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

  • MR JEFFREY ALAN EDWARDS (sworn).

  • Your full name, please, Mr Edwards.

  • Yes, my name is Jeffrey Alan Edwards.

  • You obviously don't have to hand the two statements you provided to the Inquiry, but --

  • I don't have them to hand, no.

  • -- you will be provided with them as we speak.

  • The first and your main statement is dated 21 February 2012. You've signed it and it has a statement of truth in the standard form.

  • Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry?

  • You provided us with a supplementary statement, which deals with two main issues. First of all, the evidence which the Inquiry heard from Jacqui Hames on 28 February --

  • -- and secondly your experiences some time ago now at the News of the World.

  • The version I have is not signed and dated by you, but are you, as it were, formally prepared to absorb this within your testimony to the Inquiry?

  • Yes, I am. If the court is happy for that to happen, yes.

  • Certainly. Can I deal first of all with your career, Mr Edwards? Did it start with the News of the World in 1981?

  • Oh no, it didn't. I started my career, I think, in 1969 on local papers in East London. Later on an evening paper in Hertfordshire and then the London Evening News, I think I joined them -- it's now defunct, of course -- but in 1974 or 75.

  • It disappeared in 1981, and it may be for that reason that you moved across to the News of the World?

  • That's right, they had an opening at the time for a crime specialist, and I'd already had -- worked a lot in that field at the Evening News, and so I was absorbed by them for that purpose.

  • You left them in 1985, and we're going to go back to that issue. I think you then went to the Daily Mirror or was there an intervening --

  • There was an intervening. I left them to join an embryonic paper which failed, which was called the London Daily News, which some of you might recall was Robert Maxwell's attempt to launch a 24-hour daily and evening issue for London, but unfortunately it was stillborn, really. After that I went to work in television for a while with London Weekend Television. I was the head of research for a television programme called "Crime Monthly", which was a regional version of Crimewatch. It had crime appeals by the police, but also had some content where we were allowed to work alongside various police units to look at their methods and what they did.

    I then came to the -- via a short spell at the Sunday Times, I went to the Sunday People, I think for about two years, and then in essence I was an in-house transfer to the -- on request -- the Daily Mirror had a vacancy then for a crime specialist and they asked me if I would come across and I was very pleased to do so.

  • And you were therefore their chief crime correspondent. You started there in 1992?

  • I think that's right, yes.

  • Is this right; if it isn't you'll tell me: you spent the rest of your career there?

  • Can I deal by way of background with the Crime Reporters Association, which you touch on in your first statement? You say that from 1993 to 2009 you were Chairman of the Crime Reporters Association and you remain as their President?

  • A couple of other background matters. You have been for about 13 years now an associate lecturer at the Police National Leadership Academy at Bramshill?

  • And you cover matters such as media awareness. Is there anything that you could share with this Inquiry which is relevant to what we're considering, as part of what you lecture about?

  • Well, my role has been -- has transmogrified, I suppose, over the years, into sitting into what has been called an overseeing group, what they call the diamond syndicate, which is to oversee officers of certain ranks in critical incident training, but then I have -- with a particular view to how they would deal with media issues in the context of a critical incident.

    So, yes, I mean it dovetails in with I can bring -- you know, I engaged them in debate about what they think about the media coverage, what kind of media coverage might they expect in this set of circumstances and then I might input the real -- a form of media coverage and then get their reaction to that and say, "This is how the Daily Mirror would report it, this is how the Guardian might report the affair". It's a forum.

  • You carried out a review of media training programmes at the college in 2009. What were the essential findings you made?

  • Well, that was because, again, a new tranche of courses was about to be introduced, and all of those had a media input into them, so I gave advice, if you like. I reviewed the structure of the courses and gave advice as to how they might be made more realistic, more representative, to make them -- yes, to make the experience of those officers undergoing training more authentic.

  • I'm going to go back to 1981 and the News of the World, which is your supplementary statement.

  • Just before you do. So that's not really been touching the sort of issues that I've been hearing about or talking about for the last few weeks; this is to provide officers with a view of what it's really like to face a press --

  • There's a large element of that, my Lord, but also it would be to talk about -- to talk about all aspects of contact with the media and perhaps -- you know, it's not all necessarily formal, but it would be to give broad advice on perhaps strategies and tactics or --

  • You've probably heard this morning that one of your colleagues said actually a great deal of this could be done with rather more training. Is there such training? Do you agree with that? Do you think the training ought to be adjusted in the light of that which you've been hearing?

  • Yes, I would endorse the need for more training. And what I thought was interesting about the -- at the Bramshill college, there was -- in fact, I helped to orchestrate one in 2009, which I think was the last one -- there was a media training week as part of their syllabus down there, but it was only -- the candidates who were put forward, it was of a voluntary basis, that's to say that not all forces were represented, and it was really a case of whether individual chief constables thought it was a good idea or not.

    Sadly, with cutbacks in the public sector, this -- all these training programmes came under the auspice of the National Policing Improvement Agency, and of course that has been -- it's got into a sort of suspended animation at the moment and no one knows what the future of it is going to be, and I suspect that in fact, rather than there be an expansion of this kind of training, we'll probably see a reduction of it.

  • Well, without in any sense trying necessarily to drum up business, if you have ideas of what might be included within training of police officers -- not now, but I'd be grateful to hear.

  • I would certainly be happy to oblige.

  • Mr Edwards, shortly after your arrival at the News of the World in 1981, you were appointed crime correspondent; is that right?

  • Can you in your own words tell us the circumstances in which it was suggested to you that you might do something inappropriate?

  • Yes, I'm glad to do that. As Mr Ungoed-Thomas has observed to you, the world of working in a Sunday paper environment is quite different from that, I discovered, working for, say, a London evening paper, as I had been previously, and I found the adjustment quite difficult. And it became apparent, I suppose, that I wasn't doing the job to the satisfaction of my then boss, my news editor, and he became quite animated about this issue and we had a discussion one day, and I was -- it's one of these things that you never forget, frankly, and he said to me, "Look, you have to up your game, you have to up your performance", and I said, "Well, it's really really difficult. You know, I'm struggling to make the adjustment to this different world" and so forth, and he said to me, "Look, there's money available; you should be out there spending it on your contacts", and I -- I can't remember exactly how the dialogue flowed now, but I said, "I'm sorry, but what are you suggesting?" and he said, "Well, you know, you need to sort of put some inducements out there", and I said, "Right, okay", and I sort of recoiled from this, but he was my boss so I dealt with it in a measured way and I went away and I thought: did I hear this correctly?

    Anyway, about three or four weeks later, clearly my performance was still not satisfactory, and he took me to one side and he was quite cross with me, I suppose it's fair to say, and he said to me, "Look, have you taken up my suggestion? I don't see anything here. You're not invoicing me for money to be splashed about. You should be essentially bribing more police officers."

    At the time, and I realised it was probably an unwise thing to do, but I said, "I don't think I came into journalism to do that sort of thing, and also, isn't there a contradiction here? Part of what we're about is exposing wrongdoing in public life, and here you are suggesting ..." you know, anyway clearly the debate was over at that point, and a couple of weeks later I was removed from the post and replaced.

    I wasn't removed from the company, I was simply moved to other work away from crime reporting. It was 30 years ago, I can't talk about how things proceeded after that, but I thought it was indicative of the culture in that particular organisation at the time.

  • Mr Edwards, did you observe any of your colleagues providing inducements to police officers or taking preparatory steps to doing so?

  • I cannot honestly say that I did observe anything like that.

  • When you refer to the culture of the organisation, you make it clear in your statement, and therefore it should be made explicit, you say that at your time at the News of the World you met and worked with many excellent and enterprising journalists who upheld the best traditions of the profession. So are you intending, therefore, to be referring just to a minority?

  • Yes. I think what I might have said -- and certainly what I know I thought at the time, and again it's a sort of a phrase that's always remained in my mind -- that there was an element in there that had a tendency towards questionable, unethical behaviour. And that manifested itself in a variety of ways. You know, I think that there were some reporters there then who played very fast and loose with the truth, and I think there were probably reporters there who had -- it wasn't just in the world of policing, they probably had informants who were being paid in other areas of private life. But it was only sort of anecdotal evidence. I could not say that I actually witnessed anything that I could actually identify as being a direct piece of evidence.

  • You of course left the News of the World in 1985, so you don't have any direct knowledge of untoward behaviour since then; is that right?

  • But what about the Mirror, which you joined in 1992? In your own words, please, what was the culture there?

  • I thought the culture was very -- you know, was much more -- it was a different type of journalism altogether. Obviously it was a daily paper. It was much more immediate. It was quite -- it was very professional, quite earnest. I don't mean to say it wasn't on occasions fun and the people weren't a joy to work with and good company, but there was a very high ethical standard there, and I think that remained all the way through, although the focus of the paper changed over many years, I think that there was always a baseline, a core running through, part of the identity, possibly, of the company, that it was -- it always tried to behave properly.

  • You presumably, as the chief crime correspondent there, had your own contacts, your own sources; is that right?

  • From what you've said, you didn't cultivate those sources by corrupting them or bribing them, but in your own words, how did you keep them onside, as it were?

  • I think it was a combination of an open countenance -- I think that one of the reasons I got invited to work at the police academy late in my career was probably I'd built up a reputation of integrity through my work over the years. I like to think that a lot of police officers I encountered over the years, you know, that I was not what they might have expected me to be, if you see what I mean. There's a certain -- there's some mythology out there about the newspaper business and so forth, and I think that I had a genuine enthusiasm for the business.

    And as I said, I think that I was -- and also I think a readiness to find common ground, to find accommodations, to find compromises in some situations, to build accords and to try and find ways of taking things through which left everybody satisfied.

  • May it also have been your ability to empathise with the police point of view?

  • Sometimes. I mean, some reference I've heard made to that sort of thing this morning, and I think that it would be -- it's important to note that in all my dealings with police officers over the years -- and I would unhesitatingly say many of those developed into personal friendships at all levels -- I have on occasions had to say to people, "Look, we get along very well, but if you were to ever transgress, if I ever discovered that you were guilty of corruption or huge incompetence or whatever, you have to understand that I will be writing about it, in the same way as if you were to discover that I was a criminal, I would expect you to arrest me, to do your job", and I think there was an acceptance that that would be the case, and I would emphasise that although I had a good relationship with them, I certainly was no lap dog, and there were times when we would have to have -- frankly, agree to disagree about issues concerning the media, and that would even come down to matters that were published sometimes.

  • We're going to come back to the issue of socialising in a moment, but can I ask you, please, to clarify one piece of your evidence on the final page of your supplemental statement, when you say just above the upper hole punch:

    "I think it's fair to say that it's well-known in the newspaper business that there have been former police officers who have been very active as informants for certain companies supplying with them with tip-offs about stories which have been passed to them by former colleagues still serving in the police."

    It's a little bit cryptic that, Mr Edwards. I'm not asking to you name anybody, but could you just explain that a little bit?

  • I think actually that Sir Ian Blair made a reference to this in his evidence last week. I think a fairly pernicious influence on some journalists where a small number of former police officers -- some of whom I would have to say had an excellent sense of what was news and what wasn't, better than some journalists, I think -- in some cases, who realised that there were exploitable scenes there. As ex-journalists, they -- sorry, as ex-police officers, they could legitimately be paid for information, and there was always a suspicion -- I don't think anything's ever been proven -- that of course they were receiving information from serving police officers, brokering that information in to certain journalists and certain organisations, and then sharing the profits.

    This has been well-known to the police for a long period of time. I've had discussions with officers, even in the anti-corruption command, on occasions, where I've said to them -- the dialogue has been, "What are we going to do about this?" and I've said, "It's a matter for you to do something about it. If you want to do something about it, you need to apply yourself to the task."

    There were one or two half-hearted attempts to deal with it, and eventually, I think 2006 or 2007, one of these people was arrested, along with a serving police officer, and the serving police officer, I think, got a custodial sentence, but I can't remember now what the offence was, but it involved the passing on of some restricted documents, but there was never really a satisfactory outcome to all that.

    I don't know, I suspect that that kind of thing has gradually sort of withered on the vine, because I think, you know, the people who were carrying out those kind of activities have got old, their contacts have died off, and I have no knowledge of anybody who's replaced them in that world.

  • Thank you. Now, Mr Edwards, we've had a look at the hospitality records for a number of police officers and the head of the DPA. You don't feature very often, but -- and of course a lot of this is a long time ago -- there's a record, for example, on 29 June 1999 that you met with Dick Fedorcio, you had lunch with him in July 2003, another lunch with him 1 February 2004, with him and John Twomey. Obviously you can't remember the individual occasions, but in general terms, what sort of things would have been discussed?

  • Whatever were the issues, the current issues, the issues of the day in policing, particularly as they pertained to the Metropolitan Police at that time. They would be matters of actual events, of policy, procedure, really all matters that might affect the way that the police operated, the way that they might -- talking with Mr Fedorcio, obviously a lot of it would relate to the interreaction between the police and the media.

    I seem to recall, if I remember rightly, I've only ever once had a -- I think I had a lunch with Mr Fedorcio once on his own, on a one-to-one basis. I think all the other occasions, of which that would probably number less than five or six, were with other reporters present.

  • Were these occasions for gossip or inappropriate disclosures or not, to the best of your recollection?

  • No, I don't think they were about inappropriate disclosures. I think that there was a certain amount of the -- certain amount of what was discussed would be politics of policing, but I don't mean, you know, in the tittle-tattle sense. I think, you know, it might be if there was a -- if they were going to appoint a new Commissioner, you might be talking about who the front runners might be and what their strengths and weaknesses were and why this candidate might be in a better position than that candidate, for instance, things like that.

  • And if there were difficulties, ripples in the management board, were those things that you got to learn about, particularly in about 2006, 2008?

  • I can't recall Mr Fedorcio ever disclosing that kind of information to me. However, I was aware that many -- I think -- and I can't remember exactly who coined this remark, but somebody said to me one day that there was a level of toxicity in management board meetings at that time, which may have been 2006 or 2007, which, you know, nobody had ever experienced before. There was undoubtedly -- you could not escape the fact that there was clearly a lot of infighting going on, and my view was this must be distracting from the right and proper purpose of why they were there.

  • We may come back to Mr Fedorcio, but probably after our break.

  • Yes, that's convenient, thank you very much. 2 o'clock.

  • (The luncheon adjournment)

  • Yes.

  • Now, Mr Edwards, your views, please, about Mr Fedorcio. You've told us that there wasn't gossip and unauthorised disclosures at the meetings you attended, but do you have some general assistance you can give the Inquiry about him?

  • Well, I think he was a very professional man, but I think that he represented a kind of a new era. I don't exactly remember when he arrived at the Met, but I think it was around about the time that we had a new government in about 1997 and I thought that he really represented that kind of a -- there was a lot of talk of spin doctoring and the Alastair Campbell effect on government at that time, and I thought that Mr Fedorcio sort of tended to embrace those ideals quite a lot. I don't mean it in a detrimental sense, but he was part of what they call the government information service, and I think that he definitely had one eye on trying to positively influence the media and possibly concentrating more on media that he thought were influential and not paying so much attention to those he thought were less influential.

  • Do you feel that he had any favourites within the CRA?

  • I wouldn't like to use the word "favourites", but I think there were people he had more contact with than with others. Again, I don't necessarily think you can draw any conclusions from that, but I think there were -- as I said, I think that there were possibly some organisations, for instance News International, possibly Associated Newspapers, that I think he was more keen to engage with than others.

  • Did you attend the -- attend is sort of elevating it to a higher level of formality -- drinks in the wine bar near New Scotland Yard with journalists and senior police officers on occasion?

  • Well, yes. I can think of three or four possible locations for that. I don't think it's true to say that all these meetings, which were of -- quite often not organised, they were quite often just occurrences, I -- yes, I would have been present on some occasions for certain.

  • "Occurrences" may not be quite the right word. What you are saying is really, well, at the end of one of these meetings, that's a formal meeting, somebody may say, "Let's have a drink". Is that what you're talking about?

  • In short yes. It would be -- sometimes you would because you didn't have anything more pressing to do at that particular time, or many occasions people would say, "I can't come from a drink, I have to go back to my office, I have to go home" for whatever reason. There was usually not much pre-planning to it. It was ad hoc, usually.

  • Similarly for the senior officers or were they generally always prepared to have a more informal and relaxed relationship?

  • As I said, I wasn't always there myself.

  • So I think that, you know, yes, they worked very hard, they tended to start very early in the mornings. I think most of them were at their desks about 7 am, and I think by the time 6 or 7 pm rolled around, some of them would, you know, like to go and relax over a glass of wine.

  • And were these ever the occasions for the exchange of gossip, particularly over matters which you've described as political?

  • Well, it's hard for me to be specific because so many things would be talked about in those circumstances. I think certainly in my case and I think in some of my colleagues', it would be wrong to suppose that this kind of interaction was entirely focused in on policing or on the world of journalism. You know, we had a broad church. You'd talk about all the sort of things that people living a metropolitan life -- I don't mean in the sense of the police -- talk about. So there was quite a lot of good humour, there was some entertaining badinage and sometimes I suppose there were remarks made about politicians, about editors, about all sorts. I can't remember anything that astonished me or made me think, gosh, I wonder if he really meant to say that.

  • Can I go back to the operations of the CRA, and this is the first page of your main statement, our page 09509. You tell us there under question 4 that:

    "The CRA operates in a similar way to the 'Lobby Correspondents' system among parliamentary correspondents."

  • It "does provide some additional access to some police forces".

  • Are you suggesting there that there is privileged access as a result of membership of the CRA?

  • To a certain extent there might be. It wouldn't be automatically so. CRA -- I mean, I've heard various things said about the CRA during this Inquiry, and last night I made a point of checking my list and I see that we have 45 members currently, and every major news outlet from the Financial Times to the Sunday Star is represented in that group --

  • But not the Sunday Times?

  • I believe the Sunday Times are the only omission, but interestingly enough, my Lord, I have engaged with one of their reporters several times over the years actually encouraging him, asking him, really, to say, "Put forward an application and we will certainly be prepared to meet that", but no application has ever followed, so --

  • So it's not -- I'm keen to understand it. It's not only for those who only do crime?

  • It's -- right. There are fashions in journalism, so once upon a time all journalists who reported crime were called crime reporters. Now some are called home affairs reporters or whatever. So in a discussion I had several years ago with some of my colleagues, I said we ought to broaden the definition slightly to be one of -- that you have to -- that the criteria that needs to be met is that the bulk of the work done by the individual should be in the arena of law enforcement, because being a member of the Crime Reporters Association, you get -- policing covers so much more than just events, you know, crimes in action. It's about policies, it's about the politics of policing, it's about a myriad of issues.

    So providing that somebody can show that they are in an organisation that's staffed to the right level -- that's to say it needs to be a national organisation -- yes, we would allow them to join.

  • And do they have to be in to get to the formal briefings?

  • They have to be in to get the formal CRA briefings. I mean, there are good practical reasons, I think, why the CRA came into existence, and there's a debate about when this actually happened, but certainly it appears to have taken up its current form probably just after the Second World War, and that is to say that you get a major policing event and the police will hold a press conference. Now, that tends to be dominated these days mostly by the broadcast media, who want to basically monopolise all the front-row seats and they are interested in sound bite responses from those people that they are talking to and so forth. These people are very often not specialists in this field.

    So I think the rationale was -- the thought was that there needed to be a forum -- this was at the inception of the organisation -- whereby people more knowledgeable, more specialised in the art, could engage at a slightly different level. It would be like, if I could use an analogy, if CRA stood for the Cricket Reporters Association, you know, you would expect the correspondents to know the difference between an off break and a leg break, if you understand what I'm saying, so that if you were --

  • I understand the point you're making.

  • Yes. So that at a different level we can engage about -- in a greater level of detail without having to have everything, you know, for the most basic concepts explained to us. So that's the rationale behind the CRA. It's a talking shop for those people who have a particular interest professionally.

  • And are the broadcast media in the CRA?

  • Oh yes. I think -- in fact, when I looked at our list last night, I think there's three or four members from the BBC, ITN are represented, the regional TV for London is represented, Sky News is represented.

  • So it doesn't help you remove the sound bite requests. They are still going to want sound bites?

  • Yes, it does, it does, my Lord, because what happens in the CRA meeting is there aren't any camera crews or recording equipment there.

  • They might have a press conference at which the TV reporters get to do their immediate bulletin stuff, and then maybe an hour later -- I mean, if you took the events of July 2005 as perhaps an ideal example, maybe later there would be a CRA meeting with those same correspondents who had just been on the 6 o'clock news, at 7.30 we're having a slightly different level of engagement where perhaps the police were endeavouring to put a bit more flesh on the bones of the outline of a story, where we could go in and ask and say, "You may not know what's happened but tell me what you think has happened", and they could start to give us a greater overview about the event, what their response was likely to be, and issues that came off that. You know, these would be way beyond the requirements of a brief press conference.

  • At the bottom of this first page, question 6, when you say "many CRA members had daily dealings on an individual basis with the MPS", are you saying there that they're journalists who are organising these dealings themselves, they're not doing it, as it were, wearing their CRA hat?

  • Well, that's right. In a sense, as a crime specialist, I might have six different matters to deal with on any given day that might require me on one hand speaking directly to Mr Fedorcio, on the second strand talking to one of his representatives in the borough of Lewisham, on the third strand talking directly, possibly, to a superintendent on the firearms command about a particular issue that I was interested in and so on and so forth.

    So although I'm a CRA member, those -- you know, I would still be doing my normal job without any special -- you know, I could -- any reporter possibly could ring up Mr Fedorcio or the Press Bureau and put in a particular request for information about something and get it. What I suppose does happen is that they could talk in perhaps a more expansive way because they knew that on this particular topic, this is something that I already knew a lot about, so rather than having to explain it, like I said, in the first place, they could talk knowing that I already had a base of knowledge about that topic.

  • On the next page, question 9, you say:

    "Like all complex interfaces, it [that's the relationship between the CRA and the police] requires constant maintenance and adjustment."

    That gives rise, I suppose, to two inevitable questions. What adjustments, if any, do you think are currently required?

  • Well, I would really endorse things that have been said by a couple of my colleagues and counterparts this morning, which is that I think at one point in my answers to you I talked about Elizabeth Filkin's findings when she said that contact with the media was permissible but not unconditional, and I said it has always been so. That's always been the case. And it's always been -- policing is always moving, it's always in action, and so is the media, and thus these arrangements need to be constantly looked at, I think, by both sides, because it's not as if there aren't disagreements and things don't go wrong sometimes and things have to be -- you know, we need to sometimes sit down and say how are we going to make sure this kind of problem doesn't occur again? You know, you perhaps need to put new facilities in place, we perhaps need to take a different approach to things.

    I'm a great believer in it's about deft adjustments, delicate adjustments rather than some kind of scorched earth policy, a carpet bombing of the whole system or whatever, and breaking it down and starting again.

  • Wonderful headlines, Mr Edwards, carpet bombing of the system. But put some reality around that for me, please. What is a deft adjustment and what is scorched earth?

  • Okay. I've heard a couple of my colleagues talk today about their concerns about a reaction en masse from police officers both as individuals and corporately to be more reluctant to engage as a result of certain things that are going on, and experience tells me -- I have seen many revolutions and evolutions in the relationships between the police, both as a corporate entity and on an individual basis, in my career. That's why I say this is not actually a new issue. It's cyclical. It's gone around before and different commissioners, different chief constables in the counties, as well, have tended to take different approaches to it.

    I agree that in the 21st century, given all the things that, you know, some astonishing things that have come to light apparently recently and so forth, that it can't go unmonitored, but I think that has to be done in a careful way and a considered way, so as not to stifle completely that very necessary, I think, open ability to engage between the police both, as I said, as a corporate identity and both -- and with those officers within it.

    If I could explain, I think it's an endlessly fascinating topic, but in broad terms the police tends to run, and always has done, and probably always will do, on a blame culture, and that's to say that at times like this, the police will invoke a policy of "If there's any doubt attached to this, I won't do it". They'll take the easier option. They will say, "At the moment we're under fire, we're under criticism, so what are we going to do? Well, the safest path is simply to close down as much engagement as possible."

    But I think after a while what tends to happen is things then -- matters occur that cause sensible people to think, "Hang on, this isn't working either. We've got to get back to some kind of normality." It's just a question -- and if I was still very active as a crime correspondent, I'm sure I would be having these conversations at the police college, at Scotland Yard, and say to people, "How are we going to redress the balance so that it's more transparent, but without squeezing off that very necessary need to engage at a number of different levels on a huge range on topics?" It's a difficult problem.

    I am not sure that requiring all police officers all the time to note and report any meeting with a member of the media is necessarily the answer. I think that I would like to see a situation where we had a more common sense approach based on ethicality, on good judgment, on integrity, where if things have gone a little bit astray in the past, they need to be brought back into line, but it doesn't need to be -- I don't think it needs a draconian approach.

  • To some extent, that's motherhood and apple pie, isn't it? Of course nobody could dissent from that. The problem is how you check on it.

    Let me take a different problem entirely, which you may be familiar with. Some years ago, the police got into terrible trouble in relation to their use of informers, and so there was devised a scheme which required a great deal to be noted down, and all contact recorded, so that it became much more available and therefore, if relevant to a criminal trial, could be exposed and analysed. And I think then -- and I'm going back in my own dealings with the criminal law -- there was a great concern that that would shut off --

  • -- informants, but the system still operates, and I think has demonstrably worked.

    Now, I'm not suggesting that one has to treat journalists like informers; they're quite different, it's a different problem. And, of course, nothing of the relationship will ever likely impinge on a criminal trial. But I am concerned to find some way of redressing that balance without stifling all that is important, because you may have heard me say it is critical for consensual policing that the public are engaged, and that the public are prepared to come forward to the police and help criminal investigations for the good of society, the community. One of the ways that the police can communicate with the public is through the press, and it's a critically important way.

    So I don't want to lose any of that, but you are right when you say there has to be some balance, there has to be some check. The question is: What would do it?

  • Yes, my Lord. I entirely accept your point. I don't have an answer, I'm afraid, at the moment. And I think whatever systems are put in place will need the facility for further fine-tuning, if you see what I mean, for adjustment later, because it is complex.

  • The reason I ask you -- don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to shuffle off the responsibility that I have onto you. You're entitled to say, "I'm retired now, I've had enough of this", but actually it's exactly the same that I've been talking about in relation to regulation of the press. This was your business. You have all of the experience of knowing what could work and what won't work, and as in your capacity as the President of the Crime Reporters Association, it seems to me that your association par excellence is in a position to give me the press perspective on what might work, provided only that you recognise, as you do, that there has to be some -- I've used the word "audit" -- mechanism to ensure that this is not just a free-for-all.

  • I agree with you, my Lord. I think that I have said earlier in this dialogue that one of the things I think we exist for is to find ways to reach accords with the law enforcement authorities, and I think that's probably what we're going to have to do now, is to find new working practices that satisfy the -- you know, the new criteria I suppose you would call it. There needs to be, I guess, more transparency from both sides. How we achieve that, the detail, I'm not sure about at the moment, but I think it's inevitable that we need to go down that road.

  • If your association would like to think about it and send me something, I've said this to a number of people, I'm very happy to receive it and to take it into account. I have the will to try to find a way to make it work, because in relation to the publication of information about criminal justice I have a very strong view as to how important it is, so I'm happy to think about anything that is suggested and I don't ask you to come up with a signed and sealed agreement, that may be unfair on you, but I would be interested in anything you have to say. Not now, but --

  • I have noted your suggestion, and I will talk to my members and suggest that we do engage with you and try and come up with some kind of strategy in this direction.

  • Mr Edwards, I have been asked to raise with you a point in relation to what happened to you when you were the victim of crime. We don't need to know the details, if you follow me, but you say you had a lengthy meeting with senior police officers. It's towards the middle of page 09510, the second page of your statement. They were unchaperoned by police officers. Do you think it's the position that you received preferential treatment because they knew you were a journalist or was it more to do with the nature of the crime?

  • I have to say that I wasn't satisfied with the police response in this particular matter, which was quite recent, but I remembered, through my association with the police college, that I actually knew the borough commander where I lived, so I approached him directly and essentially put a flea in his ear and said, "Look, I'm not satisfied with the approach that your people have taken". So frankly yes, I suppose I did use that situation to my advantage, but the point was a general one. Anybody should have been able to do what I did and demand a better response.

  • I understand. A lot of the points you've made on the following pages of your statement you have developed orally for us in any event. Can I deal with the point you make in this statement and in your supplementary statement, question 68. Page 09516. I don't know whether you're working from the same pagination at the bottom of the page, but no doubt you'll find question 68.

  • It's really question 69, when you were present in May 2004 when officers ambushed a gang of robbers. Can you tell us a little bit about that, please, and the circumstances in which you were present on that occasion and then a future occasion?

  • Yes, certainly I can. Well, historically, around about that time, the early part of the -- that decade, there were a whole series of robberies in and around the Heathrow Airport area for very high-value cargoes. They were mostly actually computer chips that were arriving in the freight holds of airliners from the Far East and they were being moved on to what is sometimes referred to as Britain's silicon valley, down the Thames Valley in Reading and Slough and places like that. It became so damaging to the industry that Scotland Yard were almost obliged to set up a special operation to deal with this specific problem, and it was known as Operation Grafton.

    It was an operation that I was quite interested in, very interested in, I suppose, and I made some enquiries about it and wrote a couple of stories about it.

    I can't remember the exact circumstance, but at some point the previous year in 2003 I had been talking to a couple of officers who were involved in this operation and they said, "We've actually -- we think we're actually on the cusp of making some big inroads into this, we think we've identified people who are involved and you might be seeing some results quite soon."

    I, without much hope of success really, I think, I sort of said, well -- because there's been a history of police allowing some journalists in certain circumstances out on certain operations, I said would it be possible if I was to, in a very -- you know, adhering to strict controls and guidelines, if I could be allowed some kind of access to this operation.

    In short, I think one of these officers said, "Why don't you make a formal approach through the usual channels and see what the reaction would be?" So I approached the head of the Press Bureau then, who was a man -- he's retired now -- called Robert Cox, Bob Cox, who worked for Dick Fedorcio. He was not Dick's deputy, but he was the head of the Press Bureau.

    To cut a long story short, I was able to meet with higher chains of command, we had a number of conversations about this and a sort of in-principle agreement was worked out that if we were prepared to adhere to certain -- you know, a lot of guidelines, we could be allowed along to have some access to such an operation.

    In the event, it started with one operation, and I think between October and Christmas 2003, I think I was probably with a police team on ten to a dozen different occasions near Heathrow, and I had made a point, incidentally, of saying to them, "I do not want to know the details of this job until it is completed"; in other words I was very conscious of the fact I did not want at any point to be -- if anything went wrong, anybody to say, "You were the leak on this", or "The problem was caused by you". All I said, in the most general terms, "I don't need to know the who, the what, the why. If things unfold in front of me, that will be fine, but I don't want to know in advance exactly what's going on." All I knew was that they were hoping to ambush some robbers in the commission of a crime near Heathrow, and in the event it went into the new year 2004 and that robbery plan -- or the police ambush plan had to be stood down.

    But we kept the engagement going and essentially they said, "Look, you've abided by the conditions that we put on this, we think it's a workable plan and if another suitable job comes online, we will consider allowing you access to it." I was happy to go along with that, and in fact then in May 2004, at very short notice, I think on a Sunday, I was called at home by an officer who said, "If you can get to a particular location at 4 o'clock tomorrow morning, I think you might find it interesting", and that morning I was accompanied by two police officers and we drove in the direction of Heathrow Airport, and once again I deliberately did not ask what the target was or any details of the job until much later on in the morning, and about two hours before it all came to fruition, one of the officers said, "Look, in broad terms there are two very valuable cargoes arriving at the airport this morning from different locations around Europe, one is gold bullion, one is cash, and we think, because of a various combination of circumstances, that a team of armed robbers may attempt to steal this load this morning."

    I still didn't know where the location was going to be, I had none of the details at all, and at about 10 o'clock on that morning we were actually thinking it probably wasn't going to go ahead, and I said to one of the officers, "If this doesn't take place today, when might it come back online?" and he said to me, "I think it may not come back online again ever or it might come back in a couple of weeks' time", and I said nothing ventured, nothing gained, and more or less at that moment he received a phone call that essentially said, "They're here", and we were probably a mile or two back from the warehouse at Heathrow that was under attack.

    When we got there the robbers had already been detained by the police, and the officers that were chaperoning me said, "Wait in the car until we come back", they went into the warehouse, they came back and said, "The situation is under control now, you can come in". I was accompanied by a photographer, by the way. That was all part of the agreement.

    I went in and there were a number of men who were still masked actually handcuffed in various locations around the warehouse, and my photographer was given free access to take various photographs. I know this has been referred to before by one of your previous witnesses. It was very successful from our point of view. The police were very pleased, I think. I think they were pleased because I think it showcased the fact that they were on top of serious crime problems so, yes, it was mutually beneficial, I guess, in that respect.

  • Jacqui Hames said in her evidence that the reason why you were allowed to tag along at the last minute was thanks to your close association with one of the Flying Squad supervisory officers. You address that in your supplementary statement.

  • Yes. It's demonstrably wrong.

  • Because in fact, as I've explained to you, I had not been allowed to, quote unquote, "tag along at the last minute". It had in fact been an operation that was seven months in the birthing process, I guess you could call it that, and in fact the officer I know who she's alluding to was not actually on the Flying Squad at the time that I made an approach to be given access to this operation, but he had been what was called a level transfer. He hadn't been promoted, but he had been moved from Operation Trident, where he was in 2003, to the Flying Squad in 2004, and as I've said in my statement to you, he in essence inherited me.

    So I felt while we're talking about -- while we're scrutinising the type of relationship that exists sometimes between the police and the media, it was important to correct Ms Hames' misapprehensions about that.

  • She also made a point about possible prejudice to a fair trial, because the photograph, I think, was on the front page of the Daily Mirror.

  • But you deal with that in your statement.

  • Yes. Do you want me to --

  • Yes, this is part of -- you know, if you're a specialist reporter, you know about these issues before you even embark on the project, so of course it was something that was -- I had considered and was discussed in great detail, in great length, with -- by the way, I said in my statement, up to a very high level within the Metropolitan Police, up to an Assistant Commissioner level, before my involvement was authorised. I think the Assistant Commissioner at the time was Tarique Ghaffur, who allowed this to happen.

    We said was there any way that a prosecution might be jeopardised or prejudiced by our presence there? We talked about the identification issue, and we agreed that essentially identification would not be an issue, in other words if they were there and were arrested holding weapons and masked and so forth, they couldn't very -- they were not in a position to argue, "It wasn't us, it must have been someone else". So as I said, we -- there were some -- there was a lot of negotiation to satisfy all the requirements to allow us to do the job. In fact, in my experience, it was really almost a one-off.

  • If you were asked to describe the public interest in you being there, and indeed what flowed from you being there and the piece that came out in the Daily Mirror with the photograph, how would you describe that?

  • It's a slightly convoluted question. What was the overall public interest, do you think, in you being invited along?

  • I think it was entirely legitimate. I think that there was a very serious crime problem at the airport at that time. As I said, there had been a catalogue, I think several dozen serious crimes over several years associated with cargoes coming into Heathrow at that time, so I think that it was -- there was legitimate public interest in that. It was affecting a high-tech industry. There were public safety implications, there was a whole raft of good reasons or reasons that made it legitimate, I thought.

  • So I think that, you know, yes, it was -- in every way it was quite legitimate as an exercise.

  • Could I just ask you a question about that, because you legitimately can argue, and you do, that you were invited to go along on this operation after months of planning and applications and discussions and there it was, so you acquired this opportunity by dint of your own reputation built up over years and your --

  • -- and your persistence with senior officers in the Met asking to do this. Now, that's one side of it. The other side of it is that actually this was a magnificent photo opportunity story, however many times you had to go to do it, and therefore it really should be open to more, rather than just somebody who, because he's been around for a long time, people know, can receive that sort of result. You understand --

  • I do understand the point you're making, my Lord. Anybody can request -- any reporter could request access to a police operation. As you know, reporters are frequently given access to police operations. I mean, I would -- let's look at the nightly menu on television. If you watch traffic cops or any one of these fly on the wall series, some of which are very good, actually, that's journalists being given long-term access to police operations in a particular area of the country, and that's at the discretion of chief constables, wherever they happen to be.

    In a broader picture, the police also operate -- certainly the Metropolitan Police operate with their Press Bureau what is called an "if asked system". That's to say officers might arrest somebody for a particular offence, and although they do not necessarily make public that information, if I get to hear about it one way or another and I ring up the police and say, "I'm really interested to know", the Press Bureau of the police, and say, "I'm told that you arrested a man in connection with this homicide", or whatever, "and I want it on an if asked only basis", they would confirm that indeed a 36-year-old man has been arrested today in connection with this offence, but they won't disseminate that information generally.

    So there's a decision-making process which there's some information they disseminate generally all the time and there's some information which they, for various reasons, say we'll only talk about this if we're asked to do so.

    I think this came under the heading of that, essentially, that I had shown an interest in Operation Grafton, apparently nobody else had. As a result of that, my continuing interest in it, as you say, I saw an opportunity and was able to reach an agreement to get access to -- and also, of course, in a real sense, because of the nature of what was going on, it would have been impossible for the police to accommodate a coachful of reporters.

  • Of course they can't. The question is whether there has to be some rather more open policy about allowing different titles to take advantage of these opportunities.

  • But they do that, my Lord. As I said, it would have been open to anybody to request that facility had they wanted to. There was a huge time commitment involved, not everybody wants to do that, but the police are usually quite good at -- you know, if the request is reasonable -- at granting that facility to anybody who asks.

  • I don't think any partiality was shown, if you see what I mean, in that case. I was not -- I don't think that I got that because it was a special favour in any way. It was an endeavour on my behalf that met with success.

  • Detective Superintendent Phillips who phoned you up on the Sunday in May before the successful operation, was he a contact of yours?

  • I did know Mr Phillips prior, yes.

  • Was he a friend of yours?

  • Yes, I would say he was a friend of mine, yes. Over a long period of time, I've probably known Mr Phillips, prior to that event, for 15 or 20 years.

  • Do you think it was that friendship which caused him to phone you up the day before?

  • No, absolutely not. That's the whole point I'm making here. At its inception, he was nothing to do whatsoever with Operation Grafton. As I said, what happened was in the interim period he had been transferred to that section of the police which was dealing with Operation Grafton, so as I said in my statement to you, in essence he inherited me along with the job.

  • Yes. As I understand what you've said, you'd got this access for a quite different operation.

  • That had come to nothing. So what they were saying to you was "We're very sorry for that, you've spent a lot of time in it, therefore when something else comes along, if it comes along, you'll be the first port of call"?

  • Yes. And in fact it may have been -- the outcome would have been the same if Mr Phillips and I had never met before, or whether we did know each other well, and it is a fact that of course I come to meet -- have met lots of people like Mr Phillips over the years, so there was nothing unusual about that.

  • Thank you. Question 67, if I can go back a page or two, our page 09516. You give a pungent example of receiving an anonymous tip and the consequences of that. A chief constable is caught exceeding the speed limit in a radar trap operated by his own officers. How often did you get that sort of tip?

  • Not very often. Sorry, which --

  • Not very often, but sometimes police officers -- you could tell they were police officers usually just by their phraseology -- if they felt aggrieved about certain things would ring anonymously and sometimes they would ring anonymously a lot. You would have a dialogue with somebody whose identity you never knew. Sometimes you could guess at their motivation. I think on this occasion I think I've said in my response to the question that I think that whoever it was called me was disgruntled about having his working patterns disrupted by changes in force policy, and it was quite an interesting story, because I think actually it had been one of the first forces in the country to take all their motorway patrols and return them to ordinary policing duties, it was making them do more real police work, and then two or three weeks later the same voice rang me and said, "Guess what happened last night". That's perfectly legitimate to follow that through. But of course it had to be checked properly with -- I think in this case it was the Surrey force, and they immediately confirmed that that was in fact what had happened.

  • But that doesn't flow from any inappropriate relationship you had; it flows from the fact that you're well-known as a crime correspondent and you're bound to be the recipient of such tips?

  • People from all walks of life contact the media all the time, and that doesn't exclude some police officers and people who work with them.

  • What do you think about that sort of tip-off? I mean the example of the chief constable is one, but it could be, "We're just about to arrest celebrity X", and magically at 4 o'clock in the morning or 5 o'clock in the morning there are photographers there to do it. Or, "We have famous person Y coming to the police station to answer questions", so that when he or she leaves the police station, there's a whole pack of reporters and photographers. Doesn't that demonstrate a lack of professionalism by the police?

  • You might argue so, but I guess that the reality of a situation like that, my Lord, would be that if a police officer or somebody I thought was a police officer said, "You need to get somebody down to such-and-such a police station because we've just arrested the captain of the England football team", if I don't tell my boss and respond to that situation, and he decides to ring a main rival, then I have a serious problem. I don't necessarily approve of it personally, but it's hard to mitigate.

  • No, to that extent one can't criticise the press. If the press get the information, of course this is a story, but it might be a consequence of the nature of relationships that have been developed and also it may be a consequence of the slightly blurred line that perhaps some officers operate.

  • Yes, I suppose it might. It's hard for me to comment on that, because I -- yes, I can understand the point you're making.

  • I mean, we had evidence last year from celebrity Z, and I'm always giving -- I won't talk about the captain of the cricket team because then I'll get into trouble for doing that, so if I just give letters to people -- who reported some incident to the police, and the first person there wasn't a policeman but a reporter, or a photographer, and I understand why the reporter or photographer might do that, but it doesn't really reflect very well upon the police.

  • I would agree with you. But I don't know how you mitigate about that sort of thing in an open society.

  • No, well, that's why everybody has to understand the lines.

  • Yes. But the point is you can bring in -- I guess this point has already been made by colleagues of mine here -- all the checks and balances, the control procedures that you like, but you can't stop a disgruntled police officer going to a telephone kiosk and ringing the news desk of the Daily Mirror for whatever reasons are motivating that person.

  • No, you have to provide him with avenues of whistle-blowing of his own and hope that his professional integrity doesn't let him down, I suppose.

  • Indeed. And in fact I have had examples during my career where on one or two occasions people I have believed to be, because of their knowledge, police officers have contacted me anonymously to draw attention to serious matters of wrongdoing within the Police Service that have caused me to complete the circle by saying that this matter is so sensitive --

  • That's why I say you need adequate whistle-blowing.

  • Mr Edwards, one can understand why police officers might have wanted to approach you off the record, anonymously or whatever, owing to your reputation, really, but do you think that some of your more junior colleagues, perhaps, may have sought to gain access to police favours by fostering an overcosy relationship?

  • Are there any matters you feel able to draw to our attention?

  • No, I don't think there are, because I think in order to do so I would have to be very specific. I can only say that there have been times in my life where I have -- I mean, I -- because I was a senior staff reporter at the Mirror, I was expected to mentor to some extent some other reporters on occasions, or reporters would frequently come to me for advice. You know, younger members of staff. And on occasions I had to draw to their attention the dangers of going down perhaps certain roads of where they could be compromised or even be in danger of more serious consequences in a particular relationship.

  • Finally, the Inquiry received evidence, particularly in the first week, which arguably showed overcosy, inappropriate relationships, but I'm not forming a judgment here. Did any of that evidence cause you any surprise?

  • I haven't -- I have tried to read as much as possible, and I haven't, for various circumstances, been able to see everything that's gone through. Could you perhaps --

  • Well, I don't really want to ask you a leading question, you see, Mr Edwards, because then that would be judgmental. If there's nothing in particular, that's fine.

  • Okay, I would say this. I would say that I've heard some offhand remarks made about the Crime Reporters Association during this proceeding, and in the main I would say that we aren't the main problem for the police with journalists and I'll tell you why that is. First of all, we have to be self-governing. We have to adhere to carefully considered codes of conduct because although, for instance, the Metropolitan Police might be an organisation of 50,000 individuals, if you don't behave to a high standard, your reputation -- you know, reputation will soon get around for being somebody who there's a health warning attached to.

    I think the biggest problem that I've observed over the years is reporters who are not specialised but do inevitably, because it's an open society and they go to Crown Court trials or whatever, who meet police officers, they might get into inappropriate relationships with them, and sometimes they cut corners or they do things as part of their job where they're not worried, not concerned as I would have to be, about having to come back the next day and deal with the same people in the same organisation, but this time about a fresh topic. They're not worried about how they're perceived afterwards, they're simply -- it's short-termism for them.

    With the Crime Reporters Association, the majority of these people are dedicated professionals, in it for the long term, but that's not universal throughout the business, and I have on occasions been annoyed about the activities of some reporters because they've acted inappropriately and it's people like me that have to clear up the mess afterwards.

  • I don't know, it may be that you've provided them to the Inquiry, and I just can't bring them to mind, but if the Crime Reporters Association does have its own code of conduct, could you provide a copy?

  • Yes, I can do that for you, my Lord.

  • Those are all the questions I had for you, Mr Edwards.

  • Thank you very much indeed, Mr Edwards.