Afternoon Hearing on 11 May 2012

Rebekah Brooks gave a statement at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(2.00 pm) MR JAY Mrs Brooks, may we move to what a couple of Labour politicians would say. Do you recall an occasion at the time of the Labour Party Conference in Brighton in September 2004 where Mr Chris Bryant MP had been speaking at a fringe meeting and argued that Rupert Murdoch should not be allowed a monopoly in the UK? Do you recall that?
A. I don't, I'm afraid. No, I'm sorry. What year was it?
Q. 2004. As he arrived at a News International reception, you approached Mr Bryant. Do you recall that?
A. I think I know what anecdote you're referring to.
Q. It's not an anecdote. It's in a witness statement I've seen. You said, "Ah, Mr Bryant, it's dark, isn't it? Shouldn't you be out of Clapham Common by now", or something like that. Did you say that?
A. I don't remember saying that, no.
Q. Do you remember what your then husband said?
A. I remember what Mr Bryant said my then husband said.
Q. He was extremely rude, wasn't he?
A. Mr Bryant?
Q. No, Mr Kemp, your then husband.
A. I don't think he said that.
Q. Mr Watson. You had it in for Mr Watson, Mr Watson would say indeed, will say following Mr Watson's resignation in 2006. Is that true?
A. That that's what Mr Watson would say?
Q. No, not merely that that's what he's going to say but there's the underlying truth to it. You had it in for him and you have encouraged the Sun to write adverse material about him. Is that true?
A. No. Well, sorry, the Sun has covered has written adverse things about Mr Watson. I think Mr Watson is referring to an incident and I can't remember when it is, I think 2006 when he galvanised the troops, as in backbench rebellion, in order to force Mr Blair to resign. It was called the curry house coup at the time and there was a situation where the night before Mr Watson published the letter, which Mr Bryant was also on, I believe, calling for Tony Blair to step down, he'd driven halfway across Scotland to see Mr Brown, and when the newspapers confronted Mr Watson and said, "You clearly did tell Mr Brown", he famously said, "No, I was just delivering a Thomas the Tank DVD." And I think the subsequent coverage, not just in the Sun but the Times and lots of newspapers, were very critical of Mr Watson. I think that's where it originates from.
Q. Did you force Mr Passcoe-Watson, or another Sun journalist, to write stories about Mr Watson that he knew were completely untrue?
A. No.
Q. Did you tell Mr Nick Robinson of course, the political editor of the BBC in August 2011 or rather, did you speak to him at a Labour Party Conference 2009, along the lines: "What am I going to do about this Tom Watson?"
A. May have done, yes, but I can't remember saying that exactly.
Q. Do you feel that you might have used the Sun as perhaps an unfair means of disparaging politicians you did not particularly like?
A. No, I don't think that.
Q. I go back to the BSkyB issue and paragraphs 90 to 92 of your witness statement, please, Mrs Brooks.
A. Yes.
Q. Paragraph 90. This is our page 02587. You say in the fourth line or third line: "As might be expected, many people sought to raise the issue with me and I became involved in defending the bid to them." So you're suggesting there you were always adopting a defensive position; is that right?
A. I include lots of people who were members of the anti-Sky bid as well, so not necessarily just politicians. The fact is that it was a common misconception and often reported that News International was trying to buy the remainder of the shares in BSkyB rather than News Corp, and that subtle distinction, therefore, because it was in the UK territory was perhaps understandably got confused. And so, yes, there were occasions when I defended the bid.
Q. You do say in paragraph 90, on the next page: "When the matter arose in conversation, I am sure that I would have expressed my views forcefully, particularly given the vocal opposition." So it might be said the stronger the opposition, in your eyes, the more forceful you needed to be. Would you agree?
A. I think the anti-Sky bid alliance had so many different members from all over the media and lots of other commercial rivals of Sky that and that they, I knew, were seeing politicians and I think Dr Cable had a dinner with them in early on in 2010. So, I think, yes, I did. When I met people, if I had the chance to put our side of the story, so to speak, I would.
Q. And those people included Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne, didn't they?
A. Not Mr Cameron. I did have a conversation with Mr Osborne. I may have mentioned it to Mr Cameron, but it's not to be dwelled on because it wasn't a particularly long conversation. But I did have a conversation with Mr Osborne about it, I think some time in 2010, where I put my views that were contrary to the ones that he had heard from everyone else in the
Q. We'll come back to that in a short time. In paragraph 92 of your statement, you say: "With regard to the suggestion that I had 'discussions' [and you put that term in inverted commas] with David Cameron and George Osborne, I am sure I did refer to the issue generally." So is that statement relevant to both Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne?
A. Yes, but in general discussion in terms of always in relation to the usually in relation to something I'd heard that the anti-Sky bid had put forward, but I remember better conversation with George Osborne some time in 2010, but obviously as discussed, the BSkyB bid was mentioned at dinner at our home in December, but I don't remember having a particularly forceful conversation with Mr Cameron will about it, although our views on the BSkyB bid News Corp views and the News International views and my views were pretty clear.
Q. Were they shared by Mr Cameron?
A. Mr Cameron always made it very clear that it was that he turned it into or it was a quasi-judicial decision and it wasn't him and it was off his remit and he, I think, had been lobbied by lots of other people, so it wasn't I would say no, it wasn't particularly shared. He was always very even-handed about it.
Q. Was Mr Cameron supportive of the BSkyB bid, to your knowledge?
A. Not particularly, no.
Q. Was he at all supportive of it?
A. No, but I think it would be fair to say that he understood why we wanted to present our view in relation to the other lobbying he was getting.
Q. Was Mr Osborne supportive of the BSkyB bid?
A. I think he never said so. He never said explicitly that. However, I think one of the points that we were trying to make about the bid was if that kind of level of investment was coming into the UK, that contrary to what the anti-Sky bid alliance were saying, in that it would be a bad thing, that actually we thought in the call centres around the country, the creation of jobs, that it would that we would try and put those arguments to Mr Osborne. But again, they would all say the same thing: "It's not my decision."
Q. I think my question was only: was he supportive of the bid or not?
A. And as I say, he never explicitly said so.
Q. But could you infer whether he was supportive or not?
A. No. He was interested in our arguments. I think that's probably at its best.
Q. Were you aware of the role Mr Fred Michel was occupying in relation to the bid?
A. Well, I was aware at the time, but not to the extent that I've now seen. But I was aware, yes.
Q. So when you say to the extent that you have now seen, are you referring to the 163-odd emails?
A. Yes. I hadn't realised there were that many emails, but yes, I was aware of his role in the BSkyB bid.
Q. When did you read those emails?
A. I actually still haven't read them all.
Q. You've sampled them?
A. I saw some during the evidence given by James Murdoch.
Q. And when they were drawn to your attention in that way, did they surprise you in any way?
A. I think the truth is at the time at the time of the BSkyB bid, I suppose, like most journalists, I viewed public affairs and lobbyists with slight scepticism, and I often thought that Mr Michel perhaps overegged his position. However, he was doing his job. He was passing on information as lobbyists do.
Q. How do you know he was overegging his position?
A. I always thought I suppose because, as journalists, we would have quite direct contact with ministers and prime ministers and you know, in the course of our work, but I always thought it was slightly strange that he had that level not slightly strange, actually. That's not fair. Fred was very good at his job. I always thought the level of access that seemed to come out was was pretty good, really.
Q. Okay. A couple of documents in these 163 emails feature you. Only a couple. This is KRM18. We've got one of them under tab 17 in the bundle.
A. Tab 17, okay.
Q. We can probably put it up on the screen. I'm not sure it's going to be available to anybody else. From the PROP file, 100001657. You may have it as a separate piece of paper, Mrs Brooks. I don't know.
A. I do. Thank you, Mr Jay.
Q. It relates to 12 October 2010. You were copied in on an email from Mr Michel to Mr Anderson.
A. Mm.
Q. Are you with me? Mr Anderson we heard with Mr James Murdoch, but I've clean forgotten who he is. Could you remind me?
A. He it is so Fred Michel is public affairs for News Corp Europe and Asia, and Matthew Anderson is corporate communications for News Corp.
Q. The generals gist of this email is that the bid is still with Dr Cable. This is before 21 December
A. Right, okay.
Q. "It's necessary to keep briefing senior Lib Dems and key cabinet ministers." Why do you think you were copied into this email?
A. I'm not sure, because I wasn't copied in to many of them.
Q. No.
A. So I don't know. There would be regular meetings between the News Corp people who were in charge of the bid and occasionally maybe I was in that meeting? I don't know why I'm copied in to this one particularly, but
Q. You were copied into the next one, which is the same part file, PROP100001679 LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Hang on, just before sorry, are you going to 1679? MR JAY Yes. Sir, that's probably the only one you have in that file. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It is, yes. All three emails are on the same sheet. MR JAY Yes, I'd found an earlier one, ploughing through KRM18 as I did a few days ago so, just to see if there was anything else relevant. The most relevant one is 1679, which you'll have, Mrs Brooks, in tab 17.
A. Right, the one that starts: "Very good debrief with Hunt"?
Q. That's right.
A. Yeah.
Q. It's dated 14 December 2010. It's sent from Mr Michel to Mr James Murdoch and you're copied in. Are you with me?
A. Yes, I am.
Q. The issues letter, I think, was the Ofcom issues letter, wasn't it?
A. Was that the time? I mean, you obviously have the chronology, but I accept that.
Q. Scan up the page, though. Three minutes later, you reply to Mr Michel, don't you: "Same from GO total bafflement at response." The reason why you were able to reply so quickly, I think, is that you had had dinner with Mr Osborne the night before, hadn't you?
A. That's correct.
Q. So you had discussed the issues letter with Mr Osborne the night before, hadn't you?
A. I must have done, yes.
Q. Yes, otherwise you wouldn't have been able to reply so quickly?
A. Quite rightly.
Q. And the reference to "GO" is not including his special advisor; it is to GO personally, isn't it?
A. It is, yes.
Q. Why were you discussing the issues letter with Mr Osborne at all?
A. Well, I don't you're telling me now that it was at the time of the issues letter so I accept that. My memory from the dinner was that it was with my husband and I, Mr Osborne and his wife, and Mr Lewis and his wife. So it was the six of us. It was in a restaurant, more of a social occasion, but like I said in my witness statement, I I probably brought it up, but I can't remember, but there would have been a part of the dinner I would have discussed our frustration, perhaps, at the time, of what was going on. So I don't know whether I brought it up or George, but we did discuss it at that dinner. Not at any great length, because
Q. It's a point of detail, this, isn't it, what's in an Ofcom issues letter? You'd agree with me?
A. Yes, but that wouldn't have been I mean, that wouldn't have been my stance on it, because I probably wasn't all over the complexities of an Ofcom issues letter, as chief executive of News International. Literally, my main focus of my main involvement in the BSkyB bid, if you like, was informal, as in nothing to do with the transaction, but was generally in response to the huge amount of opposition and lobbying that was going on by the anti-Sky bid alliance.
Q. You told us that already.
A. Yes, but
Q. What this dinner must have encompassed was a discussion about the issues letter, because the email makes that clear. Would you agree?
A. I agree with you. That's exactly what the email says. But I don't remember a detailed conversation at a social dinner about the complexities of an issues letter at Ofcom. It may have been precisely three minutes of me saying, "Can you believe that that has happened?" and George Osborne looking slightly perplexed and me responding to Fred Michel the next day. I mean, it was a very brief conversation, but it did happen.
Q. Plainly it did happen, but it's not Mr Osborne looking slightly perplexed. He's "totally baffled" according to you.
A. "Totally baffled", then, was my interpretation of his
Q. The conversation must have been initiated by you, Mrs Brooks. You don't hold back on these occasions, do you?
A. I just can't remember whether I brought it up or not. That's at all.
Q. There are two possibilities: either Mr Osborne did or you did.
A. Let's say I brought it up then.
Q. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I don't want you to guess.
A. I'm being forced to guess, sir, I'm sorry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, I promise you, you're not being forced to guess.
A. Well, I can't remember who brought it up, but I'm happy, for argument's sake, Mr Jay, to accept that I did. But I'm not sure that's the case. MR JAY Do you think it's an appropriate conversation with Mr Osborne?
A. I think it
Q. Or not?
A. I think it was an entirely appropriate conversation. I was reflecting the opposite view to the view that he had hard by that stage from pretty much every member of the anti-Sky bid alliance on many occasions. So I think for one three-minute conversation at the beginning of dinner, I got the opportunity to give our view. I don't see why that's inappropriate.
Q. If you remember the length of the conversation, you might be able to assist us as to who initiated it. Couldn't you agree?
A. Accepting for the sake of argument that I brought it up, I just can't remember if this is absolutely true.
Q. Another reason you're diffident about it: it's obvious from your one-line email that we know what Mr Osborne's thinking is about the bid generally, don't we?
A. Well, I obviously remembered from the conversation, which I can't remember exactly how long it took, but from the limited conversation that we'd had the night before, that he was baffled at the response. That's what I say. I'm not I'm agreeing with you on the email.
Q. Yes, but it's also obvious that he was supportive of your bid, wasn't he?
A. No. Bafflement. Or he was perplexed at the whatever you're telling me it was the issues letter. I'm fine. He was baffled at the response. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Hang on, Mr Jay isn't quite telling you that. Paragraph 92 of your statement proceeds on that premise.
A. That it was the issues letter? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. Yes, well, he was baffled at the response. It's still I'm not sure what the question is, Mr Jay. MR JAY At this stage, of course, Mrs Brooks, you knew where everybody in the cabinet and this Coalition government stood in relation to support or otherwise for the BSkyB bid, didn't you?
A. No, I didn't. I particularly didn't know Mr Cable's view personal view.
Q. You didn't have any suspicions at all as to what his view was?
A. No. In fact, I'd assumed Mr Cable would carry out that responsibility as any minister would, you know, as properly, without personal prejudice.
Q. By the time you'd read the email, the first in the chain, if not before, you were well aware what Mr Hunt's view was about the merits of the BSkyB bid vis-a-vis News Corp, weren't you?
A. I said to you earlier: I don't remember hearing anything from Mr Hunt directly on the bid particularly, but I have a recollection that he put something on his website. I think it came up in this Inquiry. So that he put something positive on his website, wasn't it, or
Q. Didn't you have conversations with Mr James and Mr Rupert Murdoch about how the bid was getting on and who was supporting it?
A. I think my conversations with Mr James Murdoch and Mr Rupert Murdoch about the bid were in essence probably discussing the latest move of the anti-Sky bid alliance. So I remember having to call Mr James Murdoch when the anti-Sky bid alliance commissioned a poll through their PR agency they'd hired I think Webber Shandwick and their poll had discovered that 80 per cent of people didn't want us to buy the rest of Sky shares. So I would probably update because the anti-Sky bid alliance was, of course, working in the UK territory, so there would be occasions when I would update Rupert or James Murdoch and there were internal meetings that went on inside News International that occasionally I would attend too.
Q. News Corp or News International regarded it as important to lobby government generally in relation to this bid. Are we agreed?
A. I don't think that was a strategy. I think it was a response.
Q. Regardless of what originated it, it is what happened in the event, isn't it?
A. Certainly from what we've seen from Fred Michel's emails, there was a lot of lobbying going on from our side, yes.
Q. You could assist the Murdochs to this extent: that you knew the personalities involved at least as well as them and you could advise them in relation to Mr Osborne, Mr Cameron and Mr Hunt in a way in which perhaps they couldn't. Isn't that what you brought to the table here?
A. No, I don't think so. I think this was a very I mean, first of all the strategy behind the bid was set by News Corp and I had nothing to do with that and had, again, no formal role. And secondly, this was a quasi-judicial decision, which is nothing to do with the personalities and preferences of particular of the Prime Minister or the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this case, or Mr Hunt before he took over from Dr Cable.
Q. But you weren't so naive, were you, to believe that this quasi-judicial decision would be carried out necessarily wholly properly? You would naturally fear that personal prejudices might intrude. You knew that, didn't you?
A. No, actually, I maybe it was naive of me to think that, you know, the procedure would be dealt with properly, but I did believe that. I had no reason not to until Dr Cable's comments came out in the December.
Q. Okay. We do have one email, don't we, which you have found. It's RMB2, under tab 4. You kindly disclosed this one to us.
A. Yes, this email, yes. Tab 4, isn't it?
Q. It's under tab 4.
A. I have got it.
Q. Before we look at it, I think people would be interested to know how it is that this one email has survived and others might not have done. Can you assist us?
A. Well, in the period of between beginning of June and July 17, when my BlackBerry was imaged, there were certain emails on there and some text messages, and for the purpose of the Section 21 notice for this Inquiry, my legal team went through all those in order to disclose anything that fell into the Inquiry, and this was the only email that I had in that period that was relevant to the BSkyB questions I'd been asked in my witness statement.
Q. Go first because we have to look at it in this order to the bottom of page 02606, which is going to be the first page of this document. We can see, at 16.29 hours on 27 June 2011 are you with me?
A. I am, sorry, yes. It came on the screen
Q. Frederic Michel sends an email and it goes to just you, I think, although it's not altogether clear. Is that your understanding?
A. I would be surprised if it just came to me. As you've seen from the previous emails, they were always copied in to the same almost the same group of people, but perhaps it was directly to me.
Q. The text of the email is on the next page, 02607: "Hunt will be making references to phone hacking in his statement on Rubicon this week. He will be repeating the same narrative as the one he gave in Parliament a few weeks ago. This is based on his belief that the police are pursuing things thoroughly and phone hacking has nothing to do with the media plurality issue." There's something gone wrong with the printing there.
A. That's a corruption there.
Q. It's corrupted. "It's extremely helpful." So you are being told what the Secretary of State is going to be saying in his Rubicon statement not, of course, that the Secretary of State would have used that code name, no doubt in his statement to Parliament. Is that it?
A. Yes.
Q. That bit speaks for itself. "On the issue of privacy committee, he supports the widening of its remit to the future of the press and evidence from all newspaper groups on the regulatory regime. He wants to prevent a public enquiry. For this, the committee will need to come up with a strong report in the autumn and put enough pressure on the PCC to strengthen itself and take recommendations forward." Was any of this news to you, Mrs Brooks?
A. Yes, I think it was.
Q. Was any of it surprising to you?
A. I think I think it was it was it was news to me and therefore could be surprising, yes. Probably.
Q. The next paragraph: "JH is now starting to look into phone hacking/practices more thoroughly and has asked me [the pronoun 'me' is Mr Michel] to advise him privately in the coming weeks and guide his and Number 10's positioning." Do you know what that was about?
A. Well, I think it speaks for itself.
Q. Does that surprise you?
A. Well, at the time the date of this email I think is
Q. 27 June.
A. 27 June, and at the time at News International, it was a particularly I had a lot of my own concerns. We'd just handed over the Harbottle Lewis file to the MPS. It was probably my focus, more than anything else. I obviously got this email in a million others. I obviously read it at the time and I responded, I think, to find out when the Rubicon statement was. So I think the email and my response speak for themselves, really.
Q. Your response was, at 17.20 hours we have to go back to the previous page: "When is the Rubicon statement?"
A. Yes.
Q. And then the answer came back: "Probably Wednesday."
A. Mm-hm.
Q. Can you assist us further from your memory as to Mr Michel's dealings with Mr Hunt and/or Number 10 at this time?
A. Probably not any further than the evidence that James Murdoch gave, really. I mean, Fred Michel worked for News Corp and not News International. So he didn't work for me. So my interactions with him were not as frequent, so I'm not sure I can add anything particularly. I know Fred Michel's own statement was that sometimes he overstated his case, but for all I know, this could be directly from Jeremy Hunt or, as he says, Number 10 here. So I just don't know.
Q. You say in paragraph 28 of your statement, talking generally of your time as CEO of News International, that your time became increasingly occupied with the phone hacking issue. Do you remember saying that?
A. I do remember. Sorry, where am I going to now?
Q. Paragraph 28 of your statement, page 02576. I'm (inaudible) concerned with the detail of your investigation or your knowledge, Mrs Brooks. Were relations between Murdoch father and son increasingly fraught as this issue developed?
A. I I don't think it was between father and son. It was I mean, the situation was fraught.
Q. Because you've been described in one article Vanity Fair, this time as being the go-between in an increasingly fraught father/son relationship. Is that true?
A. Well, Vanity Fair spend a lot of time covering the Murdoch family dynamics and they're just like any normal family. They have dynamics and they change. I wouldn't put any store by Vanity Fair.
Q. Maybe one shouldn't, but just listen to the question. Were you the go-between in an increasingly fraught father/son relationship?
A. No, they could speak to each other.
Q. I didn't hear that.
A. I said no, they were very happy to speak to each other.
Q. It's also suggested that James was passing blame on to subordinates. Is that what was happening?
A. No.
Q. He wasn't?
A. What is the context of the Vanity Fair piece? I'm sorry, I don't
Q. You've seen the piece. It alleges that you were now under pressure to please and protect not only Rupert but also James, who had both taken the position they had no idea what was going on inside their company, and particularly James, passing blame on to subordinates. Is that what was happening?
A. No.
Q. So you can't throw any light on the truth or otherwise of the well, you are throwing light on the truth of this piece. You say it's untrue?
A. It's saying that I'm the go-between between father and son in an increasingly fraught situation, I think the paragraph was.
Q. Relationship?
A. Relationship. So what I'm saying to you is that I reported both to James and Rupert Murdoch and I would talk to them both about the issues unfolding at News International. James and I had offices next door to each other. I would be talking to Mr Murdoch every day. So if Vanity Fair want to couch that as a go-between, then fine, but I don't accept the premise of what they're insinuating. Secondly, the Vanity Fair piece, whenever it came out, is saying that James tried to started to pass blame onto subordinates and I'm not sure if that Vanity Fair piece is is it referring to James Murdoch's testimony at the Select Committee or his testimony here? I just don't even know when the Vanity Fair piece ran, so it's difficult for me to answer the question without some context.
Q. Can I ask about the police and your meetings with senior police officers.
A. Yes.
Q. RMB1 again, this schedule you've prepared. It's towards the back of it, I think. You've kindly provided a schedule of meetings with senior police officers in the Metropolitan Police Service.
A. Yes. Got it.
Q. The second page of that, it appears that you did not meet with John Yates, Assistant Commissioner, after December 2006. Is that, to the best of your recollection, correct?
A. I I'm I don't think that's correct. I think I did meet him, but I I mean, we hosted the we hosted the Police Bravery Awards every year, for a start, and I was always in attendance, and so I'm sure that he would have been there, so I really do not think these diary entries are the full picture.
Q. There's likely to be a difference, Mrs Brooks, between a large function in which you might bump into people and any conversation might be snatched, and a dinner in a restaurant where they may only be a few of you and the conversation would be expansive.
A. No, I do I do remember having a meeting with John Yates in Wapping, a lunch, around I think around the time of the cash for honours situation.
Q. We're back in 2005
A. Is that 2006? Oh right, okay. Well, then this diary may be correct then. I didn't see much of John Yates.
Q. Are you able to say whether or not you discussed phone hacking issues with him?
A. Because I don't remember a one-to-one meeting. I'm pretty sure, though, I attended the Police Bravery Awards right up until as you can imagine, right up until 2011, and he was always there. And I can't remember when the Guardian first I think the Guardian broke their story in July 2009, and there was a Police Bravery Awards it's usually in July. So I don't want to absolutely rule out the fact that I may have mentioned it to him, because he was often around, but I don't remember a sitdown conversation where we discussed it at any length.
Q. So you're admitting of the possibility
A. I'm saying that it might quite probably have happened, if those sequence of events if my memory serves me well and those are the sequence of events, that the Guardian story broke in July 2009, but I can't remember what date, and the Police Bravery Awards was afterwards. It could have been the other way around. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think the Guardian story was 5th or 6th, wasn't it? MR JAY 8 July in the evening, and then into the print edition on the 9th.
A. Right.
Q. The meetings with Mr Fedorcio which were more frequent, what was the purpose of those meetings in your own words, Mrs Brooks?
A. They would often be attended usually he would accompany a Commissioner or a senior officer, or if he came in on his own, it would be to discuss things with me and my crime editor and senior team and it could be a variety of issues. There was also although it was an annual event and, if you like, a well-oiled machine, there was always quite a lot of organisation for the Police Bravery Awards because the process continued for many months sorry, started many months before, and he would have been involved in that, as I would. But mainly the issues of the day or introducing a new Commissioner or coming along with an update with a Commissioner.
Q. Did you ever obtain information from him which formed the basis of a story in the Sun?
A. No.
Q. Did he put you in contact with police officers who could provide the basis and did provide the basis of a story?
A. Well, I think most crime journalists would you know, I wasn't a crime journalist or a crime editor, but I think the process was that we would often ring Dick Fedorcio if we had a story that we'd got from our own sources that involved the Metropolitan Police and he was in a position to steer us away from it or give us a comment if we'd got it right. So there was a sort of, if you like, exchange of information, but it was in the way you put it, it sounded like he'd come into me in these meetings and give me a story. Sadly not.
Q. Mr Wallis, of course, was an employee of News International until 2009. Were you aware of the nature of his relationship with police officers?
A. No, only only insofar as I never worked directly with Mr Wallis, but when I took over his position as deputy editor of the Sun in 1998, I then assumed his responsibilities in owning, if you like, the Police Bravery Awards. So I was aware that he had started those in the previous year.
Q. Okay, one general question about the nature of hospitality. It has to be a very general question. In terms of the nature of the hospitality you were offering I'm talking about lunches, dinners did you regard police officers really in the same way as politicians in other words, it was appropriate to take them to a restaurant of a certain stature or distinction or did you see there to be any difference between police officers and politicians?
A. Well, there are definitely distinctions between the two. I think it would be fair to say that senior police officers were more inclined to want to go to a neutral venue like a restaurant, whereas a lot of meetings with politicians took place either in Wapping HQ or at party conferences or at Downing Street or various ministries. So that was in my experience.
Q. Okay. The Inquiry has very little interest in the retired police horse, you understand that's September 2007 but I should ask you this question so we're clear about it: was there any exchange, as it were, between the work experience offered for Mr Fedorcio's son, which was also in the autumn of 2007, and the acquisition by you of this horse?
A. Absolutely not.
Q. I move on to a different issue now. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Are you moving away from police officers, Mr Jay? MR JAY Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There's a balance here as well, isn't there? On the one hand, the need to keep an eye on the stories that are coming out, but on the other, an appropriate professional distance. Do you think there's a risk there?
A. I think it's always up to inspanidual conduct in these matters, and so I felt that the contact I had with police officers, particularly commissioners and senior police officers, in that kind of context was always appropriate. I never saw any of my dealings with the police I never saw any inappropriate either conversations or take place. So my experience of it was relatively good and particularly at the Police Bravery Awards, where we would come into the Sun journalism team would come into contact with police officers not just from the Metropolitan Police but from all over the country, and I always thought they were very useful for both sides rather than inappropriate. But there is always a risk that that is not the case.
Q. The Gordon Brown cystic fibrosis story. You did have some involvement there, didn't you?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. The piece in the Sun is under tab 29. It's part of the narrative, as it were. This is an article in 2006, I believe. "The Sun today exposes the allegation that we hacked into Gordon Brown's family medical records as false and a smear. We discovered the ex-PM's four-year-old son Fraser had cystic fibrosis months after his birth. We can reveal the source of our information was a shattered dad whose own son also has the crippling disease and he wanted to highlight the plight of sufferers." Is that true?
A. Yes. I think, Mr Jay, you said 2006? The article came out in 2006 but this was written in 2011.
Q. Yes, I think you're right there. The article is November 2006. Did you have any involvement in this article, although you were, of course, no longer editor?
A. No, I didn't. I think I may have even left the company.
Q. I don't have the exact date of this article LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Published 13 July 2011, according to what's on the screen now.
A. Then no, sorry, I was still there. MR JAY Do you know where the "shattered dad" that is referred to there got his information from?
A. I think we do, yes. Yes.
Q. Where did he get his information from?
A. He got it from the fact that he his own child had cystic fibrosis and he was given this information when information was sought about cystic fibrosis. I'm being very careful to try and not reveal his identity, that's all, hence the hesitation, but I think we sort of we know what happened.
Q. That's all very vague, Mrs Brooks.
A. It is vague, but purposely so because I think when we wrote this article I mean, although, like I say, I was chief executive at the time, I remember the Sun absolutely putting this together to refute Gordon Brown's allegations, and we were incredibly clear on it. We have an affidavit from the father where he explains the story but I don't think that affidavit is public, so I'm just being slightly hesitant not to reveal his identity.
Q. We're not concerned with his identity. That wasn't my question. The father's version is and we can see this in the article: "I have not had access to the medical records of the child at any time. All of which is the truth as I shall answer to God." Apparently is what his affidavit says, is it?
A. I think it's longer than that, but that will be part of it, yes.
Q. So how did the father get the information?
A. If I sort of put that back to reassure you we, at the time, and again in July 2012, were absolutely satisfied that the father had got the information from legitimate means and we were very sure about that.
Q. How had he got the information?
A. He'd got the information because his own child had cystic fibrosis and he'd got the information, I should say, through a very small it's not a small charity, but there is a charity aspect to the Cystic Fibrosis Society, and he got it slightly by involvement through there.
Q. What sort of involvement?
A. Mr Jay, I'm not going to tell you any more about the source because I don't want to reveal his identity.
Q. But you're not.
A. Well, I feel uncomfortable answering that because I think it could lead to his identity. You're asking me where information came from and the source, and I think they are matters that I have to respect in a source coming to the newspaper. The main point of this issue is Mr Brown accused the Sun of hacking into his son's medical records to get this story and that wasn't true. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It wasn't accurate?
A. No, sorry, it wasn't accurate. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But actually that's quite important, because it plays into something else that is concerning me, which I am just going to dwell upon. If I've taken a question from Mr Jay, it's just too bad. Mr Brown was concerned that information which he thought was private had entered the public domain, and he felt that the way that that must have happened is that the Sun had got hold of his records in some way. That's what he was saying; is that right?
A. That's what he said in July 2011. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Now, you knew that well, go back one step. First of all, if you don't know anything of how you got the story, it's not unreasonable, is it, to believe that if private details of your child's condition are being put into the public domain, they can only have come from medical records? Because it's diagnosis, it's medical detail. So it's not an unreasonable view for him to form?
A. He formed that view or came to that assumption in 2011. In 2006 in November 2006, way before the Sun published the story, we discussed the story directly with the Browns before publication, and the first time I'd heard that he had a concern of that nature was when he gave an interview to the BBC in 2011. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right.
A. So it wasn't something that he felt at the time. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, it may be, but until it went into the public domain I'm not I'm not actually focusing so much on that point. I'll come to the point I want to make. You didn't explain to him, presumably because you wanted to protect your source: "No, no, no, we got all this from somebody whose son also has the same condition, whose child has the same condition." You just didn't discuss the source; is that right?
A. That is right, at the time. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Now, my question. Would you look, please, at the first line of the Sun article: "The Sun today exposes the allegation that we hacked into Gordon Brown's family medical records as false and a smear." My concern is whether it's fair to describe that as it may be incorrect, but as "false and a smear".
A. In the general point, I can absolutely see what you're saying, sir, is correct, but this was not this was a particular journey that the Sun had been involved in since the beginning of the information coming into the Sun newsroom and what happened after that and subsequent to that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But if he never knew how you got it, all you can say and you're entitled to say, "He's just got it wrong."
A. He came to the wrong assumption in 2011. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And that's absolutely fair. So the issue is whether it's part of the culture of the press that actually attack is the best form of defence. So people don't just get it wrong; it's "false", in capitals, and "a smear". Do you see the point I'm making?
A. I do see the point you're making, but, sir, the context of that article was written after Gordon Brown had first of all, I think his first appearance in Parliament since he stepped down as Prime Minister was to come to the House and speak incredibly critically and, in some cases, made wrong assumptions through his testimony to the House, and then the second thing he did, he then went on, I think, the BBC I can't remember to do an interview with another wrong assumption that the Sun had got the story from Fraser Brown's medical records, and I think combining the two, if you like, attacks from Mr Brown that had never ever been raised by him in any shape or form with any of us at News International or Mr Murdoch he never once mentioned press ethics or practices in his in our entire relationship that the Sun felt that it was a smear, that he was doing it five years later for a particular reason, and I think that's why they wrote the story that they did. Now, I was chief executive at the time. I didn't write the story but I'm defending their right to write the story like that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. You've provided an answer, but actually what you've demonstrated is that the Sun believed and they may be right or wrong, I don't know that Mr Brown had added two and two and two and got 27, whereas in fact, if you took each one of the incidents on their own, it may have been he may have made a mistake, he may be wrong to reach the conclusion that's all fair enough, entirely proper, but it goes a bit further than that.
A. I accept that this story does, but if you imagine for the Sun, the Sun and I know I keep mentioning this, but the Sun has a trust with its readership. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. And it's a very important trust and if that trust is broken, then and a former Prime Minister had claimed, I think harshly he'd come to the misconception that we had got the story from Fraser's medical records. He accepted and I think whoever broke the story I can't remember who it was the Guardian, probably that that was false, and there was a correction subsequently published in the Guardian and I think the Sun felt on that that they had to stand up because it is a terrible accusation for a former Prime Minister to make of a newspaper without being in possession of the facts, that we had hacked into his medical records, and I think that's why you are seeing the strong tone of the rebuttal in the paper. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, I've asked the question. Thank you. MR JAY You're suffusing the Sun with virtue, Mrs Brooks. Let's see how far I can get with this. Where did the father's information come from?
A. I'm not going to say, Mr Jay.
Q. But why not, Mrs Brooks?
A. Because if you knew where the father's information came from, it would identify the source, and I'm not going to do that.
Q. Are you saying that the information came from a charity?
A. No, I'm not. I'm saying that because the source also had a child with cystic fibrosis, he was aware and in the it was the fact that he had a child with cystic fibrosis is how he came to know.
Q. That would indicate that the father might, at some point, have been quite close to the Browns, perhaps in a particular hospital, but it wouldn't, without more, demonstrate how the father got hold of the relevant information. Do you understand me?
A. I understand your point.
Q. Did he gain the information by subterfuge?
A. No, he didn't.
Q. Did he gain the information directly from the Browns?
A. No, he didn't.
Q. Did he gain the information from a third party?
A. I suppose you could describe it as that.
Q. Was that third party an employee of the NHS?
A. No, it wasn't. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, did the third party have a duty of confidence to hold the information? Let's just go as simple as that.
A. No, I don't think so. I'm sorry, without revealing the source, the Sun was satisfied that the information came from legitimate means and I felt that that covered all those questions, but MR JAY Was the father paid for his time?
A. I think there was a donation made, but I can't be sure.
Q. To a charity, then?
A. I think he asked for it to be given to the cystic fibrosis charity, which is why I have the charity in my head, but I can't be sure. We can check with the Sun.
Q. How can the Inquiry assess whether or not the father's source owed a duty of confidence without knowing not the identity of the source but the nature of the duties that source was discharging? Surely you can assist us to that extent?
A. I can assist you to the extent, as I think Mr Lewis did when he came here and you asked him a similar question about the source for the MPs' expenses I can assist you to the point that it was a legitimate source and in any case, the way we conducted ourselves after receipt of the information towards the sensitivity of that information and how we handled that with Number 10 and with the Browns was also exemplary. MR JAY Was it exemplary, Mrs Brooks? Did you have the express agreement of the Browns, freely given, to publish this story about their son?
A. Absolutely.
Q. And so they were entirely relaxed about it? This was personal information in relation to a four-year-old boy. They were entirely satisfied that this could be placed on the front page of the Sun in November 2006? Is that your position?
A. I think you used the word "relaxed", and I think, to be fair to the Browns, you have to consider how traumatic, clearly, for any parent this was.
Q. What was, Mrs Brooks?
A. The diagnosis.
Q. And what about including it on the front page of the Sun? Is that helping or not?
A. So Fraser Brown was
Q. Can you answer my question?
A. The question is
Q. Obviously, there's the tragedy and pain of the diagnosis but emblazoning this on the front page of the Sun is not helping, is it?
A. Should I put it back to you, that if the Browns had asked me not to run it, I wouldn't have done. There are many examples where very tragic situations in people's lives where people have asked me not to run the story and I haven't and I wouldn't have done, and not only was I they gave me permission to run it; it is the only way we would have put that in the public domain.
Q. Mr Brown's statement was: "I can't remember of any way that the medical condition of a child can be put into the public arena legitimately unless the doctor makes a statement or the family makes a statement."
A. Yes.
Q. Do you agree with that?
A. I agree with that, yes.
Q. Was the conversation you had with Mrs Brown or Mr Brown regarding consent for this story?
A. I think in the period of time of receiving the information and publishing the information, which is which, by the way, went to all newspapers all newspapers published it around the same day I spoke to the Browns. I will have spoken probably to people around them but I definitely had more of a communication with Sarah Brown, as she was my friend, and I probably discussed it with her more. The sequence of events were: Fraser Brown was born in July. I think the information came to the Sun in the late October. I think the Browns' position at the time was very much that they had had the tests confirmed, and as Prime Minister and his wife, they felt that there were many, many people in the UK whose children suffered with cystic fibrosis. They were absolutely committed to making this public and they were also one of the most overwhelming memories of that time for me was the Browns' insistence that when the story was published, that we absolutely highlighted the positives in association with the cystic fibrosis association.
Q. The story was published in November, when the child was four months old I said four years old; that's incorrect and before, I think, the diagnosis was confirmed. Is that true?
A. No. I think and this is again from my conversations back in 2006 with the Browns and people who advised them I'm pretty sure we ran the story in the November and the tests were confirmed some time in the October.
Q. When you spoke to Mrs Brown that's your evidence, Mrs Brooks was it on the basis that: "Look, we've got this story, we're going to run with it, let's see how we can run with it in a way which is least harmful to you", or something like that?
A. Absolutely not, and I think that as you've seen in my witness statement, I was quite friendly with Sarah Brown at the time. Very friendly. She'd been through a hell of a lot already. I think my first thing I would have said to both of them was would have been a much more considerate and caring response to hearing the news myself. I was very I was very sad for them. I didn't know much about it and I wanted to find out what had gone on. You have to remember that the this is 2006. This is only five years later that Mr Brown had ever said anything that he was in any way concerned about my behaviour, the behaviour of the Sun, how we handled it. Indeed, after 2006, I continued to see them both regularly. They held a 40th birthday celebration party for me. They attended my wedding. I have many letters and kind notes. Sarah and I were good friends. And so I felt hence the story in the Sun in 2012 was quite tough was that Mr Brown's recollections of that time weren't the same as my own. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Actually, I've been reading it in the print version, our tab 29, but if one looks at it on the screen, which everybody can do if you have a screen near you, there's an interesting comparison, isn't there? On the left-hand side, it talks about the falsity of the allegation and the fact it's a smear, but on the right-hand side, there is a statement, and that statement simply tells the facts. In other words, saying, "They've got it wrong." So you're actually there putting the side of the story that is purely defensive: "We're very sorry. You, Mr Brown, have got it wrong." So you didn't need the subedited line in the first paragraph in bold on the left-hand column, did you? Anyway.
A. It's difficult I don't have the print version. I only have the online LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You don't have the
A. I have the online version here. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do you not have on the screen the version that has the Sun's statement?
A. I see it now. Sorry, yes. MR JAY Was there any correspondence with the Browns after you published the first story in November 2006?
A. I saw them regularly after that and indeed discussed the situation with them on many occasions.
Q. I move on to the Baby P story and the campaign against the social workers involved, including at the top, of course, Sharon Shoesmith, who was director of education and children's services in Haringey. You remember all of that, presumably?
A. I do, yes.
Q. Can I just give you the chronology so we understand the dates. Baby P was killed on 3 August 2007. Two people were convicted in relation to that crime on 11 November 2008 and Sharon Shoesmith was sacked by Mr Balls, the then Secretary of State, on 1 December 2008. As it happens that decision was subsequently held to be unlawful by the Court of Appeal but that's a detail. Did the Sun launch an e-petition calling for people to be sacked?
A. Yes.
Q. Was a similar e-petition launched in the Sunday Times?
A. I can't remember so.
Q. Okay. Did you telephone Mr Balls during the week commencing 17 November 2008 telling him to get rid of Sharon Shoesmith or they would "turn this thing on him"?
A. No.
Q. Did you have any conversation with Mr Balls at about that time?
A. I'm sure I did, yes.
Q. What was the conversation about?
A. Just discussing the contents, I think, of the crime review, or perhaps it was the Haringey's own review into what had happened to Baby P, but certainly not that sentence you've just said.
Q. Did you say anything which came close to that?
A. No.
Q. Was it the Sun's view that Sharon Shoesmith should be got rid of?
A. It wasn't particularly Sharon Shoesmith; it was a variety of people. I think in the eight months that Baby P was under Haringey Social Services Baby Peter, sorry he was seen by Social Services and NHS officials in that time where he sustained the 50 or so injuries that he died of in the end, but also more importantly and I'm not sure the public were allowed to know this at this time, but in the review it was revealed that the Social Services had allowed the boyfriend, if you like, to live with Baby Peter, even though he was on a charge of raping a two-year-old. So there were serious failings, but it wasn't just Sharon Shoesmith
Q. We're moving well away from the subject matter of my question, which was whether it was the Sun's wish to get rid of Sharon Shoesmith. "Yes" or "no"?
A. I think we called for her and others to resign, yes.
Q. So you called for her to resign. Was that call the subject matter of a conversation which you had with Mr Balls?
A. I think he was well aware we'd called for the resignation. It was all over the paper.
Q. Yes, but did you have a conversation with Mr Balls about it specifically?
A. I can't remember when my call was with Mr Balls. I think it was after he had I think in the end he ended up firing Sharon Shoesmith.
Q. I told you that. On live television it was, on 1 December 2008. But I'm looking two weeks beforehand, the week commencing 17 November 2008. Did you have a conversation with Mr Balls about Sharon Shoesmith?
A. Yes, it will have been discussed.
Q. It would have been or was discussed?
A. Yes, it was discussed.
Q. Was the purpose of the call specifically to discuss Sharon Shoesmith?
A. No, it wasn't. It was to discuss the case and also to try and understand why Haringey Social Services were allowed to do their own review into their own conduct over Baby Peter.
Q. During the course of the discussion you had in relation to Sharon Shoesmith, did you indicate to Ed Balls that you wanted her sacked?
A. Mr Jay, I didn't tell Ed Balls to fire Sharon Shoesmith. It was very obvious from the coverage in our paper that we had launched a petition because the government were refusing to do anything about the situation. So yes, I had conversations with Ed Balls. I think I also spoke to the shadow minister, who I think was Michael Gove at the time, but I can't quite remember that. We were I would have spoken to anybody, basically, to try and get some justice for Baby P, which was the point of the campaign.
Q. Yes, but the person who could deliver justice for Baby P in this way was the person who could make the relevant decision. That was Mr Balls, wasn't it?
A. Ed Balls obviously had influence on that decision and but the paper was the main form of lobbying
Q. No, he was the decision maker, wasn't he? He was the person who could effect the sacking by direct instruction to Haringey. That's the correct position, isn't it?
A. I'm just picking up that I think the premise of your questioning is that did I tell Ed because to sack Sharon Shoesmith? And in fact in the newspaper, from the day we broke the day we covered the Baby P story, it was very clear that that was the Sun's editorial line on it, so Mr Balls was under no illusion that that was the point of our campaign.
Q. Yes, and you also he was also under no illusion that that was the point of your telephone call as well. Isn't that the case?
A. No, the telephone call was in part the petition. We were also we also wanted to deliver the petitions to Downing Street because nothing was moving on the campaign, and we ourselves at the Sun were very surprised by the level I mean, 1.5 million of a percentage of a readership is a huge reaction. So it will have been to feed back that. It would not just be I don't think was it was a point of reference because the editorial line of the Sun was very obvious to Mr Balls. He only had to read the paper.
Q. If you were frustrated by his apparent inaction and you had a mass of signatories on your petition, all the more reason to bend Mr Balls' ear? Would you not agree?
A. Yes, but your premise of your question was: did I ring up Mr Balls and say I can't remember how you put it, but it was in a tone and a language that I wouldn't use, but you said did I say, "Get rid of her or else", or whatever you said, and I'm saying I did not say that. The point of the campaign was pretty obvious to Ed Balls because he only had to read the paper. I was actually asking Mr Ed Balls for much more subtle information, like the contents of the review that we weren't allowed to see and the whitewash that I felt Haringey council had done on their own review. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think we'd better give the shorthand writer a break. Just five minutes. (3.15 pm) (A short break) (3.24 pm) MR JAY Mrs Brooks, we're on to some general points now to conclude your evidence, if that's okay. Paragraph 6, please, of your second statement. You set out your credo on accountability. Our page 02573: "I've seen at first hand the importance of the press as a means of holding politicians and other public figures to account and of influencing policies for the public good." Would you agree that editors, subject only to any review by the PCC, have sole discretion as to what constitutes the public good?
A. No, not no, I don't. I think editors do have some discretion. As we discussed earlier, that it is a combination of reacting to the readers, understanding the readers, but also putting issues and stories in front of the readers for their reaction. So not sole responsibility, no. There's a huge team at newspapers, all of which contribute through conference, through ideas. I think sole responsibility is not right.
Q. In terms of assessing what the public good is, that resides with the newspaper and ultimate responsibility resides with the editor. Are we agreed?
A. Yes.
Q. I think I was right in saying that in terms of this particular assessment, subject only to review by the PCC, responsibility resides with the editor. That's correct, isn't it?
A. I don't think sole responsibility LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, the ultimate responsibility, because you look to everybody else for advice and then everybody looks towards you and you decide: "This is what we're going to do."
A. Ultimately, everything that's published in the paper is the editor's responsibility, yes. MR JAY Do you feel that that is a satisfactory state of affairs, given that the editor is bound to be parti pris in assessing the public good because the editor needs to have an eye on matters such as circulation figures?
A. Well, that is a role of an editor. An editor's judgment is part of their is a big part of their role.
Q. And holding public figures to account in your lexicon would include exposing the private weaknesses of public figures; is that right?
A. I think I was referring there more to campaigns, which I discuss a lot in my witness statement.
Q. Yes, but I'm not discussing that. I'm discussing the issue of exposing the private weaknesses of public figures. You would regard that as completely within the bound of the public good, wouldn't you?
A. Not necessarily, no.
Q. So when would you not expose the private weaknesses of public figures?
A. When there didn't seem to be a public interest in doing so.
Q. And when would such circumstances arise?
A. Well, I think there are many stories that newspapers haven't run about personal circumstances about public figures.
Q. What are the sort of circumstances which would militate against publication without, of course, giving us details of inspanidual stories which weren't published?
A. So if, perhaps, there had been no trust broken between them and their constituents or where in fact, I think you discussed yesterday, although that story was published, maybe George Osborne could have argued that it was before he became an MP. I mean, each editor's judgment is their own in this.
Q. Which goes back to the point that it's a matter of editorial discretion at the end of the day, isn't it?
A. You said "sole" and I just wanted to convey I'm sure, you know, you're pretty au fait now with the workings of a newsroom, but it is important to understand the collective discussions that go on.
Q. Can I just take one particular campaign. Some would say there are arguments both ways, but naturally no view is expressed here. The murder of Sarah Payne and Sarah's Law, which featured in the News of the World for a number of years.
A. Yes.
Q. Is right that the News of the World published the names and photographs of sex offenders in order to "protect other children from them"?
A. Correct.
Q. Was that the editorial decision of someone like you?
A. Yes, it was.
Q. What do you say to the criticism made by the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire that this was grossly irresponsible journalism?
A. Well, I disagreed with it at the time.
Q. For what reason?
A. Because I felt that although there were some aspects to the campaign that and there's always risk with any kind of public interest journalism and there's always risk with campaigns although there were some issues with the campaign, I was I think the mechanic, in a way to try and explain to the public what the point of the campaign was, was effective, and I think there were about 13 or 14 pieces of legislation brought in subsequently on the back of it.
Q. Why did you need to publish the names and photographs of known sex offenders in order to bring home what was otherwise a legitimate point?
A. Because it was it was the point about information. When Sarah Payne went missing, I was surprised that the police team around the inquiry were pretty sure who they thought the perpetrator might be because he was a convicted paedophile living in the community, who had just been released, having abducted another eight-year-old girl in almost identical circumstances, and it was news to me that convicted paedophiles of that serious nature were allowed to live unchecked in the community and parents didn't have any information on that, and when I checked, back in America, after the murder of Megan Kanka in 1994, President Clinton had brought in a Megan's law, which had been working very well, and so that's why I thought the mechanic was right.
Q. One can understand the argument to this extent. Let's agree that the criminal law might need to be strengthened. Why is it necessary, as part of that legitimate campaign, to publish the names and photographs of known sex offenders?
A. Because in 2000 when we did it and I think it was over a period of just two weeks it was a way of highlighting the central issue of the campaign to try and explain to the readers the huge gap between what they thought was the situation and what was the situation.
Q. Why couldn't you just explain it to your readers in clear and simple language? Why sensationalise it and create the obvious risk of reprisals?
A. Well, actually before we did it, having looked at Megan's law, there was very, very limited there is very limited vigilanteism. I wasn't predicting those reprisals and I felt it was the best way to highlight the central point of the campaign.
Q. Were there any reprisals?
A. There were two that are written about. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Does that include the paediatrician?
A. It does, sir, yes. MR JAY The natural and foreseeable consequence of a sensationalised campaign, wouldn't you agree, Mrs Brooks?
A. No, I think the I don't think anyone could have predicted the paediatrician situation. And secondly, I think on Paul's Grove estate, I think the residents were quite shocked to discover that Victor Burnett had been living there unchecked when his last words in prison were: "I'm going to offend again", although again, I didn't predict the outcome.
Q. It's been a recurring theme in the questioning over the course of the day that I put to you a proposition which might seem obvious as a matter of common sense and you reject it each time. I'm going to try again with this one. Is it not evidently inflammatory to publish in the News of the World the names and photographs of known sex offenders, with the foreseeable consequence that there might be physical violence?
A. Well, if you published it on the basis that you knew that that would happen, yes. But it was not the intention. The incidents I can explain, as I've tried to. The fact is that it was a very serious there were very serious loopholes that needed to be closed and it was a bold some people disagreed with it, some people agreed with it in terms of press, but 98 per cent of the British public continue to agree with the campaign probably up until this day.
Q. It might not have been your motive, Mrs Brooks, but it was the natural and probable consequence of your actions, wasn't it?
A. No.
Q. If it wasn't, it means that you banished from your mind, I would suggest to you, that which would be patently obvious to anyone else and which ought to have been obvious to an editor exercising your position, role and power. Would you not agree?
A. No, I won't agree because I did not predict there was going to to be a riot in Paul's Grove and I didn't predict that somebody, a member of the public, would mistake a paedophile for a paediatrician. I don't think anybody could have predicted that.
Q. In many things, though, Mrs Brooks, one can't predict the exact sequence of events which would lead to an outcome, but you could certainly predict the outcome in general terms. What I'm suggesting to you is that it's plain as a pikestaff that this sort of outcome would or at least might arise. Would you not agree?
A. No, and you have the benefit of hindsight, which I didn't have at the time. I was merely constructing a very bold campaign in order to change the sex offenders act of 1997.
Q. Not just bold, Mrs Brooks, but sensationalised, designed to inflame and designed to improve the standing of you and the standing of the News of the World with those crude objectives in mind. Is that not true?
A. Mr Jay, you seem to have taken the opinion of the Guardian, I think, had that at the time. I disagree with you. It is not my opinion, and I'm not going to agree with you.
Q. Okay. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Let me make it clear that I have absolutely no concern about the policy objectives of a campaign that News of the World or anybody else wishes to run. That's what freedom in our society means. I have no problem about that at all. The only question I might ask, following up on Mr Jay's question, is: if you had appreciated that the public might react in the way in which it did in the two incidents, do you think you would have rethought whether that aspect of the campaign should be run?
A. I do have some regrets about the campaign, particularly the list of convicted paedophiles that we put into the paper, because I felt that we'd made some mistakes by just going on an appearance on the Sex Offenders Act, which wasn't necessarily the right criteria. However, I still thought that the mechanic that we used was the right thing to do. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. MR JAY Paragraphs 99 and 100 of your second statement, 02589, when you refer to a wider point. Do you remember that?
A. What paragraph, sorry?
Q. Paragraph 99.
A. Yes.
Q. You moved off the Andy Coulson issue and you have scotched the myth there, do you follow me, and then you're moving on to your wider point.
A. Yes.
Q. You say in the second line: "It is one thing to be a passionate advocate of a free press but if you seek to defend an inaccurate free press, you lose the moral high ground." Are you intending to say there that there are some aspects of our free press which might give rise to criticism because our free press can be inaccurate?
A. I think that and you've discussed this in the first module of the Inquiry that when a newspaper gets it wrong one of the biggest complaints I used to get, not necessarily about my own newspaper but about the press in general, was the prominence of apologies when an inaccuracy had taken place, and that's what I'm referring to. The page 37, one paragraph type thing.
Q. In some respects and this is perhaps an ironical aspect of your evidence. In the course of the day, I've put to you stories which are said to be reliably sourced, whether they are in the Times or Vanity Fair or elsewhere, and very often you've said, "It's untrue", but that, in a funny sort of way, is the sort of debate we've been having at this Inquiry. If your evidence is right, that is, so often sources don't stand up, based on myth or half truth or a garbled version of the truth. Do you see the irony there?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. What do you think the reason for it all is?
A. Well, Mr Jay, today you've put to me quite a few, shall we say, gossipy items, for want of a better word
Q. Same sort of stuff one reads or did read in the News of the World
A. And the Sun.
Q. and continues to read in the Sun. Isn't that true?
A. Yes, but we're not in a tabloid newsroom now, are we?
Q. No, we're not.
A. We're in an Inquiry. So you put a personal few things my personal alchemy, my did Rupert Murdoch and I swim? Where did I get the horse from? Did Mr Murdoch buy me a suit? The list is endless and I've had to refute a lot of those allegations because "allegations" is overstating the case they're wrong. But I do feel that that is merely a systematic issue that you know, I think a lot of it's gender-based. I think that my relationship with Mr Murdoch if I was a grumpy old man of Fleet Street, no one would write the first thing about it, but perhaps otherwise I get a lot of this criticism and gossip. But I wasn't complaining and I wasn't making it would be the height of hypocrisy for that last paragraph to mean that. All I was saying is that in my experience as a journalist, it is one of the biggest complaints I get where people say that the apology never matches the inaccuracy.
Q. The systematic issue you referred to may not relate to you, although I understand naturally you would have particular concerns in relation to yourself. The systematic issue as regards inaccuracy may be a function of the commercial pressures the press is under, its reliance on sources which do not always stand up, its tendency to rely on stories which ring true but which don't happen to be true, and finally the story itself being more important than the truth. In microcosm today, we have seen demonstrated the sort of phenomenon which has occupied the life of the press for decades in this country. Is that fair or not?
A. I don't think it's fair and I don't think any journalist in the room would agree with the final summing up of that statement, where you say the story's more important than the truth.
Q. Are there other aspects of the culture, practice and ethics of the press which you're looking at in paragraph 99, such as harassment and intrusion, or are these issues which you would either prefer not to address or don't think are particularly important?
A. Well, no. Of course I think they're important. I mean, I'm happy to discuss them, but just for the purposes of this module, which was meant to be about the discussion of the appropriate relationship between press and politicians, I haven't gone into them in my witness statement.
Q. Okay. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand that, Mrs Brooks, but one couldn't have listened for the day and indeed read the material that has been published and written about you that forms this lever-arch file without wondering a little bit about the extent to which the press have intruded rather beyond your public position into your private life, and I wonder whether you have a comment, speaking with all the experience that you have as an editor of the News of the World and the Sun, as to the extent to which the press does now get further and further into issues of privacy?
A. Well, look, for a start, I consider myself to be a journalist and therefore I as I said to Mr Jay, it would be, I think the height of hypocrisy for me to complain. However, I have had those complaints from people in my career as journalism and I've always tried to understand and always tried to use my judgment to where that line fell. As to my own situation, well, you know, it's been a difficult year and but a lot of the questions that I've had from Mr Jay I felt concentrated on quite a trivial side. I was happy to discuss them, but it was all you know, I'm not sure it helps this Inquiry whether Mr Murdoch bought me a suit or not, or I went swimming with him. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What might help is the nature of the relationship and the influence that it generates, and they're all bits and pieces. I wasn't asking you to complain, because you've said in terms that it would be hypocritical of you to do so in the light of your past experience, but because I'm trying to find the way through the various modules, including the political one, I wanted to give you the opportunity of saying anything you wanted to say on the subject.
A. Well, I think I think on the on the politicians, I do think much has been made of cosy relationships and informal contact, and I believe that if journalists meet politicians, the it's going to be incredibly hard to be the journalist to be transparent about that or be forced to be transparent because often they are exactly the ways that we get information. So if you see an MP for a drink and then have to print your schedules the next day, that's quite difficult. On the other hand, I understand from this government that they have improved their transparency from their part, and so I suppose it was to urge you that actually there really shouldn't be there shouldn't be, if everyone's inspanidual contact is correct I have a never compromised my position as a journalist by having a friendly relationship with a politician. I've never known a politician compromise their position particularly with their friendship with me or with another executive. So I'm not saying the system is perfect, far from it, but a review and understanding of the current laws might be a start, or enforcing of the current laws, before we put any more restrictions into it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON In relation to a press and the politicians, I don't know that it's a question of law.
A. I'm talking about the Ministerial Code, which is changing all the time, and it changed in July last year. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you said to me before lunch when I asked you: can you understand why it might be a matter of public concern that the very close relationship between journalists and politicians might create subtle pressures on the press, who have a megaphone on the politicians who have the policy decision, you agreed that you could understand that.
A. I could understand your point very clearly, sir, because I think in every walk of life and every kind of relationship you have, there are subtle pressures. I think that's human nature. And it is up to inspaniduals' conduct and how you respond to those pressures. So I accept what you're saying as a fact, but I do think that both the press and politicians need to make sure that they have their professional life in front of anything else so they don't compromise. I mean, the big point about sort of a prime minister if a prime minister ever had put a friendship or a relationship or a cosiness with a media group before their duties to the electorate, then that would be a terrible failing. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Of course. But it might be that they're convinced that it is consistent with their duties to the electorate. In other words, the nature of the relationship is such that they become honestly and completely convinced, because of the respect they hold the people that they're dealing with, who may be their friends and therefore they're not doing anything that is improper but they are slightly, perhaps, less guarded with people in the press, particularly those who may be their friends, than they will be when they know there's a lobby group coming. The example I gave to Mr Coulson yesterday was from the coal industry, and then there's a lobby industry from Greenpeace to talk about a new colliery. That's a part of our process that different interest groups get the opportunity to make their point. But I don't suppose many colliery owners get the opportunity to make as many points as the most senior journalists get to make, and the colliery owners don't quite have the same ability to provide if I use the word "something in return", I don't want you to misunderstand me. I'm not saying there's a Faustian bargain necessarily, but it is, as I think has been said at this Inquiry before, rather more subtle than that. It's just a recognition that actually, if two people a journalist on the one hand and a politician on the other are on the same page and therefore support each other, they might generally support each other. Not improperly, not because they've made a deal, not because they've been given cash or anything like that, but because people can be persuaded. Now, that may be fair enough, but the question is how one can ensure there is sufficient openness and transparency about that so that everybody is satisfied, in this day of mass media communication, that all decisions are being made openly and transparently, without influence that people don't know about. That's my point.
A. And that would be that's correct in terms of business and commercial interests, which is, I think, where the coal manufacturing comes in. All I would say I'm not disagreeing with that point is that from a journalist's perspective, you're not trying to get to see a politician for your own personal or even your company's commercial interests; you're trying to gather information to put it, you know, at its lowest, you're trying to get a good story. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you might be doing it for your commercial considerations. We've talked enough about the BSkyB bid or the anti-bSkyB bid. It doesn't really matter which. That's where the whole thing gets just a little bit fuzzy, doesn't it?
A. I have never known anything like the anti-Sky bid alliance and indeed our natural reaction to it but I've never heard of every media group in the country and British Telecom and the BBC getting together against one commercial bid. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You could take another example. You could take the example of the meeting in 19 I have to get the year right.
A. '80? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The meeting between Rupert Murdoch and Mrs Thatcher, thank you, about the takeover of the Times. I'm not suggesting that that's improper. I'm not reaching any conclusion about any of it, but it is another example. The anti-bSkyB bid alliance not merely had the ability to lobby; it had the ability to use its press interests. News International had the ability to use its press interests.
A. Well, we didn't, actually, but yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Whether you did or you didn't is not my point, as you understand.
A. Yes, I do. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So it's a question of ensuring for the public that that pressure, the megaphone on the one hand and the policy decisions on the other, does not get out of hand.
A. That's correct, but I really do believe I know I keep going on about it, but it's the ordinary people's views that make a newspaper powerful, and if I can just give you one example, where the Daily Mirror ran a very good campaign that chimed with the readership at the beginning, anti the war in Iraq. I think it was called "Not in our name". And the Sun, being pro-military, always kept a very sort of supportive you know, backing our troops on the ground. Once the war started, the Mirror continued with the campaign, and I think ran a headline saying, "Why Mirror readers are wrong", and I think it's in Piers Morgan's book that I was asked to read again for this inquiry he talks about how the circulation of the Mirror plummeted because in fact he'd continued to drive an editorial line in the paper which was against the readership, and they reacted pretty swiftly. I accept that's an extreme example and you were asking me about subtleties in these kind of pressures LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And that's why we spoke earlier before about: is it responsiveness or leadership? And there's a bit of both.
A. There is absolutely both. I mean, on Sarah's law, for example, although many people questioned the mechanic and I completely understand that, it was controversial the fact is that it was again I put a piece of information in front of the readers that I found astonishing when I heard it, was that, for whatever reason in the system, that convicted paedophiles could live in the community unchecked, and that was something I just didn't know and I presented it to the readers in the way I did, and so that was a situation of me putting something in front of them. However, I did know that they were incredibly moved by what happened to the Payne family from their reactions earlier on, so I knew they would be responsive to it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's all a bit like that, isn't it?
A. It is. It makes it very difficult. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Thank you. Is there anything else that you want to add on the subject?
A. No, that's fine. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. All right, thank you.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. There's something else we have to deal with, but I'll let Mrs Brooks and anybody who wants to leave. (Pause). Right. Well, we have a little time to continue the issues that were raised by Mr Sherborne. I appreciate he's not here, but he will have the opportunity of reading what everybody says and replying shortly when we next get an opportunity. As long as we're working hard and keeping to the timetable, I don't mind. Right, Mr White, do you want to start? Response to Mr Sherborne's Application MR WHITE May I? May I also raise one other matter that Mr Jay's mentioned to you, which is on behalf of News International. We would greatly appreciate an opportunity to make a short opening statement on Module 3 on Monday morning. Mr Jay's opening of this module was focused to a very large extent on News International and its conduct and that was, as one would expect, widely reported, and we would be very grateful indeed for the opportunity to make a short opening statement. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. In principle, I have no objection to that, Mr White, except I'd need to know where it was going to get me to. I mean, I did ask some weeks ago whether anybody wanted to make opening statements and indeed I think at one stage the Guardian wanted to, and then decided that it wasn't necessary. I'm just a little bit troubled that once I open the door again, then everybody will decide that it's about time they marched through. In one sense, I don't mind that either, except that I have a timetable to deliver and I'm going to deliver it. Have you discussed that with any of your fellow core participants? MR WHITE I haven't, but may I make this observation: that there was little attention on anybody else and their interaction with politicians in Mr Jay's opening, and therefore I suspect that our desire to say something in response may be somewhat more pressing than other parties'. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand the point. All right, briefly you have that opportunity. MR WHITE Thank you very much. May I then turn to Mr Sherborne's application on Wednesday afternoon? Transcript pages 74 to 5, Mr Sherborne sought a direction. It was be a application of which there had been no advance warning. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I know. That's one of the reasons why I was very happy to give everybody the chance to think about it. I'm the only one that should get things thrown at them without knowledge. You should at least have some forewarning. It's one of the perils of judicial life. Yes? MR WHITE It's a very minor grumble. The application was, as I understand it, for a direction that the newspaper core participants should answer two questions in relation to the Operation Motorman data, if I can use that compendious term. The first we question was what happened to the journalists who used Mr Whittamore's services, in terms of whether they were disciplined or any other action. The second was what steps had been taken to identify whether any information from that data is still being retained or used, and the closing words Mr Sherborne used were: "If it is still being used, this must stop." May I say first of all we were surprised that that application was made more than five months after News International filed its very detailed evidence in relation to the Operation Motorman data. That was in the second witness statement of Pia Sarma, the editorial legal director of the Times, which was read into the record of the Inquiry without objection or response from Mr Sherborne's clients, I think five months and two days ago. The first question, what happens to the journalist, seems to us to break down logically into two questions in fact. Firstly, what happened to them back in 2006, when the report "What price privacy now?" was published, and secondly, what might have happened to them at any later stage. Sir, the first question or the first part that, namely what happened in 2006, proceeds, I think it's necessary to remind the Inquiry, on a false premise. The false premise is that the inspanidual journalists in question were either identified or identifiable from "What price privacy now?". In fact, that report, when published in December 2006, simply contained a table which set out names of publications LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I have the point. MR WHITE Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So they couldn't do anything then and indeed they contended that they were wrongly identified anyway. At least certain of the entries in relation to clients of yours were challenged. MR WHITE Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So I understand that. Yes? MR WHITE You have in mind the Sunday Times was said to have 52 transactions involving seven journalists. When we asked who those were and what they were, it was "corrected" to four transactions involving one journalist. But we also expressly asked for the information to enable us to investigate it and were refused it, and all that is set out in detail in Pia Sarma's witness statement. The MOD reference is MOD10049133, particularly at paragraph 12. I don't think we need to get it up on the screen. But we couldn't do anything in 2006. Ms Sarma's witness statement also addresses whether we could have done anything from our own records to try and see whether we could match the table and she explains later in the witness statement, I think at paragraph 16, why, given the age of the data which, as you may recall, by December 2006 was between about four and seven years old already that simply wasn't practical. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I remember. I had forgotten, but I remember now, yes. MR WHITE All of what I'm saying is essentially by way much reminder. Ms Sarma also explained why the unidentified journalists may well have not have been aware of any illegality and what I did want to remind you of was that the vast majority of the Operation Motorman data in relation to my clients consisted simply of ex-directory telephone numbers and our evidence was that those were obtainable through legitimate sources. Indeed, we exhibited some websites providing exactly that service which continue to operate, and one of them claims with the approval of the ICO. So that's one point about whether there was any actual wrongdoing disclosed even against the unidentified journalists but Ms Sarma went further and explained that without knowing the particular transaction, it is was impossible to see whether there was a public interest defence an apparent offence or prima facie offence under section 55. She did so not in the abstract but by exhibiting at PS6 certain stories which we linked to particular lines in the data, where we said there was a public interest. It's a confidential exhibit but it's in evidence. We didn't do the exercise for every line but doing it for some was an indication of how difficult it is to oversimplify the problem and suggest that any journalist using the services should have been disciplined. Then one asks: should we have done something at a later date? I suppose the first question is when, but let us take the example of you when all the participants obtained, through the Inquiry, the relevant data. The position at that stage, sir, is the transactions were by then at least nine years old and since some of them were probably much older, it would have been difficult at that stage to look into them. More difficult. More importantly, I think we had only one or perhaps two journalists named in the data still in employment at any of our titles. But we also took the view that to take disciplinary action against employees for transactions more than nine years old would have been completely indefensible in employment law terms and they were far too stale to start disciplining people. There's a further point that we wanted to emphasise which is that both the former Information Commissioner, Mr Thomas, and the present one, Mr Graham, confirmed at your seminar on 12 October last year, and again in their evidence, that they didn't perceive any problem of the press purchasing illegally obtained information had persisted after 2006. So the problem those gentlemen both identified and the earlier one brought out in the report they saw as historical. In those circumstances, we suggest that disciplinary action, either in 2006 or in 2011, wasn't actually realistic against inspanidual journalists and exploring the issue of why it did or didn't happen won't assist your Inquiry at all. As far as the second question is concerned namely, the retention and possible current processing of the data the first point is similar to the one I have been putting forward, namely that in 2006 we couldn't do anything because we didn't know what the data was. By 2011, the data is very old. It's got to be at least nine years old. It would be a huge effort, a disproportionate effort, to try and identify what in most cases is this low grade personal information, ex-directory numbers, see if they're on the systems separately from their presence on the systems through other avenues, and again, we question how much you'll be assisted by exploring that issue, certainly now that we're well downstream from Module 1. There's a final point I wanted to make, which is a harder edged point. You have a lot on your plate in this Inquiry, as you say from time to time, and I certainly recognise it myself. There are other officials under the Data Protection Act who have the duty of seeing whether our current processing is lawful, fair, appropriate. Any inspanidual who is concerned can make a complaint under the Data Processing Act. The High Court as jurisdiction to rule. The ICO has jurisdiction to rule. Fortunately, you may think, you don't. If our current processing, such as it is, is lawful under the Data Processing Act, the press can't be criticised for any retention and continuing processing and I'd respectfully invite you to put aside this invitation to add yet more to your workload, largely because it won't take you anywhere but also for the reasons I've given. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I understand. Thank you very much. Right. MR BROWNE : In cricket I'd be called the nightwatchman. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I would never describe you in that way, Mr Browne. Other ways, yes, but not that way. MR BROWNE : The first point I want to make and I have five is the issue, as Mr White says, is now historical. The search warrant which seized the Whittamore documents was executed as long ago as 8 March 2003. Subsequently, as we heard from Mr Gilmour, the seven journalists are interviewed under caution. None of them were ever arrested. Within a matter of, weeks on 6 March 2004, the Crown Prosecution Service had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge any of them. Mr Gilmour explained in his oral evidence that that was because they couldn't establish guilty knowledge on the part of any one of the journalists. You'll recall from exhibit RJT49 to Mr Thomas' first witness statement that when Mr Whittamore and two others appeared in front of Judge Samuels at Blackfriars Crown Court, the judge made it clear that there was no halfway house in the matter and the presumption of innocence applied in relation to each of the journalists in respect of whom a decision had been taken that there was insufficient evidence to charge them. Secondly I can take this quickly too; it's a point made by Mr White such alleged misbehaviour as had taken place prior to 2006 appears to have ceased in the view of not merely the current Information Commissioner but also his predecessor, Mr Thomas, and indeed you'll recall that in your ruling at the end of last year on access to the evidence submitted by Alexander Owens, you said at paragraph 3 that there was no basis for suggesting that the conduct that had given rise to Operation Motorman had been repeated, and doubtless you derived that from two passages in Mr Thomas' first witness statement at paragraphs 44 and 46, where he said that what he was getting from his team was that press misconduct of the type that had led to the two ICO reports in the second half of 2006 had largely ceased thereafter and that the allegations that had surfaced since July 2011 appeared to predate 2006. Mr Thomas confirmed all of that when cross-examine by Mr Caplan, Day 14, page 117. More recently and we can hand up a copy of this if it is necessary Mr Graham, the current Information Commissioner, told the Commons Justice Committee in September last year that so far as the ICO's office was concerned, the activities of the press recently have not particularly come to their attention and the concern that he had about Section 55 was really not very much to do with the press as opposed to those in the financial services sector. Thirdly, when the Inquiry comes to consider culture practices and ethics of the press in relation to my client, a relevant consideration will no doubt be that the editors of the Daily and Sunday Mirror accepted in cross-examination by Mr Barr that given the sheer volume of requests, it would be surprising if every request to Mr Whittamore by their journalists was covered by a public interest defence. That, we say, is really as far as you need to go, and when the question arose on day 37 during the evidence of Mr Dacre of much the same question, you indicated that what interested you and the Inquiry was whether it was accepted that there was a possibility that some the inquiries could not be justified. If I can just quote a sentence from what you said. At page 56 of Day 37 in the afternoon, you said this: "I'm not concerned to ask how many or who because that's a detail which, for the purposes of my Inquiry, I don't believe I need to go into." You said something very similar in response to Mr Sherborne on Wednesday afternoon at page 76 when you said that the purpose of the Inquiry cannot be to answer all the factual issues and you said this: "It would be quite impossible to look at ten years of journalistic endeavour across a wide range of titles and do balanced and fair justice to inspanidual incidents." Fourth point LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Sometimes I say things which appeal to me even now. MR BROWNE : That comes as much comfort. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm not so sure, Mr Brown. MR BROWNE : I think (inaudible) is the adjective that comes into my mind. Fourthly, the requests which Mr Sherborne made, which are effectively to reopen and extend the ambit of Module 1, come far, far too late in the day. I had to ask somebody to tell me but I had to be reminded that hearings in Module 1 ended as long ago as Thursday, 9 February, and I wish Mr Sherborne was here so I didn't have to say this behind his back, but it really is disingenuous to suggest, as he did when he opened this application, that it was made in the light of DCI Gilmour's evidence. The detective chief inspector had said nothing in his oral evidence or in his witness statement to suggest, for example, that offending journalists had been promoted to senior positions, a point that Mr Sherborne wishes to pursue in the first set of questions. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You haven't said it behind his back. He'll read it. MR BROWNE : Good. He may even be watching me live. Indeed, just reverting to DCI Gilmour, he was at pains not to mention the names of the journalists questioned, in accordance not only with your self-denying ordinance but also the stance adopted by Mr Thomas and the ICO. You'll recall that Mr Thomas, in his second witness statement, said that the ICO had always regarded the names as personal data and he emphasised the sensitive nature of that data by reason of the fact that the names had been obtained by reason of the exercise of the search warrant in March 2004, the journalists had not been prosecuted, let alone convicted and they'd had no chance to defend themselves. The other point in relation to delay is this. Back on 13 March 2012 at the beginning of Day 49 in the morning, you, sir, made a ruling declining to make public the submissions received in private on 2 December last year in relation to Mr Owens' evidence and you added to that, as one sees between pages 2 and 3 of Day 49 in the morning, that if Mr Sherborne wished to argue that it was appropriate that the Inquiry should publish the documents seized in Operation Motorman in 2003, you would set aside time formally and in public to consider the issue, but in the same ruling, having emphasised yet again that the Inquiry was not concerned with inspanidual conduct, you said it would be unfair to name the reporters identified in the Whittamore records seized during Operation Motorman. Finally on this issue, the sheer volume of information would make answering these enquiries impossibly burdensome at any time, let alone so late in the day. There are, on any footing, a large number of transactions, a large number of journalists who would have to be investigated, and there is no easy way into that process because there's no database as such of the information from the Whittamore documents. My fifth and final point, turning to the detail of the questions as applicable to Trinity Mirror LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I've got up to six points, Mr Browne, but never mind. Yes. I found I couldn't count yesterday, I counted the wrong number of families, as somebody was quick to correct me. Yes? MR BROWNE : First of all, the group in questions one, we already know the answers to the majority of those questions. They were covered in the evidence of the editors and of Sly Bailey, our chief executive, on 16 January. No one at the Mirror was fired, no one was disciplined, and just to summarise very shortly, what Mrs Bailey said was that in 2006, following the publication of the ICO report "What price privacy?", Trinity Mirror had adopted what she described as a forward-looking approach, not declaring an amnesty and making very, very, very clear, she said, what was acceptable and what was completely and absolutely unacceptable. If, back then in January, there had been relevant additional questions to ask, they should have been submitted then. In relation to the last of the four subsidiary questions in question one, namely are the journalists still working for the newspaper and even being appropriated to senior positions, the Inquiry's consistent approach, rightly in our submission, has been not to identify inspanidual journalists. In relation to question 2, the procedure of this Inquiry is, we submit, not a Trojan horse to fish for disclosure which cannot be obtained by other means. I think that's a terrible mixed metaphor, but I hope my meaning is clear. You will doubtless be aware that the ICO has established, I believe since the commencement of this Inquiry, a fast-track service whereby inspaniduals can find out, by means of a subject access request under the DPA, if the Whittamore notebooks contain any information about them. That is route that is open, and there was certainly nothing in Mr Gilmour's evidence to suggest that information was still being retained, let alone used, nine years after it had been seized. Indeed, very much the contrary, in the light of what Mr Thomas and Mr Graham have said. My final, final point is this. Following the hearing on 2 December last year, the data sticks with the Whittamore information on them were released to the core participants, including Mr Sherborne and his client. They were released precisely so that, having analysed them, they could make submissions on the contents. It appears that that is an option that they have declined to take. They have chosen not to do so, and now, very, very late in the day, nearly six months later, they adopt this procedure, which will involve going back over Module 1 and involve a massive exercise both for the participants, if they are ordered to undertake it, but also for the Inquiry subsequently to analyse it. In my submission, it is a simply hopeless application. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR CAPLAN I adopt all of that. I don't know whether I can usefully add anything, but I think it's all been said, if I may say so. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. I'll let Mr Sherborne read it all and at some stage when we next have a break and I feel we need to do some more work, he'll get the chance to respond. Anybody else want to say anything else on this topic? Thank you very much. 10 o'clock on Monday morning. (4.22 pm) (The hearing adjourned until 10 o'clock on Monday, 14 May 2012)


Gave statements at the hearings on 11 May 2012 (AM) and 11 May 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 6 pieces of evidence


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