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

  • MR NEIL WALLIS (recalled).

  • I think Mr Wallis has given evidence before so I don't think he need be resworn, but you are still under the same oath.

  • I think it was 12 December that we met before, Mr Wallis.

  • May I ask you, please, first of all, to turn up your second statement, which is dated 26 March and runs to 35 pages. Are you content to confirm that this is your true evidence to the Inquiry in relation to the Module 2 questions we've asked of you?

  • You've very helpfully given us some headline dates on the first page, page 18311. In terms of your career, we covered it before, on 19 December, but you were deputy editor, I think, of the Sun until 1993. You then became editor of the Sunday People --

  • No, I was deputy editor of the Sun and I became the editor of the People in 1998.

  • Pardon me. Then you joined the News of the World in 2003, and as we know, you left in July of 2009.

  • You went on gardening leave --

  • You'll tell us what happened after that. We touched on it when you gave evidence the first time around.

    You were asked, first of all, to deal with the nature of your professional relationships with five individuals, and you've given some general background to this, Mr Wallis, at page 18313, where you explain that:

    "The relationships which I forged over a number of years with the senior figures at New Scotland Yard were established by me in my capacity as an experienced journalist who I believe was respected by those I knew at the highest levels for my insight, knowledge and judgment over a range of issues, which essentially fit under the discipline of public relationships."

    You say they were relationships which you built up, really, on the back of your own reputation, is it fair to say?

  • Yes, I think the point being that it was a relationship built up not just at my time at the News of the World but before that at the People and before that at the Sun.

  • So if we were to take just one individual, first of all, Lord Condon, who you refer to on this page, how did your relationship with him start?

  • I think it started because I would talk to his DPA at the time, and we got on well, and I think I met Sir Paul, who's now Lord Condon, of course, through her at functions and it just sort of grew out of what I would be talking to the DPA about, and then I think it was suggested that we meet and we did. And we got on well.

  • Did you meet over lunch or dinner?

  • Yes. We also met him in his office and we met over dinner several times, yes.

  • So over the period of his commissionership, which I think lasted for seven years --

  • -- approximately how often did you meet him over lunch and dinner?

  • I'm sorry, it's 13, 15 years ago. I --

  • But are we talking a handful of occasions or are we talking --

  • Did you offer Sir Paul Condon, as he then was, PR advice?

  • I think it's too crude to put it like that, with respect. What would happen is we would meet, we would have conversations, I'd give him my views, and if he found them interesting or if he found them useful, then I was glad. We talked on a number of issues. He had a number of issues going on at the time. But the -- I mean, for instance, he talked to me about -- and I was interested because it was him -- about the scale -- sorry, he was trying to do two things at the same time in the Met. He was trying to end tenure, which was a very important thing in the Met, whereby effectively an officer would get a job and it was pretty much theirs for life.

    At the same time, he was tackling serious issues of corruption, and he believed there was a parallel -- there may be a link between the two. He was in the midst of trying to bring an end to tenure, with the knock-on effect of helping disrupt corruption, and this was being met with a pretty strong dirty tricks campaign amongst certain elements of the police who didn't want it. He had particular problems, I remember, with the Flying Squad at -- I think it was called Rigg Approach or somewhere like that. So we would talk about those issues, and as a result of that, one of the things I said to him was: "You should come out with it. You should tell London. You should tell Britain how big a problem this is, that it's not just you sort of tinkering around for financial reasons, that there it is a problem."

    So we did a very big setpiece, exclusive interview, me on him, in his office, that was a splash and spread in the Sun, followed up BBC, Guardian, et cetera, places like that, that spelt out the fact that he had -- they feared they had 2-300 corrupt officers in the Met and he was determined to root it out. And so it was a big PR campaign for him. He was setting his stall out to the nation but also to the corrupt officers and also to the sort of local government in London, to say, "This is a big problem. It isn't minor tinkering, as it's been led to suggest; it is serious."

  • So you were advising him, presumably, how best to implement a particular strategy you had in mind? You were advising him as to really the publicity of it, weren't you?

  • I had an opinion how he could make something that was very important to him accessible to the Great British public.

  • Did he specifically ask for your advice in these areas or ask you just offer it?

  • I couldn't tell you how it came about, other than we would be sat -- say we would be sat at dinner. The logical big subject of the time was tenure and police corruption, and so we would talk about it in general terms. He wouldn't talk about specifics ever, of course, but in the context -- he was talking to someone who represented the biggest daily newspaper in the country and then, later, the editor of another major circulation tabloid -- he was interested in my views. Chicken or egg, I have no idea.

  • So was it part of the purpose then of these occasions, these lunches or dinners, that you would end up giving him media/strategic advice?

  • It sounds -- the way you're putting it makes it sound very formal. It was more that we would meet, whatever was the subject of the day would come up, and I would tell him how the perception would be from my newspaper's point of view and any view I had about what he might want to do to spread that word. So -- for instance, I think he mentioned in his evidence that I got him together with the editor of the paper so that we could put together a campaign that fitted in with a major strategy he wanted at the time, and so, as a result of that meeting, he got the backing of the biggest-selling daily newspaper in the country behind something that was very important to him.

  • In terms of what you were seeking to get out of this -- you've mentioned the setpiece interview you had with Sir Paul Condon. It's at page 18313. Is it that sort of thing which was the quid pro quo for the lunch and the advice you were giving?

  • This was a sort of corporate/strategic relationship. It wasn't about trying to get a quick hit at a story. For instance, I think one of the things I mentioned elsewhere is the Police Bravery Awards. The Police Bravery Awards, which I happen to think is a great thing, got off the ground because of Sir Paul Condon. We, as the Sun, were a feisty, controversial organisation. We were quite happy to take a whack at anybody and we were seen in that way. We were trying to reach out to the police establishment, if you like, and to make them go along with an idea and it was going to be a struggle. Because of our relationship with Sir Paul, who realised that there may be more to us than simply the tabloid cliche, he became willing to back it and said, "Come what may, the Met will support this."

    I was then able to go to the head of the Police Federation, who also had a good trusting relationship with Sir Paul, and together, as a result of that, we were able to jointly go around the rest of the forces of Britain to say, "Sir Paul and the Met are backing this. Why don't you? If you need to, have a conversation with the Met about why they're backing it." And as a result, something is still going I think 14, 16 years later.

  • So the benefits, then, for the newspaper you were working for weren't instant benefits --

  • -- in terms of a story which would immediately mature; it was far more long-term strategic?

  • Precisely, and that was the way it continued. Now, let's be correct about it: if they sat there and said, "Oh, incidentally, such-and-such a thing, do you want to know that or do you want that?" then on occasions I daresay that might have happened. I don't remember any, but the relationship was about a strategic relationship.

  • You say at the bottom of page 18313 --

  • Can you tell me what page --

  • I'm terrible sorry. You may not have it in the same incarnation.

  • No, I don't have it in the same way.

  • It's page 3 of 35.

  • "The News International newspapers were always pro-police, pro-Army and pro-law and order."

    Did they ever write pieces which were critical of the police?

  • Oh God, yes. Of course.

  • Thank you. Lord Stevens next, which is the next page. It looks, from the times you've given, like you probably met Lord Stevens first in about 1997, because he became --

  • I thought it was 1998 that he joined the Met?

  • He was deputy -- sorry, he was deputy in 1998, and he became Commissioner in 2000.

  • You were previously introduced to him by Mr Fedorcio. Was that over a meal?

  • 15 years ago. I don't know. Probably.

  • How was your relationship with Lord Stevens fostered? Was it, in other words, the same way as your relationship with Lord Condon was fostered, namely over meals?

  • Yes. I mean, initially, but as time developed, it became a more active relationship than it did with Sir Paul Condon, but it would be over meals, phone calls, occasional drink.

  • Did you give him strategic advice in relation to his application to be Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police?

  • In the same way as I talked about before with Sir Paul Condon, we would be talking, and if an issue came up, we would discuss it and I would give him my view. I had, it is fair to say, quite strong views about what was happening at the Met. I cared about the Met a lot. The MacPherson report was pretty catastrophic for the Met, and whoever succeeded Sir Paul Condon, it was going to be a very, very important appointment for the Met. As Joe Citizen, never mind as a journalist, I had quite strong views about it.

  • So if we unpick that, he presumably was your preferred candidate, wasn't he?

  • I thought he was the best candidate of the candidates I was aware of, yes.

  • Did you give him advice as to how best to advance his application?

  • I did as best I could.

  • Did he seek that advice or did you simply offer it?

  • Again, in the same way as I mentioned before, it sort of grew like Topsy, I guess.

  • Was it advice given over lunches and dinners and by phone?

  • Did this go on over a significant period of time or not?

  • Well, the relationship with him continued throughout his time as the Commissioner.

  • Yes, this is before he becomes Commissioner --

  • Yes, sorry, yeah. Absolutely, yes.

  • I've been asked to put this question to you: did you see or do you see any conflict between your role in reporting objectively about the police on the one hand and giving advice to Lord Stevens and similar people on the other hand?

  • Sorry, will you phrase that again?

  • Yes. Did you see any conflict between your role in reporting objectively about the police on the one hand, and this advice-giving role on the other hand?

  • Not at all. You have to understand -- I'm sure you do, but, you know, journalism and newspapers are like lawyers. You know, they are -- they can take -- they can be talking to someone and have a view, but it doesn't mean to say that they then don't have a different conversation with somebody else, you know, depending on which side has hired you. So I would have a personal view and I would say to whoever I was talking to: "I think this." If a hoofing great story came along that wasn't convenient to that, first and foremost I'm a journalist and the hoofing great story went in the paper.

  • I just wonder, though, Mr Wallis, was it simply altruism, or, put in other terms, your perception that Stevens was the best man, which caused you to assist him in his wish to become the Commissioner, or was it because you thought it was in the better interests of the paper you were working for at the time?

  • I think that's a perfectly fair question, to be honest. What I knew about John Stevens was that he had a view about how police and press should interact. He had a strong view that was based, at least in part, on his experiences in Ireland -- which I knew a lot about, because I'd served there -- his experiences in Northumbria -- which, again, I knew about because I've lived there -- and also because of what we had seen with Sir Paul Condon, MacPherson, et cetera, et cetera, and the relationship between the press and the Metropolitan Police. He had a view that (a) I agreed with and (b) was also convenient for him and was also good for newspapers. So, if you like, the opposite of a perfect storm. A perfect sunburst.

  • Once Lord Stevens was in post, which I think was in the year 2000 --

  • -- was there a sense, though, that you felt that you had obtained that for your man -- of course, his own qualities would have been far more important, no doubt, but you understand what I mean -- and for that reason you had a fast-track to him?

  • I find it terribly flattering that you think I could appoint the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and so it should be. But no, I was glad that -- you know, I -- one of the difficulties in this is we are talking about police, here, now, and I understand that, but we could be having this conversation parallel about politicians. We could be having this conversation about showbiz personalities. You know, this wasn't my life. This was a bit of my life, you know. We could be having the same conversation about journalism.

    What happened was that this was a guy who was going for it. I gave him some input. He succeeded. I thought, "Happy days, because this has worked out all right and hopefully there will be a better moving forward way for the media and the Metropolitan Police." That benefited my newspaper, so it was good all round. I similarly felt, at the time, that there was a better relationship we were working on, for instance, at the Home Office. All right? I didn't necessarily think that that was of instant benefit to me. I got on with Alastair Campbell. It wasn't just a benefit to me that the -- you know, you were able to talk to Alastair Campbell in the press, if you see what I mean. All I'm saying is my life is not about the MPS.

  • No, because you're giving us the impression that contact with politicians, perhaps with civil servants, was frequent, and that was your way of being as a journalist. Is that fair?

  • I think that any journalist is about their contacts. You know, if Nick Davies was sat here, I'm sure even Nick Davies would accept that journalism is about contacts, and, you know, you work on those contacts and you work on it not just for the instant hit. You take a long view if you're going to be successful. You know, whoever has been feeding Nick Davies his stories on the phone hacking side is not someone he met last week. It's someone who he's got to know, who had an agenda, and he's worked with that person and it's worked through. That's the way successful journalism works, you know. It's how Seymour Hersh broke the New York Times Pentagon papers.

  • Once Lord Stevens was Commissioner, you tell us that you maintained contact with him. About how often were you in contact with him over the phone?

  • My lawyer was asking this, and the truth is: do I remember? Every week, every month, twice a day. It just varied depending on what was going on. Sometimes I'd ring him, sometimes he'd ring me. It was just -- you know, it was whatever happened at the time.

  • Was the purpose of the calls for him to continue to seek advice from you as to how best to present a particular policy or strategy?

  • Well, you've spoken to Sir John and he'd characterise his reasons for having conversations with me himself. Sometimes he asked my views about things.

  • Was this on matters of policy and strategy?

  • Yes, never operational.

  • No. And those conversations were, therefore, off the record, were they?

  • Did the substance of what he told you on these occasions ever find its way into the newspaper you were working for?

  • If he wanted and I was interested -- because that's one of the other things that comes into this, of course. Let's be real. I worked for tabloid newspapers. Quite a lot of police policy, et cetera, et cetera, is simply not of interest to tabloid newspapers. Now, one of the things I would attempt to do was to find a way to make that accessible if it was relevant, but occasionally he might have a view about something that might make a story or a feature or whatever.

  • Did he ever assist you in relation to the stories which were of greater interest to your readership? I'm not suggesting for one moment that he gave you operational information -- you've just told us he didn't -- but did he assist you in any way with those stories?

  • I'm not sure what you mean, I'm afraid.

  • Well, the sort of stories which particularly featured in the News of the World, whether they be sting operations or flowing from the activities of Mazher Mahmood or whatever.

  • I see. You asked me earlier about what was the benefit, if you like. One of the benefits of my relationship, without question, with senior police officers is that if I rang -- and it would almost always be via Dick Fedorcio, but if I rang one of them and said, "We have this situation that we think the Met ought to get involved with", then they would take that seriously, because they know that I'm a guy who is not going to mess them about. You know, when you were referring earlier to specific stories, that wasn't my job. I was the deputy editor. We have a crime reporter. We have a news editor. We have other people whose job it was to go and make specific stories. That wasn't my job.

    So, you know, it would work out pretty much as suited them, really.

  • But when you contacted him over such stories, what was your purpose? As you rightly say, others within the paper were writing the stories --

  • Oh, so -- sorry, a better example that I can remember -- it isn't about John Stevens, but it was during his reign, I think -- is that when we had a story that a drug addict prostitute was selling the virginity of her daughter, 13-year-old daughter, and this sort of came to a head on a sort of Friday night or something like that. Because of my relationships with senior officers at the Met, I was able to, if you like, scramble from -- with the Met to say to them, "We really -- we can just go ahead with this and do this story, but we think the right thing is that you're there and this child is protected", and because of that relationship, I was able to alert -- you know, I'm taken seriously. So they said, "Look, this is a good guy, this will be genuine, this won't be fly-by-night, so we should get actively involved here." So they not only scrambled the appropriate police team; they also scrambled a local authority, who the police brought along, so that the child was then taken into care.

    So what I'm saying is that there is that sort of thing. The other -- I think I mentioned another example --

  • The one you've just --

  • The one you've just given, it was Mr Yates you spoke to?

  • Yes, but my point being that this would have been about what John Yates was -- sorry, that John Stevens was the Commissioner. John Yates, I think, was at SCD, and although it may have been John I ended up talking to, part of the reason John took the call, then or even earlier, was because I knew I was taken seriously by Sir John Stevens and Dick Fedorcio, et cetera.

  • So what you just explained to us -- if we look at page 6 of your statement, our page 18316, when you say, more or less in the middle of the page, you very much regarded it as part of your duties as the deputy editor of the News of the World to forge and maintain relations with senior police officers in the interests of your readership, is what you've just been telling us, the example you've given us, really part and parcel of that?

  • Yes, I mean that's a terribly unfashionable thing to say, but, you know, I did have some personal views as well. You know, I did care about this stuff. I was very deeply interested in this stuff. And also, you know, I was on the Editors' Code Committee at the time. Before that, I'd been on the PCC, and, you know, being able to put what I knew the police perception was to use in those circumstances I also felt was useful. For me, as a member of the Code Committee, to understand where the police come from on such-and-such a subject I thought was useful.

  • Do you feel that you had more of Lord Stevens' ear than did your competitors? By which I mean, more specifically, editors and deputy editors in the tabloid press.

  • How could I possibly know that? I've not a clue. I'm interested in me.

  • You might get sense that, Mr Wallis, from the nature of your contacts with --

  • I think John Stevens was a pretty friendly guy, actually.

  • Yes, but the question was more: from your perception, was he equally friendly with everybody or was it owing to the way in which --

  • I'd rather hope he was more friendly to me than anybody else, but in honesty, I haven't a clue. I mean, when you look at his hospitality register, as far as I can see, he wasn't mean in his charms, as it were. I know he got on very well, for instance, with Paul Dacre.

  • Of course, unless you were present at particular discussions he had --

  • -- with Paul Dacre, you don't know what they discussed.

  • But do you feel he was looking to you in a special sort of way for the sort of media advice you've been referring to or do you think he asked other editors for similar advice, insofar as you can tell us?

  • I watched him give evidence. He said he did. I have no reason not to doubt that.

  • You have no reason to doubt it, you mean?

  • Didn't I say that? I'm sorry.

  • You said you had no reason not to doubt it.

  • Well, what I meant was I did think he talked to lots of people.

  • I think what you're telling us then is that we mustn't be focusing too much on you, that Lord Stevens may have been using others as a sounding board for his --

  • May have been. But, to be fair to me, I have to say that -- you know, Sir John hadn't been in London for a long time when he came back. I had, like probably many other journalists -- I was the deputy editor of the Sun at the time. The Sun had just been part of electing a Labour government, a major part of this. We were generally quite well connected to the new Labour government. It was a very interesting time and there was a lot of interaction in every area between the press, government, Whitehall, et cetera, et cetera, and, you know, I -- he -- John Stevens mentioned, for instance, Lord Ali, me introducing him to Lord Ali, because I knew that he was anxious to widen his circle of acquaintance and of -- understanding of different people. Lord Ali is an old friend of mine and so I introduced them and they got on very well.

  • What did you mean, Mr Wallis, when you said that you -- I think then as deputy editor of the Sun -- were part of the coming to power of the new Labour government? I can't remember exactly whether you put it in those terms. We can check the transcript.

  • No, I don't know what phrase -- what I meant was that at the time -- there was the tremendous excitement of 1997 when, after many years of Tory rule, a Labour government came in. As part of that, a major part of the Blair government, the new Labour government, had been the courting of News International, and a major part of that was the declaration of the Sun in support of Tony Blair on the day that the campaign was announced. There was a lot of interaction between the new Labour government and the Sun.

  • Unsurprising, because of the support the Sun had given to the government in its campaign, or the Labour Party in its campaign?

  • Quite. It was a daily contact. I edited, I think, for the first three weeks of that campaign and it was a daily conversation.

  • We move to Lord Blair. It's fairly clear from the tone of your statement -- we're now on page 7, our page 18317 -- that your relationship with him was a rather different type --

  • -- than your relationship with Lord Stevens. To put it bluntly, you didn't really get on with him, did you?

  • I didn't not get on with him, other than, you know, he was a man who decided he wasn't -- you know, he took a different view from John Stevens. He decided that he wasn't interested in the views of either the tabloid or mid-market press. He was a very cerebral man. He saw himself very much as somebody who didn't want to pursue those sorts of contacts, so, you know, he didn't.

  • Did you try to --

  • And were you rebuffed?

  • Well, we went for -- I think we had a dinner. He came into the office once. By then, John Stevens -- John Stevens cast a very long shadow, and we had already done the deal to make him the chief, and Sir Ian didn't like it.

  • Can we come to that in a moment?

  • You're running ahead, Mr Wallis.

  • I think we're still at a slightly earlier point. I mean, you suggest that Lord Blair was more in step with New Labour. That's two pages beforehand.

  • Of course you're not saying that he was in any way associated with New Labour; that's just how it appeared to you. Is that fair?

  • I think he was very in step with New Labour, yeah.

  • Was his failure to establish good relationships with senior editorial figures in the tabloid press partly responsible for the negative press he received from them?

  • I would -- if you take away the word "tabloid" in that, I think you're probably right, yes.

  • So it applied to, really, everybody then?

  • Yes, he was a very, very bad communicator. He was -- how can I put it? It was no surprise to many people when his career ended as it did.

  • You do say you met for lunch on one occasion with Mr Myler and Mr Fedorcio. That was in early 2007. I think we've seen the record of that earlier in this Inquiry. That was to reflect that Mr Myler had become the editor --

  • And the purpose of that was merely to introduce him and perhaps see if a better relationship could be started, was it?

  • When you say that Sir Ian did not like the fact that his predecessor was featuring in the News of the World in the column headlined "The Chief", which was ghostwritten by you, how do you know that?

  • There was a bit of gossip about it. It had been around, may have even been in a gossip column. But when we actually met him -- I was trying to recollect how this happened, but one day he ended up in our office. I think he may have been visiting another newspaper and had been invited, if you like, by whoever was accompanying him, to do a tour of the building, and he ended up on our floor. I have a vague idea Tarique Ghaffur was with him -- no, that may have been a separate moment. But he came in and it came up in conversation and he said, "I don't know how you can call him the chief -- he's not the chief any more; I am", which was vaguely funny, I thought.

  • You presumably had chosen the title "The chief", as you'd ghostwritten the piece? You must have had a hand in that, hadn't you?

  • Well, I was consulted, yeah.

  • You were probably being deliberately provocative, weren't you?

  • At all events, there's some gossip which indicates that Sir Ian Blair was not best pleased, which, I suppose, is hardly surprising, really, is it?

  • No. Mischief is a significant component of newspapers, particularly tabloid newspapers. But, having said that, can I just say this: when 7/7 happened, for instance, after 7/7 -- and a lot of things happened over 7/7 and 21/7 in particular. When it was all folding in on the Met and, you know -- and for me, this sort of summed up the sort of situation. It was felt that he needed to give an interview to sort of set the Commissioner's position, right, to stamp himself on it, yeah? So it was decided that that interview would be with the News of the World. It was going to be on a Saturday morning.

    So we sent along Lucy Panton and we sent along Stuart Kuttner. Very wise, very serious, very experienced journalists, them both. Stuart was -- he had been around for many, many years, and like me, he had a deep, deep interest in current affairs and home affairs.

    They went to do the interview and this was absolutely set up as a PR coup for him, right? He was going to set out his stall to explain what was happening and how he felt, et cetera, et cetera, and it was a totally done deal. We knew what we were getting and we were absolutely happy that we were effectively playing a role, as it were, for the Met to get on the front foot.

    And I remember Stuart Kuttner ringing me on the back bench -- that's the bit where we sat on a Saturday as we edited -- and saying, "You're never going to believe what he's just said about this, about the moment that he was told that Jean Charles de Menezes was an innocent man." And he said, "He described it as -- when they told him, Ian Blair said it was like a 'Houston, we've got a problem' moment."

    It was a wonderful example of his ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He had absolutely no work to do on this, but his arrogance and his views, as it were, regarded that sort of phrase over the killing of an innocent man -- "Houston, we have a problem". And you know, we're journalists, so we stuck that in as a headline and it didn't go down too well.

  • Mm. We know -- and you touch on this on the last page of your statement, so I take it out of sequence from the way you dealt with but I think it's relevant to the chronology -- that there was dysfunction in the management board at the time, certainly between 2006 and 2008. People were briefing against Sir Ian Blair, but you say:

    "I can say categorically that such briefing did not take place through [you]."

  • That I did the briefing? Sorry?

  • No, what your statement says:

    "I can say categorically that such briefing [that's to say briefing against Sir Ian] did not take place through [you]."

    Is that right?

  • Yeah, there were plenty of people who were briefing against Sir Ian. He didn't need me to brief him.

  • Do you know who was?

  • I think it's pretty easy to -- I think Tarique Ghaffur ended up suing him. Andy Hayman resigned. I don't think it's sort of too difficult to work out this was an unhappy management board. I mean, the Tarique Ghaffur situation was just openly playing out on a -- you know, primarily, frankly, in the broadsheets, on an almost daily basis. So if two of his most senior assistant constables either sue him or quit, that would suggest that things weren't a happy ship.

  • The two men you've just named, did they ever approach you with information?

  • We'll come to Mr Hayman. We haven't asked you about the contact you had with Mr Ghaffur, but you had a reasonably good relationship with Mr Hayman, didn't you?

  • He never came to you with information -- call it leaks, but it doesn't really matter, let's just call it information -- about what was happening on the management board?

  • No. I mean, it was -- what was happening in the Met was the talk of ranks. The Met was, at the time, in severe troubles, and, you know -- I mean, I don't have to remind you there were the stories about how Ian Blair bugged conversations with cabinet ministers. You know, there was just this endless selection of stories --

  • It was just once, with the Attorney General, to be fair, Mr Wallis.

  • That's covered in his book, although we didn't ask him evidence about this in this Inquiry.

  • Did you ask him how many times he did it?

  • I didn't ask him anything about it either way, Mr Wallis, but surely the point might be said to be this: that it was the tabloid press, in particular, which led to Sir Ian Blair's downfall?

  • I think you're reading the wrong newspapers if you think that. Sir Ian Blair's downfall was brought about by the broadsheets and the middle market. I mean, we joined in as best we can because we don't like to be left out, but the decision to fire Ian Blair by Boris Johnson, you know, with the acquiescence of the government of the time wasn't driven by the tabloid press at all.

  • In terms of advising --

  • Although the Daily Mail may claim that they played a part.

  • Yes, okay. In terms of advising someone in Sir Ian Blair's position, the message one would have to get across is that one has to, as it were, play the game with the media, otherwise you will end up at the wrong end of it? That's right, isn't it?

  • No, I think you're misrepresenting that, to be honest. There's a memo based -- in here somewhere about -- somebody described me as a good friend of the Met and occasional critic. And the truth of the matter is you never -- anybody who ever thinks they have a sort of free pass from the press is fooling themselves. It's a symbiotic relationship, but it is one that always can go both ways.

    So Ian Blair couldn't have rescued himself with the press simply by buying us drinks and being friendly. What he needed was some good advice to say, "Look, this is an issue. This is what you need to do about the issue. If you got that wrong, don't be self-justifying about it. Face up to it. This is how you should face up it to it. These are some PR leads, if you like. These are some attitudes you could strike. These are some things you could do to try to repair that damage."

    One of those, without doubt, would be sitting down with -- whether it's Paul Dacre, Ian McGregor at the Telegraph, Andy Coulson or Colin Myler at the News of the World, and explaining to them where he was coming from, what his thoughts were, and taking their view about, you know, what he was doing that -- you know, in a way, newspapers have constituencies, you know? The Sun has a distinct constituency. So when its editor speaks, it's telling you what the perception is -- the editor's perception of what that constituency thinks. So what you can take out of it is if I want to reach out to that constituency, then I need to take this, that or the other into account.

  • That's helpful. Thank you. May I move on to Sir Paul Stephenson. This is our page 18318, your page 8.

  • Where you explain that he really follows the same blueprint as your relationship with Sir John Stevens. From the dates you've given, it appears that you probably grew to know him in 2006, 2007. Would you agree?

  • I think that's what he said, yeah.

  • Did you give him any advice in relation to his "campaign" to become Commissioner?

  • I basically revert to all my previous answers. You know, if we were together and the subject came up, I would tell him my view. I certainly -- I will certainly have made it plain to him -- whether he took any notice of it, of course, is an issue for him, but I would certainly have made it known to him that I thought John Stevens' relationships and attitudes and policies towards the media were more successful than Ian Blair's were, but then again, you'd have to be a blind man living on an island not to know that Ian Blair's relationships with the media had been a disaster.

  • Yes, but did you give him any advice in relation to his campaign to be Commissioner?

  • I would pass my opinion that, you know, he was plainly a proper non-political copper, and that out there, amongst the great troops, you know -- he's got, what, 30,000 police officers and 50,000 employees in total? -- that that may be what they're looking for, rather than a sort of more politically correct and government-nuanced approach from the previous Commissioner. I also knew from my relationships in the government circles that they had realised that Ian Blair's commissionership had gone down the Swanee.

  • So you knew then, Mr Wallis, what would go down well with government and you advised Sir Paul Stephenson as to how best to improve his chances of being Commissioner, didn't you?

  • If it came up, he asked my opinion, and I have opinions, so I wouldn't have been hesitant about sharing them.

  • No, I'm sure not. Was this advice given over dinner, in a wine bar or in his office?

  • I think he details some dinners and drinks we have had over the years.

  • Was your contact with him greater before or after he became Commissioner?

  • Do you know what? I don't know the answer to that.

  • Because I'm asked to put to you this: that when you say in your statement that you estimate you spoke to him on average about once a month over the phone, that in fact there were very few such calls. You only saw him once at New Scotland Yard, I think in the officer's mess, when Mr Coulson was present. Would that be about right?

  • I think what is behind the question is that, with respect, you're exaggerating the level and nature of your contact with Sir Paul Stephenson. Would you agree with that?

  • I think what I've put in my statement was my memory of it. If his memory of it is different, then that's unfortunate.

  • When he became Commissioner, did you give him informal advice on strategic or policy matters at his request?

  • I revert to my previous answer, basically, that if we were having a conversation, a conversation of the day came up. I'm not backward about coming forward with my opinions.

  • You said once you left the News of the World and secured your contract with Scotland Yard -- this was in, I think, the late summer, probably September 2009 -- you would speak to him on a more frequent basis. About how often was that?

  • What, once I'd started a contract with the Met, do you mean?

  • Well, the whole thing was a very ad hoc thing. I would -- occasionally I would be called and asked to look at a specific thing. Other times it may be a quick question. There might be five phone calls in a day or then nothing for a week, you know, from all parties who I would be in contact with.

  • Was it always about how best the Met should present itself to the world at large, in particular the media?

  • There was an element of presentation, yes. I think in the main, frankly, a lot of what my ability and attraction for them was -- what they had was a very good corporate PR set up. What they had was a very good sort of functioning level press office. If you make a phone call into the press office, it will get answered, someone will be able to help you, and that functions perfectly well.

    I was quite often much more of the sort of crisis management type conversation, and that was my value to them. It was: "This is happening. How do you think this is being perceived in the rest of the press?" So I would say, "I think if you take that route, that is going to happen. My guess is the upshot of this incident will be this." And so a lot of what I would be doing would be saying to them: "This is my take on how this event is (a) going to be received and (b) will play out."

    So, for instance, a very basic sort of thing: if there was a crisis about something or other, basically if you can get to the weekend and it's not in the Sunday papers, then it's over. You know, it's just the rhythm of newspapers and explaining to them how newspapers worked at a very senior level. You know, just the life and death of a story, if you like.

  • Yes, that's helpful. So you were able to advise on that, and of course you had the deep understanding of what your readers wanted and understood, and you also had an insight into what politicians wanted and understood. Is that fair?

  • Okay. May I move on to Mr Yates?

  • Can I just point out, though, Mr Jay --

  • -- that I've been at deputy editor level since the mid-1990s, the early 1990s, for 20-odd years. This is what I do. I understand newspapers and I understand mass market newspapers, and that's, you know, a particular area of expertise. And so I do know what works in those areas and I have a lot of experience of it.

  • Thank you. Mr Yates. I think Mr Yates told us that he got to know you in the late 1990s. He probably put the date at 1998. Would you, broadly speaking, agree --

  • I couldn't remember how I met him, to be honest. I didn't know -- I knew he was a staff officer to somebody, but I didn't know whether it was Paul Condon or John Stevens.

  • You describe him as "an extremely bright, highly regarded officer from a young age who was, in many people's eyes, destined to become Metropolitan Police Commissioner".

    So that presumably includes your eyes as well, does it, Mr Wallis?

  • I certainly found him an immensely impressive bloke, yeah. Very clever.

  • Did you give him strategic --

  • And it was also -- sorry, just to say, it was also very clear too that those around him, like John Stevens, regarded him very, very highly.

  • Yes. Did you give him strategic advice as to how best he should place himself, as it were, to secure that ambition?

  • No, because I don't really know how internally the system works in the Met. You know, you get to Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner level and frankly, it's a political exercise. Whether -- a lot of things come into being Commissioner of the Met, and not least of that is knowing your way around Whitehall, you know, political parties, the Mayoralty. How you become a deputy assistant commissioner or assistant commissioner is a much more formalised thing within the Met and so I've no idea.

  • But did he ever ask for your advice, at least, as to how he should comport himself to achieve, step by step, this ambition?

  • As far as I could see, he didn't need to because he was the Met's high flyer.

  • Maybe he didn't, but did he ever ask it?

  • It must have been something that he discussed with you from time to time. Didn't he?

  • Um ... I -- I don't --

  • It's only natural, Mr Wallis. You're --

  • Well, yes, inasmuch as -- only in a very minor way, though. I mean, he didn't sort of sit and take from some -- you know, from me, how to manoeuvre through the chicanery of climbing the greasy pole of the Metropolitan Police. I mean, certainly he would have heard me having views about -- whether it's public affairs or what I knew about other people.

  • Yes, but you knew a lot about the greasy pole of politics, police, indeed newspapers. You knew it all, didn't you? You were in a position to help him on these matters, weren't you?

  • I certainly know about the greasy pole of newspapers. If he sought my advice, I would willingly have given it.

  • Okay. You give an example about providing him with PR advice. This was when he was the ACPO lead on crimes of rape.

  • He enlisted your help to formulate an anti-rape campaign sponsored by the News of the World in order to publicise the good work which he was carrying out. Was he named in the article?

  • So this was a means, perhaps, of showcasing him, amongst other things, wasn't it?

  • No. I mean, this is a great example actually you've touched on here. John was very frustrated over what he was very, very engaged with, which was to re-examine the issue of rape and rape investigation within the Met. It was a hobby horse of his. He cared about it very much. I remember there was a notorious Gloucester -- sorry, the Grosvenor House Hotel alleged a sort of rape case that the News of the World ran very large, and I remember he was distinctly unhappy about the fact that -- the prominence we were giving this and he was very passionate about what -- how big an issue this was and how the police were generally failing nationwide.

    So one of the incidents, for instance, was he -- I remember having a conversation with him about what could he do to make this more of a -- to raise the profile of this nationwide, for instance. I remember we discussed whether or not he could do some sort of poll that would be able to, on a force-by-force basis, show how many rapes -- allegations of rape, how many convictions, seniority of officers involved, how big the anti-rape team was, et cetera, et cetera, and my point being that that would give him a story in every county about it, because it varies enormously from what the Met does, which he was largely behind, so -- I remember him telling me once that some force, I think in the north somewhere, had a sergeant and two PCs, all male, who were the people who investigated rape. He thought that was shocking.

  • Is that convenient?

  • Yes. 2 o'clock. Thank you very much.

  • Mr Wallis, we're still on page 9 of your statement, 18319 in our bundle. The paragraph in the middle of the page, where you refer to your newspaper being proactively involved in numerous investigations. What form did that involvement take, and in particular, did you provide information to the police?

  • Well, we would have an investigation going on. We would get to the point where we felt that it had been stood up -- lawyers, PCC and all of that sort of thing -- and was newsworthy, and if it involved breaking the criminal law, we would then, where appropriate, go to the police on it and say, "We're about to do such-and-such a thing, and if you choose, if you want to be part of -- or be present when we do this ..."

  • Yes. So you would involve the police at a point when you were about to publish anyway; is that right?

  • It depended. There were a variety of different occasions -- there was the so-called dirty bombs story, that as soon as we got this allegation, we had no idea whether this stuff -- it was called red mercury, but there was a suggestion that a terrorist was interested in purchasing this sort of stuff. We had no idea whether it existed or not, so it was something we felt we couldn't take a chance with and so we went to the Met and we went to the anti-terrorist branch and our reporter, Mazher Mahmood, as it was on this occasion, effectively became -- they worked for the Met throughout it.

  • When you were carrying out undercover investigations, did you inform the police about them?

  • When it came to the point -- if we felt it was relevant and that there was a criminal aspect to it, we would generally inform them as we were about to publish.

  • Right. Of course, in one sense you were duplicating work the police should perhaps better be doing; is that not right?

  • Well, you know, we're journalists.

  • I've been asked to put this to you: how did you ensure that the victims were protected, both in terms of the crime being committed upon them and in any exclusive by your newspaper?

  • The victims of our investigation, do you mean? The people we were investigating?

  • No, the victims of the crimes, I think.

  • Well, the crimes would usually be -- well, for the two examples we have there, we protect the victims, as you put it, by involving the police and by involving Social Services.

  • Okay. Your relationship generally with Mr Yates -- you describe him as a good friend. We can see that in your statement. In terms of how often you saw him as a friend, do you agree with his evidence about the number of football matches you went to?

  • We went to two or three, I think.

  • You say you shared a keen interest of sport in general, lived in a similar area of west London:

    "We had families of a similar age and we got on very well."

    So it's implicit in that that you met on a family level, it you? Your family and his family?

  • No, I meant in that way that I have a 28-year-old daughter, he has a 25-year-old son. I have a 17/18-year-old son, he has a 17-year-old daughter. All of the issues that come into that when you're a parent living in London.

  • Right. Now, the gifts and hospitality registers we've been looking at show a number of dinners. You, Mr Yates and also Mr Nick Candy.

  • I think we know who he is, but just to be sure, who is he?

  • Who paid for those dinners?

  • It depends which one you're talking about, but I think two have been mentioned that I think Nick paid.

  • What were the topics of conversation? Did they cover police issues?

  • No, Nick is a property developer and good fun and mad about football. He's a character, interesting, amusing to be with, enjoyable company, and so it was whatever we were knocking around with at the time. Whatever the food was, we were in the restaurant, whatever -- you know, when you meet your friends, it's whatever's current in the news. Nick is not interested in the police. You know, I've had a long-term interest in home affairs and so on and so forth, but, you know, we'd talk -- I don't know, whatever the story of the day was. If it had been this week, we'd probably have been talking about petrol fuels.

  • Right. So general topics of conversation, of sporting and general human interest, but not the police and not property and not anything to do with newspapers; is that fair?

  • Well, if -- I'm just trying to think of an example. If there was -- if we had been meeting this week and Nick had been there, I could well imagine me or John or somebody else saying, "When is the Shard going to get finished? What will it be worth? How will people -- will they live in it?" and so on and so forth. If we met this week, we'd be talking about, as I say, the fuel crisis or granny tax, and -- you know, we're all sort of not stupid men and we'd all have interested views on it. How Simon Cowell's doing in Britain's Got Talent.

  • On occasions when Mr Candy was not there, perhaps, did you and Mr Yates discuss what was happening in the management board of the Met?

  • Are you sure about that?

  • As much as I can remember, sat here.

  • Okay. Mr Hayman, next. He's on page 18320.

  • So he was, as we know, Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations, certainly until -- I think it was 2007, not 2008, but the exact date doesn't matter, and you first met him in 2005. Again, what was the basis on which you met him for a drink about six times a year and spoke to him --

  • Exactly the same with all the others we've talked about.

  • So was it to offer him a level of insight into the way the police was interacting with the media, for example?

  • Andy, as I think he said in his evidence to you, was particularly interested in police/press relations. He had very strong views on it. He had views particularly in light of ACSO and of the pressure of anti-terrorism operations at the time, and it was of interest to him, I think -- there was a very strong debate, I think, about how much of that should be in the public domain and how much should not be in the public domain. Now, I have always held the view, both personally and as a journalist, that the public deserves to be informed more. However, there was obviously the operational constraints.

    So it was sometimes talking about how you dealt with that, leading to the example that I give here about the video that he showed me.

  • You say in your statement, just above the lower hole punch, about the level of information the public should be given about the terrorist threat and the prevalent mood of secrecy which had existed up to that point:

    "To this end, he sought to benefit from my input."

    In what way did he seek to benefit from your input?

  • Well, he was interested in how the national media reacted to and the effect of the levels of information that would come out.

  • So it was, again, sort of testing the water: if X happened, how would the media nationally react to X? Is that it?

  • How are the media reacting to this? What do you think is the reality behind the media perception of that? Why do one section of the media take this view? What could we do to change a view, for instance?

  • Did you become friendly with him?

  • Well, in the sense that we got on well when we talked. I enjoyed his company. I got the impression he quite enjoyed mine, so, you know ...

  • So on the occasions when you met him for a drink, it wasn't a case, was it, of you having to persuade him to come; he came readily, did he?

  • Well, I never noticed I had to arm-twist him, no.

  • You say you recall on one occasion in late 2005 -- that's at the bottom of the page -- that you were instrumental in the release of footage which was broadcast on the News of the World website of the effect that the shoe bomb which failed to detonate would have had in the event of being successful:

    "[You were] persistent with my advice to Hayman that this footage would have a profound effect if released into the public domain, as a result of which he provided it to the News of the World."

    So this was an example perhaps of you getting information from Mr Hayman in the form of evidence -- here, real evidence -- which you could use in your newspaper; is that fair?

  • I think it is an example of how I had spent X number of months where I would talk and whatever with him about a variety of things. My crime reporter, Lucy Panton -- crime editor, Lucy Panton, I was talking to her one day about police issues, as I quite often would do if I was passing her desk. I would sit on it and chat, and she told me that Andy had mentioned to her this DVD, this video, because he'd said in only -- he'd said something to her like: "If only people could really see what damage a shoe bomb could do", because there was a little bit of -- not skepticism in the world, but: "A shoe bomb? What could that do?"

    So I said to her: "Ask him if we can actually come and see it so we can see whether it would be worth producing." So he said yes, so we went to see it. It was staggering. I said to him: "In my view, you really should put this out. I'd like you to do it through us." He said, "You could get some video grabs." I said, "Yes, we could get some video grabs, but one of the things we could do is put it on our website -- put it openly on our website, and it will go viral worldwide."

    So he then thought about it for a few days, came in to see Andy Coulson, the editor, showed it to Andy Coulson, and we did all of those things and it went round the world and is being shown to this day.

  • So this was an exclusive then, for the News of the World?

  • Yes, it hadn't occurred to him -- it wasn't that he had an exclusive, that he thought, "Oh, where can I place this? I know, I'll go to the News of the World." He mentioned it in passing to Lucy. Lucy then mentioned it in passing to me. I thought that would have two things: (a) it would be interesting for my newspaper, but (b) it was also a very good piece of PR for the Met.

  • Did you ever buy champagne for either Mr Hayman or Mr Yates?

  • I don't like champagne.

  • Yes, I'm not sure that was quite an answer to my question. You might not have drunk it. Mr Hayman or Mr Yates might have done.

  • Not to your knowledge?

  • I prefer a dry white wine.

  • Okay. Do you know whether Lucy Panton did?

  • Okay. Mr Fedorcio --

  • Before we go on, Mr Wallis, do you think it is sensible or appropriate -- one could use different words -- that this video, which was of national public interest, should be offered by the Metropolitan Police to one newspaper alone?

  • This was an asset they didn't know they had. It hadn't occurred to them that this was worth putting out. It was mentioned to me, so I went and pursued it and suggested to them that they release it to us. If I hadn't have made that pursuit, it would not have been released because it didn't occur to them.

  • It may be that they don't get very good advice or they're not seeking the right advice, but with great respect, that isn't an answer to the question I asked.

  • Well, sir, what you're saying is then that if a newspaper comes up with a good idea, that the Met should therefore automatically put it out to everybody else? This was not an asset that they saw as a PR asset. I, as a journalist, saw that I could turn it into a PR asset and therefore it was no different, I guess, than from me going to them and saying, "We have a story about X or Y or Z", and them then putting it out to everybody. It wouldn't have been published in any way if it hadn't have been my newspaper's idea.

  • It may not have been published, but do you think it is appropriate or sensible that something which they now learn, because of their friendship or relationship with you, might be in the public interest should be promulgated through one newspaper? The answer may be: yes.

  • Sorry, are you asking me to --

  • Yes, I'm asking you to say "yes" or "no".

  • The upshot of us publishing it was that video appeared in other newspapers, on television, and went around the world. It was a rather good idea.

  • Looking at it another way, the initial scoop for the News of the World was engendered as the end product of your careful cultivation of Mr Hayman; would you agree?

  • Well, it came out of Lucy Panton's, you know, sense of something interesting, but yes, it came out of the News of the World's initiative that gave the Metropolitan Police a significant PR coup.

  • And that, perhaps, is how you sold it to Mr Hayman, that it would be a PR coup for the police; is that --

  • Yes, and of value to me. We both won.

  • That may be a common theme in much of this, that your interests and the police interests may often converge. They only diverge when you write critical pieces. That must be right, mustn't it?

  • I think that it is absolutely true, that for many years I have been lucky enough to have my newspaper's interest and the Metropolitan Police's interests on occasion converge to our mutual benefit, yes.

  • The usual pattern is convergence, because, as you say at the beginning of your statement, the papers you write for tended to be pro-police. That's right as well, isn't it?

  • Yes, I think that's true. I worked for the Sun and then I went to work for a -- to edit the left of centre Sunday People, but it's essentially a populist approach, really. Believe it or not, most people out there do support the police and the Army, and so it seemed to me that it's very often that those interests converge.

  • I'm not saying that people are wrong to; I'm making a different point. Mr Fedorcio, who you knew since 1997 when he arrived in post -- because you've told us in your statement that you had a good relationship with his predecessors --

  • So this was a continuation of that process. One certainly derives the overall impression, from your statement at page 18321, that you had a good relationship with him, didn't you?

  • It's page 11, indeed.

  • Yes, I think I had a good relationship with him, yeah.

  • When you went out for dinner with him, did you always pay?

  • I would have assumed so.

  • You why do you say that?

  • Well, if it was an official function, an official thing, then yes. If it was me and him maybe meeting for a quick drink, then it would be quid pro quo.

  • Yes. Was the nature of your relationship with him the same as for the officers we've described? In other words, you would also take it upon yourself to give him PR or media advice?

  • Yes. I remember two examples of that. Once, going back to a Condon era, when there was a bombing at Canary Wharf and -- I was editing the Sun at the time and there was going to be a press conference on the Sunday and I heard from our reporters when this was going to be, and it was -- I think something like a February. And I rank the press office and said, "Look, the light is failing. This is -- the most dramatic thing about this in your PR terms are going to be the amazing pictures, so bring it forward an hour, do the photoshoot before you do the press conference, and then you will get a bigger show in all the newspapers."

    After the 7/7 bombings, I had a very similar conversation with Dick Fedorcio about getting footage or getting stills from inside the tunnels of where the explosions had been, because I knew that they would be the best pictures and I knew they would dominate all the front pages and therefore that what the Met would get was what it needed, was those harrowing images, and it was sort of giving Dick the support to be able to go on to whoever he needed to speak to to try to get those pictures and that footage, and it worked.

  • Do you think that he relied on you, as a newspaper editor, more for such advice than he did on other editors?

  • I haven't a clue. I mean, all I know is that -- you know, as I said before, if I had a view, I would give it.

  • You must have a sense, Mr Wallis, if someone is listening to you or not?

  • Of course, you couldn't compare yourself against all the others one by one, but you must have had a general idea.

  • Well, I had a good working relationship with Dick Fedorcio that has lasted for 15 years. So I assume that he's going to do that if it works for him.

  • Did this mean that if he wanted something done in exchange, you would or could often go to him to ease the path, as it were, to the individual to whom you did wish to speak?

  • I didn't really often want to speak to anybody, because that wasn't my sort of role, but certainly, for instance, I would go to Dick and say, "Look, we are instituting the Police Bravery Awards. It would be a big help to us if John Stevens would agree to be on the judging panel", and so we got: "Yes, thanks very much."

  • It's more, I think, along these lines: that if your crime correspondent or crime editor had a story and needed to speak to someone --

  • -- Mr Fedorcio didn't use, for that purpose --

  • As you've heard from Dick Fedorcio's own evidence, he'd got perfectly good relationships with the Crime Writers Association and Lucy and him had a perfectly good relationship. She didn't need me to go to him.

  • You say in your statement, level with the lower hole punch on page 11:

    "I would also refer to him if I needed to speak to someone in relation to an undercover investigation being run by my newspaper."

    So if you did want something done on behalf of your newspaper, you would speak to him, wouldn't you?

  • Well, yes, as -- in common with every other journalist in Fleet Street. I remember there was an occasion where we had a paedophile investigation and it had nothing to do with me, but for some reason -- and usually the Met are brilliant on these things, I have to stress, but for some reason, on that Saturday we had this sting about to happen with a paedophile who thought he was going to pick up a 12-year-old girl and we weren't getting any help locally. So what I would have done in that circumstance is ring Dick and say, "Look, we're about to do this. We're not getting any reaction from whoever it is we've spoken to. I think it's worth it for the Met." And if he did or he didn't, then we did get the help on that situation and a man ended up in jail for trying to groom a 12-year-old child as a paedophile.

  • The purpose in cultivating Mr Fedorcio -- there was probably more than one purpose, but certainly one of the purposes was to gain your paper access to police officers if they were running particular stories and they needed input from the police. That must be right, mustn't it?

  • Well, his job was the DPA. We were a newspaper, so he'd be the guy we dealt with. You know, on particular story-type levels, it -- I didn't deal with that. I dealt with it pretty much at a strategic level. It was pretty much dealt with by the news desk, Lucy Panton -- they all had his phone number. They all knew Dick. He wasn't some shrinking violet. I didn't need to get involved in these things.

  • You don't think it helped in any way at all that you had a good relationship with Mr Fedorcio, so that if Ms Panton or whoever wanted to speak to him, then the wheels would have been oiled beforehand?

  • As I've said, she had -- she's known Dick longer than I have, I think, and she had a perfectly good relationship and it benefited Dick on occasion if he wanted to call us.

  • Was the issue of leaks from the Metropolitan Police ever the topic of discussion between you and Mr Fedorcio?

  • No, I didn't deal with day-to-day stories in that way.

  • I'm not quite sure I follow that, Mr Wallis. You are talking about leaking the information in relation to day-to-day stories, are you?

  • Yeah, wherever they come from.

  • Was it your view, from what you observed, that the Metropolitan Police was an organisation which was leaky or not?

  • My view about the Met is that it has 30,000 police officers, 50,000 employees, it serves a community of something like 8 million people -- it bubbles with stories every day. Human beings are what human beings are. They talk about what they do, so stories come out. The same applies to any newspaper you've ever had sat in this room.

  • Does one deduce from that answer that the police was a leaky organisation or not? From your own perception, that is.

  • From my own perception, I have no reason to believe that the Met was any more leaky than the Home Office, the Department of Justice, any large organisation.

  • So all equally leaky then; is that right?

  • Sadly, I think it's probably the opposite: all equally not very leaky. I wish they were leakier.

  • Putting leaks to one side, I gather the upshot of your evidence, as you've gone through the various pieces of assistance that you gave the police, is that senior officers of the police and the DPA, the director of public affairs, were not terribly good at PR and doubtless for your own professional reasons, you filled the gap?

  • Well, I contributed where I felt that it was worth contributing and it was up to them what they took out of it.

  • Can we try and bring it together, Mr Wallis? You, in one sense, do that on page 14, our page 18324. About eight lines from the bottom, you say:

    "With the exception of the very occasional odd exclusive interview given to the News of the World by Sir Paul Condon or Sir John Stevens, I was not provided with any information as a result of my relationship with these officers, which they did not seek to be published. I was never provided with information from them which they were not authorised to divulge."

    Can I take it in stages? Did they ever provide you with off-the-record information which, because of its nature, namely it's off the record, they knew and you knew was not going to be published?

  • So what you are saying here, really, is that you would not publish information save with their express agreement; is that right?

  • And given their very high positions, by definition it's information which they were authorised to divulge; is that also right?

  • If they divulged any, yes.

  • Does it follow that there was a host of information, viewed broadly, which they imparted to you, which they were authorised to impart to you but which you did not publish because you didn't have their agreement to publish it?

  • I'm just unpicking that. There's a lot of double negatives in there. There was information that I may have picked up along the way that I did not publish. I don't know where you get the word "host" from, but plainly I would get some sort of background information.

    But, you know, if you look at those hospitality records, these guys were going out with all sorts of other journalists as well. They would be talking to them on the same basis. I have no doubt, whether it was -- you know, the conversation that they had with Alan Rusbridger in his office was off the record. I mean, you know ...

  • But actually, it was a relationship which was built on trust, so there was never going to be any chance of you publishing information which you knew they wouldn't want to be published. That must be right, mustn't it?

  • I think we had a relationship of trust, yes.

  • But you were privy to a lot of things which you could use as background material; is that right?

  • Or to better inform your understanding of how the police worked, and which you could use in future in relation to a story, provided you had their agreement?

  • I felt I was well briefed, yes, inasmuch as whatever they chose to brief me about.

  • And that really was the whole purpose of you building up these relationships with very senior police officers, wasn't it?

  • I'm a journalist. You know, journalists live or die by their contacts. I was a very senior journalist. I had good relationships with people that enabled us both to benefit out of it. And, yes, I nurtured those contacts because that's what journalists do.

    Incidentally, there is just one point -- you know, there seems to be almost a presumption that it's somehow wrong, the idea that people like senior journalists should not have access to senior opinion-formers. Well, you know, I don't think I agree with that. I think that there's a -- you could take the view that there's a -- that it's actually quite important to a free press that people can -- you know, a senior journalist can sit down and have off-the-record conversations with a whole variety of people, whether they be judges, whether they be police officers, whether they be politicians. I have done all of those things. All of those three things I've just said, I have done, and I think that's a pretty healthy way to look at the idea of a democracy and a free press, frankly.

  • You don't think it gives rise to difficulties of perception when you're dealing with someone who occupies both an important and -- someone else has used this term -- quasi-judicial role? Circumstances might arise in which people say, "Well, you, the journalist, true it is you're discharging your function, has got too close to the police officer", for example, and that gives rise to a sense of overcosiness.

  • That I got too close?

  • I think it may be better the other way around.

  • Yes. Well, you know -- forgive me, Lord Leveson, you used this first, but with respect, the -- you know, I have had these sort of relationships with police officers, politicians and judges. I have not put an arm lock on any of those people. I have built up relationships over a number of years, and if they feel that it is of use to them to have that relationship, well, to a certain extent it's not my call, is it? You know, I can ring you as many times as I like, but it will be your choice whether to call me back.

  • That may be right. That may be right, but the question then arises whether it is in the public interest that people who hold these types of position should permit themselves to get into the type of relationship that may give rise to favours, to preferential treatment or the like.

  • You may be right that this isn't a problem for you.

  • With respect, with respect, the bit about favours and preferential treatment is pejorative, and I don't quite get how that suddenly gets tacked on to the end of that sentence, because the truth is part of democracy -- and many would argue, as they have done, that if only we had as open a society as America. I, frankly, would like public officials to spend more time talking to journalists than they do. We have a huge subject going on in this country at the moment about the suggestion of extending secret courts. Personally, I think that's very unhealthy. There's an issue about family courts.

    All I'm saying is that I would have thought that the issue of public officials, none of whom are callow youths, vestal virgins or in the first stage of naivety, choosing whether or not they have relationships I think is an issue for them, and more power to the other bloke, frankly. We need more talking rather than less.

  • Do you think, Mr Wallis, that you would have got on as well as with these powerful people had you not taken them out for expensive meals?

  • I have no idea. I did. That's hindsight, isn't it?

  • Well, I just wonder if you can think about this with a degree of objectivity. Obviously you chose a certain strategy and it's a time-honoured strategy of journalism. You take someone out for a mean or, if there isn't enough time, you take them out for a drink. You're not the first journalist to have done it and you certainly won't be the last. That's the way journalists operate. But do you think you would have done as well with these powerful people had you adopted a more frugal approach; for example, just seen them in their office or your office?

  • Do you mean: do I think I could buy them for a quick drink and a meal? I don't actually think I did do that.

  • No, I didn't say that.

  • But the point is relationships grow in a variety of ways. I have no doubt that in this city today, civil servants have been taking out other civil servants or businessman or whatever all the time. That is the way it works. That's the way life works.

  • I think if all you're saying is that people enjoy a good meal, and if you take people enough times for a good meal, you tend to build up a better relationship than you would if you simply met them in the office, one might agree with that.

  • But looking at it the other way, and ignoring any criticism of you, which I'm not making, to go back to a question I asked three or four questions ago, doesn't this, you think, give rise to the perception that you are getting something out of these officers which perhaps you shouldn't? The perception. I'm not talking about the reality.

  • This is really difficult, because I just find it -- John Stevens is an officer who worked for 40-odd years in the police. He lived his life, 20 years, as a target for IRA assassination as he carried out the Stevens 3 Inquiries. He was the man who was the gangbuster in Northumbria. He came down here. He bust corruption in the Met. So the suggestion is that this man of integrity, of experience, of immense crime-fighting ability, is going to be seduced by me taking him down to Cecconi's and having steak and chips and a nice bottle of wine? I just can't begin to see where this comes from.

    All I'm saying is: have you ever had a working lunch? Have you ever had a working lunch with somebody more than once? Have you ever had a drink at that working lunch? You may well have not. I guarantee everybody in this room just about has and it is the way of the world. That is all I'm saying. I'm not suggesting -- I certainly won't accept the idea that me going for dinner with a police officer is any different from a civil servant going for dinner with a businessman. I see no difference in it at all. I might be wrong, but --

  • I'm not sure you are wrong.

  • That's as far as I can take that particular point, I think, Mr Wallis. May I ask you to look at page 16 of 35, when you were asked a question on your first witness statement, which is something you said at pages 27 and 28. Can I just remind you of that? You said this:

    "In relation to police officers, like civil servants, they all publicly stay out of policy areas ..."

  • Sorry, are we looking at --

  • I'm looking at your first statement. I'm just reminding you of what you said.

  • It's going to come up on the -- actually, I say it's going to come up on the screen. I can give the page number. It's the MOD1 series of documents. The last five numbers are 07701. I'll read it out again:

    "In relation to police officers, like civil servants, they all publicly stay out of policy areas. However, they are human beings with opinions, some of which they are anxious to convey and communicate. On occasions, for political reasons, they may feel that the elected politicians choose to ignore, conceal or distort an issue in such a way that their genuine concerns are not aired. As a consequence, they seek their own forum for expressing their views through the media."

    So you're saying there that police officers used the media to that end. Is that fair?

  • I think as a general view of life, I think that people try to use whatever opportunity -- whatever walk of life they come from, will try to use whatever way they can to get their views across.

  • Did you feel that any of the senior officers you spoke to were attempting to use you in that way?

  • Well, we would have discussions about things.

  • Yes, but that wasn't quite the question. Do you feel --

  • I think where I depart is -- you used the word "use", as though they were -- because just in the same way I couldn't get a policeman to do something he didn't want to do, I'm afraid newspaper men are pretty hard-nosed and they don't --

  • I'm sure they are, Mr Wallis, and you wouldn't do anything which wouldn't be in your own interests or the best interests of your newspaper, but there must have been occasions when police officers were trying to use you in that way, weren't there? For their views?

  • Not particularly that I can think of. There were times when I would have concern, for instance, over the 42 days.

  • Yes, I know you were making a general statement in your first witness statement, but you did say:

    "As a consequence, they [and the pronoun 'they' includes police officers] seek their own forum for expressing their views through the media."

  • Yes, certainly, I have sat there --

  • You must have had personal experience --

  • Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes.

  • And of course, you wouldn't be "used" unless you wanted to, because --

  • -- you have the choice as to whether to publish or not.

  • Were there occasions when you heard senior police officers say things against other police officers or about what was happening in the management board?

  • No, it was generally about the inequity of politicians.

  • So they weren't talking about the police at all, then. They were talking about politicians; is that right?

  • Yeah, in the sense of, say, the ending of tenure.

  • It's just that with the management board in dysfunction, certainly disunity between 2006 and 2008, you going out for lunch with people like AC Hayman and AC Yates, there must have been discussion about political tensions, with a small "P", within the board, mustn't there?

  • Only in the most minor way, not least because, you know, from my newspaper's point of view, this wasn't a great subject. If you read the Guardian or the Times or the Independent or one of those wonderful newspapers that most people don't read --

  • You made that joke last time, Mr Wallis.

  • It was quite good then as well, wasn't it?

  • I'm not sure it was, but please carry on.

  • It wasn't a great story for us.

  • Maybe not, but it was something which you would wish to know about and acquire as your background information, wasn't it?

  • I am -- I have a very eclectic interest in politics, home affairs, current affairs, et cetera.

  • Did you ever feel that any of the senior officers you were speaking to were being disloyal about the police or about other officers within the police in their conversations with you?

  • I think one of the things about the MPS, the people who work in the MPS, is that they have a devotion and a passion and a care about the MPS that is incredibly impressive. They're proud of what they do and who they work for.

  • So there was no condescension to any detail of poor relationships between those at a high level; it was all either highfalutin policy or political stuff in general? It was never a discussion of dissension?

  • It was not a discussion about: "Did you know Tarique Ghaffur told Ian Blair that he was this, that or the other?", no.

  • I suspect you knew that from other sources, though, didn't you?

    Okay. Can I move on now, Mr Wallis? Probably we can move on to page 20 and 21. Yes. This is when you --

  • Page 21, our page 18331. I'm passing over the intervening pages --

  • -- because we've already covered that material. It's a point Lord Condon made about a grooming process and hospitality being part of that. Your answer was that Lord Condon's answer was about what happens in the sporting world and not in the police. In fact, looking carefully at what Lord Condon said in context, he was making a general observation, which included the sporting world and the police.

    I'm just going to ask you, please, to stand back from this, and without seeking to suggest that you or other journalists are acting wrongly in any way -- and that may be implied by the term "grooming"; certainly we know it's used in other pejorative contexts -- do you not agree that hospitality is part of a process, which, at the very least, oils the wheels and engenders a warmer degree of contact over time?

  • I refer you back to my answer about the civil servant and the businessman.

  • I think, therefore, the answer is yes, but I don't want to put words in your mouth. It's either yes or it's no.

  • Okay, sorry. I think the use of the word "grooming" is -- how can I put it at its most gentle? -- inappropriate. Do I think that working lunches is a generally more successful way of doing business, whether your business is in oil refineries, the Ministry of Justice or the Chancery Division of the courts of law? I suspect it probably is.

  • Okay. Page 22 now, our page 18332. Question 18:

    "What, if any, involvement did you have in Lord Stevens securing a contract with News International for his autobiography to be serialised in the News of the World and the Times?"

    Your answer is:

    "We at the News of the World became aware that Sir John Stevens was writing his autobiography."

    How did you become so aware?

  • Because I discussed it with him.

  • Yes, he told you, didn't he?

  • I discussed it with him.

  • Did he tell you or not?

  • Once he discussed it --

  • Well, we're dancing now. You would hardly find out unless he told you.

  • I don't see the big deal, actually.

  • And once he told you, you said to him words to the effect: "Well, we can sort this out for you. We can serialise it in the News of the World ..."

  • Yes, I said we'd be very interested, yes.

  • And the reason why he discussed it with you, as you must have appreciated it at the time, was because of your good relationship with him; isn't that right?

  • So this was another by-product of the lengthy process which you had building good relationships with him; is that right as well?

  • Yes. As was The Chief.

  • And those pieces under the headline "The Chief", did you choose what the pieces would be each time?

  • Did you write them with an eye, therefore, to enhancing Lord Stevens' reputation but primarily creating interest for your readers and enhancing the News of the World's reputation?

  • I wrote them so that they would be a great read for the News of the World readers, that would gather interest from other media organisations and would be completely compatible with how he thought or what he believed. So it was, again, you know, a synthesis of coming together of interests.

  • So it was a synthesis of what would please your reader and which you knew, because you knew him well, he would be writing.

  • So you could almost second guess what he would write if he had written it himself; is that right?

  • So the reader, naturally enough, wouldn't know that it wasn't him who had written it, because they would assume -- obviously they would assume it but also it would chime with the sort of thing he would be writing, wouldn't it?

  • But ghosted articles in newspapers are nothing know. I mean, ghosted articles in newspapers have been going for as long as Mr Caxton was here. It was a perfectly common thing and I wouldn't want you to think that I would just write a piece and lob it in the paper. What would happen was I would have a view, I would speak to John Stevens, we would work out the structure of the article, I would write the article, I would email it to him or fax it to him, he would come back to me and say, "I like this, I don't want to do that, I want to change this", I would do it again, I would send it back to him, he would say, "Okay", I would send it to the back bench, the back bench would subedit it, I would get the subediting version -- because plainly, you're going to write about 1,000 words which are going to come down to about 800 words, say. I would then check that I was happy with the subediting. I would send that back to John for his final say-so before it was put in the paper, including the headlines.

  • If you were to stand back from all of this and you were to take into account the hospitality, all the phones calls with different commissioners and assistant commissioners, writing of these articles, would you agree that it might be said to be part of an over-arching strategy to place the News of the World in a special position with the Metropolitan Police Service?

  • I think it is an example of how journalism worked well to our mutual benefit.

  • That's a bit of a non-committal answer. I wouldn't want to flatter you too much, Mr Wallis, but if the implication is that you're rather good at your job in this respect, surely you would agree that that's what you were, in fact, trying to do: using your skills, all of your skills -- and we've heard the full range of them -- to achieve for the News of the World a special relationship with the Metropolitan Police Service?

    Although you may not like the sharp way in which that was put, that's what you were trying to do, wasn't it?

  • In a way, but the problem is if I say yes, then it sounds too crude again. I mean, I was -- plainly, I am a journalist. My job is journalism and, yes, I work with people, but this relationship that lasted from 1998 through -- right, and with other people for different lengths of time -- worked because it was a good, balanced, trusting relationship that both sides felt they got stuff out of.

  • I'm sure your competitors, through their deputy editors and editors, were trying to do exactly the same thing for their papers --

  • -- but in the end, for whatever reason, it may be your particular personality or your ability to get on with certain type of person, but you did secure for the News of the World a special place in the eyes of the Metropolitan Police Service.

  • Can I just point out --

  • Do you agree with that or not?

  • Well, half of the time we're talking about, I worked for somebody else. So this wasn't about the News of the World. This was a journalist called Neil Wallis who worked on the Sun and then worked on the People and then worked on the --

  • I accept that, Mr Wallis. Whichever paper you're working for --

  • -- of course you're --

  • Yeah, I'm seeking to benefit it, yes. I'm sort of puzzled by the sort of implication that that is in some way pejorative.

  • I'm not sure that there was any implication. I was just asking the questions and seeing what your answer is. Whether there are any inferences to be drawn from that is another matter altogether.

    Chamy Media. We covered that to some extent last time, Mr Wallis, and you've given further written evidence --

  • Mr Jay, if you're changing subjects, Mr Wallis has now been at it for an hour. Shall we have a break now and just give everybody a few minutes to regroup?

    Before we do, let me just ask this question, arising out of something you said before, Mr Wallis. You take the view that there should be greater openness so that the police talk to journalists. There should be more, not less, of that happening.

  • And in politics and in the civil servants and in the judiciary, yes.

  • At the moment, I am simply talking about journalists --

  • The principle remains the same.

  • -- and the police. I understand I will have to go on to talk about politicians. But from the public's perspective, would you agree that this greater openness should be transparent and obvious to all?

  • I -- how -- how do you mean? I don't quite get you.

  • Well, it shouldn't be and needn't be covert, but should be entirely overt.

  • Can I just ask this question, then --

  • In what way was it covert?

  • I'd be grateful if you'd just answer my question. What I'm interested to know is whether you believe that the greater openness which you've said should take place should be transparent to all. That might include other journalists.

  • I suppose I think it's transparent anyway and there's not enough of it.

  • So you think that what was happening that we've spent some time talking about was open and transparent to the public?

  • As far as I was aware, it was. I mean, in what way -- I'm sorry, where I'm at a loss here is these police officers were putting it on their hospitality register. The idea that a journalist should be listing his meetings with contacts I can't believe you're suggesting. So I'm not sure what wasn't transparent.

  • Mr Wallis, I'm not asking you about what journalists should be doing. I'm asking you about what the police should be doing and not everything is indeed in the hospitality register. We know a lot more about your friendship with some senior police officers than transpired in the hospitality register, don't we?

  • All right. We'll take a break.

  • (A short break)

  • Mr Wallis, in relation to Chamy Media, what is clear from your evidence is that you thought that you were the person best placed in the market to undertake this work, didn't you?

  • I thought that I could do the job that they wanted doing, yes.

  • One way that you made yourself even more tantalising to the police, if you forgive me for putting it in those terms, is that you offered to do -- indeed did do -- one piece of work free of charge for Mr Fedorcio, didn't you?

  • All I was doing there, Mr Jay, was continuing to do what I'd done many times before for them. So was I trying to be tantalising? No, I wasn't. I was simply continuing to do what I'd done for years for them. Sometimes they asked me for my thoughts on things.

  • Were you surprised when you got this contract?

  • Do you feel that it was in any sense -- I won't use the word "payback", because that's putting it too high, but the by-product of what you'd done in the past for the police and particular individuals within the police?

  • I can put that question in a way that you might find easier: did you think that you'd developed a relationship with the police that was such that actually they would see the great value in employing you to do this particular job?

  • You should ask the questions. Yes. Yes.

  • I can see now that the way in which I asked that question, there was a little bit of a barb in it which you didn't like --

  • -- and I'm happy to withdraw the question on that basis. You agree -- I think this is clear from page 27 of 35 -- that Mr Yates sought a specific assurance from you; is that right, Mr Wallis? 22E.

  • Sorry, where are we? I don't disagree with his evidence, though.

  • So you agree with his evidence; is that right?

  • In relation to your daughter, one can see from your answers that you resent the question having been put at all. Can I content myself, therefore, by asking you only one question: why didn't you send the email with your daughter's CV directly to the human resources department rather than to Mr Yates?

  • Well, I didn't know him. It was mentioned in passing, so -- you know, I have put, in my various executive roles, many times in my life, people into part-time work. I get to know you. You say, "Incidentally, my lad is interested in journalism. Will you give him a bit of work?" I say, "Yeah, sure, no problem at all." It happens all the time. And can I just say something on this, please?

  • Under tab 5, there is an email which says -- from Martin Tiplady, which says:

    "It is a matter of routine that many of the Met's people have referred relatives and friends to us for employment, attachment and holiday employment. At the senior employment, I can recall Steve Howe's son being selected twice for temporary employment. I can recall Peter Clarke's son doing an extended period with us. I recall Catherine Crawford referring her daughter to us. They all referred their juniors to us. Tim Godwin referred his neighbour's two sons to us. Ronnie Flanagan spoke to me. I remember Victoria Borwick ..."

    Now, what I'm a bit lost to understand here, bearing in mind I have a young daughter who I -- a friend mentioned the possibility of something that would help us out, that I suspect is not unknown in the legal profession, that both Catherine Crawford and Tim Godwin are the people who referred this to the IPCC, and yet they've done it themselves! So where I'm a bit sort of raw on this issue -- you can beat me up as much as you like, frankly. You've given me 300-odd name checks so far in this module. You've asked me all sorts of questions, but when my daughter gets pilloried, when you have an email that says the two senior people to John Yates have done exactly the same, I'm sort of wondering whether you should have asked Catherine Crawford or Tim Godwin the circumstances of how their children -- I didn't notice, actually. I did watch Tim Godwin. I don't remember him being asked and I didn't see Catherine Crawford so I don't know whether you asked her, but I'm at a bit of a loss to work out why my daughter yet again gets her privacy invaded like this.

  • There's absolutely no criticism of your daughter at all.

  • But you're name-checking her. She's trying to build a career and her name is constantly being put into the public domain over something the IPCC have said she has done nothing wrong whatsoever. I did nothing wrong whatsoever. John Yates did nothing wrong whatsoever. So why -- you know, it's asked in this pejorative way yet again. I apologise if I feel a bit raw about how my daughter's treated, but I'm a bit like that, I guess.

  • The only point is a very short one, Mr Wallis: why did you send the email to Mr Yates at all, with a view to him passing it on to human resources? Why didn't you or your daughter just make direct contact with human resources?

  • Because -- in exactly the same way as -- I have no idea whether you have children or not. It may be that if your son is interested in the law, if you have a son, that you may think to yourself: "There's a bit of work going on at 3 Raymond's Building. I know: I know Trevor Burke. I'll send to Trevor Burke and see whether he can help me out", because you don't have a clue who the head of HR is there. It's the way of the world.

  • Okay. Well, maybe you did it was because it was the way of the world? Is that --

  • Like many things, it was the way of the world.

  • I've even given work experience to children of people who work at the Guardian.

  • Can I ask you to move now to page 32 of 35, our page 18342.

  • Page 32, because again you've covered the intervening ground, as it were. The use of the description "police source". It applies to the source of information who wishes to remain anonymous but is within a particular police service. Is that a term which you have used in your journalism, Mr Wallis?

  • I think it's a very common term and I think it's generally used where -- basically, police very often will give background briefings about things they want in the public domain that they don't want their name put to, and so accordingly it's very often called police sources.

  • But is it a term which you used in your journalism?

  • I would guess so, over 40 years, frankly.

  • I have been asked by one core participant to put this to you: does the term include the MPA, the CPS or some other organisations linked to the police?

  • The CP -- no, it wouldn't, no.

  • So it would have to be someone within the police service, would it?

  • Would you use the term "police source", if we go back to the exchanges you had with those at a high level within the MPS, if they were content that the information be published but not that it be attributed to them?

  • I mean, give me an example, if you like. I just don't -- possibly. I don't know.

  • It's really a point of principle, Mr Wallis. You either would or you wouldn't use the term.

  • Well, it's more to do with -- you may need to disguise the source of the story. I just don't know. In principle, I wouldn't have a problem with that phrase, if that's what you're asking me.

  • Okay. Can I just be clear then, Mr Wallis: in what circumstances would or might you need to disguise the source of the story?

  • Blimey, I can't think off the top of my head, I'm afraid.

  • Maybe if it was unauthorised or leaked, that would be one obvious case, wouldn't it?

  • Maybe that it impinged on another area of government.

  • Could you give us an example of that?

  • Maybe if it turned out that -- this is a completely falacial(sic) example, but let me give you the example. If the frustration that the police were having about the numbers of times they had to arrest, say, people for knife crime and then they'd be bailed to go and commit more knife crime -- and this is as a result of a new direction from the CPS or from the justice ministry or whatever. You might turn the story around so that you find a way for it to come from justice ministry sources or something like that.

  • Question 29, page 18343, your page 33, where you say you've been informed on a number of occasions by the press office of certain types of crime. In such circumstances, your newspaper was invited to attend and witness the searching and arrest of particular suspects. Was your newspaper, to your knowledge, ever tipped off by the police that celebrities might be arrested?

  • No. But I have to say, I have seen a variety of stories in my time that I thought came from that area, shall we say.

  • Can you be a little bit more precise, Mr Wallis? Are you saying that, although not in your papers, you've seen stories which you --

  • I can't think of anything -- it's a bit like -- you had the story -- you've been talking about Mr Jefferies quite a lot. Well, I had been out of journalism a long time when that happened, but when I read that story in the papers, in all of the papers, I just assumed it came from a background briefing from the local police. Now, I know the chief constable has denied that since, but at the time when I read it, all I can tell you is that I instantly assumed that's where it came from, given my experience going back 40 years.

  • There's a difference, Mr Wallis, between you, even from the position of some considerable expertise, speculating about a particular case --

  • -- on the one hand and you saying, "Based on my 40 years' experience, I know from that experience that this is the sort of thing that has happened because I've seen it happen." I think what the Inquiry would be interested in more is what you could tell us about evidence in the second category, relating in particular to celebrities being arrested and the press being there at the time of their arrest, about which the Inquiry has heard quite a lot of evidence.

  • I'm struggling because I can't think of any celebrity arrests in recent times. So, you know, if it hasn't happened in the last ten years, I don't know -- there was one, wasn't there? There was the Kelly -- Matthew Kelly was going to be arrested, I read, that was mentioned in here.

  • It sounds as if you're backtracking from this a bit now, Mr Wallis. Are you saying that this happens or it doesn't happen?

  • Mr Jay, I'm not backtracking; I'm trying to give you an honest answer. In my time over all the years I've been in newspapers, I'm pretty confident that that has probably happened. Can I recall a hard and fast example of it? No.

  • Okay. What about the slightly separate type of case where the media go along with the police on arrests or raids?

  • This, of course, is organised through the press office --

  • -- and is all above board, a bit different to what we've just been discussing. To what extent did your newspapers take into account the privacy and fair trial rights of suspects and victims?

  • Well, we didn't, really.

  • We pretty much took the view if the police were inviting us along, that it was pretty much fair game.

  • Okay. We've heard evidence from those in the regional press along the lines that on such occasions when they went along, they pixelate the faces of the arrestees to protect their Article 8 and fair trial rights. Are we to understand from your evidence that that would not have been your practice?

  • Children, possible innocent bystanders -- well, actually, no, I do remember now. It's three years since I left newspapers, but in the main, we would take our lead from the police. The police would tell us: "We want you to pixelate the faces", or: "We don't want you to pixelate the faces." We would always pixelate undercover police officers and we would always make sure there was no embarrassment or difficulties there, but we would take the lead from whatever our instructions were from the -- we were there as their guest. We did what they said.

  • Would it be fair to say that you, of course, would look after the interests of your hosts, namely the police officers, and take care to pixelate their face, but you didn't really care too much about the faces of anybody else?

  • We would take the lead from what the police were telling us.

  • You didn't have an internal policy --

  • -- which -- (Pause) Can you just bear with me one moment, Mr Wallis? I want to check I've covered a point on your first statement. (Pause)

    This goes back to a point I was touching on earlier. It's my final question, Mr Wallis. This is when the News of the World were working with the police in relation to their undercover stories. What you have said in your first statement, at page 21, was this:

    "In these instance and on many others, the newspaper liaised closely with the police in order to obtain precisely the evidence which was required both to enable the printing of a legally sound story but also to enable the authorities to successfully prosecute."

    So what sort of information did you obtain from the police so as to obtain the evidence which might be required?

  • Two things come into that, really. One, when you're at the level of the News of the World, we're generally pretty experienced in this, so we knew what we needed to be looking for. But secondly, we would, as often as possible, liaise with the police and, as I said -- the great example being the dirty bomb plot, the woman selling the virginity, the woman selling the baby, et cetera, et cetera -- the police would make it very clear to us what they needed as evidence and how that evidence would need to be collected. So we would take that advice, together with our own experience -- and I think you've had Mazher Mahmood in here, whose proud record I think is that he has put away over 200 criminals, often in very dangerous circumstances. You know, you do that by making sure that (a) you know what you're doing and (b) that you liaise properly with the police.

  • Thank you very much, Mr Wallis.

  • Mr Wallis, I just have one other thing to ask, really, to say and ask. I quite understand your concern about your daughter.

  • And I sympathise with you very much in that regard. I also regret the upset that it all may have caused to her.

  • And I'd be grateful if you'd pass that on to her. But do you think that we ought to be paying more attention to the privacy rights of individuals than once we did?

  • That's not a question about Amy, right?

  • No, no, I get you. I understand. I just wanted to be clear.

  • The reason I started was obviously --

  • No, plainly I do understand. Thank you.

  • That's not to mean that I don't mean what I said when I started, because I most certainly do.

  • Yes. What I think and -- oh, blimey. During the course of this Inquiry, which I've watched very carefully, as you can imagine, you've had some witnesses here from 20-odd years ago, from 15 years ago, et cetera. I believe in my time at the top of national newspapers -- I'm not saying I've done this, but I believe it has evolved enormously, and I believe that the protection of privacy has leapt on in that time.

    Now, I can immediately see lawyers saying, "Yeah, well, what about all these privacy cases?" I think if you looked at privacy compared, say, to libel in its heyday, you will see that the balance has enormously shifted.

    Do I think that newspapers have recognised people's privacy much more? Yes, I do. Do I think that's right? Yes, I do, and I speak as someone who, as I say, has that level of experience, where I saw the Wild Bill Hickok days, if you see what I mean. It has changed, and it is right that it has changed.

    With the greatest of respect -- and I mean that -- I think the challenge that this Inquiry faces is recognising where movement has already happened, rather than dwelling on something that happened 10, 15 years ago, and I think there has been a significant shift. I think that you could throw at me Mosley. So whatever my personal feelings about the Mosley case, we have a clear court decision, there were clear repercussions for the newspaper, and I don't believe that will happen again. And that is the truth of how it has moved.

    So the answer to your question is: I think there is much less invasion of privacy than there used to be. I think we have a very, very vocal sort of patch of celebrity and celebrity-linked lawyers whose interest it is to keep this as loud as possible, and they've done so very successfully. But I think there has been a recognition in the press -- I give you one example, one minor example.

    Ten years ago, we'd have stuck pictures in the paper of -- let me think of someone famous -- God, I can't think of anybody famous now. The woman with Simon Cowell on her -- she just had a baby. Anyway, it doesn't matter. A famous pop star. Walks down the street with her children, yeah? We'd have taken the picture, we'd have stuck it in the paper and there would have been her children's faces. That won't happen any more. Doesn't happen. The only type of people whose pictures of children you see in the paper are people like the Beckhams, who regularly take their children to the opening of this, that and the other envelope, where they want to use their children to help garner them publicity. But on a routine basis, children's faces are pixelated now.

    In fact, it got to be point where there was a debate at the News of the World about how effective the pixelation was. Do you know what I mean by pixelation, yeah? And I suggested that before we pixelated the face, we actually scrubbed it clean with the computer, so there were no features, and we then pixelated that, just to avoid this issue.

  • That may be, and I'm not actually focussing, in my question, particularly on celebrities. They have different issues which have to be resolved in different ways, and to some extent they can address them themselves. I'm much more concerned about people who can't deal with these issues because they don't have muscle, whether it be financial or otherwise, which is why your concern struck a chord with me. My concern is -- and I'd be interested in your view -- that in the general run of things you may be right, but when it comes unstuck is whenever there is a big story, and then, as I've already quoted -- I think it was Mr Morgan -- the rules go out of the window.

  • Mm, and this is the horns of dilemma, with respect, that you're on. Because you, as a lawyer, will say to -- whether it's me or a client or whatever, you know, one-off anecdotes make poor law. I can see some awful things that have happened. You look at the McCanns. How can your heart not -- you know, it's horrendous what happened to them. But sometimes, you know, storms happen, and they shouldn't, but they do. And the McCanns -- you've got this perfect storm of what the Portuguese police were saying to the press out there. You know, they were feeding this stuff all the time, all the time, and a media -- and this was not just print media, don't let us forget. You're quite right when you include not just the web but TV and, you know, all of these people. There was a feeding frenzy, and that does happen occasionally.

    Thankfully, it doesn't actually happen that much, and in the main, I believe that the British national newspapers are far tamer now than they were certainly ten years ago, and nothing like they were 20 years ago. And, you know, single cases, do they make good law? I don't know. I can see we have had cases and your heart goes out to them. I mean, trust me, I do know this, but in terms of the invasion of the privacy of most ordinarily citizens, I don't believe it exists anything like the same level.

  • A single case may not make good law, but a type of case, namely that has with it what might be considered the explosive ingredients of real public interest and sensationalism, may always generate the problem for which there has to be some solution. So the question is not throwing the baby out with the bathwater and finding an appropriate solution.

  • Yes. Sorry, can I just say this: there's been much condemnation of the PCC in this room but I honestly believe that if the McCanns' situation had happened in this country, you wouldn't have seen anything like that, because the PCC would have had much more influence on the newspapers. You wouldn't have had the Portuguese police briefing like mad on a daily basis. You wouldn't have had local people doing similar sorts of things. It would not have happened if it had happened here in the same way, is what I'm saying.

  • The PCC weren't or shouldn't have been asleep while it was happening in this country, should they?

  • No, I'm not suggesting that at all, but if they have -- their input has much more relevance -- sorry, their input had much more relevance if it happens in this country, because what was happening in newsrooms, they were being told: "Portuguese police are telling us this and that and the other", and that's where it went very wrong, other than it was an awful, awful tragedy.

  • And one needn't just go to the McCann case. There are much more recent cases than that, and indeed lots of publicity surrounding recent tragedies, even during the currency of this Inquiry.

  • Yes, but, you know, part of the issue -- I remember an argument about inquests. Inquests should not be public. You know, it's very intrusive, it's very heart-rending. But the truth of the matter is: we, as citizens, need to hear how other people in our community die, what happens. We need to know those circumstances. One of the tragedies there has been -- and I don't know a journalist to this day -- certainly today -- who would not say to you that the police have just completely shut down on talking to the press. They've just shut down, because they're scared of what's coming out of this. We all know stories that haven't come out as a result of their fear of this.

    Well, you know, what I do remember, because I'm so long in the tooth, is things like going to air crashes that happened in -- I think it was the Midlands. Kegworth, I think it was called, and I remember piling into -- searching out all the relatives of the deceased and so on and so forth. Wouldn't happen like that now. Wouldn't happen like that now.

  • But the danger you have is that, you know, if there is a rash of sex attacks in Acacia Avenue, then it is vital that the people who live in the vicinity of Acacia Avenue know that those sex attacks happen and that is closing in. That is closing down. I know you wouldn't agree with that, but that's human nature, because the police are scared and the press are scared to ask.

  • I'm not convinced that intrusion into the sort of grief that you've just referred hasn't recently happened, but if I take --

  • I meant "reduced", I'm sorry.

  • -- the next level of your example, it may very well be that the openness to which I referred in an earlier question to you needs to be rekindled. That might very well be right. But the excesses have to be prevented, and they have to be prevented, I hope you agree, without the fear that I am constantly there. Because I assure everybody that I will not be. I will conclude this Inquiry and hopefully move on, but there has to be left behind, I hope you agree, a legacy that means that appropriate behaviour and appropriate relationships happen at all levels.

  • There is already a kind of Leveson law affecting. I think you're right, and as I say, the sword of Damocles for you, I guess, if I can have the impertinence of saying that, is that, you know, there are always going to be instances. But in the main, I believe that the law has changed dramatically and that the scandal that has involved one newspaper has brought all this to a head, and at the same time, the issue of, you know, tragedies and so on and so forth -- I think there just has been significant changes.

    I would not, as an executive -- I'm sorry, I left three years ago and it will not have got lighter of touch, this, anywhere. You're allowed to go knock on the door. If you have another particular reason to, you can try twice, but you don't do more than that. That has changed dramatically. And wrongdoing is wrongdoing, though, you know, and, as I say, my fear about all of this, particularly with the Met -- and I've listened to the Filkin rules, I've listened to -- there was some Deputy Commissioner who sat here. I think he had previously served in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire or somewhere. Most of the divisions in London have more officers under the local commander than in places like that. The idea that we're going to ban -- we're going to try to, if you like, have a no contact zone or only an official contact zone, it breeds a black market. It breeds potentially a problem.

  • I don't actually think that was suggested. I have made it clear that I see enormous advantage in the police getting their message across, but in an open and transparent way. I am interested in what you say, that what has come out of one newspaper might have affected others, but from your 40 years' experience, you are not suggesting, are you -- and I'm not asking you to name names, and the question is either a "yes" or "no" -- that the issues of concern -- not all of them but some of them -- weren't just restricted to one title?

  • The issues of intrusion, you mean?

  • All right. Thank you very much indeed. We'll leave it there until tomorrow morning. Thank you. 10 o'clock. Thank you, Mr Wallis.

  • (The hearing adjourned until 10 o'clock the following day)