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

  • Thank you, sir, and thank you again for agreeing to accommodate me personally today.

    When I rose to my feet back in November of last year, I outlined a picture of a press, or at least certain sections of it, which, through a catalogue of wrongs, systemic, flagrant and deeply entrenched as they are, had lost the confidence of the British public entirely. That is why this Inquiry was set up, let us not forget.

    It wasn't simply the fact that one newspaper group had authorised its journalists to hack into the private messages of a murdered teenager's telephone, an act which had caused public outrage, but rather this was the final straw in the groundswell of public opinion which saw the press as being out of control, a press which had become so complacent in the belief that freedom of speech has given them carte blanche to disregard or sacrifice the rights of those whose private lives they choose to write about in the interests of selling newspapers.

    Indeed, if you read the written submissions, as I did, of one of the biggest media organisations, you would think that nothing wrong had been done at all, apart from the hacking of some phones.

    Despite the powerful account given by just a sample of those who have suffered the most blatant of intrusions into their private lives, or whose characters have been assassinated by the press, all too eager to become judge, jury and executioner, the print media still advocates a law or framework of greater press latitude.

    At the heart of this sits not just the continuation of a system of self-regulation, with the same old mantra that, "The press will behaviour this time, honest", based on an irrational fear, we say, of any kind of statutory underpinning, but also the widening concept of public interest.

    As the Inquiry will recall, a critical part of my opening submissions was the demonstration of how the culture, practice and ethics of the newspaper industry, especially in the more commercially successful area of the market, had led to routine invasions into the private lives not just of those well-known and those connected with them, but also those who have found themselves thrown into the public spotlight, often unwittingly.

    The public concern which this has caused was, as I said, the very reason why this Inquiry was set up in the first place. The answer to this concern is certainly not to be found either in greater press freedom or in the dilution of the test for public interest as being the justification for the publication of material which interferes with the rights of individuals to respect their private lives.

    Let me not be Delphic about this. I'm here neither to bury nor certainly to praise the media. That's not to say there are not good and responsible journalists: there are, lots of them. This Inquiry has heard evidence from some of them and you don't need me to tell you who they are. But we are not here to focus on the good journalists, we don't need an Inquiry for that. We are here to consider the bad ones, or the bad examples of journalism right across the board and what they show about the culture, practices and ethics of the press as a whole.

    Sir, I know you're at pains not to say this, but we do: the press is on trial here, and not simply in this room but also out there in the court of public opinion. After all, that is where the demand for this Inquiry started, and they know that. Of course they do. That is why they're so scared of what evidence has been heard here, and most importantly, how it will be perceived outside. That is why they've employed the megaphone of the pages of their newspapers rather than the serried ranks of lawyers sitting here dutifully day in, day out, when a particular egregious example of misconduct has meant that the best behaviour they've tried to present, whilst under the microscope of this Inquiry, has slipped, and I'll refer to some examples in due course.

    The charge sheet is one which I read out in my opening, and I have one or two things to say about it shortly. Although understandably, sir, you've repeatedly said you are not concerned so much with the specifics of who did what to whom and when, the fact is that it is only through examples such as that that one can assess what the culture, practices and ethics of the press, or at least a certain section of them, are.

    I will remind you of some of those examples we have seen, memorable as they were, because to some extent over the last eight months, what has been lost is the voice of the victims, as is often the way in any trial.

    No doubt the press have breathed a sigh of relief as, with intermittent exception, for the last several months this Inquiry has focused more on what the press want to say, what they want and what they don't want to happen.

    Some eight months have passed since this Inquiry started, and whilst it is clear to those such as myself who practice in this field that the media have had one eye on what has gone on here and the fact that the spotlight is so intensely on them, nothing has in fact really changed.

    So part of my task, with the small voice that we have as victims, as representatives, in one sense, of the public, the only voice here in that respect, is to remind everyone in this room, as well as those watching it outside, who have become so accustomed to some of the outrageous behaviour which brought us to this point, that it has no longer the capacity to cause outrage, why it is, as I say, we are all here and what the point of it is.

    Because we must not forget, unless something is done, unless real change happens, as I said at the outset, and someone, whoever that may be, takes a grip, a very firm grip, on the tabloid press, we will be back in the same position as soon as the spotlight in this room is turned off and the ink has dried on your report, sir.

    And it may be worse, because we are all concerned that it might be payback time. Payback for those who have sought to stand up against certain newspapers, who have sought to exercise the very freedom of speech which the press themselves invoke to justify the great privileges which they enjoy. We have already seen signs of this during the course of the Inquiry, but hopefully the press will resist the temptation once it is over.

    Anyway, that is a glimpse of the future, or one possible future. Now let us remind ourselves of some of the examples of the evidence we have heard.

    As those who witnessed the first seven days or so of Module 1 of this Inquiry, for that is all that it was, will agree, it is no exaggeration to say that the evidence which was heard from the selection of victims who came here to recount their personal and often very painful experiences at the hands of the press was truly chilling. And those are not my words. That was the description which the Prime Minister gave in his evidence, and indeed he was right. Perhaps not quite in the way he intended it, though, because it is this evidence which we say should serve to have a chilling effect, a positive chilling effect, on the press.

    I'm sure we were all struck by a number of things about this evidence, in particular perhaps by the fact that many of these victims were not well-known. They were ordinary members of the public, people such as Kate and Gerry McCann, Christopher Jefferies or Sally and Bob Dowler; people who had found themselves caught in the crosshair of a press baying for more and more stories, and were so devastated by the result.

    I'm not going to repeat the roll call of individuals who sat in that chair over there and who described how their lives had been permanently scarred in the pursuit of a good story, often where personal and private tragedy had been compounded in the most public, sensational and intrusive manner.

    Each of us will have our own very vivid memory of this, a particular example, for that is all they were. For each one, we could have brought many, many more, as I said in my opening submissions.

    Whether it was watching the dignified but genuinely distressing testimony of Kate and Gerry McCann, in whose shoes none of us would walk, who were portrayed as the murderers of their missing little girl, and who had to listen as a succession of journalists came to try and justify some of the most woeful journalism.

    I say "justify". I don't imagine anyone here thought that those hapless individuals who added so much to the grief of already grieving parents came even close to explaining how they could have written what they wrote.

    But perhaps even worse than that was the episode which the Inquiry thought it important to probe in a little more depth, and that was the front page News of the World story revealing sections of Kate's personal diary written to Maddie. So personal not even Gerry, her husband, had read it.

    It was clear from the evidence we heard that the editor deliberately tried to avoid telling the McCanns that they had bought her diary, despite the so-called "good relationship", despite how friendly they apparently were with the McCanns. And one does wonder, if that is the press' idea of a good relationship and that is what they do to their friends, I ask rhetorically.

    They bought it to publish, even to procure and to pore through her innermost fears, hopes, things she wishes she said or hadn't said. Can one think of anything more intimate and more private than that?

    Sometimes there are just no words which will do.

    And this was the editor who had been brought in as the new broom to sweep away the troubles of the past, we heard, the regime that had brought you such journalistic high points as hacking into people's private voicemails or making corrupt payments to police officers, et cetera, et cetera. An interesting insight into the corporate culture of an organisation whose idea of housekeeping is to sweep as much as possible under the carpet.

    What about the evidence of Christopher Jefferies, an English schoolteacher, a man of dedication and distinction, whose life, like the reputation he'd taken years to build, was ransacked by journalists drunk on the taste, as I said, of a story too good to be true, and certainly too good to check properly. Who could not have been impressed with the fair and even generous manner in which he dealt with having been monstered in the most public and devastating manner possible?

    Perhaps his account was all the more powerful for having been told in that way. He certainly showed more circumspection than those that trashed his life and everything he held dear, without so much as a second thought, or so it appeared from the individual reporters who came here to defend the indefensible.

    Or finally, perhaps, the raw emotion and pain of the Dowlers, Sally and Bob, who not only found that their missing daughter's mobile phone had been accessed by a newspaper desperate to obtain an exclusive, regardless of the fact that as the Surrey Police report shows, they were prepared to trample all over a current police investigation to do so. Someone also deleted her messages as well once the police had secured the phone, and there are only so many possible culprits.

    But what perhaps was less known to those within the Inquiry, and equally shocking, was the way in which their private moment of grief, retracing the last footsteps of their murdered daughter in an impromptu attempt to obtain some form of respite from the public gaze, because a photo opportunity for one newspaper, which was too damn good to resist.

    If it sounds a familiar theme to this Inquiry, it should do. Sometimes not even a "no shoot" list, if one really needed something so obvious in this case, would do. Sometimes, as we will see, even the microscope of this Inquiry is not enough to prevent.

    As the Dowlers told us, somehow the newspaper knew their movements, perhaps through listening to their voicemails, and not just Milly's. After all, if you can listen to the voicemails of a missing teenage girl, why not also do so to her distraught parents? And what does that tell you about the ethics of this section of the media?

    There are other individuals we heard from, whose lives had also been turned upside down, some of them without even knowing why. For example, Mary-Ellen Field, an impressive and loyal adviser who was even bundled off to a rehabilitation clinic by her employer who could not explain the leak of stories about her private life in the press other than by the fact that this trusted worker must have been responsible and her denials must have been the result of some illness or condition.

    There was no condition and there was no leak. It was just the friendly neighbourhood hacks down at the News of the World doing what they called "screwing over the phones" of a supermodel who was no doubt good for a story or two. Lots of public interest there, you might feel, and definitely a great advertisement for freedom of speech.

    And who paid the price for this? A woman who had done nothing wrong but has had to live with the legacy of this for years and years, and has had to fight to have her claim recognised.

    Or poor HJK, who just happened to be involved with a well-known person, someone the tabloid media wanted to know all about because he happened to be in the public eye, which in this country apparently makes you fair game, or so some of the journalists in that section of the media clearly believe, given the evidence they gave to this Inquiry.

    And HJK also paid a heavy price for this. It is no wonder that he asked for and was given anonymity, brave as he was to come in the first place.

    All of these people, ordinary members of the public, if they don't mind me describing them as such, who came to explain to you, sir, to all of us how their lives were shattered by being caught in the crosshair of a press which had so lost its moral compass.

    And then what about those who by virtue of their particular skill or talent have become well-known and who figure in the public spotlight? Their lives have also been made, to lesser or greater degree, difficult or had serious impact on them by the behaviour of the press in this country. And I make no apology for mentioning them, however unfashionable or unpopular that makes me.

    Is this, as I said, the price which they have to pay for their success? For being good at singing or acting or running fast or kicking a football and so on, as opposed to being good with numbers, skilful with their hands or even consummate at constructing legal arguments?

    Whilst there are those who vehemently deplore the hacking of Milly Dowler's voicemails or the phones of Sean Russell, Josie Russell's father, or the victims of the 7/7 bombing, or even Sarah Payne, a woman whose cause, ironically, the News of the World even championed in its last edition, full as it was with a final burst of faded glory.

    There seems to be less sympathy, however, with people like Sienna Miller. She understands that, as others in her position do. They will always be seen, somehow, as whingeing celebrities.

    But remember this, sir: she was one of the first to take on the weight of News International in her groundbreaking hacking claim, and look how many far more influential people failed to have the courage to do exactly the same. Module 3 was full of them. Unlike the police or the politicians, she was not scared to take on News Group.

    It is people like her who were prepared to do what they did, or journalists, good journalists, like Nick Davies and others, who wrote about what had really taken place in the dark days in Fleet Street, which led to the rubbishing of the oh so convenient lie pedalled by News International's most senior executives, that this was the isolated work of one rogue reporter, and led, therefore, to Sally and Bob Dowler discovering the final outrage which provoked this Inquiry.

    But it was other evidence which Miss Miller gave, about what people in this country, whose talents lie in a medium which the public want to watch, have to endure, that is perhaps the legacy which she has left. Who can forget her description of being abused, of being spat at, of being chased down a road by a gang of men, who, if they weren't carrying cameras, would have been immediately arrested for assault? Freedom of speech, you say? Licence to carry a weapon, more like.

    This is nothing to do with public interest. Indeed, so little of what we've heard about really is, although again that makes me very unpopular for saying so.

    And whilst this Inquiry will remember the description which a number of well-known figures who were brave enough to come here to give evidence gave, of the highly intrusive way in which the media had treated them, it was perhaps the account of how those near and dear to them were made to suffer for the fact that they happened to be related or close to someone who was in the public eye.

    The appalling story of Charlotte Church's parents, for example, her poor mother, who despite the fact that the News of the World were well aware of her depression -- well aware because they'd listened into her messages from her hospital visit when she tried to commit suicide -- how they not only published the graphic account of her husband's infidelity, but in an act of the greatest compassion, blackmailed her into giving an interview, making her bare the arms which carried the marks of her self-harming with the promise that this would avoid a far worse follow-up story about her family.

    I do wonder, sir, what sort of code, what sort of self-regulation, would prevent that kind of journalism?

    And then there was the story of Garry Flitcroft, the relatively unknown Blackburn footballer, who shot to fame at least in the legal world because of the injunction he won and then lost, but should not have done, to prevent his infidelity being splashed across the print media.

    Whatever you think of the rights or wrongs of what he did, does anyone who heard his testimony truly believe that the disclosure of this fact really served any form of public interest, let alone the hounding of his poor family?

    Then there was his father, who we heard had come to watch his son play football, something he had trained for over years and years, not because Mr Flitcroft wanted to be famous or to be a role model, but because it's what he loved doing and was really rather good at. We heard how, as a result of the abuse which followed his son across the terraces, his father stopped watching his son play, after 20 years of doing so. How his depression worsened and he later committed suicide.

    As I said before, uncomfortable for the press to listen to? Well, then good, I hope it still is, because nothing we say has changed.

    Yes, these are just, as I say, examples of the sorts of practices which are prevalent throughout the commercial end of the print media. What did we hear about? We heard about voicemail interception, of course, but was this a practice, I ask, which was hermetically sealed within News of the World? Of course it wasn't.

    Evidence of this is difficult, I appreciate. Mr Mulcaire only acted for News Group Newspapers, and thank God he kept notes, albeit not particularly legible ones. But anyone out there who believes it was just the News of the World only needs to think about the other evidence which this Inquiry heard, evidence from a number of quarters about how the practice was widespread amongst tabloid journalists. So widespread, for example, it was an in-joke between the editors of the two leading daily tabloids, the Sun and the Mirror, at a press awards ceremony.

    Mr Mohan, the editor of the Sun, was candid enough to admit that the practice could not have been ruled out, and the same was true of Mr Wallace, more recent editor of the Mirror.

    Whether, as I say, other newspapers were engaged in it or not, or whether, more importantly, we can prove now that they were, is not something you need to answer necessarily for part 1. But you do have enough evidence that everybody knew it was going on throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, and at best, turned a blind eye to it.

    It was part of the tabloid journalists' armoury, of which I'll say more in a moment. Part of tabloid culture. It had its own name: screwing phones. We heard about it from Paul McMullan, we heard about it from James Hipwell, we even heard about it from Piers Morgan, although, in his characteristically fabristic(?) style, he denied any personal involvement, despite the words that he'd written about Heather Mills, who was forced to come and appear here in order to explain.

    And if her evidence wasn't enough to demonstrate the personal knowledge of those in senior places, then perhaps Mr Paxman added weight to that suggestion.

    But, really, does there need to be any clearer signal that this was rife amongst that area of the industry than the fact that, unlike the Guardian, which led the good old-fashioned journalistic investigation into the scandal and was monstered for it by the tabloid press, not to mention our friends at the Press Complaints Commission, unlike the Guardian, the red tops ran a million miles from the story, as they did from reporting the findings of the Information Commissioner's "What price privacy now?" report. Funny, that.

    If nothing else, it tells you something about the culture. In a dog-eat-dog world, where rival titles fight a constant battle in a brutally competitive market, the deafening silence of the tabloid newspapers in the face of News Group's criminality speaks volumes.

    But then, as I said, News Group's downfall was Mulcaire's note-keeping. There are other Mulcaires, other Goodmans, other newspapers, most of whom will be breathing a sigh of relief, especially if part 2 of this Inquiry doesn't happen.

    But before those who say all the Inquiry has really seen in terms of press malpractice is the hacking of phones -- and believe me there are media organisations that do -- let us not forget the other tricks of the trade we've seen.

    To add to hacking into private voicemail messages, there are incidences of email hacking. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg here. Operation Tuleta starts to move into full swing, as DAC Akers said to this Inquiry yesterday. We have seen now the use of messages even taken from stolen mobile telephones, which appears to relate to 2010, long after the so-called lessons should have been learned.

    And what self-respecting tabloid journalist would be without the products of blagging? We have numerous examples of it in Mr Mulcaire's notes. And then there, of course, was the uncovering of Mr Whittamore's activities, another man who thankfully kept a detailed note of what he did and for who. Only he acted for every title, practically, and we know the league table of offenders, or more euphemistically, should I say, the users of his services. I will turn to what was said about Operation Motorman briefly in a moment when I look at Module 2.

    Then we have the equally covert skills of surveillance men like Derek Webb, of whom we had the almost comical suggestion that he was a journalist because he was handed a press pass. Seriously. You can give anyone a wig, but that doesn't make them a barrister.

    Then there are the more obvious visible practices we've seen: blackmail and intimidation, doorstepping, harassment. All of which are designed to interfere in the most intrusive way possible with the private lives of their targets, often at a time when they're at their most vulnerable.

    And while we're on the subject of harassment, it is worth a word or two about one of the suggestions in this regard which came out of the paparazzi agencies who came to give evidence to this Inquiry, namely that the whole problem of camping outside people's houses, chasing them down the street, following them menacingly around, driving recklessly through the streets of London and thrusting cameras into their faces, all of that would end, they say, if people signed up to a "no shoot" list.

    Nonsense.

    I'm not against some voluntary acceptance by the picture agencies that there are people whose names appearing on such a list should mean they're off limits, but with the greatest of respect, having been responsible for all of the anti-harassment injunctions, I can say with certainty that the individuals who obtained these injunctions all made it plain before that they did not want to be photographed, with lawyers letters and so on.

    There isn't any piece of paper which will stop this type of photojournalist if that's what you want to call them. If they think there is a good photo to be had, they will take it. If they think there is a story which needs to be illustrated, they will do so, and the pressures of that are simple.

    I can say that there isn't a piece of paper which will stop them, let alone a voluntary one, because if they will literally tear up an order of the court in front of you as you hand it to them, as they do, they are hardly going to take any notice of a "no shoot" list, and if you don't believe me, then just look at what happened to Tinglan Hong, one of a number of examples of where we've seen over the last nine months that despite the microscope of this Inquiry under which the newspapers are putting on their best behaviour, there are still examples of the same kind of misconduct I have just outlined, because a story sometimes is too good to miss.

    Ms Hong made it plain, "no shoot" list or not, that she did not want to be photographed. She wanted to be left alone. After all, what had she done, other than have a baby with Hugh Grant? Of course, presumably that is justification enough to terrify this poor pregnant woman. And what about her mother, who some paparazzo even tried to run over when she tried to gather the necessary evidence by turning the camera on the cameraman? Another theme, you might feel, of this Inquiry.

    And if you think there isn't good business in this, then look at the evidence of Matt Sprake of the Newspics agency, whose evidence came very late in this Inquiry but which demonstrated that all of our favourite tabloid newspapers had been using this form of covert surveillance right through 2011 and 2012, snooping around trying to find a photo which could catch out a well-known person smoking a cigarette when she shouldn't, or leaving a flat maybe they shouldn't have been at.

    Really, I ask, in 2012, is this still what the press think is a practice that should be protected?

    But there have been other examples of this during the ongoing Inquiry which I should mention. In the face of the contempt convictions relating to the investigation of Christopher Jefferies, there was also the contempt of court in relation to the reporting of the Levi Bellfield trial. There was the sale of evidence information from Virgin Atlantic to Big Pictures, and perhaps one of the most memorable pieces of evidence was the way in which certain newspapers dealt with the Belgian coach crash.

    Yes, I'm sure there are those sitting in this Inquiry which hoped I would not mention the indefensible way in which a family's grief was intruded upon. Publishing the photograph of a child in pain at the funeral of her brother would be singularly appalling if it were an isolated lapse of judgment, but it isn't. We've heard many examples of other similar instances in other newspapers over the years.

    Have they learnt nothing, though, from the number of people who came to give evidence to this Inquiry about the appalling way in which the press can compound an already tragic situation by the most intrusive and sensational of reporting? Apparently not.

    What a fitting end to the evidence about the relationship between the press and the public.

    And what about Module 2?

  • Just before you move on, Mr Sherborne, Mr Dingemans yesterday tried to summarise in seven propositions the issues, and one of his propositions, which you might have read, was that it was possibly appropriate to conclude that the press have a tendency to see news as divorced from the individuals involved, in other words to commodify the people and, as it were, put that to one side purely because of the news value of a story. Would that be a fair way of summarising the effect of what you've been saying? Or is that not strong enough? How would you put that?

  • Sir, we'd say it's not strong enough, but it is a pattern which is familiar from the evidence we've heard, the dehumanisation, in effect, of the victims, certainly in terms of stories which involve the intrusion into grief, but. I would put it higher than that. You've heard me put it higher. And the evidence justifies us putting it higher than that because one can see the very real damage it does to people in those circumstances.

  • Oh yes, but if you're not thinking about the people involved, then you're certainly not thinking about the harm that it causes to those people.

  • Of course not, sir.

  • But we say there are circumstances, there are examples, where it's not simply a question of failing to see how there are human beings involved. We say there is a deliberate turning of a blind eye. And the examples I've given can't possibly be explained simply by the fact that there are individuals within a newspaper who haven't stopped to think of the very real damage they are doing to people. Particularly given the fact, for example, with the McCanns, that this sort of campaign lasted over months and months, and lasted despite the fact that the McCanns themselves were begging the PCC and anyone else who would listen to stop this kind of reporting.

    We say, in the face of that, it can't possibly be maintained that this was simply the failure to do anything other than not take into account what the human dimension was to these stories which are just too good to resist.

    What about Module 2, sir, the relationship between the press and the police? What did we really learn?

    From my clients' point of view, from the public's point of view, perhaps very little, and I don't say that to diminish the exercise. Far from it.

    The Inquiry has a lot to think about in terms of what it suggests is the way to deal with the obvious problems which the at times nauseating closeness between certain members of the police and press has led to, a culture which is at the very least evocative of a type of leniency or impunity, or at least the appearance of such, neither of which is healthy.

    We've made recommendations about these, detailed and lengthy recommendations, which I'm afraid Mr Garnham has to some extent misunderstood, and I don't blame him for doing so. There are more pieces of paper in this Inquiry even than there are in Mr Mulcaire's notebook, and I will deal with this very briefly in a moment.

    But as well as the closeness of relationships, there are other issues such as leaks to the media, particularly surrounding prominent arrests. There is a very lengthy and comprehensive document, as I said, prepared by Ms Mansoori and Ms Alan, and I leave you to read that, especially in terms of the recommendations it contains.

    But the real reason I said that my clients have learnt very little from Module 2, as far as they are concerned, is simple: we already knew perfectly well that the police had failed the public. And by that I mean in relation to the hacking of thousands of people's mobile telephones by just one newspaper. We heard how, despite having uncovered an Aladdin's cave of evidence, of serious wrongdoing on a scale which at least involved hundreds of victims and encompassed a number of journalists, rather than open it up and properly investigate, the police shut the cave up as firmly as they could.

    And despite what it seemed to suggest, whether out of abundance of caution or not, all of the evidence was there in that cave in 2006, as it is now. They had Mulcaire's notebooks, they had worked out there were over 400 potential victims, they had pages of PIN numbers, passwords, unique direct dial numbers, they had call data from Mr Mulcaire and from within the News of the World, from its Bat phone, they had the corner names of a number of journalists, the same ones as those who had been arrested, they had the "for Neville" email and they knew about payments for stories and so on.

    So why did they shut the cave? Was it pressure of resources? Well, perhaps. But that doesn't explain the reluctance of the senior investigating officer to reveal the full extent and nature of the evidence to the CPS or to prosecuting counsel, or to pursue the agreed strategy of informing the victims.

    The somewhat incredible claim to the CPS in 2006 that there was no evidence that any other journalist was involved simply doesn't make sense, and to test the police's position, look at it in this way: say the police seized 11,000 pages of notes from a burglar containing home addresses and safe codes and so on, with the names of a series of antique dealers, for example, on the corner of the numerous pages, antique dealers who had presumably commissioned the information and were no doubt using it to get pieces they might want to sell; would the police in those circumstances have stopped at prosecuting just the burglar and one such dealer? Of course they wouldn't.

    Would they not have warned each and every house owner whose safe code or similar was in that book that they were potentially at risk? Of course they would have done. I'm sure you see the point.

    By sealing up the cave, what they allowed News Group to do was not just to escape the full consequences of the criminality which they had perpetrated, they allowed News Group to peddle the lie of one rogue reporter, and they failed the victims, the thousands of victims who might have done something more about it if they'd been told in 2006 and not had to try and wait years to piece together what had happened as best they can, despite the deliberate destruction of millions of emails by News Group Newspapers.

    What about Operation Motorman? The investigation which uncovered a widespread illegal trade in the purchase of private information on a scale which rivalled phone hacking and involved all of the press, practically, but especially the tabloid newspapers? And yet, despite the sheer volume of criminal records, friends and family numbers, DVLA checks and so on, which Mr Whittamore was paid significant sums to supply to the press, not a single journalist of any of those named in his notebooks was ever charged, a fact which the newspapers now rely on, rather unsurprisingly, to try and diminish the obvious significance of what was uncovered, and I will return to this shortly.

    For the moment, it is sufficient to say that this, Operation Motorman and Operation Glade, was yet another failure, another blot on the copy book. It is no wonder that the failure properly to investigate and punish journalists has led to a sense of impunity, which did nothing to expose these illegal practices.

    Coupled with the evidence we've heard of the overly close relationship between the press and police, the accounts of excessive hospitality, is it any wonder that there was the perception of bias or conflict of interest?

    Let me take an example, one which Mr Garnham referred to, I think, yesterday when I wasn't here. At a key moment in the hacking investigation, when the police had uncovered evidence of how widespread the practice was and were deciding what to do about it within News of the World, Messrs Hayman and Fedorcio attended a meal with Andy Coulson and Neil Wallis at an exclusive London members' club. Whether they discussed it openly or not, which they deny, it doesn't matter.

    But I wonder, would you have described the decision to meet and to have that dinner as a wise or a foolish one? And do you really need me to answer that question?

    Real bias or just the appearance of such, either way, the relationship came across as a desperately unhealthy one, we say.

    Whilst it is right that there should be recognition that the officers of Operation Weeting under DAC Akers have done much to restore the confidence of the public, the fact is that their predecessors, the lunching classes at the top of the tree, have so lost the trust of the public that the task of Operation Weeting is at best a damage limitation exercise and not just because the delay in not investigating in 2006 has made the task much more difficult for the officers now and has required more manpower as a result. As I'll explain shortly, we are still at the tip of the iceberg.

    Whilst we're looking at unsatisfactory relationships, let's move to Module 3.

    The lessons of Module 3 seem clear, certainly to the victims. Everyone admits the relationship between the press and the politicians was one which was and has been particularly unhealthy. Not because it was too cosy, perhaps, but because politician after politician of every colour, creed and class, sought to obtain the support of one of the most powerful media barons we have ever seen. Does it really need to be pointed out how unhealthy it is? The great irony that the elected representatives of this country, representatives at the highest level, have been under the influence, whether direct or indirect, and it matters not, of an unelected few?

    Well, apparently it does. The culture of fear and favour which the relationship between our politicians and the press seems based on, cannot possibly be right.

    You've heard evidence, sir, from some of the biggest names in politics, individuals of stature, serious politicians who have admitted to the fact that it was easier perhaps to prostrate oneself at the feet of the Sun king, or rather the king of the Sun, if only to ensure that they would be in power and could push through policies which they believed, genuinely believed, would benefit the many.

    A small sacrifice, perhaps.

    No one is saying to politicians like Mr Cameron that they can't be friends with editors, journalists whoever, and I know you aren't saying that either, sir. One isn't even saying, "Don't go to Santorini". I'm sure it's a beautiful holiday island. But that's what it should be. Not a place where those we elect should seek hospitality from the rich and powerful unelected few in return for political support and favours. After all, as Virgil taught us: Be wary of those in Greece bearing gifts.

    It is not rocket science, any more than police being wined and dined by editors of newspapers who they were investigating for criminal offences.

    Finally, it needs to be said that the evidence we have heard certainly demonstrates the importance of plurality and other similar checks and balances which have been recommended by many of my clients, who have either come here to give evidence or provided helpful papers. Sir, I'm sure you have and will read them, and will take their comments on board.

    Before we leave the evidence we've heard, can I say one or two things briefly? Yes, there have been lots of individual examples, but the who did what to whom and when, tempting as it is to dwell on, really provides an insight, we say, into the culture, practice and ethics of the press as a whole.

    What it has shown us, for example, is that right at the heart of the problems is perhaps a failure of governance. It is not the journalist that is simply to blame, or even the editors. The problems stem right from the top. You have proprietors worried about commercial sales, editors worried about pleasing proprietors, journalists who take their moral compass from those above them. We've seen clear examples of this in the Inquiry.

    Take the News of the World as just one example. We have seen a succession of editors starting with Kelvin McKenzie, moving on to Piers Morgan, then Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and finally the new broom, Colin Myler; and when one looks at this list, one can see the nature of the individuals, some of the most powerful people in Fleet Street, people who have shaped popular culture, but have also shaped the culture, practice and ethics of the press. We have seen each of them up close, giving evidence here, and, sir, you will reach your own conclusions.

    But if these are the generals, what about the foot soldiers? Men like Paul McMullan, the parody of a tabloid journalist. His evidence would have been comical with great tabloid headlines such as, "Privacy is for Paedophiles", if it weren't for the fact that many of us here suspect that this wasn't just his view, but reflected a newspaper which fed the public a steady diet of salacious stories.

    Mr McMullan, the tabloid world's guilty pleasure, a dirty secret that everyone was so quick to disown as journalist after journalist came from the News of the World and said that they didn't recognise what he was describing. It's funny, isn't it, that a man who no one seemed to recognise was responsible over the years for countless News of the World exclusives.

    Or you have Neville Thurlbeck, the chief reporter and senior figure within News International, the classic journalist who made his exclusives and left. The man who seemed incapable of recognising a blackmail demand, no matter how clearly it stared him in the face. Or perhaps he was just unwilling, as he was to admit having written the emails in the first place, despite the equally glaring evidence that he was responsible.

    How much does this tell us about the personalities of those people who are running these newspapers? And it applies to other newspapers in the industry too.

    Sir, I'm going to move on next to consider how the press have responded to all this evidence, because we say again: this is indicative of the culture.

    While it would be good if the reaction of the core participant media organisations to this evidence was a full acceptance of what had been done that was wrong, or at least a large, large measure of mea culpa, what we have seen in some areas, particularly to my right -- and I don't just mean my immediate right, before there is a shifting of chairs -- what we've seen is a culture -- and I use that word advisedly -- of plausible deniability rather than openness and candour. A culture of cover-up rather than clean-up.

    While certain newspaper groups are more representative of this culture than others, of their: "If we shout and protest long enough, avoid making any concessions and dispute everything, even in the face of strong evidence, that will wear down any criticism, let alone condemnation". We say it is an example of what is prevalent across the board, and if anything needs to be given to support this, let us look at Operation Motorman.

    I don't need to repeat the sections of the Information Commissioner's reports "What price privacy?" and "What price privacy now?", in which he outlined the catalogue of personal information illegally obtained at the request of newspaper after newspaper. On any scale, it was industrial. It was blindingly obvious to us, certainly on this side of the room, that in view of the travesty which the failure to prosecute any journalist represented and the absence of any proper investigation of the material in this Inquiry, which had been released to the core participants, there was every chance that a newspaper group would try to avoid any suggestion it must have known that the information it obtained, in large volume, must have been illegally obtained.

    And so it came to pass, or almost came to pass, with a misunderstanding over precisely what position was being adopted by one of the core participants.

    Being right, as I tell my children, is no consolation. Much better if it never happened in the first place. We all know the significance of what was disclosed by Operation Motorman: the widespread use of Mr Whittamore's services, which continued, in the case of one newspaper, until 2010, after he was convicted.

    It has always been the position of the core participant victims that it is hardly credible for the press to claim that they were blissfully unaware that this type of personal information which they would buy had been obtained or might have been obtained illegally. The sheer number of criminal record checks, friends and family numbers, DVLA checks and so on and so forth is a testament to this. But as important was the fact that some of the newspapers simply refused properly to investigate and respond to the complaint.

    Despite the newspapers' mantra, these activities could hardly be described as historic. For example, if the same journalist was still there at these newspapers and remained unrepentant or ignorant at all of what the fuss was all about, as it appeared some believe, or worse still, the information was still being processed, then, as we say, it is hardly historic.

    And what have the newspapers done to investigate this? Well, some have been pretty candid, like Trinity Mirror for whom Sly Bailey came to give evidence. She said they'd asked no real questions of anyone in the wake of the report, and it wasn't because of the difficulty of doing so that they hadn't investigated. She said it was because they were only interested in a forward-looking approach. And who can blame Trinity Mirror for only looking forward? With a track record which Operation Motorman shows about the practices of the press, who on earth would want to look backwards?

    And take Associated Newspapers. They stated that they had banned any further use of the services of Mr Whittamore once they had discovered they were top of the table of his clients, and the Inquiry has recognised that they've done so.

    Mr Dacre, at least, said he would carry out a further investigation. That was in March. It is now July, and perhaps Mr Caplan will outline, when he makes his closing speech, what has been done and what has been discovered as a result.

    You will also recall what the editors said to Mr Jay about the individuals who might have been involved and whether they might still have the information in their contact books and so on. He said it's so long ago that most of the people involved have actually left the newspaper, are working elsewhere or emigrated.

    Sir, this might be an answer that might be given by any number of the newspaper editors. The Inquiry knows, however, that there are journalists, some of whose names appeared in the Inquiry for other reasons, who carried out numerous requests of Mr Whittamore, who are alive and well in senior positions within newspapers still. One doesn't need to worry about getting their ex-directory numbers or doing area searches in relation to them.

    Unlike Ms Bailey, yours is not an entirely forward-looking exercise. If it was, after all, you wouldn't be examining the past if one couldn't learn lessons from the history of it.

    We say there is strong evidence to infer that the journalists who used Mr Whittamore knew they were gaining information illegally. As such, buying personal information was just another tool in the trade, rather like phone hacking; and the number of victims is similar, as are the lists of names in some cases.

    Talking of victims, when considering the response of the media core participants to the evidence as we've seen it, it's important to recognise the bravery of people who have come here to tell their account, distressing as it has often been, of what they've had to go through.

    Of course, they've not only done this with nothing to gain, no compensation, no judgment in their favour, no promise it won't be repeated and so on. Instead, they've opened themselves up to more publicity, and even on occasion, to attack. And attack it has been, in some cases, which is illustrative of another aspect of the culture.

    You will recall, sir, even before the Inquiry started, the Mail's journalists started a series of curtain raisers to attack the credibility of those who had agreed to come and give evidence, despite the warnings you gave in this regard.

    One such article was the one which bemoaned the fact that the McCanns and Dowlers were being sullied by the suggestion that they were giving evidence with the likes of Max Mosley, Hugh Grant and Sheryl Gascoigne, and you'll recall that I mentioned that in my opening submissions.

    Mr Mosley and Mr Grant were both strong enough to weather this kind of nasty comment. It was just the sort of intimidation that they suspected. But it's the intimidation of the integrity of the Inquiry which we're worried about. It's an interesting postscript that Ms Gascoigne has recently forced an apology and statement in open court in relation to that very article, but it is a shame that it took the highlighting of it in this room to get that.

    Anne Diamond was not so lucky. You recall how she was attacked by Mr McKenzie as being an unreliable witness because she could remember word for word a conversation she'd had many years ago which showed she'd been effectively blackmailed into not complaining about a photograph the newspaper wanted to publish on its front page of her carrying the coffin of her son.

    As you yourself said, sir, is it that surprising, given the nature of it, that she would remember such a conversation for the rest of her life? It didn't stop Mr McKenzie's attack, though, but then one wonders what would for a man who told this Inquiry he'd only checked his sources once in his entire career, and that was once too often.

    Perhaps the clearest example of this tactic of a certain section of the press, that attack is the best form of self-defence, came with the evidence of Hugh Grant.

    I'm not going to rehearse what happened. We all remember it. Mr Grant in his evidence in answer to Mr Jay, based on a number of extraordinary coincidences between the article which the newspaper published about an alleged affair with a plummy-voiced executive and messages that were left on his voicemail, together with what he'd been told by Mr McMullan in a taped conversation, led him to believe that it could have been the product of someone listening to his mobile phone messages. That was all. It was his belief, as he said. But that was enough to have an associated newspaper not respond within this Inquiry but to reach for its website and to issue a public statement accusing one of the witnesses of not simply being mistaken or wrong, but deliberately lying.

    It's a shame that instead of this very public accusation of perjury, they didn't reach for a dictionary, given that there was a singular failure to comprehend what the word "mendacious" meant, namely: lying.

    Whatever else may be said about this episode, and there is much more I could say, what it does show is how the press, time and time again, goes on the attack, rubbishing those who run the gauntlet as a way of instantly deflecting criticism away from itself.

    This culture of intimidation, where people become too afraid to speak out about the press, is not only unhealthy, but is surely as much a curtailment of free speech as anything which the press itself complains about.

    Let us not confuse this with the freedom to bully, to intimidate, to set the agenda. After all, the media have all the resources. And whilst on this subject, let me say a word about conditional fee agreements, which the media again bitterly complained about here in this Inquiry, how well-known individuals have used them to help fund actions against the press.

    Remember, of course, that it was this ability to bring a claim which allowed the McCanns, Christopher Jefferies, Sally and Bob Dowler to have equality of arms with the most wealthy organisations in this country.

    The attack on CFAs is just another example of a culture which rubbishes anyone well-known who complains as a "whingeing celebrity", any lawyer who takes them on as "greedy", any judge who supports them as "amoralistic and lofty", and any law which they don't like as "strangling the media" or being introduced by the back door. Is it any wonder why self-regulation doesn't work?

    Before we explore that, I want to turn to one other topic, one which again I submit the press will do their best to rubbish, and that is the prospect of part 2 of the Inquiry.

    Sir, I don't know if that's a convenient moment to take a short break.

  • I think an hour is probably sufficient. Yes, let's do that.

  • (A short break)

  • Sir, I'm moving on to the need for part 2 of this Inquiry. And it's worth reminding everyone of what part 2 is intended to be about.

    Again, before I do so, I'm asked actually to clarify something I said earlier, which I'm happy to do.

    When I described Heather Mills as being forced to come to this Inquiry, I wasn't by that description referring to the fact that she may have been served with a Section 21 notice. What I was referring to, and I've been asked to make clear, is that she felt compelled, self-compelled, to come and explain her position as opposed to being required to be here by the Inquiry. I hope that makes the position clear.

    As I say, part 2 of this Inquiry is not just about hacking and it's not just about the News of the World. It is meant to enquire, as the terms of reference show, into illegal practices of all kinds, no doubt similar to those that have been investigated by Operations Tuleta and Elveden, and not just Weeting.

    And it is meant to cover other newspapers, not simply the now defunct News of the World. As we've heard from DAC Akers yesterday, the net is wider, and what it will reveal, we believe, is a section of the press, rather than simply one misguided newspaper, which is far more rotten than many people had realised.

    I understand, as we all do, why it was necessary here to put the cart before the horse, to look at the generality of the culture, practices and ethics before considering the prime reason the Inquiry was started, namely the specifics of the phone hacking scandal.

    It was necessary because of the criminal investigation, and could this be a more auspicious day to say that and to say also that we should continue with the work of part 2 as soon as this is possible?

    Further charges, even in the break that we have just taken, have been announced against those suspected of being involved, at least at the News of the World.

    I anticipate that a very significant part of the media machine, which will grind into action once part 1 of the Inquiry ends, will be to say that part 2 is unnecessary. The public have had enough, the recommendations mean that this is all historic, so why the need to drag this all up? That is no doubt what will be said by the self-interested few, who will be anxious to avoid any further inquiry into the sordid details of precisely how corrupt this section of the press was, how far to the core this rot had spread or how high up the tree this went.

    It can be answered in two ways. The first is by recognising, as we must do, the unsatisfactory nature of parts of Module 1, the spectacle of journalists coming to the Inquiry to give evidence about culture, practices and ethics, but not being asked about their direct knowledge or involvement in an episode which perhaps best exemplifies those very matters.

    It was the constant question left hanging in the room, the one thing no one could ask as a series of News of the World executives and journalists gave evidence here, gave evidence about their views on regulation, articles they'd written, some important, some peripheral, or told us about their good deeds, the public awareness they've raised on issues of varying weight, such as road safety, abortion or wheelie bins; but not a word spoken about a culture of illegality, criminality or unlawful practices on an industrial scale, which we say was known about and then concealed by senior executives within the organisation.

    As I say, we all know why that had to be the case, but perhaps it was the acts of one journalist which demonstrated how in one sense, one very real sense, the work of part 1 was compromised, how it can and will only be properly complete once part 2 is also completed.

    The News of the World reporter who sat over there and refused to answer any questions even remotely relating to the issue of phone hacking, not to mention anything else which he didn't like.

    He claimed or was entitled to claim the privilege of not answering anything, and yet, within hours, he went on Radio 4 vehemently, publicly protesting his innocence in relation to this practice, one which he had so resolutely refused to be tested in this room.

    It was a farce. A piece of astonishing hypocrisy that no politician, for example, would survive.

    So that is the first reason why part 2 must continue: to do the work that is necessary to complete part 1.

    The other is that what we've seen so far, as DAC Akers speculated, is only the tip of the iceberg. Whilst much of what lies beneath the surface relates to practices which were taking place in the early 2000s and up until 2006, the story by no means ends there. The News Group cover-up of the truth carried on well into 2010 and beyond, and more is coming to light with Operation Tuleta.

    DAC Akers even mentioned the fact that there were payments, we're told, by one of the newspapers to a prison officer, the last of which took place in February 2012, during this very Inquiry.

    When I stood here even in November, in many ways we were only starting to scratch the surface of what went on during the phone hacking scandal, through the civil proceedings with the restrictions that it has. We have now begun to piece together with the help of what little disclosure we can still find, or drag out of News Group, the sheer scale of information which was being obtained, not just voicemails, not just PIN numbers, but a whole host of other personal details: friends and family numbers, utility bill information, texts, medical information, credit card entries and so on.

    It is clear that Mr Mulcaire, or those working with him, blagged a horde of information similar to that which Mr Whittamore did for all the other newspapers. And we now know that what Mr Mulcaire did was only a fraction of what News Group's own journalists did themselves, in order to obtain colour for their stories, to corroborate tip-offs they might have had, to use them as a means to intimidate individuals into disclosing details about their private lives which they would never have wanted to reveal voluntarily.

    We now have an internal instruction email passing between a senior executive and a journalist relating to a well-known individual's phone. Perhaps the smoking gun we have been looking for.

    And most interesting of all is the evidence we have of the cover-up, the deliberate destruction by News International of millions of emails, which took place whilst the newspaper's executives were still peddling the line in public that this was just the work of one rogue reporter.

    We now know what was happening behind the scenes, that this email deletion policy was being discussed and approved of at the highest, at the highest of levels within the company, despite the evidence which has been given to this Inquiry.

    And when did this mass deletion take place, you may ask. Well, at two critical times, as we can now tell.

    First, within days of the letter of complaint received from us in the Sienna Miller case landing on the desk of News International, asking to preserve all documents, as one does in civil litigation. And what about the second time that there was another mass cull? It was the day, the very day after the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Starmer, announced that he was conducting a comprehensive assessment into News International's voicemail interception activities.

    I need say nothing more.

    To return to my point, part 2 is not just about News of the World and what it did throughout the period. It would look at other newspapers as well, the same ones DAC Akers was talking about.

    The simple point is this, sir: how do the public really know that this won't happen again? How do we know this wasn't rife, as we suspect it was, throughout not just the News of the World but a whole section of the press and carried on right up until the doors of this Inquiry? How do we know this unless the stables are properly cleaned out? The civil litigation won't do this, unfortunately. The criminal proceedings won't do it either, I suspect, any more than the prosecution of Mr Mulcaire and Goodman revealed much in the light of their guilty pleas.

    So on behalf of the victims, I urge this Inquiry to proceed to part 2 as soon as it is possible to do so.

  • I've not said anything that undermines the commitment to address the terms of reference which were set for the Inquiry, but I would be interested to understand why you submit that the civil proceedings and the criminal prosecutions, which we now know are due to take place, and the criminal investigations which are still ongoing, will not themselves generate an enormous amount of material available within the public domain, which will explain and elucidate those parts of the terms of reference that are contained within part 2, particularly bearing in mind that part 2 could not commence in any event, until all the prosecutions had been concluded.

  • Sir, can I take them in order, the civil proceedings first?

    The way in which they've progressed, as you'll be aware, is that News International finally made a series of admissions in relation to the case, as best as it could be put by the individual claimants, given, as I say, the fragmentary disclosure which they've been able to obtain.

    Once those admissions were made, News International's argument is that there is no need then to provide further disclosure. There is nothing more in terms of being able to really get at what we say is the full picture of what took place. Furthermore, there are no witnesses that they will call to give evidence to explain what took place. That's an entirely different position to what happens in this Inquiry.

  • Where you can compel people to give evidence, as you have done.

  • I understand that, but the scale of the events is manifesting itself by the number of people who have joined the ranks of those who are seeking damages.

  • We only have names, sir. We don't have the underlying acts that took place in relation to them. We have simply Mr Mulcaire's notes.

    As I say, thank God he kept notes, illegible as they are, but the fact is, what went on, what took place within News International as opposed to what took place with the hired gun that they used, Mr Mulcaire, is something we may never find out unless there is somebody that has the power to compel the sort of production of documents and the giving of evidence which no civil court can or will do.

  • That takes you on to the criminal court.

  • Then I will move on to the criminal court.

    One only needs to look at what took place in 2006 to see that although there were convictions, although Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman were convicted, we learnt precious little during the course of those proceedings about what really took place within News International. In the light of it, News International were still able to peddle the lie: it was simply Mr Goodman and simply Mr Mulcaire.

  • I'm not so sure it's a fair analogy to compare that which happened in 2006 with that which is presently happening in Operation Weeting.

  • The answer is that --

  • I'm not challenging the proposition that you make, I'm merely testing the extent to which we will learn very much more if, as I anticipate, given the recent announcements and the investigations that are ongoing, criminal proceedings are going to be wending their way through the courts for some very considerable time.

  • Sir, it's not Operation Weeting or the activities of Operation Weeting that won't result in this, it's the fact that if, as one suspects, there may be guilty pleas, by virtue of the process, one will learn so little.

    At the moment there is nothing in the public domain, or very little, because of the fear of prejudicing the criminal investigation. Once charges are brought, that isn't going to change; and if those who are charged plead guilty, we will never find out.

  • I understand that, but isn't that, therefore, a reason to say, "We have to wait and see"?

  • Of course we have to wait.

  • I am not in any sense seeking to advance an argument that part 2 should not happen. Although it's been suggested that I've said that, paragraph 65 of my ruling of 1 May doesn't actually say that.

  • It doesn't, sir, but the way it's been interpreted by those who have an interest in doing so is that it means that there may well not be part 2.

    We understand the limitations, as I said. We ask that the Inquiry can continue with the work it's undertaking as quickly as it possibly can, the "possible" being obviously a reference to the ongoing criminal investigation. We understand that.

    Let me move on then to the future and to regulation.

    In the face of all that I have described, what has the press itself come up with as a solution? It appears to be the proposals which have recently come out of the still surviving, but only just breathing, Press Complaints Commission, Lord Hunt and PressBoF.

    I could devote my entire allotted time, which I've probably come close to overrunning, to explaining why we say that however well intentioned it may be, as a proposal to deal with the practice, culture and ethics we've witnessed, it is hopeless.

    I will restrict myself, therefore, to making just a few general observations. After all, it is tempting to add, it seems somewhat pointless dealing with the detail since even the media organisations who support it say they can't sign up to the detail of it yet.

    So what about the key features of this proposal? It is, after all, a contractual document, a fixed-term of five years proposed. Well, you don't need the lawyers in this room representing the core participant media organisations to tell you that contracts can, by definition, be walked away from. We've seen such organisations do similar things in the past.

    What, of course, is to stop this contract being torn up five years from now? Or all of those who sign it to leave en masse? Hardly a sound footing, we say, for the future.

    And it is not independent. It is run by the industry, and the Code Committee still appears to be made up of a majority of serving editors.

    Perhaps most important of all its features is it is to be self-regulated and not underpinned in any way by statute.

    Have these organisations here really learnt nothing from the lessons of history? Those who are old enough to do so -- and although I thankfully don't count myself as one of them, we've had the benefit of some of them give evidence to this Inquiry -- can list the catalogue of events which have brought this issue into the public eye over the years, and the previous answers given by the media, the attempts at self-regulation in the past, which one by one have failed and have brought us to this point.

    The Royal Commissions in 1947-9, 1961-2, 1974-7, the Younger Committee Report in 1972, Calcutt one, which set up the Press Council, Calcutt two, which set up the PCC, the outrage over what happened to Diana, the late Princess of Wales, the Information Commissioner's report, the phone hacking scandal and so on. All of these demonstrate, if proof is needed, that self-regulation doesn't work and hasn't worked.

    The press have been merrily drinking away in the last-chance saloon, so-called, for years and years now, and while they've been doing so, we have witnessed possibly the most outrageous, largest criminal malpractice this country's press has ever known. Hardly an advert for self-regulation.

    I leave the last word on self-regulation to Rebekah Brooks, perhaps fittingly, who said to the House of Commons Select Committee in 2003, in what has now become a rather infamous piece of evidence: Self-regulation, she said, under the guidance of the Press Complaints Commission, has changed the culture in Fleet Street and in every single newsroom in the land.

    If that is the press' own assessment of self-regulation, then it is no wonder, I say, that this is what is responsible for the culture of complacency, the culture of intrusiveness and illegality which we've spent months considering. When will the press, I ask, learn that enough is enough?

    And they won't agree to any form of statutory underpinning, something which will bind the newspapers into this new regulation, something which we say would keep the regulator accountable.

    What is the answer of Lord Hunt and his colleagues? And he has colleagues who say the same thing, to be fair. What is their answer to this? They say there is a fear that this is a slippery road. Any statutory control might be used by a future Government to control the press.

    Given the evidence we've heard in Module 3 about how it is the politicians who live in fear of an unaccountable and unelected media, this seems a somewhat laughable suggestion. But it's hard to take it seriously anyway, as Mr Jay put it. These fears are irration, since even if there is no statute, what is to stop any Government at any stage in the future passing a statute if it chooses? Nothing.

    But more importantly, this can be dealt with, as Mr Jay suggested or you yourself, sir, recommended, by writing into the statute express statements disavowing any suggestion there should be Government control of editorial content or judgment, and so on and so forth.

    The simply fact is that Lord Hunt's proposal is not, as the Inquiry has heard, what the victims would require. Its starting point, its whole premise, is what is acceptable to the industry. But forgive me, we're not here solely to decide what is acceptable to the industry. We're here because the industry is not acceptable to the public, with whom there seems to have been no consultation by Lord Hunt's team.

    The public wants more objective standards, and the starting point for that is an independent, statute-backed regulator, which is created for the public and is not run by serving editors, and one which can hold this enormously influential body to account, as they hold us to account in turn.

    As you know, sir, the core participant victims have, as a group, as well as individually, made submissions about the future and what regulation should look like, and you have those; and you have, or will no doubt, read them, so I won't repeat the detail of them now.

    Can I just say something about their shape and their salient features?

    We say there should be an entirely new regime, a clean break, not just in name but in substance, from everything that has come before and failed. There should be separate mechanisms for rule-making, for investigations, including investigations of the regulator's own motion, and most importantly for adjudications. A body of independent adjudicators should rule upon complaints as to media conduct and serving editors should have no role in that.

    This adjudicator could deal not only with issues covering libel, privacy and harassment, but broader standards concerning accuracy, news information gathering and so on. And it can also cover matters for which there may be no existing legal course of action, to deal with complaints that the law cannot deal with, at least presently. And perhaps that's where one of its benefits lies.

    Take, for example, Bob and Margaret Watson, who travelled down from Scotland to share with all of us the extraordinary pain that they'd suffered because the memory of their daughter had been so terribly and tragically traduced, whose evidence, so beautifully elicited and simple, was hard not to sympathise with.

    Maybe where the law currently fails to protect the reputation of those who are no longer around to defend it themselves is precisely where an industry regulator might bring some satisfactory answer. One can only hope so, for their sake and all families like them.

    It should involve rules or guidance about prior notification, we say, on which point we've already made detailed submissions.

    Let me just say this. It is clear from the evidence, both of the core participant victims and even those from the media and social commentators, that there is considerable support for this requirement. And it is hardly surprising.

    There really is no answer to the argument that the only effective remedy for the breach of an individual's right to respect for his or her private life is an injunction to stop the unwarranted intrusion before it happens.

    Simply put, once the information is published to the world at large, it is by definition no longer private. So unless an individual is notified in advance of an intention to publish, there is no opportunity to seek the all-important remedy.

    Before I move away, this is not a problem which, some have suggested, is irremediable. Arguments against it such as the chilling effect it might have on investigative journalism are specious. No one really believes -- no one who practices in this field -- that such a story like the expenses scandal would ever have been stopped by a judge, even if an MP was mad enough to make such an application. It is Alice in Wonderland territory, but I've already dealt with this in writing.

    And the rules may also say something again, something clearer perhaps, about public interest, another topic you'll find dealt with in my written submissions.

    It's perhaps no wonder, though, that attempts at a more comprehensive definition of this concept have never been that successful, but perhaps it isn't necessary. It is one of those things where it is easy to spot but difficult to define.

    Let me say this, though: very little, if any, of the stories which we've heard relating to the victims who came to give evidence here about shocking press behaviour involved even the hint of public interest.

    The vast majority of tabloid stories are about the rich and famous or the just famous, and there is a critical distinction which has been drawn in these courts between the press' role, its vital role as a public watchdog, holding politicians and other elected officials or large corporations to account, and on the other hand its role as a reporter of the private lives of the well-known. This is all the fine print, as we say, we've covered in our written submissions.

    But perhaps the most important other way in which a regulator, or rather its adjudication arm, could be of real benefit to the public is in providing a fast and preferably free way of obtaining redress in those cases which seem relatively straightforward in terms of the merits involved or the issues raised, without the need for expensive litigation. A fast, fair and easily accessible system available to all, especially in the absence of conditional fee agreements.

    But let us be clear. It is important to remember that an integral part of keeping the press in check is the rule of law. There is a real need here to recognise the importance of the courts, the importance of the court system.

    Yes, it is expensive, but after all, let's be honest for a minute, it's the wealthy who are of real interest to the most relevant section of the press. Not, to borrow a phrase from Jarvis Cocker, the rest of us common people.

    It is the well-known and successful who these newspapers want to write about. And it is these individuals who can and should still have a right to the courts, and I won't take the opportunity here to explain why we say Article 6 requires this.

    Why, you ask, perhaps? Because a tribunal or an adjudication body will never work effectively as a sanction or deterrent to the press. It is no complete substitute. It is not the law that has failed here, it's the press that have failed us, it's the police that have failed us, it's the politicians that have failed us, but not the law.

    It was those terrible English laws of libel which gave Mr Jefferies a remedy, which gave the McCanns a chance to properly vindicate themselves, not a form of regulation or a tribunal.

    And it was not a tribunal or regulator which uncovered hacking, whether or not this regulator is contractually or statutorily underpinned. They could never, for example, have compelled News Group to tell the truth. It would never have sufficient disclosure powers and it would never be free enough, we say, from self-interest.

    It would never, say, have been able to get to the bottom, at least to some extent, as the civil process has done, with all the costs that the disclosure process involves and which ultimately News Group will have to pay.

    It is that which has led to the gradually uncovering of the enormity of this scandal. It was legal actions by the so-called rich and famous, such as Sienna Miller and so on, which forced News Group to crack finally, or, to use the evidence of some of those who sat over there, for the scales to finally fall from their eyes.

    It was the legal process and the so-called chilling effect of legal proceedings, as I've said, which made the newspapers pay Mr Jefferies a sum which he could hold up as demonstrating that what they did was viciously and wholly untrue, and the same applies to the McCanns. The public have been left in no doubt of the truth of those allegations, and we say that is a product of the rule of law, which has proved time and time again that it works, and, thank God, in this country one thing we can rely on; and it's certainly not self-regulation.

    Since we're talking of the future, let me see if I can predict what may happen over the summer in the days after the report comes out. We will see the machine, the powerful and hugely influential press machine, swing into action, and the Inquiry and those who represent it will no doubt be undermined or their recommendations rubbished, maybe even before they're published, on past performance.

    Of course, I don't claim any special powers of clairvoyance, much as I'd like to. The fact is we've seen it starting already. It happened right at the outset with the seminars, where we all recall Kelvin McKenzie attacking the competence of the Inquiry by rubbishing its chairman. And it's nothing new. It's like how the same newspaper sought to rubbish the judgments in the Mosley case. An attack that was taken up in common cause by other editors in Fleet Street, one of whom described it in words which should trouble this Inquiry:

    "The judgment in Mosley was arrogant and amoral. It was the product of one man: a judge with a subjective and highly relativist moral sense."

    Is this the shape of things to come? I ask.

    Remember, it was the same editor who dismissed the entire board of assessors here by saying that none of them had the faintest clue about how newsrooms operate, and there were further echoes of this culture in the articles which drew this Inquiry's attention only weeks ago.

    If one was being cynical, one might ask how effective to undermine the Inquiry at a critical time by suggesting that behind the scenes the chairman had threatened to quit for having been accused of trying to gag free speech, something which anyone who has sat in this room will know, sir, you have repeatedly explained you have absolutely no intention of doing, on an almost daily basis.

    And effective it was, too, since it turned the political debate back again in favour of the press. After all, if this Inquiry has told us anything, it is that those in power seem to be oh so susceptible to the influence of the media and their interests.

    Let us not be any under illusions here. Following the end of this stage of the Inquiry, the preparation and production of the report, the counterattack will start, as will perhaps the settling of old scores. The press has a big megaphone and it will be employed outside this room in the way that only they can.

    But that only serves to emphasise my point, sir, that this is an industry which should be accountable. That's what the public believe. Accountability. The word which the press are so quick to apply to politicians, to the police, to the judiciary, to anyone else, but which they're so allergic to when it comes to their own position, privileged as it is. That is the challenge that you face, sir.

    Perhaps the most important point is that whatever you recommend, it should be supported by the very people who charged you with this task in the first place. After all -- if this even needs saying -- otherwise what is the point of all of this? Why did we all even bother coming? By that I'm not so much concerned with the members of the press. They had to, and I don't mean because of Section 21 notices, but rather because they were driven by fear, and rightly so, of what might happen to them when the spotlight was turned on them.

    I meant the members of the public, the victims who came to assist; and not just them but a number of other interested parties as well.

    The public want reassurance. They want their confidence restored. If the recommendations which you propose to deal with this crisis of confidence are not implemented, or at least actively and seriously debated, then this was all just words on the part of politicians across the political divide, of great rhetorical phrases, such as that any solution has to satisfy the "Dowler test", or the "McCann test".

    However quickly this Inquiry has moved, it has been a long process. The public are tired. They're tired of listening to stories of politicians who fawned to the rich and powerful few who own newspapers in return for support.

    They're tired of the policemen who are meant to protect the system of law, instead wining and dining with editors or accepting money for favours. And they are tired of the press, which claims the privilege of freedom of speech to write largely the sort of stories which have zero public interest.

    They're tired, for example, of listening to News Group apologise for phone hacking, not because they're sorry for what they've done, but just because they're sorry that they got caught.

    And they're tired of other newspaper groups pretending it wasn't them. The press, whose culture is to deny liability in a deeply moralistic tone, sit so poorly with the way in which they've trampled over other people's rights. They are tired of those who represent the press claiming they'll behave better if only they're given one more chance to do so.

    I say this to Mr Cameron: the public is tired of promises; it's tired of the politics of popularity over principle, of its elected representatives kowtowing under the influence of the unelected few, which is what the history of media ownership has proved.

    I accept that his predecessors have not shown the necessary courage to do this, how they have succumbed to the real chilling effect, the one which certain sections of the media have exerted over our politicians.

    Mr Cameron, if you really want to know what the Dowlers want or the McCanns want, they want you to have the courage to take a firm grip on certain sections of the press which are so powerful and yet so unaccountable that even our politicians have been too afraid to stand against them, and to implement the recommendations of an Inquiry, which you yourself set up and vowed to support.

    Sir, may I say this in closing: you've managed with considerable success to land the jumbo jet, as you described this Inquiry, within the year, and that is clearly no small feat.

    But from the victim's point of view, if the result of the sort of culture, practices and ethics which we have heard about here, and which the victims have been brave enough to recount and relive, if the result of the shocking examples of intrusions into grief, character assassinations of the innocent and the dreadful invasions of people's privacy results in the closure finally of the much talked about last-chance saloon, only for the press, through special pleading of self-interest, to end up being invited instead into a first class lounge. The answer does not lie, we say, in a system which is created by the press, for the press and regulated by the press. That would be a failure. Not just on the Dowler or the McCann test, but for the general public, for everyone except the privileged few who are represented here by the core participant media organisations.

    Thank you, sir. That's all I wanted to say on behalf of the victims.

  • Thank you very much, Mr Sherborne.

    I think we'll take just three minutes just to allow everybody to stretch their legs.

    Listening is rather more arduous than just dealing with witnesses.

  • (A short break)

  • Yes, Mr Caplan.