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

  • MS ANNE MARGARET DIAMOND (sworn).

  • Would you tell the Inquiry your full name?

  • My full name is Anne Margaret Diamond.

  • And you've provided a contact address through the solicitors, Collyer Bristow?

  • Could you tell the Inquiry your occupation, please?

  • Well, I am a broadcast journalist. I started life as a print journalist, I was trained in my early 20s as a print journalist and I later went into journalism on television and radio.

  • Ms Diamond, I'm going to say to you what I've said to others who have come here. Thank you for coming voluntarily to the Inquiry. I recognise, having read your statement, that there are some things that are intensely personal that you've spoken of, and your concern to ensure your privacy is rather exposed by the fact you're here talking about it. I understand the problem that creates so I'm very grateful to you because it's obviously very important that I make sure that I understand all the various perspectives.

  • Absolutely, thank you.

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

  • Are they true and correct?

  • To the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • You tell us in the background section, as you were touching upon a moment ago, that you started your professional life on the regional newspapers, then became a television news presenter and in 1983 significantly increased your profile when you became a presenter on TV-am.

  • That's right. I was catapulted very much from the world of print media, where I was just a straight working journalist -- I was catapulted into an incredibly high profile job because breakfast television had just been started in this country, had spectacularly flopped and was being spectacularly rescued again, and I was part of that rescue package, which meant that everything I did and said suddenly became front page news.

  • Having successfully taken part in that resurrection, you have continued to work in the media ever since, in newspapers, TV and radio, as I understand?

  • That's right. I still work very much as a broadcast journalist but as a print journalist as well.

  • So what you can help the Inquiry with is experience of a person who has been regulated both by the broadcast regulation arrangements and by the print media regulation arrangements?

  • Absolutely. A number of difference perspectives, actually, because as a journalist, I have been trained to be a reporter and to report on other people's activities. As -- when I was catapulted, as I said, into becoming a household name in 1983, I then became the subject of other people writing about me, so I've been able to see it from both perspectives, from inside journalism, as it were, and from outside, but also, as you say, in the print world and in the broadcast world, where there is regulation.

  • If I may take you first of all to your experience as a person written about in the media. You start by telling us at paragraph 4 of your witness statement and onwards about a Channel 4 documentary entitled "Murdoch, the mogul who screwed the news", which was screened earlier the year and in which I understand you participated?

  • That's right. I mean, a lot of the things I'll probably talk about today did happen quite a while ago, but I suddenly found, just in recent months, that maybe my experiences of press intrusion, particularly, and of ethics and practices might be relevant to the very things that you're looking at in this Inquiry because I was approached by a Channel 4 documentary company who were making a documentary about Rupert Murdoch, and during the making of their documentary, they interviewed Rupert Murdoch's former butler, who told them a story that almost shed a new light on some of the experiences that I had been through 15, 20 years ago.

    This butler apparently said that I had had an encounter with Rupert Murdoch. He remembered that it was at a party. I seem to remember it being in the TV studio when I had the chance to interview Murdoch, but I had put to Rupert Murdoch -- and I think it was because I was thinking in the time, in the 80s, of the way some of the Murdoch press appeared to be hounding both Princess Diana and Elton John and making their lives a misery, but I did put the point, somewhat precociously perhaps, to Mr Murdoch that his newspapers were intent -- or seemed to be intent -- on ruining some people's lives and how did he feel about that and how could he sleep at night knowing that that was going on?

    I seem to remember Mr Murdoch brushing it aside completely, and I remember after that incident being a bit frustrated that I didn't feel that I'd got my point over to him at all, and nothing more was ever said about that at all and I'd completely forgotten the incident until, as I said, just a few weeks ago this butler, Phillip Townsend, apparently said in the Channel 4 documentary that Rupert Murdoch's reaction though had been different at the time, that Murdoch had called together a number of his newspaper editors and said something to them which led them maybe -- and I don't know the right wording and I don't think even Mr Townsend remembered the complete wording, but possibly indicated to his editors that I was a person from that point onwards to be targeted.

  • It's against that background that we come to the next section of your witness statement, which starts at paragraph 7, and you say that only some three weeks after your exchange with Rupert Murdoch, there started some intrusive reporting about your private life. The first instance that you tell us about is that there was coverage of your romantic relationship with a man who was to become your husband for ten years and father of five children.

  • When you look back now in the knowledge of what Mr Townsend had said -- if I look back at the timetable now, it does become -- well, I would suggest it becomes evident that from that moment onwards there were consistent negative stories about me in Mr Murdoch's newspapers, yes.

  • You tell us about these. The next instance you tell us about is a report in 1987 about a road traffic accident in which you had been involved seven years earlier.

  • Seven years earlier, yes. This newspaper article, which was the front page lead of the Sun, it took up almost the entire front page. The headline in enormous print -- font, rather, was "Anne Diamond killed my father". That was the headline. And it came out of the blue. I knew nothing of it at all. This actually was talking about an accident that had happened seven years earlier, a very tragic road traffic accident that had happened in Birmingham where I was a young TV reporter, and it was indeed a terribly tragic accident. A man had died in the accident and I was driving the car, but the coroner went to great lengths to point out at the inquest that it was not my fault and nothing to do with me at all from a fault point of view, and it was dreadfully upsetting, obviously, to all concerned but it had happened seven years before and, I mean, it was part of history. But the Sun had chosen to go back to try -- I presume they were just trying to find stories about my past, had unearthed that this incident had happened. They then tracked down the surviving family of the man who had died in the car crash and I think they found his son, and they interviewed his son about how he felt watching me on breakfast television knowing that I had killed his father. And he of course, and quite understandably, did give them a few comments about how he couldn't bear to watch me on television because he could never forget what had happened, and they regurgitated that into a front page story under the headline "Anne Diamond killed my father", and when I saw that front page I was absolutely shocked.

  • And you explain to us what you did was to report the matter to the Press Council, and having heard from you and also from the Sun, the Press Council found in your favour, didn't it?

  • I was terrified when I read that front page headline. At the time, I think I'd just had my first baby. I was a young mum at home, on pregnancy leave, nursing my baby and this story appeared, and I thought that my employers, I thought the public, I certainly thought the press would view me from that moment onwards as a murderer, because that's what the headline made it look like. It made it look like I was a calculating, cold-blooded murderer and I knew I wasn't. I was sitting at home nursing my baby and I knew I was a good person, and I was frightened to go out from that moment onwards. So yes, I did complain to the Press Council, as it was then, about that story and they completely upheld my complaint.

  • Perhaps we can pause there and have a look at the way in which the outcome of that complaint was reported. Could we have, please, a document the reference for which ends at 33178.

  • If you can read that, you're a better person than I am.

  • I fear that the text is very difficult to read are, but for the purposes of my questions that might not matter too much. You've already explained that your complaint was unheld. What I'm interested in is the size and the location of this report. Was this a front page?

  • It was on page 23 at the bottom of the page. You couldn't really find it unless you knew. And yet the Press Council ruling itself was very strong. They found that the Sun had devoted its front page to raking up a seven-year-old tragedy under a wholly misleading headline. They said it was an irresponsible and grievous intrusion into privacy and furthermore, they said:

    "The newspaper has tried to defend its conduct by asserting that a person in public life has to take the slings and arrows of press publicity. Such an absolute proposition is unacceptable."

    And I hold by that. I've always held by that. I think we've heard from many other witness that while you may be a person who lives your life to a certain extent in the public glare, you may have a job that's on television or you may be an international singing star or a movie star or a best-selling author, it doesn't mean that because you do that you sell the entire rest of your life to the newspapers. You don't give them utter licence to peek into your most private moment. That's why I believe that that Press Council ruling, even though it was only reported on page 23 at the time, is very important, saying that such an absolute proposition is unacceptable.

  • I may come back in a little while to what might be termed the "open season" argument, but if we stick with the question of the placement of apologies and rulings when they're printed in newspapers, what's your position there? Is it your view that this article should have been printed on the front page to give it parity with the article that you're complaining about?

  • Actually, yes, I do think so. I think it should have parity.

  • We've heard that there are a number of newspapers now --

  • Actually, I think the other thing to notice is that there is no apology in that either. No apology whatsoever.

  • I understand that. I'm asking to widen the debate to a general level. A number of newspapers now are printing apologies on page 2. Does it follow that you think that that's not always necessarily prominent enough?

  • I think anyone in print journalism knows that page 2 is not a very prominent page. Page 3 is, page 1 is, but not page 2.

  • I see. If we move now in your statement to the next intrusion, which you tell us about. We're now in late 1986 when you have fallen pregnant for the first time, paragraph 21 of your witness statement, and you tell us that at a time when there was great uncertainty hanging over the pregnancy, if I might put it that way, you were telephoned by a journalist from the News of the World, telling you that they were about to run a story that you were pregnant and asking you to confirm or to deny it.

  • What had happened at the time was I was still unmarried, although I was with the man who would become my husband and the father of all of my children, but I was only about eight weeks pregnant, barely pregnant, I think, as any woman would confirm, and that my husband and I -- my partner at the time and I were out shopping when I was involved in a sort of medical emergency, if I can put it that way, and I thought I was possibly miscarrying. I was rushed to my GP, who then made an immediate appointment with me to go for a scan in Harley Street to see if the pregnancy was still intact, and the technician in the scan told me that the only thing to do was to -- it was it still there -- to go home and literally lie down and hope that the pregnancy hung on in there. Within an hour of me getting home and putting my feet up, we were telephoned by a News of the World journalist, who said, "We know you're pregnant and we're going to run the story. Confirm or deny." And I found myself in an impossible position. To confirm would have been -- as Charlotte said, in the same way, to confirm would have been to tell the world before I'd even told my parents and I couldn't do that. And also I just didn't feel safe enough yet to tell anyone that I was pregnant because I may well have not have been by the end of the evening, and so I chose -- and it was no choice, really -- I chose to deny. It was the only thing I could think of saying: "No, I'm not pregnant."

  • The consequence of that --

  • They ran the story anyway, that I was pregnant, and when, a couple of months later, I was indeed pregnant, because the pregnancy did hang on in there and survive, they called me a liar from that point onwards.

  • You go on to tell us when you gave birth to your first child and in particular you tell us what a Sun reporter did in order to try and get the story.

  • It was terrifying. I was actually in labour in the hospital and at one point an administrator came until and said, "Very sorry to interrupt, we don't really want to alarm you but you do need to know that we have just caught somebody who was a reporter for the Sun who was impersonating a doctor and we've had to eject him from the hospital, but we do feel you ought to know", which is why we took the decision, within hours of me giving birth safely to my first son, that I needed to get out of that hospital as fast as possible and home, where I could be private, and just as Charlotte has said, where I could be an ordinary mum with my child, trying to just be private for a while.

  • Can you tell us how you got back into your house?

  • The only way the hospital advised us we could get out of the hospital without having to go through the paparazzi, who were outside in their hundreds, was to go out -- down through -- we were taken out and we were taken down through the sort of laundry lift and we were put into the back of a laundry van and the hospital laundry van drove out of the underground carpark and drove us away from the press. When we got home, we found that there was an equal amount of paparazzi outside our front door, but we did think of a way out of that, which was by entering an adjacent block of flats through their underground carpark, going up in the lift, crossing the roof -- this is a woman who's given birth just a few hours earlier -- crossing the roof with a newborn baby and then down the lift into our own flat. It was ridiculous the lengths we had to go to to try and get a bit of private time.

  • Then you tell us what happened when you decided to terminate the employment of your nanny. I'm looking at paragraph 24 of your witness statement, and you describe that a reporter again from the Sun offered your former nanny £30,000 for a story about your private lives, even before your former nanny had vacated your home.

  • She was a lovely girl, my first nanny. In the end, we realised we weren't right for each other. What I hadn't realised, I think, during those first few weeks at home with my baby -- where I didn't venture out much because of the photographers who were outside, I didn't actually think how my relatives, friends and my nanny were having to go in and out every day, in and out through this enormous bank of photographers and reporters. And so I think, I suppose, at some point she had been approached by one of these reporters and told that if she ever wanted to sell her story, they could offer her more money than was her annual salary. So I think at the point where she and I agreed, I thought quite amicably, to part our ways -- in fact, she was working out her notice, as you were, quite amicably, still living with me. So it wasn't -- I mean, we were getting on still quite well. At some point, she met up with a journalist from the Sun and he told her that he could offer her £30,000 if she would give him certain information about -- I don't know, what just life was like with the Diamonds, is the way I think he put it.

    She came back from that meeting, I gather, and she was in her own room and I was with the baby when I got a phone call from a reporter on the Sun who said, "I've just had lunch with your nanny. I've just bought her up. What's your reaction?" And I was completely shocked and I put the phone down and rang my husband and said, "What do I do?" And he said, "Go and talk to her. If she's in the house, go and talk to her and see if you can reason with her." And I went through to her and we did. We sat on her bed and we talked it through and she and I were both in tears by the end of the discussion and she said, "I'm going to ring them up and I'm going to tell them I don't want to do it", and so she did and she rang the reporter up and she said, "I don't want to do it anymore. I see I shouldn't have done it. I didn't completely understand that there is a confidentiality between a nanny and her employers. I just don't want to go there. It's going to upset too many people." And he said, "You can't pull out of it. You've given me enough information and we're still going to run the story".

    So they did run the story and they reneged on their promise to pay her, so she never got they are £30,000. The story ran anyway and we both felt abused.

  • You say the story ran anyway. Can I ask about the detail of that, because you tell us that your husband went before a judge to get an injunction?

  • Yes, he immediately during that time period when I was talking to her and when she was ringing back the reporter on the Sun -- my partner, who then became my husband, went before a judge in chambers and got an injunction to prevent the Sun -- I think on the grounds of confidentiality -- to prevent the Sun going to press with that story. We were told they had to stop the presses rolling and remove the story, which we were warned is a very costly process, and we were sort of warned that they will not forgive you for doing that.

    That story did actually run anyway in many editions of the Sun. They were slow to stop the presses, and I think it simply incurred more wrath from the Sun because, several days later, Mr Murdoch went ahead and had it printed in the Today newspaper anyway.

  • That was another of his newspapers at the time?

  • You then take us to the birth of your second child, and as a result of the experiences which you've just described to us, when your first child was born, you tell us that you decided to go to Australia to give birth to your second child, but that travelling to the other side of the world did not prevent the media taking an interest in you?

  • No. We were very well aware within a couple of weeks of arriving in Australia that there was a particular newspaper photographer following us everywhere we went. I remember he had a silver helmet and rode a big motorbike and he was following us whatever we went. So we were aware that we were being tailed, but within about a week, I think just a few days before I actually gave birth, they did run -- we were rung up by friends in the UK who said, "Oh, they've just run an enormous picture, which I have to say is very unflattering, of you getting out of your swimming pool, nine months pregnant, under a headline 'Has Anne Diamond lost her sparkle?'" This particular photograph was taken on a long lens from a neighbour's upstairs window, and we learned later that that particular photographer who had been following us around had talked his way or bought his way into a neighbour's upstairs window and had taken a photograph of me getting out of my own swimming pool in my own back garden in Australia.

  • I see. Then you tell us that the media interest continued in December 1987 when you bought a new house and that the details of the house were printed in the Today newspaper?

  • Somehow the newspaper reporter had gone to the estate agent and got details of the house that we had just bought -- and I mean estate agent's details -- and they printed them in full all over I think at least one page of the Today newspaper. That was everything, from measurements and locations of rooms and locations of where doors were or things like that. I mean, absolutely every bit of information you could imagine would come from an estate agent's brochure was printed all over the Today newspaper. It wasn't just a dreadful invasion of privacy of my new home, but it was a burglar's charter.

  • I see. I've just been passed a note and it may be right in the light of the contents of the note that I ask you, sir, to rise for five minutes.

  • (A short break)

  • Sir, thank you for that short adjournment. Ms Diamond, thank you for bearing with us.

    I'm looking at paragraph 29 of your statement, where you describe perhaps the most shocking episode of this catalogue of press intrusions. We're now in 1991 at the time of the tragic death of your baby son, Sebastian. You tell us that within an hour of you finding out that Sebastian had died, the media were on your doorstep. Could you perhaps describe to us the scene?

  • Well, that is absolutely true. I think within an hour of my finding Sebastian -- I think my husband had very quickly rung the police, as you would, and however it happened, we were besieged with reporters and photographers outside the door. I actually don't know whether they came before the policeman did or whether the policeman came first, but our front door very quickly was surrounded with hundreds of newspapers -- newspaper photographers and reporters, literally just sitting there waiting for something to happen, I suppose, constantly ringing the doorbell, and there was one instance where a female reporter tried to rush the door. She rang the door. I wasn't answering the door, as you can I understand, at the time, but friends of the family were with us by then. She rang the doorbell and she had a big bouquet of flowers to give us and when the door had to be taken off the chain in order to accept the flowers, she rushed in and two grown men had to push her back out of the door. That was the extent to which -- on the day they knew we had just found our child dead, that was the extent to which they were forcing themselves upon us.

    My agent at the time came around to help us deal with them, and he found a reporter climbing over the back fence as well to try and get at us through our back garden.

    And in fact, I got a -- I rang my local church as well that morning to ask for a priest to come and he never materialised and -- which was terrible for us at the time because we needed him, and I got a letter from him a couple of days later saying that he felt deeply ashamed, but when he'd got our call, he'd come around to our house and was so put off by the army of press photographers and reporters outside that he had decided to go away again. He just couldn't brave them.

  • You go on to describe what happened outside the funeral parlour, and you've kindly provided the Inquiry with a copy of a photograph that was published in Today newspaper. Perhaps we could have that on the screen, please.

  • You don't mind this going --

  • I don't mind. I think I would like you to see it because I think there are certain circumstances -- it's definitely not that. There are certain circumstances in which sometimes a photograph speaks louder than words. That photograph was taken of us a couple of days later when my husband and I were walking to the funeral parlour to see our son for the first time since his death and since he'd been taken away and of course, a cot death child has to have a post-mortem. We were at our possibly most private moment and we were long-lensed at that point.

  • You tell us over the page at paragraph 31 that you wrote to every Fleet Street editor personally begging them to stay away from the small private family funeral?

  • We had already been through several days of what you've just seen, being followed and being intruded upon even at this desperate, desperate time, and very strong in our memory was a story that had happened just a few months, I think, maybe a year before, of when Eric Clapton had lost his child and I remember that child's funeral becoming a press circus, to the extent that we had been told that photographers were sort of leaping over gravestones and trampling other flowers in the cemetery in order to try and get as close as they possibly could to photograph Eric Clapton's child's funeral, and we so desperately didn't want that to happen to us that we thought: "Right, we will sit down and we will write personally to every editor of every national newspaper, begging them to stay away from our child's funeral." And every one of them did, except that on the day of our little boy's funeral -- and this was held at a very remote country church that my parents knew about. It was my parents' sort of family church, but it was well away from London and nobody should have known about it at all. We hadn't told anyone, just a very few closest friends and family came to what was a little boy's funeral. Nobody had even known him except us. There was a photographer on the public highway. He was standing on the road. It was interesting, I think, that he probably made a great point of standing on the road, with a very, very long lens, the sort of lens they only used to use on Princess Diana at the time, and we were aware that he was taking photographs. If you see the front page that followed, again, I think in this instance it speaks much more strongly than anything I come ever say to this Inquiry, that here we were, a young couple at our child's funeral and they took this photograph.

  • Perhaps I can stop you there and ask that the second photograph that you've kindly provided is displayed. Is that the photograph?

  • That's the photograph. And if you pull out, you'll be able to see that it took out the entire front page. Now, we had written to every editor begging them to stay away, and this was the front page of the Sun.

  • Keep going. Just so that we can see the top of it.

  • That was a long lens photograph of -- I mean, I don't even need to say that that's the most private moment you could possibly go through. At the bottom -- it almost purports to be an interview with me -- it says "Anne's plea".

  • Can we have the bottom, please.

  • As though I'd given some sort of agreement to that photograph being used and I'd actually given them a plea. I hadn't, of course.

  • The photograph can be taken --

  • Just let me read t please, because the copy on this is very poor. Can you focus it again and move it to the second column?

  • Would you like me to read it out?

  • Perhaps I don't need to.

  • I don't think you need to read it out.

  • But I felt that the Sun newspaper was seeking to justify the use of the picture with those words.

  • Had you said anything to anybody --

  • -- about donations to fund research?

  • In fact, my now ex-husband reminded me this morning when I spoke to him that we were aware that there was a photographer at the funeral on the public highway. Within a few hours of the funeral, the editor of the Sun rang my husband and said, "We have a picture. It's an incredibly strong picture. We would like to use it." And my husband said, "No, we've asked all of you to stay away. No." And the editor said, "Well, we're going to use it anyway. We'll use it with or without your permission."

  • You go on to tell us in your statement that several days later, you were approached by the then deputy editor of the Sun, who wanted to meet with you to discuss how the Sun could help you to raise more funds into cot death research. Could you tell us a little bit about the gist of the conversation you had?

  • He wanted -- he rang to say that they had had an incredible reaction from that front page. They had been inundated with millions of people wanting to raise funds into cot death, wanting to do something about cot death. It had motivated the nation. That was what he said. "And so we, as the Sun newspaper, feel that we really need to do something. We want to do a fundraising campaign. We want to do an awareness campaign. We want you to help us do that."

    And our first reaction was: no way. Then he said, "Well, we're going to do it anyway, whether or not you join with us in doing it, and frankly, it will look very bad for you if you don't, because we are going to do something about cot death and it will look as though you are not wanting to do anything."

  • How did that make you feel?

  • Emotionally blackmailed by the people who I felt had just trampled all over our dignity, all over our child's grave.

  • What did you decide to do?

  • We talked about it long and hard and -- I mean, that's the trouble. I am a print journalist by training. I know the power of the press and I know that it can be such a force for good as well as some of the negative bad things we've seen about the press, and I knew that to get -- if we -- I mean, I was -- I'd just lost my child. I was very angry that I'd just lost my child and we didn't seem to know why. I wanted to do something about cot death, and over the ensuing days and weeks, it seemed to me that maybe, with the power of a very high circulation popular newspaper we could, and so in the end, and very reluctantly -- because I would never have chosen that it be in the Sun -- I did agree to join forces with the Sun to mostly do a money-raising campaign to see if we could raise a lot of funds to pour into cot death research, and we did.

  • So once you had agreed to co-operate with the Sun, what was the reaction of other newspapers? Did they contact you about that?

  • Immediately after that front page had appeared -- and as I said, the bottom line sort of almost giving the impression that I'd given some sort of a tacit endorsement for that front page, the other newspapers ran spoiler stories, as it were, saying, "Anne Diamond did do a deal. They asked us all to stay away from the funeral, but they clearly did a deal with the Sun." That's what I was accused of by the other newspapers.

  • It's possibly not surprising in the light of what emerges in the press.

  • Absolutely. Absolutely.

  • Were those other papers confined to titles owned by News International or was it a wider press that was making that comment?

  • It was a wider press.

  • Thank you.

    If I move on now from that particularly difficult time to paragraph 39 of your witness statement where you deal with a literally grubby information-gathering technique. You tell us that on many occasions your family, friends and yourself would find someone rooting your rubbish bins?

  • Yes, that was a regular occurrence, and it wasn't just our rubbish bins. I learned from very early days to invest in an industrial-sized shredder, which I still do, and I shred everything before I throw it away, but your family and friends don't do that and they would regularly come home from work and find people rooting through their rubbish bins. Couldn't prove always they were journalists -- some of them were well-known journalists, actually, or who have later become well known. You couldn't always prove it was a reporter but nevertheless it was someone deliberately rooting through your rubbish.

  • I'm moving to paragraph 41 and we're returning to the "open season" point. You say there that if you take part in an innocuous photoshoot for Hello magazine or any other, say for a Christmas family photo, then your private life is open season. I think you're there stating what you believe to be one attitude to privacy. It's right, isn't it, that in your case, in your capacity as a journalist, you have written about your private life?

  • And certainly certain aspects of your private life?

  • I must say, I would never have done so in the early days. I tended to do that more and more over the years as a means of redressing the balance. Very often, you would feel that there have been several negative stories about you, or a continuous succession of negative stories about you, some perpetuating myths and untruths, and somewhere along the line you would think, as Charlotte said: "Enough is enough. What I'll do is an interview that will kill all of those stories and will actually put matters right." And so yes, from time to time, I have done that.

  • Because of your particular experience and because you are someone who has written about your private life, I'd like to explore this in a little bit more detail, just to perhaps tease out where the balance might lie in your opinion. I take it from what you've said that you don't think that just because you say something about one aspect of your private life that it should be open season for the press?

  • Do you think that if you write about a particular aspect of your private life, then it is legitimate for other reporters to write about that aspect of your private life?

  • I think not necessarily. I do agree that the balance is a difficult one to achieve. We all live very different lives. I mean, the McCanns, for instance, have found themselves the subject of a great deal of press intrusion. You could argue: well, as soon as they gave their first interview, they are therefore open season. That's not the case. You could say the first time the Dowler parents gave a police press conference, they were putting themselves in the public gaze, therefore the rest of their private life is open season. That's not the case.

    And so to a certain extent we all live very different lives. People have called me a celebrity. I'm not; I'm a broadcast journalist. All of my work has been done on news and current affairs programmes on television, but by being on television, you could say I've put my private life out there. Not all of it, no. I think the balance is a very difficult one to always argue and to a great deal -- to as great extent, it comes down to the decency and the ethics of the proprietor and the editor of the newspaper concerned.

    But not so in broadcast journalism. These same dilemmas are held every day in broadcast newsrooms up and down the land, but in broadcasting, in TV and radio, you have a code of conduct. The BBC has always had a code of conduct and a producers code by which they operate, and you know that if you go out of line at the BBC or even in independent television and radio -- we've always had the IBA, the ITC and now Ofcom -- you know that if you breach those guidelines, they will come down you on like a ton of bricks and very fast, too. These things are -- they hold an immediate inquiry, and it is immediate. People are very often suspended from their job until the end of that inquiry. People are very often fired as a result of findings of those inquiries, or fined, and things happen very, very quickly.

    But there is still excellent journalism in broadcasting, in TV and radio. Look at Panorama or 24 Hours or This Week. There's still some excellent investigative journalism going in, but they operate within a code of conduct that was agreed, you know, 35/40-odd years ago and has always been there in broadcast journalism, but not so in the press. It comes down, as I said, time and again, to the ethics and the values and the judgment call made by either the proprietor or the editor or both, and I think that over the last 30-odd years, I'm not terribly sure that some of those editors and proprietors have had the right values.

  • Am I understanding your evidence correctly that your experience of the tough regulatory regime which applies to broadcasters has not in fact, in your experience, stifled freedom of expression?

  • Absolutely. The newspapers always argue that it is a totally black or white situation, that if they have to answer to a regulatory body, that will put an end to investigative journalism, and it isn't that black and white an argument at all. Broadcast journalists have to abide by codes of conduct, and they are still able to do their job, and a very good job too, most of the time, and if they cross the line, they are censored. It has to be possible to get that sort of balance going in the press as well.

  • On a related point -- and I'm looking at paragraph 42 of your witness statement -- you raise what I might describe as a symbiosis issue, the argument which is sometimes ventilated that a famous person is famous because of, for example, the newspapers and therefore is somehow a legitimate subject of intrusive journalism.

  • Again, the press worry that -- or they always allege there is this symbiotic relationship, that I need them as much as they need me, but they always forget to mention that the only reason they put Charlotte Church's picture on the front page or my picture on the front page is because they want to sell more newspapers. All you are to a newspaper is fodder to sell newspapers. They're in the business to sell newspapers and to make a profit. That's fine, but the argument that you need us, therefore you must be beholden to us and must allow us to intrude upon every part of your life falls down when you point out, for instance, that when I was on breakfast television, we regularly went out to an audience of 14 million.

    Now, that was many times more than the circulation of the Sun. So I was a household name, if you like, because of the job I did on television, not because the Sun chose to make me a household name.

  • I think that eloquently makes a point, if I may say so, that in your personal case you were not made by newspaper reporting. Your fame arose from your work as a very successful --

  • Obviously, certain things are symbiotic in that, as Hugh Grant said earlier and Sienna Miller and Charlotte Church said, you are often -- in my case, if I'm contracted to present a television programme, I am also contractually obliged to do a certain amount of publicity about it.

  • I wanted to move to a more general question. From your at perspective as a professional journalist, if you do have someone whose fame has arisen from, say, newspaper reporting, does that --

  • No, because they're still a human being. They are still a human being, and no matter what they do for a living, I think every human being deserves some time in their life to be private. And that's why I say I can understand that it's arguable, and that many news editors up and down the land will want to argue: "Well, she put her family life out there, therefore she can't really complain if we take a picture of her children on holiday or something", but that's when it comes down to the taste and decency of that particular editor. It comes down to his values and I think that's wrong. I think it should come down to an agreed set of values.

  • Thank you. Just picking up, again, on this ethical question, you yourself as a journalist have written articles about other people. I think over the summer you wrote about the weight, and I think more particularly the weight loss, of a famous and well-loved actress in this country. You presumably gave some thought to the ethics of reporting on that woman's weight?

  • I did indeed. I was rung up -- as I said, I still work a lot in print journalism too. I write a lot of articles, and I was rung up by the Daily Mail in this situation and they said, "Everybody's talking about Dawn French's weight loss. Would you write about it?" My first reaction was: "Hm, I don't think so, because --" I don't know. But then I thought: well, actually Dawn French is a national treasure and we have all noticed that she's looking so brilliant at the moment and women up and down the land are really interested by that sort of thing, and having been there myself, and I knew I could write from a personal perspective -- I have and had my own battle with weight -- I agreed to do an article as long as it could be totally supportive and very affectionate, and I did write -- and I did give a great thought about the ethics of writing that, because it's not as if Dawn French had agreed to do an interview with me. I was simply writing what they wanted to be in the style of an open letter, from one woman to another, saying, "Hey, you look fantastic, you look wonderful." I didn't mention anything that wasn't already in the public domain or things that Dawn has indeed said herself in the public domain, just congratulating her on looking so good. A little bit of a touch of warning to her that women in the public eye, their weight is noticed. Their weight is always the subject of public debate and that she needs to be wary of that, but that's it. It was an affectionate letter from somebody who is a great admirer of her and that's how it appeared. I didn't particularly like the headline, but the words that I had written were supportive and yes, I had thought a great deal about what I wrote before I wrote it and I stand by it. It was affectionate and supportive.

  • Would you write a critical article about the female actress' weight?

  • I've diverted you from the chronological --

  • Just before we leave that, there's another interesting issue, because you've made the point that you've made with great force about your own privacy. How do you reach that judgment when considering somebody else's privacy? I don't know what Dawn French thinks or would think, but that's a balance that you've made. Is that something that you checked through the editorial line to see whether they're happy with that or is that a decision that you make and it's just down to you?

  • I had already checked with them because they discussed --

  • Of course, they had asked you to do it.

  • Yes, they had asked me to write the article and they'd discussed what they thought they would quite like me to say and I said what I was prepared to say, which fell a little short. I wouldn't want to go into any more detail about that because that really would be exposing what Dawn French might think or say.

    But I think the answer is that it does come down to -- when you're writing for the press, it does come down to your judgment call, rather than a set of guidelines and I was happy with what I wrote because I was very careful not to write about anything that wasn't already in the public domain or things that actually Dawn hadn't already said about her own life and weight herself. And she'd indeed written a line in her autobiography which I referred to. So I was happy in my own mind that I was not saying anything that hadn't already been said before, either by her or was publicly acknowledged as fact.

  • But just testing that -- and I'm just testing it to see where it goes. This is my word, not anybody else's, and I'm not making a judgment yet. The terrible story about your own tragedy with your son was all in the public domain.

  • But a different story, or a repetition of the story by a different journal might not have seemed any less an invasion of privacy just because it was already in the public domain.

  • Well, I think this is interesting. This illustrates my point that in the press it comes down to the judgment call made by the writer, then particularly the editor and maybe the proprietor as well; it comes down to their values. But not the collective values of a body that's been called together to actually think this through properly; it comes down to their personal values. My personal value when I wrote that article was that I wasn't doing anything hurtful and that I was being entirely supportive and affectionate in what I wrote, and I was very careful to make sure that the Daily Mail didn't change it in any way that I didn't approve of. And when you are writing for the press, that is what it comes down to: the editor's personal values.

  • What I was actually testing was whether the mere fact that it was in the public domain necessarily makes a difference, and I used your example simply because --

  • No, because then it comes down to taste and ethics and decency. I mean, my child's funeral happened in a public church and we did walk out and we could be seen but from the road, and the photographer was very careful to stay on the road, so there was nothing illegal had happened there, but I think within the realms of taste and decency, there were huge questions to be asked.

  • Thank you, sir.

    I was going to pick up again from paragraph 45 of your witness statement, where you give an account of what happened to your sister. She was the subject, wasn't she, of a newspaper article, you say it was either in the Sun or the News of the World, when she dismissed one of her employees. Am I understanding correctly that you're saying that this is not a matter which would have been any interest to the press but for the fact she was the sister of a famous woman?

  • Absolutely, of no public interest whatsoever, but still massively hurtful. Again, it's as Charlotte Church said, it's -- there are arguments about balance when you are the person in the public eye yourself, but your family, they don't deserve to be under the same scrutiny at all.

  • I'd like to move to another issue now. You've explained in graphic terms the difficulties you had with the media predominantly in the late 1980s and into the early 1990s. One of the core participants has drawn to my attention an article from 9 July 2011 where there is reference to a quotation from you:

    "With the Sun's massive help, we raised over £100,000 with a campaign to save a tiddler for a toddler, a tiddler being that annoying little 5p coin, and decided to make our own TV ad."

    That's a reference, of course, to the campaign to raise funds to research and prevent cot death. Is your relationship now in 2011 with the Sun and the Murdoch press different to your relationship with it in the late 1980s and early 1990s?

  • That's a very complex question to answer. As I've said before, the Sun talked us into doing a campaign with them to raise money particularly so that we could put funds into cot death research, and when we did agree to do that, we did a fantastic job, I think. I think this was a brilliant example of tabloid popular journalism at its very best. The Sun was a very large circulation tabloid newspaper at the time, and we were able to use it as a force for good. We did a series of articles with them all about cot death, about the research that was going on up and down the land, and we were able to raise such a wealth of public opinion, and they literally backed it up with their money, that we raised £100,000 within just a few weeks and that was immediately put into cot death research. That was an example of top tabloid journalism at its very best. It's what they were very, very good at and what I remember the News of the World being particularly good at in its heyday, were doing some popular campaigns that could really make a difference.

    When I was a young journalist training on the Bridgwater Mercury in the late 1970s, I remember being motivated into journalism by things like the Sunday Times Insight team and their reportage on the thalidomide campaign they did, and I remember thinking that you could make a difference if you went into journalism, and that's an example of journalism at its very best, and I was able to do that again -- in fact, because it's the 20th anniversary of my little boy's death this year, I went back and revisited that campaign, if you like, with the Sun, and we did another couple of articles about it this year, being able to highlight some of the new problems that are facing cot death researchers. I was able to do that in the Daily Mail as well, and that's what I'm saying, is that the tabloid and the popular press -- the popular press is nothing to be ashamed of in this country; it can be a terrific force for good, and the problem I think that befuddles people and bewilders me and lots of other journalists is we've allowed values of some, just a handful, to besmirch the reputations of all of us.

  • Does that explain why it is that, despite what you've explained in your witness statement, you're still content to write for the Sun.

  • Effectively, do I understand it this way: you hate what happened and how it happened, but having grasped the nettle and agreed to do something about it, you then became a campaigner in the cause to do something about it?

  • But there are very -- there are two sides to the popular press. I think if I had a secret boyfriend right now, which by the way I don't, but I think if I did now and I was just off to see him for a cup of coffee after this, I have no doubt that they would pursue me with the same underhand tactics that they have in the past. I think that those two practices, the good journalism and the bad journalism, sadly go hand in hand at the moment.

  • But do I accurately describe your approach: that you didn't like what happened and the way it happened, but having decided to get involved, this was a campaign which you felt obviously very strongly about --

  • And I still feel very proud of and I feel --

  • -- and so you committed to doing it?

  • This is my final question, and you may have heard it being put to other witnesses. It's an optional question; you don't have to answer it if you don't wish to do so.

  • Yes, well, it's rather less optional for you because you live in the world and you've seen both print journalism and television journalism and you've had -- you've written it, you've experienced it, you have suffered at the hands of it, so it's still semi-optional, but I'd be very interested for your answer to the question Mr Barr is just about to ask you.

  • I'll try not to define "semi-optional". If there's anything you'd like to say to Lord Justice Leveson to help him to make constructive recommendations for the future regulation of the press, now is your chance.

  • I think I'd most like to say that it doesn't have to be like this. It's so sad that a handful of bad journalists have besmirched the profession in this way. We need a free press, and I understand why some proprietors are very worried about any form of regulation, but what I would say is that in the broadcast media we already have regulation. It may not be that it's -- it should be entirely copied and imposed upon the press, but we do have a form of regulation that still allows good journalism, good, investigative journalism, to thrive.

    I just wish that we could achieve the same in the press, because I know a lot of very fine journalists who do a good job and we've been hearing so much in the last few weeks of very bad journalists who have done an appalling job, and I would just hope that you can find a way that the -- that doesn't frighten the newspaper proprietors to the extent where they feel that they're going to be completely hamstrung, but that will still allow good journalism to thrive but put an end to this.

  • Well, do you believe from your experience -- there are going to be two questions here. First of all, do you believe from your experience that self-regulation, as we presently have it, can or should continue in its present form?

  • On its own, it has failed.

  • It's very difficult to see the number of last-chance saloons that we've had on this at various times, why another go might make a difference.

  • 20 years ago I remember the same debate. It was about 25, 20 years ago when we stopped having a Press Council and it became the Press Complaints Commission and the presses were desperate then that they didn't want a form of official regulation and they said, "Let us self-regulate", and it has not worked.

  • You see, I'm not necessarily -- well, no, I can say, I don't think this is a binary question as between statutory regulation, which suggests government interference, and self-regulation. I think there's an enormous range between those two possibilities, but there it is, that's the first question. My second question is: have you ever felt constrained by the way in which broadcast journalism is regulated? I know the reason for that, because of course it's all to do with broadband -- bandwidth and the ability to say you're not going to do it, and there is no question, as I say periodically when articles in the press start to get concerned about it, there is no question of my saying there should be licensing or anything like that, but -- so I understand why the difference exists, but have you ever felt constrained by what is broadcast -- the way in which broadcasting journalism is --

  • No, never. It's always the subject of very heated debate in newsrooms between producers and directors and journalists up and down the land. Heated debate, sometimes a little frustration. I've been party myself to instances where, making a documentary, we felt we wanted to uncover certain things that could only be got by a secret camera, and under broadcast regulations you have to apply to Ofcom. In those days, it was -- I think this was the BBC actually. You have to apply for -- so you have to justify the story and show why you need a secret cameras, and under those circumstances, you will very often be allowed to secretly film something.

    And then the use of the footage is subject to debate as well, but at least that is carefully controlled -- no, that is its wrong word. It is carefully considered before it is broadcast, and I've never known it to constrain -- I don't know broadcast journalists who are angry at the constraints put upon them. They get on with it.

  • Here's another question. The code in itself, the language of the code, is that about right? Not tough enough, too tough?

  • It has relaxed significantly over the years, so I think you could probably argue that it does evolve. I remember in the early days in ITV, the IBA was very, very strict and we would often moan about how strict it felt but a lot of those rules have been relaxed over the years. So I think that code of conduct has evolved over the years. So there's nothing to stop a natural evolution and things being conditionally considered and debated and discussed, but nevertheless, the people who work within them know that they have to do that.

  • All right. Now if we go to print journalism and the Editors' Code. Do you have a view about that?

  • I don't -- I have never seen any real evidence of it being used. I don't know. I've never been an editor, so I don't really know.

  • But you know what it says?

  • Yes, I do, and I still come back to what I originally said, which is: I've never seen any real exercising of that code. What I've seen is the exercising of an editor's personal judgment, or maybe a proprietor's personal judgment, I don't know.

  • Yes, you've said that a number of times. You've brought in the proprietor --

  • Well, one of the reasons I'm here today -- I don't think I would have dared stick my head up above the parapet again had it not been for the Channel 4 documentary where they interviewed Rupert Murdoch's former butler and it seemed to suggest that I was targeted, and I felt that was something you did need to know about because I've certainly heard this from my many friends and colleagues, both well-known and not well-known, that targeting does go on and that that was a view of a proprietor who instructs editors.

  • You've never had that experience personally? Or have you?

  • Of? Of being targeted?

  • No, no, I understand what you say about that. Of being told what to do because of some concern that somebody in the top echelons of the organisation wants to -- some agenda that had they have, in your capacity as a journalist.

  • No. I've never been instructed that way myself. I'm certainly aware that it goes on.

  • All right. Thank you very much. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

  • Thank you very much for your time.

  • I am grateful to you for being prepared to share what, as I have said, are not easy personal moments. Thank you.

  • Sir, that was our last witness for today.

  • Right. Well, where are we with the other matters that we're considering?

  • We checked about ten minutes ago but --

  • Yes, the witness statement is still on the website of Guido Fawkes.

  • Do you know whether we've had an acknowledgment for the receipt of the notice?

  • The answer is we don't but it has been sent.

  • All right. So I do have to decide what I'm going to do. My concern about the document that's presently on this website is that it's not the document that Mr Campbell has finally attested to. I'm not talking about coming to the witness box -- he hasn't done that -- but the document was changed after the draft that is on that website.

  • It most certainly was, yes. The one on the website is quite an early draft, on my understanding.

  • Mr Campbell would ideally, I think, like to make one or two very minor changes to the statement that has been provided to the core participants. One of those changes I have caused to be effected. There is one other change which is minor, which has not yet been achieved, but I was only notified of it at lunchtime.

  • So that's even still now?

  • Yes, all right. Let's see what Mr Caplan has to say.

    It's a difficult balance, Mr Caplan, isn't it? One doesn't want to condone any breach of the orders that I've made, but equally one doesn't want to provide the oxygen of publicity to what is a failure accurately to reflect what the witness has to say.

  • Yes. But, sir, you have made a restriction order under Section 19.

  • We would agree with Mr Jay that that is perfectly within your power. If it is not complied with --

  • I'm very pleased about that, that you do agree.

  • If it's not complied with, then you can clearly report the matter to the High Court. Our concern is that if you authorise publication now of Mr Campbell's statement, then it will simply, in effect, be a green light to others to publish it at an earlier opportunity and we'd much rather that didn't happen. There are reasons for keeping this information confidential until witnesses come to give evidence, and the obvious reason -- or the most obvious reason -- is that it enables a contemporaneous response within the Inquiry to allegations that are made by a witness against organisations --

  • I understand all that and I entirely agree with you. The question is whether where it presently is doesn't provide that non-contemporaneous exposure that I deprecate, but which I don't seem to be able to avoid.

  • It doesn't seem that others are behaving so irresponsibly and breaching the restriction under Section 19 at the moment.

  • All right. Thank you. Mr Jay, do you have a view on this? Because I'm minded to change my mind, which happens rather more frequently than people think of judges.

  • I have neither a submission nor a view.

  • Oh, thank you. Does anybody else have anything to say on this topic?

    Right. Well, yesterday evening I was minded to take the view that to deprive this particular website of publicity required me to put the accurate statement online immediately. Given the later suggestion that I can make an order under Section 19, which I have now made, so as to have the effect of requiring the witness statement to be removed from the website it is presently on, it seems to me that the better course is not to publish the statement on my website until the usual time, which will be, I anticipate, some time on Wednesday.

    I would be grateful if the solicitor to the Inquiry would ascertain whether the notice and the order have been communicated to Mr Staines. He is required to provide information by Wednesday afternoon and is presently summoned to attend on Thursday afternoon. I will, of course, pay the very closest attention to how he responds, both to my notice and to my order.

    Anything else?

  • Just the programme for Wednesday. The programme for tomorrow is clear. It looks like being quite a busy day. Wednesday, Mr Campbell in the morning, Mr Owens later in the afternoon. There is an hour-long slot, and in our submission, it would be better, or best, if that slot were filled with Mr Lewis concluding his evidence. I understand that course does not altogether find favour with Collyer-Bristow and Mr Sherborne.

  • Let's hear what Mr Sherborne has to say about it.

  • Mr Sherborne hasn't been party to these discussions.

  • Oh, well, there you are. Mr Sherborne, you'd better take some instructions.

  • I'd love to take some instructions. Can I do that now?

  • I'm very grateful. (Pause)

    Yes, perhaps it's not Mr Sherborne who needs to take instructions. I need to take instructions from Mr Lewis about this. As I say, I knew nothing about this until Mr Jay --

  • I'm very sorry about that, Mr Sherborne.

  • The position is that I am very keen that Mr Lewis finish his evidence. I'm unhappy about having this hanging over. If there's an opportunity to do so without any objection from anybody else, I'd be very unhappy not to do it. I know that very recently a further statement has been served by a different witness. I wouldn't, I say immediately, dream of interposing that witness into the evidence of a witness who's already giving evidence.

  • Sir, I'm grateful for that.

  • I don't think it would be appropriate.

  • No, I understand that.

  • I seem to stand up to raise a contrary view. Can I say we simply don't know what further statement Mr Lewis may be intending to --

  • I think it was the statement that he you're -- was it a second statement in respect of which there was objection, given the lateness of the notice?

  • It will be pretty late now, because I don't think we've even seen it.

  • The second statement of Mr Lewis has been served. It's the confidential exhibit which Mr Caplan and everyone else will have seen.

  • I think we can reassure Mr Caplan to this extent, can't we: that it doesn't in any respect affect his clients.

  • Mr Caplan has surrendered on that point.

  • You'll remember there are some Article 8 redactions that we are considering but those are capable of being carried out, one would have thought, reasonably quickly. I adhere to the point I made. We're not on Wednesday, which is --

  • We want to use it. I'm not giving time away. Mr White, this probably affects you and you know exactly what we're talking about.

  • We will consider the position. We've heard what was said.

  • Thank you very much. That's a reasonable time. Thank you all very much. Tomorrow morning, 10 o'clock.

  • (The court adjourned until 10.00 am on Tuesday, 29 November 2011)