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

  • MS THERESA MARY MAY (sworn).

  • Your full name, please?

  • Thank you. You've kindly provided us with a witness statement and three exhibits. The statement is dated 30 April 2012. There's the standard statement of truth appended to it, so you're formally presenting this as your evidence to our Inquiry; is that right?

  • Home Secretary, thank you very much for a very comprehensive statement, with many exhibits and all the documentation that you mention. It's obviously been a great deal of work, both for you and your staff, and I'm very grateful to all of you.

  • In terms of your career, elected to Parliament in 1997, various positions in opposition, including, of course, on the opposition front bench, but you have been a Secretary of State for the Home Department and Minister for Women and Equalities since May 2010l is that, broadly speaking, correct?

  • In terms of your responsibilities as Home Secretary, these, of course, will be extremely well known to us, but you collect those under paragraph 8 of your statement at page 01308. Can I move straight to the issue of policing, Mrs May, which is paragraph 10, 01309, and in particular paragraph 11, which is the strategic leadership role which you occupy. Could you elaborate on that for us, please?

  • Yes. The relationship between a Home Secretary and the operational police forces is an important one, obviously. The police forces have operational independence in terms of deciding who they should investigate, what crimes they should look into, but the Home Secretary sets the policy background for -- against which that is operated, obviously is responsible within government for proposing the legislative framework against which the police operate, makes decisions about the funding that goes to forces and obviously is accountable to Parliament for those responsibilities.

  • In terms of the overall policy direction you refer to in paragraph 11, would that mean allocation of priorities? So, for example, perhaps according greater priority to terrorism over other matters?

  • Well, it will be -- there are certain funding decisions that will be made -- so on terrorism, for example, there is a separate budget head which relates to counter-terrorism policing -- but in other matters the Home Secretary will set a general background. This government has taken and I have taken a decision not to perhaps set the police quite such restrictions in terms of targeting them on certain types of crime, so targets have been taken away from them and I've set them one aim, which is to cut crime. But in setting a policy background, of course, decisions will be made that will suggest an appropriate response to certain types of crime.

  • So if one were to look at the activities of one particular subdivision, say counter-terrorism, which I think now has the label SO15, is it the gist of your evidence that how priorities are allocated within that subdivision is a matter for the police and not for you, or do you have some sort of role?

  • No, how funding is allocated within the subdivision is about operational decisions that are taken by the police, so that would be a decision for the police.

  • Would you have any interest, oversight at all, even after the event, as to how those decisions might have been made in particular cases or not?

  • Well, there might be -- it would depend on -- I mean, if an event has taken place and there's a question as to whether the police had put appropriate resources into a particular area, it might be that a decision would take place following that to understand the decision that was taken at the time.

  • I understand. The role of the HMIC and the IPCC now. This is 01311 of your statement. The IPCC first. It's independent of government. This is paragraph 17. It is an NDPB, and operates under the auspices of the Home Office and therefore under you, but you do have certain powers under section 11 of the Police Reform Act 2002, which we see come into play a little later on in the narrative. Could you explain, please, how you see the operation of those powers under section 11?

  • Yes. I mean, I very much see that for the vast majority of what it does, the IPCC should be taking those decisions itself. So decisions about particular investigations when matters are referred to it, for example, whether to investigate, how those investigations should take place, are a matter for the IPCC, looking into complaints that are referred to them members of the public. But from time to time -- and this is why the power exists -- there will be issues on which it is felt necessary, from a national point of view, that the IPCC be asked to undertake a particular piece of work, and that is the power that the Home Secretary has, which, as you have referred to, Mr Jay, I of course have exercised in a particular matter which is of interest to this Inquiry.

  • Is there any policy guidance on the exercise of the section 11 power or is it applied on a case-by-case basis? Or do you have a view as to the sort of circumstances in which you might exercise it?

  • There isn't a set of criteria which say: these are the only circumstances under which this power would be exercised. Of course, in choosing to exercise that power, a Home Secretary, as I would and did, would take advice from officials as to the appropriateness of any particular piece of work as coming under that power and the appropriateness of the IPCC doing that piece of work.

  • But what are the specific factors which might engage the operation of the power, in your view?

  • Well, first of all whether it is the sort of work which it would be appropriate and right for the IPCC to do, whether it comes within their capabilities, and secondly, whether it is an issue that is of national concern, such that a review by an independent body would be more appropriate than work done by others.

  • So an issue of national concern, you might judge that by the strength of opinion or feeling in the press and elsewhere; is that correct?

  • I think I would judge it by a variety of factors. A feeling and opinion would be given in a variety of ways. It might be that there would be a case in which actually there wasn't a great public outcry on a particular issue but there was a feeling from a Home Secretary that actually a matter was developing or that what was understood -- what the Home Secretary understood was such that it was appropriate at that point to ask for work to be done.

  • We'll look at the particular exercise of that power when we come to some of the documents.

  • Just before you pass to the HMIC, can I jump back one merely so that I understand the respective positions. You mentioned, in answer to a question which Mr Jay asked, the resource allocation, making it clear that's operational for the police. Could you provide me with some insight as to how that question of resources and your responsibilities gel with the responsibilities which fall to the Mayor of London or his policing Deputy Mayor?

  • Yes. I think the structure, of course, as you will show, sir, is changing, and there is the first example of the structure in piece, in terms of being the Police and Crime Commissioner. As from November of this year over the rest of the country, the Police and Crime Commissioner, currently the Mayor in London coming into place elsewhere later this year, will have responsibility for setting the budget for the police force. Currently that is a matter that is done between the Police Authority and the Chief Constable of any particular police force.

    So the Home Secretary doesn't say to a police force, except in some particular circumstances where the Home Office might decide to ringfence a piece of money -- for example, for the provision of PCSOs, that has happened in the past, but generally speaking, the budget will be decided by currently the Police Authority in conjunction with the police chief, the Chief Constable, in the future by the Police and Crime Commissioner. In London, it is decided by the Mayor or the Mayor's office for police and crime, together with the Commissioner.

  • Do you anticipate that the Police and Crime Commissioner will have any greater responsibility in relation to how resources should be allocated than previously existed with the Police Authority? I particularly have in mind Mr Malthouse's evidence where he did discuss allocation of resources specifically to these operations as opposed to others with the then Commissioner or Acting Commissioner.

  • I would expect the Police and Crime Commissioner to recognise the operational independence of the chief, but naturally the relationship would be such that in looking at the budget, the overall budget and its allocation, I would expect them to be discussing the appropriate areas for which that -- against which that budget should be allocated.

  • Yes, all right. Thank you.

  • The role of the HMIC now, Mrs May. Paragraph 18. Independent of the Home Office, operates from within it, though just for the purposes of funding, which is common structure, really. Traditionally has acted as the Home Secretary's adviser. We'll see how you deployed their advice or request for advice in July 2011 in due course.

    Can we move on to the question of national standards -- or rather the absence of them -- in relation to hospitality and other matters. This is paragraph 19. You refer to the general guidance given under the previous administration December 2008 under section 87 of the Act and clause 1.15 at the bottom of 01311, which sets out, I suppose, a reasonably appropriate general standard, would you agree?

  • Yes, I believe it does. As I go on to say, there is some further work that has now taking place.

  • Do you have a view though as to the fact that there weren't detailed national standards extant? I mean, the position may be moving forward now, but the position you inherited, the absence of such standards. What we have is fragmentary standards in the 43 or 44 different police forces, some of which are similar, some of which are slightly different. Do you have a view as to the appropriateness of that?

  • Obviously as you say, there is this undated guidance which is fairly generic, but is, I think, suitable for the purposes. It was then for police forces themselves to take that and introduce their own guidance within the police force areas. What obviously became clear, particularly from the work that I commissioned from HMIC, was the variation in guidance that was being issued and being operated, and variation in systems that were being operated from police force to police force.

    The importance of a police force being able -- and a chief constable being able within his police force -- to have that independence of deciding how that force operates is part of the structure of policing that we have in the UK. Obviously, having now looked at the situation, the chief officers following HMIC's report have felt that it is appropriate to put some more national guidance in place, but that obviously will still be operated by each of the police forces.

  • And they've done that through the agency of ACPO, which has provided detailed proposals which we'll come to very soon, both in this context and in the context of media relations. That latter context is paragraph 21 of your statement, Mrs May.

    The CAG issued media relationships guidance in August 2011 and I think we've seen that, but the composite ACPO guidance on both hospitality and media relations, that was provided by letter to you on 11 May 2012; is that right?

  • Yes, that is correct.

  • And we have a copy of that. Indeed, it can be put up on our screen, although it hasn't yet been incorporated into our Lextranet system.

    The guidance itself is dated 20 April 2012 in the third page, really, of the relevant small bundle, and it's described as "ACPO response to the HMIC review of police relationships, 'Without fear or favour'".

    This is the guidance which has been prepared under the superintendence of Chief Constable Andrew Trotter; is that correct?

  • No, it's been prepared under the superintendence of Chief Constable Michael Cunningham.

  • Right. Sorry, we see that on the third page.

    Can we look at the detail of this, Mrs May. Under paragraph 2, "Service response to the HMIC's principal recommendations 1 and 2":

    "The ACPO professional standards portfolio has formally led on the service response ..."

    Paragraph 2.3:

    "In particular, three specific guidance documents have been drawn up to assist and inform decision-making within and between forces and which will engender a consistency of approach in defining and establishing boundaries of acceptable practice over matters of personal and professional integrity."

    Then there's an overview of each document. I don't think we're so concerned with the first one; we're concerned with the second and third:

    "The ACPO guidance on gifts, gratuities and hospitality ..."

    Paragraph 2.8.

  • The first one actually is not irrelevant, because of the concern that's been expressed in this Inquiry about retired police officers taking up employment with the media. Does that come into the advice? It's dealing with business interests and additional occupations but does it also deal with subsequent occupations?

  • We can find the answer in the appendix.

  • I'm not sure we do, because the appendix deals with the relationships with the media, which of course is the primary concern.

  • It's true, the version we have of this document only includes the appendices which relate to the gifts, gratuities and hospitalities part of the media relationships.

  • This is a fast ball, Mrs May. Does the guidance on business interests and additional occupations also deal with post employment, do you know?

  • My understanding, sir, is that it doesn't.

  • But it is still being worked on and that is why it is not yet available to the Inquiry.

  • Fine. Fine. Then I'm rightly not troubled with it.

  • The philosophy behind this is clear from 2.8:

    "For the first time, ACPO guidance has been drafted to provide a more consistent service-wide approach to gifts, gratuities and hospitalities based on the shift on a blanket non-acceptability, save for certain circumstances of common sense approach to the provision of light refreshments and trivial and inexpensive gifts..."

    Et cetera. Then the guidance makes clear the expectation of a single force register.

    The guidance itself, pages 19 to 23, which I'm not sure we have in this clip -- I don't know if you have those available, Mrs May? It may be a deficiency in the copy I have.

  • No, we don't have this guidance either. Possibly we could ask ACPO for it.

  • But we do have the one for media relationships --

  • We do, and we have a sense for what the one for gifts, gratuities and hospitalities will say.

  • Your general position on this, Mrs May, in the letter you wrote on 25 May 2012 to Mr Cunningham is that you welcome the proposals; is that fair?

  • Yes, Mr Jay. My understanding, if it will be helpful to the Inquiry, is that further work is being done on aspects of the other parts of the guidance and that ACPO will be happy to make further guidance available to the Inquiry when that has been finalised.

  • I did indeed welcome the work that ACPO is doing, but I also made clear that obviously I want to make sure that they're playing a proactive role in promoting these standards.

  • The general principle, though, of blanket non-acceptability, save for limited exceptions, is that something you specifically favour? And if so, why?

  • I think that is a sensible approach that has been taken by ACPO in an attempt obviously to find a greater consistency. I think that the -- what is important is that they have the single force register but that everybody knows that there is a general belief that they should not be taking gifts, gratuities and hospitality except where, as it says there, of a more trivial nature.

  • Subject, I suppose, to de minimis. The perception of accepting hospitalities and gifts and the possibility that an overcosy relationship arises or might be perceived to arise, that is the aspect which one wishes to avoid; is that the point?

  • Yes, I think they have looked what the it is appropriate for police officers to receive and the expectation is officers should not put themselves in a position where people could feel that they were being influenced by the receipt of such gifts, gratuities or hospitality.

  • Thank you. In the context of the updated interim guidance on media relationships, a number of themes emerge: greater accountability, greater transparency. They must all be in the wider public interest and there's an expectation that a meeting with a journalist must be noted in some way. Paragraph 2.14. Are these all principles which you espouse and welcome?

  • Indeed I do welcome the work that ACPO has done. The police will speak to journalists and journalists will speak to the police. That is -- there will be very good occasions on which the police will find it helpful to be speaking to journalists on a number of matters, for example in relation to something that's going in the paper on a particular case to try and bring evidence forward from the public. But I think what this does is brings a clearer framework in for officers so that they understand the background against which -- the way in which those meetings or discussions can take place and that everything is recorded and transparency is, I think, important here.

  • Yes, I hope that it's not intended that the records should become so comprehensive that it means that appropriate contact is thereby prevented. It's obviously important that, for example, neighbourhood police officers should be able to speak to local press about events in the neighbourhood, good news stories, concerns, seeking witnesses, all of that sort of material, and it seems to me sensible that everything one can do to encourage that sort of contact is worthwhile, although I recognise the need at least to be aware that there is the contact without necessarily all the detail. Of course, the trick is where it goes too far and trying to define the line is, I think, what this guidance is trying to do.

  • It is indeed, sir. I think it's trying to apply a framework of common sense to the relationships that the police should be having with the media. As you say, sir, it is the case that the police, in various circumstances, do need to speak to the media and the media will be speaking to the police. So what is important is that police officers have a clear framework against which they operate. I think there had always been an assumption that it was just a matter of common sense that everybody understood where the lines were. What this does is actually just puts that down in some guidance for officers.

  • Yes, a little bit because there may have been thought that different rules appeared to apply to different people. And they didn't. That's the point?

  • Yes, sir. And I think also that it appeared that different rules were applying or different guidance was being operated in different forces.

  • The Inquiry has received a fair amount of evidence from crime reporters who have expressed the view that noting of communications is likely to have a chilling effect on genuine investigative journalism. Do you think there is any force in that point or not?

  • I think what's important is that everybody recognises what we've just been discussing, which is that it is at times appropriate and right for the police and journalists to be talking about issues. The important thing is for officers to know where the line is drawn between who they are able to speak to and what they're able to say in those conversations.

    So it will shouldn't have a chilling effect but I think what's important is that we need a framework that does not have a chilling effect and a framework that enables common sense to be operated in these relationships.

  • Okay. In terms of the detail, we have that under pages 23 to 26 of the document but I don't think we need specifically to draw attention to that. That's been read and considered. As I've said, you welcome the guidance in general.

    Can I move back to your statement now, Mrs May.

  • The only issue that I might raise in relation to 3.12 of this guidance -- and I'm not deciding it, although I'll obviously consider it in the light of any representations that I receive, either from the police during the course of the Inquiry or the press -- whether the words "of the conversation" are necessary. Obviously one needs to know who is talking to whom -- I understand that -- and that might suggest that one has to, as it were, compile a record of who said what to whom, whereas I wonder -- and I'm only raising it, I'm not deciding it, I'm not challenging it at all -- whether it's not sufficient to say, for example: "Met John Smith of the Daily News, talked about burglary in such-and-such an area." In other words, the general topic rather than: "This is exactly what he said and this is exactly what he asked me." Do you see the point I'm trying to get across not very well?

  • No, I absolutely see the point and I think it's absolutely right that for what will probably be the vast majority of interactions, the sort of record that you refer to is appropriate.

    I note in 3.12 it says:

    "... where an officer or member of staff is speaking to the media about a significant operational or organisational matter."

    Now, I have in mind that may be, for example, where there is a major murder case being undertaken.

  • That it might be more important to have a greater record of the discussion that has taken place.

  • Yes. It may be I'm worrying about something unnecessarily.

  • It may be it requires further clarification.

  • May I move on to section 3 of your statement, our page 01315, which deals with the phone hacking issue. You've kindly provided us with a significant bundle of documents and we will look at the highlights, but the position is that you occupied office in May 2010 and nothing happened which is relevant for our purposes until the New York Times piece, which came out on 1 September 2010. This was the first time the issue, as it were, came across your radar; is that fair?

  • Yes, in terms of an issue that I felt it was necessary -- obviously the issue had been there in the past, but that was the first time when it came across my radar.

  • On 6 September -- this is paragraph 35 -- you answered an urgent question in the House of Commons, which had been tabled by Mr Watson. You were provided with a speaking note, I think, which was I think for the purposes of your appearance before the House that day. It's under tab 2 of this bundle. Have I correctly understood the purpose of the note, which presumably your officials put together for you?

  • Yes. That was made available to me before I went in to the House of Commons to respond to the urgent question.

  • You make the point at the bottom of the first page, 01812. You refer to the New York Times piece. First of all, may I ask you, did you read that piece?

  • I saw reports of it. I didn't read the whole piece.

  • I mean, did you think it appropriate to ask for the whole document?

  • I felt it appropriate to ensure that some action was being taken as a result of it, which it was being looked into.

  • Some would say that it was an extremely detailed piece, based on a series of interviews, evidence from a number of sources. A huge amount of research being put into it, so I just wonder why you didn't ask to see it.

  • Well, it's not the role of the Home Secretary to decide whether information that's in a newspaper is such that should be investigated. It is an operational matter for the police to decide whether the information that is printed is new evidence or hints at new evidence, such that they feel it is sufficient -- necessary for them to investigate that and explore that.

  • I suppose that point is made clear in the speaking note at the bottom of the page:

    "Any police investigation is an operational matter in which ministers have no role."

    You say that you understand that the original investigation was complex and you indicate how it was excluded. At the end of the speaking note:

    "The Metropolitan Police have indicated that if there is further evidence, they will look at it."

    So was the view taken, therefore, that the Times article did not contain any evidence as such? It might have indicated highness of inquiry which could culminate in evidence?

  • It suggested that there might be further evidence available, and that is why the Metropolitan Police did indeed look into it, and as I understand it, ask that any evidence that was new evidence that lay behind it should have been made available to them.

  • In the next page of the note, it starts off Q&A. So this is providing you with answers to possible questions which your officials had anticipated; is that correct?

  • 01814. A number of themes are taken up. Independent review of the MPS investigation. The line that you suggest you might take:

    "I have no plans to do so at present. The Metropolitan Police are making further enquiries to establish whether the recent media allegations constitute any fresh evidence."

    That's taken up again on the next page, 01815.

    As for the IPCC, it's made clear there that there's no question of section 11 of the Police Reform Act being engaged at that stage; is that correct?

  • That is correct. That was obviously a briefing provided to me by officials. My view at that stage was that it was not right for the IPCC to be brought into the situation.

  • Notwithstanding, though, the strength of feeling to the issue, the possible public opinion on the issue and what we know occurred in Parliament that day, wasn't this of sufficient importance that at least consideration could be given to the deployment of section 11?

  • No, I didn't feel at that time that it was appropriate to do that because this was a matter for the police to be investigating, and as you will see through a number of references, I think it's important that the police are able to complete their investigations and then judgments may be made in relation to a particular case. So it was right for them to do their investigation.

  • The debate in Parliament is in a different place, at least in terms of our bundle. It's tab 98, which is the second file. Bear with me. It's tab 99. I'm terribly sorry.

  • This is the Parliamentary answer?

  • Yes. You started off by giving the formal answer and then Mr Watson asked some questions. Do you see that, on page 1 of 6 of the Internet printout?

  • Yes, that would have been the process that was undertaken.

  • Mr Watson's points -- he made, I think, at least three. He said:

    "As for the claim there's no new evidence, there is."

    Claim number 2, that people were cleared by the committee:

    "They were not."

    Then he deals with the single rogue reporter issue and the "for Neville" email, and then refers specifically to an interview of a former News of the World reporter and evidence given by Sharon Marshall to the New York Times.

    Wasn't the position already being reached that there was a relatively cogent body of evidence which was indicating that this issue was worthy of further consideration, either through section 11 or otherwise?

  • What was being displayed here, I think, was the necessity of the police being able to investigate to determine whether indeed there was new evidence available as a result of the article that appeared in the New York Times, and it was for them. It is not for the Home Secretary to decide whether there is evidence available in a case. It is for the police to investigate and make that decision themselves.

  • Mr Johnson, at the bottom of this page, he picks up that theme. He refers to the sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Gross as he then was, and then on the next page he refers to the New York Times piece and in particular the 2,978 mobile phone numbers of potential victims and 91 PIN codes, and the question was:

    "Can the Right Honourable lady ascertain how many of the people concerned have now been informed?"

    Then there's a reference to something else.

    I mean, again, wasn't that an issue of sufficient moment that further consideration should have been given to it, not just by the police?

  • This is a question of how the police were handling the case. It was a question about whether new evidence had been available. There was a specific question, as you referred to, as to whether individuals had been informed, who were on the list, as to whether their phones might or might not have been hacked. That, again, was a matter for the police, an operational matter for them, in their inquiries to look at whether there was new evidence, to look at whether further investigation was necessary as a result of what had appeared in public and the public statements that had been made.

  • It's fairly clear, reading the whole debate, that the issue had become already highly politicised. The questions that were put to you by Conservative MPs were exactly on the theme, as it were, that your evidence is based on. The evidence from Labour MPs was that this was meriting further consideration. I suppose there's always a danger in these case that the objective merits get slightly lost in the political debate. Is that a fair or unfair observation?

  • Well, debates in the House of Commons are always going to be of a political nature or have political aspects to them. The important aspect for myself in the job that I hold, on a matter like this, is to look at the facts, to look at what is before me and to make a decision based on that, and the decision was that the police should be investigating and it was up to them to consider whether new evidence was available.

  • Okay. The police investigation continued. Go back to your statement. May I go forward in time to 13 December 2010 --

  • Just so that one understands this, the facts that you provided in your Parliamentary answers are researched presumably by your office with the police?

  • Any facts will be researched by Home Office officials and, where necessary, they would have referred to the police and asked them if there were particular factual points.

  • So that they can check with the police what the police are doing and then you make your own judgment about where they appear at least to be thinking about the right things?

  • Well, the -- yes, sir, in that I -- I think my job is to ensure that they're looking at the -- they were doing the investigation. I hesitate only because you say I should ascertain whether they're looking at the right things. I think, again, this is where the fine boundary between the operational independence of the police officer in investigating hits up against the role of Home Secretary.

  • By "right things", I meant the issues that were raising concern. In other words, they are answering your questions to the satisfaction of those who are very familiar with how the police operate, both in your office and, of course, ultimately you.

  • Mrs May, your updated brief, again provided by your officials, 13 December 2010. It's under tab 6 and its significance is that you were going to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee on 14 December. So this is provided in advance of that.

    First of all, do your officials liaise with the police in order to obtain the necessary background facts before this sort of document is prepared for you?

  • If the facts are not available to them and they are only available by discussion with the police, then they will ask the police what information is available.

  • It's clear from the top lines at the start, 01829, that since the New York Times piece, the MPS had carried out a number of inquiries and interviews. The interviews, it's clear from other evidence, were always "no comment" in terms of the responses elicited, or rather their absence.

    A file was submitted to the CPS on 12 November seeking advice and the advice from the DPP was:

    "No admissible evidence upon which the CPS could properly advise the police to bring criminal charges."

    Further detail on this is provided on the next page, 01830, under the heading "Latest developments", if you have that.

  • It summarises really what I've just said, but the DPP were making it clear, as indeed was the police, that if further evidence came to light the matter would be further considered.

  • Were you aware, Home Secretary, that this investigation undertaken by the police was to interview all those who had spoken to the New York Times under caution -- in other words, perceiving them as potential suspects -- and therefore very likely to decide to exercise their right of silence not say anything, thereby, not surprisingly, revealing no additional evidence?

  • I was aware that interviews had taken place and I was aware that there had been no further information forthcoming as a result of those interviews.

  • Moving forward to the year 2011, one relevant date which we might add to the chronology is that on 21 January, Mr Coulson announced that he would be stepping down from his role as communications director to Number 10. So that self-evidently came to your attention at that time, but you weren't involved directly in events until 27 January 2011 when you had a conversation with the Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin; is that right?

  • That is correct; yes.

  • A note of that conversation, which was by telephone, is under tab 8, page 01833, Mrs May.

  • We're at the point where Operation Weeting, I think, was -- it may not have been publicly announced but you knew about it from item 3 in this note. Maybe it had been announced on 26 January, but when that entered the public domain is not altogether clear.

    Can we deal with the last bullet point:

    "TG also explained that he had gone to see Alison Levitt QC and the DPP on Monday. They discussed the fact that the previous police investigation had used a very different definition of 'phone hacking' and the DPP/CPS had now reviewed this. TG reassured the HS that the phone hacking investigation was under control."

    Did it cause you concern that apparently a very different legal definition had been applied beforehand?

  • Well, it was a matter of, I think, importance that obviously the Metropolitan Police had been operating on a different definition from the one which the DPP or the CPS were now believing should be the case, but obviously that was the definition which the previous investigations had been undertaken.

  • It meshed, really, with what you told Parliament on 6 September, that the 2,900-odd cases of potential interception, that was, of course, based or might have been based on this very different definition. So obviously you weren't misleading Parliament -- I make that absolutely clear -- because you were working on the basis of what you were told, but did it not at least affect your thinking as to what might have been going on here?

  • Well, it -- I don't think it affected my thinking in terms of what had been going on. I think what it said to me was that the police had obviously conducted an investigation with their understanding at the time of what the definition of "phone hacking" was. This was now being looked at again, in terms of they were opening a new investigation and at the same time the DPP and CPS had reviewed what the appropriate definition of "phone hacking" was, such that presumably the police would then be operating under the new -- on the new basis. But the fact -- crucially, obviously, a new investigation had been opened.

  • The last sentence:

    "TG reassured the HS that the phone hacking investigation was under control."

    That's certainly open to two interpretations. One of them might be that you were concerned that it hadn't been under control before and you wanted the reassurance, or it might be that Mr Godwin simply offered it. Can you remember which it was?

  • I can't honestly remember which it was, I'm afraid.

  • Okay. We move on then to paragraph 40 of your statement, 28 January. You were provided with an update. This is tab 10. This is a briefing note which is provided for information only, but it's said to be urgent. It's our page 01838. I think the background was that Lord Fowler had asked a question. This is paragraph 7 of this note on the second page, 01839. That may have been part of the reason for urgency. Have I correctly understood that?

  • It is possible, I think, that this was -- because of what was happening generally around that time, it was felt that it was important to get a briefing note to me and that was the main purpose for the -- describing it as urgent.

  • If you look at the two bullet points under paragraph 7:

    "Lord Fowler asked an oral Parliamentary question on what the government was doing to prevent phone hacking. Although handled in a factual way by Lord Wallace ..."

    Was he the Home Office Minister of State in the Lords?

  • No, he's not. He's the Advocate General. He's a law officer in the Lords.

  • Thank you.

    "... it provided the opportunity for several peers to make wide-ranging comments about the overall story. While there was criticism of the MPS for perceived delays in dealing effectively with this issue to date, there was also a decided and well supported groundswell of opinion that reviews of, and more effective controls on, the activities of the press, were called for (including new legislation on defamation)."

    So this was now being seen as part of a wider picture where other issues or press regulation might come into play; is that right?

  • Yes. May I just take you back, Mr Jay, to my previous answer, because I realise there are two Lord Wallaces in the Lords and this may be a reference to Lord Wallace who was, at the time, a whip in the Lords for Home Office matters. So I apologise if I can't clarify which of the two Lord Wallaces it was.

    But obviously what had happened when Lord Fowler raised the issue in the House of Lords was that there had been a number of contributions from members of their Lordships' House which had indicated degrees of concern about how the matter was being dealt with.

  • Looking at the overall context, I'm not sure whether this point was specifically being made in the House of Lords at this time, but I'll make it nonetheless. When one is looking at what the government was doing to prevent phone hacking, was there not at least the potential for a national security issue to be involved here, given that we know that the mobile phone of at least one Cabinet Minister was hacked into. Someone close to another Cabinet Minister, her phone was hacked into. Didn't this raise the sort of concerns which directly engaged your responsibilities?

  • It didn't, in that the phones that were being hacked were not secure mobile phones and therefore there should not have been material of a national security concern on those phones.

  • There might have been, though, might there not, Mrs May?

  • Well, there certainly should -- my understanding -- (a), there should not be material of national security concern on those sorts of telephones.

  • So is this the position, so that we understand it: if a Cabinet Minister with responsibilities in a national security area has a mobile phone and it's made clear to him or her that that particular mobile phone should not be used for any matter which might impact on national security, it may or may not be a secure mobile phone or other means of communication which that cabinet minister uses for that specific purpose; is that right?

  • Certainly there would be no material sent across a mobile phone -- no documentation or anything sent across a mobile phone -- which would be of a restricted nature if that mobile phone was not secure.

  • It's just whether there might be a discussion about a national security issue. Is it the position that instructions are given that there should be no such discussions on an unsecure mobile phone?

  • It would be -- the normal practice would be an understanding that there shouldn't be discussions of matters of national security concern in an open way across a mobile phone that was not secure.

  • Thank you. The second bullet point relate to a meeting of the MPA, which was held on 27 January. There's reference there to some pointed questioning of Tim Godwin and John Yates about past performance. So there was a general concern abroad that the investigation might not have been covered sufficiently assiduously up to that point in time; would you agree with that?

  • That was obviously the implication of the questions that were put to the MPA at that meeting.

  • Okay. May we move forward to 10 March, when you saw a briefing note to the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Crime and Security, an adjournment debate. That's under tab 13 of this bundle. The background is set out. It's quite a lengthy note. I think we can move on to 01856. The item here:

    "Will the government order an independent inquiry into the original MPS investigation?"

    The matter is reviewed. It's made clear that the DPP is carrying out his inquiry through Ms Levitt and the PCC is also looking at it. There's a good deal of scrutiny on this issue currently under way and then the conclusion at the top of the next page:

    "We do not, therefore, believe that further action is appropriate at present. The outcome of these latest developments should be awaited and assessed."

    So was that a conclusion which you saw at the time? It comes from an official, of course, and which you, generally speaking, assented to?

  • Yes, although the briefing obviously comes from officials, it was the position of ministers at the time that there were a number of investigations or inquiries under way in various ways and that therefore it was not appropriate to establish a further inquiry until those had been completed.

  • 01858:

    "What steps is the government taking to establish whether the former PM's phone was hacked?"

    The briefing line is:

    "Any allegation of phone hacking is serious. This is, however, an operational matter for the police and it would not be proper to comment or speculate on an ongoing investigation."

    So far as you were concerned, this was an issue, amongst others, which was under ongoing investigation; is that correct?

  • This was a matter that the police were looking into and the police were obviously identifying those whose phones might have been hacked or had been hacked.

  • The issue of the police informing MPs whether they're victims of hacking, the briefing line here is:

    "The police have already indicated that steps are being taken to contact all such individuals to advise them of developments."

    Wasn't that a specific area, given that it involved Members of Parliament, which the Home Office might have been more proactive in relation to, might I suggest?

  • Well, I think it's important -- again, it's back to what is appropriate for the Home Office to do and what is appropriate for the police to do. In their investigation, it was right that the police should be allowed to identify individuals who might or might not have had their phones hacked and to take the steps they felt in he is to contact those individuals. Obviously not everybody -- not every individual on the list was a Member of Parliament. There were others, indeed, who were on that list, as we all know, and therefore, I think it was right that it was for the police to determine how and in what way they should indicate to people whether or not their phones had been hacked.

  • Then the next briefing line on this page:

    "The MPS have too close a relationship with News International to impartially investigate them."

    If we ignore the grammar there.

    "The original investigation did lead to the prosecution of two individuals [et cetera] ... In this day and age of extensive media coverage of all issues, it's crucial that the police have a constructive relationship with the media -- who can be helpful, for example, in reporting serious offence and helping to generate witnesses. We do not, therefore, believe that further action is appropriate at present."

    So this issue, along with the other issues, is effectively being parked, isn't it, Mrs May?

  • What that is saying is that obviously the police had done an investigation, people had been arrested as a result of the original investigation. It reflects a comment I made earlier that obviously there will be relationships between the media and the police. They should be appropriate, of course, but at that stage it was not felt that it was necessary -- because further investigations were under way by the police into any new evidence that was forthcoming, it was not necessary to take any further action of an alternative sort. We should wait until the investigation had been completed.

  • But the issue is being brushed aside altogether, isn't it? The point was being made, rightly or wrongly, that there's too close a relationship. The effect of that proximity is that a proper investigation can't be undertaken. The only point that's being made in rebuttal: it's important that the police have a constructive relationship. So the issue is being parked, isn't it?

  • No, the purpose of this is that this might have been a question that might have been raised by somebody within the debate. The response is saying that there is an investigation into phone hacking, we should let the police do that investigation. Alongside that, we shouldn't say that there should be no relations between the press and the media, because, as we've discussed earlier, there needs to be.

  • To what extent, speaking bluntly, is this issue related at all to the resignation of Mr Coulson on 21 January?

  • Not at all, as far as I'm concerned.

  • It's actually conflating two issues, isn't it? Because on the one hand there is the obvious need for the police to have a relationship with the media. On the other, there's the equally obvious concern that any investigation -- here we are, 2011 -- into what had happened so many years ago, and whether all the evidence had been uncovered and all the rest of it, should be conducted by police officers who are absolutely, entirely, completely and utterly independent of any relationship with any press interest.

  • Indeed, sir. Yes, it is conflating two issues.

  • The briefing line on the media, 01861, Mrs May. The third bullet point, first of all:

    "The code contains a clause [that's clause 10] forbidding the acquisition and publication of material by intercepting private or mobile telephone calls, messages or support [unless it is deemed to be in the public interest]."

    In one sense, that's right to be in square brackets because the criminal law doesn't contain a public interest defence. In another sense, it's wrong because Article 10 confusingly does refer to public interest in this context. But maybe one should gloss over that one.

    What one is really saying here, or what your officials are saying here -- if you look at bullet point 4:

    "The PCC is totally independent ..."

    Et cetera. The bullet point on the bottom of the next page, 01862:

    "The PCC is primarily a resolution service. It will initially seek to broker a agreement between the complainant and a newspaper."

    That's actually correct. 01863, top of the page:

    "The PCC is independent from the newspaper industry. The government recognises the newspaper industry system of self-regulation is not perfect but the principle of a free but responsible press is, however, paramount. Introducing any type of statutory coverage in this area would destroy this principle."

    And finally the next bullet point:

    "The PCC has shown itself to be an effective regulator in a difficult area."

    First of all, are these sentiments which, at the time, you agreed with or not?

  • I believe that in a free and open and democratic society a free press is absolutely essential, and we move away from a free press at our peril. So I believe that it is right to make the statements about the importance of the freedom of the press.

    In relation to the PCC, I think it is true to say that despite the best efforts of those that have led the Press Complaints Commission, there has been a growing earn over some time about the role of the PCC and the ability of the PCC to undertake the job that it was set up to do, and I think this is one of the issues that doubtless we will await the outcome of this Inquiry with interest.

  • Well, as you've asked me to solve the problem, it's a bit difficult for me to ask you for your views, although I think it's valuable, if you have views on this topic, that you have the opportunity to air them publicly if you wish. Doubtless Mr Jay will return to them. But by "statutory regulation" in that bullet point, were you really referring to the state regulation of the press?

  • Yes. I mean, I think that was more the -- not necessarily the establishment of a body but more the question of the state interfering in the regulation of the press.

  • As I say, I think freedom of the press is essential in a democratic society.

  • Well, I would be grateful for a small amount of money for every time I've said exactly the same in the course of the last few months, but I am keen to know whether you believe that at that stage you were saying -- or you were going into sufficient detail to think about framework or whether you were simply talking, as I rather understand you to say that you were, about the state regulating the press.

  • Yes, yes, sir. It was not an intention to go into detail in terms of what the framework for the regulation of the press should be, but merely to make the point that it was inappropriate for the state to be intervening in that regulation in a way that some might suggest was necessary as a result of things that have taken place.

  • Doubtless Mr Jay will return to it.

  • Yes, we will.

    The final point on this note is the bullet point I was on:

    "We recognise that on occasion the behaviour of certain elements of the press has rightly caused serious concern."

    I think that recognition was not just limited to the context of phone hacking. Was that a sentiment which you would be in tune with or not?

  • I think that because of what I've just said about freedom of the press, I think sometimes what is written can be frustrating. It can -- sometimes one might question its accuracy, but I think it is right to allow that freedom to take place.

    Obviously, there have been some issues raised in relation to the way in which the press operate and the way in which individuals do or do not have redress when they feel that there has been inaccurate, wrong statements made about them.

  • Okay, we may return to that issue. Going back to the chronology now, Mrs May. I'm not going to alight on every document; there isn't time.

    At paragraph 43 of your statement, you refer to a letter on phone hacking from Tom Watson. The draft reply is at 01909. I don't think it's necessary to turn it up, but it was clear from surrounding documents that your officials were aware that this was becoming a highly significant issue. They say at 09018:

    "The phone hacking story continues to command a very high degree of media attention and Parliamentary interest."

    So that must have been your perception at about that time as well; is that fair?

  • Indeed it was. It was a story that was being raised on a number of occasions in the media and indeed in Parliament.

  • On 23 June -- this is paragraph 49 -- you were provided with information and advice in relation to a letter Mr Watson wrote to DAC Akers. That's under tab 19 at page 01920. There's a general reference to a cleaner having been brought in to eradicate evidence but he asked you to keep that confidential. What you were advised at 01922 was simply to note this advice and agree not to respond to Mr Watson. That's paragraph 3. Do you see that?

  • Yes, I do, Mr Jay. If I may just, I think you said that I had said that I would keep the contents of the letter confidential. In fact, it is a letter from Tom Watson to Sue Akers which was copied to me.

  • Copied to you, sorry.

  • So the decision was taken that it was right that the response should come from Sue Akers, who, of course, was leading that investigation have.

  • I think the reason for merely noting it and not responding to it appears in paragraph 7 at page 01923, that the letter explicitly refers to allegations, not hard evidence. So it wasn't something which, as it were, required a direct response at that stage; is that, broadly speaking, right?

  • That is correct, and it was not appropriate for me to respond at that stage. It was a matter for the police to look into.

  • On 5 July -- this is paragraph 42 -- you were briefed ahead of your appearance in front of a Home Affairs Select Committee, and that briefing is at tab 23, which was, I think, the day after the Milly Dowler voicemail deletion story breaks in the Guardian. The briefing note refers expressly to that in the third bullet point at the top:

    "If the Guardian newspaper has any information which might be relevant to these investigations, they should pass it on to DAC Sue Akers in the MPS."

    On the issue of regulating the media -- do you see that at page 01930?

  • Similar points are made to the ones we saw in March:

    "A press free from state intervention is a fundamental hallmark of our democracy but there is, however, no place for unlawful activity. Phone tapping or hacking is illegal. This applies equally to the media. If there are suspicions that a journalist has broken any law, then we would expect the police to investigate ... the Press Complaints Commission, which is independently enforced from government, contains a clause forbidding the acquisition ..."

    Et cetera. This is clause 10:

    "We believe that the system of self-regulation is complementary to the law and remains the best way to regulate the press but we will continue to monitor developments."

    That's your officials' view, obviously not necessarily your view. Was it your view at that point?

  • I think at that point it was -- my view would still have been that the balance probably lay with the system of self-regulation. Obviously, as we indicated earlier, this either -- this is one of the issues that this Inquiry will be looking at.

  • So even as late as 5 July, the view we see here is a view which, generally speaking, you would have espoused; is that fair?

  • Yes, as I said earlier, there were growing concerns about and a sort of growing doubt in my mind, if you like, about the system that was in place, but I think on balance, at that stage, I would have said that I agreed with the view that self-regulation was -- was the right way to deal with it.

  • There's a further briefing note at tab 28, Mrs May. It's what's described as an updating briefing pack, which really relates to what was about to become this Inquiry, although the exact format was evolving, as we know. This is dated 11 July 2011. It's under tab 28.

  • The position taken on the second page, under the heading "On regulating the press", page 01965:

    "Clearly, there are wider issues about the culture, behaviour and ethics of the media raised by the phone hacking scandal."

    What were those wider issues, or at least your understanding of them at that stage, Mrs May?

  • Well, what was being revealed gradually through the time was perhaps the extent to which phone hacking appeared to have taken place, and that raised issues not about, as had appeared in the original investigation, a limited number of individuals but it had raised questions about the whole atmosphere and culture which related to the media and I think it was that -- that was the background against which the Prime Minister announced the setting up of the Inquiry.

  • But didn't the wider issues go beyond phone hacking altogether into other areas of allegedly unethical conduct which this Inquiry has now spent the last six or seven months exploring? Wasn't that what this was a reference to?

  • There are indeed wider issues that have been revealed in relation, for example, to the payment of individuals -- allegations of payments of individuals in the police for information. Those, of course, were wider issues.

  • Any other aspects though of unethical press behaviour, were those on your radar or not at that point?

  • Hacked Off, by that stage, were a prominent arguer of this Inquiry, and they were certainly raising all sorts of other issues, weren't they? The campaign, Hacked Off?

  • I'm just trying to think through the timing of the various issues, sir, and that's why I hesitate to say "absolutely", but obviously they have been raising issues and there's obviously been general comment in the press and elsewhere about these matters as well.

  • The last bullet point:

    "We must not pre-judge the outcome of the Inquiry's work but the Prime Minister has made his views clear on the inadequacy of current arrangements."

    That, I think, was a reference to the PCC, wasn't it?

  • I believe it would have been, yes.

  • So between 5 and 11 July, the landscape was shifting somewhat, at least in relation to the PCC and what it was doing; would you agree?

  • I think there was a shifting -- a constantly shifting landscape. As I indicated earlier in response to you, Mr Jay, there had been some growing concern for some time in relation to the PCC, but of course the reference here is to the view that the Prime Minister had made of the arrangements.

  • Thank you. May I move forward to paragraph 58, please, of your statement. We're now on 14 July, when the Chamy Media contract was drawn to your attention. It's clear why your evidence that you were concerned about that; is that right?

  • Absolutely. I was concerned about the nature the relationship and I was also concerned that I had not been made aware of it at an earlier stage.

  • You wrote to the Commissioner on 14 July under tab 41, page 02080, where you ask a number of specific questions in the second paragraph, or rather you make some requests:

    "In particular, I'd like to see a complete timeline and sequence of events from the initial exchanges by the MPS with Chamy Media in 2009 through to your letter to Kit Malthouse at today's date. I would like to understand who had ultimate oversight and authority to sanction the contract between the MPS and Chamy Media, the nature of the tender process undertaken and the criteria against which estimates were assessed. I would also be grateful to understand the extent to which senior MPS officers were involved in the decision to contract with Chamy Media and to renew their contract subsequently."

    Then some questions were also asked in relation to Mr Wallis.

    I think the reply came back the following day at tab 42. It's fair to say that that was a prompt and detailed reply.

  • Yes, it sets out the timeline.

  • I don't think we need look at any aspects of the detail, however, but at tab 43 you come back to the Commissioner on the same day, 02086, and you say:

    "[You] remain concerned by the arrangement, so I believe that the appropriate course of action is for this contract to be considered by Lord Justice Leveson as well as the MPA. I would also like to add that I am disappointed that you did not notify me of your concerns about the contract directly and at an earlier stage."

    That, I suppose, speaks for itself.

    Can I move forward to 18 July, where you make -- well, you make one announcement on 18 July and another one on 19 July. The commissioning of the IPC to undertake work on corruption in the police, that's the exercise of power under section 11 of the Police Reform Act; is that correct?

  • So why were you exercising the power specifically at this stage in the chronology, Mrs May?

  • What I had seen taking place is a growing number of examples of -- which questioned -- which raised questions about police integrity. The public need to have confidence in the police. For them to have confidence in the police, they need to have confidence in the integrity of the police. What I saw unfolding -- and the matters relating to phone hacking, to News International, to contracts with Mr Met, were not the only matters at this time that were suggesting concerns about relationships with the police and others in a number of areas, and that there were some other forces that were involved in some investigations which also raised concerns, and it was against that background, therefore, that I felt we were reaching the point where some action needed to be taken to look at the integrity issue for the police because we were in danger of that important relationship and confidence between public and the police being damaged.

  • This is one aspect of what you did. There are three principle aspects. First is the IPC, the second is to involve the MHIC, which you do on 19 July, and at about this time you also commissioned Dame Elizabeth Filkin to report generally on relationships between police officers and the media?

  • If I may just clarify the chronology, the discussion with HMIC took place before I made the statement to the Commons. The formal letter was on 19 July, so I think I actually would have spoken to them on the 18th -- to the chief inspector on the 18th. It was not me that commissioned the work from Dame Elizabeth Filkin; that was commissioned by the Metropolitan Police. So that was obviously a piece of work that had relevance but was separate to anything commissioned by the Home Office. Although I had discussed it with the police -- the Metropolitan Police.

  • May I ask you, please, to look under tab 51, which is a series of emails. It starts at page 02118, but the most important one is 02119. It's very early in the morning of 18 July, sent by a Mr Timothy to you amongst others. Are you able to explain what the "script for tomorrow below" is a reference to, Mrs May?

  • Yes, this would have been a suggested raising questions and answers about -- that might come up in the House of Commons when I made a statement -- when I made the statement about the resignation of Sir Paul Stephenson.

  • I think that resignation had been announced the Sunday, which was 17 July, if I remember rightly. So this explains why there's a very early morning flurry about it, and you were going to make a statement about it to Parliament that morning.

  • I was, yes, or that -- it would have been that afternoon, as it was a Monday.

  • Can I ask you, please, under the heading "Political fallout". Do you see that?

    "Sir Paul Stephenson says he felt he couldn't tell the Prime Minister or Home Secretary about Neil Wallis because it would have embarrassed the Prime Minister because of his relationship with Andy Coulson. Isn't it that wrong?"

    The suggested answer is:

    "All I want to say about that is this: the police must investigate all crime and all criminals without fear or favour. In investigating a case, when a police force finds itself with a potential conflict of interest, they have a duty to be transparent about that. I made it clear to Sir Paul that they should have notified me as soon as he realised there was a problem."

    So that's a reference back to the letter we've just seen, I think, of 15 July, where you express your disappointment that the Commissioner had not told you about the Chamy Media issue, although it isn't really an answer to the first point about what Sir Paul Stephenson felt he couldn't tell you or the Prime Minister about; do you see that?

  • Well, the point is being made, I think -- I am not in a position to be able to say what Sir Paul Stephenson might or might not have felt. I thought it was wrong for him -- it was wrong for him to suggest that he couldn't talk -- I can only talk about myself -- to talk to me about these matters, and that as I had made clear on previous occasions -- and indeed, as the Prime Minister had made clear on a number of occasions -- we'd all been absolutely of one mind that the police must be able to investigate without fear or favour and follow the evidence wherever it leads.

  • Did you have any conversation with Sir Paul Stephenson which indicated to you that he, as it were, possessed that feeling, namely that he couldn't tell you about Mr Wallis because it might have embarrassed or would have embarrassed the Prime Minister in view of his relationship with Mr Coulson?

  • I certainly don't recall any such conversation.

  • The other briefing line or --

  • So hang on. Do I understand: this is a potential question which you might be asked; is that right?

  • So it's very important nobody should read into it that Sir Paul had in fact said that he couldn't tell, et cetera?

  • Yes, sir. I mean, this is -- as happens when one is going into the House of Commons, people try to think of every possible issue that might be raised or angle that others might come at, questions. So this was an attempt to look at some questions that might -- other people might think of --

  • I understand entirely, but I don't want there to be any misunderstanding about it. There is no evidence -- I can't think of any that I've seen and Mr Jay, you'll correct me if I'm wrong -- that Sir Paul ever said that he couldn't speak about Neil Wallis because of embarrassment. Is that right?

  • That's correct, and that's why I asked Mrs May the question whether she could assist us as to whether there was any such conversation.

  • Yes. Well, I understand, but I don't want there to be a misunderstanding anywhere.

  • In answer to a question which might have been asked -- and you were being briefed, as it were, on that hypothetical basis:

    "What is the difference between Sir Paul's relationship with Neil Wallis and the Prime Minister's relationship with Andy Coulson?"

    The suggested answer was:

    "There is a very clear difference. The government -- and the Conservative Party in opposition -- were not in charge of investigating allegations of wrongdoing at the News of the World. The Metropolitan Police was. There has to be a clear line between the investigators and the investigated. That is why I have concerns about the Met's contract with Neil Wallis, and that is why I wrote to Sir Paul outlining my concerns on Thursday evening."

    That answer, I suppose, speaks for itself. I'm not going to comment on it. But then the next suggested question:

    "Isn't the Andy Coulson link worse, in fact? He resigned from the News of the World, where Neil Wallis did not."

    Well, the answer's the same:

    "I remain concerned about the Met's contract with Neil Wallis, and as I have said, there has to be a clear line between the investigators and the investigated."

    I can't recall, Mrs May, whether you were asked questions along these lines or not. Can you assist us?

  • I can't recall. As the questions would have been in response to my statement in the House of Commons, they would be on record in Hansard, had they been raised.

  • I'm moving on now to another date and another event. Would this be an appropriate time for our break?

  • Certainly. Home Secretary, we have a break to allow the shorthand writer just for a few minutes. Thank you.

  • (A short break)

  • Mrs May, may I move forward to 5 October now. This is paragraph 66 of your statement. Sir Denis O'Connor -- the Inquiry, of course, heard detailed evidence from him -- updated you as to progress on that occasion. This is tab 73 of the bundle. His general conclusion, 02228:

    "The majority of police officers and staff are striving to act with integrity. We did not find evidence to support any contention of endemic corruption. Instances of deliberate malpractice in relation to these matters are infrequent and not widespread."

    Pausing there, this was providing you with a considerable degree of reassurance presumably?

  • Yes, it was. Obviously I was pleased to here from Sir Denis that any incidents, as he says, of deliberate malpractice were infrequent, were not widespread, and as I had said in the house myself, the majority of police officers and staff act with integrity.

  • The areas he identified as possibly giving rise to concern, top of 02230, he stated:

    "The guidance on the following areas is patchy: relationships with the media, accessing the Internet for private use, use of social networking, the acceptance of gratuities and hospitality, disclosure of information."

    I think you provided an initial comment to him at a meeting. Tab 91. This one isn't paginated in my bundle. Page 517. I'm not sure whether it's entered into our system or not.

  • It's MOD300008493, according to me.

  • Okay. My copy is absent that, so we will be able to bring it up the screen.

    This is a meeting which you had presumably at the Home Office; is that right?

  • The point you made, having been briefed as to his provisional conclusions -- this is the third bullet point:

    "It was important for DOC [that's Sir Denis] and HMIC to take their time to look at this properly and it was important that the public could feel 110 per cent confident in the police and their integrity. She did not however (and NH ..."

    That's the Minister of State, isn't it?

  • That's the policing minister, yes, Nick Herbert.

  • " ... did not want to generate a substantial bureaucratic burden ..."

    What was that a reference to?

  • I think this was a general concern that in the area of record keeping, what we did not want to see was a lot of bureaucracy to be reintroduced in the police, for two reasons: first of all, the government is trying to remove bureaucracy from the police and secondly, because all too often if a system becomes bureaucratic then it can lose its purpose in the minds of those who are exercising it.

  • The full report was received in December of last year. You cover this at paragraph 77 of your statement. As you say, you welcomed its analysis. You said so expressly by letter dated 6 December. You'd seen the report in draft, I think a final draft, dated 21 November. So you'd had about two and a half weeks to consider it before you wrote this letter; is that right? It's under our tab 95. Again, I'm afraid I don't have the page number on our system.

  • I certainly would have seen the report in draft, Mr Jay, so -- yes, that letter refers to that draft.

  • You welcome the general finding that corruption is not endemic, but you accept Sir Denis' proposed recommendations as valuable steps towards addressing these concerns:

    "The Home Office will be more than happy to encourage debate and progress, as you request. But I would like to suggest that you strengthen them in two key ways."

    You a say:

    "First, I would want to see greater pace and urgency from the service in developing more robust and consistent arrangements."

    You suggest a timetable of April next year for that. I think that timetable -- I'm not sure it's been attained by HMIC. I'm not sure whether they've yet come up with a response. We know the ACPO response.

  • No, the reference to April was to the ACPO response.

  • Ah, pardon me. The second point is four lines from the top of the next page., you say:

    "I'd like to see a more direct challenge to current police leaders that dealing with these findings is their personal responsibility."

    Then you make some other points as well and you also make the point that all of this will provide very useful evidence for Lord Justice Leveson's Inquiry.

  • We're going to look at the detail a little bit more of Elizabeth Filkin's report, but are there any specific matters you would wish to draw to our attention on the HMIC report to take away with us or are you leaving us with what we see in that letter?

  • I think I would leave you with -- mainly with what I say in that letter. I think what the HMIC report did was to identify the need for some greater consistency and to -- I'm very keen that ACPO take the lead in this, as they are now beginning to do. The only thing I would add is that of course, in the future, there will be a different structure available within which these sorts of matters can be considered by the police, namely the police professional body which the government is establishing, which will be established by the end of this year, which will be looking at standards across a whole range of activities in relation to policing, for police officers and police staff.

  • Thank you. May I move on now to IPCC, which is paragraphs 79 and following of your statement, page 01324. You sought first of all their view on the issue of powers and resources and you received a report from them on that which gave you assurance. But it's the second report referred to in paragraph 81. You asked for a report on the experience of corruption. You say in paragraph 82:

    "The second report has only recently been provided to me. My intention is to publish in the next few weeks. I'll be able to talk about this more when I appear before the Inquiry."

    I'm not sure we're seen that report but in general terms can you assist us on that, please?

  • Has it yet been published?

  • It was published on 24 May, and it should -- sorry, if I may just check --

  • Oh, it was just added yesterday, wasn't it? The very last tab, tab 111. You're right. I must confess that in the flurry which constituted last night, I haven't read it. I must apologise for that. So we'll have to look at it together, Mrs May. There is an executive summary, though, which is likely to be helpful on this occasion. Page 7 on the internal numbering. Have you had the time to consider this at all? It's only been available for less than a week.

  • I've been able to give it some initial consideration, certainly. Obviously some more detailed work will be going into it. As you see, it not only identifies next steps and proposals from the IPCC; they've done quite a bit of work to look at public views on police corruption, the impact that that has on the public's view and confidence of the police and the cases that are specifically referred to the IPCC, either corruption cases or cases that the -- where complaints have been raised by members of the public which may be about police corruption.

  • There's reference to all the other reports. I'm not sure it's going to be worthwhile now looking at the detail of any of this, given that it hasn't been fully considered. Are there any points, though, you would wish to draw to our attention now?

  • I think the key findings that come out of this in many ways chime in with those previous work that's been done, particularly by the HMIC, about the need for greater clarity both for the public in terms of what's police corruption and therefore what is appropriate to bring to the IPCC, but also greater clarity in terms of -- perhaps greater consistency in recording incidents that have taken place from force to force. They identify that different forces appear to have different level -- well, have different levels of reporting of complaints about corruption and the question is raised as to whether that's because of a different definition being used rather than the behaviour in relation to the forces.

    Crucially, it refers again to the issue of additional powers and also about resources, and these are issues that we intend, when legislative time allows, to be able to make changes to the powers to the IPCC and we are looking at the case that they've put forward in relation to additional resources.

  • The IPCC make the point that during the course of drafting this report, evidence has been presented to the Inquiry that may result in recommendations governing relations between the police and the media and disclosure of information. This is page 12:

    "The Inquiry's conclusions may impact on the work of the IPCC in this area."

    This is really looking at it through the different window, isn't it? I am looking at the relations between the media and the police and the propriety of media conduct in relation to police officers. What the IPCC are doing, very naturally, is looking at it from the other way.

  • They're saying what the police should be doing and what they shouldn't be doing. It would obviously be sensible that we chime but it is the different window on the problem.

  • On Dame Elizabeth Filkin's report, it wasn't directly commissioned by you; it was commissioned by Sir Paul, but presumably with your knowledge and agreement; is that a fair --

  • Yes, we discussed the commissioning of it and who should lead it.

  • You were provided with some briefing lines on that on 9 January 2012, the report having been published in late December. That's under tab 83, Mrs May, at page 02270. The report was recognised to be a valuable contribution on improvements needed on police integrity and leadership. You would encourage all police forces, not just the MPS, to look at its findings and recommendations, even though the review was commissioned in relation to the MPS.

    Some of the evidence the Inquiry has received has been along the lines that this is a problem which appears to be confined to the MPS and doesn't extend more widely outside the Metropolitan area. Is that your assessment or not?

  • No, in relation to the question of what are appropriate relationships between police officers and the media, I think this is a more general issue than simply the Metropolitan Police, and that's why obviously it's one of the issues that has been picked up by ACPO in issuing their -- the new guidance that they're issuing, although I think they also make the point that they may need to revisit that, depending on the outcome of this Inquiry.

  • I think your evidence is that both reports, the HMIC and the Dame Elizabeth Filkin report, they need to be read together in conjunction for the overall message they impart; is that fair?

  • I think that would be fair. They identify very similar issues in relation to questions of recording and the framework in which individuals operate.

  • There's one key phrase that Dame Elizabeth Filkin in her report uttered. I'll ask you for your view on that. In the recommendations section -- it's under tab 110. Bear with me while I find it. She characterises what the relationship should be. It's not immediately coming to hand. I want to put it to you precisely. Maybe I should come back to that once I've found it. I apologise. I'll come back to that in a moment.

    Going back to your statement now, you cover the issue of media training at item 7, page 01326, paragraphs 90 and following. What is your view as to the necessity for and then more precisely the content of media training for senior police officers?

  • I think it is -- would be helpful for senior police officers to have a degree of media training. I think that this is something that obviously is now being looked at in relation to the guidance that ACPO has produced and it's something which I would expect would be one of the aspects that the police professional body would, in due course, take up. Obviously senior officers will be undertaking different sorts of media engagement, depending on whether it's talking about their force and promoting what their force is doing or responding to particular incidents or particular events that have taken place. So there are different skills in those two different types of interaction.

  • Thank you. Section 8, which deals with the appointment of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner -- a lot of that may be outside the immediate terms of reference of this Inquiry but there's one issue which touches on dealing with the media and that's page 01329. When consideration was given by you and others to current appointment, the ability of the Commissioner to deal with the media was a specific criterion or competence. How did you see that operating in practice?

  • You mean how did I see their showing me and other interviewers --

  • -- how they -- rather than how I see it? I mean, it was -- as I understand it, it was raised in the earlier interviews. Obviously I was only present for the final interview, and this would have been, I think, questions that were asked of the individuals as to how they might approach particular aspects, how they would deal with particular aspects of the relationship with the media.

  • Was the issue of acceptance of hospitality raised at all during the course of interview or not?

  • I can't -- not as far as I'm aware, but I can't speak for the interviews that took place by the Home Office panel or by the Metropolitan Police Authority panel. Those interviews obviously were undertaken by those bodies and they would have asked the questions they felt appropriate.

  • I've found now the soundbite, as it were, from Elizabeth Filkin's report. It's the phrase "permissible but not unconditional", in terms of contact with the media. Is that a sentiment which you find favour with or not?

  • I think it's a very fair reflection of the sort of relationship.

  • Thank you. Paragraph 103 now of your statement, page 01330. The question here was directed generally to your awareness of police social relationships with the media and your answer makes it clear there had been occasional media stories in late 2010 and early 2011 about occasions at which senior MPS officers had socialised with senior executives and journalists, including from News International. Did a point of time arise where you felt that this was a real problem which needed to be addressed?

  • The whole question of relationships with the media and that whole issue around the more general integrity question came to the point where I decided that I would ask HMIC to look at this issue of police integrity. So in that sense it came to a head, but it wasn't specifically about particular relationships and social interactions that Metropolitan Police Service officers had. There was a more general issue about relationships.

  • So the concern didn't arise in relation to any particular individual at any particular level within the MPS; it was far more general, was it?

  • Yes. I asked for work to be done on integrity because of a more general concern about these issues.

  • Did you not think that issues might be arising in relation to at least what was being alleged to be unduly close or apparently cosy relationships between senior police officers within the MPS and individuals within News International and, to be fair, elsewhere?

  • That, of course, was -- became more apparent around the time of early to mid-July in 2011, when, as we've been through, there was, for example, very particular example of the Chamy Media contract with the Metropolitan Police Service, and therefore that added to the picture of concern about these issues and the need to do a wider study or wider review on questions of integrity.

  • Do you feel that the issue goes beyond one of perception into one of substance or does it stop just at the level of public concern because of the way it looks?

  • I think it's -- the public have concern -- public concern is raised not just because of the way something looks but because of a concern as to whether -- a question as to whether there is something behind that perception that is of substance and therefore is of something more concerning than the perception that they have, and that's why I was pleased to see from the HMIC report -- and indeed from other reports at IPCC -- that looking at these issues, the vast majority of police officers and staff are striving to act with integrity and act with integrity, and instances where there are questions to be raised are very limited.

  • There might be a distinction between perception and substance because the perception may be: well, if a senior police officer is having dinner with an executive from News International, that senior police officer might be saying something to the executive of News International which is inappropriate. That's a perception, but whether or not there's any substance to it would depend on what the evidence was -- and it might not be available -- as to what in fact was said. Do you see that distinction?

  • I can see the distinction that you have made, but I think you've partly answered your own question, if I may say so, by reference to the fact that one probably won't know what was said within that conversation.

  • It goes beyond that as well, doesn't it? Because if senior police officers are seen having dinner with executives from News International, then perhaps more junior police officers may say, "Well, this sort of relationship is wining and dining is obviously appropriate or not inappropriate."

  • And I think, sir, that is one of the themes that actually comes out of some of the reports that have taken place, that one of the reasons why it's necessary to put a clearer framework in place for everybody within each force is precisely because junior officers may see relationships developing and not understand that actually the nature of those relationships may be necessary because of the nature of the job that the senior officer is doing but may take another message from it.

  • Thank you. That covers paragraph 103 of your statement. Paragraphs 104 to 109 deal with your involvement in Metropolitan Police resignations. I think we can do this quite economically. You make it clear in paragraph 107 that when you received a telephone call on 17 July from Sir Paul telling you that he'd decided to resign as Commissioner, you expressed your surprise and regret at the turn of events but did not attempt to dissuade him. Are you suggesting there that you didn't feel there was an objective reason for him to resign?

  • I didn't attempt to dissuade him practically because the letter was already on its way to Her Majesty with his resignation.

  • But you expressed surprise and regret at the time?

  • Well, I expressed surprise, because, as I say in paragraph 107, I'd already had a conversation that weekend with Sir Paul when he'd spoken to me about the allegations that appeared in the newspaper about his stay at Champneys and therefore -- he'd given no hint in that conversation at a possible resignation, therefore when he rang me later that weekend to say that he had resigned, obviously that was a surprising turn of events.

    I feel that he led the Metropolitan Police well when he was Commissioner, and I think he -- the organisation at the end of it was stronger for his leadership and it was in that context that I expressed regret that matters had come to this point.

  • What you say in relation to Mr Yates, that's clear from paragraph 109 of your statement at the top of page 1332 and probably doesn't require any elaboration; is that fair?

  • At section 10, you were asked to deal more generally with the issue of similarities and differences in the positions of politicians and the senior leadership of police, and you make the fundamental constitutional point, really, that one group is unelected and the other is elected, but moving on from there, where does that constitutional difference lead one in terms of the differences in the way a politician and police officer separately might behave, as it were, with the media?

  • I think it's a decision that would be, I would say, between politicians and not just police officers but politicians and public servants more generally in that the -- obviously, for a politician, there is an interest in encouraging the public to have an interest in what you're saying and because, at the end of the day, individuals are going to try to get themselves elected and parties are going to try to get themselves elected into government, the media is one of those conduits for which political views can be expressed to the public. Obviously, there are a whole variety of ways in which politicians get their views across, but in some instances it will be promoting a policy because it is felt that that is something that is going to help the electoral chances of a particular politician or particular party.

    Obviously I think in a sense, there's a distinction in terms of ministers, in that obviously there are a number of occasion when is ministers are talking about what government is doing and have to be very careful and assured that what they're saying is appropriate for them to be saying.

  • You say in paragraph 117 at page 01333 that you do not accept that it would be right or proper for senior police officers to consider that an example is being set for them by politicians. That might be said to invite this question: which aspects of the examples set by politicians should police officers, in your view, not follow?

  • Well, the -- I think the example that I've just set, namely that politicians are -- the media is one conduit through which politicians are able to put their views to the public. Ultimately, politicians wish to be elected and are elected. For the senior police officer, they are not going to the public in order to get themselves put into their particular job.

  • You draw attention to the Ministerial Code in terms of perception, paragraph 118, which isn't altogether dissimilar from the position vis-a-vis the police:

    "No injury who accept gifts, hospitality or services from anyone which would or might appear to place him or her under an obligation."

    I suppose different issues arise in relation to a minister having lunch with a journalist; is that fair?

  • Well, a minister will -- politicians speak to journalists. Journalists speak to politicians. Those conversations will take place sometimes over lunch, sometimes over dinner, sometimes over coffee, sometimes in a corridor.

  • Section 11 now, Mrs May. This is page 01334. The question related to your perspective on the issues relating to the relationship between the police and the media which is before the Inquiry. You say you don't want to pre-empt the findings and recommendations that will emerge. You will offer some general comments, and you indicate in paragraph 120:

    "These are incredibly serious issues. Public trust in police integrity is, of course, of paramount importance."

    Then:

    "Certain practices uncovered during the phone hacking investigations fall well short of the behaviour anyone would expect in a civilised, law-abiding society."

    Are there any specific matters, though, that you would like the Inquiry to bear in mind in the context of what you accurately describe as incredibly serious issues?

  • Yes, I mean I -- obviously, as has been indicated earlier, in looking at this issue from -- with my responsibilities, as has been done by the HMIC, and IPCC is looking from the police point of view in terms of their relationship that they have with the media, I think it is important that we do reinforce integrity and the understanding of police integrity by having proper frameworks within which the police operate in terms of their relationships with the media. I think in is an area where people have understood, accepted and assumed integrity in police. As we know, the vast majority of police that is correct for. That's correct for the vast majority of police. But it is helpful to have that sort of framework in place.

    Now, that is something which I would see being taken forward by the police professional body but it is an aspect which may be -- on which this Inquiry may desire to comment, wish to comment, in addition to the other angle, which is the -- for the media's relationship with the police.

  • You refer to the changing political and legal landscape in November 2012, with the advent of police and crime commissioners, but what impact do you think that will have in the context of the specific issues we've just been discussing?

  • Well, it will introduce into the arena, if you like, another individual who will obviously have an interest in a relationship with the media themselves. The Police and Crime Commissioner will be an elected individual but obviously they will, on occasions, be speaking to the media about the issues that are relevant to a particular force area for which they have been elected. And I would expect -- and against the national background of the standards body, the police professional body, I would expect police and crime commissioners to want to look at the issues of frameworks, rules, guidance, compliance within their police force area, and to assure themselves that -- as far as they can be, that appropriate guidance is available to officers against which they operate.

  • So it's an extra layer of accountability, democratic accountability in this case that you say is desirable, presumably?

  • Yes. I mean, the reason why the government has introduced police and crime commissioners is we believe it's important to have that democratic accountability at local force level.

  • Okay. May I move on to Section 12. This is dealing with a different issue, a Module 3 issue, no longer Module 2. That's the relationship between senior politicians and the media. You rightly say that the relationship between the two is unavoidable. You don't believe that there are risks inherent in the relationship between the two. You have italicised the adjective "inherent".

    May I ask you to address two possible issues, though? We heard from a previous witness about the transactional nature of the relationship between politicians and individual journalists, that the expectation on one side is that they are, as it were, provided with a story in preference ahead of their competitors and the expectation the other way is that the story is presented in the most favourable light and/or the politician is presented in the most favourable light. Isn't that a risk inherent in the relationship?

  • No, I -- well, the reason I said I didn't believe there was a risk inherent in the relationship is because I think that assumes a certain behaviour on the part of both the responsible parties and I don't think that is -- that can always be assumed to be the case in relation to the relationship. I mean yes, obviously, as I've said, the media is a means by which politicians, either in government or in opposition, will get their information out to the public, will get news about their policy developments, what's happening in government out to the public. I think there is -- I don't see the relationship as quite the transactional relationship that you describe.

  • The second risk, which is possibly inherent -- and you've heard this from other witnesses as well -- is the undercurrent of power really being exercised by the media in this context, of which the politician would always be sensitive and may modify tone, rhetoric or possibly even substance of policy as a reflection of that. Do you see that as a risk inherent in the relationship or not?

  • As I go back to my previous answer, the reason I said that I didn't see that there were risks inherent in the relationship between the two is because I don't think just the very fact that politicians and press speak to each other lead to the sort of risks that you indicate. It's about the responsibilities that are operated by the individuals in relation to that.

    And in relation to the example that you've given, I mean, the media reflect the public, the politicians listen to the public through a variety of forms. The media is one of those forms.

  • That would suggest that the media is really equivalently powerful to all the other modes of public expression or lobby group or whatever, and I think the proposition is they are particularly powerful or disproportionately powerful because of the enormously large megaphone at their disposal. Do you see the strength of that argument or not?

  • I see that it's an argument that some will put forward. I think the point is -- the point I would make is that politicians listen to the public in a whole variety of ways, and the views that the public have, and of course, one of the ways in which the views of the public will be exhibited is through the media, and in putting forward any particular proposition or suggestion, idea, story, the media of course will themselves be recipients of the views of members of the public and will be able to judge whether what they've done actually is an accurate reflection of the public or not.

  • I think that's suggesting that the media is really the intermediary between the public -- in other words, the readership of a particular paper -- and the view which comes out at the other end, but is not the media also a driver of opinion because of the agenda set by proprietors or editors?

  • I think it's this whole question of -- sort of which comes first. It is a difficult one to properly analyse -- in your terms I should say to analyse properly, I do apologise -- in this matter because obviously the media will pick up -- the media may have themselves a view on a particular issue, but they will also pick up from their readership, from people who are emailing them and so forth, the views of the public, and so which comes first in that is a question that I can't always -- can't answer for every story that appears in the media.

  • When you deal with this issue in your statement, particular in paragraph 143, you rightly refer to immigration and criminal justice policy, which you say is often legitimately influenced by the strong public view that the government must be robust and fair. One can add to the mix, if one wished, certain aspects of the Human Rights Act, Article 8, which of course feeds into immigration policy as well, but aren't these arguably areas where certain sections of the press take a visceral view, not necessarily on the basis of what the public view is or might be, but in the light of what their editors personally believe?

  • I think I should point out, first of all, that I do make specific reference to immigration and criminal justice policy because that was in the question that I was asked to address.

    I would say that no politician who often, as I do, goes out on the doorsteps and talks to members of the public can be in any doubt about the strength of feeling of members of the public in relation to Article 8, the Human Rights Act and matters relating to immigration.

  • So is it your evidence then that the sort of views one might read in certain sections of the press on immigration in fact precisely chime with public opinion, at least as you perceive it to be when you speak to your constituents or whoever?

  • I think that the -- there is a general public concern about uncontrolled immigration, which is reflected in the press, but that is a concern that I don't think -- I think most politicians would accept is out there among members of the public.

  • Do you feel that in any way the sections of the press I'm generally referring to, without identifying precisely -- that they, as it were, drive the agenda by putting a particular slant on these areas which can be particularly sensitive, because they do have the capacity to -- I won't say "inflame" opinion, but certainly excite opinion?

  • Obviously opinion in the media on an issue like immigration is varied. There is no single media view in relation to immigration. So there are certain papers that will take one viewpoint, there are other papers that will take a different viewpoint. So it's not the case that there is just a single view coming through from the media, and this is why it's important for politicians to, yes, look at what the media are saying and look at the extent to which that reflects public opinion in terms of the media but also look more widely at public opinion itself and, as I say, ascertain that in a variety of ways.

  • You were asked on a related theme, certainly not a different theme, in item 19, questions related -- or sought your perspective, as Minister for Women and Equality, on evidence received by the Inquiry about the portrayal in the press of women, ethnic minorities, religious groups, transsexual people and other special perspectives. The Inquiry has received a range of evidence, as I'm sure you're aware, from women's groups, from transsexual groups, quite a lot of that evidence demonstrating a frankly inappropriate and tendentious line, which arguably goes well over the line of what's appropriate and what is not, if I can put in that way.

    Do you have a view --

  • Hang on, your question is ambiguous. What you're suggesting is that the evidence revealed what they were saying was a frankly inappropriate and tendentious line within the press.

  • Yes. It might have been read that you were suggesting that that was their line.

  • I think I was going a bit further than that.

  • Well, you may have been, but I wanted to be clear, yes.

  • Okay.

    Mrs May, could you assist us with your view on that, particularly, just to take one example, not necessarily to single it out, the evidence we heard in relation to the portrayal of transsexual people in the press, which some would say was -- the subject matter was extremely distasteful?

  • Yes, I think this is, um, very difficult given the importance that I said earlier obviously about the freedom of the press, but obviously the press can both portray particular groups negatively and positively, and there is an opportunity for government and others to work sometimes positively with the press in terms of how they are portraying certain issues that affect particular groups.

    I recognise that there has -- evidence has been brought forward by particular groups about a concern of how individuals are collectively or generally portrayed in the press. I think that the question is: what can be done about that, other than raising that with the press as an issue and perhaps giving those groups some ability to raise the matter more clearly when it takes place?

  • So that, for example -- and I'm not committing you -- might permit a group, where the complaint is not by a specific individual because no specific individual is named, to raise a generic complaint with whoever is responsible for press standards to allow that to be adjudicated upon. At the moment, of course, group complaints are not acceptable.

  • Yes, sir, that might be one option of dealing with the issue. I think what I would say, though, is it would be necessary to be very careful that that didn't then generate -- and I'm not suggesting it would for the sort of groups that Mr Jay referred to -- but that that didn't then generate a sort of industry of group complaints which were coming forward.

    I also think there is an issue about the extent to which, when something has been published which is wrong, inappropriate -- the extent to which apologies are given to individuals or others in relation to that, and I think the balance between the apology and the initial deed --

  • That's been the subject of comment as well.

  • Presumably, though, your first concern, which is entirely legitimate, would be answered by whoever is responsible for dealing with them setting out appropriate ground rules and being able to deal with them expeditiously where it was appropriate. In other words, although initially there may be a flurry of all sorts of complaints, the boundaries can be set which respect properly the freedom of speech and freedom of expression but do also reflect legitimate concern from those who feel they're continually and continuously being grossly misrepresented.

  • It would be possible to set those boundaries in that way, I'm sure, sir. I think that the long term solution to the issue is actually about a wider understanding more generally in society of the issues that are being addressed.

  • My question is the extent to which the initial stage or the stage that you've set out helps or does not help that longer term process of ensuring --

  • Well, of course there has to be a longer term process. I understand that. But the longer term process might be inhibited if nothing can be done about the shorter term problems.

  • I accept that that is the case, sir.

  • May I just test the proposition, if I may, in relation to the wider understanding more generally in society, because the direction of causation maybe runs like this. It's the readership's views which count. The newspapers simply pick up on what their readers think, believe or want, and that's what we see in terms of editorial content in newspapers. So we're looking at causation entirely from the roots upward to the flowers, as it were, in the editorial.

    It's highly arguable that there's another direction of causation, namely a degree of regulation which ensures or encourages newspapers who drive the agenda in part to present these sensitive issues in a different way, and that might ultimately have the effect that the wider understanding of society subtly changes over time and the sort of attitudes which we read will no longer be read in newspapers. Do you see at least the merit of that secondary argument?

  • I see the argument that is being made. I think my -- the concern I would have, which is what I was trying to set out in an earlier answer, is the extent to which what you term, Mr Jay, as regulation -- there's a question about that, given the freedom of the press -- but the extent to which the fact of that appearing to impose a view on the press actually makes it harder to get the wider societal change, rather than easier, and I think this is one of the issues that I have dealt with, for example, in relation to women in politics, that actually taking people along with you and changing attitudes has a greater impact than putting in place some sort of regulatory structure.

  • This wouldn't be a specific regulatory structure of any sort, because I don't anticipate any form of specific regulation of pure content, but, if you like, a rather more robust approach to what are presently breaches of the code, if identified or said about an individual, equally applying if said about a group of individuals, not one of whom is identified and therefore not one of whom can complain.

  • In that case, I apologise, sir. I misunderstood Mr Jay's question.

  • No, we're testing it. Or maybe I did, too.

  • So in terms, then, of the ambit of any future regulatory system -- obviously it's clear from what you're saying that -- maybe you could clarify this. You give particular weight to Article 10 considerations; is that a fair summary of where you stand on this?

  • I believe the freedom of the press in important in a democratic society.

  • So does it flow from that proposition, which in itself is one I'm sure everybody would accept fully, that regulation of the press has to be kept within very, very tight constraints because of the fear that it will intrude into this almost preeminent principle there, namely freedom of the press?

  • I think it is right that there needs to be a process, a system by which people can raise concerns about what has been said in the press. Obviously, in particular, up until now, it's been in relation to individuals. I take the point that there may be groups who feel that it would be preferable for them to be able to act as a group rather than just the individuals. What is necessary is that people have confidence that if an issue is raised that it will be dealt with properly, it will be dealt with expeditiously, and that there will be a satisfactory redress for them.

  • Does your concern, though, rule out any form of statutory solution?

  • I think -- well, if what you're saying is does it rule out the body itself becoming statutory rather than just a self-regulatory body, I wouldn't rule that out. I think one would need to look at what was proposed in terms of how it was going to operate. But what matters is getting that balance right between being able to look at complaints that are received and ensure redress is there, with not hampering that important fundamental principle of freedom.

  • Because would you agree that there is a chasm, really, between a system which has a statutory underpinning -- in other words, is recognised in a statute which may have constitutional safeguards for the freedom of the press but where the government has no role in regulating content -- and a different sort of system, which we would all find anathema, which is a system of state regulation, full panoply thereof, where the state can regulate content, that the first system can be and is very different from the second system?

  • I recognise -- and indeed we explored this a little earlier -- that there is a difference between those two systems. What I would say though is I think one of the questions about the first of those that you have set out, ie the statutory backing for a body that is otherwise completely separate from government, I think there are -- I naturally worry about the law of unintended consequences in such an issue, and the extent to which that is then taken as a means to encroach on freedom through regulation of content by that body rather than --

  • One of the ways one could do that is to reflect section 3(1) of the Constitution Reform Act, which provides for my independence as a judge and is a statutory enunciation of the respect which that independence requires and, I hope, deserves, by having a similar expression of respect for the independence of freedom of expression and the independence of the press, a free press, so that whatever is devised by way of structure has to be read in the context of ultimate respect for those two freedoms.

  • I can quite see that it would be possible to put such a backing in place to give that independence and that respect for freedom. I guess what is sort of at the back of my mind is a concern that that sort of structure isn't in the future taken as sort of just being --

  • But the truth is, somebody can amend a statute, but somebody can put another statute in place anyway.

  • My concern is -- and I appreciate that this is a task that I have been set, but I'd welcome your assistance -- that regulation that is voluntary and is not seen as effective is not really regulation of any sort. Some may say -- indeed have said -- that it is quite remarkable that every other national institution, the lawyers, the doctors, the politicians have codes, the ministers have codes, are regulated and all are watched by the press, but there is no such body really that does so for the press. Indeed, many witnesses have said that actually the PCC isn't a regulator at all, although the language has changed over the years in that regard, and nobody is watching them. So that's the issue.

    The reason I am very keen that I have the chance to raise it with you is that ultimately I will be reporting to you and your colleagues and the government will make a decision, but I'm asking everybody to provide input end possible solutions, and it seems absurd not to ask you -- without, in any sense, committing you or the government to do anything in particular, because I can't do that and I won't -- to provide input into exactly the same consideration.

    You are, of course, entitled to say, "Well, I'm happy to wait and see what you say", but if I'm asking other politicians who aren't now in government for their view, ultimately which will feed into the conclusions I come to, it seems absurd not to ask you also for first blush views, obviously I hope, which may be later informed by what I say, but at least to provide into the mix of views that I consider.

    I hope that's not trying to cast my responsibility onto anybody else. I wouldn't want it misunderstood --

  • I notice in today's press that people are saying that I'm now identifying what the answer is in these questions. I'm not identifying what the answer is. I'm saying what may be an answer and what I may be thinking about, and I will be thinking about, among all the other suggestions that are made.

  • Well, thank you, sir. I fully accept the challenge, in the sense that you have set out, and that you are asking -- you will be asking everybody about their opinions. I suppose I would -- I hesitate at this stage to come down on a firm example of what might be appropriate, partly because, of course, I am one of the Cabinet ministers who will be directly in receipt of your report.

  • Therefore I think it would be inappropriate for me to go too far in relating any personal views in relation to this.

  • Yes. The question is whether you feel it appropriate, as indeed you have, to identify concerns or issues. I'm not going to press you and I wouldn't want you to go further than you wanted to, but I certainly wanted to give you the opportunity to ventilate in public possible ways forward. This module will be followed by a discussion of various ideas that have been put into the Inquiry over the course of the last eight months, and the opportunity will then be taken to challenge those ideas, to test them, if you like, to try and avoid the unintended consequences of which you have previously spoken.

  • May I seek to be clear about the unintended consequences which may ensue? We've identified one possibility, namely presumably another government might come along, amend the Act and create some form of regulation with which you would consider to be anathema. Lord Justice Leveson has addressed that. But are there other unintended consequences which you would wish to draw to our intention?

  • I think by definition, it's difficult. I understand the point that has just been made about the discussion which will hope to identify any potential consequence therefore not get into the difficulty of unintended consequences but the very definition of "unintended consequences" -- one isn't always able to identify them in advance.

    I think I would simply come back to the central point that I'm making which is I think that any solution that is found to a means for individuals or groups to be able to have greater confidence in an ability to question or raise complaints about what has been said in the press about them needs to be balanced against the need of making sure that in doing that it doesn't in some way get in the way of the freedom of the press.

  • Aside from that point, there are no other consequences which you have foreseen which you draw to our attention which would say they might be unintended if the regulatory schemer were to, as it were, fail to cater for them?

  • I think the other one that I sort of identified earlier is the possibility of creating, if you like, what one often sees with when sort of structures and regulations go in, that then becomes a desire to -- for people to encourage those means to be used in a way which perhaps is not a reflection -- a true reflection of what is actually taking place.

  • May I look now at your own interactions with the media? You provided us with a schedule, which is the second exhibit to your statement, which is under our tab 96 and which starts at 01765. The overall picture, Mrs May -- and put this in your own words -- is that you see journalists from the whole range of newspapers and broadcast media. It may be fair to say that (a) the quantum of your interactions is not as great as others, and secondly, you probably don't appear to favour any particular newspaper groups, but that's my very sort of rough and ready interpretation of this material. Would you agree with that or not?

  • I think that would be a fair reflection, yes.

  • But obviously at party conference time there's greater activity for obvious reasons and we can see that for each of the relevant years, 2010 and 2011.

    There were phone calls on the same day, 11 May 2011, with Rebekah Brooks and Dominic Mohan. Do you have any recollection what those calls might have been about?

  • I do. Would you like me to tell you?

  • It was -- this was in relation to the question about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and the action that the government was taking and that the Metropolitan Police were taking to work with the Portuguese authorities to further look into the matters relating to that disappearance, to see if there were any other avenues of inquiry that should be pursued.

  • Because a review was ordered by the Home Office -- in other words, by you -- at quite short notice and I think it may have been on that day itself; is that right?

  • No, a review was not ordered -- was not requested or required at short notice. The Home Office had been discussing -- first started discussing with ACPO the possibility of a Police Review or further police work on this -- they first started discussing that with ACPO under the previous government. So the discussion had been taking place for some time -- it took place with ACPO initially -- for ACPO to identify which police force would be appropriate to undertake this work, if it was to be undertaken, and at the same time there were discussions taking place with the Portuguese authorities, because of course, no UK police force can go into another country and start investigating; they can only do so with the agreement, approval and assistance of the resident authorities in that country.

  • Did you have discussions with the Prime Minister about this specific issue on or about 11 May or not?

  • I don't recall having a specific discussion myself with the Prime Minister. I know the Prime Minister was interested in this specific issue, but I don't recall whether I had a specific conversation with him.

  • Did Mrs Brooks say anything about -- words to this effect: that unless you ordered the review, you would be on the front page of the Sun until that happened?

  • No. Neither Mrs Brooks or Mr Mohan made any indication of that sort to me. The nature of the telephone conversation was to alert them to the fact that the government was taking some action, that there was going to be this further work by the police here in the UK and to put forward the point that it was very important that the UK authorities were able to work with the Portuguese authorities.

  • Was this a call at your instigation out to Mrs Brooks and Mr Mohan or was it from them to you?

  • I think it was a call at my instigation.

  • Do you feel that any pressure was put on you behind the scenes to order this review or not?

  • I felt that the work that we were doing to look at this review had been going on for some time, it was coming to a fruition around this time anyway, and obviously the issue was a matter of public concern.

  • Okay, I think that covers that issue and indeed it covers all the matters I wish to raise with you. I'm going to ask you this general question, though, Mrs May: is there any point you would like to raise or to emphasise which we haven't covered?

  • I don't think so, no. I think that's everything.

  • All right. Well, if there are any other further concerns or thoughts or steers that you have in connection with the terms of reference that you would like me to put into the consideration that I give to the overall position, then doubtless you'll let me know.

  • Thank you very much for your time, Home Secretary.

    Right, 2 o'clock. Thank you.

  • (The luncheon adjournment)

  • Mr Jay, yesterday morning, a man by the name of David Lawley-Wakelin interrupted and disrupted the proceedings of this Inquiry for purposes of his own. I directed that an inquiry take place and it has been completed. Appropriate measures to prevent any risk of repetition have been taken.

    It is of critical importance that witnesses can give evidence without disruption of any sort, and in those circumstances I am today referring this incident to the Director of Public Prosecutions so that the Crown Prosecution Service, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police Service, can consider the way in which the matter can be dealt with appropriately.

  • Sir, this afternoon's witness is the Right Honourable Michael Gove.