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

  • MS MARY-ELLEN FIELD (sworn).

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

  • My name is Mary-Ellen Field.

  • You've provided a contact address to the Inquiry so I do not need to ask you about that.

  • Ms Field, as I've said to others, thank you very much for coming. If you need a break at any time, don't hesitate to say so. I'm conscious that you're talking about things -- I'm aware that you mentioned them at the seminar, that some of the things may be things you would prefer not to be airing in public, but I'm grateful to you for doing so nonetheless.

  • You've voluntarily provided a witness statement to the Inquiry, which is signed and dated 26 October of this year. Are you familiar with the contents of that statement?

  • And are they true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • Thank you. You tell us near the start of the statement that you are a claimant in the voicemail interception cases which are currently being managed by Mr Justice Vos in the Chancery Division of the High Court; is that right?

  • And that litigation is still ongoing?

  • Can I take you back, please, to 2003. In your statement, you tell us that at that time -- indeed, I think it's still the case -- you were working as an expert in the protection, management and exploitation of intellectual property rights.

  • Thank you. And here there may be a difference: in 2003, you were working for a company called Chiltern; is that right?

  • Yes, Chiltern -- it no longer exists, it was bought by BDO Stoy Hayward. It was an international tax and accounting firm.

  • We'll hear a little bit more about the circumstances in which you came to lead Chiltern in due course, but perhaps you could tell us about 2003 and how it came to be that you were working for Chiltern?

  • I was offered a job by Chiltern at the beginning of 2003 and I began there in April -- at the end of March 2003.

  • We understand from your statement that through your work for Chiltern you were introduced to the supermodel Elle Macpherson?

  • Yes, virtually the first week I started there, I was asked to look at some -- a box of contracts that -- she'd only recently become a client -- a tax client of the firm, and one of the tax partners asked me to look at some contracts because it was not an area of expertise that he had and there were licence agreements and various other agreements that you would expect a model to have.

  • So did there come a time when you sat down with Elle Macpherson to discuss business?

  • And how did that go?

  • It was excellent. There were a lot of issues that I had found in the box of documents that were -- that needed to be dealt with immediately. Some licences had expired and needed to be renegotiated and we got on very well. We're both from Sydney. We got on very well and she decided immediately to retain me to look after that side of her life. I said maybe she'd like to wait and think about it, but she makes up her mind quickly on things and I started working for her from that day, or she became a client of mine from that day.

  • Thank you. And did the business relationship between you and Elle Macpherson blossom?

  • Yes. It was very successful for both of us, both financially and from a developmental thing. We had -- we did lots of exciting things.

  • And how much contact did you have with her?

  • Well, having a supermodel as a client -- I didn't have any experience with celebrities before that and working with a celebrity when you're used to working with large corporations or large governments like I always have, it's a sort of a learning curve for everybody because, without meaning to be insulting, often those sort of people don't understand about billable hours and things and you do tend to have to overservice, but it was fun and -- from the point of view of my billings, it was only a very small part of the billings, but it did take a lot of time.

  • Was it professionally satisfying?

  • It was very professionally satisfying.

  • I understand from your statement that the relationship became close enough that an office was provided for Elle Macpherson at Chiltern's premises?

  • Yes, we'd had some problems in one particular case. I was unhappy about her giving interviews to the media at home, and in one instance the journalist asked if he could go to the lavatory and she showed him where it was and then he came back on his own and went into the dining room and drawing room and looked at some of the paintings and wrote them up in an item, which is, you know, just a magnet for burglars, so after that I said, "I don't think it's a good idea to have journalists in the house."

    So in around August 2005, she said, "Why don't I move into your office?" And I asked my CEO, who was a man, and it took them probably three nanoseconds to make up his mind that it would be a good idea for Elle Macpherson to have an office in our building and so she moved in quickly after that.

  • I think people will be able to readily understand that evidence. Perhaps we can go now to one of the exhibits to your witness statement. It's an article which deals with your business relationship with Elle Macpherson. Perhaps I can ask the technician to put up on the screen the document which ends with reference number 31806, please. Can you see it?

  • This, we're told in your statement, is an article from Accountancy Age Best Practice magazine; is that right?

  • Yes, the October 2005 edition.

  • I see. This is an article which seems to blend interviews with both yourself and Elle Macpherson. Is that correct?

  • Yes. It was -- I don't know if they still do it, but Accountancy Age were trying to get people in the industry to get clients to sort of give them a good, you know, review, and the PR -- and PR people at Chiltern asked Elle if she would give this interview. I wasn't present when she gave the interview and I was -- it was a very flattering article and I was very touched that she had given that -- say those things about me.

  • It is indeed flattering. Those who are following the Inquiry on the Internet will in due course be able to read the whole article, which will be posted later today, but for present purposes, can I perhaps choose a couple of passages. The first one has been put up on the screen. It reads:

    "Mary-Ellen is the nuts and bolts of the machine on the commercial side. I work in many countries, so I need to have advisers who can cope with all the international interests."

    Could we now move to the second passage that I've asked the technicians to highlight. For those following from the hard copy, it's the last paragraph on the page. Here we have another quotation from Elle Macpherson:

    "'She's a fantastic communicator and quip as a whip,' says Macpherson. 'she has a fantastic stroke of knowledge and a very good mediator. She's one of my right-hand people. I couldn't do this business without her.'"

    So I don't wish to make you blush, Ms Field, but it's fair to say, isn't it, that this was a thriving business relationship?

  • And I understand from your statement that your relationship went beyond strictly professional matters and there was a friendship between you; is that right?

  • Well, I don't know -- she confided in things that you probably wouldn't -- confided in me things that you wouldn't normally confide, family issues that you wouldn't normally expect a client to confide in you about.

  • Perhaps as an example of that, could I ask the technician, please, to display the document the reference number of which ends 31808. A slight technical hitch for a moment. We'll wait and see if that can be resolved. Thank you. If you could magnify, please, the card at the bottom of the page.

    Your statement exhibits a number of cards from Elle Macpherson. This one is dated 1 October 2005. So have I understood correctly, that's about the same time as the article?

  • It reads:

    "Dear Mary-Ellen, thank you for the endless days and infinite dedication to me and my brand. I really, really, really respect and appreciate it."

    And it's a heart sign and for reasons of confidence, we've redacted Elle Macpherson's signature, but that has been seen by the Inquiry team and by core participants.

    Can I turn now to the question of press reporting about Elle Macpherson. You tell us in your statement that there was an article in 2003. We need not go into the details of the article, but it led, you tell us, to some successful litigation by Macpherson against a newspaper?

  • Yes, against the Sun. An article was run in October that Elle objected to and they settled in February 2004, and the Sun published an apology.

  • Then you tell us that during 2005 there was a hiatus in Elle Macpherson's private life and she separated from her boyfriend, who was the father of her children?

  • Yes, but that had been planned for a long time. It wasn't a surprise to us and it had been kept out of the media.

  • Was that something that became a matter for press interest?

  • Yes, obviously, because they were two very high profile people.

  • Was it a matter which you discussed with Elle Macpherson?

  • She had begun discussing that with me in October 2003 and had sworn me to secrecy, which was very difficult because her partner was also a client of the firm, and I used to see a lot of him and got on very well with him and it was quite difficult for me to be in that position, and so, as many people here who work for professional services firms, it's a bit difficult when a client asks you to keep something secret and, you know, it's sort of a bit difficult, bit of an issue, but she started planning this back in October 2003, so I found a family lawyer for her and she worked through that lawyer.

  • Thank you. As time passed and the media published stories about Elle Macpherson's private life, did there come a point in time where there was a concern that there might be leaks?

  • Yes. In -- around -- just before she moved into our offices -- and I think that was another reason why she wanted to move in -- stories were appearing. Mostly they were silly tittle-tattle, the sort of things that Mr Grant was talking about yesterday. Silly tittle-tattle things that the sort of people that read -- that sell those sort of papers, but she was very concerned and she was concerned that there were listening devices in the house and I have to say I was concerned as well. So I talked to some security people and they said, you know, you can avoid that if you get 'pay as you go' phones, mobile phones that are not on an account, so -- like terrorists use. So that was a bit much trouble, she didn't want to do that, so she said, "Well, get the house swept for me, get the house checked for me." So I found a reputable security company and obviously I couldn't ring her and tell her that we were going to do that because if they were listening, it would be pointless. So my husband and I drove over to her place in Kensington and I rang the door bell and she came out and we stood out on the street and talked about.

    So I had -- the next Monday, the chap came and he was there all day and we checked the car and the sort of things that Mr Grant talked about yesterday. We had the house checked, we had the car checked, we had all the phones checked and he found nothing, but we now know that isn't how they were getting the messages.

  • That's what we'll come to in just a moment. Could I ask you to speak a little bit more slowly, please, for the sake of the stenographer.

  • Could you tell us, after you'd arranged for the sweep and taken the other precautions which you've just described, did the media coverage of Elle Macpherson's private life stop?

  • And you tell us in your witness statement that there was a particular story which concerned custody of the children?

  • Yes, but it was an -- it was a non-story because it wasn't an issue. I don't -- I don't really want -- correct me if I'm wrong -- to go too much into people's children --

  • No, there's no need to.

  • -- but she'd separated from her partner and they weren't married, so as -- I've been an expert witness for a long time --

  • If I could just stop you there. I don't think there's any need to go into the details.

  • It was just that we were planning the -- she thought there might be litigation and we were planning it and I was saying to her -- and this is what we were discussing on the phone -- that she needed to tell the lawyers everything, because if you don't tell the lawyers the whole situation then you're tying their hands behind their backs. So I suggested that she needed to tell -- to avoid anything like this in the future, she needed to be honest with her family lawyer, and she agreed with me and she did.

  • Can I take from your answers that you were privy to intimate details about Elle Macpherson's private life --

  • -- at that stage?

  • I on several occasions attended meetings with the family lawyer.

  • You then describe in your witness statement how matters came to a head. In particular, you tell us that there was a meeting between you and the fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, Suzy Mekes. Is that right?

  • Yes. Can I just go back? It was after -- about three weeks after the flattering article in Accountancy Age was published. We had a big event at the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square, and we had about 200 guests and we launched a range of body products for Elle, and we hadn't been able to have the proper launch because the bombings happened in July and the launch was planned for the next day, so we obviously couldn't do it the next day.

    So we put it off until 3 November when we had the event, which was very successful and Elle was getting very good at speaking to PowerPoint presentations, and we did a presentation about the new products that we'd launched at Boots and she had asked me to ask Suzy Menkes, as you've said, who is the fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune. And Suzy came and I sat with her while Elle was speaking and at the end of the event, she said, "Oh, Elle, that was fantastic, could you come and speak at the IHT Luxury event in Dubai in December?" And Elle said, yes, that would be great, but could she organise it with me because I would have to go with her.

    Organising events was not part of my job specification. As you've described, I looked after her intellectual property rights and her business. I didn't -- she had a manager in Australia who used to manage events like this. So you're in the position -- she says, "Can you do it?" And then she said to Suzy: "Oh, perhaps you two could meet in the next week or so and organise it?" So when I went back to -- when I went to the office the next day, I asked my PA to set up a meeting with Suzy Mekes in ten days' time and we organised to have tea at the Dorchester from about ten days after that.

  • Thank you. You tell us that in fact before that meeting could take place, something happened to intervene. You were telephoned by Elle Macpherson's lawyer?

  • I was, who I had appointed for her, yes.

  • Can you tell us about that telephone call, please?

  • He told me that -- it was only about three days before I was due to have afternoon tea with Suzy Menkes, and he told me that I was not to go, that Elle didn't want me to go, that she was not prepared to have me speaking to the press anymore. And I was astounded, because I didn't speak to the press. As I said, it wasn't my job. I'd only ever once spoken to a journalist when I was with Elle and that was Guy Dennis, who was at the Telegraph then, which was back in 2004. And I was amazed, so I called Elle and I said, "Alex has just called me and said you don't want me to go to this lunch -- this afternoon tea with Suzy Menkes", and she was, the first time ever, really grouchy with me and she said, "I can't have you speaking to the media. You've been speaking to the press without my permission." And I thought she was just having a bad day, so I didn't worry about it too much and I got my PA to take the afternoon tea out of my diary and then, when the afternoon tea was supposed to take place -- I was due to meet her at 3.00 and when I -- I had another meeting scheduled and I got a call from my PA saying that she'd heard from Suzy Menkes' PA, who said she was waiting at the Dorchester for me, so they'd told me not to speak to the media but neglected to tell the other end that, you know, I wasn't coming. So nobody met her.

  • Just so that we can be absolutely clear as to the position, had you been speaking to the media about Elle Macpherson?

  • Absolutely not. As I said, the only journalist I'd ever spoken to was Guy Dennis from the Telegraph at the Drapers conference in November 2004 and the girl from the -- whose name escapes me, who wrote that article in the Accountancy Age, but I'd never -- I didn't know -- until this year, I'd probably met four journalists in my entire life.

  • If we move on now in your statement, you tell us that unsettled though you were by this turn of events, you carried on with your work and there was a meeting that you attended at which a lawyer from Allied Domecq was present and also Mr Carter-Silk?

  • Yes, that was -- as I said earlier, celebrity work was a very small part of my case load, and I had worked for Allied Domecq for a long time on the Courvoisier account. I'd written the original strategy for it back in 1996 and then in about 2004 I started working on it again. We had a meeting at Claridges and they said they were looking to appoint external lawyers, some -- for a particular job, and could I recommend someone. So I recommended Mr Carter-Silk and he came along to the meeting and he came to Claridges to see Tatiana Whytelord, who was trademark counsel at Allied Domecq, and two of her colleagues.

  • Thank you. Can you tell us, please, how that meeting went?

  • It was horrible. He was rude to me, he was rude to the -- his potential clients, my existing clients, and then he left. So we all went out to dinner in St Christopher's Place at Pizza Express and then I went home.

    Now, that day I had been very busy. As I've said in my witness statement, I had been an expert witness for the Internal Revenue Service in the United States for -- since 2002 on the Glaxo dispute with the IRS, and we were very busy at that time and a lot -- we'd had a lot of discovery material come in and I was frankly not -- I had other things to do than worry about supermodels because there wasn't anything that specifically needed to be done, and I was also very busy with Allied Domecq because they were launching a new range in New York, and I had, bizarrely, not listened to any of my voicemails that day.

    When I got home -- my battery had run out and I couldn't listen to it in the cab on the way home, and when I got home, my husband said, "Why didn't you call me?" He said, "Alex rang today and he told me that you're going to get fired on Thursday. You've been speaking to the press without Elle's permission and she knows that you wouldn't do it on purpose but you did it because you're a alcoholic." I said, "Excuse me?"

    Anyway, the next minute my phone and it was Tatiana, my friend who I'd just been out with, my friend and client, and she said that Mr Carter-Silk had rung her on her mobile number because she had given him her business card and her mobile number was on it, and he had said the same thing to her, that I was going to be fired unless I came to this meeting at his offices around the corner in Aldwych. Unless I came to this meeting on Thursday and agreed to do what I was told that I had to do, I would be fired.

    I thought they'd all gone mad. So I just went to sleep and went to work in the morning, and went to see my CEO and ask him what was going on, and he said, "Oh, Elle's made a complaint. It's nothing, don't worry about it."

    And so I asked my PA what was going on and she said, "Oh, they have put something about a marketing meeting in there", but Matthew, my CEO, is also going. I thought: "He doesn't know anything about marketing. He's an accountant."

    And I was -- I had -- I was to so busy, I was just -- I thought they'd all gone mad and I didn't take too much notice of it. But on the Tuesday while I was at work, Mr Carter-Silk rang my husband again and said that if I didn't go to this meeting, Chiltern would fire me, that Elle had proposed that I be sent to rehab to recover from my alcoholism, to the same place that she goes to, and that they will pay for it and then I would then get better and when I came back after five weeks, everything would be lovely. Well, I honestly thought -- I mean, put yourself in my position. What would you think?

    My husband said to Mr Carter-Silk -- and said it again on the Thursday: "I've been married to my wife for 33 years. I think I might know if she was an alcoholic", but --

  • Perhaps I can just pause you there. Again, so we can be absolutely clear, were you an alcoholic?

  • So you've been asked, in the circumstances that you've described, to attend a meeting?

  • Yes, at Manches around the corner.

  • You tell us in your statement that the meeting was, as you say, at Manches on 24 November 2005 and that you did attend?

  • Yes. That was a big mistake. I called -- obviously I've always worked with lawyers and I know lots of lawyers and I called friends, and one of them on the Wednesday evening organised for me to see an employment lawyer, and he said what every other lawyer I talked to said: "Do not go to that meeting under any circumstances. Go and see the HR people at Chiltern and if you don't get any satisfactory explanation, resign and sue for constructive dismissal."

    Well, I didn't do that, obviously. Resigning and suing for constructive -- constructive dismissal is a really difficult thing and I have a seriously handicapped, disabled child who will never be able to look after himself, so just walking away from a very high-paying job is not really a great idea. I also thought they'd all gone mad and that I could go to this meeting and I could convince them that they had all turned into lunatics.

    I just thought that's what I could do, and they were breaking all the employment rules insisting that my husband came. What did my husband have to do with it? He didn't have anything to do with Elle and he didn't have anything to do with where I worked. But anyway, we went, which was a very stupid thing to do.

  • If I can now ask you about that meeting. You tell us you went to try and persuade them that they were wrong. What in fact happened?

  • The meeting was set for 10. My husband and I got there just before 10 and Elle came downstairs -- there's sort of an atrium thing. She came downstairs and said she wanted to see me on my own. Again, I was very stupid, I shouldn't have done that. So I went in there and she put her arms around me and cries and tells me that, you know, she knows what it's like to be an alcoholic -- that's a matter of public record, so I'm not saying anything I shouldn't say -- and that she's going to help me and she knows that I would never have spoken to the media were it not for my alcoholism.

    I just was speechless. I said, "Can you give me an example of when I've done this?" She said, "You've done 11 things." I said, "Tell me what the 11 things are", but she wouldn't, and I said, "You can't haul me in here, tell me I've done something and then not tell me what I've done." And she said, "I'm not allowed to tell you", and she said, "If you don't do what we want, Matthew [my CEO] will come in here and you'll be fired."

    So I was just -- I mean, I don't know, it sounds like a B movie, but it was -- and after half an hour of psycho-babble, I said I wanted to see my husband, so my husband came in, followed by Mr Carter-Silk, one of my colleagues from work, Fiona Hoxton-Moore(?) and Matthew Wickers, our CEO, and they proceeded to basically trash my reputation, trash my everything, and then say I had to go to this place and I had to go on the Monday.

  • I wasn't going to go. When I went home that night, it was 11 -- as you know, I'm Australian. There's 11 hours' difference this time of the year because of daylight saving, and I rang my oldest friend, who's a lawyer, but also at that time was the Federal Attorney General of Australia, and I told him what had happened. We've been friends since I was 15 and we're godparents to each other's children and I told him what had happened and he just was speechless and said exactly what my lawyer friends in London had said: "Do not go there. Resign immediately and sue for constructive dismissal." But as I've said, I'm an idiot and I didn't do that.

    So the next day I was still determined that I wouldn't go. My CEO had gone to Spain to play golf and he sent me a text saying, "You don't have to do this if you don't want to." So I went down to Elle's office in the building and I showed her the text and I said, "Look, I don't know what's going on here but he says I don't have to go." And she said, "Oh, he's only saying that. If you don't go, you'll be fired." And she said, "I'm going home ..." to pick up her older son, who had started school then, "... and then I'll come back and I want to talk to you."

    So she came back and she parked up on the forecourt of the building where we were, chucked the driver out of the car, and spent an hour -- she totally broke me down and I gave in. I know I'm an idiot, but I gave in and I went to this horrible place.

  • When you went to The Meadows, were you seen there by medical experts?

  • What did they conclude about whether or not you were an alcoholic?

  • Well, for the first ten days you're sort of in this hospital thing, where they -- there's no plugs in the hand basin in case you drown yourself in the hand basin, and all these strange people -- I mean, I've never even had a cigarette in my life. I didn't even know what these people were talking about most of the time. Plus they try to make you take anti-depressants or some sort of -- and I wouldn't take them, so that makes them think you're hostile. Then because I'm a runner, I wanted to use the gym and then they wouldn't let me use the gym because they said it was obsessive behaviour.

    After ten days, they rang my husband and they said that I had been subjected to -- it's called an intervention, like one of those CIA renditions, except they don't put you in chains -- and talk to you about -- they said that I wasn't an alcoholic and that I had been bullied. They also rang my employer, who didn't take the call. Anyway, they paid for it, so -- and it's very expensive, so I stayed there because that -- it's not -- Elle had made out it was like sort of a spa or something, but you know, it's a grade one psychiatric facility with men with guns in holsters parading -- you know, going around the outside of the thing, so it was fairly horrible. Not all the people there were drug addicts. I mean, when I came out of the hospital thing, I had to share a dormitory with these people, this woman -- and one woman who injected drugs between her totals so people couldn't -- I'd just never met people like that. It was horrible. Anyway, I survived.

  • You've explained to us rather graphically what it was like at The Meadows. You returned from The Meadows. What were you hoping was going to happen upon your return?

  • Well, I'd kept my side of the bargain. I came back with a clean bill of health with a thing that said I was suffering from "adjustment disorder", which apparently means "stress" in American psychiatric hospitals, and -- and so I came back. I was back in the office on 6 January and I went to see Matthew and I said, "Well, what do I do now?" And he said, "Well, it's business as usual. You've done what she wanted." And so she was still away and I sent her a text, and on the night she rang me on the way back from the airport and said I was fired, she didn't want me to handle her business any more, she couldn't trust me, I was ungrateful for what she had done for me.

    So I went and reported this to my line manager, who was the CEO, who did, look, I have to say, terribly shocked because we'd all kept our side of the bargain. So ... Things went from bad to worse after that.

  • You explained to us that you continued for a while to work for Chiltern, although without the Elle Macpherson account.

  • Well, I had deadlines coming up for the -- you know, we were due to go to trial for the Glaxo trial in the -- sort of in the autumn of 2006, so I had a lot of work on.

  • In terms of your employment with Chiltern, what happened next?

  • In the -- after she fired me, the following week, I was called in for a meeting and told that I had to replace -- that Elle was going -- she didn't want to keep her business there any more and I had to replace that business. But she was such a tiny part of my overall billings, it seemed insane. Then I got some new work in -- the nature of working with the US government is it's sort of tenders -- well, not tenders as such. Once you're accredited, the work just rolls in and another six-figure sum came in, and I thought that would fix that and nobody would worry.

    Then they produced a glossy brochure at the office and fears that I had that I was being removed were sort of -- that sort of took it away. If they spend the money on doing a big glossy brochure about me, I have to assume that they're not going to fire me any time soon.

  • Perhaps I can fast forward just a little bit to March 2006. Two months after the account with Elle Macpherson had come to an end, what did your employers do?

  • On 10 March, they made me redundant. I had no warning, nothing. I was made redundant, and because I was involved -- you know, because I was an expert witness for the IRS, I was -- frankly, who are you going to be more scared of: the IRS or Chiltern? So I rang chief counsel and he flew out on the Monday and we had a meeting with them, but they clearly were not going to keep me there any more, despite the large billings that I had there.

  • Was there really a redundancy situation?

  • No, because they immediately -- I mean, I do a lot of work in transfer pricing. They immediately hired a new transfer pricing person.

  • The way you put it in your witness statement is:

    "There is no doubt in my mind that the termination of my contract with Chiltern came as a direct result of the allegations made by Elle."

  • Yes, they said in their documents to me I'd been indiscreet, that the client didn't trust me, despite the fact that no other client said this.

  • What impact did losing your job with Chiltern have upon you? Can I first of all ask you financially?

  • Well, initially, you know, I wasn't exactly living from month to month. It wasn't --

  • I don't need the details, but would it be fair to say it had a very serious effect on you?

  • It had, it had a very serious -- and because I'd become ill, I couldn't -- and I was falling down all the time, I couldn't -- it was not a really good advertisement for yourself looking for a new job.

  • Did it have an effect on your standing in society?

  • Well, you know, you take those things more personally. Even now, I was at a meeting recently and they wouldn't say the name of the client when I was there and I thought: "They still don't trust me." I'm just being pathetic, I know, but at the time -- well, it was -- it was made worse by the fact that I was ill, that I'd become ill.

  • Perhaps we can move to that. Again, I have no desire to ask you any details about this, but you tell us in your statement that there was a period of decline in your health at the end of January 2006 and that it ultimately led to you requiring surgery and a pacemaker being fitted in 2009?

  • It may be that this is a matter which will need to be fully resolved in the civil litigation in which you are involved, but perhaps I could ask you this: do you attribute the decline in your health in any way to the events that you have told us about involving Elle Macpherson, the loss of trust and the ending of your employment by Chiltern?

  • Well, I've never been sick. The only time I've ever -- I got hurt playing tennis in 1993 and had to have spinal surgery, but that was a sporting accident, but I've never been sick. I had actually never missed a day of work at Chiltern. But I began falling, which -- as I'd been accused of being an alcoholic, falling probably wasn't the best thing for me to do, but I became very ill on the evening of the 28th and my husband called an ambulance and I was rushed to Chelsea and Westminster and received the same excellent treatment that Mr Grant described that he received yesterday, but because I'm a nobody, fortunately nobody was ringing up anyone and telling them I was there. But they referred me to people and the situation got worse and worse. I couldn't drive any more. I didn't know when I was going to fall down, and that wasn't resolved until -- I wasn't diagnosed until February --

  • I think I can stop you there.

  • The important thing is this was a physical condition eventually diagnosed?

  • Now if we move to March 2006. You tell us that you received a call out of the blue from Elle Macpherson, asking you who the security people were who checked her house and office; is that right?

  • She was very friendly and she asked me what was the name of the -- it was the week before I was made redundant and I didn't have it in my mind and I looked it up and told her what it was, who the person was, and she thanked me and went.

  • You tell us in your statement that you now know that Clive Goodman's column in the News of the World was cancelled the week before this call.

  • If I can ask the technician, please, to put up on the screen the document the reference for which ends 31809. If you could highlight, please, the bottom of those two parts -- sorry, I meant magnify. Thank you.

    We see that that's a card, it says:

    "Dear MEF ..."

    That's you, isn't it?

  • It's from Elle Macpherson, dated April 2006, so not very long after she telephoned you?

  • And it says:

    "Dear MEF, thank you for my birthday card. Was very touched. It means a lot to me. Have been meaning to put pen to paper for some time now. Will do ASAP. Much love and ..."

    Can't quite read the --

  • "Much love and light ..."

    And again, we've redacted the signature. Did you in fact hear anything further from Elle Macpherson after that?

  • You then tell us that a few months later, in August 2006, that you heard on the radio that Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman had been arrested for phone hacking and that Elle Macpherson was one of the victims?

  • Yes. I heard it early on the Today programme, and then suddenly my phone -- I started getting emails and texts from people and then a call from a girlfriend who's a lawyer, saying, "Oh my God, that's what happened. You know, that's why -- you have to ring the police straight away, ring your former employer", blah, blah, blah. So I emailed and texted Elle and I emailed my former employer and I didn't get a response, and so I tried to contact the police.

  • How did you try and contact the police?

  • I haven't had much contact with the police in my life, so I wasn't sure how you did that, but I -- I looked up on the Internet and our closest police station was Wandsworth. So I called the number for Wandsworth and nobody answered and I tried again later in the day and still nobody answered. There wasn't even a voicemail, so I looked on the Internet again and I saw Scotland Yard, which -- that was the only name -- I'd actually never heard of the Metropolitan Police service, so I saw -- and I found a phone number on there, a general number, and I called, and the lady who answered seemed quite helpful and I told her and she said she'd put me through to someone, and she put me through to another line and I waited and waited and then suddenly it disconnected. So I thought I'd better write and there wasn't any point writing, so I looked up to see who the police commissioner was, because that was the top person, and I wrote to him.

  • Did you get a reply?

  • You then tell us that you learnt in January 2007 that Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman were jailed for phone hacking. Did this development and the news that you've already told us about, that Elle Macpherson had been a victim of phone hacking, lead to any change in your relationship with Chiltern?

  • No. I -- they didn't respond to -- when I wrote to them back in August, I emailed them back in August about: "Look, obviously I'm totally vindicated. I didn't do this." No, I had no response. So I wrote again to Commissioner Blair.

  • Did you get a response that time?

  • No. I think the letters are in the exhibits.

  • They are indeed. You tell us that much later on in this year, I think, in 2011, you've had further contact with the police; is that right?

  • Well, it started -- when Sienna Miller kept going to court to try to get access to her phone records, I thought that -- that is out of sequence. Can I -- because I had actually given an interview to the Guardian in --

  • If you want to tell us about your interview with the Guardian --

  • Do you want to do that later?

  • Now is a convenient time.

  • Okay. Nothing happened. After the Mulcaire and Goodman were jailed and nothing happened and I was getting sicker and sicker, I again heard the story in -- I think it was 12 July 2009, a report on the Today Show that the Guardian had published this story about phone hacking and I've never actually bought the Guardian before so I went -- I walked down to the newspaper place down the road and bought the Guardian and read it. I couldn't believe it. So I rang the reporter, Stephen Brook, who had written the story -- or it was somebody, Nick Davies, and I spoke to Stephen Brook and he said, "Can you come give us an interview?"

    So I did, and they made a video, which is still on the Internet, and then I thought about it. Before I -- you know, I thought about it for a little while before I -- seeing as I'd made such bad judgments in the past. I thought: "Well, I will talk to them. I'll see if anything happens." I actually honestly expected to get angry letters from lawyers or abusive phone case saying that I shouldn't have said that, but nothing happened, absolutely nothing, and then the BBC One Show called the Guardian and said would I do an interview for them, so I did an interview for them the next night and nothing happened. And then I just felt: "Well, that's hopeless. I'll give up. I can't spend my whole life obsessing about what happened."

    And then, at the beginning of 2010, the New York Times rang me and asked me if I'd help them with their investigations, so I worked with them and then they published their story in the autumn of last year, so I thought -- and then at the same time, Sienna Miller was going -- finally got her phone records, so I wrote to -- I wrote to -- Dominic Lawson had published a really sort of -- in his column in the Sunday Times -- because I subscribe to the Sunday Times, so I replied to his email because it said that this was a Labour Party plot to get at the Conservatives and blah, blah, blah, and I just thought that was a load of total rubbish, so I wrote to him and told him that I'd been collateral damage and that's the first person who has actually ever responded to me and he wrote a very nice email back and then wrote an article -- he didn't mention me -- about it in January of this year.

    Then I thought: "Well, I'll give it another try. I'll write to the Crown Prosecution Service." And they responded, and then in -- I think it was between Christmas and New Year, they announced that there would be no further investigation, there was no further evidence, and lots of people complained. So I wrote back and then I got a letter from a woman called Alison Levitt QC, which I think you have, and then I wrote back and sort of queried a couple of things she'd said and I got another letter sort of putting me off, and then I had a call from the CPS and they said -- and a letter following it up, saying that I would be contacted by a policeman, and I was, but he was horrible to me. He was really rude to me and behaved like I'd done something wrong. So I rang the Crown Prosecution Service back and said, "Well, if that's the sort of help I'm going to get, I'm not interested."

    But then, about four days later, a nice policeman -- I gave someone from last night -- one of the detectives who I gave the chap's mobile number -- and he was really nice and he said he'd had a good look at it and he could see, you know, that I had had a lot of problems, and -- but then things sort of took a life of their own. Then Rupert Murdoch came over and sort of took control of it and was out at Wapping and then the one journalist that I did know at the BBC, who had helped me with a client years before, who had a trademark problem and was being monstered by a big corporation who -- they'd done a show on it on Radio 4 and he organised for me to do an interview on 30 January of this year with Paddy O'Connell from Broadcasting House.

    So I did the interview and I had no idea how widely that was listened to around the world and then people contacted me from all around the world and that's how I got lawyers and so on.

  • Thank you very much for filling us in on the intervening events. Is the position now -- and I don't want you to go into the details of communications with the police -- that you are in contact with them on a satisfactory basis?

  • Thank you. You've told us already that you're a litigant. How are you funded, if I may ask, in the litigation?

  • I have a conditional fee arrangement. I couldn't do it otherwise.

  • And you tell us finally in your statements that you are active in politics?

  • And you tell us that you have raised your concerns about how the phone hacking issue has been dealt with internally within the Conservative party. Is that right?

  • They don't take any notice of me, but I have.

  • For those who are following on the Internet, they will be able to see the exhibits which will be posted later today. Thank you very much indeed.

  • I suppose that all one can say is that you've correctly described your own position; not your fault, the collateral damage of what somebody else did to the person for whom you worked. Thank you very, very much indeed for coming to tell me about it. Thank you.

  • Sir, could we have a short break between the witnesses?

  • (A short break)

  • Five minutes is going to be five minutes, because otherwise we're going to just lose time.

  • We're still missing a few, sir. I don't know if you want to wait.

  • I'm going to wait here. Could you just announce that I'm sitting again, please, outside.

  • (Pause)

    Right.

  • Sir, the next witness is Mr Garry Flitcroft. I'll just ask for him to come and take a seat.