unlike the television, it can't necessarily be done within the hour.
A. Yes, sir, I think it did. We worked very hard to give the SIO as much support as possible, and I spoke to him very, very regularly and suggested to him that he shouldn't watch the news or read the newspapers, that I would or my team would provide him with what we felt was relevant, purely because there was no need for him to be aware of some of those debates about his abilities. It could have been very demotivating for him and his team, sir. MR JAY We picked up the reference on 10 January to the feature writer at the Mail. You see that? You've told us about that. You name her here.
A. Yes, sir. And she
Q. You say she becomes rude and accuses press officer of being rude and dismissing her idea?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Her idea was nonsense, wasn't it, to be frank?
A. Yes, sir, absolutely.
Q. Okay. I'm nearly finished with these. 14 January, page 11325. The last entry again for the Mail. The question was: "Has another police force been approached with regard to stalker crime. Categoric denial; suggest to Mail that report on this would be irresponsible." The implication there is that you needed to persuade them quite strongly not to report that. Is that a fair inference?
A. Yes, sir, and you will see the following day, on Saturday, 15 January, I had a call from our head of PPU to said that he'd had a call from an ex-colleague in Greater Manchester about a query from the Mail on Sunday regarding collaboration with Avon and Somerset police on stalker crime and the Jo Yeates murder. So even though we'd made it very clear to them on the Friday that a report on this would be irresponsible, they still pursued it on the Saturday.
Q. Just two entries more. 17 January, this is to do with the Ikea drivers: "The Sun are conducting their own murder investigation, contacting one of two Ikea drivers (who delivered to Jo's flat in November) at his home address; media linking it to alleged arrest of two people; lots of media calls." Did you have a suspicion in relation to that that information might have been leaking out of the Avon and Somerset force to the Sun?
A. At that stage, it wasn't quite so clear. It became clearer subsequently and it became clear relatively recently that one of our police officers had suggested that they'd been eavesdropped, but in fact I think that was just pure supposition and a throwaway comment. We know, as Mr Port said, that it didn't come from within our force; it came from externally.
Q. Yes. Then there's another rather inappropriate request. This is the last point, Ms Hirst. You see for 18 January it's the same features writer in the Mail on Sunday: "Would it be possible to interview Jo's parents?"
A. Yes. That was just one example. We also had, quite early on in the investigation, a request from the Victoria Derbyshire show, which is a live chat show on Radio 5 Live, requesting a half-hour live interview with Jo's parents, which we, of course, declined on their behalf.
Q. You obviously felt it necessary, at the end of this and the end of this is 22 January, when Vincent Tabak is charged to write all this up, as it were, for posterity. Was that your intention, as it were?
A. I felt and the Chief Constable and I spoke about this at some length, we there was a lessons learnt session after this for obviously it's important that we learn from things like this and see whether or not there are any things that we can improve and things that we can do better or differently, and I think that such was the nature of this that we felt it was important that we set it down and just analyse it ourselves, which is what we did. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's fine for you learning how to do it better, but I notice there are a couple of PowerPoint presentations that are also exhibited to your statement. Is this a presentation you've given to other police forces as well?
A. Yes, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So that everybody's learning from your experience?
A. Yes, sir. Yes. The presentations in here were given to the association ACPO, the Communications Advisory Group and the police communications officers that LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Another question, for balance and fairness: were the television authorities better or not as good or the same?
A. About the same, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Did you raise any of this either with the Press Complaints Commission or with Ofcom?
A. We didn't at the time, sir, no. I think the chief and I had a discussion about that but felt that it probably wouldn't have made a substantial amount of difference. We have complained in the past. In fact, as part of this, preparing for Leveson, the Chief Constable asked me to have a look at complaints that we've made to the media in the last five years or so. We've made 17 complaints over the past five years. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes?
A. Seven of which have been to the BBC. Not just over this, but over a series of different issues. So we are quite robust in complaining when we feel there is justification to do that. On this occasion I think, because we were in the middle of a very fast-moving investigation and a very challenging and unrelenting media frenzy, we didn't go down that route. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I can quite understand why, at the time, you were too busy doing the job to worry about take the time, really, to complain. But what about after it was all over? Of course, it's over and to that extent you have another problem to deal with, but in an attempt to try to address these issues, it's important that everybody learns.
A. It is, sir, yes and obviously, as I said, that's why we I did the presentations to ACPO. But I take your point, sir, that we should probably have shared this more widely, with the Press Complaints Commission perhaps and APCOM. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I was actually thinking of Ofcom.
A. Sorry, Ofcom. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Who are responsible for the regulation of broadcast services.
A. The Chief Constable did complain to Ofcom specifically about the ITN issue, sir. But that was resolved in the end and that complaint was withdrawn. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Well, whether I take it up myself is another matter, and not with those bodies. MR JAY Two final points on this issue. Question 37, back in your witness statement, Ms Hirst. It's our page 10523, where you refer to the significant pressure the journalists were under. You say: "I was told during the Joanna Yeates investigation by a national news desk editor that sales had increased as a result of their constant coverage, hence the imperative from on high to sustain the flow of exclusives and new leads." Are you paraphrasing there what the national news editor told you?
A. Not exactly, sir, but the national news editor certainly said that sales had increased as a result of their constant coverage, and he did suggest during that conversation, I seem to recall, that there was therefore it was in the context of the discussion about the ?50,000 reward, and he suggested that that was one of the reasons that they were pushing for the reward, because it gave them another front-page lead for the following day, which helped to keep sales up.
Q. So it's the Sun then, and it wasn't pure altruism offering the reward; it was simply a means of increasing
A. No, sir.
Q. their sales? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That might be a little unkind. The word "simply" might be a little unkind, Mr Jay. MR JAY Okay. I'll think about it. I'm asked to put to you a specific point on paragraph 61, your second example. We have touched on this already. This is the 4 January and the items of clothing.
A. Yes, sir.
Q. One core participant has asked me to put to you this: that it wasn't in fact the crime editor who contacted you; it was the Sun's west country correspondent John Coles. Do you recall that?
A. My recollection is that it was the crime editor of the Sun, sir, but that's certainly something I can check in our Prologue record, our computer record.
Q. I think the point is this: that you had a good working relationship with Mr Coles; is that right?
A. Yes, we did, sir. It became a little strained during this investigation, as did many of those working relationships with some of the reporters that we had.
Q. And the secondary point is this: that if you had told Mr Coles and I know it's your evidence that you didn't speak to him that the story would compromise the investigation in any way, he would have ensured it wasn't run by the Sun. Would you like to comment on that?
A. I'm I would beg to differ, sir, on that. I think the evidence that I saw from my dealings with the Sun and there are many other examples here would suggest that if they thought they had an exclusive, that they would have gone ahead and printed it anyway. But that's my view, sir.
Q. I understand. Finally we're looking now to the future, the HMIC report and Elizabeth Filkin report. Of course, the latter is not directed to you, it's directed to the Metropolitan Police, but there may be some commonalities which are relevant to your force. I appreciate you say that you're reviewing your policies in the light of those reports, but are there any ideas which you are prepared to share with us today? Your reaction in particular to the HMIC report is it helpful or unhelpful?
A. I think it's always helpful, sir, for the question of integrity to be raised up the agenda, just because it's important that we all remember that that's an important tenet of the way that we work. We did do some work following this, in the context of certainly the media regulations protocol, which you see in here, and our social media protocol. A section was added to each of those on integrity. I've also included in the most recent SIO media training that I've done a very small session in there on integrity because I think it's very important. I think with the kind of approach that we adopt at Avon and Somerset, with logging systems and a very strong leadership, in terms of culture that comes from the Chief Constable, that actually we have a very good a very sound culture within the organisation in terms of media, but I don't think we can possibly be complacent. I think it's very important that we're continually reminded of the need for integrity and professionalism in everything that we do. MR JAY Thank you very much, Ms Hirst. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So we move from Bristol to Durham? MS BOON We do, sir. The next witnesses are Chief Constable Jon Stoddart and Ms Barbara Brewis. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. We'll just let Avon and Somerset leave and let Durham arrive. MR THOMAS JONATHAN STODDART (sworn) MS BARBARA BREWIS (sworn) Questions by MS BOON MS BOON Mr Stoddart, first of all. I think you've given your full name, but for the record, if you could just give that again. MR STODDART Yeah, it's Thomas Jonathan Stoddart.
Q. You've provided two witness statements to the Inquiry. The first is dated 20 February 2012. MR STODDART That's correct.
Q. Do you confirm the contents of that witness statement are true? MR STODDART I can do, yes.
Q. You've also provided a second witness statement, which is at our tab 20. The copy that I have isn't signed or dated but it deals with the security of police systems. Are the contents of that witness statement true also? MR STODDART They are.
Q. You served for 16 years with Northumbria police. You then became assistant chief constable for Lincolnshire Police in 1999. You were deputy chief constable for Durham Constabulary in 2003, and during this time you had the strategic lead for the management of the force media and press office. Then you were appointed Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary in 2005; is that right? MR STODDART That's correct.
Q. You have experience of reviewing major crime investigations. Indeed, you were asked to review Operation Weeting, which we'll come to. MR STODDART That's correct, as well.
Q. Ms Brewis, give your full name? MS BREWIS My name's Barbara Joan(?) Brewis.
Q. You've also provided a witness statement, and that's dated 20 February 2012? MS BREWIS That's correct.
Q. Do you confirm the contents of that witness statement are true? MS BREWIS I do.
Q. This is your formal evidence to the Inquiry? MS BREWIS It is.
Q. Equally, Mr Stoddart, the two witness statements I refer to there are your formal evidence to the Inquiry? MR STODDART They are, yes.
Q. Ms Brewis, you are a media and marketing manager for Durham Constabulary. You've been involved with the media your entire working life? MS BREWIS Yes, that's correct.
Q. You began your working life as a reporter for a local newspaper? MS BREWIS Yes.
Q. You say that after a varied newspaper career, which culminated in your appointment as a chief subeditor for a major regional evening paper, you moved into public relations when you were appointed press officer to Gateshead Council? MS BREWIS Yes.
Q. That was in 1990. So in 1999, you became deputy head of media services at Northumbria Police and then in 2010 you were appointed to your current role? MS BREWIS Yes.
Q. You are also a regular contributor to the National Police Communicators Course. Is that a course provided by the Association of Police Communicators? MS BREWIS That is a course provided by Lincolnshire Police, which is the national police press officer course.
Q. I see. In total, you were a journalist for 20 years before switching hats, if I can put it that way. To what extent has that experience helped you in your current role? MS BREWIS I think it's been helpful because I understand how the media works, because obviously I used to be part of the media. It means that I know a lot of the people who are still involved in the media. I've worked with them. It means I can anticipate I know what they are want from the press office. I understand about deadlines, I understand how stories are formed and how they're placed and I can anticipate questions. I can also ask I understand what the question is behind the question. I speak their language. I would hope that I still do.
Q. Yes. Are members of the media more likely to put pressure on you knowing that you understand the pressures that they're under? MS BREWIS I think possibly it can happen sometimes. I think it's less so now, because I've been out of that domain for so long, but they know I understand.
Q. Yes. So broadly speaking, you see it as an advantage to your role? MS BREWIS I do think it is. I think it is a natural progression for reporters to move into public relations and it's two sides of the same coin, so it is helpful to both sides.
Q. How many staff are there in your team? MS BREWIS At present we have four and a half. Four full-time and one part-time person.
Q. Your team, you say under question 5 in your statement, page 05219, acts as the main but not the sole communication channel between the force and the media. To what extent do individual officers have direct or informal contact with the media? MS BREWIS We have 12 neighbourhood policing teams, each with an inspector. The neighbourhood inspectors do have regular contact with the local media on a daily often a daily basis. We feel that we are not the sole communication channel. There are instances where the media it's helpful for them to speak directly to inspectors, but for some issues, some that are more complex, some that involve lots of different areas, not one particular neighbourhood, it's much more useful to come through the press office because they'll get a more holistic approach to the question.
Q. In what circumstances do you expect the neighbourhood inspector to refer a query to you? MS BREWIS I think if it was about a corporate issue rather than just something pertinent to their neighbourhoods, I think if it was more complex, I think if it was where a corporate response was required rather than a neighbourhood response. And they would tell us, for information as well, just in case we were asked a similar question about a different neighbourhood. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's quite important. Does that mean that although they may go direct to your neighbourhood, you would expect to be informed not the detail but of the contact, so that you could follow it up if you wanted to? MS BREWIS We would like to be informed. It doesn't always happen, but we would see it in the newspaper anyway and we would they would put it on their own Facebook pages, which we monitor, so we would know it was happening. It's never created any issue. We think it's a sympathetic way to work. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. I'm just concerned about the question of different people saying perhaps slightly different things. MS BREWIS I think the neighbourhoods they're talking about the neighbourhoods, and our aim is always to promote public confidence and they know that. So when they are giving items to the media, they are working on that same objective, which is to inform our communities, have communication with our communities and promote reassurance and let our communities know what we're doing for them. That's really what this is about. MS BOON Are you saying that you would like all contact to be notified to you? MS BREWIS I think it would be helpful if, in general terms, they said, "Well, I was talking to this reporter today and I've told them this story." They often do. They don't always.
Q. Do you think there needs to be a formal requirement so that they do do that, or MS BREWIS I think we are a small enough force where that doesn't really it doesn't have to be on such a formal arrangement because we know anyway what people are talking about.
Q. Mr Stoddart, it's your evidence in your witness statement that contact takes place on a daily basis across all ranks, from your police community support officer up to the more senior ranks. Is that something that you consider is healthy? MR STODDART I do. I think that, in the scale of things, that what we have is a workable and trusting relationship with our local media. Our neighbourhood inspectors take the lead on a lot of the community issues, talk about meetings, the kind of low level community concerns that really do worry communities, so anti-social behaviour, low level local crime. Anything more serious clearly gets routed through our media department, but I'm happy with the arrangement, it works very, very well and we do empower officially our community support officers, for example, who are very, very close to our communities, to directly forewarn the media of any particular problem-solving initiative or some kind of PR initiative. So I'm relaxed about that. I think it's a good system, I think it works well, and we haven't ever had any difficulties at all in terms of two talking heads or any kinds of contradictions. Not that I can think of, anyway.
Q. Have there been problems with inappropriate comments being made? I'm not talking now about unauthorised disclosures or leaks, but officers not understanding how far they go should go legally or in terms of the remit of their responsibility? MR STODDART No, not at all, and perhaps surprisingly, when the whole issue of social media started we have got a social media policy or guidance and I was I have to say, I was slightly nervous about whether or not this was going to cause us difficulties, but so far it hasn't. We have Facebook and Twitter accounts for our neighbourhood inspectors. They've been given advice on how to use them. They have the media department to turn to in the event of any concerns that they may have, and these are an invaluable tool in terms of appeals, requests for information, informing our communities and I'm very pleased with the way things are going in relation to that.
Q. We heard yesterday from members of the press in the Cumbria area that Twitter can be more of a hindrance than a help, in that there's a character limit and there isn't a restriction really on police officers saying, "This is an incident I'm attending, this is what I'm doing." They don't find it necessarily all that beneficial to follow. Is that something that you've experienced, Ms Brewis? MS BREWIS As far as the character limit is concerned, what we often do is tweet something which links to our website, where people can read the whole story.
Q. Right. MS BREWIS So that's not an issue. The smaller bite-size chunks are really about instant appeals that you might not want to put a full-blown press release out about. You know, three scooters stolen from such-and-such. Were you in the area? Did you see anything? Please ring us. It's really good for things like that. It's a really good communications tool.
Q. So it's more communicating with the community, rather than the media? MS BREWIS Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's direct. MS BREWIS Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Could you just tell me, so I have the context, how many police officers and support staff are there in Durham? MR STODDART 2,500 roughly staff altogether, of which I think it's now at the moment 1,390 police officers. It's been considerably downsized in the last few years. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MS BOON From what you've described, there are open channels of communication between the force, individual officers and the media. Has this altered recently? We've heard evidence from some members of the press that forces have, either officially or in practice, been closing down direct communication with officers. Is that something that you've felt in Durham? MR STODDART From my perspective, no. I still do a lot of media work with TV and radio. I do less with the written word, but I don't think there's been a significant change in the culture of the organisation.
Q. Ms Brewis, can you comment on the culture? Because you'll be speaking more regularly, I would imagine, with individual officers. MS BREWIS I don't feel there's been any sort of sea change. I think people are more aware possibly of issues. I don't think we haven't shut down nobody's shut down. We are carrying on. It's business as usual. We hope we've always operated with integrity and from an ethical standpoint, so we will continue to do that.
Q. You haven't sensed a loss of confidence? MS BREWIS No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Or a concern about what's actually happening here? MS BREWIS I don't think so, no. I really can't say. I think it seems a little bit remote. Really, people think it's down here and it's not LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Durham is a long way away. MS BREWIS Yes, which is not a bad thing sometimes. MS BOON Ms Brewis, your team, you say, has input into media training courses for police officers and also provides ad hoc media advice to officers. On those training courses, do you cover hospitality, appropriate relations with the media, those sorts of topics? MS BREWIS No, we didn't use to. We do now. That is one change we have done. We are I am already we are drawing up plans to increase the media awareness so that it covers more staff police officers and police staff. We will include inappropriate relationships, we'll include release of information, ethical use of social networking sites. It's something that wasn't on our radar. It is now and we're going to do something about it.
Q. Are you able to say in a nutshell what the key message is on appropriate relationships? MS BREWIS Have a good professional relationship with the media but they're not your friends, basically.
Q. That's the nutshell: they're not your friends; have a professional relationship. MS BREWIS Mm.
Q. Moving on then to the culture of relationships. Mr Stoddart, you described the culture as healthy, open, honest and transparent. We know that whilst Deputy Chief Constable, you were the strategic lead for the management of the force media and press office. Did this give you particular insight into media relations that you might have not have had otherwise? MR STODDART I think because of my various roles throughout my career, time in the CID, borough commander, I've always had a reasonably active relationship with the media. As a Deputy Chief Constable with strategic oversight, yes, it gave me a better understanding of some the stresses and strains. We have a very small media department and although Durham is a long way from Westminster, it does still have its own unique demands and challenges. And I'm very pleased that I don't want to be sounding complacent or smug, but we have a good local rapport and our national embedded reporters are also we've got a good relationship with them as well and it's healthy, it's professional and people know where the limits lie.
Q. When you say "national embedded reporters", you mean national correspondents who are based in Durham? MR STODDART Yes.
Q. What about visiting members of the national media, the print press? MR STODDART I suppose I adopt the mantra that if you don't know them, you can't trust them, so until you have a professional relationship established, you work within the limits of what you know about you stick to the facts, you stick to the story, and you don't ever take people into your confidence if you don't have that trusting relationship.
Q. Have you had bad experiences with visiting members of the media? MR STODDART As a chief officer, no, but yes, as a detective superintendent, yes.
Q. Was that in terms of being misquoted or inaccurate reporting? What sort of problems did you have? MR STODDART I've had some kind of alarming headlines in local newspapers and national newspapers which maybe weren't helpful and I've had misquotes perhaps in the past that I didn't feel too good about. But by and large, the relationship is healthy, transparent and reasonable.
Q. Were you generally able to resolve those problems that you did have as a detective? MR STODDART It's a long time ago, but sometimes we just agreed that we couldn't agree.
Q. Yes. You state, under question 16 in your statement, Mr Stoddart I think I may have the wrong reference. Bear with me one moment. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON While Ms Boon finds the reference, you've said Durham has its own unique demands and challenges. Are those demands or challenges anything to do with any aspect of the work that I'm having to do? Because I don't want to tread on your toes inappropriately, or without knowing what I was doing. MR STODDART Sorry, do you mean in terms of this Inquiry in general relations with the media? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Correct. MR STODDART No, I mean I'm talking about just the fact that we have our own pressure that that creates interest from the national media. We have, you know, major critical incidents that attract very, very significant media attention. I refer to it in my statement at one point where we had four three murdered and one suicide on new year's day just this year. A lot of national attention. We had, three years ago, a significant counter-terrorism incident which occurred in our area. So they cause, you know, the same demands as you would expect from elsewhere. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. So it's the same elsewhere, although obviously your examples are different to theirs. MR STODDART Sure. It's not about any relationship with the media. MS BOON Thank you, sir. I've found the reference. I had the right reference but I was looking in the wrong statement. Under question 16 in your statement, Mr Stoddart, page 05245, your first statement, the second paragraph: "Although some of the media coverage may be difficult or unpleasant, it hasn't ever been what I thought of as inappropriate or dishonest." You're talking about all forms of media coverage, there? MR STODDART I am, yes.
Q. Would it be a fair way to encapsulate your evidence that the media have been healthily critical? MR STODDART Absolutely. It is extremely uncomfortable, as a chief constable, to have unfavourable comments or comparisons, but the fact of the matter is we simply have to be accountable and we put up with that.
Q. Yes. Ms Brewis, you consider that there's a culture of openness and transparency within a professional framework. Those are your words. MS BREWIS Yes.
Q. You consider you have good working relationships with the reporters who contact you on a regular basis. From your perspective, is there anything peculiar to the Durham area that explains your relationship, the culture that you experience? MS BREWIS I think a lot of reporters have worked for some of the local papers, the local media for a long time, and I think there's been at least two of the staff have worked in the press office for a long time, so they've built up those relationships. I had built up relationships in my previous jobs with some of the same reporters, so there's been a consistency and that has helped because this is it is about building up good working relationships and it doesn't happen overnight, and there has to be an element of trust on both sides and you can only do that over time, trust in that we will help facilitate what they want and in turn they will help us if we need particular facilitations from them.
Q. Of course, what can happen when people work together over a long period of time, as you've described, and get to know each other, the relationship can change into more of a friendship and cross a certain boundary. Is that something that's happened in Durham? MS BREWIS Not in my experience, no. We are not we don't socialise with the local media. We don't
Q. It's just not what's done? MS BREWIS It just doesn't happen. We know them well, we work with them. We don't see them outside work.
Q. Is that something that you've ensured has happened on purpose or it just hasn't happened perhaps more by chance? MS BREWIS It just hasn't happened. And I think if I saw that it was starting to happen, I would raise the issues that we've already talked about, that they're not your friends.
Q. Yes. Mr Stoddart, in terms of your personal contact with the media, how would you characterise that now? MR STODDART I think I've already mentioned I probably have more contact with television and radio than I do with local written media. Notwithstanding that, I know the editor of the local paper quite well, sit on a couple of strategic partnership boards that he also sits on. He used to be a member of a charitable organisation that I am a trustee of as well, so I know him quite well. Would I call him a friend? No. Do I know him reasonably well? Yes. Have I had disputes with him? Yes. And you know, it's a healthy relationship. But I suppose as the Chief Constable you have less contact with the kind of people that Barbara has. I think that's just by degrees, by nature. And although they would like sometimes a comment from myself, Barbara does help me out in relation to that. Most of my contact is with the BBC, Sky, ITV.
Q. In terms of hospitality, you say that in 13 years as a chief officer, you've had one dinner with the national media. MR STODDART Yes, that's right.
Q. And the purpose of that dinner, it was part of an ongoing operation to raise national and local interest in an impending operation into an organised crime group? MR STODDART It was.
Q. So there was a clear policing purpose behind it? MR STODDART It wasn't it was about off-the-record briefings, sir. We used this as an opportunity to provide a background context to a really good operation that we were running and we wanted national awareness, national media, to show how good we were in terms of dismantling this organised crime group. I think we really did achieve that. I think it was an absolutely ethical, above-board process, but that's the only time in 30 years that I can remember having any kind of social discourse or a dinner or anything like that with the media.
Q. Mr Stoddart, under question 21 of your statement, page 05246, you make the point that: "As a rule, there is no contact between my officers that occurs outside the working environment as this is almost conducted entirely over the phone or in a police station. Senior officers, ACPO rank and those leading inquiries, again, as a rule, only conduct business in an official or legitimate location. I have mentioned the one occasion as Chief Constable that I socialised with members of the media." So it would seem from what you say there that it's simply not part of the way things work, to be meeting socially. MR STODDART That's correct. It's a very healthy culture within Durham Constabulary and it's partly a product of the fact as Barbara's alluded to, we're a small organisation, compact, and although there are a number of newspapers, we have healthy respect for their position and they have neither the time, the money nor the inclination to try and wine and dine us. I've never been offered any form of hospitality at all by the media locally. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So what's your attitude to what's emerged during the course of the Inquiry, if you have followed it at all? MR STODDART Yes. Pretty disappointed, I have to say. And I have to I have very grave concerns about overfamiliarity with police officers from each and every rank. I would hope that we can establish something from this that would go some way to eliminating that. I think the culture, just by this very challenge, will change throughout the service. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Is that a convenient moment? MS BOON Yes. (3.18 pm) (A short break) (3.23 pm) MS BOON Mr Stoddart, following on from Lord Justice Leveson's last question, you've described the culture in Durham Constabulary where there isn't socialising with the media. You've expressed your concerns about overly close, overly familiar relationships. Is there a medium somewhere in between, and if so, how does an officer judge where the appropriate line is? MR STODDART I think that this is the kind of difficult issue that we have in terms of relations with the press. On the one hand, we need to have a healthy, searching, probing press to hold us to account as public servants. On the other hand, we want to be able to ensure that there is integrity and honesty in the relationships between police officers and media. I recognise that our approach, which is trusting, has fewer controls on than perhaps a larger organisation where perhaps everything goes through a central media unit. I think if we were to do that, we would have to invest quite significantly in the media department. It is small, but perhaps that might have to be the price we pay, unless we make very, very explicit and we have got some guidance in our written policies that Barbara has helpfully produced over the years, in terms of what can and can't be done, what should be done locally, how to do certain scenarios. But the fact of the matter is we operate on a high trust basis with our staff and a high trust basis with the local written media, and perhaps that's something that we need to really kind of tighten up on to find what is this happy medium, because I don't want breaches and any kind of allegations being made, but similarly I don't want to inhibit the democratic principles of free speech. Now, police officers clearly have to abide by our policy, the force policy, but I'm sure that they will adapt to anything that we can come to. So I'm interested to see what comes out of all of this, this whole scrutiny.
Q. So you haven't formulated in your mind get where that happy medium might lie, how officers can be guided in their conduct? MR STODDART Well, we train our police officers. Barbara's already acknowledged that we need to do more in terms of media training with Durham cops, and we do trust PCSOs, who have a very important community role, and are very popular in county Durham and Darlington, but the reality is: what is the trade-off? We have a very, very engaged media who haven't, as far as I'm aware, let us down, and I have a very engaged workforce who are trusted to deliver and as yet I've responded in my statement that I can't think of any occasions when there's been leaks to the media. So it's almost like "if it ain't bust, don't fix it", but I'm very conscious of the fact that other forces have had some really serious breaches, leaks, inappropriate relationships, so it's something that we really are having to think about. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do you think it has to be one size fits all, that there should be a national policy, or do you think this should be left to local MR STODDART I think that what's happening today, I think, with the IPCC and ACPO and the HMIC in relation to both Filkin and the HMIC integrity scrutiny, I think that should provide some strong national standards, national guidance. I think then the solution, the work about, could come locally, because certainly, you know, 2,500 people in Durham Constabulary and 45,000 in the Metropolitan Police the scale is just ridiculous. So I don't think that one size fits all is going to work. I do think national standards should be made clear. I think that somehow or other we have to enable there to be a local solution to come to that which is agreeable to those national standards. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON High level principles, worked out on the ground. MR STODDART And then clearly inspected against whether it's by HMIC or internally, both and from outside as well. MS BOON Indeed, in your statement, page 05259, the second paragraph under question 54, when referring to the ACPO guidance or national guidance, you say: "Any such guidance should be capable of adaptation to suit the geographical and demographic nature of the individual force." I was going to ask you what regional variations might be needed. Is it the question of scale that you've referred to or is there anything else that varies that needs to be taken into account geographically? MR STODDART I don't think it's the geography; I think it's the scale. But I think it's also the starting point, that forces are at different points in their maturity or their relationship with the media and some forces, to comply with it, would maybe be going backwards. It would be to their detriment. So I think it needs to be flexible enough to work out locally, but it's not a matter I don't think it's a matter of geography. It's simply a matter of the organisational maturity or development.
Q. What you're saying is some forces might need more rigid guidance than others? MR STODDART I'm not sure that's what I was trying to say. I think that what I was trying to say was that forces may already have above and beyond exacting standards, and that you can't just impose a national standard or a national solution across without first doing a health check. Now, we're all doing health checks as to where we are, and that's being done in Durham as well, to make sure that the HMIC integrity review and those issues raised in Filkin are then being put into a kind of action plan so that we are in a fit position to take on the next round of recommendations.
Q. Ms Brewis, just to complete the picture, you say in your witness statement that you've never accepted hospitality from the media in your current position? MS BREWIS No.
Q. And you've never offered hospitality either to the media? MS BREWIS Not in my current position, and where it has been offered, it's not it's been for a policing purpose, to sort of events, which are information events, where there is some refreshment.
Q. That's from the media specifically, is it? MS BREWIS Yes. It's certainly not exclusive. All media, their press offices, their not it's sort of a public event.
Q. Is that in your current role or your previous MS BREWIS In previous roles.
Q. Yes. On the question of regulating contact with the media, Mr Stoddart, you say that individual officers aren't required at all to record their contact with the media presently. MR STODDART Mm.
Q. You've spoken very highly of the trust that you have in your officers presently and how they're yet to test that trust, but do you think that recording contact is something that you should implement for the future? MR STODDART I've thought about this very hard, actually, since I submitted this statement, and I've moved from kind of agreeing with the Filkin recommendations of informal contact more is better than less, but recording things in pocket notebooks to protect the police officer and the media as well. The more I've thought about it, the more I think that perhaps we need to be more rigorous in relation to this, that we should have a central repository, a central system that records the contact and, importantly, what the content of the conversation or meeting was, even if it is you know, I think it's not kind of an accidental encounter, but telephone conversations, pre-planned meetings, press conferences, briefings, they should recorded. I think it would protect the integrity of the organisation and the police officer, and I think that I've thought about it and I've thought about the bureaucracy that would be entailed in that and I think it's doable, certainly from our perspective. Whether or not it's doable in someone like the Metropolitan Police with the proliferation of national dailies in the Metropolis, I don't know, and I don't want to have threatening letters tonight from Bernard. But the reality is I do think that we could tighten up. I think we need to tighten up. I think certainly Durham needs to tighten up in relation to this. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You're unlikely to get such letters, given that you made it abundantly clear this isn't actually a problem for you. MR STODDART No, but the reality is I don't want to be complacent about it, sir. I want to make sure that we actually challenge our culture, and perhaps it's by accident rather than by design that we are where we are. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand. MS BOON So you're envisaging that there is a record of any information that was shared with the media? MR STODDART We already keep a record Barbara keeps a record of those contacts on a daily basis where the access is through the press office. I think that perhaps my neighbourhood inspectors need to email or ring or phone or directly input into a system that we could LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It needn't be too complex. A couple of lines. MR STODDART I agree, sir. MS BOON How do you think it might be received by the neighbourhood inspectors that you were referring to before, who have the daily contact with MR STODDART I do think that initially I think there will be some grumbling, but I think that once they understand why and the awareness is raised, I think they'll feel absolutely that this is the appropriate thing to do. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON For me, it's not what the reaction of neighbourhood inspectors will be. The privileges of rank mean that neighbourhood inspectors will probably do what their Chief Constable tells them to do. It's what the reaction of the press would be. You may have heard that a number of reporters have said, "Oh, it will chill. Nobody will speak to us. It will be terrible." Do you think that will be so in Durham? MS BREWIS No, I don't think so. I can't really see that happening. We would not want to see it happening. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, I appreciate that. MS BREWIS You should be able to work within that framework and if it's the right thing to do, we'll do it. MS BOON I clearly disguised my question well. What I was getting at was whether you think that the inspectors might be less inclined to answer the phone if they know they have to make a record of the contact, the information given. MR STODDART I thought that's what I answered, actually. MS BOON Yes, you did. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So it's my fault, is it, Ms Boon? MS BOON No, it was my fault for disguising my question. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Keep going, keep going. MS BOON Moving to your policies now. It's our tab 13, I don't know if you have the same tabs. This is a document entitled "Media guide". When was this guide introduced? MS BREWIS It was produced some years ago, but it has been updated, I think, within the last three years.
Q. Right. There was only one page that I wanted to highlight and that's the first inside page. So your internal numbering 1, our number 05148: "This guide has been compiled to help all officers and staff of Durham Constabulary in their dealings with members of the media. It is impossible to cover over scenario but the guidance is designed to cover most operational situations. Previous force policy stated only officers of sergeant and above were authorised to speak to the media without reference to supervision. However, over the years, it has become common practice for constables to do so as well, provided they are speaking on issues or cases which are within their remit. If there is any uncertainty about the subject matter of a reporter's line of questioning, seek advice from supervision or from the press and public relations office. The force has long practised openness with the public, and that, of course, includes the media. We continue to be committed to holding back only what we must." The next paragraph: "Speaking to the media means, in the eyes of viewers and readers and the ears of listeners, that you become the spokesperson for the force. Don't be tempted to talk outside your sphere of responsibility, knowledge or experience but do feel confident to talk about subjects you are comfortable with." That would seem to be consistent with what you're saying, which is: speak openly, be confident about doing it but don't trespass beyond your area of responsibility. MR STODDART That's correct.
Q. The next policy, at tab 11, "Gratuities, gifts, donations and testimonials guidance and procedure". Ms Brewis, I understand the lunches/hospitality part, was brought in in 2009; is that right or do I have this completely wrong? MS BREWIS That was actually before my time.
Q. Right, of course. MS BREWIS But I think it is relatively new, yes.
Q. I've got that from reading the front page: "Updated 20 February 2009. Reason for change: to include lunches/hospitality." LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's due to be reviewed or was due to be reviewed last month. MS BREWIS Well, it probably is being reviewed, I would say. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Very good. MS BOON Paragraph 1.8.3, which is on internal numbering 3, our 05136. This must be the 2009 addition: "Any lunches/hospitality accepted will potentially be subject to public scrutiny, therefore working lunches and other hospitality may only be accepted where it (a) allows the business of the force to be legitimately progressed, (b) is open and transparent, (c) does not invite the perception of a conflict of interest, (d) cannot be perceived by others to be extravagant." Presumably, Mr Stoddart, that's something that you would hope to expand on to give officers more guidance than that in terms of or is that a fair reflection of MR STODDART I think that's a fair reflection in terms of where we are. On occasion, the ACPO team do have lunches not with the media, but with contractors, other organisations, suppliers, people with legitimate interest in the policing business. I think this whole investigation/Inquiry will rightly cause all forces to challenge exactly what we have whether or not it's fit for purpose, and I can see now that there are areas where we may need to be tighter and define things a bit more carefully.
Q. The final policy, tab 14. Not that these are the only policies that you have, but the only ones that I'm bringing particularly to the Inquiry's attention. This is Durham Constabulary procedures, tactics and guidance, media and marketing. This has been in force since July last year; is that right? MS BREWIS Yes.
Q. Date approved at FMG, July 2011. The relevant passage is the last page, 05177, "Contact with the media": "Durham Constabulary officers and staff are encouraged to have an open and transparent relationship with the media in the furtherance of the prevention and detection of crime. However, this relationship should always be on a professional footing. Situations where the line between professional and personal relationships could become blurred should be avoided at all costs. Exchange of hospitality should be proportionate. It may be acceptable to buy drinks for or accept drinks from individual members of the media at one-off social occasions. However, employees should be aware that if they regularly accept larger items of hospitality, such as tickets to Premiership games, days at the races, et cetera, on a regular basis from the same members of the media, their impartiality may be called into question. They are also leaving themselves open to opportunist reporters wishing to call in favours. All hospitality offered and received must be recorded in line with force policy on gifts and gratuities. If you do pass information on to individual reporters, it should always be for a genuine policing purpose and not just because they asked for it and you feel you owe them a favour. The message is: journalists are not your friends. They only want to talk to you because they hope you will pass on information which would otherwise be denied them." Is there anything you wanted to add to that? MS BREWIS Just to explain that we actually did that as an appendix because of the HMIC report on police integrity, and it did find that we had sound governance arrangements in the majority of cases but there was actually no specific guidance relating to appropriate contact with the media. So I discussed that with Professional Standards Department and came up with this wording, and that would be then pursued through the media awareness training that we're planning.
Q. In fact your buzzline about journalists not being your friends is there and that's something that feeds through the training in the policy. You've provided slides of the course that you provide. MS BREWIS This is the current course?
Q. Yes, the investigative skills course at tab 3. MS BREWIS But this is going to be further developed because we need to cover other areas. This is just a basic media awareness, how to maximise media potential, how to work with them in the best way for both sides.
Q. There was just one slide that appeared to be of interest particularly, sorry, I should say. Sir, I believe these are ordered numerically this time. It's at 05118. You don't have that numbering on yours, do you? It's the slide that refers to phone hacking and other scandals. It's two from the back. Two pages from the back, three slides. MS BREWIS Yes.
Q. That is: "Phone hacking and other scandals. Leveson Inquiry is looking into many areas including police/press relationships. Regular contact with local media is encouraged but stay professional." The point that arises from that is you appear to be communicating the message: don't freeze up just because there's an inquiry going on. Would that be fair? MS BREWIS Yes, absolutely fair.
Q. But missing from that is "regular contact with national media is encouraged". Is that by design? MS BREWIS No. I think it's just because it happens more infrequently and local media we work with local media on a daily basis so it's really important that we encourage everybody to consider that.
Q. But it's not part of the training to say, "Continue speaking to the local media but be more careful with the national media"? MS BREWIS It probably will be, actually. It's something we'll develop as we look into the different strands of the issues arising out of this Inquiry.
Q. That feeds from what Mr Stoddart said earlier, that when you have a relationship of trust that's one thing but when you don't have that relationship of trust, you need to be more cautious; is that what you're getting at? MS BREWIS Yes.
Q. Off-the-record conversations, if I may touch on those. Ms Brewis, you're not against off-the-record communications, providing they're always done for a policing purpose. Is that fair? MS BREWIS Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sorry, is that off the record, i.e. non-attributable? MS BREWIS Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Nothing at all? MS BREWIS "Off the record", as far as we're concerned, is background information which is will provide clarity and understanding to a reporter so that they can produce an accurate article. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MS BOON In your experience, in your current role, have journalists always honoured the basis on which you've provided the information? MS BREWIS Yes, they do. And that's the importance of having good working relationships with the local reporters, because the sanction is if they don't honour it, they never get it again, and they understand that.
Q. Is it correct that your office has advised neighbourhood policing teams not to give out information off the record? I get that from Mr Stoddart's statement, so I apologise if I'm ambushing you with that, but is that something that you are aware of? MS BREWIS We would always advise them to be cautious. I think they do err on the side of caution.
Q. But you don't prohibit off-the-record conversations? MS BREWIS Not specifically, no. But it tends to be about the more serious issues anyway, that we would be contacted about. It tends to be serious crimes, other investigations, where the media are looking for a particular steer and we may give some guidance to help how they use the story, but it's not it tends not to happen at a local level.
Q. I see. Mr Stoddart, I got that from your witness statement. Is there anything you wanted to add to this? MR STODDART No, I was under the expression that the media advice was that for neighbourhood teams, just in case, err on the side of caution by all means but consider every briefing to be on the record. MS BREWIS I think what I always say to people: when you're talking to a reporter, as soon as you start speaking, they are taking notes, so assume they're going to use it.
Q. Yes. At question 44, Ms Brewis, of your statement, page 05232, you give an example of an incident that arose during a major fraud investigation, where a journalist voluntarily, or at your request, didn't publish information in order to avoid a prejudice to the criminal investigation. Is there anything you wanted to add to that or to develop? MS BREWIS I think that's an example where we used where we had judicious use of briefing, because we asked them not to do it. There was a proper policing reason for that we didn't want the suspect to go to ground and when he was arrested we told the reporters and they were able to run stories and promote the work that we did, the good work that we did.
Q. In fact, you say there that the concern was that if the reporters published the information, the suspect would be alerted and would be more difficult to capture. MS BREWIS Yes.
Q. You say: "Once he had been arrested, we told the reporters and provided enough information for them to run stories ahead of any other media outlets." So you honoured their exclusive, if I can put it that way? MS BREWIS Yes. I think I would always honour an exclusive. If a reporter comes and asks a question about a story they are running and nobody else has it, I think it's only professional to honour that exclusive. I would not put it then out on general release. I may put it out on general release once it appeared in that outlet, but I wouldn't do it in advance of that.
Q. The question of leaks, Mr Stoddart. I think you've more or less dealt with them. You've said that there have been no known leaks from Durham Constabulary staff to the media. Over what time period are you considering? MR STODDART I've been at Durham now for nine years and I can't think of any from the police. I was reminded, however, that it's in my statement that there was an inadvertent disclosure of a sensitive Police Authority paper which found its way into the media's hands, but that was traced down to inappropriate disposal of information rather than a deliberate leak.
Q. Yes. And Ms Brewis, you state that deliberate leaks are uncommon and have never been regarded as a significant issue? MS BREWIS No, not with my experience with Durham, no, not at all.
Q. It's fair to say that the context you give is that you don't have many major news events or other issues which might attract significant media interest nationally. MS BREWIS That's one of the reasons, but generally speaking, it's not a common occurrence. You know when people are leaking stories. It's easy to tell when there's a source inside who's leaking.
Q. Yes. Mr Stoddart, I just wanted to ask you a few questions or go through your evidence on the security of databases. I won't spend too long on this. You provided a detailed statement which, broadly, we will take as read. But what you deal with is security of both the Police National Computer but also databases which are owned and operated by the Durham Constabulary. There are a number of databases holding a variety of personal information, some of which will, of course, be intelligence. Access is granted, you say, dependent on operational need, and even within databases, some parts are restricted on a need-to-know basis; is that right? MR STODDART That's right.
Q. Prior to accessing some databases, users must attend a training session. For others, training is on the job. All users are appropriately and proportionately vetted, you say, and prior to being granted access to a network, a screen will come up, reminding the user that they a splash screen is what you call it, reminding them that they must use the systems only for official purposes. MR STODDART That's correct.
Q. You do have audit facilities and the Professional Standards Department carries out intelligence-led operations. Are there any random checks or dip sampling of the use of the systems? MR STODDART Yes. Both local and nationally, we have random sampling and within the PNC guard, which is referred to in my statement, there is a facility to, randomly and intelligence-led, do some screening of the usage to ensure that it's done for an appropriate purpose, whether it's training, crime or another police matter, a vehicle stop or whatever. There are categories of why that can be used and there will be challenges to the officers for their reason based on those random requests.
Q. Are you talking there about the PNC or MR STODDART Yes. PNC Guard sorry, I should have been clearer. PNC Guard is exactly that. That's what it does. It's a commercial piece of software that we've invested in. Most forces, I think, have something similar or the same, and it enables us to ensure that there is no inappropriate use of the PNC, both on a random basis and more intelligence-led. Locally, our systems are all auditable and we do again audit those. But again, it's a balance between control and trust. We invest a lot of money and time in training and investing in good technology and good IT, and part of the reason that our performance as a force is very strong is because we have good IT where we don't inhibit its use. We trust our police officers to use it appropriately, but we do have a facility, clearly, to audit and we have a dedicated department in the information department who are there for exactly that purpose.
Q. And you're not aware of any suspected leaks from Durham Constabulary databases to the media either; is that right? MR STODDART Not to the media, no. We've had again, they're in my statement somewhere a number of inappropriate pieces of use of either national or local systems and I've outlined in there what the outcome of some of those investigations was: resignation, requirement to resign, cautions, no further actions and so on. But yes, we take it very seriously. Clearly we can't be absolutely 100 per cent certain but we do what we can within the constraints of the organisation.
Q. And in fact, you've only had two complaints from the public in the last two years which relate to the suspected misuse of police databases? MR STODDART Yes.
Q. And one of them was held to be vexatious by the Independent Police Complaints Commission? MR STODDART Yes, that's correct.
Q. You've referred to the PNC Guard, which is software that all police forces use to protect the PNC. MR STODDART Yes.
Q. We heard from Mr Kirkby this morning from Surrey Police that when the PNC is interrogated, once every ten interrogations, there will be a request for greater justification of the need to access the PNC. Is that a standard setting or is that something that police forces can control themselves? MR STODDART As I understand it, the filter can be adjusted to suit the force, but one in ten seems to be the standard default position, yes.
Q. And similarly you're not aware of any suspected leaks of PNC data from Durham Constabulary employees to the media within the last five years? MR STODDART No.
Q. If I may return to media relations, is there anything we've discussed along the way your thoughts about the future and the reviews that you're conducting presently. Is there anything that you wanted to add in terms of the task of preserving what's good in the relationships that Durham Constabulary has with the media, the openness, the transparency, the free flow of information, but at the same time ensuring there's sufficient controls to monitor and ensure that there isn't any misconduct? MR STODDART There's nothing I want to add except to say that I think we recognise that this is a changing landscape all the time, that social media has really changed the dynamic in terms of how we control conversation with our communities and the media, because we know that the media monitor our Facebook accounts and so on. I'm also concerned that we need to be where I couldn't help I was sitting in on the Avon and Somerset case, I don't want to comment on that, but we do know that we need to be more attuned to training our senior investigating officers to how to handle the media. I put one of my homicide working group members onto the national media group that Andy Trotter chairs, to try and make sure that we improve our policing preparedness and response, our equipment and ability to deal with the media in all its new guises for the senior investigating officer, because there are some vulnerabilities there, I think.
Q. Is that the skills gap that you refer to in your statement? MR STODDART It might be.
Q. Senior investigating officers MR STODDART It might be, I'm not sure.
Q. You say you recognised a skills gap within your own force within the lower ranks? MR STODDART I think that we have been I think we've been fortunate that we haven't had a major issue in terms of disclosures or leaks or inappropriate contact. I think what Barbara and I are saying is that we are reviewing everything we do, we are keeping a very close eye on what the HMIC and Filkin comes out with today and I think I recognise that, although we've trained BC commanders and senior staff and detectives, inspectors, we maybe have left it a little bit to trust with some of our very low rank officers. So we need to kind of enhance what we do there as well.
Q. Ms Brewis, you deal with the future to some degree in your statement too. At question 8, 05220, you say: "If any changes were needed, it would be to promote the value of media training and encourage more of them to have the confidence to carry out radio/TV interviews." So you would like officers to have more confidence? MS BREWIS Yes. Radio and TV, local radio in particular, are really good communications mechanisms, but officers are naturally nervous because it's not something that they're used to doing. I always say to them, "The more you do, the easier it gets", so it's another way of getting our message across. It's putting a human voice to a police message, which has to be a good thing, and again it's all about community confidence and reassurance.
Q. At question 30, finally, you highlight that's 05227 that contact between your team and the media is monitored throughout the day via your media management system, but you state: "If necessary, we could enhance this through a system of regular documented checkpoint meetings to ensure we can demonstrate we are maintaining professionalism at all times." What would those checkpoint meetings involve? MS BREWIS Well, we have we maintain a database, which is records all media contact. We have regular team meetings. On the agenda we could put an item: "What has everybody done this week? What sort of contact have you had with the media? How did you handle it?" Just basically a checkpoint to make sure that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing.
Q. So it's a topic for discussion so it's easier for you to then keep an eye if somebody were progressing towards an overly close relationship, you might be able to catch it then? MS BREWIS Yes.
Q. Is there anything either of you would like to add before I move on to your review, I think there's something completely different, linked but a different topic. So Mr Stoddart, I want to ask you about Operation Ocean Grove; is that right, isn't it? MR STODDART Ocean Grove.
Q. The Commissioner of Police, Mr Hogan-Howe, asked you to conduct an independent review of Operation Weeting. First of all, is it common practice for a chief officer to ask another chief officer to review an investigation? MR STODDART In terms of the field of major crime, in particular homicide, yes, it is. It's acknowledged as good practice. Normally from within the force, so if it's a conventional murder, you would put together a review team within your own from within your own force and ensure that structural governance wise, leadership, all the usual issues, that you would undertake that review. In a more serious case, you may commission an external chief officer to lead a team. This was slightly unusual in that Mr Hogan-Howe asked me to head up a team into something that was major crime but wasn't a homicide. So it was slightly new ground for the Police Service, but for very, very good reasons.
Q. Have you conducted that review? MR STODDART Yes. We started towards the end of August and we put an interim report in on 29 September, and then a full report on 22 December, so we finished it within four months. Between the two reports, we made a number of recommendations.
Q. I won't ask you what the recommendations are, but what was your objective? MR STODDART The objective was really to provide some reassurance and objective reassurance to the senior management team of the Metropolitan Police that Operation Weeting and the inquiry was going in the right direction and maximising the opportunities.
Q. Could a fair summary of what you were doing be that you were making sure that the investigation itself, Operation Weeting, was going to achieve what the Metropolitan Police Service wanted it to achieve? MR STODDART I think that's a good way of putting it. I think it's about ensuring that the investigation had integrity and was doing absolutely everything that it could within the limits of the various quantities of data and the vast numbers of potential victims that everything was being done within reason.
Q. Did you experience cooperation from the Metropolitan Police Service? MR STODDART 100 per cent. They were terrific. Right from the workers on the in the major incident room up to the Commissioner of the Met himself. There was nothing held from us and we received really good co-operation. It's not to say that we agreed about everything, because we didn't, but we were able to provide what we felt was good support, good strategic advice, and tactical advice as well to the inquiry team to make sure they got the best out of us.
Q. Had you had any concerns, if you had thought that at any level you weren't receiving the co-operation that you thought you ought to receive, what would you have done? MR STODDART I'd have spoken to, in the first instance, the officer in overall command of the investigation, and if it couldn't be resolved there, I'd have taken it higher and there would have been absolutely no difficulty with that because we had a very calendered frequent set of meetings, both with the Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner and the Deputy Assistant Commissioner who was leading the investigation. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So this was while Mr Godwin was Acting Commissioner? MR STODDART Mr Godwin was Acting Commissioner. It was actually Mr Hogan-Howe, when he was Acting Deputy Commissioner, he commissioned it. Sorry, there's a lot of "commissioner" here, sorry. He asked me to undertake the review, and I reported to Mr Hogan-Howe as the temporary deputy and then when he became the Commissioner, that carried on. It became a little bit mixed because Tim Godwin then had a little bit of a role in that before he left the organisation, but I had absolute support from the Metropolitan Police. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Could I just understand, was this simply looking at whether the strategy and the tactics were right, or did it go beyond that, or maybe it's included within it, to understand and provide a second view upon the depth to which Weeting was going? MR STODDART It wasn't the latter, it wasn't a reinvestigation. I would still be there. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, I wasn't suggesting it was a reinvestigation, but as I'm sure you're aware, there have been concerns expressed that the Met, having taken a different line in 2006, in 2009 and 2010, were now defaulting the other way by setting the mesh so fine as to catch a very great deal which was going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort. So I'm just trying to work out whether you were, as it were, not looking at the allegations, but looking at how the mesh had been set. MR STODDART Yes. We did look at that and it was about the process, the staffing and the resourcing, the appropriateness of the lines of investigation and inquiry, the priorities, and the large number of victims, to make sure that we could provide some reassurance to the executive of the force that the inquiry was going far enough, that they were setting the mesh at an appropriate level. I don't want to go if I can avoid going into detail, I will, but we did look on occasions right into the very heart of the investigation, and to try and assist in making sure. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I absolutely don't want you to go into the detail, and I'm sure you did provide strategic and tactical advice. Is it appropriate for me to ask and if you don't think it is, just tell me it isn't appropriate whether you were satisfied that the broad thrust of the direction of Weeting was proportionate, balanced and appropriate? MR STODDART Absolutely. It was proportionate, balanced and appropriate. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Those were my three so it is appropriate for me to ask and that's the answer? MR STODDART It is appropriate for you to ask and that is the answer. Clearly, there were huge issues in relation to the numbers of potential victims, as you well know, but the matter was being thoroughly and proportionately investigated. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I don't think it's appropriate to go further and I certainly won't ask you. Thank you. MS BOON Those are all my questions, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Mr Stoddart and Ms Brewis, thank you very much indeed for coming. You commented earlier on in your evidence that Durham was a long way away, so I'm particularly grateful to you. MR STODDART Thank you, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's a convenient moment, thank you very much. Tomorrow morning, 10 o'clock. (4.10 pm)


Gave a statement at the hearing on 27 March 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 1 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 27 March 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 1 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 27 March 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 159 pieces of evidence


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