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

  • MR GILES JAMES HANNING (sworn).

  • Mr Hanning, good morning.

  • Could you give the Inquiry your full name, please?

  • Yes, it's Giles James Hanning.

  • You've provided a witness statement to the Inquiry. Are you familiar with the contents?

  • And are the contents of your witness statement true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • We're going to take your witness statement as read. I'm going to ask you, just as my learned friend asked Mr Hoare a moment ago, not to name names when answering my questions unless I specifically ask you to, and that is for the legal reasons which we're all now familiar with.

    You tell us that you've been a journalist for 25 years, and you are currently the deputy editor of the Independent on Sunday.

  • Could you tell us a little bit more about your career history, and in particular, the titles for which you have worked over the last quarter of a century?

  • Well, I started off as a freelance -- from a standing start, as it were, as a freelance. I then did about six months on the Daily Mail, and I then joined the Evening Standard, doing shifts, and then got a staff job on the Standard and then was -- stayed at the Standard for about 15 years and then -- where are we? Seven years ago I joined the Independent on Sunday.

  • I see. Thank you. You explain in paragraph 2 of your statement that you spoke to Sean Hoare on an off-the-record basis, but that you are now prepared to go public with those off-the-record conversations, given Mr Hoare's death and the fact that you are confident, having been in touch with Mr Hoare's family, that that is what he would have wanted; is that right?

  • Yes. I checked with Stuart Hoare that he -- and it didn't require any conversation at all. We were both certain that we would have wanted what he knew to be made known.

  • Thank you. You make clear in your witness statement that today you are giving evidence entirely in a personal capacity?

  • And not in your capacity as a deputy editor of the Independent on Sunday?

  • But that has to be unpicked a little bit, if you don't mind, Mr Hanning. Of course you're not speaking as the deputy editor, but you are speaking, I hope, with the experience of 25 years in journalism?

  • So therefore, to some extent -- and doubtless you'll be asked about this -- the way in which you spoke to Mr Hoare and your own knowledge can combine.

  • I hope that what I'm receiving is the benefit of all that.

  • Indeed. I mean, I spoke to Sean, Sean knew I worked for the Independent on Sunday, it was implicit that I was talking to him as an employee of the Independent on Sunday. So yes indeed.

  • You tell us in your statement that not only did you speak to Mr Sean Hoare, you also spoke to a number of people who either were or had been employees of the News of the World; is that right?

  • Can you give us any indication about the sort of numbers of people in that category who you spoke to?

  • Well, not a great many. I can't pretend it was a lot because -- not least because they were not keen to talk. Sean was the one I spoke to most, but I did speak to one or two people briefly and they were sometimes able to corroborate things casually, as it were, but not many people were anxious to sit down and have a long chat, as it were.

  • What was the purpose of these conversations? Why did you seek them out?

  • Well, I got interested in the whole story three or four years ago and it just struck me there was something there, and it was really when I met Sean that I was able to sort of push things on a bit, but it had been a longstanding interest of mine for -- it just struck me there was something going on.

  • Turned out there was. Can I ask you about your contact with Mr Hoare. You tell us that you first met him in the summer of 2010?

  • And that you met him after that four or five times. Can you give us some indication of the duration of these meetings? Were they short meetings or long meetings?

  • Quite long. He would come into London from Watford, where he lived, so -- we both wanted to make it worth his while so we had a good chat. We had lunch a couple of times and -- yes, we had a very good chat and we always found one another to be talking the same language, as it were. We seemed to be on the same territory. So yes, they were pretty lengthy conversations.

  • Did you feel that in those meetings you had built up some trust and a rapport with Mr Hoare?

  • You tell us that there was discussion perhaps of writing a book together?

  • Yes. That was a bit hit and miss. One or other of us would say, "Gosh, I've found out this, I've found out that", and we would think: "Gosh, I wonder if perhaps that would make a book", and then either I was busy or he was busy, so it never really got off the ground, but it was something that was in the background.

  • There are number of matters which I must explore with you so that we can hear as best as possible what those who spoke to him thought at the time.

    First of all, we know that he was a man who sadly had difficulties with both drugs and alcohol. Can you help us, please. When you saw him in the summer of 2010, was it your understanding that he was teetotal at that time or was he drinking?

  • I'm pretty sure, so far as I can be, that he wasn't taking drugs. Whether he was not drinking I would be less certain. He may have had a half of lager or something, but there was certainly no evidence that he was in the state that I'd heard he had been in the past. He seemed to be operating very efficiently and impressively.

  • Did you sense that either at the time he was trying to recall things for you or because of his past problems with drink and drugs, that his memory of events had been impaired or distorted?

  • No. I had no feeling that his memory was impaired at all.

  • We also know that he had left the News of the World some years before you met him. Can you tell us a little bit about how he regarded the circumstances in which he had come to part company with the News of the World?

  • Well, my understanding is that he was aggrieved because, as we've heard this morning from his brother, he loved journalism, he loved the game. I think he did feel wounded and, you know, the boat was moving off without him, as it were.

  • Did you ever sense that that grievance influenced the way he spoke to you and his account of events?

  • It would be fair to say he was -- to say his motives were entirely public-spirited, I suppose, would be an exaggeration. That's not to say he wasn't -- he hadn't thought very seriously about why he was doing it. But he -- yes, I would be lying if I said he didn't -- there was a degree of feeling that some of the people who had been responsible for what went on shouldn't pay for it.

  • Did you ever sense that that motivation affected the reliability of the account that he was giving?

  • You must, during your career as a journalist, have many meetings with people who have all sorts of different motives --

  • -- for speaking about what they speak about?

  • Some good, some bad, some terrible. And part of the job is to calibrate or validate --

  • -- the information you're getting.

  • Absolutely. You make allowances and you aim off and so on, and I did that -- I tried to do that constantly with Sean, and I -- the more I spoke to him, the less I felt that was necessary. I felt: actually, yes, this does stack up, this is corroborated by other sources one can get hold of.

  • A final question on this theme: we've heard in Mr Stuart Hoare's statement that Mr Sean Hoare had strong socialist beliefs. By the time that you were speaking to Sean Hoare, the Murdoch press had switched political allegiance and one former editor of the News of the World was working in Downing Street. Did you ever sense that there was any political agenda or any political axe to grind behind what Sean Hoare was telling you?

  • It definitely occurred to me, but I wouldn't say it was -- I wouldn't say it was a prime sort of spur. I mean, he did -- I think Stuart used the word "romantic". He did have a very romantic view of socialism, it seemed to me, but in my experience those with a romantic view of socialism very often find they have to live in the real world and they get just get on with their jobs and I think that's what -- Stuart was in that category.

  • So far as you were aware, is it right that Sean Hoare received no money in return for the interviews he gave journalists?

  • Not only that, but he told me he was offered £60,000 to tell his story some years ago and he turned it down. I'm not sure how many years ago, but maybe a couple of years ago.

  • Thank you. Against that background, can we now turn to what he actually did tell you. Can we start with phone hacking, again being extra specially careful not to mention names.

    Did he tell you that he had hacked phones whilst working for the News of the World?

  • Did you get the impression that it was a one-off or was something that he had done numerous times?

  • Did he tell you that anybody else had hacked mobile phones whilst he was working for the News of the World?

  • Did you get the impression that he was talking about a single other individual or about a number of other individuals?

  • Are we talking a small number or a large number?

  • Well, I remember once when the police were making progress with their case and he was speculating as to who might go into the witness box, he said -- and testify against people, he said, "X will probably sing in court and will ..." and he then named about eight people.

  • Did he give you any impression about how long the practice of hacking phones had been going on for in the News of the World?

  • I think as long as he'd been at the News of the World. Maybe longer.

  • Again without naming names, did he give you any indication of the types of target whose phones were hacked?

  • Well, I think all sorts of people. I mean, he had been a showbiz reporter and so I think he did a lot of celebrities, showbiz people.

  • Did he give you to understand whether there were any boundaries, by which I mean: was there any sort of people who were off limits to phone hacking?

  • No, but we never discussed that. But no.

  • Without naming names, did he give you to understand that even people who had good relations with the News of the World had been targeted by their hacking efforts?

  • Well, there were -- yes. There were two instances of that. One was when a famous female celebrity rang a senior executive on the paper and said, "I understand you may need to get in touch with me, this is my PA's number", and the female celebrity handed over the number to this senior executive and they had a chat, and he put the phone down and he then passed the note on to another executive and said, "There you are, there's X's number, tell him to get hacking", or words to that effect. You know: "That's one for him to work on with his hacking", or "screwing", I think the term would have been. "There's a phone for him to screw."

  • Sorry, there was one instance of that, where I know a cabinet minister -- this was about a year ago -- said, "X wouldn't have authorised the hacking of my phone", and -- "X wouldn't authorise the hacking of my phone. X was a friend of mine." And I just thought: crikey, they still don't get it. Why would having social relations with someone disbar them from having their phone hacked?

  • Now, the hacking I've been thinking -- we're talking about voicemails; is that right?

  • Did he ever speak about intercepting conversations?

  • And was that in the context of a long time ago or was he talking about more recently?

  • It wasn't explicit, and he said it only briefly, but he said it -- he just said, "Yes, they can do it. Yes, that goes on."

  • Did he talk about pinging or using mobile phones to locate people?

  • No, he never talked to me about that. That's a story I would have liked to have had, actually.

  • Did he talk to you about intercepting emails?

  • I don't remember. I don't think so.

  • I'm going to move off the interception of communications onto wider cultural issues. Before I do so, is there anything else that you would like to tell us about what Sean Hoare told you about phone hacking?

  • Well, I mean, I suppose it was -- he talked about it as if it was one shot in the locker. Phone hacking was just one of the things they did but it was -- there's been a lot of interest in the media about phone hacking, but it seems -- my impression from him was that it wasn't -- it was not exactly the least of it, but it was just one of the tools.

  • Perhaps that's a convenient peg on which to move onto the other tools. What other tools did he tell you about?

  • Well, I mean there was -- I understood there was a certain amount of cash around in the office, and I know he and another employee of the newspaper would pay somebody on another paper to have their news list. This is the news list that's prepared or updated every day for a Sunday paper, and the news list is what is planned to go in the paper.

    Now, for a rival paper to get hold of your news list is quite -- it's a good thing to have. I'm told -- Sean told me that they would get £400 in cash and a person on another paper was paid £200 to hand over this news list and £100 would go to Sean and £100 would go to the other executive.

  • So that is an example both of paying money to secure information from a third party and also, it would seem, an abuse of the expenses system?

  • Can I look at each of those topics separately? Did he tell you about payments either by himself or by anybody else at the News of the World to third parties in return for information?

  • No, I don't think he did. I don't think he did, no.

  • Did he speak about any other instances or indeed about any general attitude towards expenses?

  • Not really. I mean, I understand that cash was the -- it was assumed that cash made things happen, and I know the -- I mean, my understanding is that senior people in the office were concerned that there was -- too much was being done in cash and they would frequently try and clamp down on how much was going out in cash because it was so hard to keep track of.

  • Could you help us with what Sean told you, if anything, about decisions as to what went into the newspaper and what didn't. Was there an attitude that what should be published was what was interesting to the public or was there any discussion of discernment and being careful not to publish things that might not be in the public interest in a higher sense of the word?

  • I think it's fair to say that Sean regarded the News of the World as a source of information but also a source of entertainment. If it was entertaining, added to the gaiety of the nation, then it should go in. That was the prime concern because, I suppose, you could be pretty sure that if you didn't run the story, then one of your rivals would.

  • If that was Mr Hoare's view, did he say anything which gave you to understand that it was a general understanding or attitude at the paper?

  • I think it was implicit.

  • Did he ever discuss with you the emerging law of privacy and the effect that that was having on the News of the World's ability to print intrusive stories?

  • I don't remember him doing so, no.

  • Did he, for example, ever discuss the Max Mosley story with you?

  • Did he ever discuss blagging with you?

  • He mentioned there was an expert in blagging, but he didn't talk about it specifically a great deal, if at all.

  • Did he give you any impression of the management line so far as discipline was concerned? Did you get the impression that journalists were kept to rigid professional standards or did you get the impression that what was of most importance was obtaining stories that could be printed?

  • The latter, very much. Yes, get the story. I mean, I think Stuart Hoare used the expression -- he said the news desk was out of control. I'm not sure it's a term I'd use. I mean, it seemed to me it was known what was going on.

  • I see. So -- I understand.

    Moving on to the pressures on journalists, did Mr Hoare talk to you about the pressures he'd felt under whilst working for the News of the World?

  • Yes. Again, extremely competitive newspaper and in many ways a very impressive one. But nobody had an easy ride there. I mean, it was not for nothing did they sell that many copies. There was great pressure and he was clearly -- he did talk about that.

  • That was a pressure to perform?

  • Did he speak about the consequences of not performing?

  • Again, not explicitly, but I think he felt he didn't need to and I'm not sure I felt he needed to.

  • I see. Did he --

  • You'd better decodify that for me, please.

  • Sorry. Well, I don't --

  • It's a tough -- it's a tough -- the red top market is a very tough place to be, and if you don't perform, you tend not to thrive.

  • Does that mean you get sacked or does that mean you just bump along the bottom?

  • Did he tell you anything about the management style of senior managers? Again, naming no names. Did you get any sense of how the paper was run?

  • I felt just as far as his own testimony was concerned, I felt he, for some time, was in quite a privileged position because he was producing results and so on. So -- and I think latterly in his career there, when things were going less well, I think he was put under increasing pressure. But -- so he -- no, I mean during the time when things were good for him, he didn't really discuss the ethos, but clearly when he wasn't performing and he was having problems, then he was suffering.

  • Did he describe, either in terms or implicitly, any bullying or harassment by managers?

  • Yes. There was a bit of that, yes. There was one individual in particular, I remember him saying, had had a really hard time and to whom he was -- he offered a shoulder on which to cry. And I don't mean that euphemistically. He was -- my understanding from talking to former colleagues of his was that he was very kind and he was a popular figure. They liked him.

  • Returning to the question of information-gathering techniques, we've heard some evidence of a suspected break-in to obtain information. Did he ever speak to you about anything like that?

  • I want to move now to the consequence of Mr Hoare speaking out to other people. There are a number of articles that we're aware of that were published on the basis of what he said. Did that have any adverse consequences for him in his relations with his former colleagues?

  • I would assume so, or rather I would assume they would have done had he been in touch with them. I'm not aware that he was in touch with them. But he was concerned that he was sticking his neck out and would make himself very unpopular.

  • Can we move now to the Sun. Did he say anything to you about whether or not phone hacking had occurred on the Sun?

  • I don't remember him saying that specifically, but if I'm not speculating, then I would think he would take that -- he would assume I would understand that to have been the case. He would -- it seemed to be implicit.

  • I see. Did he speak to you about any other information-gathering techniques which might be considered ethically controversial on the Sun?

  • Can I now move to your own experience, which is predominantly on the Evening Standard and the Independent on Sunday. In what circumstances, in your book, is it acceptable to use subterfuge in journalism?

  • Well, it seems to me the PCC code is pretty good in this respect. I mean, I know this is -- it's all being reviewed at the moment, but generally I think if you talked to most journalists, they would say the PCC code is pretty good.

    I do think there is a rule that I was always taught, which I think is a Harry Evans rule, former editor of the Sunday Times, which is that if you're writing a story which involves some sort of subterfuge, you should ask yourself: will I be prepared to tell the reader what I've done when I write the story? It seems to me that's a minimal test, but it's a good test, and it seems to me phone hacking, for example, is generally not excusable under that criterion.

  • When you discussed that idea in your witness statement, you also say that it would rule out fishing expeditions. Do you think that that's a good thing or a bad thing?

  • I generally think fishing expeditions are a bad thing, yes. You can have a strong suspicion, but you need to be pretty confident you've got -- you're going after something.

  • The PCC code on subterfuge, clause 10, places a heavy emphasis on what's in the public interest. In your book, how do you define what is and what is not in the public interest?

  • I think I find it an incredibly difficult question. I mean, we have endless arguments in our own office about whether a footballer's sex life is in the public interest or not. Very often there's a -- you could say footballer X, so what if they're having an affair? Then you find actually they've done all sorts of other things, and then you think actually, that is in the public interest. I think it's an extraordinary grey area and wouldn't presume to --

  • Hang on. You wouldn't presume to what?

  • I find it very, very difficult. I mean, the Independent and the Independent on Sunday are papers which tend not to think that footballers' sex lives are of interest and I'm proud of working for those newspapers. Equally, I suspect one can imagine a situation when you'd say, well, yes, a footballer's sex life is a matter of public interest. Maybe if they're getting an enormous sponsorship, maybe if they're married, sponsorship, playing a role of a loving parent and husband and so on, and it turns out that they're doing all sorts of other things which nobody knows about, then it seems to me that probably is in the public interest.

  • But is it appropriate, therefore, to try to define that rather more closely? Because I would have thought as the deputy editor of a newspaper, you would have a view in your mind where the scale was, and that you've explained how much you argue about it and talk about it would suggest that it's rather fuzzier than that. I'm not being critical, I just --

  • It is very fuzzy, absolutely. We had a conversation in the office a couple of years ago about a television presenter who was having an affair and we had great anxious debates about whether they could do their job as an interviewer and so on, given what was in their closet, and I think we decided on that occasion that it was not in the public interest. But it's -- I do think it's the nub, if I may say so. I think it's the nub of this entire debate.

  • That's why I'm pressing you a bit, Mr Hanning, because I don't think it's the entirety of it, but I do think it's not an unimportant part of it. So if you had to define it, how would you define it?

  • I'd find it incredibly difficult. I think if you're -- I think if people really -- if public figures are living a lie, in some sense, figures who are known to the public, in some sense they are living a lie, then they must expect to come under the scrutiny of the press, and that's legitimate.

  • That is, I suppose, an example of hypocrisy, isn't it?

  • You're a man of immense experience and a deputy editor of a national newspaper. If you're having difficulty, if I may say so --

  • -- formulating a succinct, concrete definition of public interest, might that be because it's not amenable to a succinct concrete definition?

  • Yes, I think that's fair.

  • And if it's not amenable to a succinct concrete definition, and yet it is a matter of very considerable importance, does that not suggest that there is a need for considerable guidance to inform what might necessarily have to be a slightly elastic broad definition of public interest?

  • If we see the broad definition in the PCC code, where does one go at the moment for the guidance? Or is there a lacuna?

  • I think the PCC code is generally very, very good. It's senior executives on newspapers, lawyers, bringing all their experience to bear and one is slightly feeling one's way. Whether there's a gap, I don't know. Again, if I may say so, it seems to me that the problem has been not so much in the -- in what the PCC says, but in enforcement and investigation.

  • So if a decision on public interest has to be made on a case-by-case basis, you've told us about one pointer, perhaps, which would be hypocrisy.

  • What, in your view, are the other pointers?

  • Well, the old-fashioned notion of information, education, so on. I think entertainment is a legitimate part of it.

  • Is that right? That mere entertainment is in the public interest and might justify --

  • No, not absolutely. In terms of subterfuge? I'm sorry, no. No, in terms of justifying subterfuge, no, I wouldn't say that.

  • I see. In your experience -- and I'm not now confining this question to your experience on the Evening Standard and the Independent on Sunday, I need to make that quite clear -- have you heard, either directly or through what you would consider to be reliable hearsay, of phone hacking going on on any titles other than the News of the World and the Sun?

  • I've heard it talked about, but as no more than hearsay.

  • In relation to tabloid titles or broadsheets or both?

  • Both. But I have no concrete knowledge of it.

  • No direct knowledge, I understand.

    Blagging. Is it your understanding from your experience that blagging has or has not been a widespread technique from obtaining information?

  • Yes, it has. I think it has. It seems to me there's been an increasing -- there's been a sort of creeping acceptability of some of these practices. Whereas in the past they might have been used to stand up a story, to prove that a story is correct, because they were effective, they seemed to work in proving the truth of a story, then they came to be used more commonly and more readily, and indeed, came to be the starting point for a story with fishing expeditions.

    I mean, to return to Sean, Sean used to say it was: "Why don't you do some finger fishing, find out what X is up to." And he would be told this in a sort of fairly casual way: "Oh yes, we could to with a story about X."

  • What I'm trying to establish at the moment is whether that approach is more widespread than just the News of the World and perhaps the Sun.

  • In terms of payments made to public officials to obtain information, have you, in your career, heard what you might consider to be reliable hearsay suggesting that that sort of thing has gone on?

  • Yes. I mean, I don't know of specific instances, but it's long been -- I think it's fair to say it's long been recognised among journalists that very often the police will tip off friendly journalists and who knows, they may get a meal out of it, they may get 50 quid out of it, I don't know. But the police are recognised as being quite a source of stories.

  • If the police are recognised as a fertile source of information, what is your sense of how widespread that has been in recent years?

  • I'm in the dark about the relationship, for example, between the News of the World and the police. I don't understand it. My sense is that individual police officers are -- well, certainly senior police would not -- would certainly not condone anything like that.

  • No, I understand that. I'm just trying to get a sense of if it is going on, whether you can help us with to what extent it is going on.

  • Can I ask you now, particularly given your experience as a very senior editor, what your impression is of the power of the media in influencing politicians and politics. What is your view about that relationship?

  • I think it's -- I think politicians are perhaps more concerned about the media than is healthy, very often. Particularly in terms of just day-to-day headlines and so on. There's the expression "the fight for tomorrow's headlines", and I know certainly under the Labour government and now this government, there is a great concern to get -- to win the approval of the press and get the right headlines and so on.

  • Does that translate into real political power for newspapers?

  • Finally, at the end of your statement, you suggest a second idea which might help to improve ethical standards in the media. It's on a quite different subject.

  • It's on the question of copy approval. The Inquiry has heard evidence about -- I think it's called "churnalism". You suggest that there ought perhaps to be a rule requiring copy which has been scrutinised by the subject of the article to say so, to declare the approval of the subject.

  • In what we do you think that will help to raise standards in the press?

  • It seems to me that the press is -- has been playing the PR game to a dangerous degree, and it needs to stand back from just promoting celebrities and so on, and that while it's fair enough for a celebrity to say, "Can I read my quotes back ..." or, "Could you read my quotes back to me to check I'm not misquoted", although even that is debatable -- but when the PR representative of such-and-such a film star says, "We want to see the whole article", it seems to me you're rather selling the past to the reader -- on the reader, so if the newspaper or the magazine is giving copy approval, they should say, "This article has been vetted", or whatever, by the celebrity in question.

  • It's not so much copy approval; it's whether if you change anything?

  • Those were all my questions. Thank you very much, Mr Hanning.

  • Can I ask a couple of topic, please? First of all, you've had the experience of both the Evening Standard and the Independent, which are very different newspapers. Do you think there is a different test to be applied in relation to the public interest, depending upon the type of newspaper?

  • Yes, quite possibly, actually. I mean, we -- those who say we have -- it's difficult to argue with those who say we do have two presses. I think that's true. Although I'm not sure the gap -- the difference between the Evening Standard and the Independent is that great. But no, I mean, I take your point. That is arguable.

    It seems to me that we have a lot of what you might call tittle-tattle in our daily papers, whereas on the continent, so far as I can see, it's much more in the weekly press which presents different issues for our daily press.

    Yes, I do think it's a -- they are -- you know, the red tops, for example, are in a different ball game.

  • They may be wanting to discuss the issue in a different context, with a different subject matter, but should the test be different?

  • I take your point. No, probably not. I mean, this issue about footballers, for example, no, I don't think it should be different.

  • I mean, that's precisely the concern.

  • I'm merely trying to probe the issue that has been erected, that there is a difference between different markets which has to be understood, and I readily recognise that the tabloid/mid-market papers are different in their outlook and different in the market to which they are selling their wares.

  • Yes. I mean, you can cover -- you can have a balance towards celebrities and football in a red top and have other subjects copied in -- covered in broadsheets, but no, I take your point. No, the test is the same. The test should be the same.

  • All right. The second thing that I want to just ask you about -- and I recognise that you are speaking in your personal capacity, and I underline that before I start the question. You left somewhat hanging in the air how highly you thought of the code and then expressed, at least by implication, a concern about its enforceability.

  • Help me with that, if you could.

  • Well, I understand Lord Hunt is addressing this. It seems to me that some of the things we've been talking about today do suggest that the regulation system was not perfect, and had the PCC -- it seems to me, again, speaking personally, had the PCC had more powers to investigate, then some of the wrongdoing might have been uncovered a bit sooner.

  • Yes, may or may not have had a power to investigate. That's historical. I'm actually thinking about what might be a model for the future, if the model is to change, in particular, whether it should be optional.

  • What, membership of the PCC?

  • Well, or involvement or any sort of regulatory regime.

  • No, I think -- I mean, I don't think it should be optional. It should be strongly discouraged for people to opt out. I think you do need to have some sort of --

  • But if merely "strongly discouraged", somebody who is prepared to walk-away from it will walk-away from it.

  • "Strongly discouraged" is not terribly potent.

  • No. I accept that. I don't -- I mean, otherwise you have very strict regulation by Parliament, which seems to me not --

  • I understand entirely that there is a very strong view that regulation by government or Parliament is the antithesis of freedom of expression, or may be the antithesis of freedom of expression. The question is, as I've put to a number of people, whether it's a binary all or nothing or whether there isn't some middle ground. I'm asking you because you are a serving deputy editor with views on this topic, I have no doubt. You will not be the first and you certainly won't be the last I will ask, so you're not being singled out.

  • It seems to me the PCC is not far off being pretty good, and that a way should be found, if it's possible, to get everybody to sign up to it.

  • Once you talk about "getting everybody", you really mean forcing everybody?

  • As I say, strongly encourage.

  • I don't know. Some sort of financial -- I don't know. I don't know. It's not an issue which I feel confident in answering, particularly --

  • Fair enough. I'm sure you will understand why, given your position, I felt it appropriate to ask. And indeed, you left the issue hanging slightly.

    You say:

    "The PCC is not far off being pretty good."

    Do you think it's been a regulator at all?

  • Yes, I do. I do. The PCC's come in for a lot of criticism recently, but if you talk to most journalists, I would suggest, they would say, "Gosh, we don't want to be brought up in front of the PCC. That's bad news."

    As I say, a lot has gone on that shouldn't have gone on, but most of its work, it seems to me, has been pretty --

  • Well, you're talking about --

  • In the bread and butter issues and so on, it's been pretty effective.

  • You're talking about its harassment policy. Are you talking about its complaints system?

  • You think that works efficiently and well?

  • In terms of mediation and so on?

  • Mediation is slightly different.

  • What about its complaints system?

  • Yes -- no, there are instances where there is not sufficient remedy, I agree with that.

  • All right. Well, thank you.

  • Can I ask a couple of questions before you do? I simply wanted to ask whether he made any notes of his conversations with Mr Hoare.

  • Would you be willing to make them available?

  • Thank you. Thank you very much, that would be very useful. That would be invaluable. Thank you very much.

  • Sir, we've made excellent progress with our two witnesses this morning. Our third witness for the day is Mr Driscoll. The arrangement was for him to give evidence at 2 o'clock. I'm told by my learned friend that if it was convenient for you, sir, we could start at 1.30.

  • How long is that evidence likely to take? Some time, is it?

  • Sir, I'm notoriously bad at judging these things. I'd say an hour and a half. Don't hold me to that.

  • You've given me great confidence.

  • It all depends on the witness and how they answer questions.

  • Yes, yes, and the judge, I know that.

  • I was too polite to say that.

  • All right. I certainly would want to make sure I concluded his evidence without any problem. Would it be inconvenient to anybody to start earlier? No? All right. We'll start at 1.30.

    There are some things that I'll want to say this afternoon about module 2, and if there are any other issues that anybody wants to raise, we'll do it after we've concluded the evidence of the witness.

    Thank you.

  • (The luncheon adjournment)

  • Right. Yes, Mr Patry Hoskins?

  • Sir, I thought there was something you might want to mention before we started. Do you want to wait until after the evidence?

  • No, let's deal with the evidence first.

  • The witness this afternoon is Mr Matthew Driscoll.