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

  • MR CRAIG THOMAS MACKEY (sworn). MS GILLIAN SHEARER (sworn).

  • Mr Mackey, first of all. Please give your full name.

  • Craig Thomas Mackey.

  • You've provided a witness statement to the Inquiry dated 13 February 2012?

  • Yes, that's correct.

  • Do you confirm the contents of that statement are true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry?

  • You are now Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service?

  • Yes, that's correct.

  • You've served with the police for over 27 years. Between September 2007 and January 2012, you were Chief Constable of Cumbria Constabulary?

  • Yes, that's correct.

  • And you've previously served with Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and also the HMIC?

  • Yes, that's correct.

  • Ms Shearer, please give your full name?

  • You've also provided a witness statement, haven't you, that's dated 28 February 2012?

  • Yes, that's correct.

  • Do you confirm the contents of that witness statement are true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • Yes, that's correct.

  • Is that your formal evidence to the Inquiry?

  • You've been head of marketing and communications for Cumbria Constabulary since 2005?

  • Prior to that, you were a marketing and communications manager for a manufacturing company?

  • And before that, a regional public relations officer for the National Farmer's Union?

  • Ms Shearer, how many staff work for the press office? Is it just two now, two press officers, we've heard?

  • Yes, two at the second, although our establishment, when we are fully staffed, is three in the press office, but in total my three is eight and what we do is build in resilience through other members of the team, so that they can support the press office when we need.

  • What proportion of staff that support you have a background in the media?

  • At this moment in time, none, although when we originally formed the press office in 2006, two out of the three press officers had experience as being journalists.

  • Mr Mackey, dealing with their culture of relations with the media, your belief is that Cumbria Constabulary -- so obviously speaking about your tenure of Chief Constable of Cumbria -- had in general, or has, a positive relationship with the media but a better relationship with the local media than the national media. Is that still your view?

  • Yes, that would be correct. Day-to-day contact was predominantly with the local media and regional journalists. Cumbria is quite unique in terms of its size and scale and is covered by a number of television regions. So regional journalists, regional news were the predominant people we worked with.

  • So is that a better relationship with the local media just because there's more contact, so a better chance to build up a better relationship, or is there something else at work?

  • (a) They're probably more consistent, so you do build up a relationship and understanding, but also predominantly a community, from most of the work we've done, who took their views from the local media. So local newspapers, Radio Cumbria, BBC Look North, Border Television, that's where people went for their news on what was going on in the county.

  • Can I take you to paragraph 51 of your statement. That's our page 02286.

  • Sorry, Mr Mackey:

    "The constabulary is very clear that its aim is to manage the media. This is able to happen because the press office is very clear in its values of working with the media and treating the media in a fair and equal way. For example, there are no off-the-record discussions except for background information ahead of complex court cases, there are no exclusives, there is no treating national and local journalists differently."

    First of all, you say there are no off-the-record discussions, but we heard members of the press say that there are off-the-record discussions. How can we account for that difference?

  • I think it comes to this heart of what is "off the record". It's different with different parts of the media, and different media outlets will give you a different interpretation of what that means. I prefer and always work with "attributable" and "non-attributable". Everything we said to the media is absolutely attributable to an individual who said it. Some of it would be the context around things that were going on, so -- I think there was referred to some of the complex issues around the budget. Very clear that was always on the record, but expecting the media to understand a document which was probably 30 or 40 pages thick on what was the effect of the comprehensive spending review on a force, they would expect some context, some understanding around it. That was on the record.

  • Was there anything in the evidence of Ms Pickles and Mr Griffiths that surprised you when you heard what information was given off the record?

  • No, didn't surprise me. I didn't know the particular circumstances of the incident in Carlisle with the attack, but I think that's still a live case. But apart from that, no.

  • In fact, Ms Shearer, the policy which we'll come to says that police officers are not to have off-the-record discussions. Was there anything in the evidence you heard this afternoon which makes you think police officers are contravening this policy?

  • Absolutely not. I think it comes back to the terminology, and the use of "off the record". I think Ms Pickles picked it up when she talked about "off-the-record guidance" and I think there is a blur around the terminology.

  • Mr Mackey, a reading of your paragraph 51 is that off-the-record discussionss are inconsistent with treating journalists equally. Is that your view? Do you have concerns about not-for-publication?

  • I do have concerns about that, and I think the experience of the events in June tended to show how difficult the whole notion of going off the record is now. When you're faced with a room larger than this with 150 journalists there, it's very hard to say, "We're going to go off the record with you three, and the rest of you stay over there." Also, I think the immediacy -- and while I understand the focus on the printed media, the reality is now, as you're doing a news conference or a briefing, people are tweeting these issues live, and the notion that somehow you can take people to one side and say, "Here's a different way of looking at it" is problematic in practice, let alone in principle.

  • Does that mean it's difficult to say to this large room: "Look, I will say something, but only to provide you with context so that you don't go down the wrong track"?

  • In that environment, sir, that would be incredibly difficult. It was also the first time I'd experienced what I would say -- would probably described as citizen journalists, so students standing in the queue behind national news reporters to do an interview with you. It's very difficult to say, "Actually, what we're going to do with something completely different." So throughout that incident, we kept on the record.

  • That might actually make your job rather more difficult.

  • It does in some respects, yes, sir.

  • Ms Shearer, you make the point in your statement that you would need a great deal of convincing before you form the view that off-the-record briefings were a good thing. Is there anything you want to add to what Mr Mackey said or what you've said about off-the-record briefings before I move on?

  • No. I think I would expect the justification to be incredibly significant and the sort of times that I would perceive that to be is around counter-terrorism and at that sort of level. That's the time when you should be considering off the record. Everything else should be on the record, if you are going to say it.

  • Mr Mackey, again in your statement, paragraph 54, page 02287:

    "I believe generally that Cumbria Constabulary's relationship with the media is managed and appropriate as a result of the close management and professionalism of our press office."

    One reading of that paragraph is that the constabulary is trying to tightly control the media. Is that a fair reading?

  • No. I don't think that's a fair reading in terms of that. It is around managing those long-term relationships for us. You know, actually as the Chief Constable with a strategic management team of the organisation, this is not something I could do on a daily basis, and that's very much where having a professional heading the press office, having a press team around you, adds that advantage in terms of the ability to (a) spot things coming up, also by sitting around the strategic management group of the organisation, the chief officer group in that particular force, to actually say: "You know what: the issue you're debating today has a press line. Have we thought about how we're going to give this to the press and what we're going to do?"

    So it adds that sort of discipline at that level of the organisation.

  • Moving on to the contact that both of you have with the media. Mr Mackey, you had, you say, high levels of media contact, which comprised interviews and briefings. All of your contact was through the press office; is that right?

  • Yes, all my contact through the press office. If I may give you a typical example: Police Authority meetings, monthly, agendas would go out with backing papers, probably ten days before, the press office would send out something to all the local media contacts, saying, "Cumbria Police Authority is meeting on this day at this time. It's going to consider the following papers. The Chief Constable is available for interviews or another appropriate member of the management team." And the press office would then programme those interviews in, my secretary or PA would literally get a list and we'd work through ringing them or, if they were TV, doing interviews outside or in the office, and that's how we manage them.

  • Does your office receive direct approaches?

  • Very occasionally direct approaches, but more predominantly, they came as a result of either something we were putting out or a particular incident breaking or coming, at which point -- it's a fairly small building, the media team are one end of a long corridor, the chief officer team are the other end of the long corridor, and it wasn't uncommon to see Gill or one of her team running along saying, "There's something breaking", and the approach we took was very much, if it was something of strategic significance or a critical incident for the force, that either a chief officer or a chief superintendent would take the lead.

  • On the question of hospitality, Ms Pickles has described the constabulary as less than generous in terms of hospitality. Has that been your experience?

  • I wouldn't describe us as "less than generous", but there's not a wide culture of hospitality. That's very much part of the community and where we were. It wasn't the practice. I think I met the editor of the News Group on two occasions over working lunches. That would be more the normal.

  • Sorry to interrupt you. I think on one occasion, it's declared in the hospitality register a lunch with the local newspaper editor. That was a Mr Hodgkinson; is that right?

  • That's correct, yes.

  • He was the editor-in-chief of Cumberland News. That was also with you, Ms Shearer?

  • That was a lunch. Then there was another dinner or lunch in March 2010?

  • Yes. One is in one register because it was paid for by the newspaper. The other one we paid for.

  • What were the purposes of those?

  • Just about promoting relationships with the local media. Cumberland News Group, the north and west of the county -- most of the media are part of the Cumberland News Group and it was really about understanding where we were. It also gave us useful feedback, particularly me, on how we worked, how we were perceived as an organisation, so some of those problems that are inevitable with a small team around things like, you know, not enough cover at weekends and into the small hours. It's useful to hear that directly from the editor in terms of these are the challenges we face.

  • Beyond those lunches, you refer in your statement to hosting an annual editors' dinner or editors' lunch in December between 2007 and 2009. What was the purpose of those lunches? Is is that similar to what you've described?

  • It was similar. That was bringing news groups from across the county. We found -- that was not long after I arrived as chief -- they actually became less and less well attended. So we stopped those from being an annual thing because in the reality, with a county that's nearly 70 miles end to end, it's an awful lot to ask the news editor from a paper in Barrow -- that's two hours away -- to come up and have sandwiches with you for half an hour.

  • Ms Shearer, the only hospitality you accepted was the lunch in 2007. The hospitality you provided, what was that?

  • That was, again, with Mr Mackey, having one lunch and then I subsequently had a lunch with a reporter and I also accompanied our DCC for a lunch as well.

  • As for the lunch -- the first lunch you refer to, not the one with the DCC -- you refer in your statement to wanting to meet in a neutral location so that you could resolve tensions.

  • So there was a business purpose behind that?

  • Mr Mackey, do you have any views on the ethics generally of hospitality between the police and the media, whether accepted or provided?

  • As a general purpose, I think it's -- I would use the -- I think someone's referred to it previously as the blush test in terms of it ought to be proportionate, appropriate. It ought to be the sort of thing that when you write it in the hospitality register and it appears on the force Internet, you're entirely comfortable in terms of what you've done and why you've done it, and be very clear that there is a professional reason and basis on why you're accepting hospitality. It's not a nice to do.

  • Just testing how far that goes, would you have concerns if you heard that junior officers were meeting members of the media in bars regularly for drinks?

  • I would, unless they actually knew the individual in a social environment, and I would be more concerned if it was consistently the same person.

  • Would the same apply to meeting members of the media for meals in restaurants?

  • For me, it's about proportion and balance. It might be entirely appropriate over a working lunch to have a sandwich, a pizza or a cup of coffee, but actually outside the working day in other environments, you begin to get to the point where you have to question (a) your own values, but also why are you doing it? Why are you there?

  • Mr Mackey, during your police career, have you become aware of senior officers accepting what you've considered excessive hospitality from the press?

  • Not from the media per se in my roles where I've worked. Prodominantly most of the places I've worked have been relationships with local media. The only time the issues have changed is usually when there's been a significant major issue. In most of the forces I've worked in, there's been a significant major issue at some point during my tenure and national media and international media have arrived and been part of that. But I've not seen anything that's immediately come to mind that I thought that's wrong.

  • So you've not had concerns in the past about senior officers, fellow senior officers, thinking: "I perceive that they're getting too close, that relationship they have with that newspaper and I'm uncomfortable with it"? You haven't had that experience?

  • No, not in terms of where I have worked. It's a much more besign local media environment in most of the places I've worked to date.

  • Do you have any relationships with crime reporters that you might call friendships?

  • No, not currently.

  • Ms Shearer, do you?

  • Is it something that you've actively avoided, Ms Shearer, or it's not just happened?

  • No, I haven't actively -- I just don't think it's happened, no.

  • Mr Mackey, you say "not currently". Does that mean in the past --

  • No, I -- it's not inconceivable that you can form a friendship with an individual going forward, but I think that's where you have to put personal and professional into very different camps in terms of doing it. I think in the current environment in -- that I was working in in Cumbria, the reality was I think Mr Griffiths was probably the only dedicated crime reporter per se in the county. So no, not had those sorts of personal relationships with journalists.

  • Ms Shearer, direct contact between police officers and members of the press isn't something that concerns you?

  • No, as long as there is a business-justifiable reason of why the officers are talking to the press, then that's fully acceptable.

  • Do you expect all communication to go through you first?

  • No, I think there's a real difference between what's strategic communication and what's sort of general communication. Strategic communication, as we talked about and Mr Mackey's explained, that would be through press office and certainly for chief officers, I would look after that. But certainly at a lower level in regard to about crime prevention, witness appeals, we would expect and we would actually encourage our officers to be proactive and to talk to the media and use the media. The media are a really valuable tool for us, particularly in Cumbria, for getting our messages out and we would encourage them and trust them to talk to the media.

  • If I can take you to paragraph 10.1 of your statement, Ms Shearer. That's page 09687, picking up on your use of the phrase "business need". You were asked the question:

    "Are contacts with the media restricted to certain staff or are all personnel within Cumbria Constabulary able to deal with the media?"

    You say:

    "It depends on the type of contact from the media. Staff are encouraged to respond to the media if that is part of their job. For instance, we would expect an officer to speak to the media if they put out an appeal for witnesses and the media required further information or an update. If there wasn't an operational or business need, we wouldn't expect staff to talk to the media."

    Might criticism of this approach be that it appears defensive and inward-looking, that the officer only is to engage with the media if there's a business need? How does that sit with the expectation that the police should engage with criticism, admit mistakes?

  • I think police officers -- if there is a mistake and we need to deal with it, that's the way that the officers should deal with it, and it depends on what scale within the organisation. So if something happens operationally that's difficult, you would expect the officer to deal with it, and it's about having that empowerment at that level, and on the other end of the scale, it's about me being able to -- or, as head of coms, being able to deal with it and then brief the chief officers.

    So it's about having an understanding and it's about ensuring that if you are not involved with something, that you -- and the person dealing with something -- so a crime happens. The best person to talk about it is that officer, and it's about making sure that people understand that the officer should talk about it and absolutely is entrusted and empowered to do so, but you shouldn't be talking about it if it effectively isn't your crime, as such.

  • That's what you mean when you're referring to business operational needs?

  • That perhaps takes us on to the force policies. I just take you to a couple of passages. At tab 19 of the bundle, there's the Police Authority and constabulary anti-fraud and corruption procedure. This is a policy dated 2009. Has it been updated, can either of you say, or is this the version that was in force then?

  • I think this is the version that was in force then.

  • Section 10 of on that policy, internal numbering 9, our reference 02855, this deals with offers and acceptance of hospitality:

    "It is essential, when dealing with organisations or individuals likely to benefit from the goodwill of the authority or existing potential contractors, that you're never placed in a position of owing favours. Your conduct does not allow for any suspicion that you could be unfairly favouring any particular third party over others. Whilst a working lunch is often an acceptable part of normal working relations, the following should be avoided: hospitality received which constitutes more of a social function; an excess of hospitality, both in terms of frequency or lavish meals; hospitality which could give rise to suspicions of favour. If there is any doubt as to whether an invitation should be accepted, your line manager/supervisor should be consulted."

    This appears to be dealing with contracts and procurement, but is this policy intended to apply across the board or have I missed a section that deals with that?

  • No, you've not missed a section. It's also specifically -- and it's covered in the back in terms of the register of interests forms -- it's very much about making sure that the Police Authority contractual relationships and other relationships are clearly above board in terms of where we -- that's the general reprint of the hospitality policy.

  • There's no other specific guidance to police officers about accepting hospitality in force policy at present?

  • No, it's dealt with as part of training. I refer to in my statement -- we refer to a process of training called PASS, which we've just brought in, which is around -- sorry, Cumbria have just brought in, which is around being very clear with people -- and given the size and scale of the organisation, you can be -- about the risks are that posed by people you know and associate with, areas to which you have access, then the systems to which you have access, but also, again, being very clear about the standards that are expected of you, whether you're a member of police staff or a police officer, and that's dealt with by an input from a chief officer or a commander, when people join the organisation.

  • The media management procedures media policy, January 2010. That's at tab 21. The first section, "Media management procedures", 1.0, internal page 3 of 29 or our 02876. Highlighting a few of the key parts of that policy, as it appears. 1.2:

    "Proactive use of the media and linking in with the constabulary's marketing activities is a great way to inform the communities we serve and help them to understand what we do and why. Being proactive ensures we are able to shout about our successes and dispel rumour and speculation when things go wrong, so helping to maintain and improve public confidence.

    "There is no hard and fast rule on who should speak to the media but the best person is often the one who knows the most about what they're talking about, is comfortable speaking to the media and doesn't stray beyond the immediate subject. Further tips on conducting a media interview can be found in media management procedures section 7.

    "We should only provide the media with factual information about incidents, investigations or issues we are directly involved in, and only after the permission from the SIO [senior investigating officer] or OIC [officer in the case]."

    So you're envisaging there that an officer would speak to the officer in charge of the investigation before speaking to the media?

  • Is that something that happens or is it just something that's written in the policy?

  • No, that is what happens. Quite often -- and again, it depends on the range of the incident -- you'll have your SIO, and a part of that is supported by a media strategy and in there is identified a media spokesperson, and normally, that is the senior investigating officer, although there will be some incidents where it's delegated.

  • Paragraph 1.5:

    "Anyone who provides information to the media should update press office ..."

  • We'd just better slow down a bit. We're going a bit quickly.

  • "Anyone who provides information to the media should update press office as to their actions and what's been released wherever possible."

    I asked you before whether you would expect every officer to contact you after contact with the media. This would suggest that they should. Is that a tolerated practice?

  • No, not at all. I think you're taking the -- it's very much at the letter there. Actually, in practice, that isn't what happens. Everybody understands if they're speaking to the media, if it's a serious incident, then yes, it does come back through press office, but low level, they're fully empowered to do it, and I think, yes, on reading that paragraph, it does sound slightly draconian, but that isn't what happens in practice.

  • Over the page, one more paragraph that I wanted to take you to. 1.9:

    "We expect all officers and staff to maintain professionalism, both inside and outside work. There's a need for us to maintain professional working relationships with the media. However, when officers or staff do enter into personal relationships with anyone who is part of a media organisation, it is expected that work matters are not discussed outside work. Off the record comments are not permitted. The constabulary will not tolerate any police officer, police staff and special constable who improperly discloses information or intelligence (either deliberately or recklessly) to the media."

    So there's the prohibition that I referred to before on off-the-record comments. Do you define or is it part of training to explain to officers what it is they can't do? The reason I ask is there is this misunderstanding about what "off the record" actually means. Are you clear that officers understand that?

  • There is training in place. All officers and also police staff -- because what we have to remember, particularly for us, our PCSOs, are an integral part of talking to the media. So all officers and staff do receive media training when they come in, and that's sort of to set the context, and that's supported right the way through. We do media training right the way through the organisation up to chief officer level. So that gives everybody a level platform of what is expected for them.

    Also, in light of obviously this Inquiry, the Filkin report and the HMIC, we will be looking back at the policy and having a look and actually clearing up some of the ambiguity around "off the record" and things like that. That's one of my actions, after I leave here today, to do.

  • Mr Mackey, you said that the constabulary has invested in a significant media training policy for all officers, including the chief officer's team. Will that comprise input on how to maintain appropriate relationships?

  • I don't remember, honestly, in terms of that -- in terms of the level of detail around that, but the training was much more about working with the media, how to work with the media, and it went all the way through to -- Cumbria, as part of the selection for chief officers, used media interviews as part of the selection process. So given the relatively small size of the organisation and the limited spans of command that were there, everyone was involved in it.

  • Ms Shearer, when you're dealing with the training in your witness statement, you say as part of the induction process, you speak to members of your staff. So you give guidance as to what's appropriate contact, and you define "appropriate contact" as having a business reason to speak to the media about an incident in line with the ACPO communication advistory group guidelines and your own media management policy. That's how you're focusing the mind of your staff, that they have that as a line in their mind to follow?

  • I'd like to now ask you about the media operation that followed the tragic shootings in June 2010. Ms Shearer, you were appointed media coordinator and strategic lead for the media and communications response to the emergency. We have a statement from Mr Iain Goulding, who was the senior investigating officer, whose statement will be read in today. He said that all police contact and communications with the media were directed and controlled by your team. What in practice did this involve for you?

  • It involved an immense number of calls coming into our press office. Our press office normally takes between 30 and 50 calls on a daily basis. I think it was somewhere in the region of 300 to 500, depending on the day, during that time. We had to bring in extra staff to be able to do it and it's something that we practice for during exercise and we regularly test out. So we're bringing other staff from the organisation to support our press office. But it is incredibly difficult to deal with that number of calls coming in, just in regard to the scale and the volume, when you do have a small press office.

  • We've heard from Ms Pickles about a request from the Crime Reporters Association. Is that something you can help the Inquiry with?

  • Did you receive that request yourself?

  • The request originally came in from one of my press offices who was posted out on the second day, and we discussed it and they returned to the Crime Reporters Association to say no, we weren't going to engage with them in an off-the-record discussions. That came back in on the third day, and it came back into myself there.

    I think it goes back slightly during 2009. During the floodings in West Cumbria, which again was a major incident, Ms Pickles' editor at the end, Neil Hodgkinson, was very vocal and very critical of us, saying that we gave preference to the national media. We didn't, and that was felt quite difficult for my team, because we really did not.

    When I received the request from the Crime Reporters Association, we took an informed view in regard to it and I also spoke to Mr Mackey about what our decision was going to be. What I did do -- we'd already told the Crime Reporters Association no -- is go back to the editor and basically say, "We're not going to do this, but if we were going to consider doing it, would you want to be part of it?" and to which he said, "Absolutely. We should not be left out. If you are speaking to the nationals on the off-the-record basis..." which we don't do anyway, he would want to be part of it.

  • Ms Pickles then referred to a subsequent meeting about how the inquests would play out, I think, and Lord Justice Leveson asked whether that was a briefing that was given to members of the national media. Can you help with that?

  • Yes, I can. I think you have to understand in Cumbria the local media has a really unique role. They do a lot of reporting around crime, and actually the people of Cumbria read their newspapers and believe the newspapers. It was felt we were aware that a number of the families in the inquest -- that some of the information going into the public domain was the first time it had been in the public domain and they were very uncomfortable around it, and we took the decision because really we felt the only newspapers that would cover it in that detail and prove to be right was the local papers, and because of that basis, we went and we spoke to them to let them know some the concerns that the families had told us through our family liaison officers.

    We also spoke to them in regard to -- it was the first time we'd had an inquest of that size in the county -- to brief them in regard to what we were doing around supporting them, what information would be released at what stage. So it was just a background information, but basically on behalf of the families, about the importance of their reporting and the impact that it had on the community.

  • You set out in your statement that the main issues you encountered related to what you describe as immense pressure that the families of the victims experienced from reporters. Could you talk us through those issues and the actions that you took to address the difficulties?

  • Absolutely. The families were just completely and utterly overwhelmed in regard to the media contact. Some of the media contact had happened before we had been able to inform them, so we, through our family liaison officers, supported the families. It was an immensely difficult time for them.

  • When you refer to the media --

  • Hang on, can I understand that? Some people were being approached by the press before they'd been told by the police that their next of kin had been involved?

  • Yes, that's correct.

  • Did you ever get to the bottom of how that was, how that came to be?

  • The really difficult thing for us, through all of this in regard to trying to represent the families -- and I think if you put yourself in that position when they're contacted by a member of the media -- whilst for us it might seem logical to ask them what organisation they're from and what their name is, the families just did not have that, so when we spoke to the families, they would sort of say "a member of the press", but they weren't able to identify to us who that member was.

  • No, I wasn't so much trying to identify which member of the press it was. I'm just wondering how it all happened in the first place.

  • If I may assist, sir, some of it was around -- this wasn't the first critical incident that had happened in that part of the county and there was actually a funeral that day that this happened. So the national media were already there. So rolling news programmes are taking footage of a scene, particularly one of the first scenes outside the taxi rank, where there is a body covered and members of the family could identify who it was from that.

  • So these are very small communities where if you say -- and I won't -- to spare the families, some of the locations -- but some of the small villages, there aren't many people in them and when two people have been killed in that village, it gets out very, very quickly, goes around, and some of the families I know, from the feedback they gave, found that particularly harrowing and still talk about that.

  • Yes, I can understand that.

  • Were there notable differences between the behaviour of the national media on the one hand and the local media on the other?

  • Yes, there was. The local media -- you will see a number of occasions that we had to put out instructions on all the media. The local media adhered to those, whereas the national media didn't.

  • What about, from your perspective, dealing with the national media? How did you find them?

  • I think we found at times -- and particularly my team found them very aggressive towards us. They found them very difficult to please, and it means that, you know, once you came back to them with some answers, that wasn't sufficient, there were other answers, and at times, when they were dealing with them at press conferences, they found that they were put into very difficult situations where they had 20 journalists sort of shouting and requesting at them, and they did find that difficult.

  • You referred in an earlier answer to instructions to the press. I think one of them might be -- I might be able to take you to it. Tab 24, three pages in. Page 09737. Do you have that? It's entitled "Press note issued at 1.48 pm". There's a paragraph headed:

    "Impact on the families. We've had a number of complaints from grieving families that they're feeling harassed by the press, who are positioning themselves outside their homes. I would urge all reporters and camera operators to respect the families' wishes for privacy at this very difficult time. Please be aware that the matter has also been raised with the Press Complaints Commission."

    That's the afternoon of the day after the shootings?

  • First of all, you're responding to complaints from the families. Was this one of the instructions to which you were referring before?

  • Was this instruction honoured by members of the press?

  • What response did you get from the Press Complaints Commission?

  • At that time, no response. The Press Complaints Commission were in contact with us, and the Press Complaints Commission were asking us that we ask people to ring them with issues --

  • Who? Who should be ringing the PCC with issues?

  • And again, that was a very difficult instruction when you're asking family members at that time -- and again, it goes back to --

  • Is this evidenced? Do you have any paper about this? Did you get a letter or anything from the PCC?

  • You have some emails from the PCC to that effect?

  • Could you do me the courtesy of sending the Inquiry copies?

  • I asked you whether members of the press honoured that particular instruction and you said yes. Was that all of the press or certain sections, certain titles?

  • Again, it was a split between local and nationals. The locals did honour it and the nationals -- from our understanding, because, forgive me, you're working on anecdotal evidence from the families -- didn't, and particularly our families recognised the television crews. The majority of them do have signage on their vans and they were able to tell us from that the crews that were still filming them, going in and out --

  • Yes, it is. It was a mixture. I use television because it was easy to identify them, but it didn't matter whether it was television or print newspapers. They still remained outside the properties.

  • In fact, there were other instructions in these press notices which I won't ask to be displayed because they contain the names of the individuals and they may not want the publicity again, but there were instructions --

  • Yes. Tab 24, sir, page 09756.

  • These are delightfully not in order.

  • I'm afraid not. It does make things more difficult, sir.

  • What's the point of numbering these documents if you're not going to put them in the right order?

  • Sir, it's the third page from the back of tab 24.

  • It's the bottom operational note from Cumbria police press office. The paragraph below, sir:

    "The families of ..."

  • Yes. It names four people most have provided photographs and are urging all media to use these particular photographs instead of any others they may have acquired from other sources.

  • How did they get these? Do we know?

  • We don't know how they got the original photos that they were running with. The families hadn't released them. The families came to us with the photos that they wanted their nearest and dearest to be remembered by, and we had already circulated them, and that wasn't being -- and that causes incredible difficulties for -- upset for the families, hence we reissued.

  • Yes, the following day you make the same request.

  • After you asked the second time, were the families' wishes honoured?

  • No. Some were, but there were still some instances where no, it wasn't, and in actual fact, my team then took to ring those individuals, newspapers and journalists, to ask them please to use the correct photos.

  • It did help, yes, it did.

  • Were there any other instances like that, where, during that operation, you asked the press not to do something and they didn't honour the wishes of the family or grieving relatives?

  • I can't remember. It was very difficult and that the families were forced into the public eye through no choice of their own. .

  • Mr Mackey, you gave a briefing to the press the following day?

  • Yes, that's correct.

  • Is there anything that you want to add to your experience of the local media or the national media during this operation?

  • I think a number of things, if I may.

  • First of all, it's an understanding and appreciation of the scale of the media that arrive nowadays in relation to an incident of this magnitude and this complexity, and the challenges that brings. But I think, as Gill's covered, it's also the overwhelming feelings of the local community and the families is one of anger and dismay at the way they were perceived, they were treated, and at the long-term presence of the media during this incident.

    I think if I could sort of characterise the media involvement in a cycle around this. During the stage when this incident was live, when Derek Bird was on his rampage across West Cumbria, we used the media a lot and you'll see the warning and informing notices going out, asking people to stay away, and the local media and many of the national media were very good in terms of that.

    It was then incredibly difficult for the families and communities of West Cumbria, once the incident was resolved, and we had the whole gambit of approaches to individuals, very, very widespread talk about money being available for certain photographs in the community, and all the challenges that that brought with a community that was in a state of shock and grief.

    It's fair to say that by the time we got through to the inquest, the vast majority of the media, both national and local, once they actually heard the scale of what had gone on and heard the some of the details, behaved with great respect during that process, and I would highlight the approach of the media differently during the first anniversary, where a number of the TV events actually made the point at the start of: "We are not filming in the town of Whitehaven. We're filming outside today to respect the wishes of the local community."

  • Were the experiences of the force any better when Cumbria experienced the floods the year before?

  • Before you go to the floods, that is the TV. I have a wide enough remit as it is, without going into television behaviour.

  • I'd be very interested to know about the conduct of the rest of the media.

  • I think -- as you've heard, I would characterise that sort of relationship and cycle for all of the media at a national level. So the print media, during the end of the incident and the time they remained predominantly in Whitehaven, which became the centre of this, that's when we had the challenges with approaches to families, we had allegations about offers of money and you name it. The allegations came in in terms of the sort of approach and style.

    I think, as I say, the overwhelming feel of the communities -- and I can't speak on behalf of the communities, but certainly the people I spoke to and elected leaders and local members of the Church, was just this anger and dismay at the way both the communities had been portrayed and more particularly the families and those involved in this incident had been treated.

  • I was going to ask if there is any contrast to be drawn between the reporting then and the reporting before of the floods.

  • I think the reporting of the floods was overwhelmingly really good in terms of the way it was reported. In many ways, some members of the national media understood very quickly -- because they were out on the ground in West Cumbria, ie out and about -- understood the impact of what had taken place, particularly in relation to the damage to the infrastructure and the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, Bill Barker, and it was reported well, it was balanced, there was an awful lot of work around what had gone on, and was very much a feeling in the county that we were all keen, across the county, not to get Cumbria forgotten, that this tragic event didn't just happen in 2009 and everybody sort of disappear off and then the county struggle to get back on its feet again with what was substantial damage and dislocation of communities.

  • Ms Shearer, during that time, did you experience the level of aggression that you experienced?

  • No, we didn't, and I think the really important thing for us was we were able to work really well with the media, because they had an important role to play in warning and informing. Because as you can imagine, sort of the rain fell in the central Lake District and it took a couple of days to come out into Worthington and that area. So it was a really moving scene and the media were incredibly supportive in helping us delivering the warning and informing messages on an hourly basis.

  • Mr Mackey, just returning briefly to June 2010 and that investigation and operation. You mention in your statement that there was an unauthorised disclosure from a police officer and there was a report in the North West Evening Mail. Could you tell us about what happened then?

  • I don't remember the exactly detail. Gill, do you remember -- is that acceptable, sorry?

  • Basically we obviously did media monitoring and my team picked up the article in North West Evening Mail. There was detail in there that hadn't been released. We made a referral to our professional standards department, but they had all -- we already operate a confidential reporting line, and somebody who had worked alongside the officer had contacted that confidential reporting line.

    So we put the two together, we were able to very quickly identify the officer and we spoke to -- they were spoken to on behalf of the organisation and given advice about what they'd done.

  • You say in your statement that the information given was emotive and distressing to some victims' families.

  • In that circumstances, was management advice a proportionate response, do you think?

  • Yes, it was, because it was an act of naivety. They hadn't done it with an aim, but they'd just been having a conversation and they hadn't realise what had they were saying was going to be reported and it was just purely down to naivety.

  • I wasn't sure if you wanted to add something, Mr Mackey. Your body languages suggested you might want to?

  • No, I -- now Gill reminds me of the case, I remember it well in terms of the circumstances around it. We were very strong as an organisation in terms of trying to follow up media leaks, and I think it was indicative that a colleague had felt sufficiently moved to phone the confidential reporting line. So someone had clearly felt that what was done was wrong and it called it in. Thankfully, that was part of the culture of Cumbria Constabulary and the people that work for it.

  • That takes us neatly to the question of leaks. You identify, Mr Mackey, that there were, since 1 December 2007, 11 suspected leaks to the media which warranted investigation. If you want to refer to your statement, it's paragraph 29, page 02279.

  • None of those were criminal investigations; is that right?

  • No, they were police discipline investigations. There was no criminal intent in relation to those incidents.

  • Of the 11 that were investigated, in three the sources were identified, two resulted in management action and one in a warning from a superintendent. Again, Mr Mackey, those are quite low-level outcomes. Can you assist with the detail?

  • I can only remember in relation to one. I don't know whether you can remember in relation to the other two, Gill?

  • Yes. Superintendent's warning given. An officer disclosed to a reporter that the Chief Constable had not forwarded the police minister's Christmas message was one. Management advice given, as we've just talked about, and management action where a PC sent to a local paper directing them to an article from another publication that refers to a sex offender, giving the offender's name.

  • So relatively, in the scheme of things -- and a superintendent's warning at that time was a discipline outcome in terms of the process.

  • Yes, and I think, Mr Mackey, you say in your statement that there was no evidence to suggest that there was any form of inducement to provide the information, whether financial or otherwise?

  • Sir, sorry to interrupt, I think an error -- I'm looking at paragraph 29 of Mr Mackey's statement. The period he's describing is from 1 December 2007, not 2011.

  • Oh, I meant to say 07.

  • And I think it was 11 leaks, not one.

  • Mr Mackey, perhaps we can take this section as read. You set out the systems in place for detecting and preventing leaks and the auditing of the same.

    Ms Shearer, in 2006, there was a restructuring of the press office. You refer to in a new measure being brought in to challenge articles that included information from a police source. Why did you do this?

  • When I joined the constabulary, we didn't have any policies or procedures around how we dealt with our media, and our chief officers at the time were really uncomfortable about this, so we brought the policies and procedures in but we still had an issue around people speaking and not giving their name to the media.

    So what we did was when we had a particularly high-profile case, we put media strategies in place which have a delegated spokesperson to the media, and then what we did after that is just challenge. So when an article went out -- my team were responsible for media monitoring -- we would pick it up and have a look and when it was unattributed, we would go back through to the SIO and say, "Right, who's had access to this information?" and just have a look at it.

    So it was done very informally. It was just a very mild challenge, and that then enabled us to make sure that we didn't have any unattributed quotes and people did actually make them attributed.

  • Has that label "police source" now disappeared from the local media?

  • You heard Ms Pickles and Mr Griffiths give their view on the use of Twitter by the organisation. Is there anything you wanted to say in response to the concerns they've raised?

  • I think social media is an exciting time for the way that we communicate --

  • It's not quite how she described it.

  • No, and it comes with an opportunity, and I think we are all finding our feet around what social media will look like, and I picked up their comments today, which weren't new to me, and we are trying to put something behind when they talk about officers putting tweets out, so that we can put the two together. But there are some times where social media actually has a huge help to us around investigations, and -- I used an example of a missing person who was obviously from Cumbria, who we then thought had come to London and we were able to use retweets and we have a monitoring system and we were able to sort of constantly be reaching 20/40,000 of people at the same time.

    So for that, for us, for a communication tool, it is really beneficial. But it is an exciting time, it's not without its challenges, and I think for us, as a police service -- we're normally quite hesitant of taking on new forms of communication, and for us, as a force, our ability to embrace Twitter is really outstanding, and something that, you know, it would take a long time, if it were something different, for my team to create that same enthusiasm.

  • Mr Mackey, you've been nodding as Ms Shearer's been speaking. Is the use of social media something you would embrace for communicating with the communities?

  • Yes. It's a direct means of communication. It's very quick, instantaneous. As Gill says, it doesn't come without risks. It would be fair to say if I was doing an assessment of where I am now to where I was last year, Cumbria's probably a bigger user of social media than the Metropolitan Police, even given the size of the two organisation. It embraced Twitter, Facebook, Bebo, all the social media far earlier than most others, and it also has some real practical examples.

    I'd go back to the 2009 flooding where the intelligence cell actually found a lot of people who had been evacuated by Facebook status and followed things up in a way that previously we'd have got in a car and gone off and done things.

    It also brings an immediacy to it in terms of last Christmas' drink drive operation, information going straight out on Twitter in terms of what we were doing, where we were. It brings an immediacy and an accountability in terms of what's going on. It's not ideal, the limitation on characteristics, and it's not without its challenges in terms of people going beyond how they should in terms of their interaction, but as a general principle, it's here to stay and I think we have to embrace it.

  • Returning, if I may briefly, to June 2010, when you were experiencing the difficulties with journalists and camera operators refusing to leave the families' door steps, did you also consider reporting the matter to Ofcom?

  • We didn't at that time, no. No, we didn't.

  • Was there a reason why you didn't?

  • No. The difficulty was about getting the specifics. If we could, you know, say, "It was this crew here" -- it was very difficult.

  • But you could be able to say it's the BBC, and Ofcom could deal with television.

  • Or not. I'm not seeking unnecessarily to castigate the BBC or whoever it was.

  • Perhaps before I ask you about the future, Mr Shearer, if I ask you about an example you give of very responsible and trustworthy conduct on behalf of members of the press, an example you give of a local journalist finding some information which he or she identified might be relevant to an investigation and the publication of that information might prejudice an investigation, and they got in contact with you. Is that right? Do you want to the give any more colour to that example?

  • I don't at this moment because it's still active --

  • I will move on. I certainly don't want to prejudice an investigation. We've obviously dealt with conduct that's concerned you, but there's been conduct that supports your trust in the media as well that you've referred to in your statement.

  • That's absolutely right.

  • I think for the future, when you're going to -- we need to split these two witnesses up.

  • Because, Ms Shearer, I'm interested in your view of what I was told by Ms Pickles about the relationship between the press and the police up in Cumbria. Mr Mackey has quite different issues to address.

    She was very comfortable about the nature of the relationship, and, well, you've heard her evidence. Do you want to add anything to that?

  • No, I think I would just support what Ms Pickles said. We do have a good working relationship. There are times when there were tensions, frustrations, and I think you heard Mr Griffiths talk about deadlines, but that's healthy. But generally, on the whole, do the News & Star and Cumbria News Group hold Cumbria police to account? Yes, they do.

  • Do I gather there is an encouragement, from what you're saying, that individual officers should engage with the media and deal with them?

  • Do they have to tell you about that if they do?

  • No. No. I think, again, when you're dealing with higher level strategic issues, they should come through the press office, but certainly if you're dealing with low-level issues, then they are empowered to talk to the media and they are a very good advocate of talking to media.

  • That's not quite my question. You don't need to know that people are talking to the press?

  • So you don't require them to at least keep a note that they have, so that if it ever did come about, you could ask the question: "Why is this person always talking to that reporter?" That's not something that you've been concerned with?

  • I think we need to -- I've just come back from an extended period of leave and it is something that we need to look at. It is part of the work that I will pick up after today to have a look at and review.

    Do I think it's healthy to ask officers to write a little note in a notebook? I think that probably is a good idea, and quite reasonably easy to do for them, so that there is a note there. But are we looking at draconian forms to fill in? That wouldn't be in my --

  • Well, it wouldn't be in mine either.

    Did you want to ask anything more?

  • There's one more thing I wanted to ask Ms Shearer, and that's arising from paragraph 23.2 of your statement. That's at page 09692:

    "I had previously thought that the acceptance of hospitality should be at an individual's discretion and judgment but in line with our force policy. However, given the recent developments, I will be making recommendations to the constabulary that police personnel do not accept any hospitality from the media and all declines are reported to the press office."

    Do you remain of that view now, that no hospitality whatsoever should be accepted?

  • No, I don't. I think it's very much down to what I'll be looking back at our policies to make sure -- I think as we heard Mr Griffiths describe, when he goes to a police station in the morning to accept a cup of tea is acceptable, but I'll be making sure that it's guidelines around there, that it gives our officers an understanding of what is acceptable and what isn't acceptable. So certainly, you know, I perceive it being a good way of Mr Griffiths talking to his local officers and would encourage that, but obviously it would be very clear around what the boundaries are and what the principles are.

  • It seems to me there is a real difference between doing that on the one hand, or perhaps a police officer who a reporter has worked with for years saying, "I'm retiring -- come and have a drink with me on my retirement", to routine meetings in the pub chatting about the work of the day or the week or the month. They seem to be quite different. Would you agree?

  • Sir, that's all I had for Ms Shearer.

  • Mr Mackey, in your present role as Deputy Commissioner, we've already heard that it's your role to review the recommendations of the HMIC report and the Elizabeth Filkin report.

  • And then to report to the management board.

  • Can you give us any information about the progress of that review and any provisional findings that you may have made or your thinking at this time?

  • Yes, thank you. A number of things have been put in place since my arrival nine weeks ago in terms of work around new interim media guidelines, and they're currently being consulted on within the Metropolitan Police Service and they're due to come to management board for sign-off in April. Those are interim guidelines. They pick up the recommendations from Elizabeth Filkin's report, they also pick up the wider work we've been doing with the Association of Chief Police Officers around trying to ensure that there is one set of media guidelines for policing insofar as it is possible to do.

    Done some work around the gifts and hospitality, both looking backwards and looking forwards in terms of the work around that new policy and the systems that are in place around it. We've opened up the world of social media and the work around that, so we have a social media policy, and talking about how individual boroughs and individual teams are putting information out into the public domain about policing operations across London and, some of the challenges of policing across London. And we're also going through a restructure of the DPA from a scenario of a part of the organisation that's predominantly focused on press, press activities, into a much wider media and communications that recognises the changes that are taking place, both in the local media and the national media in terms of what we do. So those are in place at the moment.

    We very much see this as interim guidelines. We're clearly mindful of anything that should come from the Inquiry or from elsewhere in terms of the work to do that, but it's actually an interim position that allows us to move forward in terms of both the relationships at a management board level and throughout the Metropolitan Police with the media.

    In relation to issues about reporting and recording, we are recommending that a note is made of it, and it's a note about the fact that the meeting took place, not, as sometimes has been believed, some sort of verbatim transcript, and we're suggesting additionally -- we're just looking at the feasibility of being able to do this -- for management board members, so that's the key members of the Metropolitan Police, that we make that available on the Internet, so there is a transparency and a visibility of the contact we're having with the media.

    So that's what we've done at this stage.

  • In terms of noting contacts with members of the media, it's just the fact of the contact?

  • Yeah, it's the fact of the contact and a general point about what was discussed. What we're not asking for is a verbatim note. So, for instance: "Craig Mackey, Deputy Commissioner, met three editors on this day", or "met a journalist in the outside of the court and I discussed X." Done.

  • One of the concerns that's been expressed by members of the media during this Inquiry has been that at the moment there's been something of a -- some have described it as a paralysis or a chilling effect. Words like that have been used to convey the message that officers are feeling that there's something wrong with contacting the media, they're less inclined to speak directly to members of the media. Is that something that you've sought to address in your interim position?

  • Yes, we have sought to address the interim position, and I've also, in meetings with journalists and colleagues, had that feedback in terms of this perception that somehow the Metropolitan Police has shut down. I think, given everything that's going on, there was always going to to be a rebalancing, and it's easier to bring the bar back down that it is to raise the bar at a later stage, so I think some of that is almost inevitable, given the coverage of what's been going on, but we recognise that in terms of the principles that we're trying to address in the interim guidelines.

  • Thank you, sir. I have nothing further.

  • Right. First of all, just going back to Cumbria, would you agree with the view, as expressed by Ms Pickles and generally, that in relation to the local press their relationship and their involvement in the community is such that there simply is not the sort of problem that has been identified in other contexts with the national press?

  • Yes, I would. I don't think there's the currency about media issues in the Cumbrian context that there is in the national context here in London and the opportunities to do anything about it are far less limited in a Cumbria context, so it is a completely different relationship, yes, sir.

  • So you would agree with the endorsement that I gave to Ms Pickles from your perspective as well?

  • You've travelled 250 miles, whatever it is, from Carlisle to London. Have you, in the nine weeks, been able to see either aspects that you recognise from Cumbria -- and I notice the other forces you've been involved in are comparatively small forces -- or do you find it utterly different because of the national dynamic? I'm just interested to get your feedback on this.

  • Thank you, sir. It is different but not unique. Real local stories still break in boroughs across London, are dealt with by local journalists or have a footprint that is perhaps the Standard or LBC or very much a London feel to it. There is then the national dynamic that makes things very different around London, and that's the national media effectively responding as a local media for London, and that does bring a different dynamic in terms of the demands and particularly the level of detail that's required to service that.

  • Have you given thought, in the context of your review, to ways of ensuring what is good within the local context, whether it's up in Carlisle or in Gloucester or in Salisbury or in a London borough, preserving that while, at the same time, addressing that which has clearly caused problems, if the evidence that I've heard is to be accepted, in a rather more febrile atmosphere that may surround national policing and New Scotland Yard?

  • Yes, sir, and I think it's about being very clear on going back to some principles. So the first principle very much around: why are you, as an individual, having an interaction with the media? It comes back to the questions earlier on about: it takes place within a policing context. So being very clear, that's why the interaction with me as a senior member of the Metropolitan Police Service or anyone else is taking place; it is in relation to a policing context.

    It's also then being very clear on the values of the organisation. The Commissioner and many others were very clear on the values of the organisation, around transparency and integrity and how we do business. And then also being quite clear for officers and staff that we gather information on a different basis to the media. We also have a duty of confidentiality in relation to the information we gather. A lot of it is gathered for a policing purpose. We share it only when it's right and proper to do so, not just was because it's the right thing to do.

    I think the other thing that will help that slightly febrile atmosphere is also the expansion of the media beyond some of the traditional forms. I touched on the issues around social media and many of the other ways of communicating information. Because we're absolutely clear we have work to do about the openness and transparency and getting information out to communities in terms of what we do, to secure legitimacy, but it's being really, really clear why we're doing it and what we're doing it for. That's what we're trying to manage.

  • Of course, it might be said that an Assistant Commissioner lunching with an editor is about developing relationships and police business. Now, I'm sure a view will be taken about that and Mr Hogan-Howe's said as much, but how is one going to be able to get the understanding out there without creating the perception that there are special relationships that feed back into the Met?

  • I think, sir, that is about the transparency, so things like the idea that contact at the senior level at the Metropolitan Police is available for people to see on the Internet, so you can actually see whether an assistant commissioner is having meetings. It's also very much about how we operate as a management board, and I'm sure you've heard the Commissioner talking around that in terms of the professional relationships within the board, the ability to challenge each other and address those issues. It is having those difficult conversations. That's part of being a leader and a manager.

  • Yes. Is there anything else that you feel that it would be helpful to cover in your evidence as regards the work that you're now undertaking in the Met?

  • I don't think so. Thank you, sir, I think I've had the opportunity. Thank you very much.

  • Sir, before you rise, may I add that the evidence of senior investigating officer Iain Goulding, who was the SIO in the Derek Bird investigation, is being read in today.

  • Thank you very much indeed. 10 o'clock tomorrow.

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