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


  • If we could resume, Professor Barnett, is it right that you are the Professor of Communications at the University of Westminster?

  • And you've been teaching in the University's School of Media, Art and Design for 18 years?

  • And you've had a personal chair since 2000?

  • You tell us that the university's media department is the oldest in the country?

  • And you're also an external examiner for the journalism course at the University of Kent?

  • Over the last 25 years you've directed over 30 research projects?

  • And you are currently acting as specialist adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications for its inquiry into investigative journalism?

  • You've been a member of the National Union of Journalists for nearly 30 years? You were a columnist on the Observer?

  • And you have been an editorial board member of the British Journalism Review since its inception in 1990?

  • And you have published a number of books and articles on journalism?

  • And media policy.

    Professor Brock, if I could ask you --

  • Just before we go on, you've not yet introduced his statement, so we'll do it when his statement comes to be considered, because of course Professor Barnett spoke at one of the seminars. Yes.

  • Professor Brock, could you confirm your full name, please?

  • George Laurence Brock.

  • And you are Professor and Head of Journalism at City University London?

  • You joined the university in 2009?

  • Before that, you had worked since 1981 at the Times in various posts including Comment Editor, Foreign Editor, Brussels Bureau Chief, Managing Editor and Saturday Editor?

  • Before that, you were a reporter on the Yorkshire Evening Press in York?

  • And subsequently you spent five years as a reporter for the Observer?

  • You are an ex-president and current board member of the World Editors Forum?

  • And you're on the board of the International Press Institute and chair its British Committee?

  • You also write a blog on journalism, the link for which is set out in your witness statement, and you write in the Times, the British Journalism Review and the Times Literary Supplement?

  • I turn now to Professor Cathcart. Could you give us your full name, please?

  • And you were Professor of Journalism at Kingston University, is that right?

  • You still are, and have been since 2005?

  • Before that, you were a senior lecturer for two years?

  • Your career in journalism began with a graduate traineeship at Reuters?

  • You remained at Reuters as a correspondent between 1978 and 1986?

  • You then joined the launch team of the Independent newspaper as a foreign news sub-editor?

  • And then you were the launch foreign editor of the Independent on Sunday in 1990 and you later became the paper's deputy editor?

  • You left in 1997 to work as a freelance and to write books?

  • They include "Were You Still Up for Portillo?" in 1997, "The Case of Stephen Lawrence, "Jill Dando: Her Life and Death" and "The Fly in the Cathedral".

    From 2003 to 2007, you were the assistant editor and also media columnist of the New Statesman?

  • And in 2010, you were the specialist adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport in the inquiry which produced the report "Press standards, libel and privacy".

  • At Kingston you are Director of Research in the department and you've led two research projects in association with the Natural History Museum?

  • Ms Phillips, if I could ask you, please, to confirm your full name to the Inquiry?

  • My name is Angela Phillips.

  • And you currently work at Goldsmiths College at London?

  • You run all the print journalism programmes?

  • The journalism MA and you co-founded the innovative MA in digital journalism with the college's department of computing?

  • You've been a journalist for over 30 years, starting in the alternative press in the 1970s and moving on to work for national newspapers, magazines, television and radio, both the BBC and independents?

  • You trained initially as a photographer and worked for several years as a photo journalist before moving mainly into print. You were awarded an MA in media and cultural studies in 2003 and you currently freelance for the Guardian and you contribute to Comment is Free on the Guardian blog site?

  • And you're a participant in Goldsmiths' Leverhulme Media Research Centre?

  • Thank you. Can I now turn to ask you formally about your witness statements? Could I ask you first of all, Professor Barnett, are the contents of your witness statement true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • And did you attend the seminar earlier this year?

  • Yes, I spoke at the third seminar.

  • Those comments at the time were made on the basis that they would not form formal evidence. Would you like them to be treated as formal evidence for Lord Justice Leveson's purposes?

  • Is there anything in them that you've now -- we'll doubtless come this, but I'd be very keen to know if there is anything in it that you've now changed your mind about or want to expand upon during the course of the day?

  • I'm very happy for that to be included as spoken at the time.

  • Professor Brock, the same questions. Is your witness statement true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • And did you speak at the seminar?

  • Yes, I spoke at the third seminar.

  • Are you content for those contributions to the seminar to be received formally in evidence?

  • Yes, I think that's fine. There's a good deal more to say on the subject but --

  • -- it stands fine as it is.

  • -- and I'm very keen for you all to have the opportunity of saying what is to be said on the subject. Let me make it abundantly clear, this has been your -- not to say your life's work, but within your DNA for a very long time and it isn't part of my DNA as yet, but it is becoming so, and therefore I'm very keen for your help, and although we'll formally discuss various of the issues this morning and during the course of the day, I wouldn't want you to think that your contribution should then be considered at an end. I'd be very keen to hear your reflected views as we get more into the evidence and hear more so that I am better informed about what can be done for the future.

    It's critical, and I've said this publicly before and I don't mind repeating it -- I know Professor Brock's getting this, but it's really a common comment -- to ensure that whatever system, if there is to be a change, is understandable, is acceptable to all and will work. You may have observed that I said during the course of the evidence that I was absolutely opposed to producing something that was only of interest to you as professors of journalism in years to come as an interesting sideline which produced a document that simply sat on a shelf. Not that I'm trying to deprive you of work to do in the future, but I am very keen that this enormous expense produces something that is sensible, worthwhile and workable.

    Right, sorry to interrupt you, Mr Barr.

  • Not at all.

    Professor Cathcart, are the contents of your witness statement true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • And are you content for your contributions to the seminar to be received formally in evidence?

  • Ms Phillips, I understand that you were one of a number of contributors to the Goldsmiths witness statement, but is it true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • Yes, it is, and I just wanted to say that Professor Curren had originally been asked to give evidence but we worked together in the Leverhulme research group and it was felt that as I teach practical journalism, that I might be of more use to you today, so that's why Professor Curren isn't here.

  • We're delighted to get the collective benefit of Goldsmiths experience today. Are you able to confirm that the Goldsmiths contribution, if I put it that way, to the seminar can be received formally in evidence?

  • Before we leap into the meaty issues, can I start with a little bit of background about the role of university training for journalists? We sense from the witness statements that there has been a trend, perhaps over the last two decades, where university training has grown considerably for journalists such that it is now the most frequently delivered training for journalists and has replaced in-house training as the mainstream entry into the profession. Is that right?

  • It's slightly more conflicted than that because quite a lot of it's postgraduate, quite unlike, for example, in America. Although there are undergraduate journalism programmes, we also have, certainly City and Goldsmiths, all of us, I think, have important postgraduate journalism programmes, so that quite a large number -- the last research I saw said that something like 50 per cent of people going into journalism in I think it was 2002 already had a postgraduate qualification of some kind, so I think it's quite important to recognise that there are two different levels. There is undergraduate journalism and there's quite a lot of postgraduate journalism and those journalists will have had a different kind of first degree.

  • But nevertheless, if I can just add, it is broadly absolutely right to say that because there is less in-house training going on, more of it has happened in universities. The traditional way in which, for example, national papers were staffed was by people who graduated in the informal sense of the word out of regional papers, while somewhere around the 1990s that flow just dwindled to a trickle, and they weren't being trained and they weren't emerging in such numbers and they weren't being so well trained, and that boosted applications for university courses, and indeed the creation of university courses too.

  • Hang on. You have to speak. If you want to speak, just crack on.

  • I just wanted to add, to add to what George was saying, I think the broad trend is undoubtedly away from training on the job, on the ground, towards university courses, but the point that I would like to emphasise, as far as I can tell this is happening on an essentially piecemeal basis. There is no coordination of the way in which this is happening. It is a process where on the one hand you have in particular local newspapers closing down their schemes because they can't afford to run them, or even the national schemes being reduced in size, and at the same time, as George said, universities picking up the slack, but not in any kind of coherent or organised way. It's simply responding to that kind of demand, that there are people, students, who want to study the media and go into journalism, but are not finding the routes in that were traditionally there.

  • If no one else want to contribute on that opening question, could I move on to pick up from that and ask: is there any difficulty with the supply of budding journalists of sufficient calibre or not?

  • My answer would be no. I think there is actually almost an abundance of people, which is very gratifying, who are keen, eager, quite idealistic about their view of what journalism can do, what they can achieve as journalists, the role of journalism in a democratic society. So I don't know if my colleagues would agree or not, but my sense of it is that we certainly have no shortage of good applicants who are keen to study media and become journalists.

  • We certainly have no shortage of applicants. In terms of quantity and quality, I don't think there's a problem if you're talking about the national press and what -- in the broad terms, the BBC, Sky, employers like that who tend to broadcast across. If you're talking about the regional newspapers, I think it's much harder for them to find trainees. The relative pay has gone down very much more sharply. They don't train people. There isn't a career progression to higher up in the business, if I can put it that way, and therefore the quantity and quality of people going into the regional press has changed a lot, and not for the better, broadly speaking.

  • I would think there's something to add about the regional press there which is they're actually shrinking their staff numbers, not increasing them. They're not big recruiters these days.

    In response to your central question, there is no shortage of very, very bright young people wanting to be journalists.

  • I would absolutely agree with that. We get amazing students at Goldsmiths and we don't tend to -- they haven't ever tended to go to the local newspapers, or to local or regionals, they've tended to go to nationals and magazines, which is probably fortunate given what's happening at the local level at the moment.

  • Before you go on, can I go back to the question you answered a moment ago. Is there a call for a requirement for a common standard across the universities? Or is the diversity of the courses you offer and therefore perhaps the varying standards -- and I'm not going to go into the debate -- of the training that your undergraduates or your graduates receive of value or not a good idea? Is my question sufficiently clear?

  • I would say that one of the virtues, as we would see it, of the system is that it's quite competitive. You want students to come to your university and like the look of your course. You make it as -- in our case, as practice-oriented as in a sense you can, within the confines of a university. You want to give them a really good preparation, and you promote that and we compete. That's the university model, as it were.

  • And good students do a lot of research before they decide which courses they're going to apply for, and they're very sussed. They do know the differences between them. And when they come to interview -- and I don't know about the others, but we interview every single student coming into our postgraduate courses -- they're pretty clear about why they're making the decisions they're making about which courses they want to go to.

  • So the diversity is positive and a good thing?

  • I think absolutely, yes.

  • Just to add to that, we're very old-fashioned in that we interview every student coming onto the undergraduate course -- there aren't very many universities left that still do that -- and have exactly the same experience, that they've done their research, which is much easier now on the Internet, they understand the variety of courses available. In our case, it's 50 per cent practice, 50 per cent theory, which I think is the same as Goldsmiths.

  • And they appreciate that they're going to have a slightly more theoretical approach to the subject at Westminster or at Goldsmiths than perhaps at other universities which are more vocational. That's part of the mix.

  • There is a very large variety, or rather I think it would be better to say there is a spectrum across which courses run, with theoretical at one end and practical at the other, and different schools teach in slightly different ways. Their mixture of the two will be different. I certainly haven't ever heard a call for consistency of --

  • No, I'm just asking the question.

  • But it was your first question and I haven't heard it.

    There is a separate issue, which I think we're likely to get asked about, about the accrediting organisations, but I won't get into that right now.

  • That's what it leads up to.

  • The industry is so different. There are some courses that are far more populist in their approach, they are both more vocational and more populist. And our postgraduate and undergraduate students are quite different in the kind of people they are and what they are interested in. So at postgraduate level we tend to get students who are either hoping to get into the nationals or into business magazines or the sort of higher end of the magazine sector and they know that's the kind of students who come to Goldsmiths, so they are selecting a course that's going to be a bit more -- going to have a bit more of an academic -- be more critical than maybe another kind of course.

  • As Professor Brock has identified, my question leads on to the whole question of accreditation, which we'll come onto at some stage. Just while we are talking about the subject. Right, sorry.

  • Indeed, accreditation was the next issue I was going to introduce. We've read in the statements that there are a number of accreditation bodies and some of you have courses accredited to more than one body, other courses accredited to one body and the observation is made that there is no over-arching organisation to the delivery of content of academic training.

    So could I ask, and I'll start with you, Professor Barnett, simply because you're on the left and perhaps we can move across, is there any difficulty with accreditation? Would it be better to have something more standardised or is the system working now?

  • Is the system working? I suppose it depends on what you want as your ultimate objective. I suppose we'll come -- I made it clear in my evidence that I actually think it's what happens once you get into the newsroom that is the issue, rather than the training, but -- and I think that's a separate problem.

  • We'll come to that.

  • In terms of the training itself, because I teach on the theory side, I asked my practice colleagues about this, they are fairly clear that the NCTJ, the National Council for the Training of Journalists, is regarded as slightly inflexible and is not necessarily an appropriate accreditation to have. It doesn't actually help. It produces a sort of a narrowness in course delivery which we didn't want. Whereas the broadcast equivalent, the BCTJ, is rather more flexible and we are accredited to the BCTJ.

    So I think it depends essentially at a local level for each of us what we want to achieve and to what extent it fits our own kind of course aims and diversity. It comes back to the point, I think, about diversity and for some universities it fits, for some courses it fits, for others it doesn't.

  • Before I throw that question open to our other witnesses, perhaps I could invite you to focus on ethical training and whether there ought to be any over-arching accreditation of ethical training or whether it's best split as it is at the moment. Any thoughts on that?

  • It might in theory be better to have an over-arching body. I think in practice journalism in so many of its aspects is changing so rapidly that that would really be quite difficult to do. The situation that Steve was describing just now, we're in the same position at City. We are not accredited to the NCTJ and for broadly the same reasons as Steve's colleagues decided, so I won't labour the point, it's too rigid, it's too difficult for us to operate, and we did not think that it would improve our courses by doing it. And that continues to be the case and we keep that under review but we are in the broadcasting one and we're also in the Periodicals Training Council.

    I think that however journalism is changing so rapidly that an over-arching or standard on organisation, even if you were just thinking about ethical training, would be extremely difficult to do. And given the state of training as I see it, I think that competitive plurality, if I can put it that way, seems to be working effectively. And therefore I don't think that -- it would be a disproportionate effort to try and produce an over-arching organisation.

  • Yes, I agree with George about the over-arching quality. I think we at Kingston have an MA that is accredited to the NCTJ and we did that because we were setting up a -- our focus is on print or on written journalism, and we don't teach broadcast at all and I think our feeling was that this was the appropriate way to teach journalists, teach young journalists to get them jobs in the local and regional press particularly, which tend to require NCTJ qualification. So we married the two, the degree and the NCTJ, now the diploma.

    It is a difficult -- it's a difficult MA, it's a very demanding MA. When we recruit, we interview them all, we warn them that piling the NCTJ qualification work on top of the university -- the demands of a university MA degree is very, very demanding. So, you know, these are students who can't, for example, or find it extremely difficult to hold down, you know, part-time jobs outside their degree as students often have to these days. It's tricky.

    But I have -- I mean, I have been critical, I was critical at the seminar of the NCTJ in the field of ethics because it is effectively a corner of the teaching, of the requirement of the NCTJ diploma, a small corner of it that addresses ethical questions. I'm sure that every teacher who delivers an NCTJ course everywhere in the country teaches it in an ethical manner, but the council itself does not place the stress on ethics that I certainly would like to see and I think that's a pity, but it's also a reflection of the NCTJ being the servant of the industry.

  • And the industry's priorities not being highly ethical, shall we say. They have not passed down from on high a demand to the NCTJ to deliver high standards of ethics teaching.

  • I looked at the NCTJ when I started the Goldsmiths MA in the mid-1990s and I decided not to apply for NCTJ accreditation for much of the reasons that we've heard so far. I felt it was far too narrow and it positively prevented a postgraduate course from looking at the industry or in any way interrogating the job of a journalist. The idea is because basically the NCTJ is run by the industry, it seeks simply to imprint industry ideas on teaching.

    It seems to me that at postgraduate level, young people should be asked to think about what journalism is and what their role as a journalist would be and very particularly to think about the power that journalists have once they are actually working, so that we at Goldsmiths, we really think that theory and practice need to work together and that ethics needs to be part of what you do from the moment students come in the door because they need to be constantly challenged with ethical questions.

    If you put the straitjacket of an NCTJ, very kind of nuts and bolts, it's very tick boxy. If you put that straitjacket on top of a postgraduate course, I felt you would actually be stopping students from thinking about what they were doing and we like to think that what we do at Goldsmiths is encourage people to think. It's very importantly part of what we do.

  • Is a fair summary of that that you're not focusing on what was done yesterday as necessarily correct; you're actually requiring people to think about behind that question and ask: what should we be doing tomorrow?

  • You couldn't have put it better. That's what I say -- as my students leave to go into the world, I basically say at the moment everything's really difficult and really hard and jobs are scarce, but you are going to be the journalists of tomorrow, and what we've taught you will stand you in good stead for the future, not the past.

    That was the other problem I always had with the NCTJ, that they were teaching too old regulations. We started with a multi-platform postgraduate course in the mid-1990s. The NCTJ didn't have a course that would have fitted that. We would have had to drop most of it. But we are Periodicals Training Council accredited because they have a completely different approach. They come along and say, "Let's see what you're doing and whether it's good enough for us", and that's a much better way of accrediting courses because it allows many flowers to bloom. It means that we can all be different. The fact that we do have somebody coming along and saying, "You're different and we like it", rather than, "You're different and you're not doing what we tell you to do".

  • In fact, accreditation on that basis would be quite easy.

  • All accrediting bodies would need to do would be to ask for the course content details and see to what extent ethics form an important component of the various modules that are being taught.

    In our first year course, the first three lectures that first year students have are all about ethics and regulation. It is an integral part of the introduction to journalism. But there is no ethics module. It is like a stick of rock, it goes through virtually every one of the modules that is being taught at the discretion of the individual lecturer. But it would be quite easy to actually accredit on that basis by seeing to what extent those components are contained within existing courses.

  • Can I just stress that we are adapting courses all the time for the changes in the business. We've just introduced a virtually compulsory module in our teaching which we've called entrepreneurial journalism. This is not about ethics but what it does is teach young journalists what it's going to be like if they find themselves, say, in a small Internet start-up. If they go and work in a small Internet start-up, that may not be regulated by anyone, or it may be regulated by someone. It will vary. And therefore you have to have a basis of the ethics teaching which is independent of the machinery that they may encounter, or the circumstances they may encounter because they are -- this is the point I'd really like to try and get across -- changing very rapidly.

  • I would absolutely agree with that.

  • I would think -- all of us, I'm sure, would agree that what we're trying to produce is not just journalists but reflective journalists, who think about what they're doing, who ask the question: why do I do this job? Is this really journalism? Is this the right sort of journalism to be doing? Am I doing it in appropriate ways?

  • If everybody has said what they'd like to say about that topic, I'll move on. I'm going in a moment to move to the question of how at an academic strange you can possibly prepare a student for the realities on the ground, but before we go to that theme, given your somewhat lukewarm reaction to the accreditation schemes that exist, could I ask you this practical question: do any of you feel that there is insufficient emphasis on ethical training at the academic stage?

  • No. My short answer is no. Certainly those courses that I'm involved with, those on which I have been an external examiner, what I know of the courses of my colleagues, I think it could be -- even if we're being as self-critical as we possibly can, I would find it quite difficult to identify courses where there is insufficient emphasis on ethical training. That for me is not the issue, I'm afraid.

  • I'd broadly endorse that. I haven't inspected every single course that comes under these headings, but the good ones that I know about, the quantity of ethical teaching is not the issue.

  • I teach one of the ethics lectures, or a couple of ethics lectures, and one of the thing I think we're up against all the time is that we are teaching students to be ethical and knowing that they're going into an industry where they're going to be under constant pressure, and we have to make them aware of that as well.

    So we do show, or I do show examples of newspapers that have either sailed very close to the wind in terms of the PCC regulations or indeed have completely ridden right over the top, and we talk about why this happens and we talk about it in the context of the kind of extraordinary competitive pressures that the newspapers are under and what happens to young journalists when they go into the system.

    I feel you can't really teach ethics without teaching people about the commercial realities of journalism in this country, and I think that -- I'm sure we would all agree that actually young people come into journalism through training as very ethical young people. I think that's how they come to us and I think that's -- certainly as far as I'm concerned, that's how they leave us.

  • If I could just add one thing. I think it's worth drawing the contrast with the ancient time when I entered journalism, when certainly I received no explicit ethical training whatsoever. I went into -- as it happened, I worked in Reuters, in a highly ethical environment, as I started. I was fortunate in that sense, but the training I was given at Reuters did not include a single word about ethics. We have come a long way.

  • If the position is that now your students are leaving having been fully taught about ethics, it takes us to the interesting question that was being introduced there: to what extent can you, in fact, prepare somebody for the moral hazards that they then go on to encounter in very busy, very pressurised working environments? Can you instill moral courage in your students?

  • For me, that's the problem. I've been very struck over the course of the last few weeks by some of the evidence from people who have clearly had to be extremely courageous to stand up and talk about what the reality is at the coalface. Richard Peppiatt is an obvious example.

  • I quoted in my evidence the editor of the Press Gazette who wrote -- Dominic Ponsford -- who quoted somebody from one of the red tops last year talking about when you have your editor shouting at you to get a story, you lose your morality. You don't really see celebrities as being real people, you see them as a product, as a story.

    We saw the same thing in the book published last year by Sharon Marshall which I've quoted as well. She's talking about ten years of working in the red tops. The pressures that you are under. And they are told in no uncertain terms that if they don't do what they are asked to do, there is no shortage of young, willing recruits who are waiting to take up the very valued and rare job that they have.

    So I'm talking specifically now about life, if you like, on the kinds of national tabloid newspapers where a lot of these problems have occurred. I think it's less stark and less problematic for the majority of journalists who are working on local and regional newspapers. I think there are different problems, which very much emanate from the economic pressures that they're under, and that's more to do with reliance on public relations, what Nick Davies has called "churnalism", having to turn the stories round very quickly, but the kind of ethical problems, which is what's driven this Inquiry in the first place, very much concentrated on the national tabloids, I don't think is something that you can actually teach someone to deal with.

    That is in the end a matter of your individual moral courage as to whether you feel you can afford to put your head above the parapet and say no.

  • In the context of a workplace where it is extremely hard to get a job in the first place. So you have students who knock around doing several unpaid internships. They will eventually get -- I think this is an important factor -- they will eventually get probably a short-term contract or some casual employment, paid employment on a paper. When you're in that vulnerable position and the editor says, "I want it done this way", you're not just making a moral choice, you're making a financial choice.

  • Yes, I mean I obviously talk to my own students and I've also done some research in this field talking to journalists. I don't know whether that's going to come up later or whether you want me to talk about it now.

  • Keep going. Let's see how we get on.

  • As far as my own students are concerned, we teach using a live website called the EastLondonLines which is like a local paper and it runs all year, so they are working very much in a real newsroom environment and dealing on a kind of daily basis with the fact that we now have quite a big audience so they get comments and they know what it feels like, they know that the people out there are real. I think that's one of the most important things, that they're not writing about people who are cardboard cut-outs, they're real human beings and they will respond.

    So we have an absolute, no questions asked, everybody has a right of reply on EastLondonLines and our students know that and they learn that, but I have to say that only two students to my knowledge have ever gone to work on one of the red tops from my course, which might be something to do with the students who arrive and where they go.

    In terms of my research, though, I have interviewed -- I did two research projects, one early in -- sort of 2002 and another one in 2007 and 2008. They were fairly small samples and I was interviewing people right across the press. I wasn't specifically interviewing them about ethics. In the first wave I was looking at how ethnic minority journalists operated in mainstream newsrooms and I wanted to see how they dealt with stories that were quite often racist and how they were able to deal with that. The second wave of research was actually looking at how people were using new technologies to do research.

    The ethical questions came up almost unasked. In the first set of interviews, some of the people were under most extraordinary pressure because what seemed to be happening was that young ethnic minority journalists, often quite naively going into red top newsrooms, were actually being asked to do the stories that dealt directly with black and ethnic minority people, so that they were -- partly because they would be more likely to get an interview, and then they were finding that the work that they were writing was being twisted and changed, and they found it almost intolerable.

    The interesting thing about it is that as I look at the names of people on the newspapers, an awful lot of them aren't working where they used to work. I mean one in particular who I interviewed, talked -- he said at the end the trouble was that he'd come in from a local newspaper:

    "I was doing shifts on a daily basis. It was up to them to decide whether to renew my job the next day. So if I lost my job I wouldn't be able to pay the rent or anything like that, which probably isn't an excuse, but there was still that thought there."

    He, I'm quite glad to say, I've noticed is now working for the Guardian, so he no longer has to deal with that any more. And you find that quite a lot of these young people are coming in, working under extraordinary pressure and trying to find a way to get on to the more ethical newspapers because they don't want to do this stuff. But then a lot of them get trapped because the red tops pay much more, in a lot of situations, so they get trapped by the fact that they've got themselves into a situation where they have quite a good salary coming in and they kind of go with it.

    There was one particular person who said, who was at that time a news editor, who kept talking about how he kept meaning to leave, he was going to leave. As far as I know, he's still there. But a lot of people do try to leave and a lot of the kind of things that -- the kind of problems are at quite a low level.

    Somebody else said, a young woman reporter was saying:

    "They want attractive people in the paper, they want blondes, they want nice looking girls, the younger the better. You know that's what they want, so that's what you get because otherwise you'll either be in for a shouting or you'll have to do it again."

    I must add that when I interviewed these journalists, they were paranoid about me suggesting what newspaper they worked for because they were afraid that somebody might work out who they were. They could not speak publicly.

    The second wave of research that I did, which was, as I said, looking at Internet research -- incidentally I didn't hear any instances of phone hacking, but I was at that point talking mainly on the more upmarket press because I was simply interested in how people were using the Internet to do research, but again, while doing that research, people were talking about the extraordinary pressures they were under to simply repurpose, take stories from elsewhere which they might not necessarily even have checked, rewrite them, and you'd find people had stories that were going out under their bylines but they'd only written about three lines of. It had just been cobbled together through the day from a whole lot of different places.

    So to suggest that they would have any -- they don't feel they have any control over what eventually winds up either on the page, or certainly this was happening a lot on the Internet, that the Internet editions were -- you take a bit from this paper and a bit from that paper and you put it together and you make a couple of phone calls, and the next time you look at it a whole lot more had been added or it had been changed a lot.

    The other thing I found that was that at that particular time there was huge, huge commercial pressure to go online first, so that all the newspapers were moving towards the online first way of doing things, which meant working much, much faster, but they were also losing staff.

    At this stage, and I think it's reasonable to say that I was interviewing people in the Telegraph at this point, an awful lot of the most senior journalists, the ones who would be responsible for a very different kind of reporting which was much more thoughtful, which was much more led by specialists, were leaving, either under pressure or because they didn't like it any more, so that the whole layer of more senior, more seasoned, more knowledgeable journalists were quietly disappearing. I just drop that in because I think it probably was having some kind of effect.

  • If I can ask perhaps our other witnesses --

  • Your question was to what extent does the teaching of ethics prepare people for what they will find in actual newsrooms? I think there are three quick things I'd say.

    Firstly, our training is -- I think the best training is very practical oriented. We do similar things to the things Angela has been describing, we're trying to shift the websites we produce to be out there that people can actually see, in other words they're produced in the real world and they have to manage all the risks and difficulties that that requires. I think that that brings ethical dilemmas home to people in a way that classroom teaching doesn't necessarily do. I think you can actually warn people, and we do tend to warn people, what they are likely to find in red top newsrooms. Not very many of our post grads particularly go to red top newsrooms but we will tell them what it's likely to be like.

    The last thing I would say is that wherever this is going to be, we try to have teachers who have experienced some of these dilemmas. You had evidence I think two days ago from David Leigh, who was giving you descriptions of the kind of dilemmas he does with the Master's students on the investigative journalism course that we run, and I think the more people actually live dilemmas, the more vivid it will become for people and that's the most effective form of teaching in my view.

  • We've had an indication from Ms Phillips about the number of her students who go on to work for the red tops. Could I ask our other witnesses to give us some indication of the sort of proportion of your output, if I call them that, who go on to work for the red tops?

  • Red tops would be a small proportion. We're talking twos and threes in any year of output. I think one of the things that we're not mentioning here is that one of the big employers of university leavers is the business-to-business sector, is magazines and websites that serve the business community, you know, the sort of marketing world and so forth. That's a big employer and it dwarfs the uptake of the red tops.

  • Absolutely. One of the problems is that you try and keep in touch with students and some of them will start on perhaps a local paper or an online publication. A few years down the line, they might end up at a red top but by that time you've lost touch with them so you don't really get the feedback.

    I think the real issue for this Inquiry, and I know there's been an issue about anonymised evidence, but I do think there is -- there needs to be, I would hope, some flexibility given to those who are very keen to try and give a flavour of what life is like, but are really scared of being identified and putting their head above the parapet.

  • I'm very conscious of that problem, but let me just move it on a bit because, as you know, the Inquiry has been criticised for not having expertise from the very, very bulk market end of the business, and we're talking about ethics and the proper approach to journalism, which is obviously very important, but I am very keen to know to what extent there is an ability to help those who might want to work in the mass market newspapers, and we all know that we can talk about the Telegraph or the Guardian or these papers, and then the Mail or the Sun will say, "Actually, we sell many, many more copies", where the pressures are very different, as you've said, and how one gets to people who get into that business, or whether actually they're just a by-product of a different system. So actually you have two parallel routes into journalism, one through the universities and these very focused courses which I've seen about, and another through the gossip columnists and that side of an industry which nobody can pretend isn't important and doesn't sell newspapers.

  • I think from our point of view, we -- I mean, you simply try to straddle the -- if you can straddle a spectrum, you try to prepare students for any sort of journalism, in our case mostly written journalism, that they are likely to encounter and likely to need in the job market. Students will be drawn by their own tastes in various directions and they have teachers of a variety of experiences, as George has indicated, who bring, you know, practical knowledge of all of these markets.

    And I think the -- you know, our student -- our campus newspaper, which the students produce in their final year, our award-winning campus newspaper is -- it's newsy, it's tabloidy, so that the actual experience the students have in their final year of producing a newspaper which will be read by their peer group and indeed outside the university and, alas, by the university management, which is never very comfortable with it, is their experience is wide tabloidy. It's quite newsy and punchy. They're trying to attract the attention of their peer group.

  • I think implicit in your question is a really important issue, which is: are we in danger of kind of saying broadsheet journalism is wonderful but tabloid journalism is a problem? I don't think any of us would actually subscribe to that at all. There are elements of the way in which some red top newspapers in this country have behaved which are clearly undesirable and needs to be somehow prevented, but there is an art and a skill to good tabloid journalism that all of us, I think, would recognise, and which many students both feel they want to practice and we would encourage them to practice.

  • Yes, the example is the presentation of extremely complex issues --

  • -- in a visual, visually attractive and easy to understand way.

  • If you've ever tried to explain some kind of complex financial problem or around pensions reform, for example, in 500 words in a kind of tabloid editorial, you'll know how difficult that is. It is a real skill. And someone who can manage that, either can learn it or just understands the nature of that skill, that's a very, very valuable thing to be able to do.

    And there are tabloid skills in terms of taking a story and looking at angles, human interest angles of it, whereas where broadsheets might look at the social policy implications, the economic implications, the policy context, et cetera, if you're looking for a really kind of clear human interest angle on a breaking story, the tabloids can often be the best way to get a real kind of live interest in that story. The issue is getting the best of that while avoiding those egregious excesses that we've seen over the last couple of years.

  • I was just going to go back to your original question. I really don't think we should try to pretend, and I hope that I haven't, that the teaching of ethics is really the important influence on how people behave. How people behave is determined by the culture of a newsroom, basically. That's the fundamental influence on what people do.

    That culture is formed by a whole number of things: the competitive situation, how competition is understood, signals from the top, law and regulation, to mention only a few. And you can't -- I mean, you can tell people about what they might be about to face, but for me the central issue is producing incentives that will work, above all, in popular newsrooms, which popular newsrooms will actually sustain and make happen.

    I think I'm trespassing on the next bit of the discussion, and I'm opening a very wide ... but for me, that's the essence of the issue.

  • I entirely understand the point and agree with it. The discussion about what goes on in universities is a good run up to the wicket, but it isn't bowling the ball, is it?

  • It has the relationship you would hope over time that the people who shape the newsroom cultures have come from the -- you know, have had the sort of training and education which informs them in the necessary ways. That's the connection, I suppose.

  • I do keep in quite close touch with my postgraduate students and know where they are, and we have had students go to the Mail training scheme and I feel fairly sure that if they felt that they were under pressure, that they would actually come back to me even after they'd left. So they are quite protective both of the learning environment and of the environment they're going into, but I have to say I'm always -- I remain worried about them, but I think that they've -- you know, the ones who have gone to the Mail have seemed to have -- they've been fine.

    I think we would all agree that good -- one of the things about the tabloids in particular is that they're really funny a lot of the time. That's why people read them. I don't think any of us would want to lose that. I mean, they have a role to play. I just happen to think that it's possible to be funny without being at the same time vicious, and I think a lot of what happens in the tabloids is vicious. I don't think we want everything to be the same as the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph and the Times. I think that would be really quite sad. But I do think we have to recognise that the culture in the newsrooms that are providing and producing those -- that light-hearted approach to the daily news is quite different.

  • I want to celebrate all that is good about every aspect of the newspaper, the print media. It's been commented that I've only been focusing on all the criticisms, but actually that's not -- that's to fail to understand the nature of the process that we're doing. We're not mixing it up. All the titles will have their chance to put their perspective forward, and I welcome that and I'm not in any sense seeking to beat down either the mid-market or the tabloid press at all. They do, in large part, an enormously valuable job for the very reason that we've just been identifying. The problem is going to be to try and find the line and the way of affecting approach so that we can remove what at least some people consider to be a problem in our output.

  • Sir, thank you. I'm going to return to ethical issues later, but before I do that, I'm handing over to my learned friend.

  • Can I ask you a question that leads on from the discussion we've been having because a gap seems to have been identified. Each of you said that only a very few of your students go on to work for tabloids or red tops, and what I wanted to understand is whether you have a feel for where people who do -- new recruits to tabloids, where they do get their training and what's the basis of -- on what basis do they go into the industry, if they don't go through you? Can you answer that or is that not possible?

  • I think some of them do go and some of them start off -- there are still ways into journalism through starting off on your local paper at the age of 16 or 17 or 18. A lot fewer than there used to be 20 or 30 years ago. It's an interesting question. I don't know if there's any systematic research on where today's tabloid journalists did their training, but I suspect if we actually did a survey, we would find that their background and training was not dissimilar to journalists elsewhere.

  • I would expect to find, if such research was done, a smaller proportion of people with postgraduate qualifications. I suspect that the people incoming to red tops are coming from small news agencies, regional papers, websites, particularly specialising in gossip, celebrity gossip. They'll come from a variety of places and they may come from no form of previous journalistic activity or training at all.

    Most journalism should take people in -- of whatever level of quality, should take in people who come from outside the normal streams because they will have special skills that are appropriate. It's very important to journalism that it does that actually occasionally. So I would expect the origins of people on the reporting staffs of red tops to be very mixed, probably.

  • I would agree. I think Steve used the word or described it as anarchic, that the recruit in the press generally is pretty anarchic, pretty scattergun or whatever, and I think you mentioned a variety -- these business-to-business magazines are often a starting place for journalists, they move on from there.

    I would stress again the degree that they rely on casual, short-term employment particularly at the beginning of a career but over quite long periods, so you'll have people working day to day or on a month contract or you will have a great many people contributing as freelancers. So they will be particularly obviously out of town, they will rely on stringers who may get one piece in every month or every two months, and on that basis, if they succeed at that, if they're any good at that, they might eventually get a job and, you know, move to London.

  • That only serves to underline the very pressure that you've just been talking about.

  • There's good evidence -- apart from Richard Peppiatt's evidence which certainly backs up what Brian was saying, in the current edition of the British Journalism Review which I would commend, and I will certainly submit it afterwards in evidence, there's a piece by a chap called Michael Williams who was deputy editor of the Independent on Sunday and now teaches I think at Central Lancashire, who talks about some of his students coming back to him and saying precisely that, that they are under a lot of pressure partly because there is a lot of casual work and that's what you need to do if you want to keep your employment.

  • There's also a huge industry of people doing real life stories, which is basically finding people with a story to tell and ghosting those stories, because those are used both by women's weekly magazines and by the tabloids, and there are agencies that deal in that, so that people starting off can start off by doing that kind of work, and if you're good at it and you do enough of it, you'll get noticed and that's maybe getting to do a few shifts and that leads to something else and there's quite a drift backwards and forwards from that side of the magazine sector into the tabloids as well.

  • I might be trespassing on Ms Patry Hoskins' next question, but I can't help it.

  • It's quite difficult to see how to redress that because it's quite difficult to think of a way of saying, well, you shouldn't be employing people in this way because I just don't think that works, and therefore all one can do is to try to change the culture from within, it seems to me.

  • You come back to George's point, which is that it's about the culture of the people at the heart of the production system.

  • I think one of the ways which I was -- we'll come back to later, but I think one of the ways is we don't have an automatic right of reply in this country. We don't have a statutory right of reply, and a lot of other European countries there is a statutory right of reply. I think if there was a statutory right of reply, journalists would be more careful because if somebody is -- if you know that what you say, you -- if you know that you will always have to see immediately under your article the person you've spoken about having an opportunity to tell you, to tell everybody that you were wrong, I think that that might be one way of reaching right inside newsrooms, and I'm quite surprised that it's not an issue that has come up very much in these sessions, because it's quite standard in a lot of other European countries.

  • We have a long way to go, so you've just made it an issue.

  • I have made it an issue, yes.

  • But do you have any views about that?

  • Yes, I assumed we were coming on to different forms of --

  • I'm sure we are, yes. I'm sorry, I apologised before.

  • I think there are a number of ways in which newsrooms can be -- the culture of newsrooms can be changed simply by making it either uncommercial or inconvenient or very awkward both for individual journalists but more importantly for the publication they work for to encourage those kinds of practices.

    The sanction I particularly like is that -- and I think this happens in France -- not only does an offending newspaper have to publish a right of reply if they are inaccurate, but if the complaint is upheld, they then have to pay for an advertisement in rival newspapers advertising the fact that they got it wrong in their own newspaper. I like that idea, I think it's great. The idea of a newspaper proprietor having to fork out money to his rivals because one of his journalists has made a mistake, I think we might see a very, very sudden swift shift in --

  • All right, I'm going to let Ms Patry Hoskins run this as she wants.

  • I think we might be moving a bit too far.

  • I promise we'll come back to regulation and various issues like that, but can I ask you just very briefly first about various bits of research that you have each undertaken?

    Ms Phillips, you've told us a bit about the research -- I'll come to you first because you've told us a bit about the research that you've undertaken, two different pieces of research. Can I ask you a little bit more about the first of the projects there. I think it was a project in, was it 2002?

  • Interviewing people right across the press, you said, but in particular ethnic minority journalists and how they dealt with newsrooms and in particular having to deal with stories that might concern race and so on. Is there anything more that you wanted to add, because I appreciate you said several times, "I think we'll come on to this". I didn't want to stop you in full flow. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about that particular project and that research, because it ties in with some evidence we've heard earlier in the Inquiry.

  • It was a very small piece of research so I don't want to put too much emphasis on it, but I think I've already said the key issue of it, the key issue was this sense of people feeling that if they wanted to get on, they just needed to -- they had to swallow it, stay where they were, demonstrate that they could do journalism and that -- you got the feeling there was almost like a seasoning process, that they had to demonstrate that they were tough enough and that that would take a while.

    And because in order to move on to a different kind of newspaper, you have to have a really good cuttings file, what you would then have to do -- one of the things I was particularly interested in was the degree to which people were writing what we call off diary stories, which is basically coming up with their own ideas because I felt that that was an area where -- I was looking for culture change, so I was looking to see whether ethnic minority journalists were able to try and change the culture in the newsroom by coming up with their own stories, and they often tried and I thought that that was very -- I was really encouraged by that because what I was interested in was how journalists coming in can have an influence on the newsrooms they come into. And I think that they do.

    I think that as you bring more journalists from ethnic minority backgrounds into a newsroom, it does begin to change the way in which the newsroom operates, but in certain instances you can see that it hasn't had any effect and they all leave. So it will be quite interesting to look at the pattern of ethnic minority journalists going in and then out of newsrooms as they find they can't actually cope with what they're asked to do, and there are certainly some newsrooms which I think we're all aware of where it would be very hard to see the kind of constant stream of kind of anti-immigration and anti-asylum stories and actually stay working there.

  • Can I just pick you up on that? You said earlier that some of the journalists that you'd spoken to reported having to write stories that they considered to be racist. You remember you said that. Can you tell us a bit more about that? Was there pressure on journalists to write stories that were contrary to the beliefs that they themselves held?

  • Oh, absolutely. This particular quote was somebody saying:

    "I thought the story was appalling. I thought all along that it was a ludicrous exercise with no logic whatsoever and I felt very ashamed about it. I talked to a senior reporter and said I wasn't very happy about it and he said to keep my head down and say nothing. He said I'd lose my job if I raised it with anyone more senior to him."

    As I said, I was virtually -- you know, they would not speak to me at all if I was to say what newsrooms they came from even, so I can't say any more than that. But that was a journalist who is no longer working for that newsroom.

    I think what people felt was that you get in there and you keep your head down and you prove that you can deal with anything.

    Another one I spoke to said that the only time he had ever been able to exercise what is laughably called the right of conscience was once he was able to point out to a more senior editor that actually this particular story affected his family directly and he was allowed not to write it.

    But these stories, they just -- as I said, they fell out. They were not very hard to find, but people would only say it if I promised not to mention their names at all, ever.

  • I'm not asking you to name any names or any newspapers, of course, but can you give us an idea of how many journalists you spoke to?

  • It was very small. This was in 2002. There weren't very many ethnic minority journalists. I'm not pretending it was in any way a quantitative study. There was a very small number and it was looking for something quite specific, so it was just -- I was quite surprised by the impact.

    I mean, the second research I did was -- again it was looking -- because it was looking for how people -- looking for working methods, so there was probably about -- I think it was six people in three different newsrooms, but they were all quite -- from different levels within the newsrooms. Different ages and different backgrounds.

    So again I'm not pretend -- I never suggested it was a huge sample. It was qualitative research and it was looking at what people's experiences were and what was interesting was it came up completely unbidden.

  • Is there anything else you want to add?

  • Does anybody else want to touch on this issue?

  • While we're on the subject of race and the press, one of the simple exercises you can do in the classroom is to get students to go through a week's papers and look at the picture bylines and see how many of them are Whittamore and how many of them are a visible ethnic minority, and it's always a shock, even to the students, how very small the numbers of ethnic minority columnists are. There are lots of issues about how many women there are, and it's certainly not proportionate, but the black and Asian contributors to newspapers visible on that level are very few.

    Any research that has been done, and not nearly enough has been done about the employment of people from ethnic minorities in the press, any research shows it's pathetically small even today.

  • How does that compare to the number of students from ethnic minority backgrounds that your courses attract?

  • There's almost no comparison. Our student body is, I suppose, among other students it's a third, perhaps, are black or Asian or Arab by background.

  • Is that true across the board?

  • I would say if not more, possibly 40 per cent. And Brian's absolutely right. I mean the profile, the ethnic profile of working journalists actually bears very different relationship, certainly at the national level, to those who start off on our journalism courses.

  • And I think actually it feeds through to what's been happening at this Inquiry. I think you've seen witnesses who have been almost entirely white. This is a white world we're talking about. We're talking about white people addressing white people. Not just in the Inquiry, I'm not suggesting it's the Inquiry's fault in any way, but the process of the press in this country, the national press, and particularly the mass circulation national press, is about white people addressing white people.

  • I haven't counted, but I would guess that there is some difference in ethnic minority ratios between postgraduate journalists and undergraduate journalists. I would expect to see fewer ethnic minorities on postgraduate courses, but I haven't counted it.

  • Yes, we certainly find there are fewer and it's because of the class structure of ethnic minority people in this country, it's harder for them to afford it and we don't have as many bursaries as we would like.

  • The ones that do come through your courses, what happens to them? Where do they go if they're not represented on the national newspapers?

  • That is a very good question. I think there is certainly an ethnic minority press and there are specialist publications, magazines, et cetera, which would employ quite a few, actually, and this might not be so true with Brian, but quite a few go into broadcasting where there is a much better record in terms of diversity.

  • I was about to say the same thing. Television quite strongly.

  • And radio. I think every other sector.

  • And business to business too.

  • It isn't just a record of diversity. Television and radio tend to pay more. I think if you come from a working class background and you don't have enough money to get through your first degree, let alone a second degree, to then go into print journalism is problematic and it's of course going to get much, much worse. What is required, really, are a lot more bursaries. Certainly from my experience at Goldsmiths, those who do come do very well because the newspapers are very well aware that their newsrooms are not sufficiently diverse. If a star pupil comes through from an ethnic minority background who has made it through, I don't think anything will hold them back at that stage. I think a lot of the problem is economic.

  • Interesting as this topic is, I think we should move on to the other areas of research, if I can. I'll turn to Professor Barnett first. I'm going to ask you a bit about the section in your witness statement dealing with culture, practices and ethics, being highly relevant to our terms of reference. You share with us in that section of your witness statement two personal experiences which I think are very helpful. If you wouldn't mind, can I ask you first about the experience about the celebrity on your street? Perhaps you can tell us a bit about it and then what you think you can pass on to the Inquiry as the kind of lesson to be learnt from that experience.

  • Yes. I actually -- this happened several years ago and I only wrote it up for the British Journalism Review this year. It's just a short piece but it happened several years ago where a very well-known singer, I won't even give the gender let alone the name, moved into our street and within a few months there was a knock on the door, there was a woman standing at the door who asked if it was true that this celebrity lived in our street and rather unthinkingly I just said, "Yes", and they then asked which number, and which point I sort of gathered my wits and said, "Are you a journalist?" and she said, "Yes". I think I asked which newspaper but I can't remember what they said.

    Anyway, I then said, "I'm sorry, I'm not helping". I put a note through the door of the celebrity, saying, "I think there's some journalist after you" and actually talked to a couple of neighbours subsequently who said that in fact this woman and an accomplice were hanging around in a car for hours trying to catch a photo.

    The point that I've made in the piece that I wrote is -- and I think this is crucial -- this particular celebrity, who is a platinum-album-selling artist and has given enormous pleasure to millions of people around the world, had never sought personal publicity, has never done anything wrong, has never done any deals with Hello magazine. There is absolutely nothing that one can point to in their private life that one might argue is in the public interest to be exposed, but there was a rumour going around that they were having a relationship with a sporting celebrity, and it was no more than a rumour, and in fact an article to that effect then appeared in a newspaper a few days later, most of it entirely fabricated.

    At the time, I was sort of rather disappointed with myself that I hadn't gone up to these people and said, "What do you think you're doing and why are you doing it?" I wish I had. But it was just a very good personal example of the attraction of celebrities and show business for no reason other than they make good stories.

  • Can I just pick up, we may as well explore some of the more general points. You said this person had never courted publicity, had never given interviews to Hello or OK magazine. Does that indicate that you take the view that if a celebrity does choose to speak to Hello or OK magazine or puts their personal life in the media in that way, this somehow might justify a higher level of not intrusion, but a higher level of interest in their private life?

  • No, I don't necessarily think that's true. I think that as soon as you try and create a public image, which -- and there is evidence to suggest that actually the way you live your life privately is very different to that public image that you've tried to create and manipulate, there might be a kind of hypocrisy argument, and I say might. I think this is a very grey area, because I think it's easy to use it as an excuse, particularly for mass circulation newspapers, to delve into the private lives of celebrities.

    For me, the much more important principle here is that celebrities become celebrities very often because they are good at something. I think Steve Coogan made this point, "I happen to be a good writer", he said, and this person happened to be a wonderful singer. There are people who are very good at sport or are wonderful dancers, and they became famous and possibly rich because they are very good at something.

    The idea that therefore, about because they excel at what they do, they should then become legitimate targets for journalistic exposure or even any kind of intrusion that they don't want seems to me to be entirely wrong and entirely counter-productive and it's actually -- I think in a funny kind of way it's quite British, in a bad way, and I don't think it reflects well, actually, on our own culture.

  • What about the argument that these people who are very talented in whatever field might be seen as role models? For example, for young children who may buy CDs or downloads or the young boy who goes to watch the footballer playing football, those people are role models to generations, in some cases, of people.

  • In terms of what they do, if what they do they do badly or they are found to have done it in some way, engaged in some kind of corruption; if this great singer turns out to have been miming and it's somebody else's voice, then of course that is absolutely legitimate to be exposed as hypocrisy. But if they are doing something which is completely detached from their professional life, what they are good at, and they are doing something that's entirely legal in their own time in their own house privately, I cannot see any conceivable justification for saying, oh, this person is a role model, therefore we can put a camera in their bedroom or we can follow them down the road and expose their private life. I just don't see the logic.

  • Does anyone else have a view?

  • I'm on record as saying that I think what recent events have shown is that we do need to rewrite privacy legislation. I don't think that balancing Article 8 and Article 10 of the Human Rights Act has worked particularly well. I don't think that -- I'm not necessarily sure that I would settle every case identically to Steve, but I think that he is absolutely right to argue that what has happened, possibly by degrees, is that we have reached a point where anybody who is prominent for almost any reason is fair game to certain media -- and it incidentally isn't only newspapers, it's websites as well -- in almost any aspect of their private life they can find out about or they can buy information about.

    It seems to me that while it is a very difficult grey area, it surely ought to be possible to design a law which doesn't chill proper journalistic enquiry while at the same time providing some protection for private life and particularly the relatives and children of people who are in prominent positions who I think have suffered a great deal and you've heard quite a lot of evidence about that.

    I'm not suggesting that this task would necessarily be easy. Clearly there has to be public interest defences inside it. But I do think that the present state of the law really doesn't work particularly effectively, conscientiously though judges have attempted to interpret what is an extremely broad band of interpretation they were left by the Human Rights Act. That's my view in summary.

  • Can I just add one thing? For me, I'm less convinced about a new privacy law. The crucial issue is defining the public interest. If we had a parliamentary definition, if there was a law which actually said, "Here is a definition of the public interest", it's not going to resolve every single case, they would need to be done on a case-by-case basis through the courts as happens now between Article 8 and Article 10. But at least it would then have democratic legitimacy of Parliament behind it and more importantly it could help to liberate good journalism.

    As George said, what it could do is provide a defence perhaps to phone hacking, perhaps to the Bribery Act, and there would be a defence on grounds of real public interest which Parliament has defined, but that would not include intruding into the private lives of celebrities just because they are celebrities.

  • Do you have such a definition?

  • Do you have a definition?

  • Yes, and it comes from the BBC website.

  • It's in the BBC's editorial guidelines and I think that works perfectly well. I'd rather see Parliament debate it and pass it rather than me give my definition.

  • Just before you say that, I don't think they've yet invested you with the power to pass legislation, Professor.

  • And I am sure that they haven't given me that responsibility either, so all that will happen is that whatever I come up with at the end will be debated in Parliament, and again picking up a comment that's been made in the press in the last few weeks, I'm not legislating anything, I'm merely providing the vehicle through which those who do legislate may or may not wish to consider how to proceed.

  • Can I just round off by way of adding to what Steve has said, that I think we have been much too nervous for much too long in debating and building in proper public interest defences, and I think the media has been at fault here in not taking enough interest in this issue.

  • Yes, I would also say, with George's assistance, Hacked Off is looking at these issues and will in due course, I hope, with City's co-operation, be producing a proposal for you on these issues of a definition and where it might apply.

    On the issue of privacy legislation, I'm more with Steve. I'm doubtful about the need for new legislation, and I think one of the reasons we debate the need for new legislation is because the media, which have a vested interest in wrecking what there is now, have hogged the debate for so long and have shouted at us all through their mighty megaphone for so long that we believe there's something wrong, when I'm not convinced there is.

  • I think that we would all agree with the idea that there needs to be a proper public interest defence and I'm involved with the Co-ordinating Committee for Media Reform, which is trying to bring together a number of the organisations, both academic and non-governmental organisations in this area, and certainly one of the things that we will be pushing for is some form of clear public interest defence.

  • Will you be providing some views some time before next summer?

  • I look forward to reading them.

  • Yes. I think that one of the big problems with privacy legislation as it is, of course, is that it's available to people who can afford to take things to court, so I do think that there needs to be some form of -- it should be possible for people who do not have a lot of money to be able to make use of media law through some form of tribunal system. That's one of the other things that we are going to be suggesting because we can't have a completely divided system.

    But I think that the idea of keeping the existing privacy law and having a proper defence would cover a lot of the issues that we are faced with, I think.

  • We're moving on now to more general questions of changes to the law and moves us on neatly as well to changes to regulation, if that's deemed necessary. It may well be that this is a good time for us to take a short break?

  • We ought to because the shorthand writer has been working hard --

  • And then come back to this very interesting issue.

  • -- for an hour and a half and I'm very keen to hear your views, both now and, as I've said, it doesn't stop just because you finish today. I'll still be here for some time and I'm very keen to hear your views, whenever you have them. Thank you.

  • (A short break)

  • Right, I'm going to move on to the issue of regulation of the press, if I can. I know we had started off down a road of talking about changes to the law but can I just for a moment talk about that. I'm sure you're all very familiar with the way that the press is currently regulated, I'll assume that, but can I start like this: does anyone want to argue that the current system of regulation works well and should be left alone?

  • Does anyone want to argue that there should be less regulation, which is obviously an argument we've seen referred to quite a lot?

  • Okay. Let's scale back a little bit then. The current system of regulation, what does the PCC do well, in your view? Who wants to kick-off?

  • It has an absolutely perfectly good code of practice, the Editors' Code, which is not dissimilar to the Ofcom Code. As I said in my evidence, it's less thorough than the BBC Editorial Code, but it seems to me to be perfectly adequate and workable as a benchmark of professional standards. That is not the problem. The problem is enforcement and implementation.

  • Let's not forget that the PCC functions pretty well for regional papers and magazines. It's national newspapers where the issues have arisen.

    I also agree with Steve that I think the code is pretty good. When I was a managing editor, we observed the code as best we could and I thought it was a pretty useful document for doing that.

  • I would add that it appears to be quite a good mediator and handle complaints quite well within the narrow remit of its complaints service, but it appears to do so well.

  • Anything you'd like to add?

  • I think it deals with issues of accuracy quite well, but it doesn't seem to deal well with anything else.

    I would agree that the code of conduct is something worth hanging on to. It's also quite like the NUJ code of conduct, and it's a perfectly reasonable document. The question is how do you ensure that it actually happens?

  • So that's been a very brief session on what the PCC does well. Can we move on then to what it doesn't do so well? Perhaps I'll take you in reverse order just for a change, just to put you on the spot.

  • What it doesn't do very well? Well, it doesn't work.

  • It doesn't seem to be able to get the more powerful newspapers to abide by it.

    One of the things that I think is quite interesting is the degree to which editors seem to see regulations as a challenge. I mean, you get -- it's all about going as close to the wire as you possibly can and seeing how far you can get rather than thinking about how you could actually manage to operate within the regulations.

    I do think that there are some things that the PCC have done which are important. I mean, I think that when they brought in a code about harassment, certainly at local level in relation to private people, it has had some effect, but obviously it hasn't had any effect when it comes to celebrities, so it needs to work.

  • I've described it in the past as a sort of confidence trick by the industry. It's not a regulator, although the industry has been saying for 20 years that it is. And it's interesting to see now that it's, you know, Lord Hunt is accepting that it's not a regulator, and indeed Lord Wakeham did so a couple of weeks ago.

    I think that I'd better describe what I mean by a confidence trick. If you say that you have a body that is enforcing standards and raising standards in your industry to the public, and you insist on it because, again, you have command of the megaphone, and at the same time this body is simply a complaints agency, a sort of outsourced complaints agency, then you are perpetrating a trick on your customers, and I think it's -- you know, I think it's a disgrace that it has been allowed to go on so long and that that trick has been sustained for so long.

  • They do have a power to investigate, don't they?

  • They do. In the Articles of Association there is a phrase there which says that they can act on their own discretion. As far as I can make out, if that's happened, it's only happened twice or three times and it has had no impact whatsoever. It has certainly not been accepted as the practice of the PCC that it will go out and do so.

  • And indeed, the PCC's early statements about phone hacking only showed when the organisation made a complete idiot of itself -- only showed that if you were going to take seriously the investigative power which appears to be written in, although it's a bit vague, I think it's fair to say, they would have to do it in a consistent way and have worked it out. Just charging in a rather superficial way into a highly polarised issue and making a judgment about it that turned out to be completely wrong is exactly what not to do. So that's an illustration of where it goes wrong.

    I think it's also been guilty -- I think I'm just underlining Brian's point -- of trying to pretend that it's a regulator when actually it's a complaints mediation service.

  • I'd go along with all of that. The only problem is it was billed from the very beginning as a regulator. When David Calcutt produced his report in 1990, and indeed then reviewed his own report in 1993, he actually talked about this new system of self-regulation. So whether or not it is actually a self-regulator, a regulator, it was certainly billed after the excesses of the 1980s, which led to its creation, it was billed as an answer to deal with the issues that had arisen during the 19802 and was billed as an answer that was a regulatory answer.

    So it's all very well now for, you know, the current and previous chairmen to talk about, "We're actually only a complaints mechanism". That is not the way in which they either were set up to do, nor indeed the way they wanted themselves to be perceived as doing at the time.

  • I suppose that takes us neatly on to what it should be. I think you all agree that it does some limited things well, there are some aspects of it that you think it does not well at all. That would take us on to what should replace it.

    I don't know if you've seen today it's been reported what the PCC itself proposes. I printed off this morning a news report headed "PCC proposes wide-ranging shakeup of press self-regulation". Obviously it's interesting to see where they themselves feel it should change. What I'm going to do is identify some proposals and you tell me whether you think you agree --

  • It's a bit hard if they've not had a chance to read details.

  • Absolutely not, and I promise if you haven't had a chance to read it, that's fine. The issues are familiar ones and perhaps I'll just deal with some of the solutions they have come up with and we can talk about the issues rather than the general package that they propose.

    I suppose the first thing, we were just talking about this, is the power to investigate. Can I have your views, please, on how a power to investigate would work, what sorts of situations you would like the PCC or new body to be able to investigate in? Who wants to kick us off?

  • I will. I draw the analogy with, you know, other areas of life. If there's a railway accident, there is an inquiry and lessons are learned. In the press, I was very influenced by observing the McCann case develop over month after month after month like a slow motion crash, and yet there was no introspection in the industry afterwards. The damages were paid, the books were closed and they moved on.

    That is not -- you know, we wouldn't accept in the railway industry or in, for example, a hospital, we wouldn't accept that nobody went back and assessed what had happened and tried to identify how things could be changed to prevent it happening again. So I think a mechanism -- a regulator who is prepared to go in and do that is essential.

  • I'd like to add to that dealing with third-party complaints. At the moment, there is no facility, for example, for groups that feel themselves to have been traduced in some way to make a complaint.

    The obvious example is travellers, the way they have been portrayed in some tabloid newspapers, asylum seekers. These are groups of people which have organisations which represent their interests, like Amnesty International, but at the moment there is no facility for representations to be made on behalf of groups of people to say, "These particular stories, the way in which this particular story has been laid out is either completely inaccurate or a gross distortion of the truth".

    So some means of dealing with those kinds of third-party complaints -- and I can see the problem in terms of you can't complain about a story about another individual without their consent. I get that, I understand that. But I think where we're dealing with the nature of stories which are, as I say, traducing particular groups, I think has to be done.

  • Am I right in thinking so far we have investigations -- you would like to see investigatory powers in situations where there might have been a high profile controversy of some kind, you'd like to see investigations take place where a third party wanted to complain about a particular way in which it had been represented. Are there any other investigatory powers that you think such a body should have?

  • I think there needs to -- something we were talking about earlier, to do with whistle blowing, and I believe this is something the PCC has mentioned this morning. It should be easier for journalists who are concerned about what they're being asked to do to find an avenue. There is no avenue at all. And when a group of journalists at the Express Newspapers a few years ago tried to raise a broad issue -- again this was about the coverage of Travellers and the fact that they were being -- they felt that they were being coerced into writing stories which they felt were inappropriate, the response from the Press Complaints Commission at that time was to say that -- I paraphrase this, but that the role of the Press Complaints Commission is not to stand between an employer and the employees, which basically left journalists completely out on a limb. They had no possibility for finding a way of channelling their own concerns.

    So I think there needs to be a way in which journalists who are working on a newspaper, and they're not going to do it very often because it puts their own position at risk, but they need to have a place where they can safely go and say, "Things are not right".

    And then I would agree that there needs to be some mechanism for looking at broader areas of concerns, rather than simply specific complaints.

  • I am going to part company with my colleagues on this point. I'll take an opportunity later on, if I may, just to explain the context of what I think about regulation in general, but I'm very, very cautious about the blithe conversations about investigatory powers. It's very easy to draw the conclusion from what has happened to the PCC that what it lacks is investigatory powers, but I think we have to be very careful before we encourage systems in which people are going to have the freedom to wander into newsrooms and find things out. That actually is not a particularly good idea in general and I think we have to be extremely careful about how we set that up. I'll leave it at that for the time being.

  • Feel free to tell us about the context. That's very interesting.

  • We don't want to lose the point.

  • Okay, but it is wider than the point about investigative powers.

  • I base what I say on my experience as a managing editor and I think that a system of regulation that is really going to work effectively has to balance an externally imposed deterrent, if you like. With an internal incentive and unless the deterrent and the incentive are properly balanced, you won't get a sustainable effect of the kind you need.

    I think that what we need to do, instead of concentrating so hard on reforming the self-regulation mechanism, which happens to be the one that exists, we should start by thinking about the legal context in which as I've already said I think public interest defences are rather weakly put. I think there is quite a lot of revision that needs to be done there, both -- and it's under way in the defamation law, I think it should happen in privacy law and I think there has to be access to quicker, cheaper justice for people who are using those kinds of law as complainants.

    I think the expansion of the public interest defence is really important because I want to see a form of regulation which arises from people's wish to do things better rather than simply from the imposition of external penalties or indeed the imposition of external investigation. And I think that if you say that it is easier to access a public interest defence in a case such as defamation or privacy probably being the two most prominent principal ones here, then I think if that public interest defence depended partly on the integrity of your editorial systems, or more generally, the integrity of your newsroom and what you could demonstrate about it, did you have self-disciplines that prevented people doing things wrong, do you show how that operates, are you clear about what your code is, how do you respond to complainants and so on, that I think would be a more effective way of growing up a system that might be called regulation or it might be called self-regulation.

  • That would be the carrot?

  • It would be the carrot indeed. If I may just give the example of the News of the World, now a dead newspaper. They used to find themselves in court quite a lot. They also did investigative work. If they were in court and their position in court was going to be damaged by the fact that they were doing things like phone hacking, it seems to me that the senior executives of that popular paper would be very much more careful about what was going on in their newsroom because they would have an actual incentive in the operation of the law to do better, to be more careful about what was happening.

    I've outlined these in the latest edition of the British Journalism Review, which Steve happens to have brought along, at a slighter greater length than I've been able to do now. Thank you for your patience.

  • I'm not sure that these positions -- this is turning into a university seminar.

  • That's exactly the purpose. That's why you're together.

  • Okay. I'm not sure these positions are actually incompatible. Yes, there needs to be -- I'm not sure that there is that much difference between rooting these changes in law and rooting them in enforcement -- giving a beefed-up PCC or a new regulator the kind of enforcement facilities that the law would provide. It seems to me that if newsrooms -- if we go back to George's point, which I completely agree with, that the key to this is how do you change the newsroom cultures to a more ethical environment, that if you know that the publication of an inaccurate story, a blatantly mischievously inaccurate story is going to involve a complaint which there will then be questions asked about how you came to that story, without actually naming your sources, who did you go to, who did you check them with, and there is a sort of paper trail, all we're talking about is a newsroom which enforces precisely those kinds of codes and modus operandi that I think you were talking about, George.

    So I don't think those positions are incompatible. What you do need is that regulatory framework which persuades the newsroom that that's how they have to behave, that they need that audit trail and they need to encourage the kinds of behaviour that won't result in those sorts of complaints.

  • It's not just accuracy, either.

  • Absolutely. It's ethical journalism, it's actually abiding by the Editors' Code in all its respects.

  • I was only going to say but the difference is that I think it will be more effective if this is grown up by the newsrooms themselves in response to the right incentive. That's possibly a small difference between us.

  • I certainly buy the idea that public interest defences can have a big influence in changing culture. I just make two points. The first is that it's often said that, you know, when something's illegal, the law deals with it, but the process by which, if you'll forgive me, the law deals with some of the problems that we're facing is imperfect. If you look at the case --

  • If you look at the case of Christopher Jefferies, he sued eight newspapers and you've heard how he was monstered. He sued eight newspapers and they paid -- we don't know what the sum was, but the legal gossip is something less than £500,000 between them. They had a field day with his life for three days over the quiet new year weekend. If I do the sums right, the average was that it cost each of them £20,000 a day. That's good business. It sounds like Christopher Jefferies has had justice, but it doesn't affect the way in which the newspapers are likely to proceed in the future.

    And indeed if you project it into the past, what happened to Christopher Jefferies is not all that different to what happened to Robert Murat who sued a lot of news organisations. It's not all that different although it was much more slow motion than what happened to Kate and Gerry McCann, who sued.

    Suing may get you what looks like a headline sum of money in damages, but it is not forcing the newspaper industry to think about its own culture in any way. They can pay these sums of money and move on. Indeed, you heard Gerry McCann argue that they actually make a profit overall in some of these cases.

    That's not good enough. It's not finding where the wheels have come off and saying we need to tighten these bolts.

    So I come back to the idea that some sort of post-mortem process has to be introduced into the proceedings and I think an investigative arm, which was proposed by the Media Select Committee in 2009, is an important standards element for a regulator.

  • But does it need to be able to investigate as opposed to adjudicate?

  • I think it needs to be able to find facts.

  • That's slightly different. That's probably right. But there is a concern that I recognise in what Professor Brock says about investigators marching in -- and the other problem, of course, is that there are only so many investigators and policemen and what have you to go around for the range of activity which has to be the subject of investigation. We can't simply rely on there being a policeman to arrest a photographer for harassment, or a regulator to be able to find out about one private detective and then get all sorts of information. We have to find something else as well.

  • I think there has to be a threshold at which investigation becomes justified. I don't think that a huge sort of internal investigation of every newsroom whenever there's a complaint is justified. But I think that in issues where, you know, there is a genuine public concern, as there was in the McCann case, for example --

  • Yes, we've ground exceeding fine and here it is now.

  • Indeed. In those cases, I think that -- in cases like that, I think our regulator has to be able to, as it were, call witnesses and find out what's gone wrong.

  • It doesn't seem to be a problem in broadcasting. We have an apparatus and it works fine. If a programme is broadcast about me which I think is materially inaccurate, I can make a complaint to Ofcom and I don't think -- it doesn't take a huge machinery to ensure that there is some kind of recompense, some kind of investigation and recompense. The broadcaster will have the records of how they came to that story, they will provide it to the regulator, I will get my answer. I don't think it's a particularly big deal.

  • One final thing. I would commend to the Inquiry one or two of the final reports by the Press Council, which conducted investigations of this kind in critical moments. I see Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, over there, ran one into the Strangeways prison riot and I would suggest it's a model of what could be achieved.

  • There you are, Sir Louis. Yes?

  • I would agree that I think we have to separate adjudication, conciliation and investigation. They are completely different. I think that obviously an investigation is something that would only be triggered if something was going on that was more than the concern about one particular individual event. And I think we could all look back over the last ten, certainly over the last ten years and see where clearly patterns were arising, and one would like to imagine that a regulatory body that was concerned with the press would be looking for those kinds of patterns where something clearly was happening over a long period of time or, in the case of the McCanns, it was an accumulation of coverage.

    I think --

  • So this is proactive rather than reactive?

  • I think one would like to feel that there was some kind of proactive possibility in a regulatory body, but one wouldn't expect it to be used all the time. It would need to be triggered by something clearly important going on, and I think that that would need to be left to the decision of whatever board was structured to run it, but one wouldn't -- it needs to be there.

  • I think the problems of -- if we're imagining a broadly speaking -- or people want to imagine a stronger regulator, I think the problems of inclusion, ie who is covered by it and are they compelled to be included in the system, are rather bigger than people sometimes acknowledge.

    I think if you then have to think about investigation and presumably stiffer sanctions, because that's often implied as well, you are very close to what Steve was suggesting just now, which is effectively extending the Ofcom regime to printed, perhaps, and online media.

    I would on the whole be in favour of a mixed economy of legislation because I think that produces probably better public interest journalism with words in the end, but if you're going to get into a very elaborate regulatory system, you might as well extend Ofcom. I was forwarding an idea that is different, but as soon as you're into sanctions, investigation and so on, you're not very far from just drawing Ofcom across to extend across more people. More outlets, I should say.

  • You can take the best and the worst. I think extending Ofcom won't work for a number of reasons, not least because we don't want to license the press. The reason Ofcom works in the end is because the ultimate sanction is you can take the broadcast licence away, and that's the root of its effectiveness.

    But I think you can take the good bits of Ofcom, which is that it is an effective regulatory system, that it has set up a mechanism for dealing quickly with problems, with complaints around ethical issues, and I used in my evidence the example of Carlton Television. It was discovered by the Guardian to have faked large sections of its documentary in 1996 and they ended up paying £2 million to the regulator.

    There is absolutely the issue of compulsion, and I don't know if you were planning to come onto that, but how do you persuade all the publications to come into this umbrella; and there has to be a implication of sticks and carrots, but my favoured solution is perhaps to have Ofcom as a sort of backstop regulator. There has to be something behind this new system, but preferably the new system would start by being self-regulatory. It would be operated and run by those within the industry for the industry, including, as we know happens with the Press Council in Ireland, working journalists. That seems to work very well.

  • Can I pause you there just to tell you what the PCC have said about this issue of getting people to join in with the system. They say this:

    "A crucial part of the new system would see each publisher sign a contract with the PCC. Each newspaper owner would have to sign up to the complaints mechanism, submit to investigation and accept financial sanction, with each contract lasting between three and five years. The idea is to create a mechanism tighter than the existing model of self-regulation but not as stiff as statutory intervention. It would be possible for the PCC to enforce against errant newspapers because the publisher would have signed up by contract, insiders describe it as a self-licensing system, and any breaches would amount to contempt of court."

    Would any of you have any support for that system?

  • There's the simple obvious problem that Richard Desmond might not renew his contract.

  • Or might not want to sign it in the first place.

  • Something like that depends on a sort of kite mark quality to it which I think is quite difficult to deliver in newspapers. They would need all to be boasting "We carry the kite mark" quite a lot before it had any impact on the public.

  • Which of course brings the elephant in the room, namely the Internet.

  • Or those who might rejoice in not having the kite mark.

  • Which is one of the reasons why I think that the right of reply is quite an important weapon, because it's outside all of the -- I mean, I think there are different ways in which a new regulator could be organised around tribunals and lots of different ideas about carrots and sticks, but I think that to have a statutory right of reply which kind of floats above all of it would apply to the Internet as well. In fact, it would apply primarily to the Internet because it's on the Internet that it's easiest to do.

    There's absolutely no reason why every single internal outlet should not be required, as long as -- I mean, as long as they were within British jurisdiction, which clearly does raise some problems, but I think it's not insurmountable, if everybody simply had to promise to give the right of reply at the bottom of any article and above the comments -- it's not the same as a comment column, it's a right of reply column. I think if that was something that simply everybody had to produce, I think for a start it would mean that you would begin to see the use of internal ombudsmen. I think you would begin to see that newspapers would rather conciliate than publish a reply in a right of reply slot.

    I think it would simply mean that every time you write an article, you would know that immediately below where you had written, somebody else could come along and say, "This is all made up". I mean, there would have to be checks and balances about it. There would have to be -- it would have to be quite carefully worked up how such a right of reply would be used, but I think it would have quite a salutary effect because it would be immediate. It would mean that if somebody wrote something about you today and you heard about it, there's no reason why within hours you shouldn't have your right of reply up there on the Internet.

    There have been lots of complains for right of reply over a number of years, and they've always been squashed because the editors have always said, "We can't have a right of reply because it would completely ruin our newspapers. We don't want somebody who doesn't know how to write getting kind of a space bang slap in the middle of one of our beautifully organised pages".

    Actually, there was some point in that. It would have looked strange on a regular basis to have something on the front page saying, "Actually, what we said yesterday was wrong". I think there are occasions when that's necessary, when somebody has clearly said something that's completely wrong, but if you had a right of reply that is simply always exercised online where it's easy, and there's no argument that I can think of against it, you are improving democracy, you are improving accountability and you are going some way towards balancing the freedom of press with the freedom of expression of the individual. And it would be terribly easy. Which means there must be something wrong with it.

  • I don't understand how that would work out of jurisdiction.

  • As I said, it would clearly be problematic, but if one is going to assume that everybody faced with a right of reply is simply going to move to another jurisdiction, I don't think that's going to happen. I think most people will deal with it.

  • I suppose I'm slightly concerned -- it seems to me that blogging and the Internet is actually a wonderful opportunity for complete freedom of speech, and I am not entirely convinced about the right of reply --

  • But it often isn't used as an opportunity for complete freedom of speech. If you look at newspapers and you look at their comment columns --

  • I entirely accept that if we're talking about the online manifestations of existing publications, I completely agree. But to extend it across all online, you know, any kind of blogging I think is different.

    Can I raise another point, which is actually more about the carrots for bringing people in to this sort of brave new world, and they've both been raised before, but I think they're both attractive. One is to find some way of financially incentivising those publications by perhaps saying that if you are not part of this regulatory system, if you choose not to be, you will be subject to VAT. I think that's -- I've seen various projections about what that might raise, potentially -- or what you might lose, which can run into millions of pounds, and that seems to me to be a powerful incentive.

  • Depending on whether it's legally possible.

  • I've heard that some people are objecting that you have to go to Brussels and get permission. If the will is there, I have not heard of any legal objections to doing that. The exemption from VAT is predicated on an assumption that the printed word is good for democracy. That's my understanding of how it comes about. If you want to be outside of an umbrella which says we are actually -- this system of regulation is there because we accept that the printed word is part of the democratic process, then it seems to me if you don't want to be part of that, I don't see how you can then say, "But I want to be exempt from VAT". So that's one thing.

    The other thing is I think what's been suggested is that for those within this new regulatory system there could be caps on -- if you operate some kind of voluntary tribunal and all sides agree to be bound, there could be caps on any kind of damages that might be awarded --

  • Or you could do it the reverse way, by saying that if you're not within that system, and you're found liable for some failure, then there is an additional --

  • And that would need to be enough to make it sufficiently incentivised for an organisation to want to be part of this system.

    But I also think we should emphasise the potential role of this whole kite marking area. I think if there was a sufficient amount of publicity -- we all remember the Advertising Standards Association: "legal, decent, honest, truthful". None of us really know what the PCC stands for. That's because of publicity, because the ASA was prepared to publicise the standards which it expected people to adhere to, and I think a new kite marked regulatory system for the press could do the same.

  • I'm going to pause you there because I know Mr Barr wants to come back on to interesting questions about the definition of the public interest and other ethical questions. I'll give you each a few moments to tell us, because I think every witness has come forward in this Inquiry so far and said "It's all very difficult, I don't have a solution in my pocket", but we thought that if anyone can tell us --

  • Before you do that, that's a good question, but I have a slightly different one. How is all this going to be financed? It's all very well for Ofcom with the broadcasting money that is behind it, but print journalism as we know is going through a very, very difficult time, so if anybody has any ideas on that, I'd be very interested to hear it before you get the general opportunity.

  • I find there are two elements we come back to in this debate, where the role of the state becomes of interest. One is -- we've just discussed it -- the area of compulsion and membership and so forth, and the other is money. I think that we will hear, we are hearing a great many projects for press regulation, but I think that if they don't answer those two questions about compulsion and -- then, you know, they're not answers. I would love to think there was an alternative, but I can't see how those two questions could be answered without some involvement by the state.

    On the first point, I would say that when he came before you at the seminars, Paul Dacre, on the point of membership, as it were, he said something similar. He said that he would be looking for the help of Parliament, as it were, on that point, and I think the same is true with the money.

  • One of the reasons that I have suggested starting at a different point than attempting to produce a more elaborate, more effective regulatory mechanism than the one that exists at the moment, is I think the problem of paying for it is a really hard one, and therefore, if you build it into an incentive system -- I won't rehearse my previous argument -- then I think people would have a stronger incentive to come up with the money to run it.

    I think under the scheme I'm proposing, serious newspapers would get together collectively, they wouldn't just do this as a matter of individual declaration. They would get together to agree common codes. They might easily use external people, people from the legal world, quite obviously, to look at or indeed adjudicate some complaints and so on.

  • That's one of the possibilities.

  • And they would have to provide the resources for that system and they would have an incentive to do that, as I've described.

  • That takes us back to my more general questions. I want to give each of you a short opportunity to show us or tell us what the brave new world would look like in your view. Should look like. Who wants to kick-off? I'm going to start with Professor Barnett. We're back to starting on the left.

  • I was hoping I would be let off this time. In my evidence, I submitted a number of broad principles which I think need to underpin any new system. If you're asking me to outline the nuts and bolts of a new regulatory system, I will -- well, I'm not going to do that now.

  • I'm not going to give you the time to do that.

  • Good, okay. I would make two general comments: that ideally the new beefed-up system should be run by the press for the press. There are various ways in which we could try to ensure that it is not run by a small band of newspaper editors. I talked about getting working journalists involved on the board, and I think there are models from other countries like Ireland which I think we would do well to look at.

    And I think the more -- I completely agree with George. The more we can encourage that body to impose its will and get newspapers and other publications on board voluntarily, the better it's going to be for everyone, but the history of press regulation has told us over the last 50 years that left to itself, self-regulation, pure self-regulation, does not work. It simply does not work, and I think we have reached a point now where we simply cannot listen to the same promises and the same commitments that we heard 22 years ago at Colcutt and say, "This time it's one more drink in the last-chance saloon."

    We've been there and done that. There has to be now some kind of backstop regulatory framework which says, "You said you're going to do this, we think we believe you're going to do this, and if you're going to do it, you have nothing to fear, but we're going to be here and watch you just to make sure that you actually do that."

    One final point. There is, I think, almost a deliberate campaign sometimes amongst those who don't want any kind of statutory involvement at all to talk about state interference, and there are comparisons made with Zimbabwe and Burma and Hungary and all sorts of other awful countries on the basis that as soon as you involve Parliament, the world falls apart.

    I think we have to accept ultimately we live in a democracy, we have elected representatives in Parliament, that is what the legislature is for. We are not talking about government intervention in speech. We're talking about Parliament laying down a framework for a process which ensures that the kinds of excesses that we've seen over the last five years, and indeed 20 years ago, don't happen again.

  • Thank you very much. We'll call that the "bar is closed" argument. The last-chance saloon is definitely shut.

  • We've been there and the pub is closed.

  • You don't have to be flinging around names like Zimbabwe and Burma to say that if you are serious about freedom of expression, you really do want to minimise the involvement of the state or the government. I said, however, that I thought that the framework of laws in which the news media operate are extremely important and they could do with some revision. Most of that agenda is already known, although I would add to it a revised privacy law, but I think that the key is the improvement of the public interest defences in them. Because if you do that and you make access to a stronger public interest defence, the incentive for running a good newsroom and being able to declare what those things are and being transparent about it and adhering to standards which you give yourself or maybe even you agree with others, then you have a package of incentives that I think balance externally imposed requirements with internal incentives, but I think the key to that is stopping being nervous about defining as best we can, it's not easy, public interest.

  • We'll come back to that --

  • Just before we move on, the critical part of that would be that there is a mechanism that is straightforward and accessible for people who are adversely affected to be able to seek redress, because otherwise, if you say, as indeed has been said, the law is there, I will be the first to recognise that the courts, the criminal and the civil courts, do provide a remedy, but they are not for the faint-hearted or those without, in the main, a very considerable amount of money.

  • I was trying not to repeat entirely what I had said before but I do think that that revision of the law must include some easier, quicker access to people who feel themselves that they have been wronged, but I do think that that is, on balance, and if you take all the elements of what I'm proposing together, that that is a more attractive idea than what is going to be a very complex, very elaborate and I suspect very expensive new beefed-up regulatory system. Everybody is focusing on the new regulatory system. I think it has big problems of inclusion and cost, and I think it is just as good, in fact better, to look at the external legal environment, but you're absolutely right that access to justice is absolutely basic to that.

  • I agree with a great deal of what's gone before. I think we need to remind ourselves that there's a big issue of public trust here, and public trust in journalism has been very badly damaged in the past few years. I think that the remedy has to be seen to be radical. That's all the more the case when we have the history of the last chance -- I'd go back further than Steve. I think you go back to the first Royal Commission, 1946 to 1949, I think, which reports, recommends the setting-up of a Press Council and it takes three and a half years before the press -- and an awful lot of leaning on and threats of legislation before the press will set something up.

    That, if you look through the history, and this is another thing that Hacked Off is doing, that sort of conduct is repeated and repeated. We're in that position now. We can't let it happen again.

    A new step has to be taken and something that has to show that we take this seriously. This isn't about journalists dealing with journalists or journalists dealing with politicians or journalists dealing with the police. This is about journalists and the public and about the quality of life in Britain and the quality of information we get in our newspapers and so forth, and there has to be appropriate remedy to what has happened.

    I don't seek any Zimbabwe solutions. I agree entirely with George that the biggest changes will happen in the newsroom cultures and that a good public interest defence will help to engender that, although the effects, as you say, will be much greater in some papers than others, but we need to see something which says that this industry is putting itself right or being put right after this car crash that we've had in the last few years.

  • It's interesting, in about 1994 or 1995 Alan Rusbridger wrote a paper which was doing something similar to what George Brock is now suggesting, which is to have a public interest defence and at the same time to tighten up the privacy law and he came up with that and very quickly it all disappeared.

    I think that one of the problems that we have to accept is that we have basically two kinds of press here. There is the press, which I would include the Times and the Guardian and the Independent, who would be very happy to sit down and organise some self-regulation which we would undoubtedly use, as indeed they pretty much do now.

    So what one needs to think about is what about the rest, what about everybody else? Because that's really what the problem is.

    I've already talked about the right of reply. I think that that is something that would be very useful. It's used in other countries in Europe. It is not considered to be onerous and it does reach into newsrooms, it does change culture.

    Media reform is also interested in some form of new body which would certainly incentivise people to belong in much the same way as you discussed, by encouraging people to use both an ombudsman system and a tribunal system which would be within the new body and which would provide a cap, so that if you belonged to the body and complaints were taken through that body, you would be to some extent protected from the much harsher environment of the courts and the much higher fines in the courts, and that would in itself be an incentive for people to join.

    Because it's absolutely right that it won't work unless everybody's in there and if everybody is going to be in there they have to have a reason to be in there, and the main reason must be that they're going to get something out of it, and that would be to some extent some protection from legal action in the trickier cases where there is a public interest defence, certainly. I think there would be a way of making that work.

    But the question of funding, I don't think I have an answer there. There has been quite a lot of discussion about the possibility of using something in parallel with the tribunal system, which -- certainly the employment tribunal system works to allow people to access justice through the employment tribunal system without spending a lot of money, and maybe some similar sort of arrangement.

  • That answer is the one that we've just been given, namely that's the state.

  • I gather the building industry has a form of tribunal system which operates within its own regulatory system. I'm not a lawyer and I know nothing about the building industry, but I have read that this is a possibility.

  • I would just add that -- I'm sure you'll hear evidence from Ofcom. I have heard people from Ofcom say that the cost of what they deliver in terms of journalism isn't that high, and certainly isn't an order of magnitude higher than the cost of the PCC at the present.

  • Less than 5 million is what was said at one seminar that I attended.

  • If the newspapers started behaving better, it would be a lot cheaper all around.

  • Thank you very much. I'm going to hand over to Mr Barr.

  • Thank you.

    We've heard a lot about the public interest and it's obviously of fundamental importance to any debate about journalist ethics and for that reason I'd like to explore it with you in more detail. Could we have on the screen, please, the document which ends with reference number 48884. This is page 7 of the submission of Professor Barnett. If we could have magnified, please, the bullet points. This links in to what Ms Phillips was just talking about, the public interest defence. This is proposed, I think, in Professor Barnett's statement as a statutory definition, but putting aside for the moment whether any definition should be statutory or otherwise, and just looking at this formulation, I wanted to ask each of you whether you were content with this as a definition of public interest or whether you had anything to add or to detract from that definition? And perhaps, since it's you, Professor Barnett, who included it in your witness statement, it might be fairest if I ask you to set the ball rolling.

  • No, no, I think he should speak last after everybody else has commented.

  • By way of right of reply. In that case, Professor Brock, that leaves you in the hot seat.

  • Okay. This is the first time I've read this particular definition. Is this your drafting?

  • On the basis of BBC, Ofcom, et cetera, yes.

  • Right. I don't see anything to object to in that list. I think I would put the fourth bullet point first, because it's the broadest and the most general, and I'd make it as wide as it could be made. I mean, I don't think I can produce a drafting solution to you right off the top of my head here, but I think that -- I mean, what I'm trying to grope for is to say that you don't want to limit what might be important and useful to a democratic citizen because you don't know in advance what it might be, and the broader that phrasing of the fourth bullet point can be without becoming meaningless, the better.

    But the first three seem to me to be fine. If I had another half hour, I might be able to think up other bullet points, but that seems a perfectly good place to start.

  • You don't have just half an hour, Professor Brock. You have as long as you want.

  • I mean, I agree and, you know, I recognise these are essentially the sentiments in the existing industry codes. You'd know better than I. I think the privacy lawyers would be looking at driving coaches and horses through number 3 there on the preventing the public being misled by the hypocrisy of those attempting to create a false image of themselves. I think there are several definitions to be established along the way. I agree with the sentiment, but I think the wording is problematic.

  • Yes. I mean, I would suggest that number 3 is quite broad, but I don't think that drafting a public interest defence is sort of beyond us. Also, we already have the Reynolds defence, which goes quite a long way in that direction anyway. So we're starting from something that already exists.

    There is also the Irish -- this is from the BBC one, is it?

  • I think we have the Irish one somewhere, and that's pretty straightforward. And also research seems to indicate that people have a fairly clear understanding of what is meant when you use the phrase "public interest", and I think it needs to be -- I think the trouble with number 3 is that it will be very easy to suggest that a footballer who has been caught out having an affair has been misled by trying to create a false image of himself as being a good bloke.

  • I think that would be difficult, unless -- this is actually more to cover the MP who has been campaigning on a platform of family values and is then found to be having an affair.

  • Yes, we can tinker with the language, of course, that's what lawyers do for a living, but it's to get the concepts across. In that regard, of course, one has to bear in mind that I have heard one witness at least say in terms that what is in the public interest is exactly the same as what interests the public.

  • He was paraphrasing Rupert Murdoch in a speech he made five or six years ago. He said the same thing. I don't think anybody really apart from News International thinks that is a reasonably good definition of public interest.

  • Including I think the public themselves.

  • I can't remember, I think the Media Standards Trust did some research on that.

    One thing I just wanted to add, if I could, is the issue of proportionality. In the BBC's editorial guidelines, before it has its own small list of what represents the public interest, there is a two-line phrase which for me would need to be incorporated into any statute or definition, which goes:

    "When using the public interest to justify an intrusion, consideration should be given to proportionality: the greater the intrusion, the greater the public interest required to justify it."

    That seems to me to be a perfectly good, succinct way of approaching this whole question, which is proportionality.

  • There are two ways of looking at public interest because Angela mentioned another one. You can try and say what is the information that falls within the category that is fulfilling the public interest? The other aspect of it, which is probably quite important to what we've been discussing, is: is the journalism being done in a responsible, serious way? Those are obviously subjective terms, but the Nicholls principles to which Angela referred just now are a slightly different thing to Steve's shopping list there. That's a list of basically benchmark checks about whether the journalism has properly been done. I think it depends on the use you're making of the definition of the public interest, but both of these aspects of it are important.

    Can I just also underline Steve's point about how people do understand very easily what the public interest does? I think it was the IPPR did research in 2002 or 2003 and they asked a lot of focus groups -- they showed them a lot of journalism of varied kinds and said, "Is this in the public interest?" The research -- which I'm summarising very crudely -- basically said it was extremely easy for people to decide this and they had a very consistent basis for doing it without any prior guidance.

  • And were quite clear that the public interest was not consonant with what the public were interested in.

  • I think Angela has the reference.

  • I do, Svennevig and all the other -- Morrison and Svennevig 2002.

  • I may even have the whole reference. I have the references with me.

  • Thank you. Having had a brief excursion into the definition of public interest, what that helps us do is it helps us to inform the debate about when the end justifies the means. We've had a witness recently who explained that in his opinion there would always be some limits on the means. He gave an extreme example: a journalist wouldn't murder somebody in order to get at a story, or whatever the magnitude of the public interest. Professor Barnett has introduced the concept of proportionality as perhaps informing that debate.

    Could I now invite your contributions as to where and how the line is drawn as to when the end justifies the means. Is it necessarily on a case-by-case basis or are there useful pointers that can help us with that?

  • I think it is necessarily case by case. I think proportionality is important. I do think that the integrity of the journalism matters sometimes because in some cases the ends are bound to be sometimes speculative. That is to say you get legal cases where there is challenge over one method or another, and the news media concerned has said, "What we thought we were going to find was this, but actually something interrupted us", an injunction or whatever it was. There I think the integrity of the editorial process is an important piece of the publication's defence. But as to setting a line about there are some things that are completely unacceptable in all circumstances -- I think that would be difficult to do other than saying that -- agreeing with David Leigh that murdering somebody wouldn't be justified.

  • This comes back to what George was saying before, about having in place a mechanism which is going to encourage that kind of integrity within the newsroom. Again I go back to television as the obvious analogy. There are clear practices not just within the BBC but within commercial television as well, but there are two separate stages.

    The first is if you are going to do something which is going to involve any potential breach of ethical procedures, you first seek permission. Depending on the nature of that breach, if for example it might involve breaking the law, it goes right up to the very top, to the editorial standards director or whatever.

    And then there is a separate thing. Once you've got permission, you've gathered the information having got their permission, there is a separate procedure for transmission. So there are two separate points at which you are seeking advice and talking about the nature of the journalism that you're doing, and if the second permission is given, then the broadcast goes ahead using the material that you gathered following the first permission.

    It seems to me that it's that kind of audit trail which could easily be supplanted into newspaper newsrooms to demonstrate that there's been serious consideration according to a proper set of codes and the decision was reached that this was a proportional breach of normal codes.

  • But your first audit trail actually satisfies another problem as well, doesn't it, which is the problem where there was legitimate material available to justify the investigation which, when undertaken, actually came to nothing and then comes out into the public domain. You have to be able to justify the work, even though at the end nothing came of it.

  • I think that is absolutely right. In other words, you're not just going on a fishing expedition.

  • That was the next phrase, yes.

  • No, I think that's absolutely right.

  • I mean, I just remind the Inquiry the suggestion by Alan Rusbridger in connection with the idea of audit trails, which I think would do a lot to improve newsroom cultures by making everybody stop at every stage and think, both reporters and news editors and editors, and Alan Rusbridger's suggestion was that there should be some harm test, that you should actually when you write your story look at a questionnaire which says, "Am I going to harm anybody?" You know, make a list of who it might harm and then, "Can I justify this?" and he had I think five questions which made it more explicit and elaborate.

  • This was from Sir David Omand.

  • Indeed, and something like that could be adapted in newsrooms that would bring people right up against these issues straight away, and if there was a yes in those boxes, a tick, it would then go up the system and that would be part of it.

    I think when we look at the idea of newspapers or journalists defending themselves in court, if you say, "I work in a newsroom where that is the environment", that is going to stand you in good stead, I would argue.

  • Can I put it a different way? I think a good public interest defence has to recognise that some of what people are doing in news media could be described as risk management, which is why I say it is case by case. If you take the example of the Daily Telegraph, and the disk about MPs' expenses, if you were offered that disk, you must have had to consider two possibilities. One was that it had simply been stolen, or secondly, that it might have involved the bribery of a public official. If you're proposing to buy it, you might be compounding the offence.

    The risk management there -- and at least two newspapers turned it down, on presumably that basis. However, the Telegraph didn't and I think they were justified in what they did, because of the disclosures they made which Parliament was exactly planning not to make.

    So it's a matter of -- it needs to recognise risk management to some degree, obviously not an infinite degree.

  • To add a slightly light-hearted comment, one of the newspapers who turned it down was the Sun allegedly because Rebekah Brooks thought there wasn't enough sex in it.

  • That's an interesting one. I'm just trying to imagine this tick-boxing happening in a busy newsroom and whether it would actually work. I think that the principles behind it are admirable and I can imagine, quite easily imagine Alan coming up with it, but I can't quite see, when you know, for example, that there are journalists in some newspapers churning out 13 stories a day. Now, if you're churning out 13 stories a day and if anybody -- if you look on Journalisted, the person who has the most stories is listed every day, it's going to be quite difficult to stop and do a tick box for everything -- which in itself might be a good reason for doing it because it might slow everybody down a bit. But I think in most cases these sorts of stories are not run-of-the-mill stories; they're talking about people actually having done specific and individual investigation and where they are using information that they themselves have trawled. I just think one has to think about the practicalities of something that applies to every story.

  • I suppose I would answer that -- this is not much different from what we expect of people in the medical profession, people in policing. They have to fill in forms.

  • I actually think there could be a test --

  • I'll try it tomorrow.

  • Your first tick would be decisive as to whether you had to fill in anything else.

  • Ah, that would probably help.

  • In electronic newsrooms, these things can be done very quickly --

  • Would you like to send it to me and I'll trial it in our newsroom, see if it works.

  • Yes. I think that the point that we -- partly because of the pressure of the press itself, we demand effort in terms of accountability and audit and good paperwork from all sorts of people in all sorts of walks of life. I think maybe the holiday is over for journalists.

  • That raises the point, doesn't it, that journalists rightly hold all of us to account -- and I do say rightly -- judges, parliamentarians, everybody, and they criticise judges on the basis they're unelected and unaccountable -- I'm not sure we are unaccountable, but that's another point -- but nobody does it for them.

  • As university teachers, we have to do the same thing. There is no end of audit forms we have to fill in to demonstrate that we are acting appropriately and I resent it when I have to do it, but I completely understand why I have to do it, because there is public money being spent on us doing a reasonably competent job. And I think Brian's absolutely right. The one area of industry that hasn't so far been caught up in this really quite recent and modern move towards greater accountability is the press, and I think Brian put it very well: maybe the holiday is over.

  • I'm not arguing that journalists should be unaccountable, but in a plural and open society, news media will compete, which judges and doctors, with respect to them, don't, in the same way, and if you are competing there will be some constraints on what you can do in terms of box-ticking.

  • That's fair, that's a fair point.

  • Except I come back to television, which is equally competitive. I did some research ten years ago amongst journalists working for different TV channels and they all complained about the intense pressure, the move towards tabloidisation, having to look for lighter stories, and they complained about the direction of audience research, but none of them talked about being under pressure to break ethical codes, and none of them said that the burden of having to make themselves accountable was too great.

    So I'm afraid I have less sympathy with that objection.

  • Thank you. We're very shortly going to have to draw this fascinating session to a close, and in a moment I'm just going to ask you if any of you think we've missed anything of fundamental importance which you would like to raise.

    Before I do that, I've had one request from a core participant -- ah, I've been told that I needn't raise it, so that takes us straight to the final question.

    Is there anything that any of you thinks is so fundamental that we must hear about it now? As Lord Justice Leveson has made clear more than once, we will be delighted to have your further thoughts in writing, as has emerged throughout the debate. It's obvious there are one or two points on which you are going to be able to help us and we look forward very much to hearing from you as you see fit.

  • There's no doubt there are many points upon which you'll be able to help. What I have said, and I'm happy to repeat to you, is that this actually is the problem for the press rather than my problem. I am required to address it, but it is critical that we get a system that everybody can live with that meets the requirements of our democratic society but also meets the legitimate complaints that undeniably have bubbled up more than once in the last 20 years and now have to be dealt with.

    Could I end this morning by thanking you. I hope you've found that the seminar system worked. I thought that it would be more valuable for you to be able to talk each listening to the other and contributing to the debate than having you each formally one by one go through what you said without being able to comment on what the others said. I hope you found that helpful.

  • I think it's very helpful, although I draw your attention to the fact that the press is absent today, and that is one of the issues that we all have to deal with, that actually the press talks to itself, and we're very glad that you've asked to talk to media academics because as media academics we do an awful lot of thinking about it and we value being able to contribute to this, because in the pages of our newspapers there have been very few voices from media academics.

  • I don't know whether there are any members of the press in the marquee downstairs, I simply can't tell you.

  • There weren't on the way in.

  • But if you feel either individually or collectively there is something that you would like to contribute, I am looking for solutions to the range of problems and I am perfectly happy to acknowledge who is responsible for them. I'm simply trying to get an answer that works. Thank you all very much indeed for spending the time. Thank you.

    We'll start again at 2 o'clock.

  • (The luncheon adjournment)

  • Yes, Mr Jay?

  • Sir, I wanted to raise a point about next week's evidence, or at least part of it.

  • The evidence of Messrs Pike, Crone and Abramson, who are all lawyers.

    Thus far, their statements have been redacted to cover possible legal professional privilege. I say "possible" since that is in issue at the moment. There's obviously a pressing need that their statements are disclosed to the core participants without privileged matters or possibly privileged matters being covered.

    However, there are issues, particularly in relation to Mr Crone's evidence, less important with respect to Mr Abramson's evidence, regarding the scope of privilege, which I would be inviting you to resolve either tomorrow morning at 9.30, if we are ready to resolve them; in the alternative, Monday morning at 9.30. Plainly, I'll need to discuss the matter with Mr Rhodri Davies, who is directly affected by this debate, and we wouldn't wish the matter to come before you on other than a properly argued basis.

    I don't expect it would take too long to argue the issue, but it's right that this important matter be properly ventilated.

  • Is it likely to impact on any of the other core participants? I mean, in particular is it a topic in which Mr Sherborne is likely to be interested?

  • Yes. And possibly Mr Garnham.

  • Well, yes. So when you multiply up the lawyers that want to have their say, you multiply up the time that it's going to take. That's my experience.

  • Yes. As long as one doesn't multiply it exponentially, just add a little bit more in, but my submissions would as it were reflect the views of others in any event, but Mr Sherborne or Mr Garnham, if so advised, could add to the issue.

    There's also a possible privacy issue in relation to part of Mr Crone's evidence. If there are to be submissions about that, my view at the moment is those submissions in the first instance would need to take place in private.

  • Right. Otherwise the point gets lost.

  • I understand that. I'm in your hands, Mr Jay. I would prefer it not to be on Monday, I think, but it can be tomorrow morning or at close of business tomorrow afternoon, which gives people the day as well as -- for those who aren't otherwise involved.

  • Yes, it's possibly quite a busy day for some of us, but I can always multitask.

  • I'm sure. Otherwise I'm available to resolve that which I can resolve.

    It strikes me that what you're telling me is that there may be some hard-edged legal issues to think about, and of course I'll deal with them appropriately. Thank you.

    Yes, Mr Rhodri Davies?

  • I'm sorry to add to the shopping list, sir, but we have another point that we've raised in a letter to the Tribunal yesterday, which really concerns the same evidence as Mr Jay has just referred to, but it's not just a privilege issue. There is also an issue as to the division between part 1 and part 2 of the Inquiry.

  • Yes. I think I understand what that point is. Of course that isn't hard-edged because there's a degree of discretion available to me.

  • The purpose for the division between part 1 and part 2 was specifically to avoid potentially prejudicing a criminal investigation or prosecution that might arise that was then being undertaken by the Metropolitan Police.

  • What I would be unhappy about doing, without making any decision about the point you're seeking to raise, even in part 1, is to restrict unnecessarily lines of inquiry which may be relevant to practice and which may impact upon solutions, but which don't impact on the criminal investigation. I'm sure you take the point.

  • Yes. Obviously we understand all that, but that still leaves quite a difficult line to draw.

  • I understand that. Drawing lines is what I'm here for. If you require me to draw a line, then I will draw the line. Doubtless you'll continue discussing with Mr Jay so that you can decide where the line is without me, but if you need me, I'll have my pencil ready.

  • All I wanted to do was get that on the agenda along with the points which Mr Jay has raised, but it's probably sensible to do them all at once.

  • It might be better to do them at the end of the day rather than the beginning, because I don't really want to interrupt the evidence which is quite lengthy that is tomorrow.

  • And if we have to go into Monday, then we have to go into Monday. If I can't do what I otherwise would be doing at 9 o'clock on Monday then I won't.

  • Sir, we're going to continue the academic theme this afternoon.

  • The three eminent academics we have for the afternoon session are Professor Hargreaves, Professor Petley and Dr Mac Sithigh. Perhaps I can ask that the witnesses are sworn first of all, please.