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

  • MR DAVID ELLIS HARRISON (affirmed).

  • First of all, your full name.

  • Mr Jay, it's right that this evidence is being taken slightly out of order. It fits with some other evidence which we're going to hear, but it has to be taken out of order for convenience to the witness; is that right?

  • Mr Harrison, you provided the Inquiry with a short witness statement dated 19 February of this year.

  • You've signed and dated it under a statement of truth, so this is your formal evidence to the Inquiry?

  • To be clear, it hasn't been given pursuant to a statutory notice; you volunteered it?

  • Not at all; it was entirely voluntary.

  • First of all, please, your employment as a crime investigator or intelligence officer with SOCA. That's the Serious Organised Crime Agency. For those who don't know what SOCA is, what is SOCA and what does it do, in a nutshell?

  • They are entrusted to investigate serious organised crime. That would be drug smuggling, people trafficking, money-laundering, any other crime that was instigated by an organised crime group.

  • Thank you. Would their work ordinarily cover murder investigation?

  • We'll deal with the circumstances in which SOCA was involved in this case. You were employed there between April 2006 and July 2008, and previously you carried out the same role for Her Majesty's Customs; is that right?

  • In December 2006, you were part of a SOCA surveillance team working on the Ipswich murder inquiry. First of all, remind us, please, for those of us who don't remember, what was the Ipswich murder inquiry?

  • It was a serial killing of five girls in the Ipswich area.

  • Thank you. The murderer was apprehended in December 2006 or January 2007; is that right?

  • What were the circumstances in which SOCA were asked to assist Suffolk police in relation to this investigation?

  • We were briefed that the surveillance resources of Suffolk constabulary were not such that they could continue 24 hour a day surveillance on any potential suspect. We were asked to deploy two surveillance teams to the area, which we did.

  • So you were a member of one of those teams?

  • You say in your statement that you attended the first operational briefing on 18 December 2006 in the evening. You were taking over from the Suffolk surveillance team and the briefing was delivered by the branch commander. First of all, who was the branch commander and what did he say?

  • The branch commander was a chap called Simon Jennings. He was in charge of SOCA generally for that area, even though the surveillance teams had come from London and Birmingham. He delivered the first half of the briefing, a kind of "welcome to the operation", basic reasons why we were there, and then he handed over to the operational briefing commander.

  • At that stage, were your attentions directed to the individual whom you're describing as the first suspect?

  • And to be clear, the first suspect was, as it transpired, not the murderer?

  • What were you told, if anything, about one newspaper's interest in this operation?

  • At the end of the briefing, as part of the intelligence that had been received, we assumed by Suffolk constabulary, that a News of the World surveillance team had been deployed to identify who we were and where we were based.

  • How would the News of the World have obtained that information about SOCA?

  • My opinion is it would have come from someone close to the investigation team, either the Suffolk murder inquiry or SOCA.

  • Because there are no other possibilities, are there?

  • Your surveillance activities then commenced, and during the course of those activities, were you aware that you yourself were the object of surveillance?

  • Yes. Once we'd been told that there was a surveillance capability looking for us -- we didn't know how many people that involved, how many cars, whether it was one guy stood on the payment or four or five vehicles -- we obviously took that into account during our surveillance activity, so we were always looking for potentials surveillance teams.

  • Did you see any or anybody who might be a surveillance team?

  • Yes, on at least one occasion, I believe two occasions, there were vehicles that attempted to follow us. They were -- we identified them because they were sat in positions that we would sit in if we were doing the same job, on the outskirts of Ipswich. If you're trying to -- from their point of view, if they're trying to lock onto a surveillance team, the best thing to do is wait for them to finish work and go back to their hotel. Well, it would have been probably pretty obvious we'd stay well outside Ipswich, so if you put a car on the main roundabout, on the main route out of Ipswich, you have a pretty good chance of seeing something, if you know what you're looking for, and there were at least two occasions where we saw a vehicle plotted up on a roundabout that attempted to follow us.

  • It sounds as if the person or persons who were carrying out the surveillance on you knew something about the art of surveillance?

  • Yes. If they knew nothing about surveillance, they wouldn't have got anywhere near us.

  • Were you told anything at the briefing that Mr Jennings carried out as to the possible identities or rather the employers of the people who were carrying out the surveillance, or the ex-employers?

  • Yes, we were told that they were probably ex-special forces soldiers who would have a good inside knowledge of surveillance techniques.

  • You tell us in your statement that there was a later briefing, a day or two later, either 19 or 20 December. What were you told during the course of that briefing?

  • This was to do with the same suspect. We were then told that a Sunday Mirror surveillance team -- not exactly surveillance team, but some sort of capability that allowed them to pick up the suspect and get him to a place where they could debrief him without us being able to follow them. So it could have been a couple of cars designed with counter-surveillance capabilities to pick the suspect up and take him off.

  • How did people know that it was the Sunday Mirror who had engaged this team?

  • I've no idea. I assume it's the same source as the original briefing.

  • You tell us in your statement in the last paragraph of the first page -- that's 10041 -- that colleagues on your surveillance team said that they had watched -- this was the first suspect -- him picked up and driven around by a team that carried out anti-surveillance manoeuvres before dropping him off at a hotel to be interviewed?

  • So whoever it was who were conducting this surveillance obviously knew about surveillance as well?

  • Because without giving away any of the tricks of the trade, as it were, you refer to "anti-surveillance manoeuvres".

  • One can imagine what they might be.

    On the next page, you explain the harm to the public interest that -- you only identify the News of the World in this context. Do you intend to confine your observations to the News of the World rather than exclude the Sunday Mirror?

  • I think that the Sunday Mirror objectives were merely to pick the suspect up, either without being seen or -- and take him to an area where he could be debriefed without being followed, so I would exclude them from this comment. I would make it sort of merely in terms of the News of the World.

  • You identify the two respects that you believe the actions of the News of the World jeopardised the murder inquiry. In your own words, could you summarise those two respects for us, please?

  • Yes. It is historically known that murder suspects, before they are arrested, before they realise they're being investigated, may return to the scene of the crime. They may try to dispose of evidence. They may try to move bodies or they may even try to commit further offences. If, whilst doing that, they thought they were doing followed -- they obviously wouldn't know that it was a legitimate police surveillance team or whether it was a newspaper, but if they thought they were being followed, they might very well stop what they were doing or not do what they'd planned to do, and because their evidence -- if a surveillance officer can see the sort of evidence we were after, if that is not possible, then that weakens the prosecution case in the future.

  • Your second point is -- perhaps it's more obvious to us.

  • Yes. The second objective of our surveillance was not only to look for evidence -- look for the target to go back to the scene of the crime, but it was also to make this you are that if he had intended to commit further murders, we were in a position to either stop him or call resources in to stop him. Again, if our surveillance had been weakened by having to try and avoid other surveillance teams looking for us, if we'd lost the subject, he may have gone and committed further murders because we were dealing with something else, we were trying to keep away from other surveillance teams.

  • In the events which happened, however, the first suspect was, as you've told us, not the murderer, but there came into your sights, as it were, a second suspect, who I think you were involved in --

  • Thank you very much. That's all the questions I have for you, Mr Harrison. Thank you very much indeed.

  • In a free society, of course, Mr Harrison, journalists are entitled to go where they want, but how potentially difficult does it make the inquiry if a journalist does take off a suspect to interview him themselves?

  • Which was the second limb of the concern that you expressed.

  • I think the main point would be: if, by their actions, they had lost us, if we hadn't been able to follow the suspect because they had picked him up and taken him off to a hotel, for instance, and then left him at the hotel or dropped him off somewhere else that he want and we weren't there, that person is not under control, we're not fulfilling the objectives that we want, either to protect people from further offences or to gather evidence. So they could easily pick him up, take him to the hotel, lose us, drop him off and he could go and do whatever he wanted without us behind him. So that is a potential risk to the -- well, to public safety.

  • Although the probability is that the press, doing such a thing, weren't so much interested in you as other members of the press.

  • I don't know about that, no.

  • All right. Thank you very much indeed.

  • Thank you. We have a technical problem with the screen here. May I ask that we --

  • Thank you. We'll let that be resolved. Thank you.

  • (A short break)

  • The next witness, please, is Mr Twomey.