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

  • LORD JOHN ARTHUR STEVENS (sworn).

  • First of all, your full name?

  • Thank you. You have provided the Inquiry with a witness statement dated 27 February 2012. You've signed and dated it and there's a standard statement of truth. Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry?

  • I say to you as I said to Lord Condon: thank you very much indeed for the obvious enormous work that you've put into it.

  • Lord Stevens, in terms of your career, you joined the service in October 1962. You remained there for the next 23 years, rose to the rank of Detective Chief Superintendent, and then you took, if I can describe it in these terms, a legal interregnum. You came back, however, but transferred to Hampshire and then Cambridge. At that stage, you were appointed head of the police inquiry into Northern Ireland, in particular, the issues of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries, the British security forces there and the RUC, and those are reports which are known as Stevens 1, 2 and 3. It's a 20-year investigation, and parts of that are still ongoing.

    In 1991, you became Chief Constable of Northumbria, where you remained until anyone 1996. Then there was a two-year period at HMIC, 1996 to 1998, until, we heard from Lord Condon, you became Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in 1998 and then Commissioner on 1 February, the year 2000.

  • Then you stayed there for five years and retired in February 2005?

  • Can I ask you about paragraph 10 of your statement. You say that you had specific responsibility for the modernisation of the MPS and were overseeing the fight against corruption within the MPS. We've heard from Lord Condon in part what that entailed. I'm asked to put this to you: did that involve issues such as the bribery of MPS staff and officers by the media?

  • No, not specifically that, but of course the anti-corruption strategy was about any corrupt practices that were involved and if that came to notice, then it was my responsibility, as Deputy Commissioner, to investigate that and if they had come about, we would have done so.

  • Thank you. You raise in paragraph 10 -- and this is picked up in paragraph 11 -- the MacPherson report into the tragic death of Stephen Lawrence -- that was published in 1999 -- and the effect of that report on morale within the MPS. Again, please, in your own words, how did you see that? In particular, the MPS's relationship with the press?

  • Well, it had a very pronounced effect. I think, whether right or wrong, most individual officers and support staff in the Metropolitan Police felt that they had been accused of racist behaviour themselves, although that actually wasn't the impact of the report. So it had a massive effect, and we, of course, had a large number of recommendations to bring in and ensure were enforced.

  • Thank you. When you became Commissioner in February 2000, there was a political sea change that year as well, with the appointment of the new Metropolitan Police Authority and the first Mayor of London. At paragraph 14, you say:

    "It was decided by the senior management team after consultation ... that a wholesale change in culture was needed."

    First of all, why was there a need for that change, and secondly, what did the change entail?

  • I think the Metropolitan Police at that time -- and I don't think anyone would disagree with that -- was an organisation in severe crisis. We'd gone down to the number of 25,470 officers. We were losing something in the region of 300 to 400 a month. If that had continued for another six to nine months to a year, we'd have just not been able to operate at all, so we were in big difficulties.

    It was interesting going around to various places that no one wanted to join the Metropolitan Police because they didn't think it was an organisation worth joining.

  • Thank you. It was clear to you -- and this is paragraph 15, and brings us to, really, the centrality of this module of the Inquiry -- that the way to bring about this change was by establishing a close working relationship with the media. Why did you think that was necessary?

  • Well, we were dealing with crisis management up to then and we wanted to get a strategy that actually dealt with taking us onto a front foot. But dealing with the media -- I'd like to stress this -- was only one part of the strategy. I was involved and it was decided by the top team and by agreement with the Home Secretary and then latterly by the Metropolitan Police Authority that we would go and I personally would give the message to every single officer and support staff in the Metropolitan Police on a personal basis.

    So that was part of the strategy. The other part of the strategy, of course, was creating something in writing so people could understand what we were doing. So the media, yes, were a very major part of it, but it was a matter of getting on the front foot, of having a strategy, of actually taking forward also, as you have heard from Lord Condon this morning, the anti-corruption strategy and the media practices that we'd developed over that period of time.

  • You say in the middle of paragraph 15:

    "Another advantage of this increased media awareness and a positive media image would be that support for policing priorities would be easier to obtain from both the private and public sector. All this meant that the MPS would stand to receive increased funding."

    A couple of issues there. The positive media image that you refer to, it might be said that fostering that image would be designed in part to bury bad news. Would you agree with that observation?

  • Not at all. You're always going to get, in policing, bad news, because that's the nature of it. It's not a matter of burying bad news; it's a matter of admitted to mistakes but at the same time allowing officers on the street and support staff, who do a tremendous job every day of the week, every week of the year, to actually tell their stories far more in a positive way. I know good news doesn't sell newspapers or the media, but we were going to try and do some of that.

  • The link between the positive media image and increased funding, I mean, was that a link which you perceived at the time as being necessary and one that it was appropriate to foster?

  • Yes, I think in terms of resourcing, it's quite right for politicians and for, latterly, the Mayor of London later on that year to say, "Look if we give you extra resources, we want the results", and these results were all about making London the safest city in the world to live in, which was part of the vision I had.

  • The dividing line between a positive media image and spin is often difficult to see. Of course, it's quite easy to formulate. How did you see that dividing line, if at all?

  • I'm one that actually believes in "actions speak louder than words", and over my career of 43 years in the Police Service, I've always held to that. It's not for a commissioner, a chief constable or anybody to start saying their force is doing brilliantly. Let others say that and I think actions will speak louder than words in that respect.

  • Thank you. The means by which this culture change was achieved -- paragraph 17 covers the exhausting programme. Many aspects of that programme had little to do about the media.

  • But some aspects did. I'll come back to dealings with the media in a moment. You make it clear that this programme, this culture change, was successful. Paragraphs 18 and 19 of your statement. Again, in your own words, would you like to cover those matters?

  • Well, it was successful, because at the end of my commissionership, independent surveys showed that -- and here it's a matter of record -- that contact with the public, the public in London, 85 per cent of them were satisfied with what they got from the police. In terms of action taken by the police, 77 per cent were satisfied. Overall satisfaction rates were 78 per cent. These were probably nearly the highest -- and were the highest, probably -- satisfaction rates taking place in the United Kingdom at that time. They came from a very low point.

  • One matter I missed out --

  • Sorry, I must apologise. Complaints had also reduced over that five years by 50 per cent, against the police.

  • So you point to those as being objective markers of success, regardless of --

  • Well, I think so, and of course, the other objective marker was we met all our targets. Crime was coming down considerably and fortunately, thank God, we'd managed to divert terrorist attacks both from the provisional IRA -- we'd arrested people, there was eight attacks when I first became Commissioner, a bomb in the high street in Ealing, a bomb underneath Hammersmith. We managed to arrest those and convict those people. But 9/11, 2001 was a complete change in terms of how we have to approach terrorism.

  • What I didn't deal with in introducing your career history is I'm told you're currently chairman of the Independent Review of Policing.

  • Which is a body established by the opposition, but with all party support. It's reviewing policy and aiming to take account of this Inquiry's findings.

  • Looking at it the other way, are there any preliminary findings which you've come to which might inform this Inquiry's findings?

  • No, sir, there are not. We're about to take evidence from former home secretaries, we have seven or eight universities involved, we will be taking evidence from the Federation of Superintendents Association, and everybody that we need to do understand what police -- the needs for policing in the 21st century.

  • Reporting in spring, sir, of next year.

  • Your approach to media relations, paragraph 24 of your statement, our page 9801. You say that prior to you becoming Commissioner, the relationship with the media was based on mistrust:

    "... a general reluctance to provide information, unless absolutely necessary ... organisation was seen as secretive and unwilling to engage with the media."

    What do you think the reasons for that were?

  • I think Lord Condon this morning probably said it. We had -- I'd been in the Inspectorate of Constabulary for the Metropolitan Police before coming back as Deputy Commissioner with specific responsibilities for anti-corruption. I think the Metropolitan Police had been hammered, over a large period of time, with some very bad media, and I think the reason that people did not want to speak to the media at that stage was they thought that it would be counter-productive and they'd be criticised.

  • So when you came in, there was a new policy agreed with the Secretary of State for the home department and outlined in the special notice. We have those materials available, I hope in that bundle immediately to your right.

  • I think I have a copy here, actually, Mr Jay.

  • Thank you. There was a policy in place when you arrived, special notice 24/98, promulgated on 21 August 1998. In the bundle of policies and procedures we're working from, it's tab A, sub-tab 1. This is a policy which you were responsible for as Deputy Commissioner?

  • Can we just take a little bit of time to look at this policy. The aims -- this is on the internal numbering page 2. The policy itself, I can give the -- I thought I could give the page number. Bear with me one minute. 04681 is the first page, so this is going to be 04682. Level with the upper hole punch, the aim:

    "Strengthen public confidence and trust, improve the public perception and satisfaction of the MPS and reassure the public that the police are tackling crime ethically, effectively and professionally, without increasing the fear of crime."

    Then the strategic communication framework:

    "Effective communication can help improve and enhance the overall performance, image and reputation of the MPS. The corporate communication strategy must provide a framework which reflects corporate activities and encompass ..."

    Then there's a whole range of objectives. Involvement with the media presumably was one aspect of this strategy; is that right?

  • It was one aspect, yes.

  • On the second page, level with the lower hole punch -- this is the following page in the URN references:

    "Media relations. Our relationship with the media is crucial and encompasses three main areas: proactive -- actively promoting the policies, work and achievements of the MPS; reactive -- responding quickly and accurately to media enquiries; and media training -- to give professional advice and training to officers dealing with the media and assist officers in handling the media at scenes."

    So before you become Commissioner, these are the strategies and ideas which you wish to get across. Most of them, of course, are self-explanatory. Can I deal with media training. First of all, have you had any media training?

  • Yes, I was one of the first officers under Sir Robert Mark to undertake training as a Detective Sergeant first class. I've always had a bee in my bonnet about media training being necessary in terms of dealing with the press.

  • I'm not going to ask you to list all the aspects of that training, but what were the key messages which the training taught?

  • To be open and honest, to directly answer questions, and the most important thing is never to tell lies to the press. That's gone through all of my training, including things that came out of the senior FBI course which I attended: never tell lies to the press.

  • Which is not the same, necessarily, as giving them the whole story, but you're certainly not going to mislead them directly?

  • It's misleading. Of course, you have confines -- Official Secrets Act, Contempt of Court Act and the like -- and as Paul Condon was explaining this morning, you have your judgment. Police officers have their own expertise and judgment.

  • Page 9 on the internal numbering, which is going to be about 4690, I hope, on the URN numbers. It's annex C, media policy.

  • The general point is made level with the upper hole punch:

    "Our policy is to be open and honest in dealing with the media. We will tell the media things which are in the best interests of the public to know about, help to show the public the way in which the police go about their work and help to build public confidence in the police."

    So those three elements are all to do with the public interest perhaps, more than the interests of the police, but the two, of course, can intersect?

  • A Venn diagram. Then the categories of information:

    "The information provided will be in one of the following categories:

    "For offer -- this is the information we want the media to use.

    "If asked -- this is the information we release if asked specifically about something.

    "Non-attributable -- this is information that we give to the media and which may be published, but the MPS is not quoted as the source.

    "Not for the publication."

    So it means what it says; it's for guidance only.

    May I ask about the category "off the record"? In your view, is that the non-attributable category or is it something different or might its meaning depend on the contents?

  • I think it depends on the contents. I think -- I, like Paul Condon, have a problem about off-the-record briefing, especially if police officers are giving their opinion rather than what the evidence is, and it's very dangerous territory, I think, in my view.

  • So you don't favour off-the-record briefings, but what about a briefing which is clearly coming from the MPS, although the individual within the MPS is not named? Do you see a problem with that?

  • Yes, I do, because quite often you see in newspapers "police sources", and some of those sources, of course, can never be attributable to anybody. But going along the lines of what Lord Condon said this morning, I can give examples of when we had to give private briefings to editors in terms of terrorism or what we were doing. I can give examples of that which were in the public interest and it's "in the public interest" that's the important part of it.

  • We're going to come to those. Am I right in saying that those would fall within the "not for publication" part --

  • -- of these four categories, rather than the third part?

  • What do you think about the phrase "police sources"?

  • I always look at it with a certain amount of cynicism. If, in fact, the officer is not named or the force is not named, that could come from all sorts of areas, one of which, of course, could be leaks, and others can be actually attributed to the police when they are not coming from the police.

  • So is this right: off-the-record briefings may encourage culture, sometimes within the press itself, to be, as it were, lazy or inaccurate, because they will then start using the term "police sources" when they know full well that there isn't a source or it's not a reliable source?

  • The policy you refer to at the end of paragraph 24 is under tab 2 of this bundle, and by now, of course, you are Commissioner, although you sign it at page 4. Does it follow that you took ownership of this policy, rather than your deputy?

  • Oh, anything that happened in my -- on my watch is my responsibility. Good or bad.

  • That's technically right, Lord Stevens, but we saw that the 1998 policy was specifically from the Deputy Commissioner. Of course, the Commissioner would be ultimately responsible, but trying to understand the 2000 policy, is this one that you specifically took to yourself --

  • That's absolutely right. I was involved in a consultation and getting agreement of the management board, the Home Secretary and others.

  • Thank you. In our bundle -- let's just check it's correctly up on the screen. The first page is 04692, so I think this is following on sequentially. On the internal numbering, page 2 is going to be 04693, I hope and believe. Just looking at parts of this, Lord Stevens -- because this chimes precisely with the evidence you've already given, but if you look at the third paragraph of the second page:

    "Over the years, I have seen the Met become increasingly cautious in its media relations and become far too reactive. This cautiousness can breed suspicion and contempt, while an open approach tends to breed confidence and respect. If we are to gain the goodwill, confidence and support of the general public and achieve our aim of making London a safe place, we need to reengage the with the media and seize every opportunity to be much more proactive."

    Then the policy itself -- this is more of a summary of the policy, rather than -- but it's giving us a good idea. Level with the lower hole punch:

    "By being proactive, we intend to gain maximum media coverage and understanding of MPS policies, actions and decisions."

    Then the three bullet points are very similar to the bullet points we'd seen in the 1998 policy. The bottom of the page:

    "Operational information. Inspectors and above are authorised to speak to the media about their own areas of responsibility."

    So you're it defining there both the rank at which information can properly be disseminated and the domains from which that information can be disseminated?

  • For reasons which are probably self-explanatory.

    "Where appropriate, officers below the rank of inspector may speak to the media but only with the approval of a special officer."

    And then implementation on the next page. This covers the off-the-record point, but again, I think we're going to have to be careful in defining our terms. As we heard from Mr Baker, there's some uncertainty as to what this means and it's context-specific. The second paragraph, under the rubric "Implementation":

    "When confidence and trust is established, there may be occasions when senior officers will feel able to talk to reporters on an off-the-record basis [and then italicised] dealing with matters not for public disclosure, explaining reasons for maintaining confidentiality and specifying what might be published."

    Am I right in saying that this is really falling within the fourth category of information we saw in the previous note, the 1998 guidance --

  • -- rather than the third?

    Then skipping a paragraph:

    "This approach in dealing with the media will involve risks, disappointments and anxiety, but officers who act and speak in good faith may be assured of my support."

    Well, the risks, disappointments and anxieties, could you expand on those for us, please, Lord Stevens?

  • Well, I had a basic confidence in the majority, 98 to 99 per cent of the Metropolitan Police, that they would do things in an honest way and in a way that actually could show the force what the public -- show the public what the force was doing, and I think the best people to do that, quite frankly, are those people on the front line: the PCs, the sergeants, the PCSOs.

    The risks are that you're exposing people who perhaps have not had full public training -- full training in terms of the press to an exposure which is difficult to handle. However, I have to say in my time, both as Chief Constable in Northumbria, inspecting some of the major forces in the United Kingdom as HMI, and then Deputy and Commissioner, I've never been let down too much by people who are doing the job on the front line. They tell the story far better than we, who are the so-called chief officers.

  • Is there not -- and I just throw this out for consideration -- additional risk that if the strategy is to promote the police in the best possible light, anybody who is aggrieved and who feels that the "truth" is negative and not quite as positive as was being promoted by senior officers may be more inclined to leak the negative picture, because they feel that that represents the truth and therefore there is a public interest in giving out that leak? Is that a risk?

  • Yes, but I think you'll see there that you also -- there is also an issue where we admit our mistakes. My own view is that a so-called open-door policy does not allow those people who are leaking for money, for corruption, to flourish. If, in fact, you have an open-door policy that is explaining in a transparent and open way what you're doing in policing, that will have the effect of eradicating some of these corrupt practices that do go on.

  • You refer in this paragraph to disclosing information to the media for financial gain. That's self-explanatory and that's a clear offence under what was then the 1906 Act. You also refer to favour. What are the range of favours which might be in play here?

  • Well, if anyone does anything -- and this is where I would get quite cross with people -- with their own agenda and puts that in front of the agenda of the Metropolitan Police or the public interest of delivering out there on the streets, in terms of making the streets safer, that has to be questioned. Why would they do that, bearing in mind they're being paid a salary, they've taken an oath, they're a sworn officer? Why would they do that? That is what I was getting at.

  • So outside the sphere of genuine whistle-blowing, which is protected by statute --

  • -- and was since 1996, I believe, and clearly in place when this notice was promulgated, anything which is in the personal interest of the disseminator, if I can use that more neutral term, rather than the public interest of the nation as a whole or the police in particular would be inappropriate?

  • Certain other safeguards which you describe in the policy towards the bottom of this page:

    "Those officers who speak to reporters should always tell the DPA. This will allow for statements to be prepared to deal with any follow-up enquiries following publication or broadcast."

    Now, would that cover the off-the-record communications --

  • Thank you. Taking the media on police operations -- that's on the next page, Lord Stevens.

  • "I am keen to see more media being taken on police operations. It would give a good insight into policing and tackling crime."

    We heard something of this from Lord Condon. There may be risks here. It will be intrusive, it may infringe the rights of the suspect. How do you see the right balance between informing the public on the one hand, who can see doors being bashed down and usually drug dealers being arrested or whatever -- but it can go too far?

  • I think it's another very difficult area. I think, one, that the police should maintain editorial control, bearing in mind that there are probable court cases later on. I think there should not be, as has been explained here -- it has to be of significant public interest to allow it to happen. I don't think it should interfere with an individual's rights and their private or family life, their home or correspondence, and as importantly as all of that as I've just stated, it shouldn't interfere with an individual's right to a fair trial. That would be totally wrong.

  • Thank you. There was a specific policy about this in 2001, which is tab 3 of this bundle. This time it's coming from the directorate of public affairs. I'm not going to plough through this with you, but it gives more detail to the general principles --

  • -- that you've been stating.

    I'd like go back to your witness statement. Some of the general matters which you deal with in paragraphs 25 and following you've already discussed with us, with reference to the relevant policy and the lecture you refer to we will take as read.

    Paragraph 30, please:

    "As Commissioner, I worked hard to foster good relations withed media. This involved being available to speak with editors or journalists. I had lunches with the editors of all the national newspapers."

    You say, and I paraphrase, that Mr Fedorcio was almost always there, save when you wanted the media to comment on his performance. That would be a reason for his not being there. It's clear from the diary, which we'll be looking at at a moment, that you had frequent meetings with now Sir Max Hastings.

  • Can you provide us, please, with the context for that?

  • Sir Max was editor of the Evening Standard, which I considered to be the local newspaper. So I saw him once a quarter, and Veronica Wadley took over for him in 2003 and I saw her on more or less a quarterly basis, mainly because I regarded them as the local newspaper for London.

  • Thank you. For the period January 2000 to the end of your career -- the last entry in the diary is 25 January 2005 -- we have a record of what's in your diary. We don't have a hospitality register for you, Lord Stevens, although it appears that the policy was that there should have been one since 1998. Do you know the reason for that?

  • No, I don't. Those type of registers would have been up-kept by my PA, staff officer, chief of staff. I don't know why they're not there. But in relation to my diary, that will give details of where I went anyway.

  • Thank you. Is it probably the case that there was at one stage a register, but it's no longer available, rather than there never was a register?

  • I'd be very surprised if I didn't implement my own policies, or my staff didn't.

  • Thank you. The picture which emerges from the diary -- I can take some of this quite shortly because the diary is not yet in the public domain -- is that you are having frequent meetings with senior members of the press, in particular editors, from the whole range of newspapers.

  • To be absolutely clear, that would entail evidently those within the News International group, the Trinity Mirror Group and of course the Associated News group, because there are frequent meetings, lunches, on occasion dinners, with Mr Dacre, who was then of course the editor-in-chief.

  • Looking at it broadly, it's not possible to say that you're favouring any one newspaper group. Do you feel that that's a fair summary?

  • I was absolutely determined no the to favour any newspaper group. They do talk amongst each other, and I was determined not to do that and the figures of course prove that.

  • There are one or two entries that one should look at to allay public concern. In any event, I should ask questions to you about them. On the second page of the diary, the entry for 20 January 2000, there's a dinner with Neil Wallis. It says:

    "Details await."

    Then there's a name and then the Birdcage, which is or appears to be a restaurant in W1. So it follows from that that -- is this a private dinner with Mr Wallis?

  • Yes. I met Mr Wallis twice, with my wife and his wife, when we were working up the charity I was basically in charge of, which was Convoy 2000, to involve his wife. We met twice. He paid for the dinner once and I paid for the other dinner, but that didn't come to anything. I think that's the entry you're looking at.

  • So this relates to your charity work and nothing else?

  • Can I move forward to 16 August 2000.

  • Can I just have the individual tab there, if I may?

  • I'm not quite sure how this has been given to you, Lord Stevens. I hope in the same form as it's been given to me. It's about four pages further on. Sorry, this is in the diary entries.

  • Okay. I have the amount of times I met per year. I don't have the individual ones in front of me. I should have but I don't, sorry.

  • The document which has been supplied to me by the Metropolitan Police -- and again, this will be made publicly available:

    "Lunch with Rebekah Wade, editor News of the World, and Andy Coulson, deputy editor, and the DPA."

    This is at a hotel in W1.

  • It's difficult now, 12 years after the event nearly, but are you able to help us with the purpose of that?

  • I think that was Berners Street, Sanderson's. That was a meeting about -- when I always saw Rebekah Wade, with the DPA or whoever I was with, she was always pursuing Sarah's Law, and at that stage, if I remember rightly, she'd had threats to her, and she got her own private protection, and that was -- so the conversations with Rebekah Wade were always Sarah's Law, pursuance of that and trying to get my support for that.

  • Thank you. In October and November 2000, on the first occasion, there's a lunch with Lord Alli and Neil Wallis, on the second occasion, a short meeting with Lord Alli and Neil Wallis at New Scotland Yard. Could you help us with the purpose of those encounters?

  • Yes. Neil Wallis was a friend of Lord Alli, Waheed Alli. I wanted Waheed Alli to be an adviser -- a group of about 12 or 14 people, and I wanted him to be one, to be advisers, to actually say what we were doing wrong, in particular what the Metropolitan Police was doing wrong, what I was doing wrong, and what we could do to right that.

    So there were two meetings with Lord Alli and he then agreed to be one of the advisers who I used to meet up with once every three to four months for dinner at Scotland Yard.

  • Thank you. 27 June 2001, this is an evening appointment:

    "Dinner Neil Wallis, Sunday People editor."

    It says.

  • Is this part of the same charity work you're referring to?

  • No, that would be seeing him as editor of the Sunday People, which would revolve around issues that he had or we had in terms of policing.

  • So it's no different then from the other lunches and dinners you had with other editors?

  • The purpose is generally the same?

  • The issue with the Sunday People and with the Mirror Group and that -- the Trinity House Group is we also met -- when Roger Graef was the editor-in-chief, we met and had lunch -- and Piers Morgan was there -- I think about three times over five years to discuss what was happening there, and more importantly, for them to hold me to account on some of the promises we had made in terms of policing London.

  • Thank you. Then the following year, 16 April 2002 -- this is the evening again:

    "Dinner with Neil and Gaye Wallis, London's Brasserie."

    Was that a social occasion?

  • That was the one to do with the charity, yes.

  • To be clear, there are a lot of interactions with the press which we'd describe generally as being with national editors.

  • 28 August 2002. This is one which others may have already picked up on:

    "Dinner with Rebekah Wade and husband, the Ivy."

    Your wife, I think, couldn't be there?

  • There were three dinners with Rebekah Wade and Ross Kemp at the Ivy, which -- over the five years, I met up with her 12 times, three of which were to do with the charity. Ross Kemp very generously agreed to front an evening whereby we were going to get charitable donations to the charity, which he did. My wife was at two of those, and on one of those evenings I paid -- I personally paid, at the Ivy.

  • Thank you. In relation to Mr Wallis, 11 September 2002, dinner with Mr Wallis and his wife at a restaurant called Convivio. Then June 2003 -- sorry, that's moving on there, but again, is that a private dinner?

  • Charity again. That was the two occasions I was talking about in terms of trying to get -- perhaps get Neil Wallis' wife involved with the charity.

  • Thank you. Then there's one more in 2003, September 2003:

    "Dinner with editors and Dick --"

    That's Mr Fedorcio?

  • "... News of the World, Scalini. Andy Coulson, editor, Neil Wallis, deputy editor ..."

    And then it says:

    "... Stuart Kuttner, journalist."

    Presumably that's part of the general pattern --

  • -- of meeting with editors?

  • How would you describe your relationship with Mr Wallis, particularly by the time we reach 2005? How close was it, if at all?

  • It was totally professional. I never went to his house, he never came to mine or to my flat. It was all on a professional basis, and that's how I wanted it to be and that's how it was with all of the people involved in the press.

  • Thank you. Moving forward then through your statement, paragraph 34 I think we can move to, where you say:

    "Ultimately, however, it was my view that the people who sell the MPS best are the people doing the job out on the street."

    You pick this up in paragraph 37, where you say you encouraged Met-wide communication:

    "I wanted everybody to get out and tell the story and face the questions."

    Do you consider, Lord Stevens, that without formal and consistent guidance, this policy was open to different interpretations and possibly to abuse?

  • No. I think part of the process was to have training, which I think I've talked about, but in addition to that we had a leadership programme which was on top of all of this, which was for chief inspectors and above, which I personally opened on every occasion bar one, I think, and that was to all chief inspectors and above in the Metropolitan Police, which it is all about integrity and all about dealing with the press in the right manner.

    You know, going back to what I said earlier, the people who do the job on the streets, PCs and sergeants, they know what they're doing and they do it in a way which is extraordinary and I think that had to be told, that story had to be told.

  • Lord Justice Leveson asked the question of Lord Condon what his reaction was to some of the evidence which this Inquiry received last week. It's inevitable, therefore, that I ask you the same question generally.

  • Or on the basis that if you don't, I will.

  • I find it very difficult to criticise people who followed me up in the job. I purposely don't to that. I've only been back to the Yard once since I left as Commissioner, although I continue the Diana Inquiry and Northern Ireland Inquiry from Putney. I'd rather not comment, to be honest. If you want to push me on it, you can.

  • May I push you just to this extent --

  • Some people might say that if one is looking at some of the evidence we've heard there may be a connection here between the tone that was set previously and what they did.

  • Just to put the point as generally as I can. May I ask you to comment on that?

  • Well, I suppose, like Paul Condon, I've been disappointed on what has taken place. I'd like to have thought that the issues the Guardian had raised I would have picked up as Commissioner. If they'd have been picked up then, I think I'd have been quite ruthless about pursuing it.

  • Could I ask a slightly different question? I'm not asking you to be disloyal to the service; I wouldn't want that for the world. I'm obviously anxious to receive all the help I can get, but let me ask this: you'd had a relationship with Mr Wallis, as you described it -- and I'm not gainsaying that for a moment. Would that have caused you concern if somebody had asked you -- and I'm not talking about you then as the Commissioner, obviously -- to look into what was happening at News of the World in the context of senior editorial staff? How would you have dealt with that problem?

  • Exactly the same way I dealt with the inquiry in Northern Ireland, where we had to arrest over 150 people, some from the security services. I'd have gone on and done it. That's what police officers are paid to do: to enforce the law.

  • But the 150 people in Northern Ireland that you arrested, how many of them had you had a relationship that was the type of relationship that you had with Mr Wallis?

  • None, but I had a professional relationship with Mr Wallis, and I'm afraid if it comes to enforcing the law, a professional relationship has to go -- any relationship has to go to one side. If there's evidence to pursue in terms of any criminal activity, whether it be phone hacking, corruption or otherwise, that has to be pursued. That's why we take an oath becoming a police officer, and I'd have pursued it.

  • Yes, and what about the perception that if things don't turn up what they might, some people may say, "Well, that's not terribly surprising"?

  • Well, if that's the perception, then if you're asking me, people who say that, would know me, would know that that wouldn't be the perception. That's the issue around dealing with people in the press. They know how far to push it. Of course there's no such thing as a free lunch, but these people who we were dealing with were professional people. They knew my reputation and my reputation would have been to have pursued whatever the evidence was and go where the evidence takes us, which was the phrase I used when I went to Northern Ireland. I knew of no other way of pursuing these things.

  • That probably feeds into the answer that you have given in relation to the Guardian material.

  • Paragraph 38, please, Lord Stevens, of your statement. You said:

    "I have been grateful on several occasions for the objective and informed coverage given to cases and concerns involving the MPS."

    How often, in your view, was press coverage subjective and ill-informed?

  • On a number of occasions. I personally had to sue the press on two occasions and only recently got satisfaction for not just myself but the Stevens Inquiry team a year and a half ago. On two occasions, I've had to make complaints to the IPCC and got actually good service from them. On one occasion, I came into the Yard, I think, in 2002 and the headlines were, in the editorial: "Stevens should be stripped of his knighthood because of the way that the Burrell case had been dealt with."

    So there are many occasions when the press are used. That's what I'm saying.

  • I think your statement says somewhat later on there were two occasions when you complained to the PCC; is that right?

  • Could you assist us, please, with how that went?

  • Well, the first occasion was when it was reported in a paper that I'd said I believed in legalising cannabis, and that came out of some of the problems we had down in Brixton and Brian Paddick. I complained that wasn't the case, that was dealt with.

    And on -- the second occasion was during the Diana Inquiry, when the reports of what I was earning were just absolutely absurd and ridiculous, and I made a complaint in relation to the newspaper reporting on that and got satisfaction out of that.

    The only problem is that when you do get satisfaction, of course they don't deal with it in the same way as they've dealt with the previous article. I think we should have a system like Germany where it's put on exactly the same page and given exactly the same type of attention.

  • You'll probably have heard other people say that to me over the course of the last few months.

  • Paragraph 41, Lord Stevens. You say that what the media wanted fundamentally was to investigate and report on topical policing issues.

  • Were there occasions when you felt, in your interactions with the media, particularly those which were taking place on a one-to-one basis or in a small group, that the media were trying to get more out of you?

  • The media always try and get more out of you, but to be frank -- I mean, the vast majority of editors I dealt with were highly professional and actually wanted to know what the true story was. To use Lord Condon's phrase, they weren't pariahs; these were highly professional people, some of which I respected immensely.

  • Thank you. Paragraphs 43 and 44 we've covered. This is probably a good opportunity to look at the 2003 policy, which is in this master bundle at tab 4. The first page of tab 4 is 04702. Again, it comes from the directorate of public affairs. This may be something you had a brief look at; is that right?

  • Before it goes out?

  • Yes. Well, I think it would have a gone beyond that. It would have come into the strategic senior management team and we'd have discussed it. Nothing went out into police orders unless it was discussed by the whole senior team and we took kind of consultation in the force over it. These things weren't done in isolation.

  • Thank you. The internal numbering page 9, but it's probably, in the URN numbers, the number immediately following the number I read out a minute ago, under the heading "Administration, Metropolitan Police Service media relations policy", you say:

    "The new policy in September 2000 [I paraphrase] has considerably improved matters. However, there's more to be done because there are so many good news stories that still fail to reach the views, listeners and readers or those who report on the MPS. We therefore need to refresh our approach to working with the media by developing effective and positive relationships with journalists from the wide range of news organisations that cover our work."

    Now, lord Stevens, in your interactions with the press, whenever they took place, were you telling them: "You print too much bad news; what about the good news?"

  • I was incredibly frustrated about that. Once every six months or so -- six weeks, sorry, or two months, we used to have commendation ceremonies at the Yard, where police officers in particular were commended on their bravery and the work they did. I mean, to get that into the written press -- sometimes we were lucky enough to get it into the TV but it was incredibly difficult to get coverage of these type of actions and that was so frustrating.

  • This policy is not much different from the previous policy, the 2000 policy, but it's making it clear that proactivity is the strategy.

  • Yes, and with, of course, the safeguards that anyone who does not follow the proper guidelines is subject to discipline and the criminal law.

  • Yes, that is made clear. I think it's made clear in one of the annexes.

  • While we're on the policies, the gifts and hospitality policy. Under tab B, the first of them is. Item number 3. It's notice 17/03, 23 April 2003.

  • Yes, I have that, thank you.

  • The page number for that one is 04768.

  • Sorry, could you -- if we have it here, there's no problem. Thank you.

  • That's the first page, the one I read out, but the very next page is the one we're going to look at specifically, headed "The policy for the acceptance of gifts and hospitality". A number of important themes emerge from this. There's reference to the law, the Prevention of Corruption Act. There are two relevant Acts, but we're principally concerned with the 1906 Act.

    In the middle of the page, "Policy statement":

    "The actions of members of staff of the MPS will not give rise to or foster suspicion that outside individuals or organisations have gained favour or advantage by the acceptance of gifts or hospitality from any person of organisation."

    So the "foster suspicion" part, that is dealing with the issue of perception as much as reality; is that the intention?

  • Then I read on:

    "No member of staff should accept any gift or hospitality which could cause their judgment or integrity to be compromised in fact [and then I pause there] or by reasonable implication, and by implication damage the reputation of the MPS."

    So again, we have factual impairment of judgment and then the perception of impairment of judgment.

  • And the second may be as important as the first.

    The overriding principle on the next page:

    "If the member of staff is in any doubt as to whether or not to accept hospitality, gifts or payments, advice should be sought from someone more senior [I paraphrase]. When there is doubt, caution should be exercised and the offer designed. The use of hospitality registers is not primarily to provide a checking process but to protect individual members of staff and the MPS from accusations that integrity has been compromised."

    So the expectation there is that they be freely available for public scrutiny and they would be internally audited; is that correct?

  • Then there's specific guidance on gifts and hospitality. The principles there are the same, but there's something more specific on the next page about arguably lavish entertaining, four lines from the top:

    "It may be appropriate in some cases to accept the offer of a light working lunch or exceptionally a working dinner, but only if there's no great expense involved. For instance, a meal costing in the region of £10 per head would normally be acceptable, whereas a meal costing £150 per head clearly would not."

    So that's --

  • That would only be acceptable in exceptional circumstances.

  • Private dinners fall arguably into a different category; is that right?

  • I think they do. Going back to what Lord Condon said, the difficulty was with one or two editors, they had their preference of where they wanted to eat. I would have liked most of these meetings to have taken place at Scotland Yard, but it didn't work that way. But it was usually a meal of -- one meal at their place that they wanted and trying to get them back to the Yard, but one or two didn't like the food in the mess.

  • Thank you. This policy was updated, but in truth few changes were made at B4 and B5, so we're not going to look at those; we're just going to note the fact that they were updated, and this is a matter which can be dealt with in writing, really. We're taking documents as read. We don't need to read out the text.

    Can I go back to paragraph 45 of your statement, where you move on to a different theme, which is leaving the MPS and working for media organisations once they've retired. You point out that there are no specific limitations to your knowledge which cover that.

  • Can I ask you, please, about you writing a number of articles for the News of the World, which is paragraph 46. This related to the publication of your auto biography and the serialisation rights which would ensure.

  • In your own words, could you tell us about that, please?

  • Well, I did write an autobiography. I was approached by Lord Weidenfeld, who talked me into it. Other Commissioners had written autobiographies and I wanted to model my autobiography on Sir Robert Marks' "In the Office of Constable". Part of the deal was that that would be serialised in the News of the World and the Times and that was part of the package.

    The proceeds of that were going to go towards officers attending Northumbria University, where I'm chancellor, who had not been to university, who did not have a degree or university education. So the proceeds of the book -- unfortunately only one of those went through. I put the money into Northern Rock and lost all of it. So that was the process.

    The question writing articles was part of the package that the book involved, and it was writing no more than seven articles in a year, which were police-related, and being paid £5,000 per article, which was a vast sum of money as far as I was concerned, but that, I was told, was the going rate, and Jeremy Lee of JLA, who was acting on my behalf in relation to these matters, dealt with that.

  • You tell us that the articles were edited by Neil Wallis. Did Mr Wallis have anything to do with the contract, that the matters would be serialised in the News of the World?

  • No, that was dealt with by Mr Cutler, who was the managing director of the News of the World, and of course they were serialised in the News of the World and the Times. So they were dealt with by separate people, and Neil Wallis wasn't involved in that.

  • So was it the publishers who arranged the particular titles where your articles would be serialised? Was that how it happened?

  • Exactly. The publishers linked in with the newspapers and Orion publishers did all of that.

  • Am I correct in understanding, though, that the seven articles a year that you were writing -- I'll put this more openly: was this part of the same serialisation deal or was it a separate matter?

  • It came -- the question of writing as the chief came out of that, and that was part of what took place. So the first year I wrote, I think, about six or seven articles edited by Mr Wallis, there was a to and froing in terms of what those articles should be, and then a second contract was negotiated through Jeremy Lee, which was nine articles at £7,000 -- a vast sum of money to me, again said to be the going rate -- per article.

    I didn't complete that contract because of the conviction that took place of the two people in the News of the World, and I saw Colin Myler and Neil Wallis and told them I didn't want to continue. I never gave them specific reasons, but from that night on, I never saw them again.

  • Thank you. When was that?

  • I think it was 2003. I can't remember the exact dates.

  • Well, the conviction of the two people you're referring to was in January 2007.

  • Your statement says you terminated the contract with the News of the World in October 2007.

  • Well, that's when it would be, I think, yes.

  • Which was nine months or so after the convictions?

  • Yes, but when the convictions were taking place, certain other information was coming to my ears which just -- I didn't just want to do it. In retrospect -- it's all very clever to be clever in hindsight. I would never have written the articles if I'd have known what I know now.

  • I've got to be careful when I ask the question because there's an ongoing police investigation.

  • But are you able to tell us anything about the other information which was coming to your knowledge?

  • It revolved around some unethical behaviour in relation to one or two articles that had got the headlines in the News of the World.

  • The pieces you did write -- there was one piece which related to the 7/7 bombings. Another piece, the tragic shooting of PC Sharon Beshenivsky. Can I ask you, please, the 7/7 bombings piece, what was the theme of that?

  • The theme was really about how difficult the policing task is in terms of what they do. I had the idea -- it might have been naively -- that no longer having the constraints of being Commissioner, I could talk about things in a far more open manner in terms of what the police do and the excellent work that they do in terms of terrorism. In the tragic death of Sharon, I believe in certain circumstances the death penalty should actually follow some certain cases. I might be unpopular by saying that, but I do believe that, and if you look at the article, that came out in relation to that article.

  • You were expressing a personal view?

  • Totally personal, no longer Commissioner, and that was my view.

  • Can I ask you this general question: when you terminated the contract with the News of the World in October 2007, did you feel in hindsight that this was a contract you shouldn't have entered into in the first place?

  • I think, knowing what I do now, I certainly wouldn't have entered into it, and that's a fact. By terminated the contract with five more articles to write, I was throwing away money, but that didn't worry me.

  • Are you going onto another topic, Mr Jay? There's a question I wanted to ask.

  • My thinking got slightly diverted in our previous exchange because I'd obviously postulated the basis of your relationship with Mr Wallis as you'd described it and asked for your reaction. The follow-up question which I should have asked was what you would have done had the position been that you were, in fact, a personal friend of such a person. Do you see the point?

  • Yes, I do, sir. Yes, I do. You'd have to pursue it. You would have to pursue it. You'd have to pursue the evidence. If you had difficulty in pursuing it yourself, get someone else to do it.

  • But that's the question. If it does involve someone you know, would you believe that it was proper then to say, "Well, this investigation must go on, but for all sorts of reasons, because somebody will say something, depending on how it goes out, it's just better if someone else does it"?

  • Yes, sir. Someone else does it.

  • I'm not suggesting you pack it up.

  • But that's what I was actually leading on to. Thank you very much.

  • Paragraph 50, please, Lord Stevens. You were asked there to comment on current culture. You say in paragraph 51 that it seems to you that the MPS personnel have become reluctant to speak to the media:

    "Culture has changed significantly and understandably in light of recent events."

    To be clear about this, are you referring to a change in culture which has developed since the summer of last year or are you referring to some earlier period between 2005 and July 2011?

  • I think more recently. And I think Lord Condon dealt with that quite well.

  • Your view, in paragraph 52, is that that is damaging. The media need to know what the police are doing. Absolutely essential to have transparency and openness. Are you suggesting there possibly that there's been an overreaction, that the pendulum has swung too far in one direction in relation to recent events?

  • What I've heard, people are absolutely terrified of picking up a phone or speaking to the press in any way, shame shape or form and I don't think that's healthy. The press have a job be to do. They deliver, on occasions, some outstanding work, especially investigative journalism sometimes. There has to be a relationship between the police and the media for the right reasons.

  • Arguably difficult if the allegation has been -- and it's one that this Inquiry is, I suppose, exploring -- that in the past there's been overcosy relationships. It's inevitable people will react against that and maintain perhaps too great a distance; is that fair?

  • Can I just understand whether you are suggesting, in paragraph 53, that there may be some sort of causal relationship here. What are you saying, Lord Stevens, in the first sentence in particular of paragraph 53 about public order outbreaks occurring?

  • Well, I think if you -- for instance, in my time as Commissioner, I had two high profile shootings, one down at Brixton and the other was, of course, Mr Stanley at Hackney. One, it's very important to get down there as quickly as you can and sometimes take a fair bit of abuse, as I certainly did in Hackney when I went down there. But secondly, you have to get your message out through the media, which most people are looking at, especially in this day and age, and again, Paul Condon talked about that in terms of Twitter and the rapidity of communication.

    If you do not deal with that very, very quickly indeed, in terms of saying why you have been involved in a shooting or why you've done the actions you've done, then the whole thing will just escalate in a way that leads to massive public disorder, and any kind of research and knowledge of what takes place in these issues, whether it be in America or other parts of the world, comes out with a specific lesson that the message must be out there as quickly as you can of why the police did what they did and the media have to be the major part of doing that.

  • Lord Stevens, the next section, beginning at paragraph 55, we've largely covered. Can I just ask you, please, about the last sentence of paragraph 57, which is page 09814, where you explain that usually you were accompanied by a member of DPA to provide professional advice. This is outside the context of a private dinner. What was the sort of advice that the DPA would give?

  • On current issues and what was happening and what wasn't happening. With regard to the Crime Reporters Association -- and I saw them about four times a year, one year only three times -- I always went with an assistant commissioner or deputy assistant commissioner. But the DPA were the continuity, if you like. They were the people who are the professional press people, whose advice you had to take in terms of not only delivery but the content of that delivery.

  • Did they become in any way the spin doctors, as it were, of the Metropolitan Police, in your view?

  • No. As far as I was concerned, going back to what I said, is: don't lie to the press. The reasons for that are obvious. That then becomes the story, apart from the fact of trust. If you tell the truth along the lines that you should do, then you can get some mutual trust with certainly editors and other people.

  • It's implicit in what you're saying that you felt that you did build relationships of trust with the editors we were looking at in your diary?

  • Absolutely. I had high professional respect for all of them. They were professionals. It was interesting in the kind of deliberations we had. They knew where the boundaries stood and didn't push you. Of course they were interested in getting more out of me in terms of Northern Ireland and other issues, but they knew -- they were the professionals. They knew how far to press it is and they knew they weren't going to get much more from me, I assure you.

  • Some must surely have tried to push harder than others, human nature being as it is?

  • Yes. As I said earlier on, if you look at Rebekah Wade, she was very much into Sarah's Law. With Paul Dacre, quite rightly he wanted to know what was going on in relation to the tragic death of Stephen Lawrence and the Macpherson recommendations. These were issues for these people. They were high moral issues for these people, which you have to respect them for.

  • Thank you. Paragraph 63, please. We may have touched on this already, but the leadership training programme for officers of chief inspector rank or above.

  • Integrity and anti-corruption was part of it but dealing with the media presumably was also part of it?

  • Apart from the general messages we see elsewhere -- the need to build trust, the need not to mislead, the need to be open and transparent -- were there any other messages which were communicated?

  • Well, integrity was one of the major issues, obviously, and all of that was dealt with in the leadership programme, which was a major platform of my commissionership. Leadership is absolutely essential. Proper, firm leadership delivers.

  • You say in paragraph 65, in the context of the relationship with the editors, that you do not think that these professional relationships could have been fostered without some form of hospitality. Why do you say that?

  • Some editors I saw in their offices and some editors I dealt with by way of phone on occasion. Specifically if I thought, you know, the stories they were putting out were wrong. But in a more relaxed -- this is the way they did business. And if you didn't do it that way, they probably wouldn't see you.

  • Did you put it, for example, to Mr Dacre or Max Hastings: "Let's meet in a more formal setting or semi-formal setting rather than over lunch or dinner"? Did you test their reaction?

  • Certainly with Mr Dacre, we used to have lunch, but he used to have some of his premier journalists there, and I have to say, you didn't concentrate so much on what you were eating because you were held to task and you were taken through things, and quite rightly so. With Sir Max, it was probably more relaxed because it was sometimes on a one-to-one basis, but he's a man of immense knowledge and I have to say on occasions I learnt more from them than they learnt from me, I think.

  • Presumably what you said on these occasions did not find its way into the newspaper the following day?

  • It was more giving a background which could then be the springboard for later stories, or at least giving them a greater understanding of what you were doing on behalf of the MPS; is that correct?

  • So the confidentiality was honoured presumably on both sides?

  • Issue of leaks now, Lord Stevens. This is paragraph 71, our page 09818. You have personal experience of this in relation to your Northern Ireland inquiries.

  • And also the national criminal intelligence service inquiry I did as Chief Constable in Northumbria.

  • From your own experience, how easy is it to enquire into leaks and ascertain who the disseminator is?

  • It's extremely difficult. Whether you're looking at technical leaks through emails and the like, it is difficult. That's more easy. In Northern Ireland I used to have a unit within the Stevens 1 and 2 and 3 which looked at press leaks, because you could actually ascertain from the local media, specifically the newspapers, and sometimes national newspapers, where the next attack was coming in terms of what we were trying to do in Northern Ireland. You can usually work out who is to gain by this leak. There are other ways of looking at things as well, but it's a very difficult business.

  • Were you ever successful?

  • Without going into the details, were these matters usually dealt with through the disciplinary channel rather than prosecution?

  • Yes, that's right. Certainly in the leakage of confidential information in Northern Ireland, there were prosecutions that took place in relation to that, which we pinned down. In terms of the Metropolitan Police when I was Commissioner -- and the responsibility was Ian Blair, who was an excellent Deputy Commissioner in my time there, five years, the responsibility of tracing down those leaks would have been down to him and also to the department for professional standards.

  • Thank you. In paragraph 75 you're careful to distinguish between a leak on the one hand and a conversation with the press on the other. It may be easier to define the second rather than the first, but the conversation with the press is the sort of general background conversation that you had with editors?

  • And maybe less senior officers were having?

  • But obviously only officers at a relatively senior level. But a leak you define as "any information passed that would impair or would cause prejudice to an investigation or the functioning of the police."

    But whose opinion there is important when it comes to the functioning of the police? Is it the police's opinion or is it the opinion of the disseminator?

  • Can we be clear about that? If the disseminator has the subjective view that the information being imparted is to the benefit of the functioning of the police, and the police have the view that it isn't, is that a leak or not?

  • I think what is a leak usually becomes obvious, to be honest. A leak that a person does which is to his benefit, his agenda, which is against what the organisation is trying to deliver and the public interest, is a leak that's being done for the wrong reasons.

  • The primarily point here, whether it's for the personal benefit of the person doing the leaking, rather than the benefit of the public, unless of course it falls within the 1996 Act?

  • Where there's special --

  • And Contempt of Court Act as well, which some people tend to forget.

  • Thank you. You deal with politicians at paragraph 76 and following, our page 09821. In the context of paragraph 76, you say:

    "The only politician I remember discussing media coverage with was the then Home Secretary, Mr Blunkett. At times, there was considerable tension between us. This was often caused by newspapers reporting."

    What is the media coverage you're referring to there? Is it the police's relationship with the media or was it more what the media were doing, reporting relations between you and Mr Blunkett?

  • No, I think it was -- this was a misunderstanding. I think that David Blunkett, who I ended up having an excellent relationship with, didn't understand my relationship with the Metropolitan Police Authority, which was my primary relationship once the creation of that had taken place and the Mayor of London had taken place. Every now and again, I was reading -- seeing headlines saying he was going to sack me and things like that, which of course had never been said to my face, and I found that quite difficult, especially as we were getting superb results.

  • Are you really saying there that Mr Blunkett was briefing the press behind your back?

  • With a political agenda?

  • Well, I don't know the reasons he did it, but he did it, yes.

  • I think I can move on to paragraph 84. 09823. You say:

    "When I was Commissioner, there were concerns about bribery of personnel by the media."

    Can you elaborate upon those concerns?

  • Corruption is always there in a Police Service the size of the Metropolitan Police, and every now and again I was hearing stories that people either within the service or who had retired from the service might well be paid for newspaper reports, or tipping people off as to where certain raids were taking place, and therefore a strong anti-corruption strategy and squad was essential.

  • Did these concerns relate to any sections of the media in particular?

  • So were these concerns expressed at quite a high level of generality; in other words, part of the rumour mill but with some evidential base --

  • That's right. Certain people who were arrested made complaints that the press were there before the police were there, for instance.

  • That particularly might be so in relation to the higher profile people, and that actually is itself an issue.

  • But do you consider that could only be inappropriate, if not corrupt?

  • I think, sir, it's totally inappropriate and totally corrupt, because I suspect these people have done it for payment.

  • They would have done it for payment, sir.

  • It's either financial gain -- I'm looking at paragraph 83 -- or favour, some different favour, which is akin to financial gain.

  • Which is akin, yes. That's right.

  • But there must have been -- well, not many, but a number of examples on your watch where that sort of thing happened, and indeed I've heard evidence of just the same thing, that when you have a burglary, the first person to turn up isn't the police, it's the photographer, the newspaper.

  • Was there ever any investigation of that sort of activity?

  • We had a system, which is actually in the anti-corruption strategy, which is called ethical testing, whereby we actually tested out members of the service as to what they were doing. It wasn't quite being an agent provocateur, but it wasn't far away from that and that strategy.

    During my time -- and it would have been the ability responsibility of the Deputy Commissioner and his command -- I don't know of any -- maybe he does. I don't know of any issue that came up, real issue, on my watch.

  • Do you have any recollection of it actually happening on your watch?

  • Your deduction is that there's likely to have been financial gain or favour involved. Are you able to assist us there with at what level in the Police Service this information would have been given to the press so that the press could turn up with the photographer or whoever?

  • I don't know, but I would suspect there's only a small number of people who do that, because we had the whistle-blowing process and all the other processes there, which didn't identify specific issues.

  • That may be a convenient moment to break.

  • Very good. 2 o'clock is not inconvenient, I hope?

  • (The luncheon adjournment)

  • Lord Stevens, can I just get back to a point which you raised this morning in answer to one of my questions. This concerns your writing for the News of the World and when you resigned from that. The question I put to you was:

    "Are you able to tell us anything about the other information which was coming to your knowledge?"

    Your answer was:

    "It revolved around some unethical behaviour in relation to one or two articles that had got the headlines in the News of the World."

    First of all, was that your perception of the articles or headlines in News of the World or was it matters which were brought to your attention by others, in particular journalists?

  • Brought to my attention by others?

  • Can you tell us who those others were?

  • It revolved around an article concerning Mr Max Mosley.

  • Ah, because that article was in April 2008, whereas you terminated the contract with the News of the World in October 2007.

  • So it must have been something before October 2007.

  • It was in -- it was concerning just general behaviour, really, I was hearing.

  • General behaviour around the phone hacking issue? Was that it? Or more widely?

  • Just more widely, really.

  • Thank you. Can you ask you about paragraph 91 now of your statement, 09826. You say:

    "Joy Bentley and, to a lesser extent, Dick Fedorcio generally acting as my personal media liaison from within the DPA."

    What was their philosophy as regards interactions with the press, insofar as one could summarise it?

  • Joy Bentley dealt with things on a day-to-day basis. So if I went for interviews with the BBC or elsewhere, like on the Today programme, she would give me a briefing paper and we'd discuss the reasons before going in there because there was usually some specific reasons for going in front of these programmes. The same applied to meeting with the crime reporters and the press generally.

    Dick Fedorcio was on a higher level in terms of the strategy. He was -- on my instructions -- I wanted to make sure that each outlet, in terms of national newspapers and the press, was dealt with equally and it was his job to make this you are that we tried to get onto editors on an equality basis.

  • I understand. So the general strategy was that you should meet the editors, the press, equally fairly over the course of a year.

  • The meetings themselves were arranged by the DPA, obviously not by your office; is that correct?

  • And in relation to each and every meeting, there was a briefing note which someone from within DPA prepared?

  • And you were expected to deliver it as you saw appropriate?

  • And if necessary, go off-piste, as it were?

  • If I may say so, it's not very different from someone high up in political office?

  • I think that's right. What you wanted to make sure was that you gave accurate information, particularly if there were questions and issues they raised, and by that I mean members of the editorial team. I saw Greg Dyke six times over my period of time as Commissioner, who had issues. He's another person I saw. And others of course.

  • You deal with the MPA quite briefly in your statement. Were your relations with the MPA generally good ones, in your view?

  • Yes, they were, and I think the MPA is something we need to stress. We had monthly meetings of the MPA where every aspect are the Metropolitan Police was put up for debate, accountable. The MPA at that time consisted of 23 people, initially headed by Lord Harris and then by Len DuVall when the political composition changed in terms of London.

    We went through every aspect of policing and the television cameras were there, members of the media were there, especially if there was something which they thought was interesting to them, and the business of being open was certainly the case with the MPA. They were a major part of the Commissioner's accountability and responsibilities beyond what the Home Secretary said. Then, of course, there was the Mayor -- in my time, it was Ken Livingstone -- who also wanted to know what was going on.

  • Did that provide a greater degree of accountability than you'd previously experienced?

  • By far, sir. By far. I'd experienced that type of accountability as Chief Constable in Northumbria, where the police authority there consisted of -- I think it was about 28 members from Sunderland to Newcastle to Northumberland.

  • Partly local authority, partly magistrates?

  • That's right, but there is absolutely no doubt that the MPA -- and I used to see the chairman of the MPA at least once a week -- was a real issue of accountability. I mean, there was nothing that missed them. This were all major players in London. Most of them were people who had led their councils. They were experienced people and it was a real exercise, and Lord Harris of Haringey had decided that all of these meetings should be absolutely open, with the media there for as much if not all of the period of time where we were under examination by members of the MPA. It was an examination beyond what I'd experienced before, to be honest.

  • And did they correctly distinguish between their side of the ship, strategy oversight, and your side of the ship, operations?

  • Very much so, sir, yes. They -- again, being experienced politicians -- and some of the people who were independent members were very, you know, eminent businessmen and the like -- very rarely did I have to say, "This is an operational matter." Actually, for me to say that it was an operational matter was me failing in my job to allow them and convince them that what I was doing was right.

    In London, of course, it was very different. You had the MPA, the Mayor, who I saw on a regular basis, Ken Livingstone, then you had the Home Secretary and of course I was seeing the Prime Minister on occasions as well. So it was quite a process.

  • Paragraph 111 now of your statement, 09835. This is when you're Chief Constable at Northumbria.

  • How often were you having lunches and dinners with journalists there, Lord Stevens?

  • Nothing like as frequent as I was doing here, but I did it on a regular basis. When I inherited Northumbria as chief, Northumbria was known as the car crime capital of Europe. We had the highest crime levels of car crime and so it went on after the riots. So again the same policy that we talked about at the Metropolitan Police we tried to ensure came in in Northumbria, with those people on the front line talking about what they were doing and why they were doing things.

  • So it was that policy really which you took forward to London when you came here?

  • Yes, but I'll be honest; I never actually declared that. As a chief constable or commissioner you have in your bottom desk what your plans are. If you reach 67 per cent of your plans, then you're doing well, and one of the plans was actually to create something totally different in London, as Paul Condon talked about, but to create something which was similar to Northumbria. Northumbria is the fourth largest force in the UK, fourth or fifth, and it worked there in very difficult circumstances, as well.

  • I'm going to ask you questions about something else now. I've given you some notice of these questions.

  • We'll see how far we get with them, if you follow me.

  • Were you aware, at the time when you were Deputy Commissioner and/or Commissioner, that the News of the World were extensively using a private investigation company called Southern Investigations?

  • Did there ever come a time when you were aware of that?

  • So does this follow: that you weren't aware that the News of the World made extensive use of Southern Investigations illegally to obtain information about police officers?

  • Can I ask you, please, about page 263 of your book. I've forgotten the title --

  • "Not for the faint hearted".

  • You say in your book:

    "At the end of the 1990s, an independent detective agency called Southern Investigations, based in Sydenham, was frequently coming up on the anti-corruption squad's radar."

    So when did you become aware of that?

  • As Deputy Commissioner, a presentation was made to me to try and get a probe into Southern Investigations' offices. That probe took an extraordinarily long time to get fitted in, in legal terms. It was all done legally. And having authorised that, which was part of an effort to find out what they were up to, that led to certain prosecutions and those prosecutions are a matter of record.

  • The probe you're referring to is a hidden microphone; is that right?

  • Because your book goes on to say:

    "Eventually, it became possible to monitor conversations and the hidden microphones picked up much intelligence about the activities going on inside. Via the agency, corrupt officers were selling stories about their investigations to newspapers and being paid quite handsome amounts of money, an unsavoury business all around."

  • So when did you become aware of that?

  • When prosecutions took place, and one or two people were successfully prosecuted.

  • The reference in your book to selling stories about their investigations to newspapers, of course that's a generic reference, but are you saying you weren't aware the News of the World was one of those newspapers?

  • No, I think it was a generic and I think the individual involved was selling information to a number of newspapers.

  • Were you aware, though, what the titles were across the range that this individual was selling information --

  • Anyone who would pay him money was the issue.

  • So it's your evidence that you weren't aware it was the News of the World?

  • No. I think it could have been the News of the World. It could have been the Standard, the Guardian. This individual, and who he was surrounding by, was selling stories, some of them, actually, with very little credibility or truth, to the newspapers. Salacious gossip, some of it.

  • Taking it forward then to Crimewatch in 2002. An appeal was made on Crimewatch. DCS Cook, I think, made the appeal on behalf of the Metropolitan Police. Was this in relation to reopening the inquiry into the murder of Mr Morgan?

  • Yes, where we put a considerable amount of resources into.

  • Were you aware of that at the time, of the Crimewatch appeal, that is?

  • Were you aware that Mr Cook and his family, including, of course, Jacqui Hames, were placed under surveillance by the News of the World?

  • Did that come to your attention later or not at all?

  • I can't remember anyone mentioning that to me in person, no.

  • Were you aware that in about 2004, Southern Investigations was gathering evidence on senior MPS personnel, and some of that evidence related to their private lives?

  • I think the final point, Lord Stevens, just for the avoidance of doubt: when you were writing a column at the News of the World, which I think was in 2005 onwards to October 2007, as we've heard, were you being provided information for that column from Mr Fedorcio?

  • I think the last point, Lord Stevens, to go back to the evidence you gave just as we started after lunch, when you were talking about leaving the News of the World, is this the point: that the information you were receiving about the News of the World related to phone hacking, and that's why you have some diffidence about explaining it to us now?

  • No, it's the convictions of both Goodman and Mulcaire, my thoughts about that and -- thoughts about the admission of that and, of course, the resignation of Andy Coulson, which -- he obviously resigned for reasons, and the whole thing just didn't seem right to me and I had to get out.

  • Okay. Lord Stevens, thank you very much. Those are all my questions.

  • Let me now have the same debate that I had with Lord Condon.

  • Before. First of all, do you agree with Lord Condon's view as to the cycle? I won't ask you if you agree with his view as to the benefit this Inquiry might have had, but I'm much more concerned to try to fix the register of what I suggest at an appropriate level, to balance on the one hand a rather more calibrated blush test, which I think is a good way of articulating the issue, but to bear in mind the point that you've made, that the free flow of open and transparent information can only benefit the criminal justice system in a world where expectations always become higher and higher.

    In a different capacity, I have spoken on a number of occasions about what I've called the CSI effect, which is all to do with the risk that the public believe that you can solve everything forensically and don't need, therefore, to be given evidence. It's very important that we deal with that and we do as much as we can to encourage members of the public to assist the police and to be prepared to come to court.

    So I see that side of the story as well, but to try and find the correct place is not entirely straightforward. So I ask you, as I asked him, whether you have thought about how that could best be achieved. I appreciate you've been out of it for some years, but I can't believe you have lost your interest in policing the capital.

  • If you have, what is the benefit of those views? And if you want further time to consider it, I'd be interested to receive something from you, if you don't mind, that gave me the benefit of those views.

  • I'd be delighted to do that, sir. As Lord Condon, I have been involved in the integrity business. I did the so-called bungs Premier League case, the crash that never was, investigated that in Singapore, and of course the drugs problem with horse doping in Beijing and so it goes on.

    The corruption side of things, the integrity side of things, I've been very, very closely involved in some of the work that I do, so I'd be delighted to send that had to you, sir. If you can give us a bit of time to put it together.

  • Yes, well, I'm going to be here for some time to come. It's very important to me that what I produce doesn't immediately get a reaction of a policeman saying, "Well, that's clearly come from somebody who's not a policeman." It has to work for the police.

  • It also has to to work for the public.

  • And it has to deal with what I perceive is the very real concern about what has been happening.

  • No problem. I'm sure everyone in this room believes in freedom of the press, but there needs to be some structure and some monitoring processes. I'd go further and say that just the fact that you're here has achieved something. Something has to come out in terms of the monitoring and some kind of reinforcement of how the police act, I think.

  • I entirely agree. As I said to Lord Condon, it would be wonderful to think that I had done the job, but I don't actually believe that.

  • Sir, the next witness is Lynne Owens, please.