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

  • MISS SIENNA MILLER (affirmed).

  • Could you confirm to the Inquiry, please, your full name?

  • Yes, my name is Sienna Rose Diana Miller.

  • You've provided a contact address through your solicitors?

  • And you've voluntarily provided the Inquiry with a witness statement?

  • Are you familiar with the contents of your witness statement?

  • And are the contents of your witness statement true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • Miss Miller, I've said to almost all of the people who've given evidence to me before how grateful I am to you for being prepared to take part in this exercise. I'm very conscious that you have strong views about privacy and that the very act of coming to give evidence to me exposes you and means that you're talking about things which actually you're quite keen not to want to talk about.

  • So I understand the difficult choice you had to make, and I'm very grateful. Thank you very much.

  • Before I ask you questions, I understand that Mr Sherborne would like to ask you -- is that right?

  • It is, sir, with your permission.

  • Good morning, Miss Miller.

  • We've heard from a large number of witnesses who have already given evidence to this Inquiry about the experiences they've had with press photographers and paparazzi, people such as the McCanns, the Dowlers, Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and a number of others, and people who gave examples of such things as photographers camped outside their homes, being stalked wherever they go, jumping out at them without warning and driving dangerously and so on.

    Are these examples which are familiar to you in terms of your experiences?

  • Can you give the Inquiry just a little bit of an idea of what you have personally experienced in that regard?

  • Yes. At the time I actually now have an order against paparazzi, so my life has changed dramatically, but for a number of years I was relentlessly pursued by about 10 to 15 men almost daily, pretty much daily and, you know, anything from being spat at or verbally abused.

    I think that the incentive is really to get as strong a reaction as possible, so -- you know, as other people have mentioned, but being jumped out at, when you get a shock, or saying things to kind of get some emotional reaction. They seemed to go to any lengths to try to upset you, which is really difficult to deal with.

  • You've given some examples about being spat at and abused to get a certain type of photograph, I think as Kate McCann said, with a certain type of caption added to it.

  • We've heard a lot about driving. Have you had any experiences of dangerous driving around you?

  • Yeah, highly illegal driving, overtaking, undertaking. There was an near incident that the police were informed of where a pregnant lady was nearly knocked down. But this was a daily occurrence, people riding in motorcycles alongside a vehicle while taking photographs, and at high speed, and it causes you to drive dangerously and them to drive dangerously with really very little regard for anyone else on the road and it's all in pursuit of relatively little. Often these people have taken a photograph of you and they are just desperate to kind of find out where you're going next, regardless of whether it's a meeting or some kind of inane event. It's just pursued. I think there's something about the pursuit which is very exciting for paparazzi photographers.

  • It may sound a bit of a silly question but for those who've not actually experienced it first-hand, can you give us a little idea of what it feels like to be the victim of that kind of pursuit?

  • You know, it's really terrifying. It's terrifying not only for the person experiencing it but for friends who are with me, family members who are with me, for the people driving the cars.

    I would often find myself -- I was 21 -- at midnight running down a dark street on my own with ten big men chasing me and the fact that they had cameras in their hands meant that that was legal, but if you take away the cameras, what have you got? You've got a pack of men chasing a woman and obviously that's a very intimidating situation to be in.

  • Thank you. You've explained that what you did about it was you got an order from the court. I think that was in -- I should know -- that was in the summer of 2008?

  • What happened, if anything, as a result of getting that order?

  • It went from having 20 people outside my house every day to zero, so I can now lead a relatively private and normal life, which was -- which is fantastic, but it was a long and arduous and exhausting struggle to get there.

  • Can I move on then to another topic, again just dealing with it very briefly. It's obviously a matter now of record that you obtained judgment, I know it's been referred to as a settlement, but you obtained judgment against News Group Newspapers in your action?

  • And we've heard from, for example, Sally and Bob Dowler earlier this week about the fact that you having brought this action and a few other people having brought this action right at the outset is what led to them being told themselves.

    Was it an easy decision to take, to bring an action against News Group Newspapers?

  • No, not at all. I was very nervous of taking on an empire that was richer and far more powerful than I will ever be, but then I saw the evidence that I obtained from the police and felt that I couldn't not do something about it, but it was very daunting.

  • Can I just ask this: given that understandably you've had your fill of having to instruct lawyers, can you explain why it is that you're giving evidence to this Inquiry?

  • I hope you don't blame me afterwards. What do you hope to achieve?

  • No, I hope that some form of change comes to our media. There are very respectable and fantastic journalists in this country and they're all bracketed under the same name of the press and I think that's not fair, given the grand differences between publications. So I hope that some change can come, and therefore I am actually very happy to be giving evidence.

  • Thank you very much. Mr Barr has some questions for you.

  • Thank you. Miss Miller, you've explained very eloquently what the consequences of being an accomplished actress were for you back in 2005 and 2006 in terms of media intrusion. Could I take you to paragraph 4 of your witness statement, please.

  • Where you describe that during this period, almost every week, extremely personal matters were being published, including parts of private conversations.

  • My question to you is: how did that make you feel about those around you?

  • Well, initially -- you know, I'm very lucky, I have a very tight group of friends and a very supportive family and to this date no one has ever sold a story on me, regardless of the fact that several people, even acquaintances, have been offered large sums of money to do so, so I felt very protected. But it was baffling how certain pieces of information kept coming out, and the first initial steps I took were to change my mobile number and then I changed it again and again and I ended up changing it three times in three months, and stories still continued to come out with very private information that only a select group of people knew about. So naturally, having changed my number and being pretty convinced it couldn't have been as a result of hacking, even though that was my suspicion, horribly I accused my friends and family of selling stories, and they accused each other as well.

  • That paragraph links with the same theme which you pick up again at paragraph 7 of your witness statement, where you describe one occasion where you sat down your family and friends in a room and accused them of leaking stories to the press.

  • Because a story had come out that only they knew about.

  • Yeah, there was one particular very private piece of information that four people knew about, and I had been very careful to only tell my mother, my sister and two of my closest friends, and a journalist had phoned up saying that they knew about this, and so yes, I accused my family and people who would never dream of selling any sort of information on me, I accused them, someone in that room, of selling a story.

  • We now know that in fact your phones were being hacked.

  • Yes. This was -- the fact that they had this piece of information was as a result of accessing my phone messages and those of people around me.

  • So how does it make you feel now, knowing that you were driven to make the accusations against your friends and family as a result of phone hacking?

  • Understandably really angry and I feel terrible that I would even consider accusing people of betraying me like that, especially people who I know would rather die than betray me, but it just seemed so intensely paranoid to assume that your house is bugged or you're being listened to somehow. It just seemed so extreme, especially considering that I'd changed my number so many times, and it still happened, that I couldn't think of an alternative, but it's really upsetting for them and for myself that I accused them.

  • What would you say to those who did this?

  • I don't think -- I don't think it would be appropriate in court.

  • I won't press you then.

  • I would -- you know, I think it's understandable. It's just outrageous. It's kind of unfathomable to feel like you are justifiable in behaving that way, I think, and the ramifications on people's lives are very rarely considered by the people doing it, I think. The effect that it had on my life was really damaging to me and to my family and friends.

  • Thank you. That takes us perhaps rather neatly to paragraph 5 of your witness statement, where you describe some of the other intrusions into your privacy. In particular, you talk about journalists and photographers would often turn up in meeting places that you'd arranged on the phone and nobody else knew about. That you had men sitting outside your house and you were convinced that they were somehow listening to your private conversations.

  • Mr Sherborne has touched upon this a little already, but could I ask you perhaps to develop on just the scale of the impact on your life that these events had?

  • To be honest, it made it very difficult to leave the house. I did feel constantly very scared, and intensely paranoid. I've kind of touched on it all, really, but, you know, to the degree I had -- with my publicist we had a separate number that we would only speak to each other on that number, and subsequently I found out that Glenn Mulcaire had that number as well. So every area of my life was under constant surveillance and instinctively I felt that and felt very violated and very paranoid and anxious, constantly.

  • You tell us, moving to paragraph 8, that you found "photographers and journalists turning up at places where I thought I could avoid media intrusion"?

  • Presumably as a very famous actress, you were well used to being photographed in certain circumstances?

  • But are we here talking about circumstances in which you were hoping to have some privacy?

  • I think there wasn't a circumstance that existed where I wasn't hoping to have some form of privacy but obviously in certain situations that was impossible.

    I think what was more baffling was the fact that people found out before I'd even arrived where I was going and so that feeling of people knowing absolutely everything about you was, as I said before, really intimidating and scary and confusing. I didn't understand how they knew, but I felt like I was living in some sort of video game and people kind of pre-empting every move I made, obviously as a result of accessing my private information.

  • Thank you. Moving on now more broadly to the question of photography, were photographs taken of you published accurately, or were they altered? I understand there's a particular example that you'd like to tell the Inquiry about?

  • I mean, there are several examples of -- I think a story can really tell a picture, but often -- can tell -- sorry, that didn't make sense.

  • If it helps, I do have a copy of the article that Miss Miller is referring to, which I can hand up.

  • Sir, we were notified of this in advance and the publication in question has already been given advance notice of this, so I have no objection to a copy of it being circulated.

  • You're going down unchartered territory for me. Does the relevant -- well if everybody's agreed, then so be it. Let me see it. It's not how I would prefer it to happen. Thank you.

  • Yes, in this particular situation I'm the ambassador of a children's charity for terminally and seriously ill children and I was at their annual fundraising ball where many of the children were and many people who were donating money, raising money, et cetera, and there was a very sick child that I was playing with in a corner of the room who was pretending to shoot me and I was pretending to die, which was -- you know, we were playing a game. And somebody took a photograph and the Mirror cut the boy out of the photograph and said that I was drunk. And obviously, looking at these photographs, they look -- you know, it's almost amusing. It looks awful. It looks shocking. And they were aware at the time of the situation, the real situation that I was in.

    And so I complained, I sued, I won, they printed an apology that was miniscule and sort of irrelevant a few days later, but by that point the damage is done. If anybody in my line of work sees this photograph and hears that I was behaving as they suggested at a charity event, it's just detrimental to my career, to my reputation, and I think this is sort of the problem. You know, the fact that they knew that they would be sued and have to pay damages was really not enough of a deterrent in certain situations within the media. You know, this was --

  • This article should not go on the website. There is absolutely no reason to do it, and I'm not prepared to republicise that which has happened.

  • It may suffice if I read the apology that was later given by the newspaper in question. It's entitled:

    "Sorry, Sienna. On Saturday, 12 March, we printed pictures of Sienna Miller, who is an ambassador for the Starlight Children's Foundation charity, at the Starlight Ball for terminally ill children. We said that Sienna's boozy antics had shocked guests at the event and thereby suggested that she had behaved in an unprofessional manner. We are happy to make clear that Sienna was not drunk and did not behave unprofessionally. In fact in the pictures Sienna was on the floor playing with a seriously ill six-year-old child. We have apologised to Sienna."

    If I can move from photography back to the question of phone hacking and to bylines and to the way also in which sources were portrayed, you say at paragraph 9 of your witness statement that the intrusive pieces about your private life, often sourced to "pals or close friends", appeared to be closely linked to what you remember was being said to you by your family and friends. Did the fact that these articles were being attributed to "pals and close friends" fuel the suspicions about your friends that you've described earlier?

  • Of course. Especially when the information coming out was very similar to that which I'd said to specific people.

  • And to those who wrote these articles, under whose bylines they appear, do you think that it is ethical to give a false attribution to a story?

  • Not a difficult question to answer.

  • But often journalists -- they would be written by anonymous journalists, they wouldn't print their names, which was almost an admission from their part that it was unethical.

  • I hope I'm bowling the straightest of balls.

    If I can move on now to the time when you found out that you had been hacked and at paragraph 12 of your witness statement you say that you discovered that it wasn't only you, that lots of people close to you had been put under surveillance, and that Mr Mulcaire had created a project under your name?

  • How did you feel when you found out that the intrusion had gone beyond you to those around you?

  • I felt terrible. I mean, these were people who had never done anything remotely public, who had been under constant surveillance by this man. And it just seemed very crude, looking at the notes, his hand-written -- having initially been told there was no evidence and then receiving a stack of evidence, hand-written notes with dates referring to very personal things within my life.

    All my telephone numbers, the three that I changed in three months, my access numbers, PIN numbers, my passwords for my email that was used to later hack my email in 2008, was on these notes. And then, as you said, you know, a number of my friends, I think about 10 phone numbers in total. So there was just this web of surveillance, which obviously makes it very easy to understand how they were getting all of this information. Everyone close to me was being monitored and electronically listened to.

  • I see. Could I ask you now about the litigation itself, just a few questions. First of all, what was your aim in taking action against the media? News International in particular, News Group News. Were you seeking financial compensation or did you have some other purpose?

  • No, it was not about financial compensation. I would rather have not gone through any of the litigation that I've had to go through. No, not for financial gain. I wanted to understand the extent of the information that they had on me. I wanted to know who knew -- who knew about all of this information, who had access to my telephone numbers, who had been listening to me. I mean, it's that feeling of knowing people are talking about you behind your back or watching you and not being able to confront it. It's very frustrating. So I wanted to get to the bottom of it.

  • Your civil claim was successful, and did you think that the court procedures provided an adequate remedy for you?

  • No. I'm still waiting for the full disclosure, which is the only thing I really want, from News International, and so far it's been very unsatisfactory what I have received. I will continue to wait for it, but it's been a long process so far.

  • Although this is strictly a matter between you and News Group News, it may be right that I tell you I've been told by counsel, Mr Rhodri Davies, that that order is going to be complied with.

    Can we perhaps look at what it was that was admitted in the litigation that you brought? Could we have up, please, the document, the reference number which ends -- it starts at 31105 and I'm looking at paragraph 8 on the second page, please. That must be a wrong reference.

  • No, I don't think so. I think that's what you want.

  • Yes, that's exactly what I want. Thank you.

    We see there then this is what was admitted in a nutshell in the civil proceedings. Perhaps I can read:

    "This meant that News Group accepted that confidential and private information had been obtained by the unlawful access of the claimant's voicemail messages, that confidential and private information had been published as a result, and that there had been an invasion of her privacy, breaches of confidence and a campaign of harassment for over 12 months. News Group accepted that these activities should not have taken place and that the articles should not have been published."

    So there we have it in a nutshell.

    Could I take you now, please, finally to the end of your statement, and paragraph 18. In the conclusion to your witness statement, amongst other things, you make the point that the actions of the News of the World made your life hell and damaged a lot of your relationships, making you nervous and paranoid. I don't want you to go into anything private that you don't want to say in public, but are you able to give us some insight about the type of damage that was done?

  • It's really hard to kind of quantify in words. It's more -- it's more the state of mind that you're in as a result of that level of intrusion and surveillance and interception, which is just complete anxiety and paranoia. I realised, having watched the testimonies of people this week, that there are far more severe cases of this with the Dowlers and the McCanns and it's alarming what's happened. Comparative to my life, this was too much to deal with and I've had to fight tooth and nail constantly to gain the freedom which I've managed to acquire now.

    The relationships that were damaged, just this kind of breeding of mistrust amongst all of us. It wasn't just me accusing people, it was my mother accusing people, nobody could understand how this information was coming up, so everybody was very upset and confused and felt very violated by this constant barrage of information that was being published. It was impossible to lead any kind of normal life at that time, and that was really difficult for a young girl.

  • Thank you. Those were all my questions.

  • What you could put -- it is this way, is it, that it is important to identify who has done wrong, but it is equally important to exonerate all those who have done absolutely no wrong?

  • Yes, I understand. Thank you very much indeed for coming. I know you have a busy life and I'm very grateful.

  • Sir, can I make one matter clear? I think it was a slip of a tongue by Mr Barr, but he was asking Miss Miller: "The proceedings you brought against the media and News International in particular" in the context of phone hacking. I think it's quite clear that Miss Miller's evidence is in relation to bringing proceedings solely against News of the World.

  • I think that's absolutely right.

    Thank you very much.

  • Sir, the next witness is Mr Thomson. Do you want to move straight to Mr Thomson or have a short break?

  • We'll carry on.

    His statement is actually provided in the main commentary; is that right?

  • It is, sir, but what I was proposing to do was to try and exploit the benefit of Mr Thomson's long experience as a media lawyer and to ask him some questions about the functioning of the system.

  • That's absolutely fine. I'm not challenging his giving evidence. I'm merely putting it in a slightly different box to the evidence that essentially we've been hearing to date.

  • Indeed, sir, it's going to be of a rather different nature.