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

  • SIR PAUL STEPHENSON (sworn).

  • Sir Paul, your full name, please?

  • I'm Paul Robert Stephenson.

  • Thank you. You provided the Inquiry with a lengthy and helpful witness statement dated 20 February. You've signed and dated it and there is the standard statement of truth. Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry?

  • First of all, as it were, to introduce you, your personal history. You joined the Lancashire constabulary in 1975. You worked your way up the ranks. You went to the RUC for a period. You were appointed Chief Constable of Lancashire on 25 July 2002, and then you came to the Metropolitan Police for the first time as Deputy Commissioner in March 2005, and you were appointed the Commissioner of the MPS on 28 January 2009; is that correct?

  • I think those dates are correct, Mr Jay.

  • Thank you very much. You received a knighthood in the Queen's birthday honours list in June 2008 but you gave your intention to resign from the police on 17 July 2007 with effect from 26 July. The circumstances of that resignation are, of course, fully in the public domain. We may come to them.

    May I just cover one introductory matter. We've heard reference to a management board, which is police in a cabinet. Can you tell us a little about that, please, how often it meets and who comprises it?

  • Of course, I can only speak for when I was Commissioner and I'm sort of -- the current Commissioner will have to say how often it meets now. But it used to meet once every month in formal session -- in formal, fully minuted session considering matters of policy in the Metropolitan Police Service.

    Outside of that, as an information body, it used to meet three times a week -- Monday morning, Wednesday morning and Friday morning -- to consider the issues of the day, and the management board itself would consist of the most senior personnel in the organisation, obviously chaired by myself when I was present, the Deputy Commissioner, four assistant commissioners, I think it was, by recollection, and some civilian personnel of equal, if you will, import to the Metropolitan Police, such as the director of resources, director of information systems, the director of public affairs and the director of human resources.

  • Thank you. Now, the purposes of relations with the media. Paragraph 11 of your statement, Sir Paul. You list five of them. Most of them are self-explanatory. May I deal with point D, which is on our page 5718, at the bottom of this page, where you refer to seeking to reverse the generally negative coverage cover of the MPS that had been your experience during your deputy commissionership. May I invite you to expand on that?

  • Yes, Mr Jay. It was quite clear that during my predecessor's term of office, Sir Ian Blair, now Lord Blair, that there was a good deal of commentary in the media, and much of it negative. My belief was that that reflected quite poorly and unfairly on the Metropolitan Police Service and indeed on Sir Ian Blair, Lord Blair now, himself. Not only that; it was extremely distracting to senior officers, constantly having to deal with this sort of list of headlines, much of which I felt were unfair at the time, which actually distracted us from what should be the main purpose of the Met, which really is about doing the job we're supposed to be doing on behalf of Londoners, and I came to a very strong view that what we needed to have in our relationship with the media is to try and effect the situation where the story was much more about what we do and less about who we were as senior officers, and that was something reflected to me when I met many junior officers when I took up office.

  • Some have described this as a charm offensive. I'm sure you'd use a different terminology?

  • But how do you achieve this healthy interaction without it becoming a charm offensive?

  • I think you do it in the way that -- for the reasons I've outlined, why you engage with the media. I think you do it by being honest, by being as open as you can. Actually, without wishing to sound too pompous, by remembering sort of known seven principles of public life: honesty, openness, leadership, accountability, selflessness, integrity and objectivity. They're not bad guidelines about how we should have a relationship with the media, and by having that dialogue, by trying to ensure that there is a context there, so when editors and journalists are reporting they can refer back to that context, and actually trying to give the message that there's 50-odd thousand people working for the Met, most of whom strive to do a very good job, so having some balance in the headlines is a fair thing to asked for.

  • Thank you. At paragraph 13 of your statement, you explain that it's inevitable that the relationship of the MPS with the media is different from that of provincial police forces, hugely important as their work is. Obviously you have experience of being chief constable of an important provincial police force. What, in a nutshell, are the differences, apart from perhaps the obvious ones?

  • Well, Mr Jay, it's certainly not to diminish the role or nature of being sort of -- a provincial police force and chief constable are hugely important, but I think it is widely recognised that the Commissioner of the Met is not only sort of occupying the most senior policing position in the land; you're also occupying an office that has a resonance with world policing and one of the most challenging, and the demands on the Commissioner for interviews, for media, for answers to many, many things, are just of a scale that in a provincial force one wouldn't imagine or experience.

  • Paragraph 16 of your statement, which, as it were, is pregnant with hidden meaning, and I'm going to ask you to develop it. You say:

    "It was also my view, upon taking up my post as deputy in 2005 and subsequently, that some the contact between the written media in particular and a small number of senior colleagues was closer than I considered necessary."

    Do you have that paragraph? Now, first of all, can I ask you: are you referring to any particular sections of the written media?

  • Thank you. Secondly, are you prepared to identify the senior colleagues you refer to there?

  • Mr Jay, I would prefer not to, because I don't have the evidence here today to sort of prove my suspicions, but what I will say -- and I think you could -- if I might suggest, you could read paragraph 16 almost along with paragraph 23 of my statement. I'm referring to what I consider to be a very small number of the management board -- and if you remember, I've just gone through what the management board consisted of -- a very small number who, on occasions, either gossipped or leaked about stories from within the Met and from within the management board that was deeply unhelpful and actually added to a continuing dialogue of disharmony and almost dysfunctionality within the Met at the most senior levels. That was hugely distracting and, in my opinion, unprofessional.

  • I can understand why you don't wish to identify individuals in a public forum, but are you referring exclusively here to the problems of leaks and gossip or are you also intending to refer to overly close business or social contact? For example, meals in the evening.

  • No, that wasn't my intention when I wrote my statement. My intention was to refer to exactly what I said, the gossips and the leaking.

  • It follows then that the problems you're referring to, "closer than I considered necessary", the last five or six words of paragraph 16, are the problems which inevitably ensue from gossiping and leaking and no other problems; is that right?

  • When I wrote that paragraph, that's what I was alluding to.

  • How do you know that there was excessive gossipping and leaking?

  • Well, again, on my own personal analysis as Deputy Commissioner, it seemed to me that there were stories in the -- within the media about conversations that took place in private at management board that I can't imagine how they got there in any other way.

  • Thank you. So your evidence is although you can't necessarily identify who it was who perpetrated the leak, you're satisfied that there was a leak from the very nature of the information which entered the public domain?

  • I'm satisfied, Mr Jay, that there was a little too much gossipping about things that ought to be kept confidential.

  • Yes, it must be rather galling to see private conversations in management board then replicated in the newspapers the next day.

  • I think "galling" covers it, sir.

  • And because of the nature of the conversations and their privacy and confidentiality, it would not be in the public interest that these matters enter the public domain, particularly in this way; is that the point you're making?

  • Well, it's not a question of trying to be overly secretive or saying that these matters were always highly sensitive and secret matters. But if you're trying to run a management board with people making contributions and having an open, frank discussion where you are trying to engender a team who are willing to disagree with each other in trying to get to the best outcome, to have that reported as "management board at war" is deeply unhelpful in trying to creating that effective team.

  • Paragraph 17, Sir Paul. You explain, about six lines down, that when you joined the MPS as Deputy Commissioner:

    "... I moved to have a representative from the DPA present during engagements with the media."

    Are you intending to refer there to all engagements with the media?

  • I think we have to be realistic about it, a little grown up. I'm referring to -- as a starting point, as a principle, I thought it would be very helpful if matters came through the DPA generally, and if the DPA were present. In that way, it might discourage the gossiping and what might be described on occasions as being a little bit too loose-lipped. But I do accept there will be occasions where people bump into the media, where one is attending Parliament, et cetera, where you're suddenly confronted by the media and short of saying, "No response", then you will end up in some sort of engagement, some sort of dialogue.

    So I think it's a matter of judgment and balance, but generally speaking I thought it was a useful thing to do and I have to say I don't claim all the credit for that. I think that would have been supported and indeed encouraged by the then Commissioner Lord Blair.

  • Was the purpose of having a member of the DPA present so that there would be the chance for a note to be taken or was it to signal that someone else was there and therefore the interaction was semi-formal? What was the purpose of having a member of --

  • The purpose wasn't to make a note at the time, but the purpose was the fact that if the DPA were there, on the rare occasion that anybody wanted to behave in less than a professional manner, then they may be discouraged.

  • Thank you. I think you pick up this point in the last sentence of paragraph 23, our page 5722. It would also tend to reduce the risk of leak of gossip; is that right?

  • I think that would be a very proper aspiration.

  • Although what it logically couldn't do is prevent the determined individual getting on the phone to a member of the press for his or her personal reasons, leaking and that finding its way into the newspaper the following day. That might always happen.

  • I think there is very little one can do in terms of normal rules and governance to stop people behaving badly or corruptly. To deal with that, I think you have to do many other things, including right lines and various ways of investigating and looking in intelligence.

    So I don't think there's a great deal you can do if people are determined to behave unprofessionally. What you can do is put in place a sensible system and approach that reminds people that they should be behaving professionally. And the vast majority did. It was just a small minority, in my view.

  • The truth is, isn't it, that if you try and conduct a leak inquiry, you're almost doomed to fail, aren't you? Trying to find out who leaked what to whom is an extremely difficult task.

  • I think that's absolutely true, sir. Whilst it's important, on occasions, to mount a leak Inquiry, I have to be honest: on many occasions when we did it, you do so with a heavy heart because it's going to be so difficult to come to a successful outcome.

  • And frequently, it doesn't come to a successful outcome, which actually then has a potentially adverse effect of demonstrating the shallowness of the ability to control really what's happening, because if you can't get to who did it, then you don't discourage it from happening in the future.

  • I think that's potentially correct, sir, but on -- the obverse of that is sometimes one would have a leak inquiry even though it might come to nothing -- and you have to be very careful with the use of public resources -- to remind people of the leadership determination to do whatever it can to enforce good professional standards of probity.

  • And sometimes the inquiry itself might serve to remind other people who might wish to behave in that way.

  • Yes, I understand the value of that, but ultimately it's a cultural thing, isn't it?

  • I think a lot of things, if I might say so, that this Inquiry is looking at are issues of culture, values and standards.

  • Paragraph 25, Sir Paul, our page 5723. You say it's your belief that on occasions there was a danger of the organisation, including senior officers, becoming too obsessed with newspaper headlines. Most of this will be self-evident, but what are the dangers of that?

  • I think my answer ought to start off by saying: I include myself in that. It is very difficult, if you are the subject of unfair reporting -- which many of public officials are, and I don't want to sit here and complain too much about that. That's just the nature of life, I'm afraid. It's very difficult to be very detached about it, so therefore one can tend to become obsessed by the headlines which are here today and gone tomorrow, instead of actually looking at what the really important issue is, and that's how we communicate with our staff and how we try to ensure that if the headlines are unfair, how do we get a different picture of the organisation that is a fair reflection of the work we do?

  • Thank you. At paragraph 26, you say you believe "the occurrence of leaks from senior officers substantially reduced during the period of my commissionership".

    How do you know that, Sir Paul?

  • Well, I know it because there were less newspaper stories about dysfunctionality in the Met and dysfunctionality at senior level. I think I would have to add -- firstly, I think I mention it in the following paragraph -- I don't claim to be the most wonderful Commissioner ever that managed to do things that other people didn't achieve. I think I was extraordinarily lucky with the people I had on my team, who were hugely professional and were not tempted to behave in that way. So I was a very fortunate man in that respect.

    But I would just go on to say that -- how do I know? There were less stories of dysfunctionality, less stories of trouble at the top, and actually, when I spoke to junior officer, which I regularly did, one of the most consistent complaints and questions were broke into two: one, can you do more to manage the media? I actually don't think there is such a thing as managing the media and the suggestion would be improper, but if you take the general complaint from junior staff who felt headlines were unfair. But secondly, they deplored it when the story was about senior officers at war, albeit it might only be a tiny few who were behaving badly. They deplored it -- they objected to it because it was a story about the people who led as opposed to the job that they did rather splendidly on occasions -- on many occasions.

  • I suppose it might be said that one possible explanation for there being fewer stories about dysfunctionality at the top was that there was simply less dysfunctionality at the top. Is that plausible?

  • I think I went part way by saying that I think I was pretty blessed with my senior team, and I think that helped.

  • When you refer in paragraph 26 to leaking by people associated with the police but from outside the MPS, often referred to in the press as a police force(sic), for the avoidance of doubt, what sort of person are you referring to there?

  • Sorry, I might have misheard but I think it's a "police source" often referred to. I thought I heard you say "police force".

    Of course, the assumption very often is if a piece of information leaks into the media about an investigation or something that is very police specific, it must have come from the police, and if it's the Met, it must have come from the Met. Very often that information will be in the hands of many other people. It might be in the hands of the governance authority, the Metropolitan Police Authority. It might be in the hands of the CPS, the Independent Police Complaints Commission -- many people.

    So there's the potential of leaks from elsewhere, and also it did seem to us on occasions that where the description was "police source", it seemed more likely to have come from elsewhere, and there did seem to be a great deal more gossiping -- and I understand why -- in London than anywhere else I had worked. This was the centre of power, this was where the national media was, there was much more interest, the place was much more political -- so therefore there was a great deal more conversations going on about policing in London outside policing than I ever experienced in any other force.

  • Personal contact with the media, you explain in paragraph 28, our page 5724, took the form of meetings, functions, attendances at events run by various organisations such as the CRA:

    "Additionally, on occasions, there would be meetings with editors, drink receptions or meetings over lunch or dinner."

    And you provide a list which you say is not comprehensive. Is it your perception that you didn't favour any particular section of the media? You pick this up in paragraph 33 where you give some general statistics.

  • That is my belief. I would be advised as to what media interviews I should do, what meetings I should go to, in terms of achieving the objectives I outlined earlier in my statement for the purposes of dealing with the media, but certainly the feedback I received, both personally from journalists and also from my head of the -- head of DPA, Mr Fedorcio, was that many, if not most, journalists complained that it was other journalists that were getting the scoop. It seemed that most people felt that there was a sort of -- they didn't get their fair share.

    One hesitates to say this, but the fact that the complaints seemed more general seemed to me to be a more healthy position than it was just coming from one particular area of the media.

  • When the complaints were from certain quarters that they weren't getting their fair share, weren't getting their scoop, fair share of what, Sir Paul?

  • Access. I think that's the issue, and I think if you look at the sort of -- the whole range of my engagement with the media, I think it will be difficult to make that allegation in terms of the way in which I divided my time.

  • We can get a flavour of this by looking at your second exhibit, which is our page 05779. Where precisely is this compiled from? From where is this compiled?

  • I have some difficulty with that, Mr Jay, in so much -- I think it was compiled in my absence whilst I was on sick leave from late December 2010 until April 2011, and I think it was compiled for the purposes of addressing the issues that were being raised by -- in many places about this inquiry, not least the Metropolitan Police Authority. So I think it was compiled then and I'm guessing it was compiled from the gifts and hospitality register, but I couldn't -- I'm guessing that's where it came from.

  • It runs out at the end of 2010, which suggests it was prepared for a purpose at the end of 2010 rather than 2011, but we'll see in a moment what was happening in that year.

  • To be helpful, I think -- I'm sorry, I am guessing here, Mr Jay, but I believe there would have been discussions with the police authority about this matter at that time, and it is likely and very proper that they would have asked for information about the frequency of meetings. That may well have been the source.

  • If you look at 2005 when you're Deputy Commissioner, there are very few interactions with the press and none, in fact, with News International. Can you confirm that?

  • Then in 2006 there's a lunch with the Times in February, a drink with the Daily Mail in May, then a dinner with Neil Wallis and Dick Fedorcio on 19 September 2006, which is in the hospitality register, gifts and hospitality register.

  • Was that the first occasion you met Mr Wallis socially or semi-socially?

  • Sorry, I think it is. I think it's -- in my statement somewhere, it gives the precise date and I think that is the date, but it is in my statement.

  • And the purpose of that meeting -- I think at that point he was deputy editor of the News of the World. The purpose was what? Can you recall?

  • I think the same purpose as I've outlined, for the purpose of meeting with the media earlier. If I could go back to 2005 when you say there are relatively few. I think we have to remember that I was this -- I hesitate to say exotic creature from the provinces suddenly arrived in London who nobody really knew, and it was quite a novelty having a deputy commissioner without any Metropolitan Police background or indeed any connectivity. So that might explain why I met fewer people; I knew fewer people.

  • The following year there are only three interactions which are relevant, one of which is a Christmas party at the CRA, another with the Daily Mail and then, 15 November 2007, another dinner with Mr Wallis and Dick Fedorcio. Presumably a similar purpose as the dinner the previous year or 14 months previously; is that right?

  • Then in 2008, first entry is dinner with Neil Wallis. This time it's Neil Wallis alone, it appears, without Mr Fedorcio. Can you help us with that?

  • I don't recall that. I don't recall having dinner with Mr Wallis alone. It is possible, but I don't recall it.

  • Then later that year -- in passing, we can see there was editors meeting with the editor of the Guardian in October. Evening Standard drinks reception, again in October. Then on 15 October, meeting and drinks with Neil Wallis and Dick Fedorcio. That one is in the register. We have the relevant page of the register, if I just find it. It's 15 October 2008. This is described as:

    "Informal meeting, drinks provided, deputy editor News of the World."

    Again, the purpose is the same, but of course by this point you're getting to know Mr Wallis, presumably?

  • Yes, I think in the same way that you'll see that several people -- other media representatives I've met several times, that I'm getting to know them better.

  • Obviously I can't ask you to recall what was discussed on any particular occasion, since you're not going to remember, but by the time you're getting to know him better, what sort of things are discussed?

  • It would be the same area, sort of -- from a professional perspective, it would be about the context of policing, the way in which government policy might affect policing, the issues around resourcing, all the sort of things that one would wish to ensure that when people are reporting on policing, there was at least a context, a background, so they could judge in a fair and balanced way. I think it was that, but there would also be some social interaction as well, as there would be with anybody else I would meet.

  • Did you feel on any of these occasions -- not that there's any impropriety in this -- that Mr Wallis was trying to get you to say things that you might not want to say?

  • Outwith Mr Wallis, I would say for every journalist I've ever met, they would be delighted if I was indiscreet. It was my job to ensure I wasn't.

  • Fair enough. Seven days later there's a dinner, 22 October, with the editor of the News of the World, Mr Myler, with Mr Fedorcio. Again, it's in the register so it's paid for by the News of the World. That's the first occasion you meet Mr Myler; is that right?

  • I think that was an introductory meeting with Mr Myler. I think he was the new editor or new-ish editor at the time. Certainly the Commissioner would generally want to meet sort of editors.

  • The next page, 5780. We're now into 2009, so we see more meetings, but now you're Commissioner --

  • By this stage, sir, there's no hiding place.

  • Indeed. 4 February, drinks with Neil Wallis and Dick Fedorcio. In the register, that's described as a business dinner. Just let me find the relevant entry. Yes, business dinner. On the internal numbering it's page 12. I'm afraid I don't have our unique reference number. But again, you're not going to be able to assist with what was discussed on that occasion, presumably?

  • In order to get a fair picture of what's happening over the course of this year, I can take it, I hope, quite quickly. Drinks with editor of the Telegraph on 10 March. On 18 March, it's the Mirror Group. 24 March is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail. On 20 April, you have lunch with the editor of the Sun who was Rebekah Wade, Dick Fedorcio. That was, according to the register, in Wapping.

    So this is all part and parcel of the same strategy on your part, to acquaint yourself with editors in different sections of the press; is that correct?

  • Yes, it would be. I think you missed 19 February when I saw the editor of the Sunday Telegraph, but yes, it would all be part & parcel of the same strategy: appropriate engagement.

  • Mr Witherow, Sunday Times, 28 April. Mr Myler, 14 May. Again, I think that's in the register. Yes, described as a business dinner.

    Then there's a News Corporation reception at OXO Tower, again in the register, 17 June. 27 June, we have Richard Littlejohn and Stephen Wright there. That's the Daily Mail, again in the register. Then 23 June, Neil Wallis -- he's still the deputy editor -- Dick Fedorcio. That was, I think, at a restaurant called Luciano's in St James' Street, according to the diary -- because we have the diary entries for 2009. Do you recall anything about that occasion?

  • I don't specifically recall the occasion, but if it's there in the diary and the register, then I accept that it took place.

  • It's quite easy to understand, Sir Paul, why, once you became Commissioner, it would be valuable for you to meet all these very important players merely to introduce yourself and to get them to understand your philosophy. Would that be a fair reflection of the reason for the number of meetings between February and May, which Mr Jay has just gone through?

  • It would be, sir, but I would also have to add that the -- I think I would be a little naive if I thought that one meeting alone would suffice for my entire commissionership. I think some reinforcement is necessary in remeeting various people because, whilst I might have an agenda in terms of how I saw the context of policing, I would then be conscious that editors would have their own views and that reengagement was useful. But yes, the expansion of my activity with the media was very much linked to being the new Commissioner.

  • But do you see a risk that this may be a two-way street?

  • There is a risk of perception, sir. That I will acknowledge. But I find it difficult to see how the Commissioner could do his job or her job properly without engaging pretty heavily with the media at the right level because if the reportage of the story of the Met continues to be unbalanced, which very often it is, then I have a duty on behalf of the 50,000-odd people I lead to try and continue to effect that balance to be a fairer balance and a more accurate balance.

  • The cynical person might say it might also entail this: that there is some sort of tacit encouragement given to the press to keep off bad news. Would you accept that?

  • No, I wouldn't, because I think I'd be extraordinarily naive. My experience of the media is one could have a perfectly good and decent relationship with an editor, but if there was bad news, there was bad news, and they would report it anyway. It wouldn't affect -- if you'd done something wrong, if you'd got something wrong, that same paper would report it. It would be naive to think otherwise.

  • Thank you. Taking the rest of the year quite shortly, lunch with the Times, a repeat lunch with the Sunday Times, lunch with the Independent, lunch with the Financial Times, lunch with the Mail on Sunday, lunch with the Guardian. By that point, 10 December 2009, I think you'd possibly covered virtually everybody apart from the Express and the Star, unless I've missed someone.

  • But then there's a dinner on 10 December: Dick Fedorcio, John Yates and Neil Wallis. By that point, he's the ex-editor of the News of the World because I think he'd left in the summer. In the register, that's explained or described as a private dinner but "no expenses claimed". What does that mean, "no expenses claimed"?

  • It meant that I paid for it, I think. I do recall that. That was at a very -- sort of pub-cum-restaurant that is somewhere that I frequented privately and socially, and I think I paid for that. I'm not entirely sure there was a dinner, I think it might have been drinks only, but nevertheless it was for the same purpose. He was a good contact in so much as a commentator on how the Met looked -- because the one thing that I didn't mention when we were talking earlier about the purpose for engaging with the media was also to continually seek feedback of how does the Met look. How do you see us at this time? I think that's part and parcel of the leadership, to ask people outside the Met, including media and people who have long experience of the media, of how they view the Met so that you can reflect on it.

  • I think at this point Mr Wallis was doing consultancy work for the Met through his company, Shami Media; is that right?

  • Were you asking him sort of to look inside out and give a frank view of how the Met, in his eyes, looked to the outside world? Was that the purpose of it?

  • He was another useful opportunity to do that, absolutely.

  • 8 April 2010. I shouldn't pass over 8 February. That was a meeting with the Telegraph, the editor. 8 April, private appointment, Neil Wallis and Dick Fedorcio. That's in the diary again, "no expenses claimed". It was dinner at the Bbar on the Buckingham Palace Road.

  • Again, "no expenses claimed" means that you paid; is that right?

  • I would have either paid the whole or my share for a drink. I was always uncomfortable with the idea -- not exclusively, but with the idea of billing the public purse for alcohol. So more often than not, I would pay if it wasn't being a gift and hospitality.

  • It might be said if it's a private appointment and there's no claim on the public purse, why is it in the gifts and hospitality register at all?

  • One may well ask that, but I think it's better to be transparent and put as much in there as possible rather than leave things out. These matters were left to my private office and I think they did their level best to manage an extraordinarily busy diary that changed on a daily basis, to try and record things so that it would not look like I was behaving in any way improper.

  • If you're doing it privately, it might be thought that actually what's happened is that over the months you've become a friend of Neil Wallis. Is that fair or not fair?

  • I think over the months he's become an acquaintance. His company would have been enjoyable, like other people, but to say I was a friend, I think that would be taking it too far.

    I don't think we should read to much into the way in which my secretary recorded things in the diary. As I say, a private appointment was more about reminding her that I would not be claiming for anything, as opposed to saying this was a very private and social matter.

  • In one document I've seen -- and I can't immediately bring it to hand -- you described Mr Wallis at the time as a "light friend". Do you recall saying that?

  • I can't remember if I say "light friend" or a "light acquaintance". I think I generally used the word "acquaintance" and I think that covers it.

  • The rest of 2010, lunches with the editor of the Sunday Telegraph, a lunch with Rebekah Brooks, who is now chief executive of News International, drink with the Daily Mail, lunch with the editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail, dinner with the Mirror -- this is in November -- and on 23 November, drinks with Dominic Mohan, the Sun -- he'd become the editor by then -- and Dick Fedorcio. That was at the American bar of the Savoy and is recorded in the gifts and hospitality register.

    In 2011, which isn't in this document but we do have, of course, the register, what is fully recorded -- we may come to this -- 4 March 2011:

    "Provision of accommodation and food at Champneys Medical over five-week period in support of post-operative rehabilitation ..."

    And then in brackets it says:

    "... (provided by a friend through Sir Paul's family and not in connection with the office of Commissioner)."

    And the person concerned, Stephen Purdue, is noted in the register. So that was included, presumably, at your insistence, Sir Paul; is that right?

  • The only other relevant --

  • We ought to just make it clear that you wanted to correct -- and you wrote to the Inquiry to correct -- the words in parentheses in paragraph 45 of your statement, and you picked up the error, because I picked it up with one of the witnesses --

  • -- that he's not in fact your daughter's father-in-law, but a friend through your family.

  • Yes. He's a close friend of my daughter's father-in-law and business acquaintance.

  • Close friend of your daughter's father-in-law. Right. You corrected that obviously when I asked somebody about it during the course of last week.

  • Until 2011, in the gifts and hospitality register, there are no recorded entries in relation to News International. There are a couple of dinners with Murdoch MacLennan of the Telegraph and informal meeting with the Daily Mail, but that's it.

  • Has this anything to do with the fact that Operation Weeting started in January 2011 or not?

  • No, I was absent from work through sort of injury and illness between mid-December 2010 and returned sometime in the April -- I can't precisely remember the date -- sometime in the April of 2011.

  • I think it was fairly early in April. When you returned, did you take, as it were, a policy decision not to involve yourself at all with News International owing to the existence of Operation Weeting?

  • No, it wasn't -- I wouldn't have refused to engage with anybody from News International, but I do think that once -- Weeting was now mounted. I was briefed on it briefly when I returned and realised that this was of a different order than we'd, for whatever reason, realised before. I'd have been much more circumspect in meeting with News International, yes.

  • Had it been suggested to you -- and it's clear that this didn't happen -- that meeting with Mr Wallis, for example -- I choose him only because there were private appointments with him in 2009 and 2010 -- would you have thought it inappropriate to have met with Mr Wallis after January 2011? I know that you, as it were, couldn't between January and April for health reasons, but we're looking at April onwards.

  • I wouldn't have wanted to do anything to compromise Weeting by a significant change in behaviour that allowed somebody who may become a suspect to suddenly see that and start making preparations, but I think it is fair to say that I think it would have been rather clumsy to meet with Mr Wallis after his name entered into my consciousness around these matters. I think that would have been a little clumsy, so I would have tried to avoid that.

    If I could, Mr Jay -- and I sort of haven't tried to do this before, but in so much as you've gone through my diary in some detail there and obviously, for natural reasons, contacts with Mr Wallis, it is worth, I think, sort of doing the summary. I met Mr Wallis, I think, on the records that you put together, once in 2008, three times in 2009 and twice in 2010, according to the records.

  • At no stage, for whatever reason, did you have any lunches or dinners with Mr Desmond's titles, the Northern & Shell titles, the Express and the Star. Is that through oversight, through accident? Can you help us on that?

  • It's certainly not through any design. I would be -- I would certainly be guided by the head of TPA, Mr Fedorcio, and my Chief of Staff as to who I should meet and when I should meet them. I can't think why we didn't meet with the editor of the Daily Express but it's not something that I would go through and monitor and audit. But it does seem to me, when I look at it, it was generally a broad spread, but it does seem to me they're absent.

    I did know the crime reporter from the Daily Express and met him quite a number of times, but he was quite a senior member of the Crime Reporters Association.

  • Yes. Looking back at your statement, paragraph 38, you say:

    "Clearly the opportunity to garner information on stories not in the possession of media rivals would provide additional motivation for the press. It was not uncommon, either during meetings with senior media figures or indeed during the monthly Commissioner's CRA briefings at New Scotland Yard, for me to be asked for confidential or sensitive operational information regarding major criminal investigations."

    And you say you never disclosed such information.

    But apart from these obvious things that the press were hoping to get out of you and which you quite properly say you were never going to give them, what else do you think they were trying to get out of you?

  • Again, if I -- to be precise, I don't say I never gave them -- I say I never gave them sensitive information improperly. There would be occasions where you would share sensitive information with media.

    But what else do I think they wanted to get out of me? I think, again, I outlined it in my statement. They would -- I think at the senior levels they were genuinely interested in knowing what was the most senior policeman officer in the country's views on issues around counter-terrorism, on public order, on the context of where policing was going, on policy around these matters. I think there's a genuine interest in that. Many of these meetings that are listed in the list you've just gone through were actually quite challenging meetings. Quite challenging where -- challenging on both sides, where I was challenging their assumptions about life and they certainly challenged my assumptions about life, and difficult though they often were, you always went away better informed to make further judgments.

    I recall one particularly challenging meeting -- I think it's the last meeting I did, I think it was with the Independent -- which was two hours of a very challenging exchange of views, but one of the best meetings I've ever had. So I think there was real benefit both ways.

  • Paragraph 41, please, our page 5729. I've been asked to put this to you. You refer to one occasion where you recall going for a drink with a politician after an organised event:

    "I believe we were accompanied by two journalists."

    I've been asked to put to you: do you recall from where those two journalists came? Which --

  • I do. One was a -- I think he was a Times journalist, and the other one, I think, again from recollection, was the editor of the Police Review.

  • And again, if I might add, I think the reason they accompanied -- we were all in discussion at the event and we went on for a drink afterwards and I think the politician was a shadow minister.

  • In paragraph 43, you referred to a dinner hosted at New Scotland Yard after Mr Coulson had been appointed head of communications at Number 10, so this would have been after May 2010. You say:

    "Neil Wallis also attended this function."

    Again I've been asked to put to you whether other News International journalists attended that function?

  • No, not from recollection. I think Neil Wallis attended because -- I think it's a matter of record that he was doing some small contractual work for us at the time. He also knew Mr Coulson and this was an opportunity to meet two figures who were advising at the height of government so that we could ensure that they understood how we saw policing and we could understand how they saw policing and in particular saw the Met.

  • Was this the best way to enable you to get to know Mr Coulson and his assistant, in your view?

  • I think it was a good way.

  • Someone might say: why not just invite them to a meeting in your office, give them a cup of coffee and leave it at that? Why does there have to be a dinner to facilitate the getting to know one another better?

  • I think very often it works better for people's diaries if you invite them for a cup of coffee in your office during the day. People are extraordinarily busy. But it was about trying to get underneath the headlines, get underneath what was the obvious, to try and get to the heart of what were their concerns about policing. How were they going to advise in terms of matters of policy? And we very much wanted to get a message across to them how we saw the future of policing, what were the challenges and difficulties, so that they were better informed, from our perspective, when they were giving advice, and I think it was one way and a useful way of doing it. It was done infrequently, as you'll see from the diary.

  • Fair enough. The stay at Champneys, which starts at 5731. You made the correction to paragraph 45. A lot of this has already been covered in your resignation statement and the evidence you gave to the Select Committee on 19 July of last year, but in your own words, please, can you give us the gist of paragraphs 45 to 51, Sir Paul?

  • Well, I don't want to leave any -- there were very considered words, so I don't really want to miss anything out, but I was made the offer, through a close friend of my daughter's father-in-law, somebody I knew, to assist. He'd heard about my illness and he wanted to assist. I have to say I was initially reluctant to accept it because I think one is generally reluctant very often to accept a very kind offer, but it's also the case that I was advised medically that I wasn't fit at that time to attend any other rehabilitative facility. I was still in a wheelchair and still on significant medication, and this possibly represented my best chance of getting back to work as early as possible. That's the reason I did it.

    This person had -- and this organisation had no connection, as far as I was aware, with the Met, no contractual connection, and I did think -- I felt under significant pressure to get back to work. I think in total I was off for the best part of four months. I felt under significant personal pressure to return to work as soon as possible, and my very clear view was: if I didn't get back within that time, then I wouldn't go back at all, because I do not think you can leave an organisation like the Met, as good as your deputy is -- and I think he did a fabulous job in my absence, but I do not think the leader of the Met can be absent for any longer than that and already there was reporting in the media about the absence of the Commissioner and the effect it was having on the Met.

    I felt I had to get back quickly. If I didn't, I wasn't going to get back at all and I desperately wanted to come back.

  • You make it clear in paragraph 45 that the gesture by Mr Purdue, the owner, covered accommodation and some meals, with all treatments and facilities paid for separately. The MPS paid for physiotherapy and you paid for some other therapies.

  • That's correct. I think I paid for various other therapies, including cryotherapy.

  • For the avoidance of doubt, as you made clear in paragraph 51, Mr Wallis had nothing to do with these arrangements?

  • To my knowledge, he had nothing to do with these arrangements and certainly that was the view of Mr Purdue.

  • The connection between Mr Wallis and Champneys, you were first made aware of that on 16 July 2011. It's that which precipitated your resignation?

  • That's correct. I think in the Home Affairs Select Committee I described it as damnably unlucky.

  • Quite a lot of people tried to persuade you not to resign, and that's a matter of record, as it were. I mean, in your own words, why did you resign?

  • Well, I won't repeat my resignation statement, it's there on record and lengthy, but I've always held a view -- and the view was very much influenced by my experience as Deputy Commissioner -- that if the story becomes about the leader as opposed to what we do, then that is a bad place to be. For whatever reason, that's where I seemed to be.

    I've outlined all of this in that resignation statement but I also have to say -- not something I did want to talk about at the time of my resignation statement because one doesn't one to have a national discussion about your health, but there is no doubt that because of a combination of ill health, surgery and accident, that my resilience at that time was not what it once was and I did feel that there was a danger that I might not be responding to these pressures as I once might have done and in that case I couldn't possibly take the risk of the Met, when the Met was going into such an important year of the Olympics. I didn't think I had any other alternative, out of a sense of duty and honour, other than to step down. You are right; I don't think anybody I spoke to agreed with me but that doesn't matter. It was my decision.

  • The story had become about you. That was the point?

  • The story had become about me, sir. I think in different circumstances, had I not had the health issue, without wishing to overplay it, I might have come to a different conclusion, but it was clear to me that my reaction to the pressures was not in the same way I'd reacted to many pressures in the past and I didn't think I had any alternative out of all sense of honour.

  • The next section of your statement deals with relations with politicians, and you draw the distinction between the right and duty of politicians to establish an over-arching policy framework for policemen and then the right and duty, I suppose, of the police to execute that policy and, as it were, have ownership over all operational issues. The simple question is this: in your opinion, did politicians ever try to cross over that line and influence your execution of operational matters, as it were?

  • I think again if I might, for the sake of accuracy, my view is that politicians have a greater role than just policy. Politicians are part of the governance process, which goes beyond policy. It's about holding us to account, ensuring you're using public monies to good effect. It's about sitting with us and informing our priorities. So I think they will have a much wider role than just mere policy.

    But you are right; I do think -- I'm a firm advocate of operational independence and I think that was for me as a Commissioner and my officers to decide how we effected that, albeit we should constantly reflect on the advice, the guidance and the urging that we get from our governance structures, which for me was the Metropolitan Police Authority and, of course, the national politicians.

    But going back to your question, did politicians throughout my career try and influence me to do other things? Absolutely. Yes.

  • I think implicit in that answer, you would wish to make it clear that you never succumbed to that influence; is that right?

  • I think I would describe -- I was the grateful receiver of much advice, including from politicians, but it was important for me to make my independent operational mind up. That doesn't mean to say on occasions I agreed with the politicians and we could do something different. You should listen.

  • Thank you. Leaks and disciplinary issues, the next section, paragraph 47 and following, 5736. You have in part covered this already. You give some statistics in paragraph 61 where you say that:

    "16 police officers and police staff have been prosecuted for misusing police information over the past decade, of whom 11 were found or pleaded guilty."

    So this is not just limited to leaks; it's covering all aspects of misusing police information. Is that correct?

  • I think that's correct. I have to say that where I've given evidence about numbers, I've been reliant heavily upon the MPS providing me with those numbers.

  • Yes. 29 police officers and police staff have been dismissed or asked to resign and 208 disciplined for misusing police information over the past decade, so the point is the same: that's the information you've been provided with. That would include leaks but not be limited to leaks; is that correct?

  • I've been asked to raise with you a specific point which arises out of Mr Quick's statement and the recommendation he made in relation to Mr Yates. This is the cash for honours investigation and the possibility of there being leaks there. A recommendation was made -- and I think you recall it; it was recommendation 12 -- which you didn't follow. Can you recall why that was, Sir Paul?

  • For the sake of completeness, Mr Jay, I asked Mr Quick, who was then the Chief Constable of Surrey, to assist us with some of the difficult attacks we were having to the cash for peerages investigation, to assist us around matters so that we could satisfy ourselves that these attacks were more of a diversion than a reality. Mr Quick provided me with a sort of -- and the only thing I've had sight of recently is a draft report, but I presume it's something similar to the main report, which gave me, I felt, a very strong endorsement of the investigative team that were actually undertaking that particular difficult inquiry. So therefore the recommendations that were made I saw as a very much defensive, to defend ourselves against further allegations as opposed to suspecting any improper behaviour by anybody on that team.

    And certainly Mr Quick supplied me with information that concurred with our own view that many of the things that were appearing in the public domain could and were very much better explained by the disclosure strategy of when we're arresting people, of interviewing people and the like.

    So therefore I got a very positive endorsement around that team and the leader of that, who was Mr Yates, and a very strong endorsement around Mr Yates himself. I don't know whether we implemented recommendation 12 or not, but if we didn't, sort of there were -- it's a bit like the previous review that had been done of the operation for security purposes by the Met itself. Most of those recommendations were implemented but not all. That was the nature of -- that's just the nature of business.

    But from my point of view, there was no particular reason not to implement recommendation 12; it was just the recommendations represented a very much defensive strategy and therefore you would respond and look at it proportionately as to whether it was necessary or not, I guess.

  • Mr Quick's evidence in paragraph 22 of his statement is that he raised the issue with you and you made it clear that you did not require him to implement recommendation 12. Might that be right?

  • I don't recommend -- I don't recommend (sic) that specific conversation, but I know I had a number of conversations with Mr Quick. He made a number of recommendations. All I can say is he gave me a very strong indication that any leaks that were happening could be much better explained of coming from without that team, and of course it is the case that the most sensitive information in that operation never leaked and it is, of course, the case that there has been -- that Mr Quick himself endorsed that very point.

  • Thank you. Now move forward through your statement to paragraph 70, our page 5741. You say there that on rare occasions you would have direct contact with the media yourself:

    "For example, I recall that I once telephoned the editor of the Evening Standard when I believed a report was grossly unfair and the editor of the News of the World once telephoned me to provide information about the cricket bribery scandal."

    I've been asked to put to you this question: were there other occasions when the News of the World telephoned you to provide you with information of this sort, namely information which was quite sensitive?

  • No, I don't think there were. To be accurate about this, I think the editor of the News of the World was Colin Myler at the time. I think -- he didn't contact me directly on the first occasion. I think it was a Saturday morning. I think he made contact with the DPA and the DPA asked me to ring him and then I think we had a couple of conversations where he then rang me back on something. I think it's the only time. It was highly unusual, in fact unique. I don't think I was ever contacted by the News of the World with any such information, and of course this -- the information I was provided led me to ask now Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick and a small number of senior officers to meet with News of the World executives I think the following day to pick up the evidence they had and take it from there.

  • Paragraph 75 and 76, if I may take those together, page 5743, where you deal with the issue of DPA staff who had previously worked for News International. We're going to get the statistics from Mr Fedorcio. The evidence, which I think you gave to the Select Committee, which you'd obtained from the DPA was about 10 staff out of 41, which might well match or be less than the percentage of people in the media who are employed by News International, which I think is either 38 per cent or 41 per cent.

    Can I ask you though to comment really on the wider issue, whether, in your view, it would be appropriate or possible to have restraint of trade clauses which prevented this happening and whether there's any distinction between junior police officers going to work for News International and vice versa and this happening at a more senior level?

  • Yes. I think it would be a very difficult restraint of trade, outwith any legality, to stop junior officers taking up employment elsewhere, including with the media. And actually there is -- some of the people who actually do advice, particularly around the electronic media, live events, actually do rather a good job of placing into context the policing operation, the difficulties that are unfolding. So I would be very reticent about recommending a restriction around junior officers. It seems to me that's not the problem that we've had and I think that would be a disproportionate response. But I think it's worthy of consideration.

    And relating to senior officers, because we do have a sort of more senior -- all senior officers do have what's called a fixed-term appointment, which is a kind of pseudo-contract, which allows for discussion between the employer and that senior officer, which doesn't exist with junior officers, to actually put certain conditions in there of their employment and I guess for their -- what they do when they leave. And it might be worthy of consideration in terms of engendering public confidence -- and of course I'm thinking of the perceptions that come out of this very matter itself -- it might be worthy of consideration for further thought to be given to: should there be some sort of time bar or should there be some sort of consideration before a senior officer -- and we'd have to discuss the level of seniority -- takes up full-time direct employment with the media?

    I'm nervous about it because I'm nervous about any restraint of trade, and I'm nervous about stopping people making a contribution, but I do think that this particular Inquiry and the whole matters that have been deeply distressing for many people and the difficult position for the Met, it's worthy of consideration. I simply say that.

    I would also add: it is also worthy of consideration as to what the efficacy of people -- and I make no criticism of anybody here. What is the efficacy of senior people, senior public officials who, very quickly after leaving office, have written autobiographies that have to be serialised in the media. I think that might have the to be collected together with the earlier consideration for some view.

  • I think you used the word "efficacy". Are you suggesting -- and maybe you are, and feel free to make this suggestion -- that it's inappropriate for someone to write an autobiography shortly after leaving a public office or the Metropolitan police in particular?

  • I make no criticism of anybody who does it. People have to come to their own judgments. I am not a fan of the practice.

  • Well, the risk is that it will be perceived that those who are involving themselves in public life have an eye on what later they will put into print. That is the risk, isn't it?

  • I think there is a risk there. That doesn't mean to say the people who are engaged in that are actually behaving in any improper way. That's --

  • No, I didn't suggest that they were.

  • No, I know, sir. That is one of the risks. I think we have to be very careful and balanced in the way we take this forward, because I am nervous about restraining people when they leave public office because we shouldn't discourage people from coming into public office in the first place. But I am not a fan of people going into print so soon after leaving public office, perhaps for another reason that's not really relevant to the Inquiry, and that is it makes it very difficult for existing post holders if they think that every discussion might suddenly find its way into print shortly after somebody leaves office.

    I think it's a debate that has many sides and I don't say I'm right on this. I just simply say I'm not a fan and it may be worthy of consideration, sir.

  • That may be, but I think I probably have enough to do without getting involved in that exercise.

  • It's not my job to create you additional work, sir.

  • Sir Paul, may I move on now to the Wallis/Shami Media contract in the summer of 2009, paragraph 80 of your statement, our page 5744.

    The background was that Mr Fedorcio's deputy was unwell and you were concerned that Mr Fedorcio lacked support. You say you played no part in procurement process which led to the contract being awarded to Mr Wallis. But did you have any discussions with Mr Fedorcio about the recruitment of Mr Wallis?

  • I think -- and I think this cropped up when I gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee. I think Mr Fedorcio believes that I raised it during his appraisal in 2009, would it be? That would seem a logical time when I would raise it, the fact that he had a long-term absence of his deputy. If he needed the deputy, the fact that his long-term absence asked questions: well, who was filling this?

    I was also aware that Dick was very loyal to his deputy as somebody who deserved our loyalty, a man who had served for a long period with the MPS at a senior level, and this was a sensitive issue, but I would have been concerned to ensure that Dick was ensuring he prioritised the importance of doing the right thing by the organisation as well as looking after sort of his immediate deputy.

    So I would have raised it with him. I would have wanted to ensure that he was thinking about it and to make sure he was properly staffed, and out of that, I have no doubt, came the recruitment of Neil Wallis.

  • Certainly, but were there any discussions with Mr Fedorcio about Mr Wallis in particular before he was recruited?

  • Not that I recall. But if Mr Wallis was coming out -- and I have to make this very clear: if Mr Wallis was coming out of that process as somebody who was either going to be invited to tender or likely to get the job coming through a very proper process, I would not be discomforted by that because I had no reason to doubt -- sort of doubt that he wasn't a fit and proper person.

  • Were you aware that Mr Wallis had tendered for the job through his company?

  • I -- I don't know. I can't remember. But if I was, again I wouldn't be discomforted by it because no doubt the sort of -- there would be at least three or four people who would have tendered for it and I would expect them to come from the industry if they were going to be of any value.

  • Is this the sort of matter which would have come to your notice as Commissioner, that people were tendering for this job, or not?

  • It's -- I would rarely have discussions about contractual matters. I certainly wouldn't have deep discussions about very -- what, in the grand scale of things, were relatively minor contractual matters, but I would not be discomforted by Mr Wallis' name coming out of the hat in any way.

  • Given that you were instrumental or in part instrumental in suggesting to Mr Fedorcio that he needed someone temporarily to fill the shoes of Mr Fedorcio's deputy, who was ill, might it not follow from that that you would take an interest in who it was that might be filling the deputy's shoes?

  • No, I don't think it might be taken at all that way. In a similar way, I would be very concerned to ensure that whoever supported our IT services was doing the job properly. So I might have a conversation thinking it wasn't being done properly with the head of IT, but I wouldn't get involved with discussions as to who should do the job properly.

  • Can you recall when you first became aware that Mr Wallis had got the job and/or was doing the job?

  • I can't recall when I first became aware, no.

  • You made it clear that even had you been aware, you wouldn't have been discomforted by that fact because, as you say in paragraph 81, Mr Wallis' name had not, to your knowledge, been linked to phone hacking at this time. Would you accept that the Guardian article, which I think was dated 9 July -- I said previously 8 July, but it's probably 9 July 2009 -- had suggested that knowledge in or involvement in phone hacking possibly went quite high up in the News of the World?

  • In all -- the Guardian article may well have said that, but I didn't read the Guardian article. I think when I first picked this up on -- was it 9 July, did you say? I think I was in the car, going north to the Association of Chief Police Officers conference in Manchester and I think I picked it up just from Radio 4. It was just another one of those sort of many other issues of noise and this thing came to light on the radio making certain allegations. I don't think I considered it at all deeply, as a result of which I contacted Mr Yates to pick it up.

    So I wouldn't have contacted -- at all connected Mr Wallis with this issue. I wouldn't have thought about it at all deeply, I have to say.

  • The noise on the radio, if the radio were accurately reporting what the Guardian was saying, was that this was a phenomenon which went quite high up in the organisation, so -- I mean, I know with the advantage of hindsight one can see a picture emerging. Is that a picture or suspicion which you made at the time?

  • Do I wish the picture had emerged at the time? Yes, I do, because then we wouldn't be sat here, perhaps. But no, that picture didn't emerge at the time. It was like many, many other issues on a daily basis. It was a noise. I wouldn't go into the detail of it. I would just ask somebody to deal with it.

  • In relation to Mr Wallis, Operation Weeting starts, we know, in January 2011. You were made aware subsequently that Mr Wallis was a suspect in that investigation? I think from -- well, it's paragraph 82 of your statement. The date was probably April 2011 when you came back from your period of sick leave. Is that right, Sir Paul?

  • I think -- and I don't want to engage in a game of semantics here, what is the difference between somebody of interest and a suspect, because it might be just police speak, but I understand that when I came back he was becoming a person of interest. So that was undoubtedly raised with me some time after I came back. I don't suspect it was raised with me on the first day because it was not a priority for me, frankly, but at some stage it was raised that he was becoming a person of interest and my understanding is he actually formally became a suspect -- he didn't become a suspect until some time in early July. That is my understanding from the Operation Weeting seem.

  • So a suspect means someone who is about to be arrested; is that right? There's sufficient evidence that you can arrest him?

  • Closer to being arrested -- that doesn't necessarily always follow, but somebody who has gone beyond somebody of interest, coming closer.

  • The arrest was on 14 July and you were told of that fact on the very day and not before. No, a few days before, pardon me.

  • I think I was told a few days before that he might be arrested, but again that was a matter for the team and I think I was told on the morning that he either had or was being arrested.

  • In paragraph 84, you identify who you did tell of the arrest. You told the chair of the MPA and you say four lines down:

    "However, later that day I appeared before the MPA and it was during this meeting that the details of Mr Wallis' contract with the MPS leaked to the media."

    Then you later briefed the Mayor. Do you have any idea from where that leak might have come?

  • Might it have been from within the MPA or would that knowledge have been wider within the MPS?

  • I think it would be wrong of me to speculate. I don't know where the leak came from. I mean, the information had to come into the public domain at some time anyway, so I don't think it was in any way sort of damaging, but that's when it became public knowledge.

  • You touch on some further speculation in paragraph 87, which is probably not necessarily for you to address specifically. It's 78547.

    At paragraph 88, you say with the benefit of hindsight you regret that the MPS entered into a contract with Mr Wallis. I think you make it clear that's not a judgment which you would have expressed with foresight, as it were, namely at the material time. It's exclusively with hindsight; is that right?

  • It's without any presumption of guilt or innocence around Mr Wallis' current position, but quite clearly the hiring of Wallis played very, very badly in the way that the perception of this story was taken.

  • Can I ask you to deal with paragraph 89. This was after Operation Weeting started, after your return from sick leave in April 2011. You say the chair of the MPA expressed a view that you shouldn't be devoting this level of resources to the phone hacking inquiry as a consequence of a largely political and media-driven level of hysteria. What was your own view as to that?

  • I think that goes to a slightly wider issue, if I may be allowed to --

  • I believed that -- and like many people, I guess I sat back and thought: where did we get this wronging? And I think what happened in 2009 is that within the Met, we developed a fixed mindset and a defensive mindset around this whole issue -- and I will come to your point because I think that point around what people were saying about the Guardian article is relevant here.

    I think that mindset was based on a number of issues, none of which are an excuse as to why we didn't get this thing right, but I think taken together almost became the foundations of that mindset, which I think made life difficult for us. I think the start of that mindset was very much about: it's inconceivable for people in 2009 to believe that an inquiry led by Mr Clarke would limit itself for any improper purposes. It was inconceivable that Mr Clarke would do that and I still believe that's the case. So that was the first basis for: what is this all about?

    I think after that, in the absence of failing to establish what the Met had in its possession -- I think that's been rehearsed in this Inquiry and in various places. That's regrettable. That absence caused the Met to be more and more convinced that the original investigation, therefore, was a success in totality, and of course that wasn't the case.

    The investigation in its limitations was a success. It sent a journalist to prison, which is highly unusual. But of course what we didn't do is go back and actually challenge the reasons for those decisions in 2006. And I don't make this to make life more difficult for Mr Yates, because I think Mr Yates acted in good faith, and I'm absolutely convinced about that. We didn't go back and challenge the reasons why it was limited because we didn't know it was limited, and had that taken place, we might have been in a better place.

    I also think that in so much as it felt like a successful investigation, that the leader of that original investigation, it was inconceivable he would have done anything improper and he didn't, then the fact that this did not feel like a priority for the matters the Met were still dealing with was a relevant factor in terms of using resource.

    I then go on to think that we got ourselves almost hooked on a strategy -- on a defensive strategy that we would not expend significant resources without new or additional evidence. Now, that was a perfectly logical position to be in, providing your assumption around the success of the original investigation was correct, and because we didn't go back and do anything around that, then it seemed a logical place to be.

    I think you then add in -- and I'm sorry to take such a long time to get to it, Mr Jay -- what I talk about regarding Mr Malthouse. I don't criticise him for this because it was clearly the case at the time that the mindset that we had -- and this is not a defence, it's not an excuse, but to some extent I believe likely was reinforced with a view, much widely expressed by others, that there was a strong whiff of politics over substance about this matter.

    The reality is that was wrong. There was huge amounts of substance there but that was a fairly widely held view, and the fact that Mr Malthouse expressed it, I don't necessarily criticise him for that because nobody wanted to see huge amounts of resource invested in things when we wanted to detect murder, mayhem, et cetera.

    I think that view -- and again, not to be critical about it, but I think Boris Johnson himself wrote an article which was about the view of what was this complaint by the Guardian all about. I think that all came together to create this very closed mindset that was defensive in nature, which meant we didn't adopt a challenging mindset, which is the best way to do an inquiry.

    So I think it was -- it sounds like a weak word -- unfortunate, but actually, the defensive mindset we established was very much based on the flawed assumption that the original one was successful investigation in totality and the absence of challenge, I think, led us into some difficulty, if that makes sense.

  • The message you communicated to Mr Malthouse, as stated in paragraph 89 of your statement, might be said to disclose a degree of reluctance on your part in 2011 to embrace all the objectives in Weeting, in the sense you're almost suggesting: "Well, we had to do it because we were under pressure from all quarters to do it rather than because of any perception that the evidence required it." Do you see the point?

  • I see the point. If that's the meaning you take from that paragraph, then I have clumsily worded that paragraph because that's absolutely not the point.

    My point by putting that in was to actually try to exemplify the fact that this was a view that was held by responsible people, possibly for sort of the good reason of not wanting to waste police resource, but by that point it was a discussion that was going on saying: whatever you might think, this is the inevitable thing to do and the right thing to do, because I also add there about the matters that were now emerging through Operation Weeting. It wasn't just about responding; this was about realising there was substance there.

  • We're going to break for five minutes in a moment, but I have one final question on the last sentence of paragraph 89, Sir Paul, where you say:

    "Additionally, the nature of some of the revelations of media behaviour, particularly towards vulnerable members of the public, made a reopening of the investigation inevitable, from an operational viewpoint."

    By an "operational viewpoint", you mean that regardless of any political or extraneous considerations, it was to do with sort of the inherent value of the investigation. The revelation of new material, you say, particularly regarding vulnerable members of the public, meant that a reopening of the investigation was almost mandated. Is that what you're trying to communicate there?

  • Of course, I was away from office when the investigation was reopened, but I support the decision to reopen it because of the disclosures from News International, I think, in January 2011, and what was emerging and what we already had in our possession.

  • It might be said that had it been appreciated or properly appreciated, back at the time of Operation Caryatid in 2006, that media behaviour was as widespread as Operation Weeting was beginning to discover, and that vulnerable members of the public were involved, it would have been the only right decision in 2006 to broaden the investigation and to take it wherever the evidence led. Are you intending to suggest that?

  • No, I'm not suggesting that. I think the original investigation in 2006 had properly took account of the priorities that faced the Met and the priorities that faced that investigation team. In adopting the strategy, I think that was in sort of -- I think that was understandable and I heard Mr Clarke's evidence, I note it and support it.

    I think there is an issue there, and that is that what -- and I think Mr Clarke raised it himself: what do you then do with those matters that could be part of a criminal investigation, but for very proper resourcing decisions you decide not to take that option, which is not unusual in many investigations, and I think there are two relevant factors there: one, you have to ensure that if you are taking those other matters elsewhere, from a crime prevention perspective or to change behaviour or to deal with victims in a better way, then you have to make sure you land those issues with those other agencies or government.

    Secondly -- and I think Mr Clarke alluded to this, I don't know how we do this, it's very difficult -- you have to try and ensure, I think, in the future that we make those decisions transparent so they can withstand this level of scrutiny. But I'm not trying to suggest that the decision -- what I'm talking about when the information was coming out in 2009 made the decision of 2006 improper. I think Mr Clarke explained that very well.

  • Can I just test it in this way, Sir Paul: if the priorities regarding counter-terrorism and the huge burdens that placed on limited resources were nearly the same in 2009 as they were in 2006, what had changed to justify Operation Weeting?

  • Well, again, I can't -- you are taking me back into 2006, into something I had no knowledge of or no involvement with. All I can go off is what Mr Clarke told you and what I've heard publicly. What I am saying is there was a justification that Mr Clarke came here to give you as to why he took the decisions he made, and that seems eminently logical and proper. There might have been an issue of what should we have done with the other matters and been more effective in what we do with the other matters.

    You then have to look at a completely different situation in 2009. There was still very real pressure on the Metropolitan Police Service and special operations command around counter-terrorism and many other things. Those pressures still remained, but it seemed to me that the things that were emerging by 2011, and indeed the perception as to why we had not picked them up, were very, very damaging indeed.

  • Let's take just a few minutes off. Thank you.

  • (A short break)

  • Sir Paul, there's one matter I need to pick up in relation to the Wallis/Shami Media issue. Another core participant has asked me to put this question to you. Can you confirm, please, that the Deputy Commissioner on your behalf referred to the issue of Assistant Commissioner Yates' conduct in relation to the Wallis/Shami Media matter to the MPA's professional standards case subcommittee? Do you recall that?

  • I don't recall it. It may well be the case, but I couldn't give evidence to that effect.

  • The documents I've seen is that that was done on your behalf rather than on the Deputy Commissioner's behalf.

  • Do you know what the reason for that might be, whether the Deputy Commissioner does it or he does it on your behalf?

  • I just don't recall it, Mr Jay. But it is the case that during my time as Commissioner there are many, many things done on my behalf that I wouldn't be fully conversant with the reasons.

  • I suppose I'd better ask Mr Godwin this, but is this something unprecedented for the Deputy Commissioner to do, to refer another assistant commissioner's conduct to this committee?

  • No, I don't think so. I think we've done it before. I think I might have done it when I was Deputy Commissioner in relation to an assistant commissioner. I can't remember myself or the then Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, but certainly we have referred the conducts of assistant commissioners -- at least one, to my knowledge -- before to the police authority. That would be the appropriate discipline authority. There is nowhere else to go regarding matters of conduct. Even if there was no substance to the matter of conduct, if there's a need for it to be looked at, that would be the only location where you can go.

  • Thank you. May I move forward to another section of your statement. You've covered this to some extent already. It's the whole phone hacking issue. First of all, look at paragraph 94, our page 5750.

    We're back to 9 July 2009 and you listening to a Radio 4 broadcast about the phone hacking allegations in the Guardian. First of all, can you recall what the gist of those allegations were?

  • I'd be guessing. I just know that there was a significant amount of talk on the radio about this matter. From recollection, I think it was that somehow the Met hadn't gone the whole distance in that investigation, but I really can't recall.

    Again, I have to say, Mr Jay, it would be a very, very frequent event that I would pick things up from the radio in the morning, or if indeed I was doing the newspaper cuts, frequently to actually pick issues up that were running and say to the Assistant Commissioner: "Have a look at this."

  • The reason why you chose Mr Yates is that he was the natural and obvious choice, presumably. He was the assistant commissioner in charge of specialist operations and the original operation, Operation Caryatid, came under the envelope of specialist operations; is that correct?

  • It would be the natural place to go.

  • In terms of your knowledge of Mr Yates' friendship with Mr Wallis -- I know this is a matter you've covered in evidence before the Select Committee, but what, in essence, was your knowledge as to that?

  • I knew Mr Yates was a friend of Mr Wallis. I can't in all honesty say I knew the extent of the friendship, but I did know he was a friend, yes.

  • It might be said that if the Guardian were alleging that the knowledge within News International, if I can put it in those terms, went high up, and Mr Wallis at the material time was high up, then it might be or might have been inappropriate for Mr Yates to have been undertaking whatever exercise you were asking him to undertake. Would you agree with that or not?

  • I think you're crediting me with a level of analysis that I wouldn't and didn't give to this matter. It was just yet another headline, a sort of -- I don't mean to say this dismissively -- some noise about an event that I expected someone to pick up and deal with. I don't, in all honesty, think I connected -- well, I didn't connect it with Mr Wallis. I didn't give it any particular thought. I don't even know whether there were other people I phoned that day of other matters in the headlines to ask them to deal with, other issues. It was just a frequent event.

  • I would just like to unpick that a bit, if you don't mind, Sir Paul. I recognise you're driving up north to go to an ACPO conference, you hear something on the radio and obviously it potentially affects the Met so you ask somebody to look at it.

  • Did you ever read the 9 July article in the Guardian?

  • No, I don't think I did, sir.

  • Let me just unpick that with you for a moment. This wasn't just "a news story"; this was a clearly detailed, researched story which made serious allegations. Would you expect Mr Yates to have read the article in detail in order to find out what the problem was?

  • I would assume Mr Yates would read the article, otherwise he couldn't pick it up on my behalf.

  • Once there's a suggestion of senior staff at the News of the World being involved, would you expect Mr Yates to appreciate the risk, given his friendship with Mr Wallis?

  • Well, I would expect Mr Yates to consider -- if he felt in any way conflicted, to have reflected it back to me, or done what any other chief constable around the country would do, including provincial police forces, where if you can't put it somewhere us, you are "it". There are various devices one can put in place to ensure that any conflict of interest doesn't become an issue.

  • But Sir Paul, he wasn't "it". You had a number of other very senior police officers available to you at your disposal, so. If Mr Yates had said to you -- he'd got back to the phone to you and said, "I've read this article and they're talking about senior people in the News of the World. You know perfectly well [as you've already conceded] that I'm a friend of Neil Wallis, who was the deputy editor at the time. Is there somebody else you can give this to?" Would you have thought to yourself: "What an absurd suggestion, no, get on with it", or would you have said, "Well, actually, I see the point, now I join up the dots. Yes, that probably is sensible. Give it to Assistant Commissioner X or Deputy Assistant Commissioner Y"?

  • Had he come back to me with this, I might have done, or I might have expected him -- he had a very large business group. I might have expected him to get somebody within his business group to deal with it and ensure there could be no allegations of impropriety against him. I do have to say -- this is hypothesis and we're speculating just a little, sir -- that probably Mr Yates would have felt that he was more than equipped to deal with it. It is not as if, in our professional lives, that we don't actually, as chief constables and senior officers, investigate people who are known to us socially and who have been friends, and to actually say somebody else has to deal with it would almost be saying that I do not have sufficient integrity to deal with it.

    Whether, with hindsight, it might have been wise to do that, I think that's an entirely different question. I can understand why he didn't do it, but with hindsight it might have been wise.

  • Do you investigate friends?

  • Well, as a police officer, when I've been asked to do discipline and complaints in the past going back years, yes, I've investigated people who have been known to me.

  • Yes, that's police officers.

  • Sorry, sir, if I might add: it is clearly the case, stating the blindingly obvious, that police officers should be very careful in their friendships and associations and not associate with people who are criminals or who are likely to be criminals. The difficulty there occasionally is knowing that they are criminals or likely to be criminals and I'm not, in any way, saying that Mr Wallis is or isn't. That is the problem.

  • Of course. Neither am I. I am concerned entirely about perceptions --

  • -- and reputational risk, because what the Guardian was saying was: the police let this go. They didn't really concern themselves with it. That's a reputational issue. That's why you asked Mr Yates to look at it.

  • And here there is an extra little loop to it, which, irrespective of the gravity of the criminality alleged or the involvement of anybody, creates an additional potential risk of perception, as indeed it did eventually come back to haunt everybody.

  • I think you're absolutely right. There is a -- there clearly was a perception of risk because that is, to some extent, why we're sat here today having this discussion.

    But I would come back -- the reason for giving -- it's a little too grand to call it analysis, but some level of thinking around why I think we might have got this wrong, that defensive mindset -- I suspect that defensive mindset set in very early, for all the reasons I outlined, that stopped us challenging ourselves, that stopped us going back and challenging what was the reason for the original investigation stopping short, albeit we didn't know it stopped short. I think that is the more likely reason why Mr Yates didn't decide that he had a conflict or not.

  • Well, because if you're being defensive and you say, "Look, Peter Clarke, we've got this right, there's nothing therefore very much to look at", then actually of course you're right, but then you've concluded what you set out to prove, haven't you?

  • I think it is a similar argument, but I think therein lies the problem. We adopted a defensive stance instead of a challenging stance. I can see the reasons why, but with hindsight I think that undermined what we did.

  • Yes. Are you going to go back to 2006, Mr Jay?

  • All right, then if you're not, I will. Just a couple of minutes.

    You obviously have never gone through the papers in Caryatid and I wouldn't expect you to do so. I've been struck by the evidence I've heard. On the one hand, I have Mr Clarke saying, if I might say so, with force and in a convincing manner, that there is this number of resource available, there are these operations ongoing, which are risks to life in 2006. We've got a result in relation to two persons. It looks as though there's not a great deal of evidence as yet. There is a debate between the officers as to whether there is evidence or no evidence, and you may have picked that up and I'll form my own view about that. That's entirely understandable, and, as I think I might have said to Mr Clarke last week, it might be thought to be something of a no-brainer, given the other pressures that the Metropolitan Police was then under.

    But do you think it's relevant, when you're reviewing it back in 2009, to remember that that was in fact the ultimate reason why this didn't go forward, given that some of the junior officers -- I think Mr Surtees was a chief inspector, and Detective Sergeant Maberly, who obviously was immersed in the detail -- saw that there were all sorts of lines of enquiry, numbers, links and other matters to pursue, and were conscious that there were many, many more potential victims than had been contacted, and felt there was something more to do, but the senior officers, quite legitimately, felt: "Well, this isn't a priority now, given our other responsibilities"?

    Is that something that should have played into the decision-making in 2009, so that a different gloss could be put on it? Either you say, "Well, we're still in that position, we still have all this terrorist stuff and we don't have the time", or: "Because of all the civil work we're having to do, we are devoting time to it and therefore we ought to just be prepared to review it rather more carefully."

    The reason I ask you that question is, as you know, Mr Yates responded very, very quickly, the same day, but still there was work going on, and I wonder whether, when you came back into it, you gave some thought to whether actually there was rather more here that needed to be looked at. Or perhaps it never even crossed your desk. I don't know. I'm just trying to explore those issues.

  • What I can say -- I think my understanding -- I'm not going to engage in any games of semantics here, sir, but I think Mr Yates would say that he didn't review and that's been a key point that he's been saying for some time, that he did something different, but putting that aside --

  • I take your point. It's my poor use of words.

  • Did it cross my mind? No. I simply have to say it was not a priority for me as the Commissioner. It remained as just one of the many, many pieces of noise that was being dealt with. I occasionally had discussions with Mr Yates about it, particularly sort of when this thing wasn't going away and particularly after I think the New York Times article in September 2010, and I then became aware that he put a small team on it to scope it, to see what else should be done.

    From my point of view as Commissioner, I'd got somebody who was very senior, who I trusted and still trust, because I think he acted in good faith, to do a job and he was putting a dedicated small team on it when apparently new information came to light in September of 2010, to do some more around it and to liaise with CPS. I don't want to engage in the discussion of what is the duty of CPS and counsel versus the duties of police, but as far as I was concerned, it was being dealt with more than adequately because it was getting the right level of senior attention. I would not have delved further into it. It was simply not a priority for me.

  • Do you think that in 2009, it was a reasonable approach to respond to what was this very detailed, researched article, which I appreciate you hadn't read, by what perhaps I might be forgiven for describing as a back-of-the-envelope job for the day and coming out so quickly with a response?

  • As you describe, a back-of-the-envelope job -- my understanding is there was much ongoing work after that date to continue to consider was there anything new coming to light, but that's a matter that only Mr Yates can have the discussion with you about. I can't.

  • I understand that, but it's rather odd, isn't it, to have gone public with: "There's nothing in this" on the afternoon of the press report, if you are then intending to do more work anyway. Isn't it rather better to say, "Well, we've read this. As far as we're concerned, we're going to conduct an analysis and we will respond in due course"?

  • My only response to you, sir, would be that -- and I can't answer for him. If he came to a clear -- I've heard it suggested by a number of people that John Yates would have been much wiser presentationally to wait a week or two weeks. I'm not saying you would suggest he do that. If he came to a clear view that it was right to say what he did, then he should say it when he came to that view and not presentationally delay it so it looked like he was considering -- I'm not saying you're suggesting that but I think other people are.

  • No, I agree with you. This isn't a question of presentation. This isn't how it might look. This is what you're doing. This is finding out that actually the Mulcaire documents were 11,000 sheets, that Mr Clarke was concerned about the adequacy of the evidence but he'd actually shut it down because you were facing unparallelled counter-terrorist problems, and therefore you put into place: "Tell the victims and make sure the industry is on top of it." You might also say: "... and warn off those who have been fortunate not to have been investigated", but that's another matter. "Advise them as to their future conduct", I think is the phrase. But you'd want to check that all that had been done and that really should be a rather more considered decision.

    This wasn't actually a white heat moment decision. This could have been -- and this is a question. It sounds much more positive than I'm trying to be, but it's to raise the issue with you. This could have been: "This doesn't have to be decided today. These are the bits of work that actually we ought to do to check we've got everything in place, that there aren't victims who have not been warned, that there aren't -- and then we can put it all out there."?

  • I think your suggestion is that he engaged in a slightly wider review than perhaps he did. With hindsight, I think Mr Yates would wish he'd have done that.

  • Yes, no doubt about that.

  • Yes. But I think -- I would come back to what I tried to outline before about -- I think the error here, where we got it wrong, was very quickly come to a defensive mindset based on a number of things, not least, if you will, that Mr Clarke was a man of huge integrity and not least, if you will, not challenging the decision or getting into the nuts and bolts of the decision as to what Mr Clarke did in 2006. That is where I think this thing went wrong.

  • I think your answer is there in your expansion. It's extremely persuasive, but actually the defensive mindset might be a very, very good example of the nature of the relationship and culture between the press and the police, not here because it's the press who are being investigated but because it is the press that are making the allegation about the Metropolitan Police, and your natural response is to fight back, rather than to say, "What is there in this coal(?)?" That's actually saying what you've said in a slightly different way.

  • I think we ended up defending instead of challenging. Do I believe that there was a deliberate attempt to back off because it was News International? No, I do not, sir.

  • I'd better let you carry on your work.

  • I was going to approach it through this angle, Sir Paul: when you asked Mr Yates to establish the facts of the case, first of all, do you remember using that terminology or are you simply accepting Mr Yates' version of what he believes you told him?

  • I'm very happy to accept Mr Yates' version. It was just something to be picked up.

  • Clearly, you were intending him to establish what had happened back in 2006 in relation to the original investigation; is that correct?

  • I'm not in -- I think I would just listen to a headline that disturbed me for that period of time of asking him to look at this, what's in it. I don't think I would probably have given it a great deal more thought or expectation.

  • If he had found additional evidence -- and that's the term you used in the final sentence of paragraph 94 -- what, if anything, would you have expected him to do?

  • I would have expected him to consider that additional evidence and make a judgment. Would it be right and proper to reopen the investigation, review it further, and I think he would expect that of himself. But it would be a judgment that would have to take account of the proportionality, the best use of resources and the likelihood of success.

  • Yes. So taking it in stages, if he had concluded that there was evidence which had undubitably come to light after 2006 and was capable of being persuasive, he would still have had to have carried out a proportionality exercise and determine whether it was right in all circumstances, having regard to the police's other priorities, as to whether the investigation should be reopened; is that correct?

  • I think it's the case with virtually most things that the police do, and that is making sure that what sort of -- when you enter into an investigation, what is the best use to police resources, what's proportional and what's the likelihood of success, to make sure we do not waste precious resource.

  • Additional evidence could be interpreted in one of two ways. It might be interpreted as something entirely fresh which wasn't available back in 2006, or it might be interpreted as being something which was in the black bags which had been seized in 2006 but hadn't been fully analysed, but had it been analysed, evidence would have emerged or inferences would have come out. Which of the two interpretations do you think should be applied, or perhaps both?

  • I'm not entirely sure. I still go back to saying -- I think the adoption of a strategy that said, "We'll only do something if there's new and additional evidence" was logical, providing it wasn't based on the flawed concept that the original investigation had dealt with all matters adequately. I still think that's where the problem lies.

  • I think that accepts that if there was something in the bag which had only been half analysed or not analysed at all because the parameters of the original investigation were narrow, and that had come to light subsequently but was still part of the seized material in 2006, well, then that should have been considered as part of Mr Yates' establishment of the facts; is that correct?

  • A better understanding of the parameters and constraints of the original investigation and the nature of what was in the black bags may well have led to additional activity.

  • And an understanding, is this right, that the primary reason in 2006 for not widening the investigation may well have been an evaluation of overwhelming resource considerations and Mr Clarke's estimation that there were more important priorities; is that right?

  • You're asking me to give a definitive answer to matters that I know really no more about than you know based on Mr Clarke's evidence the other day. But it's logical.

  • Part of the assessment in 2009 which Mr Yates may or may not have done -- there were two extra considerations. The first consideration is whether the terrorist threat in 2009 was as great as it was in 2006. Do you follow me?

  • As to that, do you have a view on that?

  • It was different. It was particularly pressurised in 2006, but I would say that in 2009 the counter-terrorism remained right up there as my number one priority.

  • The second consideration was -- and this is one that Lord Justice Leveson has alluded to -- that the police were already going to have to do a lot of work associated with the civil claims; in other words, third-party disclosure. They were going to have to and indeed did put material onto the HOLMES system to enable the third-party disclosure obligations to be fulfilled, and given that the police were going to do that amount of work, it wasn't necessarily a huge step to reopening the police investigation more widely?

  • You'll have to forgive me not having the precise detailed knowledge, but my understanding is that there had been a requirement for Mr Yates to put these matters on the HOLMES system. My understanding is that that wasn't a successful operation.

  • No, that's correct. Were you expecting Mr Yates to take a look at this and, as it were, sort this out by the end of the day?

  • I really didn't have any expectation about it, frankly. I did what I did with many, many sort of headlines of the day: gave it to someone and left them to deal with it. But I would have had no expectation -- I'd have neither been surprised or otherwise if he came to an early conclusion or a late conclusion. I think that was a matter for him.

  • Do you feel that there's a sense here that the criticisms that come from the Guardian -- Mr Clarke was a man of the greatest integrity. The team carrying out the investigation was one of his best teams in 2006, but to put it in the vernacular, when we say "sort it out", we mean, effectively: "There's absolutely nothing in this. There never was going to be anything in this. Let's put a lid on this by the end of the day." Would you accept that as a possible criticism?

  • I think they make that criticism, so it's a real criticism, but I don't accept the nature of it. I would expect to be done properly.

  • Except that's really an articulation of your defensive mode.

  • I think understanding why we did what we did is useful in then trying to come to a judgment as to whether there was impropriety or otherwise. I believe we can see why we got to where we did, but it's regrettable.

  • The Inquiry heard evidence from the Information Commissioner in relation to decisions taken back in 2003, 2004 whether or not to prosecute journalists, and it's one possible interpretation that resource considerations entered into the equation. Possibly a fear of taking on journalists. Is that something or are those matters, in particular a fear of taking on journalists, which would have inhabited the thinking of the Metropolitan Police?

  • No, I don't think so. I'd be very disappointed if that was the case. Resource considerations are something that -- every public body has to sort of make those judgments. It is about rationing at the end of the day. But actually, fear of taking on a powerful enterprise I do not think comes into it and I'd be strongly disappointed if that was ever the case.

  • We know you had meetings with the Guardian's editor in December 2009. It's paragraph 100 of your statement. Were you trying to persuade Mr Rusbridger to drop the Guardian's campaign in these areas?

  • No. I've said that in my statement. I don't believe I was. I think I'd be extraordinarily naive to think that I could go along and persuade Mr Rusbridger to drop this campaign. That would have been a very silly thing to do. But it is fair to say that in my dipping in and dipping out, I still didn't understand what these differences were around this -- what seemed like a rather technical offence, I have to say. In going to see him -- I'd seen him before. It seemed like the right and responsible thing to do when he was making allegations about the organisation I led. There was a backcloth, as I mentioned earlier, that this was very much about sort of politics over substance, which I think was clearly -- well, I know it was clearly a mistake -- and I went along to try and understand the difference. I would and I did outline the situation as I'd been briefed by Mr Yates. It was a civil meeting, but quite clearly there was no meeting of minds there, and I just -- to try and move it forward, I suggested: "Well, why doesn't Mr Yates come and speak to you personally and see whether we've got this right or wrong and try and bring this thing together?" But clearly we never did. I don't know if the meeting took place.

  • You told us towards the start of your evidence that part of the rationale for engaging with the press is to put them right where, in your estimation, the press is acting unfairly or may be barking up the wrong tree. Was this such an occasion in December 2009, that you honestly felt the Guardian was getting it completely wrong and therefore there was a need to put them back on the right track?

  • I don't think it was my job or even expectation that I could put the Guardian back on the right track. I went along there -- I just did not get the difference, frankly. I just didn't get the difference. I was being briefed that there was -- I've gone through the defensive mindset, but I was being briefed that actually there was no good value in expending additional police resource to open this up. It seemed to me the right and proper thing to do, to go along and understand their point of view, understand the context.

    If, out of that, there had been a sudden dawning realisation on either side, then quite clearly, logically, people would change their position. I didn't expect to persuade them or put them on the right track.

  • When you say you didn't get the difference, it suggests that your mindset in December 2009 was this: that there was no evidence, in the words of Mr Williams, the detective chief superintendent, and Mr Yates to the Select Committee, of wrongdoing outside the rogue reporter and Mr Mulcaire. That was a view which you shared, and therefore you couldn't see that there was any validity in the position that Mr Rusbridger of the Guardian was adopting, whereas, had you been properly briefed, or briefed on a different version -- namely: "There was evidence which we found back in 2006, but we weren't going to pursue it for good resource reasons" -- then you and Mr Rusbridger would have been on more or less the same wavelength and the only argument might have been what was it right for the police to do, having regard to proportionality and pressure on resources. Do you see that?

  • But if that had been the case, if I had -- I think we're able to agree on this. Had I got a different briefing and therefore come to a different conclusion, there wouldn't have been a need for a meeting with Mr Rusbridger because we'd be taking different action.

  • I suppose this is a hypothetical question, but had you received the different briefing, which it's clear that you would have done certainly by December 2009 if not earlier, and it was in your mind that there was evidence which we found back in 2006, which, if pursued, might well have broadened the net of those involved, but the reason why we didn't pursue those lines of inquiry was resources -- if you'd been told that, that that was the thinking in 2006, and you, of course, were Commissioner in 2009, might you have told Mr Yates and those within what was then SO15 that this was in fact something that we should be pursuing, we should be investigating, because, after all, it's in the public interest that these matters are investigated?

  • Yes, what is fair to say, that following the New York Times article on September 2010, of course I had discussions with Mr Yates. They weren't hugely detailed discussions because, again, I have to say this still was not a priority against the priorities of counter-terrorism, the Olympics and all the various other things I was dealing with. I certainly got further briefings from him and yes, I would have challenged him to say, "Are we absolutely sure we shouldn't open this up any further?"

    I was satisfied with the briefings that I was getting and I'm as good as the briefings I get. I don't recall getting a different briefing in December 2010, but of course December 2010 was, without -- obviously a difficult month for me and it's when I went off for my first operation.

  • Of course, the decision to initiate Operation Weeting was made in January 2011 and it was a decision which, in effect, you didn't make; it was one that your deputy made?

  • Absolutely. But it was, in my opinion, quite clearly the right decision based on the information they had. My understanding is that information was very much driven by the further disclosure from News International.

  • Because nobody had yet gone back to see what you already had in your locker.

  • Yes, I think that's clear, Sir Paul. I'm not going to cover the section of your statement which deals with when you were Chief Constable of Lancashire police. You were asked to cover that by the statutory notice which was served on you. But are there any matters there that you would like to draw to our attention, or are you happy that we take them as read?

  • I'm very happy to take as read.

  • Those are all the questions I have for you, Sir Paul. Thank you very much.

  • Thank you very much indeed, Sir Paul.

  • Sir, the next witness is Elizabeth Filkin. I haven't had the chance to speak with her, but given the nature of her evidence, I don't think I need to, so I'm going to call her now, if that's convenient.