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

  • DS PHILIP NEIL WILLIAMS (sworn).

  • Make yourself comfortable, please, Mr Williams. Your full name for the Inquiry.

  • I'm going to ask you to turn to your right and find the bundle which I hope is there, which is entitled "Witness statements of Metropolitan Police officers".

  • No. It's probably going to be -- ah, here it is. (Handed).

    Under tab 2 you'll find a witness statement which you gave in the judicial review proceedings and which has our number ending 04116. You signed this statement on 29 September 2011, is that right, Mr Williams?

  • Can I deal with some introductory matters very briefly indeed?

  • Could you first of all tell me your current rank?

  • Sir, I'm a Detective Chief Superintendent.

  • Thank you very much indeed.

  • You joined the Metropolitan Police in 1983. At the time which concerns us, you were a Detective Superintendent. In 2004, you transferred to Specialist Operations, which was then called SO13, but which later became SO15; is that right?

  • And you were promoted to Detective Chief Superintendent in 2009. Could I ask you, please, very briefly about SO13, which is the anti-terrorist branch. You cover this in paragraph 6 of your statement, but what did it do in 2006?

  • The anti-terrorist branch at that time is part of the Metropolitan Police station -- sorry, Police Service. Primarily the role is to protect London from terrorism, but at that time we were the only counter terrorism unit of its size and capability within the UK, and therefore we would provide investigative resources throughout the country and indeed overseas to any terrorist incident.

  • Thank you. You say in paragraph 7 that kindred or terrorism allied matters weren't mainstream terrorist investigations but nonetheless could fall by implication within the ambit of SO13. In Operation Caryatid, as it started in December 2005, was such a kindred and allied matter. Have I correctly understood the position?

  • Yes, that's correct, sir.

  • In 2005, SO13 was headed by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke; is that correct?

  • In relation to as it were the operational tree going upward, very succinctly, where did Mr Yates and Mr Hayman fit?

  • Mr Hayman was the Assistant Commissioner of specialist operations, so Mr Clarke would report to him, and Mr Yates was not at all part of specialist operations. I believe he was a Deputy Assistant Commissioner within something called the specialist crime directorate. So Mr Yates had no role in specialist operations counter terrorism.

  • Thank you. He comes into the picture in 2009, but wasn't in the picture in 2006. Have I correctly understood --

  • Paragraph 9, you give us some idea of the resources available to SO13. There were four investigation teams, each one was led by a detective superintendent, but in all there were about 50 officers?

  • And you as a detective superintendent were head of one of the teams and also head of operational support?

  • No, I wasn't head of one of those investigative teams. There were -- each of those teams was led by a detective superintendent. There were then three other superintendents that headed up. One was forensics, one was intelligence and one was operations, and I headed up operational support. The role of that was to provide all the resourcing in terms of staff, equipment, to the whole of SO13, and I also had responsibility in other areas in terms of something called the reserve, our 24-7 contact point, in particular for the anti-terrorist hotline, the bomb disposal team, our dedicated CCTV recovering and our photographic intelligence unit.

    But the other -- if you like, the other three superintendents in terms of intelligence, and forensic, we also provided an occasional SIO role, particularly for some of those kindred offences that we mentioned.

  • Yes. The final point in terms of background context, and we're going to see this borne out by contemporaneous documents, that certainly after 2001, and in a heightened way after July 2005, it would not be an understatement to say that SO13 was under considerable pressure in relation to its core business; is that correct?

  • Absolutely huge pressure.

  • Yes. We will see that demonstrated by the contemporaneous documents. But can I come forward then to paragraph 12 of your statement. You were told in December 2005 that concerns had been raised by members of the royal household that voicemail messages were being intercepted. Those concerns, if I can paraphrase the documents, were based on the fact that information was appearing in the press which the relevant members of the royal household felt could only have come from interception of voicemails; is that right?

  • I'm sorry, could I just interrupt a moment and find out this fact: you've identified the role of the Assistant Commissioner and the Deputy Assistant Commissioner, and the Deputy Assistant Commissioner had a deputy who was a commander. And then within SO13 there was a detective chief superintendent.

  • That's correct, sir. In terms of my line management, above me was a detective chief superintendent. He had responsibility for all of the superintendents and, if you like, the operational delivery of the work of the anti-terrorism branch. Above him was a commander, and he was the deputy national coordinator for terrorist investigations, and so this was this UK and international co-ordinating responsibility, and he worked for Peter Clarke, who for the United Kingdom was the national coordinator for terrorism investigations.

  • The reason I ask the question is not merely to identify all the people, but to have some understanding about who was going to make the operational decisions about any of the work that you were doing, and in particular as we go through this operation, and this is why I interrupt now, I'd be keen to understand who knew what and who was responsible for which decisions and how far did they have to percolate up or was it appropriate to leave them -- I don't say leave them at a reduced rank of detective chief superintendent, I don't mean that at all, but you understand the point that I'm making?

  • Right. So with that introduction ...

  • Paragraph 12 you say:

    "Due to the obvious security implications and sensitivities surrounding members of the royal household, it was decided by Mr Clarke that SO13 would carry out the enquiry."

    Who was it who decided who would be leading the enquiry? In other words, who picked you?

  • Was there any discussion with you about that? Do you know on what basis you were picked? Was it because everybody else was working 100 per cent and you 109 per cent? How did it work?

  • I believe, because this was one of those initial enquiries that fell into that remit of kindred matters, therefore it was not a core terrorism investigation which would have more automatically gone to one of those investigation pods, therefore this was typical of something that would come to me or one of my other colleagues. I understand ultimately Mr Clarke makes the decision. He would have discussed it with John McDowall and Tim White, because it was actually Tim White that briefed me in more detail, but that's how the decision-making was made.

  • Thank you. Mr Clarke's instructions or the parameters set by him you say were clear: to investigate the unauthorised interception of voicemails in the royal household, prosecute those responsible if possible, and to take "all necessary steps to prevent this type of abuse of the telephone system in the future". Particularly that last point, did those remain the instructions throughout?

  • They remained consistent throughout. The only thing I think is important at this stage, the only caveat would be that at stage we were completely open minded as to how this information was actually -- if it was coming out, how it was coming out. We didn't know definitively about the interception of voicemail. So the first stage was: what is actually happening here?

  • Yes. That's made clear, Mr Williams, from tab 3 of file 1. We're looking here at decision number two within a decision log, which is a contemporaneous running log of key decisions made during the course of this investigation. In order to investigate whether or not voicemails were being hacked into, you instructed Detective Inspector Southwark to obtain incoming data for the two relevant mobile phones. JLP is Mr Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, then private secretary to the royal princes, and HA is Helen Asprey, who was, at the time --

  • If I may help, she's also one of the private secretaries to the two princes.

  • Yes, but junior, I think, to JLP?

  • I don't know the differences.

  • And the reason you say in the decision log:

    "... to establish whether or not the telephone companies can provide the relevant data to demonstrate the potential source of the request to listen to the voicemail. This will ultimately be required. The best evidence of a criminal offence is identified but in terms of our initial priorities it should help to identify whether or not another phone or person accessed the voicemails without their permission."

    So this was the starting point for the investigation; is that right?

  • I move forward to tab 10. We're now, I think, at the end of January of 2006:

    "Further liaison between DI Southwark and Vodafone experts has now revealed that there are a number of outside numbers ringing in to JLP's voicemail ..."

    Pausing there, later enquiries revealed that there were about nine rogue phone numbers calling in to either JLP's voicemail or AJ's voicemail. It's not in this document, but this is established by later evidence, isn't it?

  • "... in particular one number which comes back to the home address of the royal editor of the News of the World, the columnist for the Blackadder column, namely Clive Goodman. It is in these columns that the potentially privileged information, possibly sourced from JLP's voicemail, has appeared. CG's home phone is shown as calling JLP's voicemail direct on relevant dates to JLP's suspicions being raised and certainly within the right timeframe."

    So you were beginning to gather circumstantial evidence, which was the evidential basis for the building case; is that right?

  • "The implications are potentially quite far reaching because Vodafone have apparently not appreciated that this was even possible, ie someone obtaining the separate unique voicemail number of Vodafone service users and literally phoning in to listen to voicemails belonging to other people without their knowledge or permission."

    Pausing there, evidence this Inquiry has received would suggest that that's a bit of a startling proposition, that Vodafone didn't know about it, but that's what you were told by whoever you spoke to at Vodafone, is that so?

  • At the time, that was exactly the position with Vodafone. Sorry, with the DI who was working for me, it was Kevin Southworth. It's probably my writing, I apologise. His initial enquiries with Vodafone was: it's not possible. And it was only because we persisted, and in particular him, with a particular member of their technical staff that we discovered or they discovered, so they were telling us, that this was even possible.

    Equally, that was consistent with a message from the other phone companies at that time.

  • Right. Then you continue:

    "If it is possible, then CG may have done this on more than the occasions we have touched on with other people. If this is possible, it's likely to be far more widespread than CG, hence serious implications for security confidence in Vodafone voicemail, and perhaps the same is true for other service providers."

    Knowing what we know now, that is a rather prescient observation, if I may say so, but you were looking ahead to what seems obvious to us now, but which was certainly passing through your mind at the time; is that right?

  • Thank you. I'm not going to cover every paragraph of your statement, there isn't time. We're going to take intervening paragraphs as read, but I'd like to move forward to tab 16, which is a review carried out on 9 March 2006. So we can just see where you were, the second bullet point:

    "Following a year's worth of telephone data for the home telephone number attributed to Goodman, it's evident that JLP's UVN has been telephoned by Goodman a total of 78 times up from October 2005 through until at least the end of January 2006 [then the pattern of the calls is stated] ... and based on this pattern, five other UVN numbers appear to be being called with a degree of frequency. To date one of those numbers has been identified ..." and then were within the royal household.

    And so the picture is building up which is linking Mr Goodman, but at this stage Mr Goodman alone, to possible unlawful interference with voicemails, an offence, as you say in the earlier document, under the 2000 Act. You hadn't, of course, at this stage brought anybody else into the picture, had you?

  • If I can paraphrase the next page of this document on the internal numbering page 16, the prosecutions were going to be dependent, amongst other things, on the willingness of JLP and HA to prosecute, in other words to give evidence, and as we know, they expressed that willingness, didn't they?

  • Tab 22 next, Mr Williams. Another review of the case, 4 April 2006. You had reached the stage where you were seeking guidance from the CPS as to the way forward, because you required legal advice and advice as to the body of evidence you would require to enable a successful prosecution to be brought. Is that the position?

  • You identify two main offences. We're concerned really only with the first, because the second, under the Computer Misuse Act, although considered, was later to pass out of consideration.

    Section 1 RIPA interception of a communication system, it's an indictable offence. Then you say:

    "In terms of points to prove, the key aspect would be that any interception took place prior to the intended recipient receiving the message."

    Can I be clear about that, Mr Williams? Was that your opinion?

  • To start with, having read the law myself, that was my opinion, and I went to the CPS to get them to give their view, and consistently throughout this case that was their opinion, and at no time did that change in my mind.

  • Is this right: you stated your opinion of the law based on your research of the law before you ever spoke to the CPS, and we see it here in this document; is that correct?

  • I think it may have been earlier, but as in any investigation, I consider what offences may have been disclosed. I actually had -- in the anti-terrorist branch, we worked with the counter terrorist section of the Crown Prosecution Service, and I at that time was also working on some counter terrorism legislation with the head of that service and I had a conversation with her about my initial thoughts around this case and she steered me to the special case division of the Crown Prosecution Service, where I met the head of the Crown Prosecution Service there, Carmen Dowd, and that's where the actual confirmation of the interpretation of the law came from.

  • The confirmation was to come fairly soon thereafter, but at the time you wrote this review on 4 April, you were writing it without legal advice; is that right?

  • I believe Sue Hemming had confirmed it verbally that it sounded correct, but she was not the person to advise me, and she was putting me in contact with Carmen Dowd.

  • You say that view never ever changed. Is that right?

  • It is correct. My belief is consistently that what the law said was that for this to actually be a criminal offence, the message had to be a new and unread message, and we coined this analogy of what we call the unopened envelope on a desk.

  • I think we'll probably have to return to that.

  • It arises in relation to advice from counsel given on 2 August and then 21 August, but we'll look at that advice hopefully fairly soon. But the nature of the evidence that was available as at early April in terms of the call data we can see set out on the second page of this document. It was based on an analysis of outgoing data from Mr Goodman's home phone number.

    The third page of the document, on the internal numbering page 35, you point out that there are differences which we needn't explore today between access to Vodafone voicemails and access to O2 voicemails, and you were exploring the position as well in relation to O2, because it was relevant to one of the victims. At the bottom of the page we can see the conclusions:

    "Five to six potential victims have been identified."

    Pausing there, those were all victims within the royal household at that stage, weren't they?

    "The potential for voicemail interception has been demonstrated."

    And you say at the bottom:

    "This ability is highly unlikely to be limited to Goodman alone. It's probably quite widespread amongst those who would be interested in such access, a much wider security issue within the UK and potentially worldwide."

    So you were pointing there, true that this was a piece of speculation, to a potentially very serious problem, weren't you?

  • I should deal with the last page of tab 22, the second point you make. On the internal numbering it's page 36:

    "In terms of an investigation, taking this enquiry forward will impact on core SO13 operations and the resource implications for a prosecution could be significant. At this stage the wishes of the victims against public interest needs to be factored in to the future direction of this enquiry."

    So you were beginning to point to a possible strain on resources; is that right?

  • Yes. Up to this stage in the enquiry, we've established that what the royal household suspected was happening is in fact possible. It is happening, there are a growing number of potential victims within that area and now we're at the stage where there are definitive criminal offences that this could be breaching, that the potential victims are willing to support a prosecution, and therefore, if we want to take this forward, we now would begin to need to convict -- sorry, give investigative resources to this to take this forward.

  • Was Mr Clarke you were briefing content with that course, namely that additional resources would now be required?

  • Yes. I would brief this in to all three of my immediate supervisors up to Mr Clarke, and in fact, to do that, they gave me those resources.

  • At tab 25, which we're just going to glimpse at and then move on:

    "JLP made it clear that he was willing to be the primary victim and therefore a witness."

    At tab 29, a decision log, decision number 16, you identify two groups of people within the royal household. There were about nine of them in all. The first group included three members of the Royal Family -- we can probably work out who they are but it isn't necessary to go further than that -- who were going to be warned specifically, but the second group were not going to be directly warned, because you were concerned -- and tell me if this is right or wrong -- to maintain the covert nature of the enquiry because you didn't want there to be any risk of material entering the public domain and your suspects being alerted; is that correct?

  • Yes, that's correct. At this stage, while we were conducting a covert enquiry.

  • Allied to the need to maintain the covert nature of the enquiry was your belief that it needed to be kept within SO13, and we can see that from tab 31, Mr Williams. The sentence right in the middle of the page:

    "I highlighted the concern that in the light of the ATV's current operational commitment, it is right that we should continue to deal with this investigation because if it did become a prosecution, the media might seek to criticise the MPS and SO13 for the use of anti-terrorist resources against what, albeit is far wider security implications of the voicemail networks, appears to be a non-terrorist-motivated intrusion on the privacy of a member of the Royal Family where non-terrorist-related criminal offences have been committed."

    You put that as a question. What were you driving at there, Mr Williams?

  • I'm raising to my senior management that if we take this forward to a final prosecution and it gets played out in court, given the fact that we are under huge, huge pressure in terms of our counter terrorism operations, how is it right that the anti-terrorist branch is dedicating investigating resources to something that actually is not terrorism?

    Equally, I was just raising the potential, I suppose, public or media spin that might be put on it, that we're potentially -- sometimes it's you're using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. In other words, why are you using anti-terrorist officers to investigate, for example, this offence that has nothing to do with terrorism? But that was -- I'm just raising the concern. Equally, there were valid arguments for why we should retain it. I was simply raising it and we were considering: how does this look? Is it right that we're committing these resources or an unknown number of resources to taking this forward? But there were good reasons for why we should continue with it.

  • Thank you. Tab 35 next, please. Another review, 20 April. You reviewed the evidence, which hasn't significantly changed since the previous review, but can I ask you to look at point 7, which is at page 57. The second bullet point:

    "Potential victims have been identified through examination of the Goodman home telephone."

    There you're using "victim" in a limited sense, is this correct, to include just those who you could prove had been directly targeted by Mr Goodman? Have I correctly understood it?

  • Yes. I think I'm simply saying the ones that I've listed earlier that we've been able to identify that he's calling their unique voicemail numbers from his home telephone. Those are the people that I'm referring to.

  • In the third bullet point, I think you're using "victim" in a wider sense to cover anybody who might be compromised?

  • This goes back to my very initial supposition that this could be quite widespread. As I said in that -- as we brought up, it could be throughout the UK, worldwide. It's completely unknown speculation as to how wide this could be.

  • Thank you. At page 58, level with the upper hole punch, you repeat the point that you need to prove messages were intercepted by Goodman before they were read by the intended recipient, and at page 59, under point 4, you were referring to the possibility that further suspects might be identified; is that so?

  • You got your advice from the CPS at tab 38. We needn't look at the advice under the 1990 Act. The advice under the 2000 Act is at the top of page 70, which is the second page of this document:

    "The offences under section 1 of RIPA would, as far as I can see, only relate to such messages that had not been previously accessed by the recipient. However, this area is very much untested and further consideration will need to be given to this. Again, the actual technical evidence would need to be carefully considered before any firm view could be taken about whether the offence is capable of being proved."

    I think -- is this your writing -- you've then written "is it?" What does that relate to?

  • I think it relates to -- let me just have a read. (Pause).

  • If you're not sure --

  • No, I'm not sure. I know what I'd done is I received this, I then phoned Carmen and I discussed it and went through this, because if you look at where I put point 2 "or we go for a test purchase", because I was discussing with her how do I technically evidence this? And I was suggesting that I might have a test period where we would monitor one of our potential victims' phone and actually ask them not to answer or to retrieve their voicemails, so in other words whoever was calling into those -- if someone in the normal course of the day left a message quite legitimately on Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton's phone, we would ask him not to answer it and then we would see whether or not the technical data could actually pick up the leaving of those messages, and indeed whether it would pick up the retrieval of those unread messages by one of our rogue numbers, and that's in fact one of the strategies that we put into place.

  • Yes, because your concern was to avoid bringing the true intended recipients of the messages into the witness box in court to have to give evidence, because -- to put it absolutely crudely -- you didn't want members of the Royal Family to be placed in that potentially embarrassing position; is that right?

  • My concern was about the confidence of the victims. If I looked forward planning for a trial in court, I was looking for what is the best evidence to make it absolutely clear and simple to a jury of exactly what is the wrongdoing here and the points to prove. What I didn't want happening, and I documented it in here, or in my decision logs, is the issue getting played out in court of who called who, why they were calling these people and what the contents of those messages may well have been, because they may have been embarrassing, for any reason, to my potential victim. And therefore, in order to maintain the confidence of my victim, I wanted to be able to assure them, if at all possible, that if they were going to be a victim in one of my cases, in my case, that this would be solely on the fact technically that one of their messages had been intercepted. Not the who or what it was about.

  • These matters are covered in tab 41, which is log entry number 21 dated 26 April. If I can paraphrase it, you did telephone Carmen Dowd, we can see that. You set out the options. The first option is to present a case based on technical data, and it has the advantages you've just explained for us.

    The second option, that it could be linked to the first, was the sting type operation which you've also told us about.

    And then option three in the middle of the next page:

    "There's always the option to arrest now."

    And then you point out you might not have enough evidence if you did that.

    And then the last option at the bottom of the page is not to proceed any further with the criminal investigation.

  • You have actually identified potential crimes, both under RIPA and under the misuse computer legislation, Computer Misuse Act. In your paragraph 1 at the beginning:

    "This behaviour described does give rise to offences under section 1 RIPA and section 1 Misuse Computer Act, subject to appropriate evidence."

  • Yes. I was aware at that stage that there was potentially, potentially, evidence, again untested, and it still required further work to actually get that evidence, that some members of the royal household may have been having their unique voicemails intercepted.

    My actual criminal level of proof, as I understood it, in terms of it actually being a new, unlistened-to message, I hadn't got evidence of that. Here I'm just saying what are the potential options are. I'm not saying they're a good option or an advisable option, and equally obviously I was not going to consider doing nothing, because actually I very much wanted to do something.

    Throughout this investigation, me and my team put a huge amount of effort into maintaining the support and confidence of the victims and working with the CPS and the phone companies to actually get this to trial. We wanted to bring this to court and to demonstrate that this was absolutely a criminal offence and was not to be tolerated.

  • You make that clear in this document, but you also make it clear at page 77 on the internal numbering that you wanted to go back to Vodafone and O2 and ascertain or determine once and for all whether or not the technical data exists to be able to have a reasonable chance of mounting a prosecution against any suspects. Was this in order to demonstrate conclusively that the interceptions were taking place before the intended recipient accessed their voicemails?

  • That's correct. And actually I think it links into my option three. At the time, based on what I knew, there was always the option I could have gone and spoken to Mr Goodman, whether would that be as a suspect, and interviewed him. That option was open to me. And again, because I knew or I believed I didn't have enough evidence, he may well have made no comment and that may well have been the end of the matter.

    In terms of how I want to investigate, I actually want to be able to have as much evidence as possible, so that when I do go and ask people, that there is the fair opportunity to put all the matters that I'm aware of them and to actually have as strong a case as possible.

    So what you're asking there was indicative of I didn't believe I had the evidence, I absolutely did need the phone company's support to get me that evidence, I wasn't going to go and speak to Mr Goodman at this time because I didn't believe it would get me anywhere. I needed to build my case before I actually confronted the issue.

  • And that's made clear again by tab 50, 9 May 2005. These are all your documents?

  • They are all my documents.

  • At the bottom of that page you say:

    "Vodafone may have some historic data."

    But in the last bullet point:

    "Both Vodafone and O2 have technical equipment that could be used to actively monitor the activity in relation to JLP and HA's mobile phones which over an appropriate test period could be used to evidence the date and time and possibly which phone numbers were accessing their voicemail boxes in addition to their own legitimate access. Both companies are willing to support a prosecution."

    Now that was, moving forward, a sting operation which started in May and continued into June and you decided to carry out --

  • This is 2006, not 2005, isn't it?

  • Sorry, yes.

    I think it's important to explain here this demonstrates what the phone companies were telling us. This was new to them. They didn't realise this could be done.

    Equally, I think it's important to understand they have engineering software that runs their everyday system, and what they're telling us is it's news to them that this was -- that people were able to do this in this fashion, and actually their own engineering software, although it could show what we called the rogue numbers coming into the unique voicemail number, it had difficulty in telling them what was going on in the voicemail box.

    In fact, it was actually they couldn't tell us whether a message actually existed in the mailbox, and therefore they were using some more specialist software engineering specifically targeted around some of our potential victims, namely Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, in this test period, to see if we could get a more accurate picture of what was going on, and ultimately for me, whether or not it would come to that level of proof to be able to demonstrate that a new message had been intercepted.

  • You assessed the various options open to you. The first one was: no further investigation, which you rejected at the top of page 96, because those responsible would have (inaudible) been brought to justice and the public interest would not be served.

    You then considered option two, hand over investigation to another police unit, but you rejected it at that stage because your unit had developed a relationship with the royal household and had built up their confidence.

    Option three was carrying out or commencing a formal investigation with a view to prosecution, and that is the option which you decided to pursue, at least in the short term, that's the top of page 97, and the reason given, which is highlighted, really:

    "I suspect that the media world may well be aware of this vulnerability and there may well be a host of people using this vulnerability for journalistic purposes. The Goodman connection is potentially an example of this, but the more sinister side would be the knowledge could be equally utilised by criminals, whether that be in the general sense for terrorism or to threaten national security. Therefore I believe that this matter has a significant public interest aspect to it, particularly in terms of safety and security, the ultimate risk being a threat to life."

    Now, in your view, did those public interest considerations subsist throughout your investigation?

  • At that time I was entirely open to the speculation this could be a technique used across all media and equally, as I've said, potentially the criminal world were aware of it. The things that actually didn't necessarily reinforce that is, for example, at no time did any of the phone companies, once they were fully aware of the potential risk to their systems and what that intrusion looked like, at no time did they come back to me and say, "Actually, we've seen that this is happening all over our system". Partly, to be absolutely fair to them, it's because we don't -- they don't know, because of their software engineering, exactly what was happening. So it is an unknown. It might be happening.

  • Sorry to cut you short, but I think the question was more targeted to whether the public interest you've identified subsisted throughout the investigation, and the answer is either yes or --

  • Do you mean was the same?

  • Sorry, it's my -- I think, no, it changed, because in terms of some of the checks I did, for instance within the counter terrorism world, assured me, as far as I was able, that this was not necessarily a technique that was being actively used by some of the other subjects that we would have been interested as part of the anti-terrorist branch. Equally, I had spoken to colleagues, both within the anti-terrorist branch and the special crime directorate, to find out whether any of them had come across this type of criminality before. They hadn't. Equally, with the Crown Prosecution Service, they had never come across a case like this.

  • So to my mind what this was -- as the enquiry went on, this was a technique that was used by people who wanted to gain private information about people and not -- obviously not acceptable, but it was going to be used in terms of media as opposed to threat to life, physical harm.

  • So it reduced in that sense.

  • Can I take it forward to tab 61, which is update 21 June 2006. You've been away for a time, I think, on official business, Mr Williams, where you were out of the United Kingdom.

  • You came back, you picked up the cudgels again on 5 June. You identify that the sting operation or test period concluded on 16 June, and what you're doing here is setting out what the fruits of that operation were. Under "Assessment" we see this:

    "Lindsay confirmed that by examining the vampire data ..." this is the specialist Vodafone data?

  • "... in our test period, she has identified two interceptions of voicemail by Goodman and two by the phone number attributed to Mulcaire."

    Those were interceptions which related to members of the royal household alone; is that correct?

  • Then you say:

    "Having been briefed and shown the available data for both misuse of computer and interception offences, at this stage Mr Bristow's [he was the expert who was analysing the data] assessment is that we have a reasonably strong case."

    And then he set out what the position might be.

    And then on the next page, file note on resources:

    "For the moment I consider I have enough resources to continue with this enquiry in terms of what is currently required. However, I believe it is important to formally record that this investigation has been conducted against a backdrop of sustained and increasing workload for SO13 since at least December 2005. Over that period the number of operations has increased from numbers in the 50s to today at tasking where we've reached 72 active operations with a number of them posing significant life-threatening risks. Today again at tasking, as in previous weeks, there were requests for additional resource, with there no longer being any spare capacity. This has resulted in some lower priority anti-terrorist operations being placed on hold to release officers to higher priority operations. The level of the current workload is unprecedented and the assessment for the future is that this is unlikely to ease. Operation Caryatid has been brought to its current status against this backdrop and the need to balance resources against all anti-terrorist operations.

    "Subject to the stages outlined above, the scope of any future overt operational activity will need to be balanced against the whole of SO13 priorities."

    So that was putting down a firm marker to Mr Clarke and others that you were under pressure, is that fair?

  • No. Actually, my intention here was I had been at that meeting that morning. This was a moment of reflection. I just wanted to put in my document that we are actually -- I'm happy with the resourcing on this operation, but just for context, this is the operational background that we are against, and we are actually unable to commit the resources to all of the operations that we would want to, purely because we didn't have enough staff, and our judgment at that time, both me as an SIO right the way up to Mr Clarke ultimately, was a balance of risk and harm, and we judged that very much on the potential, the imminence of what that threat to life might be, judging it against different operations, and there were often times when one operation would suddenly rise to precedence because there was something that meant that we felt that the risk and the threat to life had suddenly increased and we would have to act on that operation. So it was a continual judgment every day ultimately by Mr Clarke about how and which operations would get what resources.

    But at this stage, for what we were doing under the objectives that I was given, I was satisfied that I had enough resources for what we were tasked to do.

  • Yes. Thank you. You receive advice from the CPS at tab 70 on 18 July. We will have to take this one quite shortly. And the advice was:

    "The case appears to be cogent and presentable and could proceed without the need to delve into the content of any messages left and/or retrieved."

    That's the top of page 139. Although certain caveats were then expressed, which we needn't dwell on.

    Tab 74 is possibly more important, Mr Williams. Another briefing for Mr Clarke as at 20 July 2006. You say in the middle of the first page of this document, internal numbering page 180, under "Number of victims":

    "I am aware from O2 that there may well be a much wider range of victims. Indeed I suspect that Mulcaire could well be someone whose business it is to secure access to information concerning a whole range of VIPs."

    Again a very prescient observation, isn't it?

  • "Some of the choices I have are: extend the investigation to include the full extent of this potential criminality, which would help to establish the seriousness of what we are facing. However, to do this effectively, the enquiry would probably have to remain covert, which would leave my known and unknown victims vulnerable over a much greater period of time."

    It would also swallow up resources, I paraphrase.

    So this was a balancing exercise. The longer this went on without arrests, the greater the risk was to the potentially expanding pool of victims; is that right?

  • Absolutely. That's my role as the SIO is to judge the balancing risks.

  • And then the other option was to extend the enquiry incrementally but somehow try to limit the extent to which you discover victims. The advantage of that would give you more vision. Your decision was:

    "I've decided to keep the enquiry limited to the victims I can use within the household. Rationale: I would include the reasons I've cited above for not extending the enquiry because strictly speaking I'm dealing with the victims that have actually come forward."

    Then you say on the next page:

    "The penalties for these offences are relatively small ..."

  • Sorry, can I ask which page have you gone to?

  • 181, two lines from the top.

  • "The penalties for these offences are relatively small. Even if I added 100 more victims, it is unlikely that I will allow the judge much scope for adding a significantly increased sentence."

    Was that the advice that you eventually received from leading counsel, that the number of victims wouldn't make a big difference to the sentence?

  • You're not dealing here, is this right, with the separate proposition that if you brought in further defendants the position would change; you're looking only at the number of victims, aren't you?

  • At this point, you had in mind the possibility of those other than Goodman and Mulcaire who might be involved in this conspiracy; is that correct?

  • Then you deal again at 181 with keeping this within SO13, which we needn't go into, since the reasons are similar to the reasons we've seen earlier.

    Page 182, the timing of executive action. By "executive action" you mean arrests; is that right?

  • "The covert nature of this enquiry means that both the known and unknown victims of this alleged criminality are vulnerable and potentially suffering."

    And what you're moving to is to arrests in the fairly near future, is that so?

  • And that was established further discussions and did Mr Clarke, having been briefed, accept the course of action which you proposed or did he propose something different?

  • From the end of July until 12 August, you were on leave, and therefore self-evidently weren't there at the time of the arrests, which were on 8 August, but you were briefed all about it, as we're going to hear, by Mr Surtees. You returned from leave on the Saturday, which is 12 August, and by then, of course, had intervened Operation Overt, which was 9 August, and that was the plot to blow up aeroplanes, I think nine of them, over the Atlantic?

  • And that, as you explain in paragraph 30, was also occupying your time.

    Can I ask you, please, in the middle of paragraph 30 of your witness statement when you say you received a full brief from Keith Surtees concerning the circumstances of the arrest, the items found and the processes that he put in place to assess the material, can I be clear about this: did Mr Surtees explain to you the difficulties there had been on the day, namely that News International or some members of News International had been, in the police's view, obstructive?

  • Did he draw your attention to what we now know to be or are calling the "for Neville" email?

  • I don't know whether we knew about it at that time. Some time between the arrests and the prosecution, we did know about it. I don't know when we knew about it.

  • Thank you. And did he explain to you what had happened during the course of interview of both Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman?

  • Can I just deal with one or two points which came out of the interview. File 2 in these files. First of all, tab 123. Just a miscellany of points, if I can pick them up, whether you were told about these.

    First of all, page 643. This is interview of Mulcaire, 9 August. All these interviews are "no comment" interviews. The middle of the page, DC Green draws Mr Mulcaire's attention to the £7,000 contract with Paul Williams. Of course, he's the alias of Mulcaire. And that contract was found at Mulcaire's home address in relation to a story. That's a piece of evidence which the Select Committee and others have alighted on.

  • Was that drawn to your attention at the time or shortly afterwards?

  • I would have known that there were a number of payments, yes.

  • Well, I think you probably understand this context: before either Mr Mulcaire or Mr Goodman were interviewed, the police will have analysed broadly what they'd got, because they'd want to know what questions to ask.

  • And presumably you were briefed on the result, the evidence that had emerged in the investigation as a result of the searches.

  • So this is merely a manifestation of what they'd found out. The questions they asked. You would be more interested to know what did you learn, rather than just look at the interviews. Would that be fair?

  • Yes, my briefing would be that they'd been interviewed in full, I know the range of material that's been found, I know and I'm satisfied that that range has been put to them as potential suspects to give them the opportunity to account for their behaviour, and they have chosen to make no comment.

  • Yes. Just one other piece of information, because one witness mentioned it. Page 660. The top of the page. This is material relating to John Prescott, who of course then was the Deputy Prime Minister:

    "There's another name underneath. First of all, it says 'adviser' and then the name 'Joan Hammell'. You've got her telephone numbers, DM1 numbers, password numbers and Vodafone password that I have already mentioned, and an address in NW1. Have you got that information to access John Prescott's network or that of his advisers?"

    And then the answer:

    "No comment."

    Was that information imparted to you, Mr Williams, namely that we were looking at someone clearly outside the ambit of the royal household, and moreover there was a range of evidence which tended to establish that, at the very least, Mr Mulcaire had the wherewithal to hack into Mr Prescott's phone or Ms Hammell's phone?

  • I don't know whether I knew that specific bit in the sense of it sat here in this interview. What I was briefed about was, yes, there are now from the material a number of other people in all walks of life, that include politicians, where it may be that they are potentially people who Mulcaire or others might want to target in terms of their voicemail.

  • So they were certainly targets. What you couldn't say was whether they had actually been victims.

  • This was our challenge. I'm well aware that there are potentially a wide range of people. I'm also aware at the time that this is -- Glenn Mulcaire -- sorry, Clive Goodman is a reporter, he's a journalist. Glenn Mulcaire is working for them. It is not going to be unusual to find all these names about people in public life.

    My mindset then was that he is -- Glenn Mulcaire is getting information, presumably for the media world, and he may well be using a whole range of different techniques, and some of these techniques may well be distasteful to the public, but many of them may well be lawful and others may well be illegal.

  • The one we're looking at, though, in relation to Mr Prescott is precisely the same sort of technique as was deployed in relation to the royal household, wasn't it?

  • Actually, I don't know that. I do not know -- as far as I'm aware, Mr Prescott, I don't know that he has been a victim of interception. I didn't know that at the time.

  • There are two -- don't worry about whether Mr Prescott had been proven to be a victim of interception. We're looking at the trade craft of Mr Mulcaire. Mr Mulcaire's trade craft, as borne out by the material you seized, was consistent throughout all the potential victims, wasn't it? He was building up enough material to be able to hack into their voicemails, wasn't he?

  • Yes. From our voicemail analysis of the data on the royal household, it was the analysis of the voicemail data that showed us the pattern of the behaviour. I knew what was happening in terms of the royal household because that's the evidence that was presented at court. Actually, I have no reason to suspect he wasn't doing that with these other people either. Yes, that's correct.

  • And indeed the details that you were getting from the documentation about which you would have been briefed, which included what were apparently mobile phone numbers and PIN numbers, certainly point in that direction.

  • There was a whole range of numbers. Ordinary telephone numbers, mobile telephone numbers, home addresses. Some of the things may well be quite legitimately in the possession of people like Glenn Mulcaire or Clive Goodman, because it was an amalgam of both their material.

    At that time I was open to that, yes, they were using some of the material in terms of voicemail interception, that is clear. Glenn Mulcaire may well have been doing a number of other things to get information, but I didn't know what he was doing. What I knew he was doing was in relation to the victims that had started with the royal household, were now beginning to look there might be other people, and what I was looking was specifically at voicemail interception.

  • Tab 94, which is file 1, was the list which was compiled of those potentially compromised. A number of questions about this. You did not give the instruction to start compiling this list; Mr Surtees did. Do you know how long it took to compile this list?

  • I believe it was about a week. It certainly went over a weekend. It was a team of officers, they were working extended hours. (Witness dropped box). I apologise.

  • Don't worry. So you think it took about a week. There are 418 --

  • Don't worry, Mr Williams. That's the least of our concerns.

  • 418 or 419 names on this list. Was it your belief that all the Mulcaire notebooks were analysed, all 11,000 pages, or a more limited sample?

  • It was my belief that all the material that we -- had been seized for both Mulcaire and Mr Goodman had been gone through within the parameters that Keith Surtees said, which were to certainly identify the key people, potentially, who may well have been of interest to both of those men. Certainly as at that stage we were also going ahead with a prosecution to satisfy our duties under disclosure that we would have under any prosecution, and also to see the extent of whether there was anything here to be a concern in terms of national security. He wrote those in his log and that's what I was aware that they were doing.

  • So when you use the adjective "definitive" in paragraph 30, you're using it in its precise sense, that you believe that this list covers everything, all the material that was seized. Is that right?

  • I believed that this was absolutely representative of the scale of the potential pool of people who may have been of interest to those two men.

  • Why was leading counsel told on 21 August that there were 200 victims, not at least 418 or 419?

  • In my notes? We are there discussing the potential for how big our pool should be of potential victims, and we were talking in terms of hundreds, whether it be 100, 200, and this is where I believe I've written 5 or 6. This is where counsel confirmed my view, but it didn't matter how many hundreds of victims beyond -- and I think it was the term used, "beyond 100", that that would make no difference to the ability of a court to give a bigger sentence.

    So my knowledge in terms of a potential pool was largely based on what this document ultimately ended up as, but this was -- I'm not sure --

  • But this document shows 418 and not 200. That was the only question. It wasn't further points which arose to you in conference with counsel which we're going to come to in a moment.

  • Do you see that, Mr Williams?

  • I just wondered why leading counsel was told apparently 200 -- it does look like 800 but I accept your evidence that it's 200 -- when we know it's 418. Is there a reason for that?

  • I know in my victims document, informing potential victims, I believe at that time I'm talking about potential for 180 victims, I think I mentioned. This was a developing picture of the potential victims, and therefore I'm just giving an indicative amount of what the potential pool may be.

    For me, though, this document, as a completed document, was my reference point in terms of what that scale may be from the material that we had gone through.

  • Maybe it was you're saying it's the outer limit of the number of victims. If one takes a quick look at this document, tab 94, we can see that some of the victims are, without being flippant, well outside the interests of the royal correspondent of the News of the World. We have a convicted paedophile, we have Mail on Sunday, we have state securities, we have "reporter, bogus prison guard?". It was pretty obvious that other journalists were involved or could well be involved, wasn't it?

  • This column that is filled in in terms of who these people may be, as I understand it, this is the team that were doing the completion of this document, this is their view of who these people may be. And it may well be they've done some Internet research in terms of who they are, because a lot of these people frankly I didn't know who they were or what their interest is, but you're right, it shows a wide range of people, some of whom would probably be, yes, they're obviously a well-known person, and some people I wonder -- I don't know who they are and I don't know what the significance is of why they would be recorded here.

  • Did you at any stage come to examine the notebook and see what we're calling the corner names?

  • I have seen a range of material as examples of that material, where in the corner, yes, you would get names, first names of people written.

  • Whenever Goodman is involved, the corner name is "Clive", isn't it?

  • I don't know whether that's actually true, because we never went through all the material to that exhaustive length.

  • But you know that there were other corner names which weren't "Clive".

  • Given that we have a corner name that's "Clive" and other corner names that weren't "Clive", it's a pretty strong inference that the corner name was a clue, at least, to who was instructing Mulcaire to carry out the interception. Is that right?

  • Yes, absolutely. That was our supposition, that potentially the names in the corner were the person who had potentially either instructed them or for whom Mulcaire was doing the work.

  • Sorry, I was going to say, what's important to remember: what was absolutely absent from this material in any shape or form is we didn't see anything coming in to Mr Mulcaire in terms of the search of his computers of the material that would say from whoever, "I would like you to do whatever in terms of this person", nor did we see -- so we didn't see any requests, if this was his business, for work. Nor did we see anything from him in terms of the outcome, what it was that he did and who he sent it to and how he billed it. In the sense of a business, there was no request --

  • The evidence of the request was the corner name, wasn't it?

  • It is indicative, I agree. I agree that, yes, that could well be the person, but from my point of view of an investigation, I, in the same way that I built the criminal case against Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman, I would need to build that case to actually prove that in a court.

  • Did you associate any of the corner names, which were, after all, first names, with employees of News of the World? In other words, if we have "Bill", for example, did you start to say to yourself, well, Bill is an employee at the news desk of the News of the World? Did you go through that process?

  • I knew there were a range of names, and yes, "Clive" could obviously be Clive Goodman. To actually build a case, obviously I would look to substantiate that it was Clive Goodman. With other names, no, I didn't necessarily know that they were people from News of the World. I was still open to the possibility that, yes, these were people who were tasking him, but they could be from any organisation. If I was going to actually put that before a court, I would have to find out who those people were, what organisation they work for, and present that as a cogent case.

  • The only other possibility was another newspaper, wasn't it?

  • And in the sense that this looked like it was the media world that was paying this, absolutely. It's highly likely that it would be another newspaper.

    But all I would say is, and I know from the way Mulcaire produced his business, for instance, he had a leaflet that said what his business was, he was offering general security advice and security protection to the outside world, and there is always the possibility that other people are asking him, as a private investigator, to do work for him.

  • I'm sure there's always that possibility. I'm just talking about the common sense probabilities --

  • -- or enough evidence to lead you down a line of enquiry. Do you understand what I'm getting at here?

  • Oh no, I absolutely agree with you. Here is the initial starter, as we always propositioned, that this could be more widespread.

  • Okay. The other evidence, real evidence which was material, was tab 95, which is a review of audio exhibits. There's just one item I'd like you to look at, which is WAB66, page 289. I'm afraid this is very difficult to read:

    "Four(?) items split from this exhibit that are now other exhibits. Transcripts of details of friend/relative of victim of crime and victim of crime. What appears to be details of voicemail messages from someone to victim of crime. Comprehensive list of personal details of Mulcaire's subjects, including telephone numbers, DDNs, passwords, et cetera."

    And then there's a reference to Mr Simon Hughes a bit later on. So you had some evidence, but I think it was fairly limited, of voicemail messages which were on tape; is that right?

  • Yes. There were a number of tapes that were seized and there were a whole range of conversations on those tapes.

  • Thank you. There was a conference with counsel on 21 August, which is tab 131 in file 3. Maybe we should have our short break before we look at tab 131.

  • (A short break)

  • Mr Williams, we're on to now the case conference with leading and junior counsel, 21 August 2006. Tab 131, which is 03612, the last five of our URN numbers. We're hoping now it might come up on the screen, but apparently they haven't been. Yes. 21 August 2006.

    Can I ask you, please, first of all your instructions or rather it would be the CPS' instructions to counsel, did that include any information which related to other journalists at the News of the World or not?

  • Do I know what CPS told counsel?

  • I don't know what they told counsel.

  • An issue did arise in 2009 as to what instructions counsel were given. We can just pick this point up, if you don't mind, at file 4, tab 163. I think I can just refer to this without us necessarily looking at it at this stage. What leading counsel and junior counsel said on 14 July 2009:

    "We did enquire of the police at a conference whether there was any evidence that the editor was involved, and we were told that there was not and we never saw any such evidence."

    Does that accord with your recollection or not?

  • I agree with that. We didn't have evidence.

  • But according to counsel's memorandum, "we were told that there was not", is that right or wrong?

  • I'm well aware that they were aware of our speculations, but in terms of strictly having evidence, we didn't.

  • "We also enquired whether there was any evidence connecting Mulcaire to other News of the World journalists. Again we were told that there was not, and we never saw any such evidence."

    Is that correct or not?

  • Again, it's correct in the sense we were all aware of what the speculations, potentially how this might be further than these two men, because that was part of our discussion in terms of considering whether or not there may be other defendants. In terms of there actually being evidence, and they had access to all the material, then I would agree: at that time, we didn't have evidence.

  • May we look again at the note of the conference? If you look at level with the lower hole punch "Total victims", that should say 200, should it?

  • It's 200. "Numbers UVN for example 100." What's that a reference to?

  • This is our discussion around the potential how many victims do we need to show a potential -- the potential scale of this, so I'm simply saying UVNs is unique voicemail numbers, so if, for example, we have got 100 people, or 100, yes, victims, if it were, whose UVNs have been rung, how many victims do we need to represent that scale, and the assessment was we need to look for perhaps another four to six. This is on top of what our royal household victims may --

  • I understand. Then can we look down a bit. Do you see "anyone else's involvement"? Or "anyone's else involvement" is the way you put it. It's the third point.

  • Yes. This is our discussion, is there anyone else's involvement, and yes, we were all aware of our speculation, which then leads on to the next one, which is we were discussing the issue of a production order.

  • "On scope of case at moment pursue production order section 1. See what it shows. If identifies another defendant -- consider."

    Is that right?

  • And then at the bottom it says "[squiggle] two main culprits -- deter others." Is that right?

  • Can I just go back to the other defendant point? Didn't you already have, though, evidence in relation to other defendants, including the corner names and what was in the Mulcaire notebook?

  • Yes. All of that is indicative of our suspicions, and the production order was, as well as gaining information, further evidence in terms of Mulcaire and Goodman, but in particular in respect of Mulcaire, it was what was absent from the material. In other words, he has a contract for something like 104,000 a year. What's he getting -- why's he got that? Who's tasking him? What are they tasking him with? And equally, what's he giving back? Dependent on the outcome of that, we would be able to do analysis in terms of, well, assessing then, consider, actually, what is it that we might be able to do in terms of building a further case?

  • Fair enough. Top of the next page it says "approach" -- does that say "victims"?

  • VIWs is sort of a police term for victims, witnesses.

  • Okay, fair enough.

  • It's a general term for --

  • "Inform -- no prejudice case -- more information later -- might approach later. Not go for restraint order -- has other assets which would mean doesn't matter what happens to ..."

    What's that figure?

  • That's "what happens to £25,000."

    This was a discussion around Mulcaire has certainly a fixed income of 100,000. Because I had instigated a profile of a financial investigation on him, for instance, we knew he owned a house. This discussion was around if he has been earning this amount of money for a duration of time, can we, in a prosecution, show that this is the proceeds of crime, and therefore, in terms of asset confiscation, for example, can we seize things like his house?

  • And actually, as it turned out, I understand that that's why the only -- in court, on the advice of counsel, the only amounts that we could definitively show were proceeds of his criminality in respect of the charges was the payments from Goodman to Mulcaire, which comes to the £12,300, but we --

  • We'll come back to that, Mr Williams.

  • The advice given by Mr Perry, level with the upper hole punch:

    "Challenges. Technical argument on interception. Therefore discussed interception against computer misuse. Therefore prefer interception as simpler for jury."

    So Mr Perry is obviously not advising that the technical argument on interception is doomed to failure, is he?

  • Was it his advice that it was an open question what the true answer might be, but the case was certainly good enough to put to a jury?

  • Yes. It was a good enough case to put before a jury because we had absolute proof of the interception in the terms that we understood it to be able to present the case. It was then we knew that we possibly, because we were still having to look into what the data showed, depending on our other range of victims that we wanted to add, we'd be relying on what that data showed, but we realised it may or may not show the full offence.

  • The position was this: in relation to the conspiracy charge, the technical argument didn't arise; correct?

  • I've only -- I understand that.

  • In relation to the royals, the technical argument didn't arise because you had the proof of unlawful interception before the true recipient read the message; is that correct?

  • Sorry, what do you mean by "technical argument"? Because I've understood it --

  • The technical argument is the argument that you had to prove that --

  • The envelope had been opened.

  • It did arise with the royals, because that was the evidence we had.

  • The evidence you had was that the unlawful interception had taken place before the intended recipient ever listened to the message.

  • So it didn't arise because you could get over it by your technical evidence, your expert evidence. Is that right?

  • Yes. The technical evidence proved that in the case -- it was only Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton. I'm probably misunderstanding what you're saying. I apologise.

  • But in relation to other possible victims, this technical legal argument might arise, but it wasn't insurmountable because there was a good enough case on the law to put to the jury in any event; is that right?

  • It would be the judge, sir.

  • By the technical -- I'm referring to all the technical data that we would need to put --

  • No, Mr Jay is referring to the legal technical argument, namely whether you actually have to demonstrate that a message has been unlistened to before you come within RIPA.

  • That's what Mr Parry's talking about. He's not talking about expert evidence. He's talking about the technical issue of law, isn't he?

  • He is, but I understand it that he was talking about in the context of supported by our technical data. Right?

  • But if you had the technical data conclusively to prove that the interceptions have taken place before the intended recipient accessed the voicemails, there was no technical issue of law --

  • I understand, sorry, sorry.

  • -- because it had been sorted.

  • In terms of we had it in respect of Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton. We didn't in respect of the others. And at this stage that was still unknown, because we hadn't necessarily got those potential victims and didn't know what technical data was available.

  • Thank you. Can we move forward through your statement now. We're going to come back to the issue of what the evidence was. The strategy for notifying the victims is tab 133, which is page 03616. We're back to file 3.

  • This is your document. It's dated 24 August, after your counsel conference. The third bullet point:

    "They are described as potential victims in the sense that Mulcaire has gathered a range of names ..."

    To be clear, this is approximately 180 potential victims, see the second bullet point.

  • "... that are predominantly from the celebrity world ... They do also include some 17 names that are either MPs or people closely associated with them, eg wife, 19 members of the royal household or close associates, 4 potential police officers and 2 potential members of the Army. Given his research role for the media there is nothing unlawful about having these names or gathering information on them dependent upon how he gathered that information and whether he can lawfully hold it."

    We've covered that issue, really. That, if I may say so, is adopting perhaps an overly cautious approach, since we know what Mr Mulcaire's trade craft was, and we do have similar fact evidence, don't we, a consistent pattern here of behaviour from him. That's made clear by the fifth point, actually:

    "Given our belief that he carries out research on these individuals in order to sell information to the media, it is not at all clear with many of these victims to what degree this research has been carried out and whether or not it has actually resulted in access to their voicemail -- albeit in a large number of cases he appears to have what may be their UVNs and PINs."

    So we have a consistent pattern. Of course there's a different point as to whether he's actually accessed the voicemail, but everything he's doing is with that objective, isn't it?

  • The way forward:

    "There's a need to establish definitively how many victims there are, how many people have had their voicemails rung by Mulcaire/Goodman. With that in mind, all five of the UK mobile phone companies have been asked to search their UVN equivalents for any of our suspect phone numbers calling them going as far back as possible -- up to one year."

    Then you say:

    "Timeframe -- up to 3 weeks, but variable due to Operation Overt."

    So what you are asking for there is that the mobile phone companies are going to find out whether there's information which establishes that voicemails were accessed; is that right?

  • And was that information forthcoming within that timeframe or generally speaking within it?

  • I believe generally speaking within that timeframe. I know that that information did come back.

  • So that information could demonstrate whether Goodman, Mulcaire or others within the News of the World were accessing voicemails of your victims; is that right?

  • Yes. I am asking the phone companies, "This is how it's done, here are the numbers that we believe are the ones that are doing it. If it's possible, because it does depend on their systems, are you able to ascertain whether or not any of your customers have had their unique voicemail numbers or equivalents called in".

  • And in relation to your cohort of victims, whether it was 180 or the 418, that information was forthcoming from the mobile phone companies, wasn't it?

  • Yes, I believe over the next few weeks, course of weeks, that information came back, and some of that did in fact relate to the people in that list.

  • So coupled with that information, call it the call data.

  • And the corner names on the Mulcaire notebook, you were beginning to build up a clear picture, weren't you, of accessing of voicemails by others in the News of the World?

  • No, the call data was Glenn Mulcaire and Goodman accessing those unique voicemail numbers, so it was in respect of them. There was also, within News of the World, there is a hub number.

  • And we had information that the hub number was calling some of these unique voicemail numbers, which was why in the production orders we wanted two things. For instance, one of our -- some of our questions were: did Mulcaire have access to News of the World? So, in other words, was it him? Did he have a desk? Was he doing it in there? Was it Clive Goodman? And one of our requests for information was -- because they have to provide it, if they have it -- is: what is the phone data behind that hub number? And what telephones did they have related to those numbers and where were those telephone numbers? So we could carry out an assessment to see whether or not there was anyone else calling those unique voicemail numbers.

  • The call data that was coming in from the phone companies covered this hub number within the News of the World. That's right, isn't it?

  • And it's a number which ended 5354, I think. Does that ring a bell?

  • I'm afraid I won't remember any of the end numbers. I would have to have a look at the document. There is a number which is -- I believe it looks like a landline number. It is -- it's like the Scotland Yard 2301212. That would be their number.

  • We'll come back to that point in a moment, but it might be quite an important point.

    To go back to your document at tab 133, the next page, three lines down you say:

    "There is arguably a duty to inform people when they have been a victim of crime and in this case I believe that duty should be undertaken for those people who we know are victims. I refer to the fact that our suspects call their voicemails. That list will be identified as above and the next step is to decide when and how they should be informed."

    Can I just be clear how you're defining victims there. Are you defining victims as limited to those who you knew conclusively had had their voicemails accessed unlawfully or are you defining victims in the wider sense to include those who were or might have been part of the conspiracy and were therefore on the potentially compromised list, which were the 418 names at tab 94?

  • I believe it's as I wrote there. I believe that the duty should be undertaken for those people we know are victims by virtue of the fact that our suspects called their unique voicemail numbers.

  • Why not broaden it to cover those who were potentially compromised, Mr Williams?

  • What do you mean by "potentially"? I'm taking that as somebody has rung their unique voicemail number.

  • I'm sure that's not what tab 94 -- if tab 94 bears that meaning, then you had evidence in each of the 418 cases that the voicemails had been unlawfully accessed. The heading for tab 94 is "List of those potentially compromised". In other words, Mr Mulcaire had the wherewithal to access. Whether or not he did access you'd need further evidence to establish. That must be right, mustn't it?

  • This document I viewed is the pool of people that he was interested in.

  • And within them, yes, potentially some -- they were compromised in terms of voice interception, but I don't know whether all of them have been, or indeed whether that was intended.

  • I think we might be slightly more precise, Mr Williams. The 418 --

  • -- is those who were potentially compromised.

  • In other words, Mr Mulcaire was interested in them.

  • In some cases, he had the wherewithal to access the voicemails?

  • In other cases he was merely getting the wherewithal by getting the PIN numbers or voicemail numbers.

  • Amidst those 418, some of them were accessed but not all 418. Is that right?

  • Yes, I see what you're saying.

  • I think the question in relation to tab 133 is why not notify all 418?

  • But I believe the implementation of this strategy was all I'd got there is a snapshot in time from the material that we happened to have received. There could well be a wider pool of people that have been compromised as a result of his activity or indeed anywhere else. So this strategy was aimed at the full potential of what those potential victims might be. So that's where it's actually in the when and the how that I'm seeking or I was hoping through this strategy to address that much wider pool of potential people, which would have included everybody on that list.

  • What seems to have happened, if you look under the heading "Issues to bear in mind if informing victims":

    "Informing all of the victims [that, I think, must be a reference to 418] could be resource intensive which SO13 can ill afford."

    Have I correctly interpreted that as the 418?

  • Absolutely, that's my starting point, but acknowledging there could be more.

  • There could be even more than 418?

  • That's keeping an open mind, I suppose. We know it's probably 829, at least as matters stand.

    "From all that is known, the risk to the victims does not extend to a risk to life or serious injury/damage to property, but rather the goal of the criminality is to seek material of media interest -- typically salacious gossip!"

    That's a reason for limiting rather than broadening the notification of victims; is that correct?

  • No, I'm just putting in context the risk. You asked me much earlier, when I was considering how serious could be this in terms of criminals, terrorism, national security, this is where I've now refined this, that this activity is primarily around -- or from everything I've seen, it's targeted as getting this type of information. So I'm just putting in context the risk of harm. I'm not saying that it's not harmful.

  • Of course you're not, Mr Williams. We're not suggesting that. You're not downplaying this in the sense that you're saying it's harmful, but it's one of the issues that you're bearing in mind if informing victims, isn't it? It's the second point you raise.

  • And the third point:

    "Arguably [again that's fair enough] any immediate and future risk has been negated."

    You've caught your main villains. The fourth point:

    "Although the techniques for voicemail interception may not be limited to these suspects, it's unlikely these two will have shared them with a wider audience given the potential earning value of the technique. Equally, our investigation to date has not identified any other suspects calling the UVNs of our main victims."

    Well, Mr Mulcaire would no doubt seek to keep his trade craft close to his metaphorical chest, as it were, but this isn't an argument, is it, against a proposition that others within the News of the World might have been using the same technique?

  • That's correct. I'm merely trying to balance out things in terms of originally I speculated this could be totally widespread across all media, but when I look at this case and what I found, all I'm saying is all the activity that I'm finding seems to be Glenn Mulcaire doing it with Clive Goodman. Yes, there could be others in certainly News of the World or any other media that are aware of it. Equally, the phone companies have not come back to me and said, "This is far more widespread". I'm merely trying to articulate here the various things that I was trying to balance. I've speculated that it could be very wide. Actually, it might be more constrained.

  • The voicemail --the service --

  • How would the voicemail companies know? Unless they knew the numbers that were dialling in to other people's voicemails, how would they ever know?

  • No, I agree, it is challenging.

  • I mean, the reason I ask is you just said, "No, they weren't coming back saying this was a big problem". Two questions: (a) how would they know? (b) is this something that they would want to spread about for commercial reasons, whereas you might have a different view about that?

  • No, no, I understand that. I am aware, though, that they have special accounts for what they call VIPs and I am aware that they were using this, they were telling us, this knowledge that it had gained from us, to look across their accounts to see whether they could see or even detect this type of activity happening elsewhere. Totally accept it was very challenging for them. Some of the companies couldn't do it. Vodafone and O2 had better a software system.

  • I just don't see how it works, because they need a number to search against. If 12345678 is calling all your various targets, then they can check up to see 12345678 as it were phoning lots of different people. But if they're using different phone numbers in different places then that could be just people dialling into their own voicemails.

  • It's an indicative thing. The way to do it would be -- take my mobile number. Normally, with most people's voicemail, you ring your own voicemail. It's rare to use another phone. Therefore they could look at their unique -- I don't know technically to what degree it's possible, but this is me speculating. They could look at the UVNs and say are there any numbers where there are six, seven, eight, ten different numbers ringing into that unique voicemail? That would be a way of saying do we want to speak to that customer just to check that it's the customer, or is there something going on? Are there any patterns of behaviour that would be indicative that this is happening elsewhere? That would be one way of doing it, if their software allowed them to do it.

  • In terms of notifications is the options, item 2:

    "Extend the victims to be informed to include anyone who falls into the category of MP, royal household, police and military on the basis that although there is nothing to suspect personal safety or national security is being targeted, these are people for whom those aspects could be a collateral risk."

    Are you saying there that out of your list of 418 you're going to identify those who fall within the four categories and notify them yourselves?

  • This is one of the options that it would be them, initially it would be from that pool or if anyone else -- if the phone companies come back to us with any information, anyone else who falls into those categories, then that was one of the options.

  • Given that it's the option we know that you pursued, all I wanted to do was to be clear that out of the 418, those who are classified as MPs, royal household, et cetera, would be notified; is that right?

  • If -- let me just read this. (Pause).

    If we had something to show that their unique voicemail number had been rung. There is an extra step, if you read it, it is I actually selected option 4, and option 4 is as per 3, in other words I think all victims whose voicemails have been called, but we were -- but the issue will be the when and the how, and in addition, the four categories in option 2, in other words MP, royal household, police and military, will be informed now. And then we're still going -- this is indicative -- we're still going through the process of potentially identifying people that we're unaware of.

  • It may be my fault. That's not quite how I read it because I should have read the last sentence of option 2:

    "The latter four categories would include those that are on Mulcaire's list whether or not any investigation shows that their UVN has been dialled."

    So are you saying that in fact it was a variation of option 2, that it was option 2 together with proof that their UVNs had been dialled?

  • Right. I hope I see what you -- where you may have misunderstood it. I've selected option 4.

  • And what I'm saying is option 4 is as per 3, which is actually option 3, in other words inform -- I'm saying that the people who should be informed are all victims whose voicemails have been called. Now, within option 4, the variation is the four categories, forget option 2, in other words MP, royal household, military and police --

  • I get it now, Mr Williams. You needed proof that their UVNs had been accessed?

  • I was accepting it's not -- I had put aside the fact whether it was a new or old message, but if the UVN had been rung, that was indicative.

  • I can understand this is not an easy job, Mr Williams, and you have lots of other things to do, although whether you have to do this is a matter which we'll doubtless come to, but if you thought a bank was the potential target of a bank robbery, but you'd foiled it through your work so that the bank were never ever touched, would you call that bank a victim of a conspiracy to rob?

  • Yes, they -- I can see they would be a victim, yes.

  • Well, then why is it any different for those whose details are available to you on your list -- not saying when you do it or how you do it, but why is there any difference when it's abundantly clear that if Mr Mulcaire is collecting phone numbers and PIN numbers and all this detail, he's probably doing it for somebody else, therefore he is conspiring with them, probably, to use this information to access voicemails, because why would you want the PIN anyway, and you probably had to do some work to get it, and therefore they are, are they not, victims of a conspiracy to intercept their communications? I'm not criticising the timing, I'm not suggesting you had all the time in the world to do this, I understand the problems that SO13 were facing, but just looking at it, doesn't that provide actually the appropriate approach?

  • I understand exactly what you're saying. In hindsight now, I entirely agree. I see that. All I'm saying is at the time my mindset was very much not -- I understand the conspiracy, but my mindset, rightly or wrongly, was very much that the voicemail -- to be a victim, the voicemail was the unopened voicemail. In this, I'm actually broadening it in here. I'm genuinely looking for a way of how can I make this public? How can I -- number one, I'm making it public by a prosecution from all the effort that we've put into prosecuting. I'm genuinely trying to tell people that there was a vulnerability.

    I totally understand that now, when people look back at this, that they think that more people should have been informed and told, but at the time I can assure you this was not me trying to limit the people I was --

  • I'm not criticising you with the benefit of hindsight, Mr Williams, I really am not. I'm simply trying to understand --

  • -- your legitimate requirement, which you identified at the very, very beginning, that people should know about this weakness, and that you should stop the activity, and we'll come to the latter part later.

  • For me this was a moment in time where I documented what had been happening, what I believed was happening and what I intended to continue happening. The whole thrust of this was to make absolutely clear and public what was going on. And I understand that my thinking at the time may well have limited, by a definition of the law that I believed it to be, who would call what victims. I, because I was very mindful of the resources, I decided that we within SO13 --

  • But your definition of the law wasn't entering into this, because option 2, we can see "whether or not their UVN has been dialled". You weren't differentiating between opened and unopened envelopes, were you?

  • No, in a sense I -- there's producing a case in court that I believe actually we will secure a criminal conviction --

  • Yes but this isn't about proving cases, this is about notifying people.

  • I agree this isn't, which is why I've -- yes, in this example, I've actually widened it. This is purely me saying that we in SO13, we will do this bit. My intention was, and I accept that that didn't happen as I intended, that actually the phone companies would take a more specific role in terms of all these other people, but that was also coupled with the fact that we were doing a very public trial, that I believed that there would be public awareness of this, and indeed that was coupled with the fact in terms of prevention that I knew all the phone companies were changing all their systems to prevent it.

    I accept it didn't work out as I intended.

  • The judicial review was conceded by the Metropolitan Police on the basis that proper notification didn't occur, and the phone companies, save for O2, I think, did not notify their customers, regardless of your intentions. That's right, isn't it?

  • Can we move on, because we have to progress through this and I'm afraid there's still a fair bit more, to the issue of the production order, Mr Williams. That's tab 138, which is 03626. That and Copelands' letter of 31 August, where they had seen a draft application under section 1 of PACE, is this right, and they provided you with certain information, which in fact we don't have in this bundle. Do you see that? It's items 1 to 4.

  • In fact, we do have some of it but not all of it. But it's the PACE application which is more interesting, tab 139, which is 06328. This is the application which existed in draft and which was never pursued; is that correct?

  • What you were seeking, prospectively, in paragraph 3 was "All paid cheques, credit/debit slips, mandates" et cetera, which was really the financial audit trail between News Group and Glenn Mulcaire; have I correctly understood it?

  • Why didn't you include Mr Goodman's safe and computer, suitably redacted for journalistic material?

  • I know we had -- I don't know what was in there. I believe we did ask for a range of material that we were seeking in the series of letters, and it would come from whatever source they had it. I'm not aware that we knew what was in the safe or was on his computer, so therefore we're asking for this is the material wherever it is.

  • But that material in the safe, the computer, may well have gone wider than the categories we see in paragraph 3, mightn't it?

  • Yes, it may have. In my mind, I'm imagining like my computer on my desk, which is a network computer to a main server, so we're actually, as I understood, in the series of letters in terms of asking for anything, but we list a series of things but we're quite open that we're looking for anything that may --

  • The request was in subsequent letters. It's not in this draft application?

  • The summary of the evidence, this is on the third page, on the internal numbering 714. The reason why I refer to this is because it's a neat encapsulation of what material you had available to you. You see paragraph 11 towards the bottom of the page:

    "The evidence in this case may be summarised as follows: telephone records show that calls to the retrieval numbers were regularly made from Goodman's home address, Mulcaire's business address and the [that should say offices] of News International."

    This is the hub number we're talking about, isn't it?

  • So given that it's the hub number of News International, logically it could include other journalists, couldn't it?

  • Item 2 on the next page:

    "The length of these calls demonstrates that on many occasions the caller must have entered the correct PIN and accessed the voicemail messages."

    Because if you get beyond a certain number of seconds, you draw the inference that the voicemail is being listened to rather than there being nothing on the voicemail. That's right, isn't it?

  • "technical analysis has shown that on a significant number of occasions the voicemail messages were intercepted before they were retrieved."

    Then you refer to financial information at paragraph 14. This is the yearly retainer. This is adding up to £104,000.

    Item 16, this is other payments, typically of £250, linked to specific stories. We heard evidence in relation to that from Lord Prescott, and indeed Lord Prescott, then Deputy Prime Minister, is at the top of the next page. You see his name, it's one of the names which isn't redacted.

    Do you accept that there is validity in the point that this evidence justified further investigation, including calling people in for interview, in particular those who were identified in the corner names?

  • Yes, I accept that there was absolutely further leads that we could have followed in this investigation.

  • We'll come to why you didn't follow them in a moment.

    The 12,300 point, that comes from paragraph 21 --

  • -- in this document. It's the figure which formed the basis of the prosecution's case on 26 January 2007.

    I move forward to tab 141, which is 03639. This is Mr Maberly to Burton Copeland. You see the fourth bullet point, the request for information:

    "Who does Mr Mulcaire work for? Has he completed work for other editors/journalists at News of the World? Can we have a copy of any other records of work completed by Mulcaire for these editors and journalists?"

    So, putting it as austerely as I can, certainly it was within contemplation that others at News of the World might have been within the ambit of Mr Mulcaire's unlawful activities; is that right?

  • And there's reference, isn't there, to "any fellow co-conspirators" towards the end of this letter:

    "The investigation is attempting to identify all persons that may be involved including any fellow co-conspirators."

    I'm right in saying that all that you got from solicitors acting for News of the World was extremely limited, wasn't it, evidentially?

  • We also had what happened on 8 August, that News of the World were obstructive, in your eyes, weren't they?

  • In order to get a warrant under section 1 of PACE in relation to journalistic material, you would have to demonstrate, to paraphrase, that the target of the proposed order was not co-operating with the police. Have I correctly understood it?

  • In your view, did you have sufficient information to put before the magistrate that News International were not co-operating with you?

  • At this juncture, we had -- once we knew what the replies were, we had -- if we -- we reached a stage here where if we're going to go further, as we speculated, there are leads here, there are potential -- with the names in the corner. This is a step change from our original investigation. And this is a much broader, wider investigation. What I would have wanted to do is to go through all of that material, analyse it thoroughly, see exactly what it did produce. Depending on the outcome of that, then we would look at and compare that to what we've just had in terms of reply, and actually there would be a number of options, because I might not be doing that. I might actually be interviewing and arresting people. But that is a significant step change, and that is actually we've reached -- although there had been a continuing theme, this is: is this a much wider, bigger investigation?

  • If you were going to make it part of a wider, bigger investigation, you would then move to the step of thinking: News International have not co-operated, we should go to the court to get an order to force this information out of them. Is that right?

  • That is one option. It depends on what I discovered in a more thorough analysis of all this information, which would include a lot of painstaking research around all the phone numbers, all the work that we would have to do around that in terms of identifying who do these numbers belong to. All of that requires, maybe you're aware, the individual's RIPA authorisations. It's a significant amount of work.

  • Not saying that it's not worth doing, but it is a major step change in how we would take that investigation forward.

  • I think it was about this point that the decision was made not to expand the investigation and not, in other words, to perform this step change; is that right?

  • It was consistent with the decisions where I'd raised it earlier on in my decision logs.

  • At this stage, now that we've had this response, are we going to go any further in terms of this investigation?

  • And the answer from the boss was, "No, we're not"; is that right?

  • No, and I understood absolutely the reasons why we weren't.

  • Can we be clear, because it's not altogether clear from paragraph 43 of your statement, approximately when it was that DAC Clarke decided not to expand the investigation?

  • Sorry, which paragraph?

  • I think at this final stage it would have been around September, possibly October. But this is because through those months we're getting these replies back, we're not getting any information, and actually --

  • I've only asked you to identify the point in time. I think, Mr Williams, you're repeating a point which you've already made, that News International weren't co-operating, but DAC Clarke makes his decision September, possibly October 2006.

  • And presumably you briefed him as to what the current state of the evidence was; is that right?

  • Did you also explain to him that in your opinion News International, through their solicitors, were not co-operating with you?

  • Yes. My senior management were aware of that.

  • And did you explain to him that you had good grounds to suspect, but I'll let you formulate it in your own choice of words, that if you did expand the investigation, others would be brought within the net?

  • All along, I -- we had some grounds to suspect that this could be wider and that indeed if we undertook further research we may find something. What I didn't know and what I was clear about is what we would find, and actually what it would amount to. What I was very cognisant of, as indeed we all were, was the amount of work it had taken to get us to where we were, particularly in terms of the technical difficulties.

    The other dimension that we were very conscious of is we had achieved that in a covert operation, where nobody knew what we were doing, nobody understood what we were looking for, and they couldn't hide evidence. At the moment, this was now very clear about what we were doing and what evidence we were looking for, and it is not unreasonable to think that it would be a far more challenging operation in terms of the implication of the resources that you would need.

  • I understand. Is there a decision log which sets out advice to DAC Clarke in effect not to expand the investigation? Because if there is, I haven't seen one.

  • No, I haven't written anything.

  • I'd just like you to answer a question which Mr Jay asked a couple of minutes ago, and I think probably the answer is yes. But I'd like to ask you. His question was:

    "In your view, did you have sufficient information to put before a magistrate that News International were not co-operating with you?"

  • My -- no. I don't know. I don't know.

  • Did you ask the CPS?

  • Did you ask the CPS?

  • Well, you've said they weren't co-operating with you.

  • They were -- we are getting the replies from working with the solicitors that they have appointed. I have no reason to question the solicitors or to think that they are doing anything wrong. We're being told that they haven't got this information. I'm then at that point considering where can we go next? Actually, it -- I was not thinking -- it's not thinking about going for a production order. What I would have wanted to do is to go into all of that material, to explore that material to see what was there.

  • I thought you'd already explored it. This is tab 94, isn't it? You'd already been through the Mulcaire material, hadn't you?

  • We'd been through that material with a view to getting potential names and assessing is there anything in terms of national security in disclosure? We were well aware that there were reasons why we -- further leads that we could pursue: the names, the money. We'd attempted to pursue them to a degree through the production order. That has not produced it.

    I knew that we would need to go through that material again, and that we would have to do all the research in exactly the same way we'd done around the phone works to see what that showed. Then I would have a better picture of is there actually something here that I can either take to a judge in a production order or, probably more realistically, I would have taken that investigation forward, assuming that there is something more in that material, in terms of arresting people.

  • Your approach is painstakingly cautious, isn't it? You had plenty of material to go to a magistrate and say, "Look, these guys aren't giving us what we want, it's not altogether surprising, because they didn't behave themselves as they might on 8 August, there was a stand-off, and look at the pathetic response to our letters. Please may we have our order under section 1 of PACE?" You could at least have had a word on that one, couldn't you?

  • I was thinking in the terms of to do this properly we need to go through this material and therefore we would need significant more resources and that's the issue that we discussed.

  • Mr Clarke's decision not to broaden the investigation isn't evidenced in any document, is it, to your knowledge?

  • Not to my knowledge, no.

  • So how is the decision communicated? Is there a meeting which isn't minuted with Mr Clarke and he tells you September, possibly early October, "Just keep this investigation within its current bounds"?

  • I can't remember that. I can't remember a specific day or time. I just knew I was doing another job within SO15. I knew that we'd constantly been briefing about the scale and what we were finding and the consistent decision, throughout this whole process, was that we were not going to broaden it, and the rationale was purely around the huge risk of other operations we're dealing with and the significant resources that it would need to take that investigation forward.

  • I understand. In paragraph 43 you say:

    "I agree with his decision not to expand the investigation."

    That suggests that there was a meeting at which a decision was made. Are you saying that you didn't attend that meeting?

  • I don't know whether there was a specific meeting. I know we were meeting him and the others all the time in terms of briefing them. When I've written -- this is me saying I entirely, as one of the SIOs there, was absolutely cognisant of the huge threat that the UK was under from terrorism.

  • Yes, we've heard about that, Mr Williams, but we reached a point about ten minutes ago that if you were going to broaden the investigation, it would require a step change.

  • And so this was sort of a crunch moment, so someone would have to say, "Either we're going to conduct this step change or we're not", which suggests that there was some sort of decision-making process in relation at least to that. Do you agree?

  • Yes I do, and Mr Clarke made it, but those step changes had been steps throughout the investigation.

  • And this was -- here was more information. We have not got anything further from this production order. Does that change anything? Because of the implications that it would then mean if we wanted to take this further.

  • I'll just pick that up in a moment, but I would ask you now please to look at the email at tab 147, 03655. We're going to have to be very careful about this email, because information is apparently relayed to Rebekah Brooks by it says here "cops". The Inquiry is absolutely not concerned to identify who that person might be, and no questions are going to be asked of anyone which might even lead to speculation about it. All I'm concerned to do is ascertain whether the information we see here is correct or not. That, I think, you can fairly comment on.

    The first point I'm sure is correct, the bang to rights point.

    The second point, the numerous voice recordings of verbatim notes, tab 95 is the voice recordings of the verbatim notes, that's the 11,000 pages of the notebook; is that right?

  • And the list of 100 to 110 victims, well, we've seen different numbers floating around and we needn't perhaps debate whether it's 180, 200 or the 100 which is referred to in tab 131, I think it is, but we can debate that.

    Can I ask you though about payments record, the £1 million. Is that right or wrong?

  • And what should the figure be?

  • I believe we know he had a contract for £105,000 and he received some of those other payments that we've talked about, but the figure of £1 million is not known to me or my investigation team.

  • The contract had been going over a number of years, and so it certainly added up. The cash payments were over £200,000, weren't they?

  • It's the evidence Mr Hughes gave, but it's -- item 4, you probably agree with that, don't you, or tell me if you don't. This is a pattern of victims being focused on and then you move on to someone else.

  • To be accurate, it's the telephone data that told us that pattern, but it's correct in what it's showing.

  • Visiting the bigger victims where there are lots of intercepts, is that right?

  • The purpose of the visits were what? Why did you visit the bigger victims?

  • Because we wanted to ask them whether they would be willing to be a potential victim in our prosecution.

  • This is going to be one of these up to six people who you'd identified in your conference on 21 August?

  • That's correct. It's not a member of the royal household, it is someone else to show the breadth of types of people that were being targeted.

  • "Their purpose is to ensure that when GM comes up in court the full case against him is there for the court to see (rather than just the present palace charges)."

    Is that correct?

  • Item 7:

    "All they are asking victims is 'Did you give anyone else permission to access your voicemail?' and if not 'Do you wish to make a formal complaint'?"

    Is that correct?

  • "They are confident that they will get, say, 5-10 people who will give them the green light."

    And you want people from different areas of public life and of course one of the areas of public life was journalists, wasn't it?

  • Although it's not listed here. And that is the reason why Rebekah Brooks was being seen, wasn't it?

  • Because there's evidence available, which I can't refer to at this stage but which I probably can at a later stage, which makes that clear. Rebekah Wade, as she then was, was one of the most accessed since 2005, twice a week.

  • Item 9, which is obliterated by the photocopy:

    "In terms of News of the World, they suggested they were not widening the case ..." again, from the other evidence I've seen, that should say "at this stage they suggested they were not widening the case", "... to include other News of the World people but would do so if they got direct evidence, say News of the World journos directly accessing the voicemails (this is what did for Clive)."

    Am I right in saying that this email must have been sent before the decision was made by Mr Clarke not to widen the investigation? It's 15 September.

  • Yes, it may well have been, yes, yes, 15 September.

  • Because there came a point --

  • So the meeting would have happened before that, yes.

  • The meeting with Mr Clarke --

  • -- must have been after this.

  • The meeting with Rebekah Wade.

  • Well, evidently the meeting must have been on or shortly before 15 September.

  • I'm talking about Mr Clarke's decision not to widen the investigation.

  • That must have come after this, mustn't it?

  • "They have got hold of News of the World back numbers and are trying to marry CG accesses to specific stories."

    Was that correct?

  • "In one case they seem to have a phrase from a News of the World story which is identical to the tape or note of GM's access."

    Is that correct?

  • I don't know whether that's correct and it was not part of the investigative strategy.

  • So we would not have been doing that.

  • "There are no recordings of News of the World people speaking to GM or accessing voicemails."

    Although there was, wasn't there, one recording of GM giving instructions to an unknown person as to how to access voicemails? That's right, isn't it?

  • And then item e:

    "They do have GM's phone records which show sequences of contacts with News of the World before and after accesses ... obviously they don't have the content of the calls ... so this is at best circumstantial."

    Can I just be clear what that was a reference to? Is that a reference to him phoning the hub number?

  • I don't know what this is referring to. I do know that part of our case subsequently was Glenn Mulcaire's records showing a sequence of contacts with Clive Goodman before and after.

  • But that's not being referred to here.

  • That's not what being referred to here.

  • Can you tell us what is being referred to here?

  • Because what it might be a reference to is, putting aside Mr Goodman, there was evidence of Mulcaire phoning the News of the World, whether it's the hub number or individual journalists at the News of the World, before and after he, Mr Mulcaire, is accessing someone else's voicemail, and that's pretty good circumstantial evidence that the person at the News of the World who has been spoken to is the person who's instigated the accessing. Do you see that?

  • Yes, I do see that. I don't know what context this was written in in terms of our investigation.

  • But this is all in the context of item 9, "In terms of News of the World", you can see that, and all in the context of a discussion whether there was evidence which went beyond Goodman and Mulcaire. Do you follow that?

  • So whatever this means is that there was circumstantial evidence of accessing by Mulcaire on behalf of someone at the News of the World other than Goodman. Would you agree with that?

  • Sorry, can you say that last --

  • There was circumstantial evidence of accessing by Mulcaire at the instigation of --

  • -- people at the News of the World other than Goodman. And that is borne out by the phone records or call data, would you accept?

  • Yes. It would need further exploring.

  • Well, you had, though, Mr Williams, several pieces of information, the different categories. You had the corner names on the Mulcaire notebook, you had the call data, you had all the material in the notebook itself and you had basic common sense, if I may say so. You had more than a springboard for a case which warranted further investigation, and probably, I would suggest, the arrest for questioning of those who were the corner names in the specific cases. Would you agree with that?

  • I agree that absolutely there were more leads and things that we could have followed up. What I would have wanted to do is a more thorough investigation, exactly as we'd done with Clive Goodman and Mulcaire, but again that comes back to the decision was that we were not going to do that.

  • Can I just understand, though, we know that you took what became counts 16 to 20 to the stage of prosecution, and indeed Mr Mulcaire pleaded guilty to those and those were the five other people outside the household, including Mr Hughes, Mr Clifford, Elle Macpherson, Sky Andrew and AN Other, whose name I've forgotten. What was the evidence in those cases? Can we just understand what it was?

  • It was frequency of calls, so a high volume of frequency of calls to the unique voicemail number.

  • The duration of those calls.

  • So you could prove he was accessing?

  • So it was -- yes. And it would be the duration of the calls, which would be longer than I think 10 seconds was taken as the cut-off point.

  • That in essence I believe was the technical evidence. I don't believe any other evidence was used. In terms of then, it was then the range of victim and the area of public life that they represented.

  • To be clear, counts 16 to 20 were limited to Mulcaire, and they weren't part of the conspiracy case, they were part of the direct case under section 1 of RIPA, so no other News of the World journalist was involved as an accessory to Mulcaire. But in order to bring in other journalists as accessories to Mulcaire in those cases, counts 16 to 20, you had the corner names, didn't you?

  • Yes, we had the corner names, but they are individual names of people. More work would have had to have been done to show who they were.

  • Yes, but you only had a limited number of people at the News of the World. Did you not even ask News International to provide a list of employees and you begin to work out who the first names might be?

  • No, we didn't do that. As I said, if we were going to do that, that is a major step change in our investigation --

  • It's not changing from first to fourth gear, it's just a little change from first to second. All you need to do is -- surely News of the World would have helped to this extent; they weren't helping otherwise, I suppose: Please provide us with a list of journalists, maybe even limited to particular desks, whether the news desk or wherever?

  • To put together a criminal investigation, I wouldn't just use that one facet. There would be a whole range of questions and things that I would want to get put together to have a cogent case as to now why am I speaking to this individual. Not simply the fact that their name is -- I'm making this up -- Bill, because that's on a corner name, and they happen to be Bill someone employed in this paper. I would need more than that.

  • But what about Neville then?

  • Yes. This is where I would want to investigate the rest of the material. Because it's not just Neville or Bill, it is, as we surmised in the beginning, to what extent is this in this organisation --

  • -- whether it is just that organisation, and I would have wanted to have gone all through that material. That is a proper and professional way of carrying out a criminal investigation. It's not done piecemeal or bit by bit. It's done exhaustively, in exactly the way that actually it's being done subsequently.

  • And of course if you were proceeding against other journalists or at least building the case against other journalists, you could have done that on a sample basis. You didn't have to look at every single transaction. You could have selected your transaction and put the case to court on the basis of sample interceptions, couldn't you?

  • That's -- in terms of victims, that's what we did.

  • Yes. And if you'd broadened the investigation to include other journalists, you could have adopted that self-same approach, couldn't you?

  • We could have, but I would have wanted to have known in what was the weight of material and the evidence within that material, and who were those sample journalists, and again, in the same way, if they belonged to different organisations, I would have wanted to represent the breadth of the criminality across different media groups, if that's what that material reveals.

  • A sensible starting point, and this is clear from the document of 7 August which Mr Maberly sent to Burton Copeland, was to keep this to the News of the World -- anyway, I've put the point to you -- and enquire of the News of the World, "Just provide us with a list of the names of your journalists" and just see what that yielded. It might, for example, have demonstrated that there were no first names which corresponded with first names of the journalists on the list as proffered to you. Do you accept that?

  • The other thing to note about counts 16 to 20 is that you did not seek to prove that Mr Mulcaire had opened the envelope.

  • Yes, I understand that. That was a decision between counsel and CPS as to what those final charges were actually going to be.

  • That's, I think, the point we were looking at on the second page of counsel's note.

    There's one last point on the email, point 10:

    "They are going to contact RW today to see if she wishes to take it further."

    Again, from evidence I've seen and Lord Justice Leveson has seen, this relates to a formal complaint that RW might make in her capacity as victim. This is item 19 on the third page of the document I gave you.

  • It's not the more sinister interpretation, whether she wishes to take the investigation into News International further.

  • This is purely: you are a potential victim. Would you like to join our prosecution?

  • September 2006, Rebekah Wade, as she then was, I think, was editor of the Sun, she wasn't editor of the News of the World, she wasn't yet chief executive of News International.

    Mr Williams, Mr Hughes gave evidence yesterday as to what he was shown in October 2006. I think it was early October 2006. He wasn't shown any of the other material which related to his private numbers, his direct line at the House of Commons. Do you know why that was?

  • I wouldn't have been surprised for someone who was assisting us in a prosecution to be given an awareness of what the material was.

  • Not least because it demonstrated the extent to which his numbers had been identified and might lead him to change all of them.

  • And he wasn't of course shown the three different corner names of senior journalists which related to him, was he?

  • So he said. I don't know what he was and wasn't shown.

  • He's not likely to have been shown those because that would have been part and parcel of an enquiry which embraced the three senior journalists, but you've told us that that enquiry had ceased?

  • I don't know what he was told when he had his statement taken. I accept what he says.

  • Do you think that to interview others at the News of the World, including possibly editors, would have been a fishing expedition, as Mr Yates told Parliament?

  • My opinion is that to do a proper and professional investigation to interview anyone, it has to be done from a position of knowledge, and that in many investigations simply going and asking someone to give an explanation quite often results in "no comment", in exactly the same way in my early decision logs I could have gone and seen Mr Goodman and it is highly unlikely that we would have got very far in the investigation.

  • Are you saying that it was fear that such an arrest and interview would yield a "no comment" response which stopped you from doing it?

  • All I'm saying is the proper way to conduct an investigation is from a position of strength, and therefore I would have wanted to know everything that was available to me before I go and interview someone. Because I want to avoid that weakness.

  • But if resources are a consideration here, and one can see why they might be, although I'm not suggesting that you take shortcuts, you could take a slightly more robust approach and say, look, we've got a body of information here, there's certainly a high level of suspicion, we'll bring them in and ask them to explain it. And after all, if they don't explain it and give us "no comment", that in itself might give rise to further suspicion, mightn't it?

  • I entirely accept that that might have been a different approach. The fact is we didn't do it and we did it for a very specific reason.

  • Were you at all frustrate by Mr Clarke's decision?

  • No, I wasn't frustrated.

  • Was there any sense here that you were taking on a large and powerful organisation, News International, and that there were dangers in doing so?

  • I think with any large organisation, yes, we were aware of it in terms of a big organisation, which is why we carried out such a thorough investigation, why we sought so much advice from the CPS, in particular in terms of when it came to our arrest phase, because we wanted to be able to seize as much evidence as possible and do it in a proper and professional manner so that we could not be criticised for the way we carried out our investigation.

  • You've heard it being suggested that there was an overly close and an unhealthy relationship between elements in the police and News International. Do you think that that was a factor in stifling this investigation?

  • I don't think it was a factor at all.

  • Because I have worked -- ultimately the decision was Mr Clarke's and I have worked with him since 2004. He is the most professional man that I've ever worked for, and I have absolute confidence in his integrity. I totally agreed with his decision-making. We were all acutely aware of the very difficult decisions that ultimately he would have to make and the rationale for it, and I do agree with it. And no one in my team had any contact with any of the newspapers, and I can assure you at no time in that investigation was it ever an issue, did we ever discuss it, did it ever influence the direction that we went in with that investigation.

  • Some might say that part of the reason, at least, why the victims weren't notified in a proper way was that there was a fear that, were that to happen, this would enter the public domain more explosively, cause a furore, and then force you, by that process, to carry out an investigation which you didn't really want to do. Is that a fair observation or not?

  • It's not. I understand that's what's being said now, but I can assure you that was absolutely not the intention. I wanted to make this as public as possible, and the most obvious way of doing that is through a prosecution. If I hadn't have wanted to have done it, I could have stopped this investigation much earlier, but that was absolutely not my intention. It was to secure a prosecution, to make this very public, and actually in the wider and the long term, to make it absolutely clear what the risks were and how to prevent it.

  • But regardless of the rights and wrongs of the decision that was taken, why didn't you speak to those very high up at News International, whoever you chose to speak to, and give them a warning that your suspicions were that this was going on beyond Goodman and Mulcaire, and that they needed, as it were, to sort this out and clean up their act, at the very least? Why didn't you do that?

  • I didn't think to specifically do that. I -- if I think of your question and look back, I feel we made it abundantly clear what our understanding was and what our suspicions were in terms of the requests that we made to them. I'm sure they were well aware of what it was that we suspected, and given that ultimately a member of their senior management team resigned on the basis of what we'd found, I would have expected any senior management in an organisation to question why had that happened and to understand exactly what had gone on.

  • When you heard News International making public statements to the effect that this was one rogue reporter, you must have been very angry, Mr Williams, because you knew full well that that was highly unlikely to be the case, weren't you?

  • I was just realistic in the sense of that is an organisation, like many organisations, looking to protect their reputation, but I was well aware that they knew what we had found through the prosecution and what our suspicions were.

  • But to go to them, even for a relatively short meeting, and really read the riot act, or however you might choose to do it, don't you think in retrospect that that would have been a good idea, because then the stables might have been cleaned out and the public statements which were uttered might not have been made? Do you see that?

  • I do see what you're saying, and ...

  • Did the possibility of doing that ever pass through your mind?

  • No. But mainly because I believed we were making this very clear as to what we'd found, through a public prosecution.

  • And you were telling us that you were getting letters from Burton Copeland.

  • But those letters you didn't believe, though, did you? You thought that News International were not co-operating with you?

  • I had no evidence that it was untrue. That is a very -- I can speculate all I like. As an investigator, a criminal investigator, I work on evidence, and I know the lengths that I would have to go to to get that evidence.

  • I'm going to move on now just to deal briefly with what happened before the Select Committee, and then what happened in 2009 with Mr Yates. I'd like to think that I could keep that to half an hour after lunch and then certainly deal with Mr Surtees. Do you mind breaking at this point?

  • No, that's fine, but let me just ask you to focus back on your original idea, way was to take all necessary steps to prevent abuse of the telephone system. Right back at the beginning, that's what you wanted to do.

  • Now, that might involve two steps, mightn't it? One step would be to ensure that everybody who was or may have been a target was modified, and also to ensure that a reputable organisation had taken every single appropriate step to investigate itself how what had happened had come to happen.

    That doesn't necessarily involve you in a great deal of work. It could involve anybody telling people, it could involve comparatively short contact. But it may be that you got overtaken by other events, but don't you think that -- or do you think that to fulfil that original requirement really did require you to think back and to take these additional steps?

  • I did think that I had achieved my original requirement, both in terms of making those that might be vulnerable to this aware, by the changing in the measures and through this very public prosecution. I do understand the point of your asking me did I think to go and actually speak to the senior executives in News of the World. No, I didn't. But the reason is not because I was avoiding anything. Actually, I thought I'd already done that, had made it very clear, not just to them, but to any other organisation that might be engaged in this, that might want to consider are we also doing this.

    That was the whole purpose. It was to show people: if you are doing this, whoever you are and wherever you are, actually it is clearly criminally wrong, and you'll go to prison, and if you're an organisation that knows that you seek information and you should be thinking to yourselves, "I wonder if we've got any vulnerabilities? -- that's what we do as a learning organisation in the police. I don't necessarily expect someone to come and tell me that I should do that, and actually, I may be wrong, but I'm not aware in -- either I've not done it and I'm not aware of my fellow investigators having actually gone and done this in senior companies. I know in frauds, then, but that's more in terms of vulnerabilities of a system as opposed to actually something being wrong in the organisation. That's usually demonstrated through the prosecution of people.

  • Let me ask you whether you think that Mr Justice Gross had the full picture when he sentenced Goodman and Mulcaire without at least understanding the extent to which Mr Mulcaire was involved in collecting this sort of data, even if it hadn't yet revealed criminal offences, on an industrial basis?

  • It's not for me to present how the case was presented, and it is actually the irony and the sadness for the first time I dearly wish they had pleaded not guilty because the prosecution case had been put together with all of this material, all the material, a lot of it that you're talking about, it would have been tested in court and it would have been plain to see. That's actually what we were preparing for. So I believe --

  • You see, when one talks about £12,300, it doesn't really start to give the flavour of what was going on, does it?

  • No, but we did present -- or counsel -- it's not my responsibility to ultimately how that case is presented --

  • I'm not trying to blame you.

  • I'm merely trying to look back on where we are and where we've got to and how we've got to where we are.

  • You're right, £12,000 sounds a paltry amount, but if you remember in that case conference I was actually exploring what I realised is a two-year sentence, he's not going to get two years. At that stage, we didn't even know if there would a be prison sentence, and I'm thinking how can we demonstrate that actually -- and make people think that this really is going to threaten them if they're doing this, and that's why with the restraint orders I was saying, "He's been paid all this money. If he's bought a house over a number of years, can we seize that as part of asset confiscation?" All these things were discussed, but legally, quite rightly, because we have to follow the law, I -- or the prosecution would have to show the direct link between that earning and the case we had, and the case we prosecuted could only show those monies.

    So, yes, we did think about it and the scale.

  • Well, very good. 2 o'clock. Thank you.

  • (The luncheon adjournment)

  • Two things before we start. First of all, I understand that the web streaming has failed, in the sense that it is not available contemporaneously with the evidence. Having regard to the pressure of time, we will carry on. I am assured, first of all, that the problem will be corrected, secondly that the evidence is being recorded, and thirdly that it will be up and running quickly. Certainly I have no doubt that all the evidence will be available for those who want to see it at the end of the day.

    The second issue that I'll mention now is that I understand an error was made in relation to tomorrow morning, suggesting that we were starting at 9.30. Whereas I am entirely comfortable with that as a proposition, that's not the intention and we shall start as usual at 10 o'clock.

    Right.

  • Just a short point, Mr Williams. You gave evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee sitting next to Mr Yates on 2 September 2009. Do you recall that occasion?

  • Mr Yates said -- and if you need to see it, I can show it to you:

    "The collective belief is that there were then and there remain now insufficient grounds for evidence to arrest or interview anyone else."

    Ignoring what the position might have been in 2009, but going back to 2006, was that your view?

  • Insufficient grounds to arrest or interview anyone else?

  • Yes, because I would have wanted to have done more work to reach that position.

  • With great respect, that doesn't answer the question. I'm sorry, Mr Williams. You may very well want to do more work --

  • I believed -- I'm sorry, sir.

  • That's not the issue. The issue was: was there prima facie evidence upon which you could reasonably conclude that an offence had been committed by someone whom you could reasonably identify?

  • I didn't believe there was enough grounds to arrest.

  • Move forward to 2009. The article in the Guardian was 8 July 2009, and on 9 July, at the instance of the then Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, Mr Yates, then Assistant Commissioner, was asked to do a review. There's debate as to what exactly it was. Can I ask you, please, how long did that exercise take before Mr Yates gave his statement that afternoon?

  • I believe he started in the morning, early in the morning, and I understand he gave that statement late in the afternoon, about 5 o'clock, so throughout the day.

  • Can I ask you, please, what role you took in relation to that exercise? Did you speak with him that day?

  • I think on and off. I was with him for most of the day, starting in the morning, giving him an explanation of what we had done in the investigation.

  • Did you show Mr Yates any documents?

  • The documents that were produced I showed him my informing potential victim strategy, I showed him a copy of the indictment, and that was it, because we didn't have any other documents on that date. Sorry, there was another short briefing document.

  • On the basis of that, Mr Yates said that there was no new evidence which would justify reopening the investigation; is that correct?

  • Were you seeking to persuade him that that was the position?

  • I just gave an explanation of exactly what we'd done and the position we had reached. I was just explaining to him exactly what we had done.

  • But in a very succinct and editorialised way, you were giving him a snapshot picture of what your investigation had established, and he then put that in the public domain at about 5.00 in the afternoon; is that right?

  • Can I ask you, please, to look at file 4 of this bundle, tab 160, which is 03914, which is a briefing that you prepared for Mr Yates in relation to Operation Caryatid. Do you recall that?

  • It was you and Mr Surtees who prepared it. It's dated 12 July, which was a Sunday.

  • But Mr Yates had given his statement already at 5 pm on 9 July, so by definition Mr Yates didn't have the benefit of this document, did he?

  • What was the point of preparing the document at all?

  • Because I had provided a verbal briefing of what had happened, and I wanted over the weekend to document in writing, so that he had the benefit of exactly what the case had been about.

  • So does this contain in the same detail as your oral briefing to Mr Yates that which you told him on 9 July, or does it provide further and additional details?

  • It may well include additional detail, particularly when it goes into quoting figures, because then we had retrieved the investigative documents from storage and so I would have been able to do that. On the day, I would -- of 9 July, I would have been doing it to the best of my ability of my memory.

  • Can I ask you, please, just a couple of points on this document, now I understand the purpose of it. Paragraph 15, which is the third page of the document, page 1000 on the internal numbering. Maybe we can start with the last sentence of 14:

    "On some there are names which probably relate to journalists and cash sums."

    This is a reference to the corner names, isn't it?

  • Yes. I seem to -- can you just read that out. It's slightly different. Are you reading from paragraph 15?

  • It's the last sentence of paragraph 14.

  • Oh sorry, yes. Forgive me.

  • Is that a reference to the corner names, what we're now calling the corner names?

  • I should probably read out, in fairness, the previous sentence:

    "In many there is simply the name of a celebrity or well-known figure, in others there is more detail with names, addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers, DDNs, passwords, PIN numbers and scribblings of private information."

    So that was the picture you were giving Mr Yates. Then paragraph 15:

    "It should be noted that no evidence existed to suggest that those possible journalists detailed on these sheets had knowledge of the illegal methods undertaken to supply these stories. However, it should be pointed out that in one of the recordings recovered from Mulcaire it is clear Mulcaire is giving instruction to an unknown person (possibly a journalist) on the telephone ..."

    So in this document the corner names are probably relating to journalists, is that right?

  • Aren't you putting it far too low when you say in paragraph 15 "no evidence existed to suggest that those possible journalists detailed on these sheets had knowledge of the illegal methods undertaken to supply these stories"?

  • I don't believe so. I don't believe that I had any evidence which would show that they actually knew what was going on.

  • Oh, Mr Williams, come on. The Mulcaire document was replete with tons of data.

  • In terms of those journalists, those names, whoever they were, in terms of me approaching them as an investigator, where is the evidence, I'm asking myself, to show that they knew exactly what he was doing? Yes, my supposition is they're tasking him with information and he may well be giving it back, but I didn't have evidence of what he was being tasked with and what he was giving back. That's what I believed.

  • But just putting that together or reassembling it, Mr Mulcaire's whole modus operandi was hacking into voicemails, wasn't it?

  • Largely, yes, but at the time I was open to he could be doing any number of other things. I know now, as a result of everything, everyone shows that, but --

  • But in relation to this notebook and the 11,000 pages, it's all part of a completely coherent picture that this is a man who is hacking into voicemails. This is his sole way of being, his industrial activity. That's what he lives for, to hack into voicemails, isn't it?

  • I know we know that now. At the time my genuine belief was yes he's doing that, definitely, but he may well be doing a raft of other things.

  • But isn't it likely, Mr Williams, that Mr Mulcaire, whoever the person is he's speaking to, who's organised this, tells that person, "I've listened to celebrity X's voicemail and this is what I can tell you is on the voicemail." Isn't that at least a plausible picture?

  • It is a plausible picture, but I have no evidence of that to put before a court.

  • Well, it depends how you define circumstantial evidence, doesn't it? Because you acknowledge that there is circumstantial evidence, or somebody acknowledged, as recorded by Mr Crone, that there was circumstantial evidence, and you and I both know that many, many criminal cases are pursued solely on the basis of circumstantial evidence, which, taken together, can be extremely strong, and indeed stronger than some direct evidence.

    You said to me before lunch that if you were going to investigate further, you would have wanted to do a lot more work. Here you're saying there's no point in doing any other work because there's no evidence to suggest that anything else has gone wrong. Now I ask you whether that's really your evidence.

  • I believed -- what I've written here is my genuine belief, that I would have needed a lot more to be able to take that case forward. I'm not trying in any way to hide anything from Mr Yates or distort the truth.

  • There's another document which was probably prepared for the same sort of purpose, tab 168, which is 03938, this time dated 16 July. I'll give you time to look at it.

  • But again, was this a -- designed, as it were, after the event for Mr Yates to consider?

  • Yes. Mr Yates is being asked a whole series of questions, and he's asking me to articulate in writing some of the thinking behind the investigation.

  • Thank you. On the second page of this document, the fourth bullet point, you say:

    "All of the above was not a decision that I made in isolation. Throughout, this investigation had the highest oversight at all times."

    Is that a reference to Mr Clarke or to anybody else?

  • It's all my senior management, and -- yes, up to Mr Clarke, and obviously when the investigation became public, I know those briefings went higher in my organisation.

  • To Mr Hayman; is that right?

  • Was he briefed earlier than 8 August 2006?

  • "The potential breadth/scale of what may or may not be out there was fully discussed together with what resources might have been required to even begin exploring that. There was no appetite to expand the investigation ..."

    What is that a reference to?

  • I believe this is purely that decision around resources, because of the conflicting operations.

  • But you've gone further, because you don't think there's an evidential basis to expand it.

  • It may be my lacking, sir, and I apologise, but I --

  • Well, I personally -- this is my personal belief as an investigator, and maybe others will judge my threshold is too high, but given my experience of investigations and presenting a case before a court, I obviously have a personal higher threshold than others as to what I believe in terms of the right thing to do in terms of reasonable ground before I start depriving other people of their liberty.

    I do understand that you are arguing to me that there is a lower threshold and I could have arrested and interviewed.

  • No, or you could have investigated. You could go back to do that which you said you would have wanted to do had you had the time and it was appropriate use of resource. But what you're now presenting is a decision that there's nothing else to do. Actually, what you were saying to me before lunch was there was a great deal you could have done, but for very understandable reasons, and I'm not challenging that reasoning, but for very understandable reasons, you didn't feel it was appropriate to go there. I'm really trying to understand.

  • No, I see what you're saying. I've written this at a time -- I'm writing this in the point of view I'm thinking of it in my head as the evidence I didn't have in my mind of what I would have needed to take that investigation forward, and if I've created the wrong impression, I've created the wrong impression. It was not done intentionally. I'm trying to provide a briefing to my senior officer as genuinely as possible as to what we did and what we didn't do then. I'm saying I haven't made these decisions -- I accept I'm responsible, I was the SIO, no question about that, but I haven't done it in isolation, I have briefed and talked to a whole range of people and I always do that for the purpose of taking advice and talking things through. Ultimately my decision as SIO where we go with that -- in the parameters I've been given with the investigation. I understand what you're saying, but I was not doing anything here to mislead or create a false impression.

  • Before you wrote this briefing for Mr Yates, had you read the material that the Guardian had published?

  • I'd seen what they'd written in the original investigation, yes, and it was material that we, the police, had all released in terms of Mr Taylor's private prosecution, and again, maybe it's the wrong perception, my feeling was that they were very much saying we were trying to hide something, so my -- that's my impression from the coverage, and I'm trying to say there was absolutely no intention to hide anything. And this is what I'm trying to articulate to Mr Yates.

  • Mr Yates gave a statement on 9 July, it's the one I referred to given about 5 pm.

  • Did you have any hand in the preparation of that statement?

  • I did see it. We'd all contributed in terms of the background to that statement. He would have prepared that in conjunction with our department of DPA.

  • The statement says:

    "Their potential targets ..."

    Obviously Goodman and Mulcaire?

  • "... may have run into hundreds of people [this is tab 94 and the 418] but our enquiries showed that they only used the tactic against a far smaller number of individuals."

    Was that a correct statement?

  • It was from my perspective of what would constitute an interception. I totally understand that there is a different view on that now.

  • Can I just take that in stages? If one includes everyone whose phone had been accessed, regardless of whether or not it was before the intended recipient had listened to the message --

  • -- was that a correct statement?

  • I believed it was a correct statement, because in my mindset it's about the people -- I'm thinking about the people that had been intercepted in terms of our prosecution. I understand in my victim strategy that I was looking to inform a wider pool of people, and potentially unknown group of people.

  • Because it's a positive statement here:

    "Our enquiries showed that they only used the tactic against a far smaller number of individuals."

    In fact it's not quite the right way of putting it, that had you done further enquiries, it might have shown or demonstrated that the tactic had been used far more widely.

  • Yes. And there is a completely unknown. We actually don't know who has actually suffered from this at all.

  • But go back to my bank robbery analogy again. We do know that there were many, many more who were the victims of a conspiracy to intercept their messages. Whether it's a RIPA conspiracy or merely a Computer Misuse Act conspiracy. We're not talking now about sentence, you're not prosecuting anybody. We're simply talking about criminality.

  • Yes, and I understand that, and you're asking me about this document and why I wrote it, and you're picking on, yes, particular expressions that I've used. What I'm trying to explain, I've written this from the memory -- yes, and from the reviewing over the case, but from the mindset of my case and what I was trying to do, and I know now quietly there's a different perspective on what a victim would be and that it's far more wide-reaching. I understand that.

  • Then the statement carries on:

    "Where there was clear evidence that people had potentially been the subject of tapping, they were all contacted by the police."

    Was that accurate or not?

  • Well, it's not -- not all people, because of course I believe -- strictly speaking it's not accurate because actually we did a particular group of people, the police, as I've outlined, and as I believed, the other people were being dealt with by the mobile phone companies.

  • Because the group you took it upon yourself to contact were those in the four categories, the MPs.

  • And only those where you had evidence that their phones had in fact been intercepted and not, therefore, those who had been potentially the subject of tapping. Do you see the difference?

  • I do see the difference. Yes, I do.

  • Mr Yates told Parliament, I think in April 2011 -- we'll look at the document with him tomorrow -- that 36 people in that category were contacted by the police. Is that about right?

  • I think if you're talking the period 2005 to 2006?

  • Sorry, you're right, it's 28 plus 8 equals 36, and the 8 may not be in those four categories, okay.

  • But that's more than the far smaller number of individuals, is it, that you're referring to earlier? Because you say "our enquiries show that they used the tactic against a far smaller number of individuals". Were you intending to refer just to 28 or what number were you intending to refer to?

  • Do you mind if I have a look at that document?

  • Yes, of course. Let me hand this to you. I printed it off the Internet. It's the one I've highlighted. (Handed).

  • Thank you very much. (Pause).

    My intention to convey to him is there may be many hundreds of people here, potential people, as we've said here. That is unknown. In terms of my investigation, our enquiry to the tactics, yes, okay, I see the word "tactics". Now we're reanalysing the words.

  • I'm afraid we only read words, Mr Williams.

  • No, you're absolutely right. I can see the interpretation. I'm thinking the actual from the point of view of actual intercept, as I would have thought about it, was a far smaller group than many hundreds, in which case I would have had in mind that smaller group.

  • I understand now what you're saying, yes.

  • Those are all the questions I have for you, Mr Williams. There are other witnesses who will fill in other pieces of evidence as we proceed this afternoon.

  • Mr Williams, I don't want you to misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that you have been involved in some inappropriate relationship which has caused you personally to backtrack on an investigation. But I am sure you will understand the concern that decisions taken in the heat of the terrible events of 2006 -- and I'm not now talking about the arrest with which we've been concerned, but the other work of your department -- are very readily understandable. But it's quite difficult to translate some of those perfectly legitimate decisions into a construct where we now know the facts from the documents -- I'm not talking about what Ms Akers and Weeting have produced -- and say that, well, there was nothing there at all.

    The risk is not that I'm challenging you about words, and I take your point, but that people might perceive that your reaction to these issues -- and I'm talking about your collective reaction, I'm not talking to you personally --

  • -- encourages inappropriate inferences to be drawn. Do you understand what I'm saying?

  • So it's that that is the concern that I have to address, because it is critical that the public have confidence in the police. I know that as much as if not more than anybody. But, of course, the consequence of an approach that may be justified for one reason and then justified again for a slightly different reason is that if it becomes unpicked, you have to start from scratch, which of course is exactly what's had to happen.

  • And that itself has public interest consequences.

  • Absolutely.

    Can I make a comment, sir?

  • That's precisely what I was prepared to invite you to do.

  • Thank you, sir. What I'd like to say, and I know we talked about for lunch, I really would like to assure you sir that that original investigation with my team, and we were working with our senior management, and yes, Mr Clarke from my perspective was that threshold, we absolutely put a lot of effort into that investigation, with the best of intentions, and we were absolutely not influenced by any of the things that have been suggested and what your Inquiry is about, which I think is entirely right and proper.

    When it comes to 2009, and I've thought about this, is with Mr Yates, he from my perspective was in the invidious position -- and I've had an insight into the role of Assistant Commissioner now -- he is basically inheriting, if you like, an investigation that he had nothing to do with. It was a hugely complex investigation, as you've seen. I know a lot about it. And I am trying to get him to understand the ins and outs of that investigation, and he is trying to take all that on board. These briefing documents were part of that process.

    Again, in my workings with him, I've not worked with him directly before, but I saw nothing or heard nothing that made me think that we -- that there was anything wrong going on here, that we were looking to hide anything. He was looking at an investigation that was four years old. I briefed him and over the period I believe he was genuinely seeking to understand what had happened and make proportionate decisions.

    I just want to assure you that I've seen nothing that makes me think that there is anything other than a genuine desire to do a proper investigation and to keep the public informed about what's going on.

  • Do you think that your reaction in 2009 -- the police reaction, I'm not talking about you --

  • -- was just too quick? That rather more ought to have been done, so that a far broader analysis of the nuanced position -- which you had from your decision logs, it's all there -- before Mr Yates went out snap?

  • I agree in hindsight --

  • I'm not so sure that necessarily should be in hindsight, but anyway --

  • Well, no, from a position now I can see, and I think Mr Yates has said it, at the time what it felt like was that everybody was saying that this was a conspiracy and we'd hidden it, and actually I believe what we were trying to say: that's absolutely not the case here. But in doing that, I agree with you, perhaps we could have just paused for a moment and thought: is it just that? Because we -- in a sense to me it felt we were reacting to the fact that someone was saying we'd hidden something and I knew we had absolutely not hidden anything, and in hindsight, yes, if we had paused, maybe there would have been a different approach. We all learn.

  • Because the consequence of going out as you did go out is to feed and fuel the concern that you have hidden something which only now is all coming out. That's the consequence. I'm not saying you intended to do that, but I just felt it was important to give you the opportunity to comment upon that.

  • I believe I have, and I thank you, sir, for that opportunity.

  • Thank you, Mr Williams.

  • We'll move on now to our next witness, who is Mr Surtees, please.