The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

  • MS CRESSIDA DICK (sworn).

  • Good morning. Please state your full name.

  • You've provided a witness statement. Could you confirm the contents are true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • I'm going to start, please, with your career history. I'm looking at paragraph 2 onwards of your statement and I'm going to paraphrase it in this way.

    You explain is that you are currently an Assistant Commissioner with the Metropolitan Police Service. You head up the specialist operations department, and your current areas of responsibility include counter-terrorism, diplomatic, VIP and royalty protection and counter-terrorism and security for the Olympic and Paralympic games?

  • You joined the MPS in 1983. You've served as be a constable, sergeant and inspector, all in London.

    We'll skip over paragraph 4 and turn to paragraph 5. You returned to the MPS after sometimes with Thames Valley Police. You returned as a commander and you were appointed director of the Diversity Directorate and head of the Racial and Violent Crime Taskforce?

  • You then also undertook command roles in the MPS's response to 9/11, the tsunami and the terrorist attacks in London, July 2005 and 2007.

    If we move to paragraph 6, you tell us that in February 2007, you were promoted to Deputy Assistant Commissioner and moved to specialist operations in charge of protection and security in London. In July 2009, you were promoted again to Assistant Commissioner and you moved then to the specialist crime directorate, leading teams investigating the majority of serious, sensitive, complex and organised crimes in London, and then it's in August 2011, following the requirement of John Yates, that you were appointed Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations and it's since that time that you've held the role that you perform now. Is that all correct?

  • Thank you very much. Before I turn to ask you about your personal experience with the press or the media and also a bit about the practicalities of regulating relationships between the police and the press or the media, the first logical step is to ask you whether you consider such a relationship to be important, and if so, why.

    If we turn in that respect to paragraph 27 of your statement, you touch on this in a little detail. You set out there at paragraph 27 -- you start with the benefits to the police of a close relationship with the press. Can I ask you to summarise in your own words what those benefits are, in your view?

  • I think it's extremely important that we give the public accurate information. That's one of our most important roles. It's very important that the public understand policing as much as they can, and also that they hold us to account, and they can only do that by knowing about policing. We need the public to help us in a variety of ways. Obviously we need information about crimes that have happened, but also we need people to have confidence in the police and in the whole system, so that they will give us intelligence or give us evidence, be witnesses, provide observation posts. I could go on.

    I think this is all dependent on people having good knowledge and good understanding, and a very, very important thing also is for them to actually understand their rights and understand what they should -- you know, how they can interact with the police. All of these things -- the media in its broadest sense are extraordinarily important to us in terms of getting our legitimate messages out.

  • If I can give you also a specific example you give at paragraphs 17 to 18, you explain that in 2001, you were responsible for implementing the recommendations of the Stephen Lawrence public Inquiry, and for several high-profile investigations, including the reinvestigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, and at that stage you had regular contact with national journalists, given those roles. You explain at paragraph 18 that you recently wrote an article for the Guardian on these issues, and that this article illustrates the crucial and important relationship that exists between the police and the media.

    Again, can you give us a little bit of background there on what you're saying? What were the specific benefits of the relationship between the police and the press surrounding the Stephen Lawrence inquiry and the reinvestigation?

  • I became responsible for that case in 2001, and remain so to the present day, and clearly, coming back into the Metropolitan Police, as I did at that point, it was obvious that we had a great deal of work to do to restore people's confidence in our ability to deal with certain types of crimes, to ensure that people understood that we were taking the public inquiry seriously and responding to all their recommendations effectively.

    So in those early years -- and I think I inherited this approach from my predecessor -- we did an enormous amount of work with the media to sort of open ourselves up, really, and to get their advice and guidance as well. There were moments where, for example, we did an enormous amount of what we called critical incident training, and we had journalists present at the training to put a different perspective to the officers.

    In terms of the actual reinvestigation, of course we were very, very, very keen to bring the murderers to justice and we wanted people to know that that's what we were trying to do.

  • All right. Can I move on then to regulating that relationship which you've identified. Can I ask you to turn, please, to paragraph 7 of your statement. Here you state that generally there are good working relationships between the MPS and the media, but you identify two issues. If I can just read them out. You say:

    "However, it is clear that over the past years there have been problems with a small number of MPS personnel being willing to leak unauthorised and/or operationally damaging information to the media."

    So that's the first issue. Then you also identify that:

    "There has also been a perception that some senior officers have had overly close contact with certain parts of the media."

    You go on to explain that in a little bit more detail. Can I ask you a number of questions, first of all, on the first of those two issues. Why do you say that it is clear that over the past few years there have been problems with a small number of personal being willing to leak information? Are there any specific examples that you can give us? Also, can you state with confidence that it's a small number?

  • Well, there have been a limited number of convictions, and indeed misconduct findings, in relation to leaks. Of course, that's quite a broad word.

  • So losses of information, for example, whether negligent or just careless, when it's official secrets, through to actually forming a relationship with somebody and deliberately passing information to somebody -- for example, a member of the press -- we have had a small number of convictions and some misconduct findings. So that's why it's very clear to me.

    I've also twice during the last couple of years been in charge, at the management board level, of our professional standards area, so I see the sort of intelligence and the investigations that we're doing, and they are very difficult and frequently we don't know whether the information has come from the police or from some other party, but there are sufficient there for me to believe, again, that some of these unauthorised disclosures have come from the police.

    I'm also briefed on Operation Elveden, which has obviously been discussed here before. So that's why I say I'm clear.

    I think in relation to that, I am confident that it's not an endemic problem. I spent sort of, in some senses, all my service thinking about issues like this and talking to colleagues and talking to colleagues in other forces around the world, and I genuinely do not believe that this is a culture or anything other than isolated individuals. That's my view.

  • I'll come on to ask you about leaks in more detail in a moment, if I can, probably not touching on Elveden in any detail whatsoever. Can I turn to the second of the two issues that you identify there at paragraph 7, the perception that some senior officers have had overly close contact with certain parts of the media? Is it your view that some senior officers had overly close contact with some parts of the media or is it just a perception?

  • I think it is certainly a perception. There's no doubt about that, and this has clearly been discussed here and widely in the media. It is also the case that there's been very regular and close contact between some senior members of the Met. I should say I think all of these issues are not, of course, completely confined to the Met, but that's what we're focusing on here.

    I think some of the contact has led to the perception. I can't tell whether it's been overly close, but in terms of whether it's been wrong or right, what I can say is that I think it's been unfortunate that it has led to that perception, and I think for the future we will have to be and will be clearer about the professional boundaries between us and members of the media.

  • Again, I'll come on to cover in some detail recommendations for the future, so perhaps park that issue just for now.

    You seem to suggest later on in your statement, paragraph 44 onwards, that this perception that you identify may have arisen as a result of essentially flaws in the way that policies and so on have been interpreted. Sorry, look at paragraph 44.

  • "I think policies, processes and practices have not previously worked in a way which has consistently maintained public confidence. This has allowed a perception to develop that there have been inappropriate relationships with certain quarters of the press."

    Can you explain that a little bit further? What do you mean when you say they've not previously worked in a way which has consistently maintained public confidence?

  • Well, that the -- "not consistent public confidence", I think, is the point that I've just made, and I do think that in general our policies and processes have been quite good.

  • We've changed them latterly and tightened them up, but nevertheless, I don't think they've been that bad. As a whole, they clearly haven't resulted in the public being completely confident in our ability to maintain a professional relationship, and I believe this is as much about the clarity around the standards and having the discussions about what we mean and, to coin a phrase I know has been used here, shining a light on what has actually been going on. I think we've perhaps not done enough of that collectively.

  • Right, so your evidence is that you don't think there's much wrong with the policies; it's simply the way in which the spirit of the policies is conveyed to those who are interpreting it? Would that be fair?

  • Yes. I think it's also important to say that I think this Inquiry is obviously looking at the Metropolitan Police over a number of years, and some of the witnesses have been, of course, talking about many, many years ago. What might have been acceptable ten years ago might not be acceptable now, and you will see we have changed our policies over the years and we --

  • Is this just specifically addressed to the question of relationships between the police and the media or is it a wider point? Is there a wider issue here about the way in which the Metropolitan Police have sought to convey information, perhaps naturally emphasising the very good and minimising the less happy, whereas a rather more transparent approach to everything, demonstrating that actually, even police officers are human beings and sometimes, occasionally, don't always get it absolutely right, may be a more appropriate way of seeking to obtain public confidence?

  • So is it a wider question?

  • Yes, sir. I do think that on occasion we may have been over-defensive. That said, I think if I was to speak for my colleagues, they would feel that there's often news and information out there which is not "good news", in inverted commas, which comes from us. So I wouldn't be overly critical of where we have been personally, but I do absolutely accept Ms Filkin's comments that for the future it would be better if we were able to get as much information as possible out in the first place and be more transparent in every way. I do accept that.

  • You don't have to convince me that leaks can occur, whether or not the leaker is really believing something horrible is going wrong, which everybody is trying to suppress.

  • I've spent five minutes this morning talking about the subject.

  • But it may reduce the impact if that approach is taken.

  • Can I ask now about your own personal contact with the media and how you handle matters. Perhaps that's something we need to explore. If we look at paragraph 21 of your statement, you explain your own approach. You say, about halfway down that paragraph:

    "It's always been my practice that I redirect any request for information from a journalist straight to the MPS directorate of public affairs. Any request for an interview which I have accepted has been supported by DPA and I always have a press officer present at an interview. I do not speak direct to journalists on the telephone and do not arrange to meet with them, except with a press officer. As a consequence, I am almost never contacted directly by a journalist, and as I have said, on the very rare occasions I have, I have re-directed the request. I do not instigate contact with the media except through the press office."

    That approach seems to be slightly different from the approach that's suggested, if I can put it this way, by the different media relation policies that there have been over the years, in this sense: there isn't a requirement in those policies for press officers to be present, off-the-record conversations are permissible and so on. We can look at the policy but I'm sure you're very familiar with it. Why do you take the approach that you do in those circumstances?

  • This is the approach that I personally have always felt comfortable with. It's fair to say that at various stages in my service I've had a great deal of contact with the media, particularly in my first job that you've referred to, back in the Met, and secondly when I was doing organised crime, cross-border crime, gun crime, I was constantly doing media work. And again, when I was Assistant Commissioner for specialist crime. So I do have a fair amount of contact. This was the way I felt and still feel most comfortable.

    I wouldn't want you to think that it is the sort of -- "obsessively monastic", I think is the phrase that's been used here, end, in that if I bump into a journalist in the street, I will, of course, if I know them, say, "Hello, how are you", and on occasions I might find myself at an event sitting next to a journalist and I will have a conversation with them. But if it is that they are specifically seeking information, I feel more comfortable putting it through the press office and having a press officer present.

    I absolutely understand that the policy allowed a broader approach and I wouldn't criticise anybody for one moment who has done that.

  • So you're not saying that everyone should adopt the approach that you do; you support the media policies in place. It's just this is the personal approach that you have adopted and feel most comfortable with. Is that a fair assessment?

  • Yes. I think when we're looking back, different people adopted slightly different approaches, and for the future, I think I can speak for the new Commissioner to say that I think he believes, in general, a press officer should be present, for example, at an interview. But he's not -- perhaps I shouldn't speak for him. My view is we wouldn't be saying it's a disciplinary offence not to have a press officer there.

  • All right. Would you like to look at the relevant policies or is there anything else that you'd like to say about that?

  • No, I think that's all I want to say. Thank you.

  • Can we now look, please, at paragraph 28 of your statement. It's a bit further on. At this stage in your statement, you've just been asked questions about your contact with the media, and then you say this:

    "Very occasionally, the media have information from their own investigations which me make available to us. I have led operations as a result of such information on a number of occasions."

    Then the examples you give are in relation to parliamentary expenses or the Pakistani cricketers case. I've been asked by another party to this Inquiry to ask you this question: what steps do you take to ensure that this information that you receive from the media is not obtained unlawfully?

  • Well, it's a very important point, clearly.

  • It's not a common occurrence but not that unusual for the Met to be contacted by a newspaper who say they have some very important evidence, they would say, about a crime, and sometimes that is, for example, as a result of a leak, as I would call it, or as a result of a sting operation, for example. And it's absolutely crucial that as soon as the information comes in, we start to assess the manner in which it has been obtained, and we always do that.

    So I would have, alongside me or alongside the senior investigating officer, people who are expert in, for example, covert policing and the RIPA, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, to ensure that this evidence is going to stand up.

    We would also, very early on, include certainly members of the Crown Prosecution Service in the examples given there. The Crown Prosecution Service were involved, in the case of the Pakistani cricketers, within about two hours of us receiving the information. So it's very important that we do do that, clearly.

  • Moving on just below there, paragraph 29 and 30, please, you were asked here what the media have been seeking from you. You say in general they are seeking information which will interest their audiences and in addition they are often interested in helping to solve a crime. Then you say this:

    "On occasions, I have been aware that the media have been seeking information I would not be prepared to give, such as confidential information, information which might undermine an investigation, or 'gossip' about the Met and its senior officers and staff."

    Without going beyond what you're comfortable to share, what kind of circumstances here are we talking about and how often does this occur?

  • Perhaps I could give an example.

  • When I was Assistant Commissioner specialist crimes, in charge of dealing with all the most serious crimes in London except for terrorism, I would meet every month with two crime reporters over a cup of coffee in the office, and it was usually a themed conversation. So I would talk about, with a colleague, forensics or a child abuse investigation, whatever it might be.

    At the end of every such meeting, I think, they would say, "And so what's happening with ..." and mention two or three celebrated cases that we had, which they knew perfectly well, I think, I wasn't going to say a word about, because we weren't -- it might undermine that investigation. And it became almost a joke and I would always smile and say, "You always have to try it on, don't you?" And that, of course, is their job. I understand that.

    And a similar sort of off-the-cuff comment sometimes about what they perceived was going on in the Met, particularly on the board.

  • All right. Can I ask you more about these meetings. You say, looking back at the transcript, that you met once a month, every month, with two crime reporters over a cup of coffee in the office, and it was usually a themed conversation. Can you tell us a bit about these meetings? Were these formal meetings arranged with the Crime Reporters Association or were they something else?

  • I was very conscious, when I became Assistant Commissioner, that having been in security and protection where I had no contact with journalists at all, really, I needed to meet some of them to ensure that they were sort of kept up to date, really, with what was going on in our world, and didn't think that, to coin a phrase, the shutters had come down because there was me in charge and they didn't know me as well as my predecessor, Mr Yates.

    So I thought -- going back to my first answer to you -- very helpful for them to have a more detailed understanding of some of the challenges, of some of the crime issues in London, some of the approaches that we were taking, and so these were formal meetings, press officer present, me, usually a colleague, and a note kept of the meeting.

  • Who attended these meetings?

  • I think they were all crime reporters and members of the Crime Reporters Association.

  • Do you have any knowledge of who made the decision as to who was invited or who would attend?

  • I said at the beginning --

  • -- we need to do this over the next -- however long I'm going to be in office and we need to sort of spread this around. So the press officers would let the Crime Reporters Association know that I was doing this and then people could say, "Well, I'd like to come", I think was the process. I didn't do it myself. I don't think I ever had anybody twice, so we had a spread of people.

  • Are these interviews conducted on a pool basis, so that the people who are present share what they've learnt with others, or for that particular week is that an exclusive for them?

  • No, the principle on which it was done was that they would hear about the issues and then, if they wished to come back and do a follow-up, perhaps an interview with one of our people or go out in the back of a car or something like that, then they would contact us, but they were not -- or indeed if they wanted to interview me about something, then they could come and interview me about something. So although there was a record kept, they were not published.

  • That wasn't quite my question.

  • My question was whether these were individual interviews or meetings with two reporters who -- their number would come up and they would get exclusive access, or whether what you were saying was then pooled so that all writers could learn of what you'd been talking about, all journalists from all papers, so that any one of them could pick up --

  • No, I don't think it was pooled and I don't think it was broadcast, if you like, in that manner. It was not put out in that manner.

  • The snag then is that the person who gets to you may get the scoop or the really good story --

  • I didn't see a single scoop or really good story result from it, sir, I have to say.

  • I think it was more about increasing understanding generally, and they were very generally conversations. So -- what did follow sometimes was they would say, "I want to go and see more of Trident", or something like that, but I wasn't there to, as it were, get a message out. It was more about helping people to understand the challenges, and they could ask anything.

  • I understand that, but there are lots of people who need to understand the challenge, and of course the risk is that somebody who feels that they've not been favoured with this sort of attention may try and get it some other way.

  • Yes, I see that risk. I think all the themes that we did were also -- pretty much, they were all reflected at bigger meetings.

  • And certainly I wasn't saying anything secret or exciting, I think.

  • Well, I'm sure it was exciting, but it may not have been secret.

  • It depends on your perception.

  • But you understand the point I'm making?

  • There has certainly been some evidence before the Inquiry about favoured status --

  • -- for certain reporters.

  • Yes, which was why I was so keen that we got through lots and lots of people, and obviously over a protracted period.

  • Perhaps it's just me, but just so I can be absolutely clear, am I right in thinking that you would have a meeting and there would be -- I think you said two crime reporters?

  • And then the next time it happened, there would be another two or three; is that right?

  • And the next time it happened, another two or three?

  • And you don't feel that you ever saw the same person twice?

  • So was it done on a sort of rota basis, as far as you understand?

  • And these meetings were not something that you had chosen to set up; they had been in existence before --

  • No, no, they were something that I thought might be a good idea. I was regularly seeing individual journalists on individual subjects. I was regularly, with the Commissioner, going to large meetings or doing press conferences and that sort of thing. I thought it would be useful, to break down barriers and also to help people to understand broader issues, to invite them in in that manner.

  • You explain there that you were asked on a number of occasions for confidential information or gossip or information that might undermine an investigation, and clearly you say you were never prepared to do that. I think you said it almost became a running joke. Did you ever feel under pressure from anyone else -- editors, journalists -- to disclose this kind of information or gossip in any other forum?

  • No. I mean, I think possibly to some extent my reputation went ahead of me with some people. There's just no point. Secondly, other people who might have been interested didn't know me, didn't have a relationship with me. So for example, you mention editors. There aren't many editors that I know, so it would be very odd if they rang me up and said, "Tell me the latest gossip from the Met." You know, it would be absurd.

  • Was there ever, perhaps in the early days before they knew your reputation -- did they ever ask you to consider changing operational decisions or was this just a request for information?

  • I don't believe I've ever had a journalist or a member of the press try to get me to change an operational decision.

  • Paragraph 36, please. You were asked here about politicians and whether politician had ever put pressure on you to take a particular course of action. We're moving away from the press. You explain that on occasion you have been aware that pressure groups have lobbied politicians and also newspapers to gain further prominence for their issue and then politicians have then sought to also raise the prominence of the issue. You say:

    "If any politician has ever sought to put inappropriate pressure on me (for whatever motive) to take a particular course of action, investigatively or during an operation, I have made it clear that the police have operational independence, such decisions are mine and I would ignore such pressure."

    Can I take it from the answer to that question that you have been the subject of inappropriate pressure to take a particular course of action by a politician?

  • Well, I think there's quite a fine line here, and one could debate this for hours. I won't, I assure you. Politicians have a very legitimate role in being the voice, if you like, for victims or for people who are, you know, weaker in some sense or other, and for setting -- some politicians, for setting priorities for policing. But we in the British policing model and we in the police have always been very, very, very clear about the need for impartiality and operational independence in relation to our operational decisions.

    So if I give -- I could -- perhaps a couple of examples?

  • The first one is when I worked in Oxford, I did an enormous amount of public order work with student protests and environmental protests and animal rights protests, and it was not unusual for politicians of one complexion or another to ring up and ask about the policing plan either that was upcoming or the one we had just done, and I would be very happy to explain what I had done and why I had done it or what I intended and why, but if there came a point where I felt they were telling me whether to shut such-and-such a street or allow such-and-such a protest, then that would be the point where I would gently and politely remind them that of course that's my decision and not theirs.

  • You said you might have a couple of examples. Is that all you wanted to say?

  • I'm conscious that Sir Paul made mention in his evidence of the conversations that he was having -- I didn't know he was having, actually -- with our then chair of our authority around the phone hacking investigation, Operation Weeting, in the early part of this year -- sorry, early part of 2011. You'll be aware that I was the management board member for that, and the line manager for Ms Akers.

    On a couple of occasions, Mr Malthouse, I thought jokingly, said to me: "I hope you're not putting too many resources into this, Cressida", and on the third occasion, when he said it again, I said, "Well, that's my decision and not yours, and that's why I'm operationally independent", and we then went on to have a perfectly reasonable sort of conversation about where the public interest lay, which, of course, is an entirely thing for him to want to discuss with me.

    But I felt that I wanted to put down a marker, mainly because I didn't want to compromise him. I think if it was ever felt outside that we had or hadn't put this resource or that resource or arrested this person or that person because a politician, to whom I am accountable but nevertheless of a particular political party, in such a charged investigation had put pressure on, that would compromise him and us and our investigation.

  • You said, I think, at the outset of the answer to that question that you considered the request to be made in a joking way. Nevertheless, you felt the need to put down a marker. Is this really an example of pressure in your view or not?

  • I don't know his intent, and often one doesn't. I know mine, which was to make it clear that I felt that this was a decision that I should make and would make.

    Perhaps to balance things out, in parliamentary expenses, which is also a highly charged, clearly, political investigation in some respects in terms of party politics, I never had any issue whatsoever with any politician at all in terms of them attempting to put any pressure on me to do or not do anything, and I think that's the way the system should work.

  • Do you think this line is going to become more blurred as we move into the era of Commissioners?

  • It's certainly going to be a challenge, sir, and I think that's why there's been a great deal of debate about this, as I'm sure you're aware, and some checks and balances are now in place in terms of a protocol to clarify who should do what and what's legitimate for each party, the Chief Constable and the Policing and Crime Commissioner, but I'm sure it will be challenging in the future.

  • But you've already got it because of the way in which London is organised?

  • Exactly, yes. So it's a change for us, from what we're used to, and the policing and crime commissioners and Mr Malthouse himself, of course, will speak for how they see that line.

  • Before I come on to ask you a bit more about leaks -- I said I'd come back to that -- can we touch on hospitality, please. You don't say much about this in the statement, but to what extent is the acceptance of hospitality a genuine issue, in your view, that needs to be tackled in relation to the MPS?

  • I think we have been tackling it in the last several months, and we have tightened up, again, on both the policy and our processes that sit underneath that and our auditing and our leadership and management around the issue.

    Again, I think any abuse or excess has not been a cultural problem or an endemic problem, but I do think we have, for a variety of reasons, ended up with a perception, as Ms Filkin outlined, of excessive hospitality and, you know, we're the police and it's very important that people don't see us in that light, so we do need to be, you know, very, very, very clear about this and very transparent about it. I think transparency is probably the key, and five years ago we didn't publish our hospitality registers for our most senior people.

  • So you don't wish to take away anything from what she has said? You don't wish to differ, in your view?

  • In relation to hospitality? No, I don't think so. I think, again, I don't wish to be seen criticising the past. You know, that was then. I think for the future in relation to, for example, hospitality from the media, we will be normally conducting that media relationship without alcohol and usually not over meals, but -- but back to my -- of course, if I meet somebody in the street, for example -- you know, if I'm sitting next to a journalist at a dinner, I don't think the Commissioner will expect me to say, "I'm sorry, I can't be at this dinner because you're here." We have to be reasonable.

  • Before I move on to leaks, is there anything else that you wish to say about hospitality as an issue or anything at all on that?

  • Can we turn, please, to leaks from the MPS. Paragraph 45 of your statement onwards. If I can just read out what you say here. You're asked here:

    "To what extent have leaks from the MPS to the media been a problem during your career with the MPS?"

    And you say:

    "They have been a considerable problem. They have, on occasion, undermined investigations. They have damaged individuals and public confidence. They have sometimes caused individuals and teams to be very secretive within the organisation, which can, itself, cause difficulties."

    Can we unpick that, please. You probably can't give us every example, but what kind of leaks are we talking about here? What sort of leaks undermine investigations, for example?

  • I should underline my point that very often in the world that I've been in, it's quite hard to pinpoint the leak to the Metropolitan Police.

  • Frequently, the information is known to a broader group of people than just the Met. But there have certainly been occasions that I am aware of where operationally sensitive information, which, for example, we wouldn't want to be known to the suspect, has got into the public domain. There have certainly been leaks where individuals who had, you know, a right to privacy had that privacy intruded upon because, it appears, a leak has come from the Met in an utterly inappropriate way. And as I say, if people fear leaks, they can, on occasion, become more secretive than they would otherwise be, and that makes managing quite difficult.

  • I understand. From your understanding, can you tell us a bit about motive. I mean, are we talking in all cases about bribery? Are we talking about whistle-blowing? Are we talking about just wanting to the source of the story that gets out into the newspapers? What are the motives?

  • As I said before, sometimes information gets out through pure mistake. It might be negligent, it might be careless. The file that's left on the train, the person who doesn't realise the sensitivity of the information and the degree of restriction that should be on it, and mentions it, you know, casually in the pub, and it's overheard.

    And then, at the furthest end, of course -- and I say this -- I truly believe it to be the case that it's very rare: somebody who is selling information to the media for money. And in between, there are a number of different scenarios that can occur.

  • Let me ask you about bribery. You were asked about this at paragraph 47 onwards of your statement. You were asked:

    "To what extent do you believe bribery of personnel by the media is a problem for the MPS (if at all)?"

    And you say you believe it is a problem but it's not widespread or endemic, but you fear that there may have been colleagues who have been prepared to take money for information, and you go on to say that you're aware of a small number of cases where it appears or has been proven that colleagues have received money for information.

    Now, as I say, I don't want to ask you about any ongoing investigation, please, but perhaps you can give us a flavour of any concluded investigations: sums of money involved, nature of the information, the level of seniority of the officers involved and so. Is there anything you can assist us with there to give us a flavour of what's been happening? Information that we are entitled to know about?

  • Well, there have certainly been some investigations -- one in particular comes to mind for me -- in Thames Valley more recently, where, as you say, although those investigating it didn't see it this way, the person saw it and said it was whistle-blowing and indeed, they were found not guilty at court, together with the journalist, and that was a case of prison intelligence.

    Now, clearly, intelligence officers working in prisons are working in a very, very sensitive environment, and you know, that was whistle-blowing, but the damage done to the confidence in prison intelligence was quite considerable. I think possibly the case of Mr Landlack^name has been mentioned here, which is in my world of specialist operation. Mr Landlack was convicted for passing information from counter-terrorism to the media, and it was a relatively small amount of money. He was a relatively junior, if I can put it that way, person in terms of rank, a retired officer working at a relatively junior level, but very, very experienced, and it appears that he was disaffected.

    So those would be the two example that is come straight to my mind.

  • So when you say that you don't believe it's widespread or endemic, how do you get that feel? Is it just from the investigations that you've been briefed on, or is it something that you've discussed more formally with colleagues?

  • I suppose it's based on, as I said, a quite considerable length of service now, and a fairly considerable interest in these issues. So I have, you know, over the years, read quite a lot of research on the subject. I have spoken to colleagues in our police forces, I've worked with and in professional standards, and I know, from colleagues and surveys, how absolutely appalling the vast majority of officers and staff regard such behaviour, but I do acknowledge that there has been and no doubt is some of this going on. I don't think we'll be unique in that. We have to try to reduce it to a minimum and I think hopefully get rid of it, but as Lord Condon said, we have to then keep the pressure on.

    If we think of other forms of corruption -- I genuinely believe that the Police Service that I am now in is less corrupt than it has ever been, and I hope that continues. This is an element which is causing concern within the service and to the public, and we need to really, as you say, assess the full extent and then deal with it.

  • I'm going to come on to ask you about recommendations for the future. Before I do, can I ask you about leaks from the MPS management board. There are a number of questions here from another party to the Inquiry.

    You explain that you became Assistant Commissioner in 2009. You must have joined the MPS management board at that stage; is that correct?

  • Some general questions, please, about the management board first. How often has the management board generally met since you joined it?

  • Until the new Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, arrived, we met three times a week for a short operational type of meeting and once a month as a bigger team with a -- sorry, once a month for a more formal agenda and occasionally a bigger team there, and sometimes we would meet as a whole group for a specific subject or topic. That was rare.

  • Sir, I don't think if you have had sufficient information on the role of the management board or if you'd like Assistant Commissioner Dick to give us a bit more?

  • Well, you were just about to go on to say what's happened since the new Commissioner arrived, and if you describe what the role is now -- I think we've probably got sufficient as to what it was in the past -- that would be helpful.

  • The new Commissioner has simply changed the rhythm a little bit. So he likes his senior team, as far as is possible, to meet together for a shorter period each weekday morning. So Monday to Friday, if we are not anywhere else, we will all sit down together, and I think it's probably a very similar role overall to predecessors in terms of who is present and the topics on the table. Daily we're looking at critical issues and monthly we're looking at policy and strategy and planning and looking forward.

  • So who does attend the management board meetings?

  • The management board consists of the Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner, each of the Assistant Commissioners -- so at present we have an Assistant Commissioner for territorial policing, which is sort of wider London, uniform and CID that you see on the boroughs. We have an Assistant Commissioner for the Olympics, we have an Assistant Commissioner for counter-terrorism, protection and security -- that's me -- and we have an Assistant Commissioner for specialist crime and operations, so things like firearms and that sort of thing, as well as crime.

    Also present as a member of the board when it sits as a full board is director of legal services and always is our director of information and our director of resources, which at the moment includes human resources, so people.

    Finally, present at the board until recently would have been our director for public affairs.

  • What do you mean by "until recently"? When did that stop?

  • Well, we currently have an acting director of public affairs, so he sits there.

  • Is the general rule, though, that the director of public affairs should attend the monthly management board meetings or does attend?

  • Yes, and the daily management team meetings.

  • I think at various stages -- and I will not be forgiven for forgetting this -- that role -- post-holder has either been or not been a full member of the board but either way they've been present --

  • -- at all those meetings, yes, and an important role.

  • You've told us briefly what you do when you meet in the mornings and what you do at the monthly meetings. Can I ask you this: are significant high-profile investigations, therefore, discussed at board level, either sort of daily basis or at monthly meetings?

  • Many are. Some are not, or not in any detail. So sometimes we have a very significant covert operation going on, and by definition it's covert. It might be is a counter-terrorism operation or something similar, and we operate on a need-to-know basis, so I, as the Assistant Commissioner over the last few years, have frequently been running operations where I would only be briefing the Commissioner, and rarely the board, depending on what stage we had got to.

  • All right. Again, questions from another party to this Inquiry: did you discuss the reinvestigation into the Lawrence murder at such meetings?

  • It's an interesting example to give. As you say, I became a member of the board in 2009. The short answer to that is: no.

  • Not until we got to trial in relation to Mr Dobson and Mr Norris and we had reporting restrictions lifted, to some extent.

  • By 2009, the process of pursuing these two suspects was under way, presumably, and that was being run by the team that were running it, and therefore there aren't any wider strategic issues to discuss. Is that the position?

  • No. Sorry, sir, it's more that this was an investigation which, over the years, had been obviously very important to the public and to the Met, but in the 1990s one of the things that had been very difficult about it as an investigation -- one of the things -- had been unauthorised disclosure of information. Another thing that had been difficult about it was the degree of media coverage that there had been of certain individuals who were regarded as suspects. I took the decision when I took this on that as soon as we start our forensic review in 2005/6, I would personally only brief the Commissioner, and only intermittently, on the progress of that review, because I was absolutely determined, if I could possibly ensure it, that only those people who really needed to know did know, in case there was any unhelpful media coverage which might undermine the investigation or any future trial in terms of people's right to a fair trial.

  • That's entirely fair enough and understandable, but could I just see. Is that because you took the view that it really was an absolute need to know, or was it because you did have some concern that somebody might say something if this matter was discussed, even at this senior level? That's a rather unfortunate question, but I think it's probably important.

  • I was certain that if anybody was briefed who didn't need to know, and then there was a leak or unauthorised information in the media or indeed any sort of speculation in the media, that it could reflect on everybody who had been briefed. In this particular instance -- and this is by no means the only investigation that I have dealt with in this manner.

  • But in this particular instance, at various stages, forensic scientists were aware, obviously, of the evidence that was becoming known to them. The Crown Prosecution Service and counsel were kept very, very closely informed, and a small number of people on my team were informed.

    So that group knew a certain amount, and then we regularly met with Mr and Mrs Lawrence and we kept them updated about aspects of the investigation. So there's already quite a large number of people who knew. I knew how devastating it would be to witness confidence, to family confidence, and potentially our ability to deal with suspects, if information got into the public domain, and I knew that I would immediately launch a leak inquiry and it would reflect on all of us, potentially people who never even needed to know about it, so I restricted the numbers.

  • It has been alleged that despite that there were two damaging leaks -- well, at least two damaging leaks, in October and November 2007. Do you know anything about that? Was an investigation launched into those?

  • Yes. Yes. There was information in the media which, as is often the case, included quite a lot of speculation, a certain amount that's inaccurate, and one or two things which could only really have been known to the groups that I have just described before, and it was very damaging to our relationship with the family in the short term and potentially could have been to our wider witnesses as well as, as I say, being part of an argument about a fair trial at the beginning of any trial. So it was very disappointing and annoying, and I did launch -- or rather I talked with the Commissioner about it and professional standards launched a leak inquiry.

  • Can you tell us any more about that leak inquiry?

  • Yes. I think I'm right in saying that they did not identify anybody from within the Met who had -- who they could say had leaked this information. I think it's fair to say that the journalist indicated that he felt -- he was prepared to say that the information had not come from the Met, but I don't know whether that's true and in essence we never discovered who had leaked the information, and this is obviously quite common in relation to reactive, after-the-fact leak inquiries. They are very difficult, as I know you know.

  • Right, I'm going to ask you now about paragraphs 50 to 51 of your statement. You were asked about the MPA at this section of your witness statement. You were asked about the level of contact and oversight there is from the MPA and you explain, as we all know, that the MPA doesn't exist any more in its old form. At paragraph 51, you say this:

    "There have been some occasions when material which has been shared with the MPA or its members on a restricted basis has subsequently appeared inappropriately in the media. Inevitably, this has created some suspicion between the parties. It is often very difficult to establish where a leak has come from."

    But then you go on to say, I should say for the sake of completeness, that on the rare occasions that you've had to share sensitive operational information with the chairs and chief executive, you've always had complete trust in them and have never had any reason to doubt that the trust was honoured. Is this a concern, in your view? I appreciate that the MPA doesn't exist any more in that form, but in your view was this a concern that leaks from the MPA or its members -- I just wonder why you mention this.

  • I think it is an important point. I've already made the point of the difficulty that any leak creates in a collaboration, in a team that are trying to deliver an outcome, and clearly the Met and the MPA have to work very closely together. They hold us to account, and are given an enormous amount of information, some of which is sensitive, and I'm not saying I was, for example, constantly concerned that the MPA would leak it. I'm not saying that. I am just saying that there was sometimes some tension between us about information which we had -- I can think of one example where we'd held onto this information for a long time, it's then gone to them, it's then in the media, and that may actually be a complete coincidence. Very well, but it creates and has created some tension and, on occasion, some sort of pointing of fingers in both directions, which is not helpful.

    But I would want to underline my last sentence there. As an example, I shared with the chair of the authority the fact that we were doing an enormous covert operation to find the person who was burgling and assaulting and, on occasion, sexually assaulting women -- elderly women and sometimes men in south London and we had hundreds of officers deployed covertly for several weeks, and that never became known to the media, as far as I'm aware. And I told the chair about that because I thought he was likely to be asked by other people: "What's going on? Are they doing anything?" and he could say, "No, I know they're doing a lot". It was a very important case and I could give tonnes and tonnes of examples where I thought it was appropriate to share that sort of information and I've never had that breached.

  • Right. Before I turn to recommendations, I want to ask you a question, please, about July 2009. You've told us in your statement that July 2009 is in fact when you were promoted from Deputy Assistant Commissioner to Assistant Commissioner within the specialist crime directorate. That's correct, isn't it?

  • You are no doubt aware that John Yates was asked to -- I hesitate to use the word "review". He was asked to investigate, establish the facts, on 9 July 2009 following the now famous Guardian article on the phone hacking issue, if I can put it that way. Have you heard or read his evidence to this Inquiry in that respect?

  • I have -- I've read his statement and I have seen some of his evidence, yes. But, of course, I haven't -- maybe not "of course", but I haven't seen the documents and bundle that were attached, I think, to his statement. I haven't seen his exhibits.

  • Right, thank you. Can I start with this question: can you assist us at all on whether there were any discussions as to who should be asked to carry out this establishment of the facts?

  • Yes. I think there were. I can remember when the article was being published, I, as the Assistant Commissioner for specialist crime, actually rang, I think Mr Yates in the first instance and then Mr Godwin to see who was likely to be going to deal with this, and I felt that it was something that probably needed to be dealt with at Assistant Commissioner level, which I think they both agreed at the time, although one could have argued something else, I'm sure.

  • Why did you take that view?

  • Because of the sort of nature of the allegations, for want of a better word, that were around at that stage, and the fact that it was clearly a very, very, very high-profile case in which there appeared to be some criticism of what had gone before. So I thought at the very least the decision as to what to do should be signed off by an assistant commissioner, which is relatively rare, but I thought it was a serious matter, and so did he and so did, I think, the Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner.

    I was subsequently rung and told that John was -- Mr Yates was going to do the investigation -- sorry, was going do the piece of work and that Sir Paul had set him -- I don't think I was told the detail of what he was going to do or those terms of reference, but I just knew that it was him. I wasn't involved in any further discussion about that.

  • Was there a discussion about who should do it, whether it was right for Mr Yates or for somebody else? Did you have a view about that?

  • I didn't have a view. As I said, sir, I think it probably was an Assistant Commissioner decision, and at the time I thought it could be me or it could be him. You could make arguments for either. He certainly, with his immense experience and skill and, indeed, the work that he'd been doing on other sensitive inquiries was, I suppose from a technical point of view, probably slightly better qualified than I was. He also had, as I did, the advantage in most ways that neither of us had been involved in the original case. It has some disadvantages, of course, but we were people who would be seen as slightly independent of it.

    I imagine, sir, you are going to the point about -- perhaps about John's relationship --

  • Well, I was completely and totally unaware of that relationship at that time, and it was not discussed with me at the time. Indeed, I had actually never heard of Mr Wallis until early 2011.

  • Well, here's one of those hideous hypothetical questions. I could put it a different way. What would have been your reaction if you had been asked to conduct this sort of investigation and you had known somebody as senior in the organisation which was the subject of investigation as Mr Yates knew Mr Wallis?

  • I think if I'd been asked to do this piece of work and I knew somebody as well as it now appears he knew him, who was senior in this organisation -- and I must caveat it by saying it is terribly easy, sitting here, to say what one would have done back then, but I think I would have -- you know, I think in any piece of work that one's asked to do, you have to ask yourself: "Am I skilled? Do I have the resources? Do I have the time?" All those sorts of questions, and then: "Do I have any conflict?" And if you do think you have any conflict, then you have to discuss that with the boss, and so that's what I think I would have done. I think I would have done. As I say, it's easy for me, sitting here. He was in the hot seat. I think I would have gone and discussed that with the boss to say, "Is there any conflict here or not?"

  • But he wasn't actually in the hot seat because what you've said is there were a number of options about who could do it.

  • Well, I think -- there were a couple of options, I think that's true, but it's also the case that John and, I suppose, I are people who do take on difficult cases, and he particularly has put himself up to do difficult cases on a frequent basis. If he had just said immediately: "Oh no, I can't do this", that might have aroused other sorts of questions in people's minds.

    But I do think that he should -- looking back, I think -- certainly, we wouldn't be sitting here in this manner if he had gone and discussed this in more detail, perhaps, with Sir Paul. I don't know how much Sir Paul knew about the relationship, but I think at a minimum, a conflict like that should be discussed.

    To be fair to John, I can think only fairly recently, in a completely different context, of a time which he said, "I don't think I should do this particular investigation because ..." and likewise I've said that twice in the last six months as well. Nothing to do with the media or anything; just knowing or meeting regularly with somebody in a professional context who is then being subject to an investigation or their organisation is.

  • But you didn't discuss it with Mr Yates?

  • You've said something else that has interested me. Was the perception that you had, as you have described it -- this was a very, very high-profile case, a serious allegation, not three short sentences in a newspaper but a substantial serious allegation -- that it therefore had to be treated with a level of gravity that was perhaps, as you put it, slightly unusual, given that you agreed it should be signed off by an Assistant Commissioner?

  • Yes, I do think it then needed a degree of gravity, as you say. We -- all of us are juggling tens and tens and tens of things that need a degree of gravity, undoubtedly, but yes, it certainly wasn't a trivial matter. For sure.

  • So it would be wrong to characterise it as just a routine newspaper article?

  • Again, it's almost impossible for me to --

  • Well, you didn't characterise it as that at the time.

  • No, I characterised it as something that we couldn't ignore and definitely needed to have a look at. I could see that. We needed to have a look at and --

  • You see, all Sir Paul had heard was a radio report of it. He'd not -- he was off to some conference.

  • Policing conference. I'm not saying anything else.

  • And he heard it on the radio. So he hadn't had the chance of seeing the article. Did you have the chance to see the article?

  • I didn't see the article until later on in the day, but I was also hearing the radio and I think I'd -- I think I'd had a contact from the press office about it as well, because people were wondering -- needing to be reminded about who had dealt with it before.

  • So I gather that this not only just involved Mr Stephenson and Mr Yates but actually you had been involved in a discussion, as had the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Godwin?

  • Yes, a very brief discussion. From me, it was literally: "Who's going to deal with this?" and if it had come my way, then I would have settled down to work out, on the brief that Sir Paul had given me, what needed to be done, but it didn't and I never discussed it with him again.

    It was not -- it is -- now, of course, it looks a most unusual case. Then it perhaps looked slightly different, but we do deal with difficult and demanding things often. So it didn't scream out at me as anything other than the kind of thing that we quite often have to pick ourselves up on and say, "What's gone on here? What do we need to do?"

  • I do have some more questions about this.

  • Let's have a break now. Just have a few minutes.

  • (A short break)

  • Before the break, we were discussing the period 9 July 2009. I've asked you a little about discussions that took place prior to the decision that Mr Yates conduct this investigation into the establishment of the facts. Can I ask you another theoretical question, if I can. You may know that Mr Yates gave evidence to the Inquiry that he was asked by Sir Paul to establish the facts. He showed us a file note which indicated that he wanted to establish the facts of the case and consider whether there was anything new arising as a result of the Guardian article to which we've just been referring.

    He explained in evidence as well that he had a meeting with a number of senior officers, he had access to briefings document he was given DSC Clive Timmons. He then gave a brief overview of what he'd done on that and how he came to the conclusions that he did.

    I know that you were not asked to be involved, you didn't attend relevant meetings or really have anything to do with it after that initial discussion, but given that you took over his role in due course, and you're therefore, it seems to me, familiar with the process of conducting such a procedure when asked to do so, I'd be grateful for your thoughts on what you would have done -- what process you would have undertaken, had you been asked to carry out this establishment of the facts on that particular day?

  • Well, a lot would depend on how much I knew already, as it does in any case. I would want to have the article analysed to see exactly what it was saying, and I would want to get as thorough a briefing as I could about what had gone before, through looking at documents, through talking to people who were involved.

    The essential question in any sort of looking-back process is always: what's changed, and indeed, what's new? And sometimes it's very hard to understand what's new if you don't have a good understanding of what's gone before.

    But -- I hesitate to draw parallels, but this is a kind of process that somebody like me is asked to do, albeit in different times of cases, quite often, and it could be quite a short process or it could be one in which, at a very early stage, I would say, "I want this reviewed", or: "I want somebody knew to come in and have a look at it." I would always, as I think John did, want to look at the sort of briefing notes and also to have the views of whatever it was I was asking to take a view actually recorded for me. I might very well talk to the CPS, and indeed to our own lawyers, which I think I'm right in saying John did, certainly the lawyers initially.

    But it's very hard to be hypothetical about it and it's very hard for me to put myself in his shoes, but the essence of working out what needs to be done now is to be clear about what it is being said is new and fundamental and clearly whoever's written the article thinks needs doing something about and in order to understand that, you frequently have to have quite a good understanding of what's gone before.

  • But why this focus on the word "new"? Why isn't it: "Did we get this right?"

  • Um ... well, I -- from my point of view, sir, as I see it, of course there are times when we have to go back and ask whether we got something right or wrong, but -- and that can be part of any kind of review process, but sometimes you are, if you have a full understanding of what's gone before, starting with: "We think we know what happened here. New information has come in; do we need to respond to it?" Or: "Time has passed. Do we now need to do anything different?"

  • But you premised it on the basis that you had a full understanding of what had gone on, and, I mean, having sat here listening to a number of extremely senior police officers, and recognising entirely, as I did when he said it, that Mr Clarke was absolutely right in September to say, "With the risk of bombs exploding all over the country or in the air, this is not a subject for further resource" -- that's one thing.

  • But that wasn't quite the position in July 2009, and indeed it had come back to bite you in the form of the Guardian article. So it's the word "new" that bothers me.

  • If it shouldn't, please tell me.

  • I suppose I latched onto it because it was in the terms of reference that Sir Paul gave, but I'm not sure we are disagreeing that much. I think you're absolutely right. My point is: in order to know whether you now need to do something, you have to have a good understanding of the past.

  • And however you get that -- it might be: "I know X, Y, Z", sometimes, because I did that, or it might be: "I need somebody to undertake an enormous review of this for me."

  • But not necessarily enormous.

  • As you said you need to understand what had gone on in the past --

  • -- I was internally nodding rather vigorously.

  • But I'm not sure it's appropriate to latch onto Sir Paul's word "new". Sir Paul, after all, is in a motor car driving up the M6 to another commitment. He's heard something on the radio. His words are not to be construed like a statute.

    The Met is being criticised in an article which is not a trivial piece of work but a substantial and researched effort, and there are two quite separate issues here: first of all, as a matter of appropriate policing, did we get it right? And secondly, how do we cope with the reputational risk to the Met that is inevitable if this sort of well-researched piece goes into the public domain and we haven't actually addressed it presently?

  • Yes, I accept both absolutely, sir. I understand exactly what you're saying and I accept that entirely. I suppose you could characterise what Sir Paul was saying in the way that would often be said, which is: "I've read this article; do we need to do anything now?" And obviously the articles that we read sometimes alert us to all sorts of suggestions about what we did and didn't do previously, and then sometimes we need to go back and ask exactly the question you've asked, which is: did it suffice then or does it suffice now, what we did?

  • You see, I'm sorry that you're being pressed on this, but it's important for -- first of all, you were there at the time, albeit on the periphery.

  • But it has been suggested -- and let's be quite uncoded about it -- that Mr Yates was very keen to dismiss this, and that might be because of, or conscious of, his friendship with Mr Wallis. It might also be possible that he adopted rather too dismissive a line, for reasons which do not bear on his integrity but demonstrate a lack of judgment. Or it may be that he was absolutely fair enough.

    Now, those are the three possibilities. It doesn't seem to me there are any others. Therefore, because it's obviously become very important in the context of the Inquiry -- and indeed Mr Yates ultimately resigned, so it's important for him as well -- that I investigate those three possibilities and try to get to the right answer. So that's why you're being pressed on this.

  • If you have any further observation you want to make, I'd be very interested to receive it.

  • Simply to say I know Mr Yates well. I've known him a very long time. I find it impossible to countenance that he would not have done what he saw as his best and the right thing in that situation. He has clearly said that the outcome of that decision, knowing -- as he says, knowing what we now know, was poor, and he clearly wishes that the decision had had a different answer.

  • And I completely see that as well. Of course, it would have been better.

  • The outcome of the decision wasn't merely poor; it was disastrous, in the events which later obtained. The question is whether the decision itself was poor -- and I think he probably recognised that it was -- but there's also the issue of the perception of the whole thing.

  • Which is actually what I asked him about, I think.

  • Yes, and I understand that -- I understand absolutely what you are saying. There is a perception issue. There's a process -- what did he do and was that sufficient at the time? And then: was it the right answer, a good answer? And as I say, he has conceded undoubtedly that --

  • I put the three possibilities not because I thought all three were possibles but they were the range and therefore it's important that somewhere along that range I reach a conclusion.

  • Is there anything about the process that you would have done differently that you can assist us with?

  • If you can't answer that question "yes", in the light of hindsight, I think that's probably quite a difficult question.

  • In the light of hindsight, undoubtedly. If I was sitting in his shoes, I think it's very, very hard for any of us to go back there then, but what is quite clear is that in that process, he didn't get a good understanding of -- I think, of what had gone before, and there are a number of different ways that any of us in that position can go about trying to be clear about the answer to your question, sir, which is: was what happened before sufficient or is it now sufficient?

  • I withdraw the comment on your question, but I will ask one follow-up.

    You say this has happened several times, and I'm sure it has, that you've had to respond. Is there any enormous urgency of time about that?

  • I mean, would it have mattered if some sort of announcement had been made in the middle of the following week?

  • I think it's important that one responds in some way clearly. If it is a matter which has been on the front page of a newspaper, then people legitimately can ask, "Well, what are you doing about this?"

  • And we have to be able to -- we have to say either: "We are absorbing this, we're analysing it and we will update you", or you can say, "We've read it and we realise we need to do a review", but you clearly can't not respond. You have to say something. But I think if your question is: do you always have to give an answer within a day? Well, certainly not, no, a final answer.

  • Yes. I recognise that, and just pursuing it one more stage: do you have an observation on the fact that there was a press release, an interview that afternoon, yet it was only over the weekend and in the ensuing days that paperwork was obtained: a report from the Detective Chief Superintendent, a note of a conference or a discussion -- we'll find out which -- with counsel -- that all followed the announcement, rather than coming before it.

  • I don't think I can comment on that, sir, except to say that it is not unusual for further work to be done after a decision has been made, nor is it unusual for things to be written up subsequently, because sometimes it's not possible to write absolutely contemporaneously. But I am not familiar with what went on here. I haven't seen the minutes.

  • I'm really not in a position to comment on that.

  • I think we will move on now to recommendations for the future, if we can.

    I'm going to ask you about the recent HMIC report "Without fear or favour", and also obviously the recommendations identified in the Filkin report. Shall we start with paragraph 60 of your statement, please. That deals with the HMIC report.

    I don't want to spend a lot of time going back through the recommendations contained therein. You simply say you accept the findings of the review and that all the recommendations seem reasonable. In particular, you say:

    "I believe we do need to be clear about the standards we expect and give more advice and training about what is acceptable and what is not."

    What role will you play, Assistant Commissioner, in ensuring that the findings of the review are taken on board and taken forward, if necessary?

  • Well, I am a member of the ACPO ethics group, which is looking at a number of these issues, and I've fed my views into that. I'm also a member of the management board of the Met and it will be absolutely crucial that we, as a board, discuss the recommendations and are clear about what we are doing as a group, and it will then be my job to -- both within the Met and also across the counter-terrorism network, I think -- help people be clear about the standards and that involves giving a lot of personal time.

    So for me, you know, it will be about having national standards, it will be about having leadership and personal leadership around the issues, and then ensuring that we have systems and processes in place to support them, and that those systems and processes don't just sit on a shelf but are actually living and are regularly reviewed and audited.

    So for me, I see that if I take the collective recommendations and, of course, whatever comes out of this public Inquiry, it will be a big part of my personal role in the future, and I would expect to, as far as I can -- and we all fail sometimes -- you know, set the standards by what I do as well as what I say to others.

  • All right. So that's a process that's just starting, if I can put it that way? The implementation of the recommendations is a process that's just in its infancy?

  • Yes. I mean, some of the recommendations overlap with things that we've already done, I think, and we in the Met are looking at them as a sort of -- together with the Filkin recommendations, which obviously we've already started on as well. So it is a work in progress, but I am particularly keen that we should be part of the national approach.

  • Is the ACPO ethics group, which you've just mentioned, preparing its own response or view? And if so, do you know whether it is intending to share them with me?

  • We have had a number of conversations as a group about a variety of the issues. I think one of our members is coming to give evidence to you anyway, under the professional standards portfolio, and so you will hear from him and the group.

  • So I'll be able to learn what the collective wisdom of the ACPO ethics group is?

  • Well, I wouldn't put it that grandly, sir, if I may, but certainly you will hear from more than one member of it over the coming weeks.

  • Yes, but I need to know what you're thinking. You've said you're a member of the group and you have fed your views in.

  • That's fine. I could take them off piecemeal and say, "Right, what are your views", and then the next person: "What are your views", but I'm hoping that somebody will say, "Actually, the collective view is this", and maybe if somebody is coming, you could encourage that person to be prepared to do that, if it isn't inappropriate.

  • I certainly will, sir. I know some of the collective views have already been fed into Ms Filkin and to the overall ACPO response, but I will do that.

  • Apart from your response, the ACPO response, the response to the Filkin report, the response to the HMIC report -- I think those are all responses that are in their infancy -- is there anything that you personally would like to add in terms of recommendations for the future or are you content that the recommendations that those two reports have put forward are sufficient to deal with any perceived problems?

  • I think the area that I've been thinking about perhaps takes us back to what we have just been discussing in terms of processes. So I here am talking about how and when we review -- I'll use that word deliberately. It's very clear and set out in relation to, for example, murders, and it's a very well-embedded process, including those murders where we have brought people to justice and those where we haven't or we've brought some but not others. It's a regular review process. We don't have the same process and challenge in some of our most complex and sensitive investigations like this as a routine, and I noticed what Peter Clarke said about making that sort of decision more transparent and accountable. I think we should have a more embedded review process for investigations of this type.

  • Is there anything else? Any other recommendations or any other weaknesses that you perceive need a solution?

  • There's nothing else that I wish to say here. Thank you.

  • Those are my questions. Is there anything else at all that you would like to add?

  • I wondered, sir, whether I just might say something about the difference between what we are doing now in Weeting and Elveden and what was done in 2006.

  • By all means. By all means.

  • Just to give some sort of context, really.

    You've heard from DAC Akers, I know, on more than one occasion, and I for one have complete confidence in the investigation that she and her teams are doing. But I think it is important perhaps to say that they are operating in a very different environment from 2006. Firstly, clearly, they are getting co-operation from News International, albeit, as she has said to Select Committees, more now than when Weeting started.

    Secondly, the resources that the Met, through me, has been able to make available to her of course is completely different, for reasons I know you understand.

    Thirdly, the fact that at an early stage, as a result of what had gone before, the material began to be loaded effectively and accurately onto a database I think has made a difference.

    She's operating under a wider interpretation of section 1 of RIPA, undoubtedly, as her start point, and her team's mindset is a wider view of both what a victim is, how they're defined, and also indeed a wider view of what the material gained in 2006 contained in terms of potential lines of inquiry and suspects.

    But perhaps the most important thing, in a sense, is the context more broadly. Public opinion in terms of these issues is in as very different place from 2006, where, of course, we were completely dominated by the terrorist threat. That investigation in 2006 broke new ground, and now, albeit this is not beyond the bounds of possibility and has indeed happened, that DAC Akers could be criticised for investigating the press too thoroughly -- as you know, this has happened in the last couple of weeks -- actually I think it's important to recognise that the world she's working in is so very different from 2006 in terms of the degree of resistance and outrage that was likely to follow on such an investigation back then.

  • I recognise that. It's been inevitable that the police response has had to default to the other extreme, and I understand that for all the reasons you've given. The question is not whether Mr Clarke made a sensible decision based upon the reality of the time but whether there was a sufficient understanding of what there already was to reveal that when the one rogue reporter line came out, that was something which actually did not coincide with the view of what had gone on.

    I can see a sensible analysis of the position: "We've identified the problem. We've conducted a high-profile prosecution, which has led to a result. We haven't got the resources to go through all the material that there is. We're not sure how much evidentially could be proved" -- I might have a slightly different view on some of that, but that's neither here nor there -- "therefore we make sure that those who have been or potentially have been victimised, whether specifically because of the interpretation of RIPA or through the fact they were the target of a conspiracy, which wouldn't have had the RIPA problem that has been spoken about --"

  • "-- and we make sure that the organisation recognises the gravity of the position."

    And the real question may be: assuming that is a sensible strategy -- and it seems to me, subject to hearing any argument, that it was -- was it followed through in its second and third limbs, and if not, what should have happened?

  • Yes, I understand that entirely, sir.

  • That we are in a different position now to 2006, I need no convincing of at all.

  • Thank you very much indeed.

  • I have one other question, and I'm afraid it puts you in a slightly different position. I don't want to press you about it overly but I do feel it's quite important. You'll be aware that for the first two weeks of this Inquiry I heard from a large number of people who had been the subject of personal invasions of their own space, their own privacy, in ways that they found objectionable. Some recognised that they were public figures and therefore some interest in their personal circumstances could be appropriate. You've observed in paragraph 25 that after one very high-profile investigation in which you were involved, you were the subject of some attention and you say that after the death of Mr De Menezes, you had journalists outside your home and that of your family, journalists called your neighbours and were inquiring about you, and you add this:

    "I am not sure what they were doing was in the public interest, as I'm not sure what they were seeking to achieve."

    Could you please give me a little bit on what you see is an appropriate line for very senior officers and what goes beyond that line?

  • Well, I do think very senior officers are in the public eye. We are public officials. We make high-profile decisions which will be -- and quite properly so -- scrutinised to a huge extent in a variety of different ways, and I say that particularly in the context, in my instance, of the death of Jean Charles. It was a terrible event and I would expect to have received a great deal of scrutiny, and I don't think -- you know, I don't have -- for the record, I have no complaint whatsoever about the scrutiny that I received. I expected it and I subsequently was not surprised by any of it. My position is utterly different from a member of the public who might suffer for some, you know, extraordinary reason, worst of all if they've already been a victim of crime themselves.

  • Oh yes, you're not in that position.

  • But I just wonder whether you had any views upon whether it was appropriate to go beyond an absolutely proper scrutiny of everything you're doing in the public arena and in relation to this investigation, but to go beyond that to neighbours and family.

  • What I would say is I think in all these instances -- and I've spoken to a number of senior officers and junior officers, actually, who have found themselves suddenly, through their work, catapulted into a higher profile -- I would say it's much harder for the family of anybody than it ever is for the public official themselves and it can be quite difficult for a family to understand what is going on and why it is going on.

    I think if that amounts clearly to harassment or to unfair questions, trickery, seeking very personal information which is, you know, absolutely not to do with the matter at hand, then I think that may go too far. But as I say, I do think public officials, and particularly senior public officials, have to expect a great deal of attention.

    I think I'd like to leave it there, really.

  • Yes, well, it was that last sentence of that paragraph that intrigued me to ask you about it. Thank you very much.

  • Thank you, Assistant Commissioner.

  • Thank you very much for the work you've put into this in what, as you've identified, is clearly a very busy time.

  • Thank you, sir.

    (Pause).

  • Sir, the next witness is Sir Denis O'Connor, please.