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

  • Right, well, let's move to the exciting topic of administration. Yes?

  • In relation to the day's evidence, all the statements are up on the website, a redacted copy of HJK's statement has been circulated to all the core participants for clearance.

    The programme for next week has been published. We received some correspondence this afternoon which might be interpreted as a complaint about that, but unless someone has a submission about it to make, the Inquiry is not going to deal with correspondence behind the scenes. That's not the way this Inquiry is going to operate.

    A point can be made to you by way of submission, but otherwise we press on.

  • Right. Does anybody want to raise anything themselves? Yes, Mr Caplan?

  • I'm not sure whether that letter is to do with us or not, but please, on Tuesday there are two witnesses, in particular Mr Nick Davies, who has written a book called Flat Earth News.

  • And I see from the documents which the Inquiry have issued in relation to his evidence that it refers to extracts from his book. May I just say this, that the witness statement he has provided to the Inquiry and at the moment to core participants does not deal with that at all.

    The other matter is that Mr McMullen I see is also coming on Tuesday. Again the witness statement that has been provided to core participants does not deal with his conversation with Mr Hugh Grant about which we heard last week.

    If either of those matters are going to be canvassed with him in evidence, I would respectfully suggest it is imperative that they give written evidence in advance to yourself and the core participants so that we know what is going to be said.

  • All right. I understand the point. Let me look at that and I won't be able to address it publicly tomorrow because tomorrow we're not sitting.

    As I recollect it, Mr Jay, Mr McMullen's statement was a statement that he provided to the Inquiry.

  • Yes, it's a wide-ranging statement and contains one or two things which on any view might be regarded at controversial. It represents the maximum extent of his evidence, save for his account of the taped conversation, one end of which we heard from Mr Grant's evidence on Monday.

    Under the rules, Mr McMullen can deal with his version of events and will be asked to deal with it.

  • What's the position about Mr Davies?

  • The relevant chapter of his book has been, as it were, incorporated by reference into his evidence, and he will be dealing with that chapter. I think it's the Dark Arts chapter 7 of Flat Earth News. He will be dealing with that evidence on Tuesday.

    The core participants have had notice of it. They have seen the relevant chapter.

  • Yes. I confess -- I say immediately I have read the book. To what extent is it intended that these witnesses should go into detail? I'm just thinking actually about time rather than anything else.

  • Yes. Well, of course, having regard to the time and the need at the end of the day for a report in 12 months' time.

  • Yes, I understand that. No, I'm just thinking about -- and you know my view about that, I've said it often enough.

  • The agenda for Tuesday is Mr Peppiatt first, who we would expect to take about 90 minutes. Mr Davies second. He might take 90 minutes to two hours. And then Mr McMullen. Mr McMullen, it's unclear how long he will take, because his evidence could take a number of different courses. I think that's all I can fairly say at the moment.

    Certainly it's our preliminary view that his witness statement would not be publicly available. It's been provided to the core participants and we'll just hear what his oral evidence is.

  • But we don't have a statement from him about the interview?

  • No. On the other hand, the interview was published in the New Statesman. It will not be difficult for him, he's had notice of it, to say clearly what his position is. It's right to say that we don't know formally what his position is in relation to that interview.

  • That's the feature that's concerning me and it's not concerning me because I'm not prepared to listen to it, but it is concerning me about the extent to which core participants might want to challenge it.

  • The difficulty, of course, is that the tape has not been released. My understanding of Mr Grant's evidence was that he might be prepared to allow the Inquiry team to listen to part of the tape, but that may not be right. If we have a factual dispute at the end of Mr McMullen's evidence, it would then be, in my submission, for the Inquiry to decide to what extent it's necessary or right to resolve that dispute. Of course we don't know at the moment whether there is such a dispute.

  • One other way of doing it -- I mean, there are a number of things I can do. First of all, we can wait and see. And if it's appropriate, I can use the rules to permit a core participant to cross-examine and could defer the cross-examination. It depends a little bit what happens.

  • Secondly, if the interview becomes truly significant, and given the over-arching question that I'm seeking to answer, actually, then it may not, but if it truly becomes significant, notwithstanding Mr Grant's sensitivities, and I understand why he says what he said, I am in a position to obtain the tape. I'm not necessarily going to go there, but I could do it. It depends a little bit on what happens.

    I mean one way of doing it would be to say, well, if we could require Mr McMullen to make a statement and we could identify what we want him to deal with. We've seen what was said in the discussion in the public house because the Spectator article was exhibited to Mr Grant's statement, and I rather gather that it's unlikely to take us very much further but it was right that we investigate it.

    So my present thinking, but I'll hear what Mr Caplan has to say about it in a moment, is that we press on, but that we are prepared -- and I am prepared possibly in both cases -- to wait and see so that, if necessary, we can return to a witness.

  • Yes. I've just been told that the issue might not arise in relation to the tape, but it's not right that I communicate that fully.

    There are a range of possibilities here. Mr McMullen may say, "Well, I did say all of that on the tape, Mr Grant's transcript is right, but I didn't mean what I meant to say, I believe you've drawn the wrong inferences", or it might be, "It's all 100 per cent right and I meant every word about of it". In my submission, we should wait and see --

  • -- and then decide what steps we need to take further.

  • All right. Thank you. Mr Caplan, I take the point that you make, and I can't believe that a consideration whats not been given by your clients to that part of Mr Davies' book that impacts upon your clients.

    There's some surprise being expressed to your right, but I'll hear it if anyone wants to say otherwise.

    What I'm minded to do is to say that we hear, for example, Mr McMullen's evidence. If I am at all concerned, and of course I'll be guided in large part by you, that something has happened which requires time, and which allows me or justifies me taking a different view under Rule 10, then I'll do it. Fairness remains what I am anxious to achieve, but I'm anxious to achieve it in the context of the fact that I will not be specifically looking at individual stories to make findings of fact. I can't do that, because, as I've said many times, that would take years.

    There may be one or two stories which I will want to investigate a little bit more on. We've heard some talked about. So I do want to see, for example, something more about where Dr Kate McCann's diary came from and what due diligence was put into that, but that's specific people we will ask those questions. There may be another example of that, I think there is, but again I think it's a News of the World employee who is concerned.

    But given the over-arching issue, I will hear any complaint you have to make as and when you wish to make it, but I'm not minded to make orders about restricting this witness or that witness now, simply because I think that we'll probably manage within the time we have, but I'm always prepared to listen, and if it means that Mr McMullen or Mr Davies have to return, whether it's the next day or a couple of days later, then that's what will happen.

  • Thank you, sir. I'm sure I fully understand that if we make an application on fairness grounds, that you would give it very careful consideration, and if we make an application under Rule 10, you equally would consider that.

    Can I just make this suggestion in relation to Mr McMullen? I would have thought it would be fairly straightforward for the Inquiry team simply to ask him to make a very short statement between now and Tuesday morning.

  • I think that's a good idea. We'll see. We'll do our best.

  • Thank you very much.

  • For the sake of everybody, I agree.

    Right, anything else?

  • Sir, I was just going to say this in relation to Mr Grant. As I understand the position to be, is, as you describe it, sensitivities related to him volunteering the material on the interview.

  • If he's required to do so, I'm sure he'll provide it.

  • I'm also sure of that, Mr Sherborne, and nothing he said suggested that he wouldn't.

  • But to such extent as I can pay respect to the wishes of those who have come to give evidence -- and that's going to be wherever they come from, whatever corner of room they emerge from -- I will do so. I'm not conducting a trial here; I am trying to conduct an inquiry.

  • Very good. Is there anything else?

  • Thank you very much indeed. I'm sure everybody will be very pleased that we now will next meet on Monday. I know there was a concern, I think, which I am prepared to just observe, that seven days a fortnight, I said. The fortnight has just ended. The next fortnight is about to start. Thank you very much.

  • (The hearing adjourned until Monday, 28 November 2011)