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

  • Sir, I can assist to this extent. I'm grateful to Mr Caplan for providing us, and by extension you, with a draft anonymity protocol.

  • We were giving thought internally to this this morning, and would like to take it forward in a number of respects. We would expect within the next 48 hours or so to come up with a second draft, which we would circulate for comment.

    The draft we see is drawn in the main from the Al-Sweady protocol. In that case, it's right to say that the witnesses who might be seeking anonymity had already been identified. They were likely to be military witnesses, and they had legal representation.

    The anonymous witnesses who may be coming forward to this Inquiry, have not been identified in advance, and some of them may well not have legal representation, and therefore consideration has to be given as to what is quite a subtle approach here, namely an open submission and a closed submission, whether that's going to work in this sort of situation.

    One can see that if the witness has the support of the NUJ, then these problems may well disappear, but if the witness is entirely unsupported, then the problems are going to exist.

  • It would be right, wouldn't it, Mr Jay, to say that if a witness was prepared to give evidence to the Inquiry but only under conditions of anonymity, it would probably be wrong to allow the identification of the particular journal about which the witness was then speaking. So if we then went back to cyphers, in order to say, well, they're different rather than the same, it would go to general practice, ethics, culture, but without in any sense giving rise to material which then the relevant newspaper would feel obliged to deal with, and in fairness, may be required to deal with, may be entitled to deal with, which would give rise to questions about identification and the rest of it.

  • Yes. Sir, the other matter --

  • I raise that as a question so that everybody can hear it and think about it.

  • Yes. The other matter which may be -- may need to be made explicit in the protocol should be to reflect what you said last Wednesday, namely: if at the end of the day you were to rule that the evidence could not be given anonymously, then the identity of the witness, or putative witness, must nonetheless be respected and that it would not enter the public domain, nor would we then serve a Section 21 notice on that witness to force him or her giving evidence on what, ex hypothesi now, would be an open basis.

  • Yes. In other words, somebody who approached the Inquiry must know that their identity will not enter the public domain without their consent.

  • Of course, if I rule against the application, then the whole thing might just fall to one side.

  • Those are our present thoughts on the protocol, and as I've indicated, we'll take that forward as quickly as we can.

    Insofar as there are objections in principle to this whole proposal, may I deal with those after those objections?

  • Yes, certainly, certainly.

    Right, Mr Garnham, do you want to say anything about this?