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

  • Sir, along with Mr Crossley and his team at Collyer Bristow I represent the core participant victims, all 51 of them. I sat and listened, as you did and everyone else did yesterday, to the representatives of the two largest press organisations in this country.

    We are here, as you said, not just because of the shameful revelations which have come out of the hacking scandal, but also because there has been a serious breakdown of trust in the important relationship between the press and the public, and it is the general public whom my clients represent in one very real sense.

    It is really this breakdown of trust that we are here to deal with. That is the terms, of course, of module one of part 1 of this Inquiry. But before I launch into my speech, can I say this? It hardly fills my clients or the public, I suspect, with great confidence that, having listened to the two largest newspaper groups in this country in the face of the well-documented problems, in the face of the experiences which my clients' evidence highlights, and in terms of what this says about the ethics, culture and practices of the press, or at least a certain section of the press, that rather than suggest some concrete solutions to rectify them, or even recognise that there is anything really wrong, other than the unfortunate hacking incident, as they see it, they both urge you that a freer press is the answer.

    We say that this is symptomatic of a level of complacency amongst the British press, or a part of it. Such editors or newspapers, as was clear from the seminars of the Inquiry last month, are firm members of the "see no, speak no, hear no evil" brigade. It is a theme to which I will return in due course.

    Before I continue, can I just explain one term, which may well recur throughout my submissions. I've already referred to a certain section of the press. Let me not be Delphic. After all, it's not my strong point. By that I am referring to the tabloid or popular end of the press, and in that I do include the Associated titles.

    Whilst I accept, indeed I would urge the Inquiry, insofar as it seeks to set standards for journalistic activity, that these are standards which must apply across the board, the experience of my clients, the victims -- and I am here to represent them, not to be impartial -- is primarily and largely at the hands of that certain section of the press, as I will call it, a big section nevertheless, but it is still a particular section.

    Whilst I'm also sure there are many people who have complaints against the broadsheet newspapers, the main elements of what the core participant victims complain about here in terms of intrusion into their privacy, principally, are features very much of the tabloid or popular newspaper market, something which Mr Rusbridger touched on only moments ago.

    So far, so good. Let me begin then.

    There are currently 13 or so journalists from the News of the World as well as a journalist from its sister newspaper, the Sun, who have been arrested and are waiting further questioning. However, it is the whole of the press, and in particular the tabloid section of it, which we say stands in the dock, at least metaphorically so, and certainly in the court of public opinion, if not here.

    The nature of the charge, at least against some of the press, concerns their culture, practices and ethics, but the indictment could as easily read as follows: illegally accessing people's private voicemails, bribing employees into divulging personal information, blagging sensitive details through deception and trickery, blackmailing vulnerable or opportunistic individuals into breaking confidences about well-known people, the blatant intrusion into the grief of victims of crime, the vilification of ordinary members of the public unwittingly caught up in such events, the hounding of various well-known people, their families and friends, purely because this sells newspapers, and finally, the bullying of those who, in seeking to question these practices, are therefore merely exercising the very same freedom of speech behind which much of this behaviour is sought to be shielded or excused by the press.

    Quite an impressive charge sheet, you might think. No wonder it may take this Inquiry some time to conduct the investigation. It may take me a little time today, as well, to outline the true, unvarnished extent of the tawdry journalistic trade that we now have in this country, particularly in the publication of personal information about people's private lives, information that in some cases has been rightly denied to the press, or anyone else, as a matter of law.

    The real code of practice, we say, seems to be for such journalists, in publishing stories about the private lives of people in the public eye, that what you can get away with you buy, regardless of whether it is illegal, unlawful or just plain wrong. What you can't buy you procure, often through deception and lies. What you can't procure you just plain steal. And what you want to publish but you can neither verify nor necessarily prove, you simply make up, because it sounds right or it sells newspapers.

    On that last point, don't just take my word for it, as they say. We were all treated to a classic example of this when a former tabloid editor, Mr MacKenzie, spoke at one of the seminars. A man who boasted that in his considerable experiences he only checked his sources once. An editor whose view was: if it sounds right, it probably is right, and so you lob it in anyway. Nothing has changed.

    Before one says, as another former editor and now PR said at the seminar, that this type of journalism has been firmly consigned to the history books of Fleet Street, you should remember that Mr MacKenzie is still deeply involved in this industry and is currently a prize columnist employed by the Daily Mail.

    Sir, as you said at the outset, it is not the function of this Inquiry to offer applause or to make specific criticisms of any one newspaper or another. My role here is not to give applause to anyone. My role on behalf of those who had suffered at the hands of the press over a number of years means that I am here to highlight the wrongs, systemic, flagrant and deeply entrenched as I say they are.

    As I've said, I represent the victims and this is really their story. My submissions will be laced throughout with the accounts that they give.

    While there are 51 core participant victims, there are in fact many, many more people with similar stories, similar experiences, similar narratives of how their lives have been ruined or adversely impacted by the kind of culture, ethics and practices which you will hear evidence about from a selection of individual core participant victims. These victims can explain their feelings and their experiences far more eloquently and far more vividly than I can paraphrase.

    One may be forgiven if one attended or heard the seminars last month from thinking that it is the press who are the victims here. Victims of draconian libel laws, victims of greedy lawyers on no win no fee agreements, victims of unaccountable judges who arbitrarily impose gagging orders on them preventing them telling us, the public, about what the rich and famous get up to in private.

    This is no accident. The press is a powerful body. They have a common interest and a self-serving agenda. Why wouldn't they, after all? This is about survival, and they have lobbied hard to try and push their agenda through the pages of their own highly influential newspapers, to influence politicians with the sole objective that there should be less rather than more restriction or regulation, and that if this was so, journalism would be even better.

    If you need proof positive that it would not, then the setting up of this Inquiry provides it.

    However, the press have a very powerful voice and should not, as Mr Jay said, be allowed to drown out the voices of the victims. As the embodiment of that voice, a lone voice, of course, amongst the serried ranks of newspapers and lawyers on either side of me, I can say that I don't intend to be drowned out, but I will show that unfortunately, sir, as you feared, a number of individuals have already been vilified for agreeing to share their experiences with this Inquiry, and I will return to this later.

    There is, of course, a real difference between freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The two should not necessarily be seen as the same. While the first is an understandable and fundamental principle, we can see where an entirely free press, as some would suggest, has got us, and before I leave the narrative which the press wish to espouse, it is worth remembering what another former editor, Ms Rebekah Brooks, told the House of Commons Select Committee in 2003:

    "Self-regulation under the guidance of the PCC", she claimed, "has changed the culture in Fleet Street and in every single newsroom in the land."

    I presume by that she meant it in a positive way.

    Well, eight years on, it is for you to decide, sir, what you think about that as a statement of fact. However, it's hard to resist the temptation to comment that if this is the press's own assessment of self-regulation, I could just as well sit down now.

    It is equally tempting to point out that it was during the same evidence that Ms Brooks, the editor then of the Sun, admitted paying money to police officers. Mr Coulson, then editor of the News of the World, sitting to her side, stepped in to reassure the committee not only that this only happened in cases of public interest, but to make the now spectacular ill-judged assertion that they at News International always operated within the law.

    What damage, I've heard it asked, admittedly by those whose self-interest requires them do so, what damage has really been suffered by these practices? We'll hear from a number of people who provide, as I say, a better answer than I can. It is, as I said, merely a selection. There are not enough details, not enough room in court for everyone. It is a sample, sir, as you call it of the bigger picture, a glimpse of the scale of the problem, and it comes mostly from those who have hit the headlines, quite literally, but for every one of them, it should be noted that there are many, many others.

    However, before I outline this bigger picture, it is important to remember at all times that however loud the voice of the press may be raised, whether in this room or, more likely, outside, through the filter of their very own newspapers, there is a reason why we are all here and it isn't because the press got it right and it isn't because there needs to be greater latitude and freedom given to them.

    So let's start with the breaking point which caused this Inquiry to be set up.

    In the beginning was the word, and the word was hacking. A term whose significance until relatively recently one could have been forgiven for not really appreciating. Forgiven if you were a member of the public, that is, since the arrest and conviction of Messrs Mulcaire and Goodman in 2006 was reported but hardly with the level of impact or weight that everyone now realises it truly deserved.

    Nevertheless, whilst its significance may not have heavily impacted upon the public consciousness at the time, it was something of which the press or certain sections of it were well aware.

    They chose to ignore it publicly. That was until Nick Davies wrote about it so famously in 2009. Yes, it took a journalist to do it, which is important to note. An old-fashioned investigative journalist, if Mr Davies doesn't mind me calling him such, and no one here is saying that they should be rendered redundant.

    Of course, it was never going to be the tabloid press themselves who confessed or self-regulated on this. It wasn't the police or politicians who reported it either, both of whom were likely aware. Perhaps Harold Pinter was right when he said, "Most of the press is in league with the government or the status quo". No doubt the accuracy of that statement is something, sir, which you will consider in the later modules of part 1 of this Inquiry.

    So now to begin with the narratives of those who will give evidence before you.

    On 21 March 2002, a 13-year-old girl was abducted and murdered on her way home from school. Her name was Milly. Between March and September 2002, she was still believed missing, not just by the public, but most importantly, by her family. Five days later, after her disappearance, a mystery caller left a voicemail message on Milly's phone, apparently inviting her to a job interview in the Midlands. The call was a hoax. A particularly cruel and insensitive hoax.

    It was such an awful story that it made the front pages. A certain now defunct newspaper put it in their first edition: "Missing Milly hoax outrage". Whilst the woman who made that call and thereby caused distress to poor Milly's family was convicted and imprisoned for five months, what we now know is that another outrage, another act of cruelty and insensitivity, was the one which was nowhere mentioned in the News of the World, and that was the fact that Mr Mulcaire, acting in the course of his work for the newspaper, had deliberately accessed and listened to the missing 13-year-old's voicemail, and worse still, he had even deleted some to ensure there was room for waiting voicemails to come through to her otherwise full mailbox.

    We don't know who within the News of the World authorised this and at what level. We can speculate, but that's not the purpose of part 1 of this Inquiry. The individual names of those involved in such activities are to be anonymised, in a twist of irony that, whilst it is understandable to protect the criminal prosecution, will not be lost on those whose anonymity has been shattered in the past by tabloid journalists.

    Of course, the hacking of Milly's phone did not come out until July of this year, her parents having been told just before the criminal trial started in April. And it was this revelation which finally provoked the government into setting up this Inquiry. Mr and Mrs Dowler will tell you in their own words what it felt like in those moments when Sally, her mother, finally got through to her daughter's voicemail after persistent attempts had failed because the box was full, and the euphoria which this belief created, false as it was, unfortunately.

    Perhaps there are no words which can adequately describe how despicable this act was, but the Dowler story is just one of those you will hear. It comes first, for obvious reasons, but it is not just a story about hacking, in the same way as this Inquiry is an investigation into the much broader and bigger picture.

    The Dowlers were subjected to terrible intrusion by the press, intrusion at a time of immense grief, and as I will describe, they are by no means alone in this experience. For example, they will explain how in the weeks following her disappearance, and when the reporting frenzy had calmed down, the couple decided to repeat the very walk which Milly had done the day she was abducted. This was no formal reconstruction done with the police. It was not for publicity. It was, rather, a private act, a very private moment, something the couple had decided to do between themselves to try to come to terms with their teenage daughter's disappearance. A way of coming to terms with their grief in private. Or so they thought.

    But their moment of grief was obviously a photo opportunity too good to resist. Somehow the press found out that they were undertaking that last walk on that particular day and at that particular time. Their voicemails, they suspect, theirs of course, not Milly's this time, were being listened to.

    The News of the World published an article on that day under the headline "The longest walk", complete with pictures of the distressed couple and a side bar which read, without even a hint of introspection:

    "Face etched with pain, missing Milly's mum softly touches a poster of her girl as she and hubby retrace her last footsteps."

    And alongside the picture was a caption which read as follows:

    "Mile of grief. The Dowlers follow Milly's footsteps from Walton station and below mum Sally can't help but touch the poster of her daughter."

    First stolen voicemail messages. Why not then steal these precious moments too? Ethically, what's the difference?

    Both Sally and Bob Dowler will give evidence on Monday. They will be the first of my clients to do so.

    It is fair to say on any view that with the drip feed of revelation after revelation in the hacking story, as each new fact has come out, each one more outrageous perhaps than the last, it has got to the point where it is difficult perhaps still to be shocked. And whilst I suspect there are those who vehemently deplore the hacking of Milly's phone, or the phone of Shaun Russell, Josie Russell's father, or the victims of the 7/7 bombing, there are some who seem to have less sympathy for the high profile figures whose phoned also were illegally accessed.

    The basis for this I presume, certainly if the tabloid press's view of the ordinary reasonable reader is right, is that so-called whingeing celebrities deserve to have their private messages listened to. After all, they want the public to watch their films or buy their records or to pay to see them play football. However, I trust that the majority of the population accept that high profile or not, there is no excuse for this kind of what is called news-gathering.

    Lest it should be overlooked, while Mr Davies was the man who was prepared to write about the dark arts, it was individuals like Sienna Miller who were prepared to take on News International, unlike some of those in government or authority. And it is Sienna Miller and others' actions which forced the hacking scandal to be taken seriously by the police. Without people like her and other so-called celebrities, who knows when or even if the Dowlers would ever have found out about the hacking of their daughter's voicemails? Who knows whether this Inquiry would have been launched? After all, the Surrey Police had known about the hacking of Milly's phone for nine years and the Metropolitan Police probably for several years as well.

    So before we condemn the wonderful stereotypical rich and famous, as they are termed, and suggest that the law is not just for them, in fact no one, not even the rich and famous, wants that, it is important to remember that it is in fact a sad but true reflection of our system of justice and in particular the lack of state funding in this area that it is only because of those with sufficient resources and the access to lawyers, those terribly grasping claimant lawyers we all hear about, or the bravery of these people to run the gauntlet of the press, that the law, particularly the law of privacy, has now been developed to protect everyone, wealthy and non-wealthy alike.

    Now, with the demise of conditional fee agreements, giving access to justice for those of limited means such as the Dowlers and others you will hear about, the situation is only going to be more polarised, but of course that doesn't make for good print. It's an inconvenient truth for the press, a press largely, but not entirely, hellbent on self-interest and self-preservation, or to put it another way, continuing self-regulation.

    As I mentioned at the outset, one of the features of the phone hacking scandal is that victims were not always well-known people or those caught up in headline-dominating incidents. As often as not, it seems, they were people whose crime was simply working for well-known people, people who were involved with or were simply friends of those in the public eye, and therefore who might have access to material that could provide good, but let's face it, relatively cheap copy. Ordinary people, so to speak, who were caught in the cross-hairs, often with very tragic consequences. The collateral damage in a war where every means, fair or foul, has been employed. People who have only been able to bring proceedings against News Group Newspapers because they have the benefit of lawyers who will act on a no win, no fee agreement. People, for example, like Mary-Ellen Field, a distinguished professional, an accountant by training, who was employed because of how good she was at her job by someone very much in the public eye, Elle Macpherson.

    Ms Field will give evidence to you, sir, about how she became the well-known model's business adviser and confidante, but how when damaging details about Ms Macpherson's private life started appearing in the press, she was blamed by her employer.

    This is no ordinary story though. The circumstances in which Ms Field was packed off to a clinic in America because her employer believed that her refusal to accept that she was responsible was plainly a denial borne out of the strain of caring for her disabled son and a problem with alcohol. She will explain how she reluctantly agreed, in order to save her job, to travel to this clinic in America, and then, when the clinic sent her back because there was no such problem with her, she was in any event sacked by her employer. These are matters which she will graphically describe.

    Of course, we all know now that those stories in the press were actually the product not of someone leaking to the newspapers but rather the unlawful interception of Ms Field's voicemails and her employer's voicemails, too. Indeed, the unlawful interception of Ms Macpherson's phone was one of the counts on Mr Mulcaire's indictment.

    So for those who question, as some outside this room still do, why all the fuss about hacking, maybe Mary-Ellen Field provides an example.

    Ms Field is by no means the only such person who suffered such a fate. Others have different but equally disturbing stories. The Inquiry will hear from someone who is described by the letters HJK. There is a reason for that. The association of HJK with someone well-known is a matter of great sensitivity. HJK is not well-known, though. I say that before anyone outside this Inquiry attempts a jigsaw identification.

    HJK's phone was hacked by the News of the World, as the mobile phone company confirmed in a telephone call to HJK out of the blue in the late summer of 2006. This was several months after HJK had been doorstepped by a journalist claiming to be from another newspaper group wanting to publish an expose supposedly about HJK's embryonic relationship with this well-known individual. The connection between the News of the World and this other newspaper group is not clear, but it is hard to think of any other reason why HJK's phone was hacked or this nascent relationship came to light.

    The effect on HJK was profound. The story about the quintessentially private relationship almost hit the headlines, but was displaced by another story which, thankfully, blew up the same day. It was a terrible experience all round, and in a disturbing postscript, HJK will explain how shortly after having been diagnosed with a serious illness, a photographer who had been following HJK jumped out and took a photograph, leading to concerns on HJK's part that sensitive medical information had been accessed by journalists. HJK would not be the first to have suffered such a fate.

    It is interesting that in what seems like on one view a fairly brazen approach to their selection of targets, the News of the World even targeted other journalists, albeit broadsheet ones. You will hear from Joan Smith, a journalist, broadcaster and novelist, but interestingly also a campaigner for human rights. Her claim to fame, as it were, and therefore the reason she was targeted, was presumably the fact of her relationship with the member of Parliament Denis MacShane. Their relationship was entirely legitimate and in the public domain, but perhaps it was felt something might be gained from just listening in to see what could be found.

    Distressing enough, you might think, to be the subject of such prying into your private life, but made all the worse, she will say, by the fact that the hacking of her phone and the fishing around for messages came in the wake of the tragic loss of Mr MacShane's daughter.

    Tom Rowland will give evidence next week too, a Telegraph journalist for ten years but then a contributor after that to other newspapers. He was one of those victims who was informed by the police about a number of calls that had been made to his mobile phone from a handset within the News of the World newsroom referred to as "the hub". 60 calls in his particular case. It makes sense, you might think, that journalists as well as Mr Mulcaire, the private investigator, might have made calls themselves to these voicemails. After all, they would have a much better idea of what they were looking for, or perhaps better understand what they heard.

    The interest in Mr Rowland was apparently the details he might have picked up from the contacts he had made in the context of his own journalistic activities with high profile or wealthy individuals relating to the properties that they had purchased.

    So the News of the World's list of victims includes journalists too. The press are even prepared to turn on their own, you might feel. But perhaps one of the cruellest twists of the whole story is the fact that one of the newspaper's most prominent targets had also been one of its most prominent supporters. Sara Payne, the mother of Sarah Payne, the murdered little girl.

    Ms Payne spearheaded the campaign, as we all know, to bring in the eponymously named anti-paedophile legislation Sarah's Law, a campaign championed by none other than the News of the World. It is ironic, to say the least, that the final edition of the newspaper contains a letter from Ms Payne in which she thanks them for their support.

    The revelation, which came only days later, that her phone, the very phone she'd been given by the newspaper as part of the campaign, was likely to have been hacked by Mr Mulcaire, was a sickening postscript, perhaps a new low amongst a wealth of lows, for a newspaper whose former glory has been so fatally befouled by its cultural dependency, it seems, on the dark arts, which sadly give journalism and journalists a bad name.

    Mr Jay mentioned on Monday when he outlined the scale and extent of the hacking scandal that I would mention the civil claims which are currently due to be heard at the end of January, since I represent many of the individuals whose actions are being tried then. However, I hope I've already given you a flavour of quite how broad the cross-section is of individuals whose private messages were listened to or details were blagged, both those well-known and those who were targeted because the newspaper believed them to be associated with well-known people. There are currently over 50 claims which are being tried, but that in itself is just a handful in comparison to the potential number of claims.

    We have heard that Mr Mulcaire's notebook contained the names of almost 6,000 potential victims. If you just stop to think about that for a moment, 6,000 people. If you need a comparison, that would fill the entirety of the new velodrome stadium built for next year's Olympics, and those are the details obtained by just one private detective. Of those 6,000 people, the police have only managed to speak to about 600 so far.

    Whilst their individual stories are all fairly different and unique to them, they do have two important similarities. Let's not forget.

    One, all of these people were targeted because of the information, private, personal or sensitive information, which it was hoped could be gained to be used for the purposes of stories in the News of the World, stories which made the newspaper money. That's why it was done: to sell newspapers. Not to detect crime or to expose wrongdoing, not to protect society or for the public good.

    Which leads me to the second thing that they have in common, that is the fact that none of these stories had any public interest whatsoever. There is and was no public interest defence open to those responsible for such criminal activity. No defence for this flagrant invasion of people's privacy.

    News International's other Queen's Counsel, Mr Silverleaf, basically admitted as much when he gave his fateful opinion in the Gordon Taylor case after seeing just the "for Neville" email back in 2008, and no one says differently now.

    As we know from the civil litigation, the other things which News International have admitted, through the very same Queen's Counsel, in the Sienna Miller action in which judgment was entered against the newspaper group, was that this was a scheme which was devised or introduced between Mr Mulcaire and a number of journalists. We say a very large number. The figure of 28 has been mentioned in this Inquiry, and I have not heard it corrected. But in any event, it was a systematic and, it appears, highly efficient arrangement which started at one end with Mr Mulcaire using various illegal or unlawful techniques to obtain private telephone numbers, PINs, passwords, unique direct dial numbers and other access information, information which was sometimes used to listen to targets, or, it seems, simply passed on to journalists for them to use themselves to access individual voicemails. That was one end of the scheme.

    At the other end, the ill-gotten gains, the fruits of these labours, were turned into articles, if possible. Either directly, sometimes as quotes, we think, from the so-called pals or sources that you read about, or just as stand-up stories for which they would otherwise have had no proof.

    It is important to remember that the admissions made in the Sienna Miller action were not simply as regards accessing her voicemails as well as her email account, using her generic password, but also related to the inclusion of that material in a series of articles and the persistent harassment of her over a number of years, both from the articles published and the continuing targeting and surveillance of her.

    As Mr Jay explained, whatever may be said now or in January at the civil trial, it has been admitted by the newspaper group not, as was originally claimed, that they were simply liable for those activities of Mr Mulcaire because he had been hired or commissioned to carry them out, but also because their very own journalists were mixed up in it, a large number, it now seems.

    I am not going to repeat the facts and figures the Inquiry has already heard based on police material as to the sheer scale of this practice, the number of pages in Mr Mulcaire's notebook still being minutely analysed five years after it was seized, or the volume of calls made by him or made from within News International as part of the routine plundering of people's voicemails. What I would say, however, is that the evidence demonstrates not so much a cottage industry, as Mr Jay called it, but rather an industrial revolution, a culture change, we say, away from proper old-fashioned journalistic activity.

    The precise details of this I will deal with in part 2, not to mention at the civil trial at the end of January, but I will just leave you with one calculation.

    The police say in the 11,000 pages of Mr Mulcaire's notebook it looks as if there is evidence of well over 2,000 tasks assigned to him in the four years to which the notebooks relate. That means potentially 500 plus stories each year from this single source. Which means, on such a calculation, that there were possibly ten stories in each edition of the News of the World which were the product of phone hacking alone, even leaving aside the other dark arts practised by the newspaper.

    That may be speculation, although there is other evidence which suggests higher figures, but even on that, it is hard not to conclude that the very foundations of this most popular newspaper throughout these years were built on manifestly unholy and indefensible ground.

    And, if the newspaper was receiving such an endless stream of stories, and a significant number of journalists were involved, then it must surely raise questions about who knew what and at what level. Again, that is something about which I will have much more to say in part 2.

    Can I leave you with this taster? Can it really be sensibly argued that this is a simple case where checks and balances were not properly observed and that a handful of rogue journalists were allowed to run amok with the company chequebook? Or, rather, was such activity, the systematic and deliberate employment of unlawful methods, encouraged or condoned at higher positions in the newspaper for the purposes of obtaining stories about the private lives of individuals, the very lifeblood on which this newspaper prided itself?

    Whatever may be the knowledge of those in senior positions at the time, there was on any view a concerted effort, we say, after the event, to conceal the ugly truth from ever surfacing.

    There is little that can be said about this because of the criminal prosecutions, at least in terms of the individuals involved. However, some general comments can be made about the bigger picture.

    Whilst it is comparatively easy now to summarise the activities, the way it has unfolded has little, if anything, to do with News Group Newspapers coming clean of their own accord. Hardly a great advertisement for self-regulation.

    An examination of the state of mind of those who were involved, especially in successive hearings before the Parliamentary Select Committee, has led to inconsistency and corrections, a tangled web, one might say. But what can certainly be said is that it has revealed at the very least that someone somewhere is not telling the truth.

    In order to assess the culture, it is important to remember what was said by the News of the World in July 2009. Let me pick out some highlights of the statement they put out on their website. A statement which News International, and that was the website it was put out on, said they had deliberately delayed making until all relevant facts had been analysed and checked, both internally and externally, and this is the statement:

    "News International has completed a thorough investigation into the various allegations made referring to Nick Davies' initial story. Apart from matters raised in the Mulcaire and Goodman proceedings, the only other evidence connecting News of the World reporters to information gained as a result of accessing a person's voicemail emerged in April 2008 during the course of the Gordon Taylor litigation. Neither this information nor any story arising from it was ever published. Once senior executives became aware of this, immediate steps were taken to resolve Mr Taylor's complaint.

    "We can state with confidence that apart from these matters there is not and never has been evidence to support allegations that News of the World journalists have accessed the voicemails of any individual or that News of the World or its journalists have instructed private investigators or other third parties to access the voicemails of any individuals.

    "Further [they stated categorically], in the context of allegations having appeared in not only the Guardian but the BBC and Sky, it is untrue that officers have found evidence of News Group staff, either themselves or using private investigators, hacking into thousands of mobile phones; it is untrue that apart from Goodman, officers found evidence that other members of News Group's staff hacked into mobile phones or accessed individuals' voicemails, and it is untrue that News Group reporters have hacked into telephone voicemail services of various footballers, politicians and celebrities named in reports this week."

    Pausing there, it is a telling feature of the scandal that the reporting of it was largely, if not exclusively, confined to the broadsheet newspapers and the broadcasting media.

    The other tabloids, or popular newspapers, ran a million miles from it in the opposite direction. No screaming headlines, for once. No finger pointing between competitors in a brutally competitive market. How interesting, you might think.

    Although the myth of one rogue journalist has thankfully been exploded, it is one which was perpetuated for some time by the News of the World. Even as recently as September 2010, the group issued a public statement in the face of mounting evidence which said simply this:

    "We reject absolutely any suggestion that there was a widespread culture of wrongdoing at the News of the World."

    Of course, it's important to bear in mind, sir, that as Mr Pike, one of its external solicitors, admitted only a few weeks ago to the Select Committee in their unenviable task of trying to uncover the truth of who knew what and when, that News Group solicitors knew perfectly well from 2008, some two years earlier than this statement was put out, that the first defence of rogue reporter defence was blatantly untrue but the solicitors felt bound not to reveal this information because of client confidentiality. Solicitors are bound to keep the silence of their clients, but the clients, of course, are not restricted in this way.

    The Inquiry will hear from the solicitor Mark Lewis, who will explain in his own words the story of how his claims against News Group started, his dealings with News International and therefore how the News of the World eventually met its fate.

    Mr Lewis's account of what happened to him, how the Gordon Taylor case ended with an enormous settlement and later the Dowlers' too, how he has been the subject of attack by those in authority, the police and even the PCC in the course of his work and finally how he personally became the target himself of News International, would read a little like a John Grisham novel if only it was fictional, but the truth, as Mark Twain said, is stranger than fiction.

    Indeed, the revelation in the last few weeks that not only was he under surveillance but private investigators were also instructed to and did carry out covert surveillance on his family, filming his ex-wife and his teenage daughter, is, to use the words of News International's own counsel yesterday, totally unacceptable. And whilst an apology may be some comfort for Mr Lewis, and no doubt he can be asked this, it is important to remember that as with this fresh disgrace and the previous drip drip of revelation after revelation about the conduct of News of the World, that it is all well and good apologising once you've been caught out. How much better if the stables, however Augean, had been cleared out voluntarily by this organisation. Hardly, I would suggest, a task of Herculean proportions.

    The timing is critical, too, for the newspaper was caught out in this respect not in some nefarious activities in the dim, dark days of 2005 and 2006, at the height of Mr Mulcaire's activities. This was commissioned and discussed with solicitors as recently as the middle of last year, at the same time that News International's offices were telling the Select Committee that the organisation was trying to get to the bottom of what had gone so horribly wrong. It is clear that News Group's response to this was instead to consult with their solicitors -- of course, not the so-called greedy claimant lawyers, but their external solicitors, Farrers, about commissioning surveillance of those conducting litigation against them, surveillance designed to unearth the true scale of what Mr Davies of News International describes as the wrongful and shameful behaviour.

    Mr Lewis was targeted for standing up to a powerful newspaper organisation, but he isn't the first, as you will hear from me later, and despite the best of hopes, I suspect he may well not be the last. He wasn't, certainly, alone in terms of those seeking to hold News International to account. No, it appears that the organisation commissioned private investigators to carry out surveillance of other key lawyers whose clients were bringing civil claims against News Group, such as Charlotte Harris, who prepared, amongst others, Mr Clifford, and Mark Thompson, who prepared Sienna Miller and let us not forget that News International also set investigators on members of the Parliamentary Select Committee themselves. Remarkable.

    These, you might think, are the tactics of fear and desperation. But I ask you this: is this what journalism or the protection of it comes to, organisations setting themselves up so far above the law that nothing seems to be beyond the pale? What a culture. What an ethical vacuum, and from a newspaper whose moral crusade is still being championed by News International even yesterday and filled the pages of its final edition.

    And yes, you might say, in this example it may be the culture of just one of the players in the market, but it is, or at least was, a highly influential one, and we say fairly representative in a number of respects of the rest of the tabloid market.

    Before I finally leave the issue of hacking, I need briefly mention two things.

    Firstly, it is important to say that what we have so far may only be just the tip of the iceberg. I don't just mean the fact that the police may only have notified about a tenth of the total number of victims of this scandal. Two of the core participants giving evidence next week will provide a glimpse of what I mean: Mr Hurst, a former member of British Army Intelligence, and Ms Jane Winter. Both will deal with how their computers and emails passing between them were illegally accessed by private investigators working, they say, for the News of the World by the use of Trojan horse software.

    Mr Hurst's claim was the subject of a Panorama programme and is probably familiar to some of you here. He alleges that his emails were hacked into to obtain information and documents about activities connected to his investigations in Northern Ireland. Ms Winter, with whom he communicated, worked for an independent non-governmental organisation striving to ensure that human rights are respected in Northern Ireland.

    The second thing I must mention, something Mr Jay said in his opening on Monday, is that the use of hacking into voicemails may well not have been a practice hermetically sealed within the four walls of the News of the World's offices. Indeed, as Richard Peppiatt, the ex-Star journalist who walked out in protest at tabloid culture, asked rhetorically himself at the seminar: who seriously believes that there was just one rogue newsroom, or one rogue investigator, for that matter?

    Whilst Mr Davies was at great pains yesterday to dispute the action brought against the same defendant, News Group Newspapers, by my client Jude Law over his claim of hacking by the Sun newspaper as well as the News of the World, and to downplay the evidence against the sister newspaper, it would be wrong to think, and indeed as much has been said in the Chancery Division, that the corner names which were mentioned by Mr Jay are by any means the only basis upon which Mr Law's claim is brought. Neither of us can say any more. It is a matter which will be tried in the Chancery Division, although not in January of next year, unfortunately.

    Sir, I don't know if that's a convenient moment to break shortly.

  • Certainly. Shall we just have until half past, and then we'll come back for another half an hour and then you'll choose your time to break for the short adjournment.

  • I'm very grateful, sir.

  • (A short break)

  • Yes, Mr Sherborne.

  • Let us pause for a moment then to just take stock. Outrageous and shocking as it is, the practise of illegally accessing people's personal voicemails is, I would suggest, just one symptom of a much greater disease afflicting the tabloid press.

    As you reminded Mr Caplan yesterday, hacking, as I mentioned earlier, is not the only reason we are here. Although, as I've said as well, having listened to the core participants at the seminars last month, one might be forgiven for thinking that other than hacking, regarded as a historic and isolated lapse of judgment, there was nothing to criticise, really.

    It is no surprise, therefore, with such an attitude as that from the popular press, that so little publicity was given to the Information Commissioner's report when it came out in 2006.

    Given that even now there is a desperate attempt to avoid its conclusions, I'm going to highlight some of the things that were said in this initial report, "What price privacy now?" a phrase to which I will return.

    Mr Thomas concluded, the Information Commissioner, that:

    "investigations by my officers and by the police have uncovered evidence of a pervasive and widespread industry devoted to the illegal buying and selling of personal information."

    He went on to conclude that:

    "The trade in such information represents so serious a threat to individual privacy that this is the first report I or any of my predecessors have presented to Parliament."

    In paragraph 5.6 of his report, he specifically addressed the issue of the media. He said:

    "Journalists have a voracious demand for personal information, especially at the popular end of the market. The more information they reveal about celebrities or anyone remotely in the public eye, the more newspapers they can sell. The primary documentation seized at the premises of the Hampshire private detective consisted largely of correspondence, reports, invoices, settlement of bills, et cetera, between the detective and many of the better-known national newspapers, tabloid and broadsheet, and magazines.

    "In almost every case, the individual journalist seeking the information was named and invoices and payment slips identified leading media groups. Some of these even referred explicitly to confidential information. The information which the detective supplied for the newspapers included details of criminal records, registered keepers of vehicles, driving licence details, ex-directory telephone numbers, itemised telephone billing and mobile phone records and details of friends and family telephone numbers.

    "The secondary documentation seized at the same premises consisted of the detective's own handwritten personal notes, and a record of work carried out, about whom and for whom. This mass of evidence documented literally thousands of Section 55 offences and added many more identifiable reporters supplied with information, bringing the total to some 305 named journalists."

    Somewhat surprisingly, given the true public interest in this of all stories, it barely received a mention, at least not in certain sections of the press. Let me write the headline for you; after all, no newspaper actually did:

    "What price privacy? Tabloid newspapers are chief suspects in the routine illegal buying and selling of personal information. It's official, confirms Information Commissioner. See pages 4 and 5 inside for the league table of shame."

    And who heads this table? Well, I won't name the main offender, but if I was indulging in the press' favourite practice of jigsaw identification, I might say it earns hundreds of millions a year, it lives in a plush multimillion property off High Street Ken, and its editor is also the chairman of the PCC's Editors' Code of Practice Committee.

    It was helpful to hear Mr Caplan say that steps were taken by this editor, once the report came out, to stamp out these practices. Perhaps, once he's heard from the victims who come to give evidence here, he and other editors of that section of the market will continue to put their houses in order, whatever it is that you recommend, sir. After all, that is why we are here, and it might just be a good start.

    But again, we mustn't forget that the roll call of dirty tricks or journalistic tools of the trade, as I suppose they might be called, does not involve just hacking or the illegal trade in personal information. There is also the obsession, in a particular area of this market, with the invasion into the private lives of well-known people, the hounding of people in the public eye, the intrusion into the grief of victims of crime and the unforgivable vilification of those caught up unwittingly in such events, as well as other ethical or cultural problems which my clients will give evidence about.

    Let's begin, then, with the invasion of privacy.

    Right at the outset in true media lawyer style, I know I meant to say in the clearest of terms that freedom of speech is an essential part of any democratic society, and I do. No one could or does say otherwise. But, more importantly, it is only one part of the equation. The other side, so frequently ignored or understated by the press, is the right to respect for private life, for home, for family life, for correspondence.

    Privacy, contrary to what the newspapers believe, is not a dirty word, and it does not necessarily mean the same as secret. Indeed, it is a much wider concept, and whilst I could give you a legal lecture about its importance, I may well commit, as I said earlier, some of this to written form.

    What it means quite often is nothing more than a type of freedom in itself, the freedom, that is, to make choices, choices about what we do, choices about what we do in private and also what we do in public or semi-public places sometimes, provided that the activity is one which there is a reasonable expectation would remain private. And by private, again, I do not mean secret.

    Let me give you an example of this freedom of choice in relation to photographs. When I come back from holiday, if I get one, I take my photos to be developed. Some, it turns out, are terrible; most, in fact. Whilst I might show all of the ones I get back, no matter how terrible, to my family, and maybe only the semi-decent ones to my friends or work colleagues because I want them to see a certain historical monument or something similar, there are some which should never see the light of day. That is my choice.

    Now, the ones that I don't show may be almost the same as the ones that I do. They may, for example, be a bad light or I may be pulling an embarrassing face or something, but the fact that they may contain similar information to the ones that I do show is not really the point. It is my choice which of those moments I show and why, and just because I only show some of them doesn't mean that Snappy Snaps or some other generic high street developers can show all of them in their window. It is this freedom of choice, or, to use another dirty word, control, about how I portray myself to the world or what of my private life I put in the public domain, and it's something which we should all be entitled to do; at least, that is, unless there is some countervailing public interest, a topic to which I will turn, albeit relatively briefly, in due course.

    The same applies to what I may do in private or in semi public or public places. It is about respect for other people's privacy, regardless of whether you are a celebrity or not.

    Now, if you expose your entire life to the press and trade off that, truly and actively trade off that, then it may be a different story, I accept. But examples of that, proper examples of that, are few and far between in reality, as some of the core participant victims giving evidence will explain. Most importantly, it is that kind of person, who exposes their entire life to the press, who is not here complaining to you, sir.

    This freedom of choice is one which you or I, as ordinary members of the public, take for granted, but for people whose careers or talents place them in the public eye, they apparently cannot.

    It has often been said, even by Lord Hoffmann who has been quoted wrongly by at least one editor as making freedom of speech a trump card, that a right to privacy is a part of every human being's development, and if I may be permitted a moment of lofty prose, the respect which is given to an individual's privacy is as much a mark of a tolerant and mature society as we like to believe ours is, as a free and forceful press.

    There I go again, putting these two rights, or principles, which often clash, on an equal footing, at least to start with. That is, of course, until the facts of any particular case are scrutinised. Well, I make no apologies for doing so. Not only is a it right as a matter of common sense; it is the law, both here and in Europe.

    I know the press don't like this, and I will return to this in the context of Mr Mosley's story in a moment, but that is the position. Freedom is not an unqualified concept.

    It is noteworthy that it was an American writer, Elbert Hubbard, born and bred on First Amendment principles, who famously described responsibility as the price of freedom. The fact that he's also famous for defining an editor as a person employed by a newspaper whose business is to separate the wheat from the chaff and to see that the chaff is printed is too tempting not to mention.

    Whilst I'm happy to debate these issues in front of this Inquiry, indeed with anyone, it is in truth an academic argument, and I say that for two reasons, the two different definitions of the word "academic".

    Firstly, because it is largely irrelevant, since the stories which are the subject of the injunctions about which so much heat is generated by the press, never do they contain any public interest at all. They don't involve politics or corruption or the misuse of public money. They are not what one might call the product of investigative journalism. Far from it. They involve celebrity gossip, sport and sex. These are the type of stories where the law is now being presented as a threat to freedom of speech.

    The second reason why it is an academic argument is that however clever the legal or intellectual arguments may be on each side, the imperative which really drives the newspaper is money. Stories like this sell newspapers. Maybe not literally on the news stands, but these exclusives capture or keep the readership, or so the newspapers believe, and with readership figures comes advertising, such as there is left. And if proof of that is needed, then why is it that you heard some of the media representatives at the seminars citing what was said by various commentators or even the odd judge or two is falling into the age-old trap that public interest is defined by what the public are interested in or curious about, when they said that there was a real public interest in these newspapers being allowed to continue publishing such stories.

    Indeed, the attitude of the tabloid press to privacy and the challenges which this represents is neatly encapsulated, I say, by the evidence given by Mr Mosley. I say the attitude of the tabloid press generally as opposed to the News of the World, which was the particular newspaper that so spectacularly destroyed his privacy once and for all, because of the haste, as I will describe later, of the other newspapers from the same market to rubbish Mr Mosley after the decision, to rubbish the judgment, and quite remarkably, to rubbish even the judge who made it in July 2008, a pattern which has now become familiar in a certain section of the press.

    It is a startling feature that despite this obscene rush to trash the judgment and condemn it as wrong, there was never any appeal by the News of the World, a point I think you noted, sir, during Mr Jay's opening. Nor was there any suggestion by the government in its submissions to the European Court that the decision was wrong. And how, I ask, could it be?

    The story which the News of the World blasted across its front page with the screaming headline, "Formula 1 boss has sick Nazi orgy with five hookers", revealing the details of Mr Mosley's sex life together with graphic images, has nothing whatever to do with public interest. Mr Mosley's work as president of the FIA may have involved a public dimension in terms of imposing sanctions, for example, on the Formula 1 industry, but as much, if not more, was about road safety, something which is really rather boring, I can tell you, but nevertheless incredibly important.

    Mr Mosley didn't court publicity. Neither he nor his wife nor his sons had any interest in being associated with the glamour of motorsport. However, whilst before the end of March 2008, he may not have been well known to the average member of the British public, and that was a deliberate choice, he is well known now, though. Let's be honest. Who can look at him without thinking about what he chooses to do with other consenting adults in private? And then stop, and ask yourself this: is this something you really feel you're entitled to know about? Whatever your answer, you do know it. And once you know it, it's too late.

    The fact that he won his case does nothing to remedy that. How does it feel for Mr Mosley, a man who has devoted much of his life to ensuring the safety of others, about which very little is written? He will tell you.

    Let me go back a little, though. I remember that telephone call on the Sunday morning at the end of March of 2008, and I confess I was reading the News of the World at the time, and there it was on the front page. That is how Mr Mosley first saw it too. He wasn't given any warning in advance, despite the obvious devastation it was likely to cause to his private life and to that of his family. Was this an accident? I can answer that. I say I can. Mr Myler, the editor of the News of the World, answered it himself in his evidence at the trial. He admitted that the failure to give any notice was a deliberate attempt to avoid Mr Mosley going for an injunction, as he suspected he would get it. Extraordinary. And yet the newspaper did not bat an eyelid at this deliberate decision to remove any opportunity for Mr Mosley to protect his article 8 rights.

    The balance between freedom of speech and respect for a private life is an exercise which, if conducted at all, happened entirely within the editor's office, made by an individual -- and this is not personal to Mr Myler -- who had a direct commercial interest in publishing this story. Is this the right way for the law to work? It certainly is how the press want it to be.

    Whilst the original story with the Nazi line was bad, in the follow-up story, the newspapers sought to rub salt into wounds because Mr Mosley had the temerity to publicly state that his private activities had nothing to do with the Nazis or anything Nazi at all. It was absurd.

    Indeed, he was called a liar for this in the follow-up article, which was published on that second weekend, a weekend whilst Mr Mosley was waiting for the court to decide his emergency application to prevent the very graphic images of him being published on the Internet. The injunction was refused, as we all know, even though the judge held that there was no public interest in the story and the article was a gross intrusion into his private life, and it was refused because the damn had burst. Millions of people had already seen these images, as the News of the World had posted them on their website, and it had gone viral across the Internet.

    Mr Mosley was faced with a choice, as he will tell you: whether to retreat and accept this humiliation, something which the newspapers counted on that he was likely to do, or instead to prepare himself for a full-blown trial, with all the added embarrassment that this would cause. Thankfully, he chose the latter. Thankfully, not just for lawyers, but for ordinary members of the public, because it is a case which has strengthened the protection to the private life of all of us.

    What happened at trial is, of course, history, but then so is his private life, history. As I said, it is too late to put the genie back into the bottle.

    And what about the News of the World? Well, they obviously failed to make good the suggestion that there was a Nazi theme, as they did other spurious public interest arguments which the court rejected. But if you want a little insight into some of the tricks of the tawdry trade I have mentioned, listen to Mr Mosley as he will tell you that the Nazi theme was preconceived story for which they needed the facts to fit.

    We know that because of evidence the News of the World had to reveal in the action. Woman E, the witness, who never showed up at the trial, can be seen on footage shot the day before as they tested the secret camera they were fitting her with. As Mr Mosley describes in his evidence to the Inquiry, you can see woman E being instructed by Neville Thurlbeck, a man whose name is familiar to all here, the journalist responsible for the story, trying to get Mr Mosley, as he wanted woman E to do, to perform a sieg heil salute, telling woman E how far Mr Mosley should be away from the camera if she could get him to do that salute. Of course, there was no salute, and as woman E later apologised, she knew there was nothing Nazi about this at all. Perfect example, you might think, of the example described so vividly by Mr Peppiatt: let's publish the story and worry about the facts later. Publish and be damned is consigned to the history books of Fleet Street, said Mr Hall. I beg to differ.

    Entrapment was bad enough, but it didn't stop there. There was blackmail, too, we say: the attempt by Mr Thurlbeck to persuade some of the woman involved after the story came out to play nicely with the News of the World and to give them stories for the follow-up edition under the threat of revealing their identities. Mr Neville's email, what you might call the "from" rather than the "for Neville" email, even sent these terrified women unpixelated images of themselves which had been obtained to show them what would be published in the newspaper if they didn't play ball.

    This kind of blackmail was so commonplace in the tabloid psyche that the editor thought nothing of it at trial. As the judge described it -- this supposedly amoral judge, as one particular newspaper termed him -- it disclosed a remarkable state of affairs.

    As I say, Mr Mosley won his action, but at what cost? And I mean cost in real terms as well, because though he was awarded £60,000, the largest privacy award to date, he was left out of pocket, particularly as he had to spend considerable sums trying to clear up literally thousands of articles on the Internet or reposting of these voyeuristic images, and he will tell you about that.

    More importantly, what about the cost to his family? What price privacy, one might say.

    How did the tabloid press deal with this defeat? Well, having lost in Court 13, the News of the World editor looked for a different kind of appeal: in the court of public opinion, that is. He ran straight to the steps of the RCJ attacking the judgment and accusing the judge of bringing in a law of privacy through the back door, whatever that is meant to mean. He sought to challenge the decision, defending the article, despite the judge's clear rulings, as a legitimate and lawful publication, and decrying this as, yes, you guessed it, a chilling effect on free speech. Our press, he said, is less free today. Our media are being strangled by stealth.

    He was not a lone voice, however loud. The Sun joined in too, with the headline, "The day that freedom got spanked". Of course, the Sun, we hear now, is trying to distance itself as fast as it can from its former stable mate.

    The Daily Mail stepped in, too, to defend the News of the World as its editor attacked the judgment and, more importantly, the judge as well. In a speech to the Society of Editors, Mr Dacre complained that the law was coming not from Parliament but from amoral judgments, words he said "I used very deliberately from arrogant and amoral judgments of one man, a judge with a subjective and highly relativist moral sense".

    His attack went much further and was far more personal, and I won't repeat it, but it was on a judge who was simply applying the law as he was required to do, and, most importantly, as Parliament has in fact accepted by its adoption of the Human Rights Act and the Convention rights under it, and as the House of Lords has frequently endorsed.

    But once again, let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

    It is an interesting insight into how this section of the press regards itself above the law and it is familiar from the way in which they treat injunctions ordered by the court preserving privacy.

    This Inquiry may recognise the rubbishing by editors of those who make the decisions as a way of undermining the process itself. Sadly, in Mr Mosley's case, as appears in several other of the accounts you will hear, there is a terrible postscript.

    In the aftermath of the trial, Mr Mosley's son, who was suffering from depression, died of an overdose, something which he strongly believes was in some way attributable to the very public humiliation that he received. The press's reaction to this deeply sensitive issue hardly covered them in more glory. As Mr Mosley tried to sort out his son's personal effects, he was mobbed by journalists at the house, even though he had written to newspaper editors asking to be left alone. An isolated incident? No. The same is true of his son's funeral. For example, one of the reporters tried to pass himself off as a rambler in order to get in and take pictures.

    All of this perhaps could have been avoided, Mr Mosley would say, not just for his benefit but for others who also find their lives ruined by unlawful intrusions into their privacy. That is if prior notification had to be given by newspapers before they published stories about people's private lives. That was the basis of his complaint to Strasbourg, that the law should provide a proper remedy, one that is practical and real, and what other proper remedy is there for invasion of privacy? Because once something is made public, nothing else will ever do. It's not like libel, where an award of damages can prove to the world that the allegation about which you complain is untrue. The only effective remedy is one where the stable door is shut, if it should be shut, before the horse bolts.

    And who should decide whether the stable door should be shut or not? Is it the courts? Trained independent judges? Or would you rather it was the editors, whose commercial interests lie in publication.

    If you even need to give it a second thought, then you only need to think for a moment about what we learned of the mind of a tabloid editor from Mr MacKenzie's performance at the seminars. And we heard what Mr Myler too said at the trial of Mr Mosley. He published the story even though he knew Mr Mosley would probably have succeeded in injuncting it if a court had been allowed the opportunity of hearing the application. Again, this is a point which I am more than happy to debate, but it is better perhaps if I commit these legalistic arguments to writing.

    Before we look at the real area of journalism, as I say, where these arguments are tested, namely kiss and tell stories, let me say one or two words about the much discussed topic of public interest.

    The difference between what is truly in the public interest and what the public are interested in is much simpler than newspapers like to make out. Indeed, it is rather simpler when one realises something which Professor Cathcart pointed out in one of the seminars, namely there are two different senses in one which uses the word.

    There is on the one hand interest in the sense that I like something, like I have an interest in football or holidays in the sun, or interest as in something which is good or bad for me, like I have an interest in the outcome of a particular decision made by chambers, for example, to put up my rent.

    Of course, I can understand why the newspapers have an interest, in the second sense of the word, in confusing these two concepts. After all, what the public are interested in, in the first sense, sells more newspapers: celebrity gossip, generally tittle-tattle; and what the public have a genuine interest in knowing about: drug trials, what goes on in Europe with the Central Bank and so on, mostly doesn't. As I always tell my children, things that you enjoy are rarely good for you, and I'm sure if they can understand it, I'm sure journalists can too.

    I'm not advocating boring newspapers. Don't get me wrong, I like to read about gossip too. Most people do. But just because I like to doesn't mean that I should, or that newspapers should be able to invoke that curiosity, that prurient interest in such matters, to defeat an individual's wish to maintain respect for the boundaries of their private life.

    It is important to remember the distinction which the Convention on Human Rights makes between these two different and recognised roles of the press in society. Namely, on the one hand, reporting facts, even if controversial, which are capable of contributing to a debate of general public interest in a democratic society, what we like to call the press as a public watchdog. And on the other hand, its role as reporting on the details of the private lives of well-known individuals.

    The former has a legitimate interest for the public. The latter does not.

    The Strasbourg court has said as much. Even though it refused Mr Mosley's complaint about the lack of a requirement in this country for prior notification, it repeated the importance of the press as a public watchdog, and therefore recommended that any constraints on this role should be narrowly constructed, given the importance of this kind of expression. However, as to the role in its provision of sensational and lurid news, intended to titillate, it said, or entertain or satisfy the curiosity, your voyeuristic curiosity, as it described it, of a particular readership, it recognised that that was a limited role as compared to the importance to maintain the private lives of citizens, even if they have a public profile.

    I would certainly not quibble with any of that.

    There are various myths which have grown up around the term "public interest", ones which are often peddled through the press when arguing against these injunctions. Not in court, since, as Mr Rusbridger confirmed, they rarely do contest them in court, because obviously they are hopeless, but rather through the pages of their newspapers where they believe they can influence the public more directly. As I say, I won't take up time dealing with them now.

    Nor the associated problem of how, even when such orders are granted by the courts to protect the privacy of individuals, and often accompanied with anonymity orders, that they are somehow undermined by the press.

    Indeed, there is nothing particularly remarkable about anonymity. It is just the way of protecting the whole purpose of an order, but it does seem to offend against the sensibilities of a certain section of the press who do their utmost to try and undermine this anonymity, producing, as they do, just enough material to speculate, and for that speculation to become rife about the identity of the individual whom the court has deemed worthy of protection.

    Returning then to kiss and tell stories and chequebook journalism --

  • I think it's probably convenient now and we'll resume again at 2.05 pm.

  • (The luncheon adjournment)

  • Yes, Mr Sherborne.

  • Sir, I arrived before the short adjournment at the subject of kiss and tell stories and chequebook journalism, the trademark feature of tabloid press, one might say.

    A number of the core participant victims will give evidence about their experiences. Mr Flitcroft is one such person, Garry Flitcroft. A name most of those listening to this speech, even football supporters, might have to scratch their heads about for a moment. Indeed, I'm sure he won't mind me saying that he's probably better known for his appearances in legal textbooks than he is on his appearances on the football pitch, that is to all but die-hard Blackburn Rovers fans. He was the person, you recall, who put the A into A v B plc. Probably the first kiss and tell injunction to be decided by the English court following the introduction of the Human Rights Act.

    In one sense, his story is quite simple. That is how no doubt the points would like to present it. He obtained an injunction from a first instance judge in 2001 to prevent the publication of details of an affair, an injunction which was later overturned by the Court of Appeal in early 2002, with Lord Woolf delivering the leading judgment, a judgment which has certainly been much vaunted by the press over the years since it blurred the distinction I mentioned between what is truly in the public interest with what the public are interested in, the Court of Appeal in 2002 deciding that there was some legitimate interest in the general public knowing the details of A's sex life since, as a professional footballer, he was supposedly a role model.

    Far be it for me to criticise Lord Woolf, but it is a judgment which is now widely accepted would be decided differently today, even, I suspect, with the first instance decision in the Rio Ferdinand case which, as you've heard, is on its way to appeal.

    For those who are interested in such things, you should read the judgment of the later Court of Appeal in the case of Loreena McKennitt v Niema Ash, probably one of the leading statements of domestic law on privacy in which the English court finally resolved the tension between the decision in A v B on the one hand and the Strasbourg definition of Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which are now incorporated into United Kingdom law, on the other hand. Resolved of course, as we know, in favour of the decisions of Europe.

    There is perhaps no surprise about this. It's been a ruling not just of the Court of Appeal but the House of Lords as well, since this was the inevitable and indisputable consequence of introducing the European Convention of Human Rights into United Kingdom law, and before the anti-Europe brigade start to sound off, the press cannot have it both ways. The freedom of speech which they rely on is given to them by virtue of Article 10 of the very same Convention as Article 8.

    The fact that the Court of Appeal would almost certainly have decided this case in favour of Mr Flitcroft now is little consolation, I suspect. Similarly, the fact that Mr Mosley won his case in front of the High Court, but only after the material was already published. But behind Mr Flitcroft's legal case, there is a real story about a real person and the impact which this kind of journalism can have, something which as lawyers we rarely think about, but this Inquiry needs to consider.

    Mr Flitcroft will explain that whether the law was right or wrong, the impact on him, as on others caught up in such stories, was enormous. Following the very public humiliation of him and the feeding frenzy in the media when his name was finally revealed, with his anonymity as just "A" being lifted amongst further newspaper speculation as to his identity, his family was ripped apart.

    You may feel very sorry for him personally about that, or you may not. His main concern, however, is his family. He told his wife about the affair before the injunction was lifted. You might say he was forced to. But any chance they had of dealing with the problems which this caused was shattered, however, by the humiliation which they had to endure so publicly, both of them. Journalists were camped outside his door, news helicopters were flying over his house, tracking down his family wherever they went. In the full glare of the media spotlight, it is no wonder that they had absolutely no chance of dealing with a situation which those not in the public domain have the chance to sort out in private, as such things should be.

    He will tell you about the teasing, the gossip which his children had to suffer at school. He will tell you about the barrage of relentless and hounding publicity, publicity which caused his father-in-law, who was suffering from Parkinson's disease, enormous distress. The publicity was so bad that his own father, who had come to watch him play football from the age of 7, had to stop going to see him because of the abuse that he received. How his depression had worsened and he later committed suicide. Uncomfortable perhaps for the press to listen to? Well then, good, because these are the stories behind the headlines, headlines which come and go like yesterday's chip paper, but the damage which they can do to real people, whatever their profession, goes on and on.

  • That's not necessarily so any more.

  • Indeed, and that's something the Inquiry needs to consider, given that these stories permanently reside on the Internet. Mr Mosley will give evidence to you about how difficult it is to try and deal with that, even where the English court has ruled that the publication should never have taken place.

    And what about the woman, sir, with whom he had this affair and who was exercising her freedom of speech? Her attempts to demand money from Mr Flitcroft through sending a package to his parents' house asking for cash in return for her not disclosing their relationship were refused. She therefore exercised her threat because Mr Flitcroft did not want to give in to such blackmail. No doubt she got her money from the newspaper and a sizeable cheque, I'm sure, and no doubt her motivation was her belief that his wife ought to know about their affair.

    What of the newspaper? One wonders whether it was all worth it after all. Was Mr Flitcroft's right to privacy and the effect which invading this caused really outweighed by some specious public interest which has at its heart the commercial motive that without such stories the tabloid press fears it will not exist? Is the need to satisfy an insatiable public appetite for salacious gossip more important? Perhaps we will never know. I will come back to this, though, because it's important, sir, in the context of prior notification.

    What consolation, as I have said, for Mr Flitcroft that the law might be considered wrong now, or not. It's irrelevant. It's not going to give him back what he's lost, and that's the very real problem with invading people's privacy because once it's breached and private things are made public, particularly in a national newspaper and particularly with the Internet, then that privacy is lost forever.

    We do need to ask what price we place now on privacy in our society. One we would like to think of, as I said, as a mature and tolerant one.

    If further examples are needed, Charlotte Church's evidence will provide another one. Part of her statement concerns a story which was published on the front page of the News of the World in December 2005 under the headline, "Church: three in a bed cocaine shock". You might be forgiven for thinking when you saw that headline that it was some revelation about the singer herself. It wasn't, although I suspect that was the intention.

    Instead, it was a story about her father having an affair with someone who worked for him, and in several pages lurid and sensational details of this private relationship were plastered across the newspaper. The effect on her parents, and particularly her mother, someone the press would call the innocent party, was absolutely devastating and Ms Church will tell you about this. The newspaper was aware of that effect even at the time. How do I say that? Because it subsequently transpired that the Church family has discovered that the story was the product of their voicemail messages being illegally accessed by Mr Mulcaire.

    Part of the information which they would have found out was the fact that shortly prior to the story being published Charlotte's mother was admitted to hospital following an attempted suicide. The newspaper knew it.

    In an act of great sensitivity, as Ms Church will explain, following the article published, the newspaper approached her mother directly and persuaded her to give them an exclusive, despite her fragile condition, as part of a Faustian pact that in return they would not run another lurid follow-up story about her husband's affair.

    So when people talk of public interest in exposing the private lives of well-known people or those close to them, this is the real, brutally real impact which this kind of journalism has.

    There are, of course, less extreme examples, but they still demonstrate how, in my submission, unjustifiable such stories are, contributing nothing as they do to what is truly in the public interest.

    Steve Coogan, for example, will give evidence to this Inquiry. Another individual whom the popular press love to vilify. But look behind the silly tabloid stereotypes for a moment. He is, I would say, perhaps he would not say it himself, a talented writer, comedian and actor, but most importantly, he has not sought publicity for himself. He doesn't turn up to do openings, he doesn't preach morality to anyone or set himself up as a role model. Nevertheless, he has been on the receiving end of numerous kiss and tell stories.

    His evidence, whilst less dramatic than that of Charlotte Church, is equally important to demonstrate how this almost unique English journalistic culture of kiss and tell stories can, over time, have an insidious effect even on the most sanguine and impervious of individuals. He will describe how not just him but his family and friends have been affected by this, how he's been doorstepped by journalists and so have partners, members of his family, parents, grandparents, all in an attempt to dig up stories about his private life. He's had journalists camped outside his house, rooting through his bins, bothering neighbours, following him in cars and so on and so forth.

    Yes, the obsession with well-known people and the belief that details of their private lives, exclusive details, sells newspapers, has led to yet another excess, the hounding of celebrities. Not just from intrusive stories, but also because of the market this creates for the paparazzi, an aggressive breed of unregulated males equipped with a camera, often used as more of a weapon than a means of recording someone's image. Their methods of stalking vary from driving recklessly in the hot pursuit of their prey through the streets of London with all the dangers this causes, through crashing into cars to stop someone getting away from them, to force a confrontation for which read perfect photo opportunity, to camping outside someone's home and refusing to leave, to chasing and jostling their victim down the road, shouting out abuse in the hope that a reaction can be provoked and a caption generated for which a certain section of the press will pay handsomely.

    It goes without saying that without this kind of willing market, there is no livelihood for this species of journalistic activity.

    A number of witnesses speak about this, at least in general terms. However, in case anyone thinks that this is just a problem for the rich and famous, I can safely say that having been involved in obtaining every one of the six injunctions which have been granted to stop this kind of harassment to well-known people, it is a miracle that no member of the public has got seriously hurt, although many have been caused considerable nuisance, so indescribably dangerous and oblivious is the behaviour of these individuals, not to mention plain old intimidating.

    This hounding, this obsession with reporting on every aspect of a well-known person's private life may seem relatively innocuous, perhaps, unless of course you are the person having to deal with it, and it doesn't matter, it appears, whether you try to be intensely private or not. JK Rowling is a good example of this. She will explain to the Inquiry how, because of the enormous success of her writing talent, she went from being what one might call an ordinary person to what one might call famous, but how despite this she and her husband have gone to enormous lengths, lengths which many would regard as not being necessary, to protect -- or should not be necessary -- to protect the privacy of her family and to let the press know, that section of the press so desperate to indulge their curiosity about her private life, that that is the attitude they take.

    The fact that Ms Rowling has tried to carve out and protect some form, semblance of normal life for her children but has failed to do so despite her best efforts, just highlights the excesses of the press. It should not need saying, and indeed it is part of the PCC code, whatever good that has done her in the past, as she will tell you, that just because children have famous parents doesn't mean that they are public property as well. Adults can make choices. Children, of course, can't.

    Whilst the most well-known of Ms Rowling's repeated disputes with a certain section of the press, desperate to overstep the boundaries between her private and professional career, is the case that she brought against Big Pictures, a photographic agency over a photograph they took published in the Express of her walking on a family outing sharing some special moments with her husband and young children, this is by no means the only example she will give of such intrusion.

    There have still been photographers and press camped outside her house. Her young children have had notes placed in their school bag. Pictures of them have been snatched whilst they've been enjoying quality time on holiday.

    So what, you may say. Just think for a moment. What if you knew that whenever you take your family out of the house, just to go to the park or to the shops, things that you or I, as so-called ordinary people, do without thinking, what if every time you did this you had no idea whether a photographer was going to jump out of the bushes and photograph your children? How would you feel? Scared? Little bit like a prisoner? Perhaps. But more importantly, why should you have to tolerate this kind of hounding, this level of intrusion into your private life? Especially if you are well-known for guarding your privacy as fiercely as Ms Rowling does.

    She will explain the very real corrosive effect that this has had on her children.

    Finally, one other point she will deal with, which may seem a small one, is the obsession with publishing the address of people in the public eye, or sufficient details of their homes so that they can be identified. This is a complaint which she has in common with a number of well-known people, although I think she is the only person giving evidence to this Inquiry who refers to it expressly. It's a problem she's had with a number of publications over the years. It may, as I've said, seem at first blush like a small point, but it is one which is of importance to her, since she deliberately chose to live in a remote part of rural Scotland in order to keep her family's privacy.

    In the past, one tabloid newspaper has even printed the street name and photos of her house, photos which apparently showed the CCTV cameras and other security measures which she has had to employ to protect herself and her children from those, for example, who are well aware of her commercial success. And simply because her address is not a secret in the sense you could probably find it somewhere on the Land Registry if you carried out the necessary searches, does not mean that it is not private, and it doesn't mean that it justifies the publishing of details in a national newspaper with all the security risks that this creates.

    Then there are the other core participant victims who will give evidence of the way that they have constantly had to fight against a steady stream of lies or distortions published about them because it suits the press to portray them in a certain way.

    Sheryl Gascoigne is one of them, for example. She will explain how the minute she married Paul Gascoigne, she became a villain in certain sections of the press, especially after their divorce, but even before, despite being the well-documented victim of domestic abuse.

    Regardless of the true position, she has been persistently portrayed as the callous, money-grabbing wife, blamed for her ex-husband's well-documented problems in story after story, so many times indeed that fiction has turned into accepted fact. Or at least was until she decided in the end to bring a series of libel actions, as she will tell you.

    She is an example of someone who initially dealt with the fame which she received when she started a relationship with a national hero by deciding that the best course was not to take on the press but rather to maintain a dignified silence. It is a view which after many years and countless press cuttings she was forced to change, primarily because her children were angry at what they read about their mother.

    She will tell you how the decision to fight back, as it were, in 2009 and to use her legal rights was an effective one. It is something the Inquiry will obviously consider when looking at how the press are regulated in the wider sense. However, while she won all of her libel actions, the best remedy for her would have been for these lies not to have been published in the first place.

    As she will tell you, this decision to use legal means has at times been risky. It nearly cost her her family home, as she had to place it on the market to fund her legal action to clear her name. Thankfully, she won just before the house was sold, but her attempts to try to set the record straight, if not for her, then for her children, who have to read about these lies, is one which has not been easy.

    Charlotte Church is another core participant with a similar complaint, albeit with her own unique set of circumstances. Having started her professional life when she was just 11 years old as a child prodigy, she has had to enduring intense media scrutiny and in particular what appears to be a concerted attempt to disparage or denigrate her. Given that a lot of this has happened as she was struggling, like most girls of her age, with the pressures of becoming a teenager, some of the reporting was deeply irresponsible, not to mention plain wrong.

    She also chose, like many, to take the course of least resistance. The press, or at least various newspapers, are going to publish what they publish; why fight it? That is, until her children started to reach an age where they could read the lies and distortions published about her for themselves, published by those intent on perpetuating the stereotypical image of her as the voice of an angel who eventually fell from grace.

    She will dismiss the myth of the so-called whingeing celebrity, as well as the line trotted out in self-defence by more tabloid journalists than I can count that celebrities somehow need this publicity and only complain when it's negative. I will let her deal with that.

    More importantly, she emphasises the particular protection which young people need, especially those who, because of a certain talent, enter the public eye without any real idea of the consequences.

    Just to show you how topical her evidence is, she will recount how a week or so ago a story hit the newspapers about how she is meant to have made an exhibition of herself drunkenly proposing to her partner in a bar while singing karaoke. It was a good story, with all the favourite tabloid stereotypes about her: a drunk Charlotte Church, karaoke singing in a Welsh bar, a drunken proposal. Everything. The problem is it was a complete fabrication. Not least because she wasn't even there on the night in question. Did anyone check with her? No. Did anyone think about whether this was intrusive let alone true? Apparently not. To use the Kelvin MacKenzie line, it sounds right so it probably is right, so let's lob it in, bugger sources or respect for people's private lives.

    For the journalists, perhaps they decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story. These no doubt are the same type of tabloid journalists Trevor Kavanagh, the political editor of the Sun, was referring to in the seminars when he described them as the "finest creative professionals in the business", although he was speaking without a hint of irony.

    Ms Church will also describe the massive effect which this kind of journalism has had not only on her life but the lives of her family and friends, collateral damage, one might call it, and the worst excesses of the press came when she was between the ages of 16 and 20, reporters cutting holes in the shrubbery and installing secret cameras, being chased in a car, photographers trying to open a car door while she was inside, trying to take photographs up her skirt. On one occasion she begged the News of the World not to reveal where she lived as there was a threat to kidnap her at the time, but they refused. Or the time the press revealed she was pregnant when she hadn't even told her parents, so desperate were the newspapers to get an exclusive scoop on her private life.

    Before I leave the topic of the damage which the press can do in terms of false portrayals, let me give you two further examples. Examples which seem to fit the description Mr Peppiatt gave when he said that tabloid newsrooms are often bullying and aggressive environments in which dissent is often not tolerated, in particular when it comes to big stories.

    One doesn't need to explain that to Gerry and Kate McCann. The disappearance of their daughter on 3 May 2007 was on any view a big story, and one which had the press falling over themselves to cover, taking up almost permanent residence in the beginning in Praia da Luz.

    When he gives evidence, Mr McCann will explain how it felt for him and his wife to be thrust from what one might call anonymity into the public limelight in the worst possible circumstances, one with which any parent would sympathise. It may be appropriate for me at this moment to read out what clause 5 of the Press Complaints Commission's code says, entitled "Intrusion into grief". Clause 5 states in terms which appear to have no public interest qualification:

    "In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively."

    Mr McCann's evidence will be a perfect example of how hopelessly inadequate this self-regulatory code is as a means of curbing the excesses of the press. He will refer to the blatant intrusion which he and his family suffered throughout, particularly when they were back in the United Kingdom, from the press camping outside their door to how his children were terrified as they were driven around by their parents. He will explain how sensitively the media dealt with this.

    Moreover, he will explain how in the months following the abduction of Madeleine, the behaviour of the press changed from an attitude of support to one of hostility, a change which he suspects, and we say rightly, was based on the commercial imperative to bring home exclusive stories for editors greedily waiting back in the United Kingdom watching the expenses bills of their journalists mounting up. Apparently journalists were being told, he will say, that they had to get a front page story, or their job was on the line.

    What happened in those days in late 2007 and into 2008, when stories about the missing toddler became thin on the ground and the pack of journalists were sitting idly in the bars, must be some of the darkest days for this section of the press. Some of the headlines that were published, either based on some nonsense supposedly gleaned from the Portuguese police, often on nothing at all, were a national scam, and I list some of those headlines:

    "DNA puts parents in frame. British experts insist their tests are valid". "Parents' car hid a corpse. It was under carpet in boot, say police". "It was her blood in parents' hire car, new DNA tests report". "Kate and Gerry's sabotage plot". "Maddy's grave, McCanns buried her on beach". "Waiter can prove that parents lied, says Maddy police. What Kate called out". And finally "Maddy sold by hard-up McCanns".

    And all this despite the fact that the couple had tried through the police to circulate letters to the editors begging them for restraint, especially given the ongoing search for their little girl, but all to no avail.

    Of course, one thing did eventually work, you'll be pleased to hear. I say you'll be pleased to hear, sir. That depends on whether you are a believer in the Press Complaints Commission or self-regulation. It was a libel complaint that worked, worked at least in the sense that the campaign to vilify this poor couple with the sort of nonsense stories that I've read out stopped. A massive payout, to use the tabloid phrase, was made by the Express, the worst but by no means the only offender, and this proved to the world that these accusations were untrue. But there are still some people out there who will no doubt believe that there is no smoke without fire, perhaps, the ones who still ring the McCanns' house or try and send them messages.

    Money doesn't cure all the ills, as the Dowlers will testify to, but unlike a privacy claim, it does prove to the world, at least to the ordinary reasonable person, that these outrageous lies are just that and at least Express Newspapers published a front page apology.

    If this was a one-off, an isolated case of the press going too far, it might be forgivable. A lapse in judgment, albeit that it was only the Express Group, but it wasn't. The McCanns' experience is not an isolated or unique experience, and it has nothing to do with too much sun and sangria clouding the brain of a pack of journalists, as my second example demonstrates.

    He is someone called Christopher Jefferies. A year ago, you would never have heard of him or seen him, unless you were lucky enough to have been taught by him during the 34 years he worked as an English teacher. Yes, for 34 years he dedicated his life to teaching and building up a reputation as an exemplary professional.

    It took the tabloid newspapers only a matter of moments to destroy that reputation in the last days of December of last year.

    Worse still, he was catapulted, like the McCanns, from anonymity into the public spotlight in the most terrifying way possible, as the man responsible, they claimed, for the murder of Joanna Yeates, the Bristol girl who rented one of the flats of which he was a landlord and who disappeared on the weekend of 17 December and whose body was discovered on Christmas Day 2010.

    We all now know that Mr Jefferies was entirely innocent and the murderer, Vincent Tabak, has now been convicted. But it created a media feeding frenzy of almost unparallelled proportions, a frenzy which, sir, as you know led to two newspapers being found guilty of contempt of court.

    On one view, as he sat in a police station answering questions, Mr Jefferies was thankfully unaware of the clamour to convict him which occurred in the press as they appointed themselves his judge, jury and executioner. Once again, it is lucky that when he was released on bail, he was cosseted by friends. Indeed he only fully understood the breadth of the articles which sought to vilify him some time later. Perhaps that is all one can deal with in a situation like that. Thankfully, I don't know.

    But one reason why Mr Jefferies is an example to us all is that this could happen to any one of us, celebrity or not.

  • This, again, is an example of something that contravened the Contempt of Court Act, since proceedings were then active against him.

  • Sir, it does, but as I will show you with some of the newspaper headlines, not all of them of course were convicted of contempt of court, but we say some of the headlines went far too far in any event, whether or not they breached the Contempt of Court Act. This had nothing to do with hacking mobile telephones, bribing the police, blagging personal information or blackmailing girls into giving kiss and tell stories. Let me share some of the highlights of this appalling coverage.

    The Sun's headline:

    "Verdict: weird, posh, lewd, creepy, loner with blue rinse hair."

    The Daily Mail:

    "Was Jo's body hidden next to her flat? Murder police quiz nutty professor, the teacher they called Mr Strange."

    And then the Mirror:

    "Jo suspect is Peeping Tom. Arrest landlord spied on flat couple, friend in jail for paedophile crimes."

    So on and so forth. All in all, it represented a frenzied campaign to blacken his character and persuade the public that he was guilty, a frightening combination of smear, innuendo and complete fiction involving gratuitous dirt digging to the most shameless extent possible. He was monstered in almost every sense imaginable, wrongly accused of being a sexually perverted voyeur, attacked for having had a malign influence over his pupils, suggested he was involved in a previous murder and linked to a convicted paedophile, who I think was the man who owned the flat before the man who owned this flat sold it to the man from whom Mr Jefferies bought. Well, you get the picture. Obviously he must have been guilty, then, of murdering Jo Yeates. All of it was nonsense, and all of this despite warnings from the Attorney General, warnings that were largely ignored. Of course they were. It was too tempting not to publish.

    It was a devastating destruction of all aspects of Mr Jefferies' life, from the professional to the most deeply personal. For example, his relationship with his late mother, the properties he owned, his conduct as a landlord, his entire teaching career. Like clumsy thieves, drunk on the frenzy of an intoxicatingly good story, the press broke into his life and trashed everything, everything that was precious to him, in particular ransacking 34 years of dedication to his profession in a desperate bid to find what they were looking for, a way of establishing he was guilty.

    It is perhaps no wonder Mr Jefferies described it later in this way:

    "My identity had been violated, my privacy had been intruded upon, my whole life. I don't think it would be too strong a word to say that it was a kind of rape that had taken place."

    Mr Jefferies is no celebrity, he is not a politician. A year ago today, I don't imagine that even in his worst nightmares Mr Jefferies would have ever dreamt this could have happened to him. No one ever thinks it will happen to them.

    And the attitude of the press? One editor later described it when interviewed on radio after the case as a mistake. Really? Just a mistake? How reassuring. I suppose the hacking into Milly Dowler's phone was just an error.

    But what does that say about the ethics of the press, or at least a certain section of it? Is this the kind of behaviour, I ask, which is the reason why we have this Inquiry? Or do people still believe, as some newspaper groups maintain, that there is no problem and that we are only here because of political revenge wreaked by the members of Parliament who have been caught out fiddling their expenses?

    Yes, Mr Jefferies brought libel proceedings and yes, he was paid a significant sum, but does that really make up for what happened to him? Does anyone here really think that having to dip into their profits will make these newspapers think twice?

    It's an interesting feature of this story and one I will leave you with, sir, that some of the journalists who monstered Mr Jefferies were the very same journalists responsible for the stories about the McCanns. I'd love to name names, but I promised not to, and tempting though it is to employ the same jigsaw identification tactics which the press use to undermine the orders courts grant to protect individuals from unlawful publications, I am no John Hemming.

    Perhaps it's fitting though to let Jo Yeates' partner have the last word. In a public statement back in January of this year, long before Mr Tabak was arrested, he described the finger pointing and character assassination by the news media of an as-yet innocent man, Mr Jefferies, as "shameful". "It has made me lose a lot of faith", he said, "in the morality of the British press".

    I don't suppose Mr Jefferies has a lot of faith in their morality either, and neither might you, sir.

    Before we leave this type of journalism, I should briefly return to the McCanns, because they were to suffer one final swipe.

    Without any warning, in September 2008, the News of the World published Kate's private diary that she had written to her missing daughter Madeleine. It was a diary in which she recorded her innermost thoughts, things she had written to her daughter, a document so private that even her own husband had not seen it, but which was taken by the police in the course of the investigation.

    How did the News of the World get this from the police? Did they buy the information? Obtain it through some form of deception? We may never know now, especially as the newspaper is defunct.

    And on what basis did they think they could justify such a staggering intrusion into the McCanns' privacy? The publication of this material, under the headline "Kate's diary in her own words", with a picture on the front page suggesting she had provided this herself, left her feeling "mentally raped", her husband says, and is it any wonder? At if the McCanns didn't have enough to deal with.

    Does this suggest something is fundamentally wrong with the culture, the ethics and practices of the press or all three? Sometimes, it is hard to differentiate between them. On any count, I would say, this was wrong, wrong and wrong.

    It should be quite clear now to the Inquiry that a number of people are coming here of their own accord to recount some highly personal and distressing experiences, to put into the public domain very private matters about themselves and to do so not because they have anything to gain, which they don't, but because they want to see something done to stop this type of behaviour so that other people don't have to endure the same suffering, whether great or not so great comparatively.

    However, they all have a fear, a very real fear, sir, that you've recognised, that in doing so, not only will they have to go through painful experiences again, but that they will run the gauntlet of a certain section of the press who will seek to vilify them for standing up for their rights and for speaking out against such types of behaviour.

    I have already explained how it is routine fare for newspapers to rubbish privacy claimants or so-called whingeing celebrities, how they even go after the judiciary as well, or certainly particular ones who make decisions against them. It appears that the press do not like it when people exercise the freedom of speech which they constantly refer to against the press themselves. For a media that is so quick to shame those in positions of responsibility or power when they claim that these responsibilities or powers have been violated, it appears that this does not work in reverse, despite the enormous power and responsibility that the press holds.

    What happens then to those who stand up to the double standards of certain sections of the press? Already, some of those who are giving evidence before you have started to receive the red carpet treatment. In one of the curtain raisers for this Inquiry, for example, the Daily Mail wrote as follows:

    "The Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking will ask core participants to give evidence. The line-up looks set to include the get your clothes off model Abi Titmuss, S&M spanker Max Mosley, prostitute procurer Hugh Grant, gold digger Cheryl Gascoigne, John 'pants down' Prescott and the rent boy loving former MP Mark Oaten. Gerry and Kate McCann are also expected to appear along with the parents of murdered Milly Dowler. What sleazy, degrading company for those who have truly suffered."

    Mr Grant will speak for himself, he's perfectly willing and able to deal with these myths, the myths that those whose self-interest requires it peddle through the page of their newspapers. He can deal with all these aspects without me needing to and he will do so despite running the risk of merely feeding those journalists poised with pen at the ready to dismiss everything he says as the rantings of another whingeing celebrity. See, I've written it for them. He can deal with all of that admirably, but what he finds more difficult to deal with, and who can blame him, is what has happened to those close to him in the months since he became such a vociferous critic of a certain type of journalism as opposed to the public interest journalism which he is very anxious to distinguish and support.

    The story is told in his supplemental witness statement. The fact that it comes as a supplement, despite his main statement being only a week or so old, is testament to how recent these events are. They involve the mother of his recently born daughter, a woman with whom, despite what the popular press love to write, he has a good relationship, but he can deal himself with the nonsense which has been published about this relationship by the self-appointed moral guardians of Fleet Street, the Daily Mail columnists.

    Last Friday I had to make an emergency application for an injunction to restrain a campaign of appalling harassment which this lady was having to endure, simply because she was his former girlfriend and just had his child.

    That's not strictly true. The real reason for the harassment is probably far more sinister, and it is revealed in the evidence which she gave, namely that she has received threats because of the fact that the father of her child has spoken out against the press. She recalls how, whilst Mr Grant was appearing on Question Time, discussing the closure of the News of the World, Rupert Murdoch and press standards generally, she received a barrage of telephone calls from a withheld number from someone who managed to get it from somewhere, and when she finally answered she was threatened in the most menacing terms, terms which should reverberate around this Inquiry:

    "Tell Hugh Grant he must shut the fuck up."

    Unsurprisingly, she was too stressed to call the police.

    After the birth of her child, the fact of which appears to have been leaked somehow, this hounding turned into a continued pursuit of her and her child by paparazzi and other photographers. It became so nasty that when her mother tried to get evidence of the identity of one paparazzo in a car, he then tried to run her over, hence the emergency injunction which was granted by Mr Justice Tugendhat last week. A written judgment is being handed down on Friday.

  • Has any of this gone to the police?

  • It has been notified to the police, yes.

    You can say what you like about Mr Grant, and believe me, enough of the newspapers have now, but then as Mandy Rice-Davies said, they would say that, wouldn't they? However, he has agreed to speak, as others have, not because of any financial motive. He has chosen not to sue for the hacking of his telephone. As the newspapers sit here with their livelihood at stake, as they tell us, the victims are here on their own time and at their own risk.

    The last core participant whose evidence I will refer to and who can tell you about the risks of standing up to such bullies and how very real they are is Anne Diamond. She will give evidence to the Inquiry about the vendetta which she believes was waged against her because of a question she put to Mr Murdoch years ago and the devastating consequences for her and her family as a result.

    Ms Diamond is a journalist and broadcaster as well as a mother of five children, one of whom, as is well-known, unfortunately died of cot death. She had he the temerity to ask the owner of News International what he thought about the fact that his newspapers ruined people's lives, exercising her freedom of speech, you might say. But, of course, you can't do that to a newspaper mogul, and that was it, the start of a press war against her from a particular newspaper section for the best part of 20 years. How could she ever win, you might think. She will describe a catalogue of incidents, each more surprising than the last, stories dredged up by the Sun newspaper with headlines such as "Anne Diamond killed my father", paying her family nanny to talk about the relationship she had with her husband at the time and publishing, most shockingly, on its front page a photograph which the Sun newspaper managed to buy from a freelancer who had taken private images of her and her husband whilst they held their son's coffin at his funeral. Her account of the effect on her and her family is a sobering tale.

    Unless anyone thinks that this intimidating treatment is reserved only for the well-known or the victims who have chosen to speak out or even the arbitrary judges who rule against the press, the Inquiry has already had a taste of this themselves at the seminars. Who can forget the unedifying spectacle of Kelvin MacKenzie trying to rubbish the Inquiry by attacking its chairman? I won't repeat his particular brand of vilification, but there was nothing accidental in this. It was a smear intended to undermine the process, no doubt, as opposed to anything personal.

    It appears that after the event, Mr MacKenzie somewhat recanted, offering an apology, albeit a somewhat muted one, one which did nothing to retract the smears as opposed to regretting simply the discourtesy that they represented, given how kind the chairman was to him. This, we say, is another classic example of how the tabloid press works. The apology Mr MacKenzie offered was deep in the middle of his column, somewhere buried in the inside pages of the newspaper. A far cry from the prominence which the comments themselves attracted in headlines throughout the national press, as he was no doubt well aware they would. The apology, by contrast, almost went without mention.

    And the rubbishing didn't end with the chairman. Mr Dacre apparently dismissed the entire board of assessors in one side swipe, stating that none of them have the faintest clue about how newsrooms operate.

    I think I've now had at least my allotted time, and so I will draw my conclusions to a close, sir. I have outlined at some length, perhaps, the various individual but in some ways common complaints which my clients, the core participant victims, have about the culture, ethics and practices of the press as they have observed them and has impacted, in many cases profoundly, on their respective lives, families and friends.

    I leave you obviously with the task of devising a real and effective system of dealing with these abuses, abuses which are largely if not almost exclusively, as I've said, the province of a certain section of the press.

    I say only this, and it is of little comfort, no doubt. I ask rhetorically: what kind of ethical lessons can you teach to those journalists who authorised or condoned the hacking into the voicemail of a murdered schoolchild or who vilified the grieving parents of an abducted toddler by accusing them of her murder? What hope is there about the prevalent culture when the most powerful press organisations in this country, as we've heard, in the face of the incidents I've mentioned, steadfastly maintain that what we need is a freer press as opposed to any greater form of regulation? And what light is there at the end of the tunnel in terms of the change in practices when Britain's most popular Sunday daily newspaper had to be shut down because it was condoning criminal activity on an industrial scale, and instead of getting to the bottom of how it happened, those in positions of responsibility hired another set of private investigators to follow the 14-year-old daughter of the lawyer who had the temerity to sue it in the hope that this tactic would deter further claims?

    The victims who I represent don't want to stop proper investigative or public interest journalism. No one sensibly does. But if the relationship between the press and the public is to recover, then this is the time for it to start, and it must start now.

    Self-regulation through the PCC, as one of my clients says, is tantamount to handing the police station over to the mafia. The press talk about freedom, and with that we say comes responsibility, responsibility particularly for the rights of others. But even leaving that to one side for a moment, it was Albert Camus who said "Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better".

    We've had press freedom for many years and they've not got better, they've got worse. It is time, we say, for change, and by that I mean real change.

  • Mr Sherborne, there's a great deal of power behind some of the things you've said, and the balance has to be struck, as I'm sure you appreciate, between the public interest, properly so-called, obviously, and rights of privacy to which you've referred, which can't necessarily exclude all circumstances in which it's appropriate for the press to look at individuals. I'm not trying to draw lines.

    You've been present as I've said more than once that a system has to be devised that has to work, and it has to work for the press, but it equally has to work for the public.

  • So I would hope that you and those who instruct you will put the same sort of thought into the issues that I have raised with the press, bearing in mind that although of course you're acting for 51 individuals, and of course have a very clear message to tell on their behalf, at the end of the day I have to find a route that works for everybody.

  • Sir, yes, indeed, you have.

  • I hope you'll take part in that debate.

  • Sir, we will. Can I just say this, and I say this without having had the chance to take full instructions from those I represent, but certainly having listened to Mr Rusbridger, it may well be that there is some common ground between the interests I represent and the statements that have been usefully put forward by Mr Rusbridger on behalf of the Guardian as looking at a real way, a sensible and responsible way of dealing with this area.

  • There is no immediate rush. It's obviously important that we hear this evidence in proper form at an appropriate pace, but the reason I have mentioned it so frequently is because the time to start at least contemplating the possibilities is now rather than in six months' time.

  • I have been very careful not to express concluded views. I have called it various things: thoughts, streams of consciousness, but simply, as I'm sure the lawyers appreciate, I am preserving the position with an entirely open mind and prepared to be taken where the evidence leads me, but that's not to say that I'm not thinking and I want everybody else to do the same.

  • Thank you. Thank you very much indeed.

    We'll have a break for five minutes, then Mr Jay, I wanted to know whether there was anything that you wanted to pick up from the various submissions that I have received, and then we'll see where we go from there. I think there are one or two other matters we have to deal with as well.

  • Before we break, enquiries have been made. Some of the matters which we're hearing about this afternoon obviously are in witness statements of some of the clients of Mr Sherborne that are being called next week and we still do not have those statements. I'm thinking of Mr Hugh Grant's further statement, Mr Coogan, Sienna Miller. These statements still have not come through. I don't know where the problem lies.

  • We'll find out in four minutes' time.

  • (A short break)

  • Right. Have you been told, Mr Caplan?

  • I'm afraid I haven't.

  • I'll get the answer. Somebody will tell me.