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

  • MR TIMOTHY GODWIN (sworn).

  • I have made clear that when Mr Godwin was an Assistant Commissioner and I was the presiding judge for England and Wales, we worked closely on a number of criminal justice issues. He is presently a member of the Sentencing Council, of which I am the chairman.

  • Mr Godwin, you've kindly provided the Inquiry with a witness statement dated 27 January of this year, signed by you, statement of truth in the standard form, so this is your formal evidence to the Inquiry; is that right?

  • As for your career, you started off in the Sussex Police. You worked your way up the ranks, transferred to the Metropolitan Police in 1999, promoted to the rank of Commander, promoted to Assistant Commissioner in 2002, and then Deputy Commissioner in July 2009; is that correct? You've been Acting or Temporary Commissioner on two occasions, and you retired from the MPS on 5 January 2012, is that a fair summary?

  • That's a very fair summary, thank you.

  • First of all, please, some general points, and this chimes with evidence we've already heard. Paragraph 7, following the MacPherson Inquiry your perception was the MPS was perceived by the media and the public as a closed and secretive organisation, so strategically it was thought necessary to be far more open and transparent as an organisation, and that strategic direction came from the top, from Sir John Stevens as he then was; is that right?

  • Did you generally agree with that strategy?

  • You make an interesting point in paragraphs 8 and 9, the shift in media focus from the MPS being conceived as an organisation as a whole to particular individuals, but especially those at the top of the MPS, an almost sort of presidential approach, to adopt a political analogy, and you say that that was derived from the States, really, the celebrity police chief notion. Is that a shift in emphasis which you approved of or deprecated or were just resigned to?

  • That's an interesting question. I think it's an observation rather than any thought-through evidence that the evidence of the celebrity police chief in the USA, the credibility that was then given, meant that we saw a similar evolution of media coverage over here. I thought that that actually undermined the efforts of lots and lots of people who were doing great things and that generally an individual wasn't in themselves able to bring about things like crime reduction in a city like London.

  • Paragraph 11, please, Mr Godwin. You say it seemed to you that this was the result -- "this" being the emphasis on more personalised, individualised focus by the press -- of the press having greater access to individual high profile police officers rather than being limited to obtaining information through the DPA. It may be invidious to name or identify individual high profile police officers, but is this right, that if anyone has been following this Inquiry, one would be able to know who those were? Is that fair?

  • I think that would be a fair account, and it was very much depending upon the roles that they were doing at that point, and so obviously serious crime, et cetera, became more interesting than some of the other areas of our business.

  • But underneath this there may be a judgment here whether the press having access to individual high profile police officers is a good thing or a bad thing. Let me ask you, please, you've now left the MPS, what is your judgment as to whether it's a good or a bad thing?

  • I think it was a natural progression of opening up the Met in terms of being more accountable, having that responsibility to answer questions, created that more open relationship, and I think ultimately we're here today and I think ultimately it was -- it didn't play well for us.

  • But the last bit, "ultimately it didn't play well for us", which parts didn't play well and why?

  • I think it became more focused on the individual than the merits of the Metropolitan Police Service and what they were doing with partners to reduce crime, and we had some good records in crime reduction in that period.

  • Was it also though a question of what certain individuals were doing in their relationships with the media which gave rise to difficulty?

  • I think there was tittle-tattle and gossip which came out as well. Where that came from would be very hard to say.

  • It's clear from your evidence -- and we'll come to this in a moment -- that you did very little entertaining, if I can put it in those words. Your contacts with the media were formal, were not over dinner, were certainly not over alcohol, were usually in an office; is that right?

  • Yes. The normal events would be a media interview arranged by the press office in my office.

  • If someone had suggested to you that it would be appropriate to have interactions with the press in a more social environment, would that have met with your approval or disapproval?

  • I used to attend the Crime Reporters Association Christmas party and some of the events hosted by our press office, the media, some bravery awards, for example the Evening Standard Thousand Influential People Award, so I used to attend those, and I didn't -- I had no problem with that. I just was concerned on occasion that the perception of a close relationship in that way might actually be misinterpreted.

  • I think you're saying it meets with your disapproval for perceptual reasons if no other; is that right?

  • I think for me -- I wouldn't suggest that I'm right. It was a different path to the one that I went down in terms of my relationship with the media. Namely there are two schools of thought. One, it's better to have a good relationship with the media where you can set the context, you can explain events, as opposed to mine, which was arranged interviews in the office, et cetera, et cetera, and I just took that particular path and others thought it was better to actually be able to have those debates so that it set the context right in terms of the media reporting of what we were trying to do about reducing crime in London.

  • But it's not right to suggest, is it, that you were agnostic about what others did? At least we heard, I think, from Mr Yates that you actually had words with him about the subject.

  • Yes, that's correct. In terms of -- I thought at a point when, having become the Deputy Commissioner, I thought the frequency of those meetings and the manner of those meetings could be misinterpreted and the perception would be wrong, and as a result I did disapprove at that point.

  • When you had those words with Mr Yates, were you aware in general terms of the nature of his social interactions or did you have as much detail as this Inquiry has heard?

  • I didn't have as much detail as has come out in the Inquiry, no.

  • What do you think about that? What do you think about that?

  • I think as you go into the individual accounts in terms of what appears to be excesses in certain areas in terms of the hospitality, I think that's embarrassing and unfortunate, so that sort of thing, I wasn't aware of that sort of level of hospitality.

    In terms of the events themselves, I just felt that we needed to have our constitutional separation a bit.

  • In terms of the gifts and hospitality register, there's nothing of interest there to discuss with you, Mr Godwin. Can I move forward to paragraph 26 --

  • I'm sorry, the fact that there is nothing -- the fact you put it like that means that it is of interest. What do you think about the idea that you might have one set of values and your colleagues, in extremely senior positions in the Met, might have quite different sets of values? I mean, how does that come about, and should it?

  • I think, sir, to be fair we pretty much had common values about honesty, integrity in terms of conduct.

  • Yes, I'm not suggesting that --

  • I think the difference, with respect, would be that there was one style that was favoured by some members of the management board of the Met and there was another style, which was my style, where I didn't feel comfortable in that environment. So I wouldn't say it's a values difference, it's a difference of style.

  • Well, is it appropriate for senior, very, very senior police officers each to be able to follow their own perhaps conflicting style or does there need to be rather more around the concept of a common approach? Or am I being too analytical?

  • No, sir, I think that as a result of this Inquiry and as a result of the events as they unfolded last year in the Metropolitan Police whilst I was still there and as the Acting Commissioner, we did actually take action to make sure that we had a common style in terms of our interaction with the media. I think in those days about openness, transparency, not wanting to be seen as in a siege mentality scenario, as had been the case in the past, I think there were different styles as to how we could be open, transparent, approachable, accountable, and as a result of that, there were different styles that developed. But the values of the organisation were still the same in terms of honesty, integrity, value human rights, et cetera.

  • Maybe, Mr Godwin, the fact that you felt uncomfortable or would have felt uncomfortable had you enjoyed similar social interactions, is that not an indication that your value system was, as it were, giving you warnings that this was or might be seen to be inappropriate?

  • I think I was more concerned about the perceptions where you have media stories that are gossip stories or embarrassing stories or leaks, then the sheer fact that you've engaged in that sort of behaviour does make you vulnerable to being accused of misconduct, et cetera, so I thought that that was probably not the right environment, but that was purely a style issue for me.

  • So there's certainly a perception then that if gossip is reported in the press, the source of the gossip may be the sort of person who does or is seen to be in close proximity with the press and therefore might be the gossip?

  • Naturally it would follow that those that are frequently meeting with the press, frequently engaging in social events with the media, would be the ones that would automatically be looked at as potential sources, yes. But obviously they may well not be, of course.

  • Although the field would be limited logically to those of similar mindset who are also having similar social interactions with the press. Would you agree with that?

  • You tell us in paragraph 26 that since July 2011 the record of all media contacts by members of the management board has been the subject of an auditing process through the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Professional Standards. First of all, was that something that you introduced when you were temporary Commissioner?

  • The purpose is probably obvious, but spell it out anyway, Mr Godwin. What was the purpose of this?

  • The purpose was to respond to the concerns being raised in a number of quarters about the perception of our conduct and our relationships with the media and as a result of that I think it was a member of the Police Authority said let a light shine in and then actually that restores confidence significantly. So for me it was about letting a light shine in as to what that connectivity, what that contact was.

  • Can I just be clear, when you refer to the record of all media contacts, is that the gifts and hospitality record or some different record?

  • That's an additional record in terms of the contacts that are outside of the hospitality.

  • Okay. So it's a record we haven't yet seen because it postdates -- it doesn't postdate what the Inquiry is looking at, but postdates most of the events we've been looking at?

  • It comes, I believe, from the diaries. It's the diaries of the various senior people.

  • Oh right, so we have seen some of them, yes.

    Paragraph 37, Mr Godwin. A lot of your statement we're simply taking as read, if you don't mind. This is page 06949. You say:

    "There are also instances where a few members of the media seek contact from MPS staff for less appropriate reasons. These can range from attempts by the media to either embarrass or attack MPS staff to apportion blame, or get operational information that is at that time confidential and, if disclosed, may be harmful to ongoing police operations."

    Do you have personal knowledge of any of this?

  • We have a number of inquiries that we launched to try to get to the bottom of some of those, but in terms of personal evidence against individuals, no. Specific individuals.

  • But the individuals involved are those, is this right, who are having the closer social type engagements with the press?

  • No, I have no evidence to suggest that that would be true, it's just that the perception, as I said earlier, the perception of that conduct may leave rise to making them more vulnerable to that accusation.

  • Paragraph 39 you make clear the contact with the media is more broadly recorded by the DPA. Do you know in what form that's done?

  • I can't tell you exactly what the system is in the DPA.

  • Okay, we'll wait until Monday.

    The whole issue of leaks, paragraph 44, page 06952. This is the use of the term "police source". As you opine, it's open to debate whether the police source is a police officer at all:

    "The current MPS policy sets out that if you are qualified to give a view on a police matter then you should."

    First of all, when you say "then you should", do you mean then you may or do you mean then you ought to?

  • "Should" is not a good word in the evidence there, I'll take your point. In terms of openness and transparency, one of the underpinning philosophies of the Metropolitan Police Service that came in at that point in 2000/2001 is that we shouldn't be hiding away from being held to account and if asked a reasonable question we should be able to answer it if you're in a position to have that knowledge and be able to answer it.

    In those circumstances, that's what I mean by the "should". It's not about things that are not within your purview, gossip, tittle-tattle or giving away operational information that might impact on our ability to perform our responsible operations.

  • So when the media use "police source", they very often may be referring to someone who's given them an anonymous off-the-record briefing or they may be referring to the source not being a police officer at all, either because they've made it up or because it's someone close to a police officer but not actually a police officer; is that correct?

  • Leak inquiries, your evidence is the same as others: extremely difficult to conduct them. You make it clear in paragraph 47 that you have launched a number of leak inquiries within the DPS. Very difficult to pursue and prosecute. Would you agree that the very fact of the leak investigation taking place does act as a form of deterrence?

  • Can I ask you about paragraph 48. When you refer to accessing police databases, I've been asked to put to you this question: do you think that access to the Police National Computer is open to abuse, particularly by unscrupulous journalists?

  • One of the key challenges for any organisation is to protect its data and to avoid the mishandling of data. We have processes in place through our professional standards to monitor the use of PNC, to identify those that we identify to be misusing PNC and to deal with them appropriately.

  • There are various techniques which are designed -- I'm sure you don't want to share them with us -- to seek out anomalous behaviour and then pursue those further; is that right?

  • Thank you. We're going to take that issue up possibly with other witnesses.

    Paragraphs 57 and 58, please, Mr Godwin. And 59. You make it clear that you had no inclination to speak to journalists other than through the DPA, but you state that on occasion you have received telephone calls on your mobile phone from journalists to whom you haven't given your mobile phone number or indeed given permission to anyone else to do so, and then the natural reaction -- indeed you pursued this -- was to bat off the questions.

    Do you happen to know how the journalists might have got your number?

  • I can only make assumptions on that. I don't know how they got my number, but obviously somebody who had it gave it to them.

  • Yes. Someone from within the DPA, is that the most likely possibility?

  • I wouldn't even like to speculate.

  • Obviously the last thing you want is a journalist calling you on your mobile at whatever time of the day or night?

  • In terms of looking at the future, paragraph 70 of your statement, you say you think there should be "greater transparency between the media and the police", the relationship is "vital", there should be "consideration of having an arrangement with the media to enable the MPS to pursue leaks", et cetera. So by transparency, I mean the word is self-explanatory, but in practical terms what are you looking at there to achieve this greater transparency?

  • I think we started the process with the publication of all corporate hospitality and our wider publication of the various interactions. We learned lessons from people like the GLA and others, and I think the more we're exposed to scrutiny, the better it will be.

  • In terms of recording contact between police officers and media, the point might be made: well, we shouldn't burden this with bureaucracy, and that too much information is going to achieve nothing. Do you agree with that or not?

  • I think personally I'm not sure how much bureaucracy would require to actually put those in. There's normally a diary contact and hence the stuff that we're doing anyway in London, and so I don't see it as a bureaucratic problem.

  • The Inquiry has just heard some evidence from Mr Quick in which you appear, but not centrally. I just put a number of points to you. If you feel that you can't deal with them now because you haven't had sufficient notice of them, tell us and we'll deal with them in a different way, but it may be possible that you can deal with them now.

    Mr Quick told us that on 1 December 2008 -- and this was the context of the Damian Green operation -- there was a meeting in his office and you were present and obviously Mr Quick was present. According to Mr Quick, Sir Paul Stephenson looked very anxious and told Mr Quick he'd written out his resignation. Do you recall that or do you recall something different?

  • I recall the Commissioner reading out a press statement that related to not standing for Commissioner and ultimately at the end of his tenure and seeing in a new Commissioner for retiring at that point from the Metropolitan Police.

  • Thank you. Were you in the room, Mr Godwin, when Mr Quick was asked a question about this by Mr Garnham or not?

  • I'm not going to ask you anything more about that since it may or may not link in with evidence we've heard.

    Paragraph 61 -- this is of Mr Quick's evidence. This was a meeting on 6 December 2008 that you, who were then the Acting Deputy Commissioner, asked Mr Quick to attend a meeting at New Scotland Yard, and Mr Johnston and you were there and Sir Paul Stephenson. And Sir Paul Stephenson's Chief of Staff was also there. At that meeting Mr Johnston, who was carrying out a review into the Damian Green operation, expressed a preliminary view that was along the lines: although the arrest was unlawful --

  • It was lawful, pardon me -- on balance he felt that it was disproportionate in that he should have been invited in for interview. Do you recall that occasion?

  • At that meeting, did Mr Quick strongly challenge Mr Johnston's view?

  • Who got the better of the argument, insofar as it's possible to say as in your case an impartial observer?

  • Both arguments had some merit, as I happened to accord more with the Ian Johnston view, but there were still lines of inquiry that needed to be followed at that point.

  • Would it be appropriate to treat potential suspects differently? I mean, Mr Galley, was it, had been arrested. Would there be a view that actually one ought to be consistent in one's treatment of those suspected of crime?

  • I think necessity and proportionality is something that you have to review and question yourself as the information unfolds, and one arrest might lead to more information that changes your perception of what needs to be done to the next suspect in the same inquiry, so you have to constantly revisit and challenge yourself and that was the point I think that Ian Johnston was making.

  • According to Mr Quick, you and Sir Paul Stephenson seemed very preoccupied during the meeting about the negative media attention the MPS would receive if this investigation continued. Is that right or not?

  • I don't think it was right in that context. Certainly we were taking a significant battering in the media about straying over constitutional lines, et cetera, and naturally an organisation likes ours, that is a matter of concern.

  • The last point that Mr Quick made insofar as it relates to you, you may recall, Mr Godwin, an article in the Mail on Sunday which related to Mr Quick's wife's business. Do you recall that?

  • There were two articles. The first one caused particular concern. I think that was on 21 December 2008. According to Mr Quick, he made a number of telephone calls throughout the day to various people, including to you.

  • Yes, first line of paragraph 77 --

  • -- of Mr Quick's statement.

    Do you remember anything about those calls and what he said?

  • Yes. I can't recall exactly what was said, but obviously he was extremely distressed and he naturally had his family there, it was coming up to Christmas, and he was getting a lot of personal attention and his family were getting personal attention that was not welcomed and was actually having a big impact on his family life.

  • Was Mr Quick asking you to do anything in particular?

  • I can't recall him asking me to do anything particularly. I recall getting the press office to make contact with him and various other bits but I can't recall anything else.

  • So you assisted him to the extent of getting the press office in contact with him and then the press office would do what they could with the Mail on Sunday; is that right?

  • Yes, and equally to actually try to support him in terms of what was a dreadfully challenging time for him and his family and actually to see if there was anything else that we could do to help.

  • I've been asked to put to you these few questions in relation to the referral of Mr Yates' conduct to the MPA's Professional Standard Cases Subcommittee, which was in June and July of last year. Do you recall making two misconduct referral reports to that subcommittee?

  • I made them through the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Professional Standards, Mark Simmons.

  • One of these related to the Shami Media issue, the other to the Amy Wallis issue, do you remember that?

  • In making those referrals, did you form any view as to whether there was evidence to substantiate the allegations or was it more a formal matter that the issue had been raised, therefore it was appropriate that the relevant body, the PSCSC, should investigate it?

  • Thank you. I've been asked to ask you this: whether during your time as Deputy Commissioner you have made a formal misconduct report involving an ACPO rank officer directly to the PSCSC on any other occasion?

  • I can't recall doing that, no. Not personally.

  • And therefore, then, this final question: whether you're aware of any other occasion on which your predecessors as Deputy Commissioner have made any such report directly to the PSCSC?

  • Deputy Commissioners in the past have referred other Assistant Commissioners for other matters.

  • But the fact of the referral is not you passing a judgment; it's often if there's a matter of public concern, it's fit to be investigated and the fact that it's investigated and the officer eventually exonerated is in the public interest and may be eventually in the interests of the officer?

  • Is that broadly --

  • Exactly. It's to make sure that it's seen to be done and independently done.

  • Thank you. Mr Godwin, those are all the questions I have for you.

  • Mr Godwin, you've seen the reports both of Sir Denis O'Connor and also Dame Elizabeth Filkin, and you comment upon them in a sentence or so. But I would be grateful for your help in a little bit more detail than that. I've asked others who have achieved the very highest rank in the Met of Commissioner, and I'm prepared to include in this regard the Deputy Commissioner, to provide me with the benefit of their experience in how proportionately recommendations could be framed which allow the Metropolitan Police to do the job in an open and transparent way, but do not create such a rigid structure that the result is, if not paralysis, a lack of ability to respond appropriately to events as they transpire.

    It is to learn from what has happened, and of course I've not only got the benefit of what Sir Denis has said and his investigations and the benefit of what Elizabeth Filkin has said and her investigation, I have now trawled over some of the same territory myself and received a rather wider and broader picture across a wider timeframe, which you may or may not have had the ability to see for yourself, as it's emerged in this public Inquiry.

    So taking all that into account, if you do have views as to what would work, both for the Met and other forces -- because I see no value in different systems across the country, personally; I understand the different position the Met is in, but I think it's rather odd if different forces have different approaches; they may require a different calibration, but that's a different point -- and also what would work to cope with the issues that have arisen in all these three inquiries. I don't ask you to do that now, but if you've thought about it and are in a position to give me your views, you're very welcome to do so, but what I've said -- and I did not say it to Sir Paul Stephenson, but I will write to him and ask him to do so, it's a thought that I obviously had after he gave evidence and have thrown at Lord Condon, Lord Stevens and Lord Blair, I would be very grateful to receive them.

    I don't know whether you do have any views on that or whether you'd want to think about them?

  • I do have views, but I think in terms of the challenge that you've laid out, I would like to think about that and to write in formally about that.

    I think the key concern that I have is that at the end of it we do not want the police to become hidden and secretive again in basis of the systems and instructions that are put in place. I think actually openness and transparency has many benefits, and equally I think there is an issue about the perception that this is the conduct, in terms of corruption, in terms of the corruption investigations, where arrests have been made, that that is actually wholesale of what goes on in the Police Service. The vast majority of men and women in public services do not get involved in that sort of activity. So it is about balance, it is about getting it right, it is about having certain standards and values, and I will write to you formally if I may, sir.

  • I ought to say that in exactly the same way that I have said, that the vast majority of journalists do their job entirely appropriately and perform a very valuable service, exactly the same is so for the police, and nothing that I've said should be construed to the contrary. None of the concerns I have expressed should be taken as expressing a more general view about the police, or the Metropolitan Police in particular, to a contrary effect.

  • Thank you, sir. I shall take up that invitation and I'll write to you, sir.

  • I ought to make it clear, and I didn't quite say this to the others but I'm sure they'll learn it, that of course whatever I receive will become public.

  • I missed out one short point in Mr Quick's evidence.

    Do you recall, Mr Godwin, the DPP chairing a case conference and indicating that in his view it was in the public interest to continue the investigation? This was before he subsequently came to the conclusion that the investigation would not be continued.

  • I didn't go to any case conferences with the DPP. But I am aware that he was continuing it in terms of there were some issues around parliamentary privilege about materials that had been seized.

  • Exactly. Do you remember being briefed on that together with Mr Quick by Commander Sawyer?

  • I can remember being briefed. It probably would have been Commander Sawyer.

  • According to Mr Quick, you remarked that Sir Paul Stephenson "would go ballistic and would pull the inquiry anyway". Did you say that or something like that?

  • I can't recall the "pull the inquiry" part. I can't -- I'm not suggesting that I didn't say that he might go ballistic. I think one of the issues for us at that point was the amount of time it was taking. There were a number of people involved and it needed some answer to be made around public interest, about constitutional separation, constitutional powers, and it was going on an inordinately long amount of time. That was about the amount of time it was taking as opposed to anything else.

  • The position wasn't quite as Mr Jay said it. The DPP advised the investigation should continue; he didn't ever stop the investigation. After it had concluded, he reached conclusions about prosecution, but as I understand it said nothing adverse about the fact of the investigation.

  • Right. Mr Godwin, thank you very much indeed.

  • It's 10 o'clock Monday.

  • Yes, I'll remember it this time. 10 o'clock Monday.

  • (The hearing adjourned until 10 o'clock on Monday, 12 March 2012)