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

  • HJK (affirmed).

  • So that it is clear, I have in fact been informed of your name and I've been informed of the circumstances in which you wish to give evidence anonymously and I have made orders ensuring that there is in place appropriate protection for your identity.

    I'm grateful to you for coming and for taking the important step of giving evidence in this Inquiry. If there is anything that you need during the course of your I hope not too long experience, please say so.

  • Thank you, sir.

  • For obvious reasons I won't ask you your name, but I can say a contact address has been provided to the Inquiry. You've provided the Inquiry with an open witness statement, which is what we will be dealing today. Could you confirm, please, that the contents of this witness statement are true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • They are, yes.

  • You tell us that you were the victim of phone hacking in circumstances which we will come on to, that as a result you brought civil proceedings against News Group Newspapers and you've also judicially reviewed or are seeking to judicially review the Metropolitan Police Service; is that right?

  • That is all correct, yes.

  • Can I take you now back to 2006?

  • You tell us that you at that time met a well-known individual, who we will call X.

  • And that you began dating with X, that a relationship had not developed; but for the events we're going to come to, it might have done?

  • Now that we move on to what in fact happened, it might be useful in your case for us to keep track of the different ways in which the media sought to obtain information.

    At paragraph 4, you tell us about a telephone call that you received in April 2006.

  • Could you tell us a little bit about that, please?

  • That was very early April 2006, and basically I was working, so it was during working hours, and an individual called me and claimed to be from the Royal Mail and said that they had a parcel for me coming from Europe and that the label has been -- had been torn away, torn off, and as a consequence they could not deliver the parcel, but amazingly my mobile number was on it, so they were enquiring where they should deliver the parcel.

    Although at the moment I felt the request was rather strange, the story didn't ring very good, but I volunteered my address without thinking, really, because I probably thought it was someone from my family who probably did this, and I just hung up. But the way -- the individual said thank you, and the way he said it was suspiciously jubilant, given a Royal Mail employee, and it sounded like he had a victory out of that call.

  • And at the time you tell us you simply thought it was very strange?

  • Would it be right to conclude that you now think that that was a means by which someone blagged your address?

  • Absolutely, yeah.

  • Because you go on to tell us that a Saturday later, in the same month, your doorbell rang in the morning and a journalist was there and confronted you with the question, "Are you in a relationship with X?"

  • Yes, that was end of April, and it was indeed the case, yeah.

  • And you explain in the statement what you said. Those who read your statement in due course can read that for themselves.

  • What I would like to ask you is: how did you feel when that occurred?

  • First of all, I felt extremely harassed, because you have to understand when we talked about dating this person that I was in an embryonic relationship with this person, we'd just had a few dates, really, so I was surprised of the short amount of time it took for someone to be at my doorstep and doorstepping me from a newspaper, so I was shocked, harassed and very surprised. But I felt extremely also -- if you want, I felt under observation from that point onwards.

    Another statement he made was that X was living with me, and that just baffled me because I could not understand how he could have come to that conclusion.

  • I see. So you tell us that what you did next was you called X?

  • I called a friend of mine to seek advice, and, yes, my first reaction was to call X immediately, saying, "There is a problem".

  • There came a point in time when you called X?

  • Could you describe to the Inquiry what the upshot of that call was on the developing relationship between you and X?

  • It put a stop to it straight away. But for many reasons. You know, I don't blame X whatsoever, we're still friends. Just -- I can imagine how, from X's perspective, the fact that someone X has been just dating, after three weeks of various dates, all of a sudden calls X up with a story saying a journalist has been at my doorstep, that sounds like a someone who is going to do a kiss-and-tell story on that person. And it was very clear that X -- to me, X denied the relationship existed, which made me feel really weird about it, yeah, but clearly X just put a stop to it, to a burgeoning relationship, and I think in all fairness, because you have to understand also the perspective of famous individuals, being under such a pressure of the media, it leads to, you know, reactions of that nature on X's side, and from my side it just made me feel like, well, if my life is going to be trashed on the newspapers straight away, I'm also very concerned of that, just after three weeks of dating someone. That's quite traumatic.

  • I see, thank you. You then tell us that after being doorstepped by a journalist, you go on in paragraph 10 to tell us that that journalist called you on your mobile telephone later on and proposed an arrangement to you?

  • What did you understand that arrangement to be?

  • It was a long conversation. He was trying to make me talk, it was very clear. First of all, I want to say that I was very surprised he had my mobile phone number because I never gave him my mobile phone number. So that's point number one.

    Second point, during that conversation he was trying to make me talk and he said an arrangement, and it was very clear he was proposing money.

  • Chequebook journalism?

  • Yeah, clearly. I said to him I wasn't interested in talking to him and he kept on talking and talking and I had to literally close the conversation saying "Listen, I'm not interested to talk so can we move on and thank you very much". He said, "You've got my number", and I think sarcastically I said "Yes, I think I do".

  • I see. Then you tell us that you tried to contact X, and eventually you were successful because X called you back.

  • Without mentioning the title, what did X tell you?

  • Sorry, I don't understand.

  • I'm looking at paragraph 11 --

  • I will, sir. Thank you.

    X told you, didn't X, that the newspaper was going to publish a story the following morning?

  • Yes, 7.30 pm, yeah. That's a call at 7.30 pm. X basically had been warned by a friend which actually amazingly was also working for the press, but a regional newspaper, who was just a friend, who had received a phone call from another newspaper I cannot name mentioning that the story was going to be published and my name was available, and clearly that X had a courtesy call via this person to inform X that this story would be published the next day.

  • Can I pause there to explore how that made you feel?

  • I really felt after, you know, the 9 o'clock phone call -- the 9 o'clock call at my door, the, you know, middle of the afternoon telephone call and this, by that stage I was panicking, I was absolutely panicking.

  • You go on to tell us that you made the decision that you had better contact your employers before the story was published?

  • When you explained what you thought was going to happen to your employer, what was your employer's reaction?

  • It was pretty dry and unsympathetic, to be honest, because I had to explain quite a lot of details which I had not shared about my personal situation with this employer and it was very much saying, "Well, we'll have to manage, won't we?" That sort of reaction.

  • I see. And then you tell us that in fact, after all that, the story wasn't published?

  • But that was not the end of the matter for you, and I want to ask you now about your workplace, which you deal with at paragraph 14 of your statement. You describe there a problem that you had with a client as a result of a deleted voicemail; is that right?

  • Yeah. It's in paragraph 14? Yes, okay. So yes, but there's two points in paragraph 14, but yeah.

  • Deal with that one first, please.

  • The voicemail of the client, this was a very important deal for the company and at that point I was under sheer pressure from my boss to get hold of this customer. I had attempted for, I think, two weeks to reach him and he was not calling me back and I finally got hold of him and I said to him, because we had quite a relationship, well-established, "I'm a bit disappointed, given the urgency of the matter, that you hadn't called me back" and he said to me, "But I called you back and I left a message on your voicemail" and I said, "No you didn't, did you?" and he said, "Have you checked your voicemail?" and there was a bit of a heated argument -- not argument but a bit of a heated discussion and I said "Okay, I'll look through it", we went through the conversation; he said, "I left you the message and it was okay, don't you worry about, we will do it", I said "Okay, that's fine".

    I hung up and I checked my voicemail. I had a bad habit, with hindsight, that was to keep my voicemails packing up into my voicemail box, which we know afterwards was a bad suggestion.

  • I see. So apart from problems with --

  • And it was there, the message was there, and clearly I had never heard this message from him, ever. So it had been listened to, but at the time I didn't realise what was going on.

  • No, of course. So apart from the problems that were caused by a deleted voicemail, you also tell us that your employer was rather unsympathetic?

  • Yeah. Well, I think the awareness of -- as he had been aware of what was going to be published and the nature of my personal life, a pattern of bullying and victimisation started appearing, especially in public, never in private, always in public, which started to make me very uncomfortable, and it lasted for the best part of July, August and September. It led me to actually contact ACAS out of concern and worry, because, you know, searching online I realised that there probably were a piece of advice I could get, and they advised me to keep a diary of the events, should it go any further, which I did keep.

  • I see. You then go on to tell us that there came a point in time when your mobile phone company contacted you to tell you that your account had been compromised?

  • And that it was at that point that you put two and two together and worked out what had in fact happened?

  • Yes, absolutely.

  • Just to be clear, in your mind, is there any other credible explanation for what happened other than phone hacking?

  • You were asked whether you wanted to be put in touch with the police?

  • And you said that you did?

  • And then in fact they never got back to you?

  • It's worse than that, because at the initial call they offered me to, "Would you like your name to be mentioned to the police?" and I said "Please, yes, do", because I have a business card of that journalist that had doorstepped me end of April, and I want to share that with the police because I know exactly who has been responsible for this.

    So I was abroad when they contacted me, O2, and on my return I called them back to say "I haven't heard anything from the police, have you mentioned my name?" The lady said "I have mentioned your name. They said they would call you back".

    In the absence of them calling me back, I kept calling throughout the month of July, I think, and my recollection -- and please bear in mind because it's five years -- but at least three times I called them and the last time is when I threatened them to go to Channel 4 News.

  • Yes, and you explain that at that time you were told that arrests were imminent.

  • Which I found surprising, to be honest, that they would have been so open.

  • And then, as we know, Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman were subsequently arrested?

  • Can I move on to what happened to you next. I'm looking at paragraph 18 of your witness statement and you say that on a number of further occasions during 2006 you were photographed by press photographers?

  • Yes. This became the pattern of anxiety building, which repeated itself through 2006, really. After the harrowing experience to have to confront my boss in September 2006 about his bullying and victimisation, around September, October, there was a photographer on the other side of the pavement as I was going jogging on early morning, I think about 9 o'clock, it would have been on Saturday, and he was just pacing up and down clearly just on the other side of the pavement from my place. That was instance number one.

    Amazingly, I crossed the road and I went for a beeline for him as he was walking away from me and he turned around and I was in front of him and I think I gave him quite a shock because I think he thought I was coming for him, basically. It was very clear to me he was very uncomfortable that I was in front of him without him having noticed me. That was instance number one that I was aware of.

    Then the second instance happened in December 2006 and it's about two weeks after I was in hospital after having been diagnosed with a serious illness. All of a sudden I was with a member of my family and escorting this person out of the train with a suitcase and this photographer popped in front of us, took a picture of us, and obviously being both of us anonymous members of the public and not looking like Hugh Grant or anybody else, we just found the experience a bit strange.

    We both turned around and this person walks quite slowly so the train had emptied and there was nobody behind us, and actually this person was quite distressed saying, "This person just took a picture of me, why did they take a picture of me?" And I sort of put the two and two together, and that's absolute speculation on my part, that somehow my medical information had been accessed and now they were hunting more for pictures and they were still digging my life, and I just didn't know what to think.

  • For the reasons we've discussed, we won't go into --

  • -- which newspaper any of these information-gathering approaches might have come from.

  • Sorry, could --

  • But I would like to move now to paragraph 19.

  • Could I mention that in these instances I didn't know who the newspapers was, no, so I can't say.

  • If we move now to paragraph 19 of your statement, where you tell us that you were then finding out, as a result of bringing legal proceedings, what documents the police had found concerning you, and you tell us towards the bottom of the page:

    "The documents reveal transcripts of messages between me and X, call records from Mulcaire's number to mine and notes from Mulcaire's notebook with my details, including address, telephone numbers, work, mobile and private number, passwords and information about me and X."

  • "It also contained a note of the amount of text and call traffic between me and X. There were also a number of transcripts of messages that X left on my voicemail."

    Could you give the Inquiry, please, an indication of how you felt as you were shown those documents?

  • Well, two things. The first thing, in a way I felt strangely relieved that I hadn't dreamed this story, because I had been told of the hacking and the evidence was in front of me, but I was absolutely disgusted by it, by the sheer invasion of my privacy. They had all my, you know, home, work numbers, which were in the same flat because I was working from home, and I just felt absolutely violated in my privacy. The amount of messages being hacked and the transcripts of personal conversations were just, you know, despicable, really.

  • Thank you. Finally, is there anything that you would like to say to Lord Justice Leveson about what changes you think might be made for the future regulation of the press to help prevent other people from becoming victims in the way that you did?

  • Oh. I'm sure you have a tough job here. I think one of the elements which was critical for me was the threat of publication, I realise now, was meant to shake us, the individual X as well as myself, stress us out, to test who was going to eventually come out with a statement. So the threat of a publication to an ordinary member of the public should be something used as a formal notification, not as a part of a weaponry of tools to press people to make a statement. I think that would be one important bit.

    The other important bit is, and I don't know what the mechanics in the future should be, but I would not have been able to bring any action that I'm bringing, either in the JR or in the civil claim, without a conditional fee agreement, and I think that it would have been -- I would have been prevented to seek justice in any way, shape or form if that mechanics was not available to me.

  • Unless there's some other way of going about it that doesn't involve the whole panoply of High Court proceedings.

  • Yes. I think it's about being able to choose who your legal representation would be and the funding of it. The mechanics, you know, might be something else. But at least the ability to finance ordinary members of the public is crucial, otherwise the press might have a free rein on anybody like me in the future who won't be able to seek justice whatsoever.

  • I have no more questions for this witness. The arrangement is that the transcript is going to be checked to ensure that it can properly be put out into the public domain. There may need to be some slight redactions, there may be some slight delay in that happening, but that is what we are going to do.

  • The statement also has been redacted, has it?

  • There is going to be a redaction of the newspaper titles, and I've made it clear that that document is not going to be put into the public domain until those affected are content that it's in a proper format to be published.

  • That's fine. I have one more question for HJK, if you don't mind.

    I think it's clear from your evidence, but I want there to be no doubt: you do not consider yourself a public figure of any sort?

  • None whatsoever.

  • You have no public profile or public position of any sort?

  • That's not to demean you, it's meant to provide the context within which you are giving evidence.

  • Context, absolutely. If I may just have a conclusion about this, I felt very harassed for the best part of nine months, and I witnessed my life goings up in flames around me for something that people would claim to be the public interest and I would challenge that very thoroughly because I don't think, if there was any public interest, we would have known about it because there would have been publication.

  • All right. Thank you very much indeed.

  • Thank you, sir.

  • What I intend to do is to rise so that we can reconstitute the Inquiry, that we can admit the public, that we reconnect the equipment so that the transcript is visible to all and the audio and television aid available both in the marquee and online.

  • I was just going to rise about the mechanics of the transcript. I know, sir, that you're keen for the evidence to be available as soon as possible for obvious reasons. I understand the process that will be involved and I was just wondering in terms of timings how it was going to work because obviously we'll want to continue with giving the evidence.

  • We are going to continue giving the evidence.

  • Is there anything that has been said that had caused you concern?

  • Well, I've risen. There is one matter. It's something that can be easily dealt with and I don't want to explain it here.

  • But it is one point that I picked up and I understand exactly why it crept in, because it's very difficult to keep using cyphers. I'm not saying it's anything that's particularly worrying, but I can deal with that. I'm really talking timings. I don't know whether, sir, you want to give us 15 minutes break so that I can deal with that point and we can then get the transcript of HJK's evidence available --

  • No, don't. I want to crack on. We have a lot of witnesses to deal with. We'll get it printed quite quickly and if you want to alert the shorthand writer to the point you can do so in the next few minutes while we reconstitute the room, and in that way we'll not lose any time.

  • Sir, I'm entirely in your hands as to how you wish to deal with this.

  • I know. I'm not suggesting you're not. But I'm just conscious that we have a number of witnesses to get through today.

  • Could we confirm that this is now live into the marquee? It is, is it? Thank you.

  • Sir, for the benefit of those who are now just joining us, the order of witnesses that we're going to hear from today is Miss Sienna Miller, Mr Mark Thomson and then Mr Mosley and JK Rowling.

  • The first witness is Miss Miller. I call Miss Miller.

  • (A short break)