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

  • Sir, I am always attracted by the search for a practical solution, and I note your interchange with Mr Garnham.

    May I enquire when you've had the chance to look at the judgment of Mr Justice Vos on 18 March, this year.

  • Which touches on some of the issues which concern us.

    If I may alight just on a couple of points without labouring the matter. He dealt with a public interest immunity objection by the police which he rejected. He gives us there a background chronology, which of course is in the public domain and well-known to your Lordship. The judgment is not paginated, but that starts at paragraph 33.

  • Sir, I think to link this would be the journal we've been talking about, and the journal is of course Mr Mulcaire's notebook.

  • What was before Mr Justice Grace in January 2007 were 20 counts on the indictment, the first 15 were the conspiracy counts which covered both Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman, and they related to the interception of the voicemail messages of three members of the royal household.

    The evidence was in relation to that that Mr Goodman himself, on occasion, accessed the relevant voicemails.

    Then of particular interest to us, since it may span the breadth of the Inquiry, counts 16 to 20, which covered the five non-royal victims, where Mr Goodman was not on the indictment.

    The individuals concerned were Mr Taylor, Mr Andrew, Ms Macpherson, two others.

    Of course, it is of interest to know, if it be the case, who was it within News International who was involved with Mr Mulcaire in relation to those interceptions. The material before Mr Justice Grace was necessarily limited, although his Lordship pointed out in his judgment that there were others involved, and I'll be referring you to that in more detail when I come to open the case in two weeks' time.

    There is evidence I've seen in the Mulcaire notebook which may provide the answers to those questions.

  • It's for that reason, when, sir, you referred to the individuals in News International who have been given a code, if we can know the identity of those individuals and then they will be placed in the public domain only with a cypher or code, subject to your view as to what is appropriate. Because you need to know the length and the breadth of this unlawful activity and the more individuals we have within News International --

  • Of course, and therefore there's a point to be made that they are identified, albeit that I make an order that their identification should not enter the public domain for any purposes.

  • Not that I will then make a finding that a particular person, X, Y, Z, did this, that or the other, because I won't, but in order to get the picture right. So I need not only to know a name, but, I accept, broad bands: casual worker, whatever. I'm not trying to do it on the hoof.

  • Yes. These names have been called "corner names", inasmuch as they typically appear on the top left-hand corner of the relevant page of the Mulcaire notebook. And where they do appear, they don't appear in every case; there is a first name only, but it may be possible to deduce from the first name what the full name might be. It's not, frankly, that difficult an exercise. But insofar as this will enter the public domain, subject to your final conclusion, there will only be a cypher.

    Certain information is already, however, in the public domain. I'm not going to read it out, but may I just alight, if I may, on paragraph 43 of Mr Justice Vos' judgment.

  • There's reference there to an individual within News International.

  • I don't want to be too coy about it. This judgment is a publicly available judgment and if you rule that I can read it out, I will provide it, but on the other hand I don't want to appear to be sensationalist in any way.

  • But there are names in the public domain, there's no question.

  • There are other names as well, as Mr Justice Vos points out, a little bit later on in his judgment. Paragraph 81 --

  • Yes. I've seen that, but it may be, and this is something which will obviously have to be considered, that what is the rule for good reason in relation to some actually should apply to all, whether or not their names have previously entered the public domain.

  • Yes, sir, that may be right.

    What Mr Justice Vos did was he made an order, as he said, in order to protect the integrity of the police investigation and privacy rights, that the hitherto unrevealed names of suspects would be cyphered. We learn that from paragraph 85, from his Lordship's conclusion at paragraph 133.

    So what was under contemplation, although the full scale of this is not altogether clear at the moment, is that there were at least five other News of the World journalists who might have been involved.

    I say "might have been involved" since their mere identification as a corner name on Mr Mulcaire's notebook page would not provide conclusive proof, it would provide an inference, and would be a matter for you in due course, in the light of that and other evidence, to assess what inferences may appropriately be drawn.

  • As a matter of generality.

  • As a matter of generality, indeed, applying one's common sense.

    So what we are seeking by way of a possible practical solution to gain insight into the length and breadth of this, and indeed by cypher the individuals within News of the World who may be inculpated in this unlawful activity, is the sort of evidence, the sort of material which you discussed, sir, with Mr Garnham.

  • It could be provided to the Inquiry team on a full basis, as it were, but it would then be provided to the world at large on a cypher basis, and indeed can be probably quite shortly analysed and then synthesised by me in my opening submissions so that you have the picture in a nutshell.

    I wish to emphasise to you strongly that in part one of the Inquiry we're not just looking at phone hacking.

  • The danger is, because it was the trigger for the setting up of this Inquiry, that we focus on that to the exclusion of all else. What we are concerned with is the culture and practice and the ethics of the press. We are looking at the full range and the good, the bad and the ugly. It would be wrong just to look at the alleged bad practices of the press; that would be one-sided and inappropriate.

    There are, having read the substantial body of press evidence, numerous witnesses who say, "Our culture, our practice and our ethics are good", and that evidence will be presented to you and you will have to consider it. But, on the other hand, there is other evidence to suggest that culture, practices and ethics are not so good, and we're not just looking at phone hacking, we're looking at a range of activities.

  • Yes, and it's likely to be different across different areas of work.

  • In the sense that in real life, not everybody is black and evil or wrong, and not everybody is white.

  • Yes. It may be that there is a lot of grey here.

    But we are focusing primarily on methods which are either illegal, but that applies to few of the methods under consideration, but certainly phone hacking is plainly legal, or unethical or sailing close to the wind and/or in breach of the code, and there are a range of activities which fall under those rubrics which you will be asked to consider, and in respect of which there is no ongoing police investigations and you will hear general evidence about.

  • Yes. I ought to make it clear when I mean everything is black and everything is white in one organisation.

  • Yes.

    You have been told that there may be other evidence out there. I'm not going to refer to that other evidence. It was touched on in Mr Garnham's 26 October submissions. I make no submissions about it, but whether it really is necessary for that evidence to be considered is going to be a matter for you in the light of the ongoing police investigation.

    The critical evidence on the phone hacking issue may well all be contained in the Mulcaire journal and the inferences which may properly be --

  • Well, and the Operation Motorman.

  • Yes, that's a separate -- yes. To be absolutely clear, that is going to be considered in some detail, since we have a mass of evidence from Mr Thomas, who has greatly assisted the Inquiry, and possibly evidence from one other witness. So we'll be looking at that at an early stage, since chronologically it probably pre-dates the phone hacking, but some aspects of phone interception, of course, are quite old. One has in mind the interception of the Prince of Wales' phone, which took place in 1989, and which is fully in the public domain, and which is a criminal offence under the 1985 Act.

    So, in the old biblical proverb, there's nothing new under the sun. All we see is manifestations, as technology advances, of people using different and sometimes more sophisticated means of subterfuge, but the ultimate issue is the subterfuge and unlawful or unethical means to achieve what some people say are unlawful or unethical ends.

  • Some may be, sometimes they may be, sometimes they may not be. That's the problem, isn't it?

  • The great tension between the role that investigative journalists legitimately play in the public interest and trying to create a line between that and going beyond that which is obviously legal, but beyond that which exceeds the bounds of appropriate journalistic activity.

  • Yes. I'm deeply conscious of that issue in particular, and it's going to be set out in some detail in my opening submissions to the Inquiry, which now will be given in exactly 14 days' time, but unless you have any questions of me now, there's nothing more I want to say --

  • No. Thank you very much. Thank you for the note that you prepared and, indeed, all counsel for the notes they prepared, because it has allowed this analysis to proceed much more quickly.

    Mr Garnham, this started as your application, so I'm prepared to give you a final word if there's anything you want to say.

  • There's nothing I want to say on that, sir, although I want to address you on the question of anonymous evidence.

  • We'll deal with that slightly differently. I'm very conscious that I didn't give the shorthand writer a break. (Pause)

    The other topic that I raised was the question of anonymous evidence that might be provided from a number of persons who have written to the Inquiry on that basis.

    Since then, as I have indicated, I shall be making the National Union of Journalists a core participant, and it may very well be the journalists will feel able to communicate with their union, or with the national union in any event, and it may be that evidence will be forthcoming which will be based upon sources which a journalist is unprepared to identify, so it comes back the other way, quite apart from those who come directly to the Inquiry.

    If anybody wants to make any submissions, I think, Mr Jay, you'd probably better start on this topic, if there's anything you want to say in addition to that which you've already said.