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

  • Right. That brings us to a series of issues which need to be considered, of a practical nature.

    Mr Jay, anticipated start and end dates?

  • Start date is 27 February. End date is probably mid-April. At the moment it's 19 April.

  • Thank you. Will the Inquiry continue to sit for seven days per fortnight?

    Before I rule upon that, let me find out how people have found sitting seven days a fortnight, and I'm likely to err on the side of sitting more rather than less, but I'll listen to anything. Seriously, it's a serious question. Has anybody found -- I don't say the pressure unremitting, because it has been, and none more so than the team that is supporting me, but does anybody have any submission to make about that question?

    No calls for eight days a fortnight, Mr Jay. Right, we'll carry on with seven days a fortnight.

    In relation to the question of seminars, my immediate reaction is that there is no need for seminars in this area. The purpose of the seminars on the last occasion, or before we started, was to introduce me and others, not least to say the public, to the framework within which we were operating, and I'm not sure that that needs extra adumbration at this stage, unless anybody wants to suggest to the contrary.

    Will legal issues be dealt with by submission or evidence? Legal issues will be dealt with by submission rather than evidence. I'm still hoping for submissions in relation to aspects of the approach to module one from those who haven't yet provided them. Right. Those who I am addressing know about it.

    Opening submissions, written or oral. Mr Jay?

  • It will probably be helpful if I were to provide a short opening submission, but it would be very much shorter than the opening submission to module one, but we're aiming to start with evidence on the very first day.

  • Yes. I would have thought that's right. I think it's quite useful to, as it were, lay out the broad picture to provide context for me, although I will have read the material, but also so that anybody following the Inquiry will be able to see the shape of the issues and the way in which we intend to address them.

    Would anybody else wish to say anything by way of opening for this aspect of the Inquiry?

  • I don't immediately see that it's necessary. It obviously was at the beginning, and I appreciate that. Mr Phillips?

  • May I reserve my position on that? You appreciate we came today not quite knowing whether we would have core participant status.

  • Oh, Mr Phillips. Lack of confidence, Mr Phillips.

  • May I come back to you when I've had a chance to take some instructions on that? Because we are newcomers and this is a new area for the Inquiry.

  • It may be useful to have a short opening setting out our role, that's all.

  • What I might suggest otherwise is that it would be useful to have a written submission on your role, and that might be able to be played into what Mr Jay says. I'm not seeking to deprive you of a right to speak, Mr Phillips, but I'm thinking about the most orderly way of presenting it.

  • Right. Witnesses. What's the position about notices under section 21, Mr Jay?

  • I believe virtually all, if not all, notices have been sent out. We are giving thought to a timetable, which is not yet in a state which can be shared with the core participants, but the idea is obviously to call the evidence in as logical and thematic a way as appropriate.

  • Inevitably, rather as we've found in relation to module one, it will start entirely logically, and then the nearer you get to the end, it will become rather fractured as people are fitted in and people have to come back or have to deal with issues which have arisen which perhaps weren't expected.

  • Right. All I can do is suggest that the team keep core participants appraised as and when it is possible to do and ensure that the same co-operation that's been shown in connection with module one is followed in relation to module two. In particular, I'd encourage those who want matters to be put to witnesses to do so, to inform the team as timeously as possible. I'm very conscious that sometimes this happened rather late. It may be because statements went up late or it may be because of other pressure that I put on somebody. If it's my fault, I apologise, but it won't stop me keeping my foot very firmly on the accelerator.

  • I think that deals with types and order.

    Finally, I'm asked to consider the approach to be taken in respect of matters and persons subject to current police investigation.

    In relation to those who are the subject of investigation, I will rigorously follow the self-denying ordinance that I set for myself at the beginning of this Inquiry, so as not to prejudice an investigation or any potential consequences of that investigation. So that will be the same as before. But my immediate reaction is that that does not prevent me from examining with a degree of care what has happened in relation to the history of investigation.

    It's no secret, and has been the subject of considerable comment, that the original prosecution was on a comparatively limited basis, that there were various reconsiderations of that decision and that it was only some considerable time after those, and in particular following the publication of material in the Guardian and I think it was the New York Times that what has now been known as Operation Weeting started.

    My reaction is to say that it is not in any sense likely to impinge adversely upon the investigation of crime or any possible prosecution if I look at what happened to those attempts to resuscitate the inquiry.

    I say that because if there was to be any point to be taken on that issue in a criminal trial, it would be taken in advance of the trial and therefore require full exploration before the case got anywhere near a jury.

    So that's my present view. I don't ask anybody to take a contrary argument at this stage, if they want to, because I've not alerted them to the point. But my understanding of the criminal law is such that I do not believe that that sort of inquiry could possibly cause prejudice to an investigation which is, of course, being conducted by very different police officers, or the consequences of that investigation to the future.

    Anything else?

  • Sir, may I just raise one matter in relation to what you've just said? I do so without having taken instructions, and really simply for the purpose of trying to isolate the effect of what, sir, you've just said.

    Given my understanding of what you've said, I doubt if the police would argue with a word of it, but am I right to take your view to be that it won't be necessary to look at the elements of any particular offence that is currently being investigated by looking at its history, and your concern is to look at the history of the decisions to investigate rather than the facts of the investigation?

  • Mr Garnham, we've all seen or had a summary of the Mulcaire material. I don't anticipate that it would be necessary to go any further than that when considering what decisions were made, where and by whom, in relation to whether to investigate.

  • I think I've just entirely agreed with you.

  • I'm just savouring the unusual moment of silence. Right.

  • Sorry, would it be possible just for me to ask one brief question?

  • If core participant status isn't granted, is there any way one could put forward the case just being a witness rather than just leaving it amongst the mass of material which is there, I'm sure you're swamped with it. Can one press the case for being a witness as well as a core participant?

  • Nobody can press the case for being a witness. This is an inquisitorial procedure, in which I'm afraid there are some things that happen which people might not like, namely that I decide who gives evidence. But what I have made abundantly clear is that if you seek the assistance of a solicitor to the Inquiry as to what a statement, if you wanted to create a new one, should deal with, then I'm sure that will be provided, and then you can prepare a statement, doubtless with some assistance from one of the solicitor's teams, and put the material forward.

    I have said in terms that full consideration will be given to whether any statement that you make should either be put into the record or should lead to your being called to give evidence.

  • So you don't need to be concerned that you'll get lost in a mass of other material. I hope that we've not missed any witness whom we want to call in the material that we've received. Whether or not I have seen every single piece of paper.

  • All right. Thank you very much. It was a mistake. Thank you.

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