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

  • Can I just make some supplementary submissions in that case?

    I don't touch, sir, if I may say so, on issues of abuse or potential abuse or contempt. It's premature at this stage. What may happen, we simply don't know, and how that may be viewed, we also simply don't know.

    I'm more concerned with the practicalities now, and the practicalities are that there are likely to be a number of people in a position who, like my client, possibly some who may not be like my client, who want to help, but find that the restrictions being placed upon them make it difficult for them to assist.

    For example, I have previously raised the fundamental importance of having documents and contextual documents from which to inform my client in relation to any topics that she is asked. There is clearly now a suggestion -- and I don't criticise this, but it obviously has practical ramifications, that if someone in my client's position does not have such documents, she or someone in that position is going to be substantially hamstrung before they even start to try and assist. That is a practical difficulty.

  • Well, the practical difficulties for your client, as I understand what you say, however anxious she is to help, are far more fundamental than that, because she has her own position to consider.

  • She may have a very strong view as to what happened or didn't happen, or what is right or isn't right, but at the end of the day, she will be advised as to what's sensible for her to do and what's not. That's why I -- what I would be grateful for your views on are not the practical problems which you've actually set out in your submissions, but the approach that I have just suggested to Mr Garnham.

  • The macroscopic and microscopic approaches, we have no difficulties with that as an approach. The difficulty is that the macroscopic approach involves a broad consideration, for example whether at different levels of the organisation the activity was encouraged or condoned in any way, or whether that activity was confined to a more junior level. If it was, whether that amounted to a lack of supervision by supervisors or not.

  • It may be that all I have to do -- this is what I was rather suggesting to Mr Garnham. I actually was very keen to ask Mr Caplan the question, that may be sufficient, might is not, for my consideration of those topics that I must cover in part one of this Inquiry?

  • Even those macroscopic topics cover precisely the area of, as I understand it, the various police investigations.

  • Of course they do, but if I am not going to ask questions as to whether -- for example -- your client knew this, that or the other. If I'm not going to -- if it's not necessarily for me to go down that route, then I won't need to ask the question; will I?

  • That's why we ask, as the conclusion of our submission, whether there are some lines drawn in terms of what is going to be asked and is not going to be asked.

  • Well, I'll be drawing lines.

  • I understand that, but it's a question of having notice of those lines in advance rather than having to meet them on the hoof.

  • I understand the point, but one of the things I'll have to consider is whether on this topic -- I mean we're talking about hacking.

  • Whether on the topic of hacking, in the present state of the nation, including the police investigation and what else I otherwise know, and what inferences I can otherwise draw, it's necessary for your client to give evidence at all I'll have to consider that, or Mr Jay will consider it.

  • It's an area that we have specifically raised.

  • It's interesting, your submission initially to become a core participant was that your client was so heavily involved, therefore she's bound to be the subject of intense scrutiny and therefore ought to be a core participant. Now --

  • My Lord, I don't resile from that. That remains the position. The difficulty that is now layered upon that is the approach being taken in terms of her ability to deal with things and also the public perception.

    For example, I raise this in the context, and it's not specific to her, but in the context of raising the privilege against self-incrimination. I deal with this, in fact --

  • I've seen what you've said.

  • It's paragraphs 21 and 22 and 27 and 28. The difficulty, of course, arises that she, in common with a number of others, is going to be, if giving evidence, going to be giving evidence in the full glare of live TV, and therefore the raising of that right is itself in many ways a self-defeating proposition --

  • I don't accept that it's self-defeating. I understand the point, but if I'm not going to be specific with the way in which the evidence is put before the Inquiry, then I can hardly be specific with the witnesses who are giving evidence.

  • Well, that I am reassured by, but I have to say, sir, that up until today we had not quite understood that to be the position.

  • I'm not so sure about that.

  • If you go back to the questions that were raised in the notice in August, it's pretty clear that those questions are specific.

  • Of course they are, and you shouldn't be at all surprised about that, but that's not to say that I am constrained by the questions that were asked in the notice in relation to what I adduce by way of evidence to the Inquiry. It's pointless not asking the specifics, because one doesn't know what answers one is going to receive.

  • The danger then arises is in relation to questions posed of others, where they touch upon her position, quite what happens.

  • The same is going to be so for everybody. That's the point. That's precisely the problem.

    If I can't descend into who -- and I don't want to descend into who did what to whom, as I have now made my mantra, then inevitably there is a knock on. What is important is that everybody understands the knock on, but nobody has yet suggested that I can't do the job notwithstanding that knock on.

  • I'm not suggesting that either.

  • That's what's critically important.

  • What I am suggesting is that those -- while everyone may be affected by that general proposition, there is a category of persons, of whom my client is one, who are in a peculiarly vulnerable position at the moment.

  • Well, Mr Chawla, I hope I have demonstrated that I understand that.

  • No, I'm conscious of --

  • I understand why you repeat it, and I'm not being critical of you, but I am acutely conscious, but that won't necessarily -- do you suggest that that impacts on other parts of the Inquiry?

  • The difficulty at the moment, sir, is I don't know, because unless we know -- for example -- what the different witnesses are saying, both whether giving evidence or submitting or, and this will touch on anonymous witnesses as well, whether, for example, allegations are being made. To go back to something that Mr Jay raised at the beginning of this month, whether you, sir, are entitled, and if so how you are entitled, to deal with any concern raised based upon suspicion, these are all questions about which I'm not yet clear.

  • Well, suspicions are one thing. If I am not going to do who did what to whom but I am concerned about risks that require to be regulated, then the position of individuals may become less significant.

  • Sir, to go back to what you have previously said. This may simply be a question of the granularity of this.

  • Quite whether one goes -- how far one goes in respect of an individual. I have to say I am -- I thought it right to air the concern that we have in the way that we hope will be most helpful to the Inquiry.

  • As I said, I am prepared to receive them and I was prepared to listen to you as well.