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

Indeed, and that's something the Inquiry needs to consider, given that these stories permanently reside on the Internet. Mr Mosley will give evidence to you about how difficult it is to try and deal with that, even where the English court has ruled that the publication should never have taken place.

And what about the woman, sir, with whom he had this affair and who was exercising her freedom of speech? Her attempts to demand money from Mr Flitcroft through sending a package to his parents' house asking for cash in return for her not disclosing their relationship were refused. She therefore exercised her threat because Mr Flitcroft did not want to give in to such blackmail. No doubt she got her money from the newspaper and a sizeable cheque, I'm sure, and no doubt her motivation was her belief that his wife ought to know about their affair.

What of the newspaper? One wonders whether it was all worth it after all. Was Mr Flitcroft's right to privacy and the effect which invading this caused really outweighed by some specious public interest which has at its heart the commercial motive that without such stories the tabloid press fears it will not exist? Is the need to satisfy an insatiable public appetite for salacious gossip more important? Perhaps we will never know. I will come back to this, though, because it's important, sir, in the context of prior notification.

What consolation, as I have said, for Mr Flitcroft that the law might be considered wrong now, or not. It's irrelevant. It's not going to give him back what he's lost, and that's the very real problem with invading people's privacy because once it's breached and private things are made public, particularly in a national newspaper and particularly with the Internet, then that privacy is lost forever.

We do need to ask what price we place now on privacy in our society. One we would like to think of, as I said, as a mature and tolerant one.

If further examples are needed, Charlotte Church's evidence will provide another one. Part of her statement concerns a story which was published on the front page of the News of the World in December 2005 under the headline, "Church: three in a bed cocaine shock". You might be forgiven for thinking when you saw that headline that it was some revelation about the singer herself. It wasn't, although I suspect that was the intention.

Instead, it was a story about her father having an affair with someone who worked for him, and in several pages lurid and sensational details of this private relationship were plastered across the newspaper. The effect on her parents, and particularly her mother, someone the press would call the innocent party, was absolutely devastating and Ms Church will tell you about this. The newspaper was aware of that effect even at the time. How do I say that? Because it subsequently transpired that the Church family has discovered that the story was the product of their voicemail messages being illegally accessed by Mr Mulcaire.

Part of the information which they would have found out was the fact that shortly prior to the story being published Charlotte's mother was admitted to hospital following an attempted suicide. The newspaper knew it.

In an act of great sensitivity, as Ms Church will explain, following the article published, the newspaper approached her mother directly and persuaded her to give them an exclusive, despite her fragile condition, as part of a Faustian pact that in return they would not run another lurid follow-up story about her husband's affair.

So when people talk of public interest in exposing the private lives of well-known people or those close to them, this is the real, brutally real impact which this kind of journalism has.

There are, of course, less extreme examples, but they still demonstrate how, in my submission, unjustifiable such stories are, contributing nothing as they do to what is truly in the public interest.

Steve Coogan, for example, will give evidence to this Inquiry. Another individual whom the popular press love to vilify. But look behind the silly tabloid stereotypes for a moment. He is, I would say, perhaps he would not say it himself, a talented writer, comedian and actor, but most importantly, he has not sought publicity for himself. He doesn't turn up to do openings, he doesn't preach morality to anyone or set himself up as a role model. Nevertheless, he has been on the receiving end of numerous kiss and tell stories.

His evidence, whilst less dramatic than that of Charlotte Church, is equally important to demonstrate how this almost unique English journalistic culture of kiss and tell stories can, over time, have an insidious effect even on the most sanguine and impervious of individuals. He will describe how not just him but his family and friends have been affected by this, how he's been doorstepped by journalists and so have partners, members of his family, parents, grandparents, all in an attempt to dig up stories about his private life. He's had journalists camped outside his house, rooting through his bins, bothering neighbours, following him in cars and so on and so forth.

Yes, the obsession with well-known people and the belief that details of their private lives, exclusive details, sells newspapers, has led to yet another excess, the hounding of celebrities. Not just from intrusive stories, but also because of the market this creates for the paparazzi, an aggressive breed of unregulated males equipped with a camera, often used as more of a weapon than a means of recording someone's image. Their methods of stalking vary from driving recklessly in the hot pursuit of their prey through the streets of London with all the dangers this causes, through crashing into cars to stop someone getting away from them, to force a confrontation for which read perfect photo opportunity, to camping outside someone's home and refusing to leave, to chasing and jostling their victim down the road, shouting out abuse in the hope that a reaction can be provoked and a caption generated for which a certain section of the press will pay handsomely.

It goes without saying that without this kind of willing market, there is no livelihood for this species of journalistic activity.

A number of witnesses speak about this, at least in general terms. However, in case anyone thinks that this is just a problem for the rich and famous, I can safely say that having been involved in obtaining every one of the six injunctions which have been granted to stop this kind of harassment to well-known people, it is a miracle that no member of the public has got seriously hurt, although many have been caused considerable nuisance, so indescribably dangerous and oblivious is the behaviour of these individuals, not to mention plain old intimidating.

This hounding, this obsession with reporting on every aspect of a well-known person's private life may seem relatively innocuous, perhaps, unless of course you are the person having to deal with it, and it doesn't matter, it appears, whether you try to be intensely private or not. JK Rowling is a good example of this. She will explain to the Inquiry how, because of the enormous success of her writing talent, she went from being what one might call an ordinary person to what one might call famous, but how despite this she and her husband have gone to enormous lengths, lengths which many would regard as not being necessary, to protect -- or should not be necessary -- to protect the privacy of her family and to let the press know, that section of the press so desperate to indulge their curiosity about her private life, that that is the attitude they take.

The fact that Ms Rowling has tried to carve out and protect some form, semblance of normal life for her children but has failed to do so despite her best efforts, just highlights the excesses of the press. It should not need saying, and indeed it is part of the PCC code, whatever good that has done her in the past, as she will tell you, that just because children have famous parents doesn't mean that they are public property as well. Adults can make choices. Children, of course, can't.

Whilst the most well-known of Ms Rowling's repeated disputes with a certain section of the press, desperate to overstep the boundaries between her private and professional career, is the case that she brought against Big Pictures, a photographic agency over a photograph they took published in the Express of her walking on a family outing sharing some special moments with her husband and young children, this is by no means the only example she will give of such intrusion.

There have still been photographers and press camped outside her house. Her young children have had notes placed in their school bag. Pictures of them have been snatched whilst they've been enjoying quality time on holiday.

So what, you may say. Just think for a moment. What if you knew that whenever you take your family out of the house, just to go to the park or to the shops, things that you or I, as so-called ordinary people, do without thinking, what if every time you did this you had no idea whether a photographer was going to jump out of the bushes and photograph your children? How would you feel? Scared? Little bit like a prisoner? Perhaps. But more importantly, why should you have to tolerate this kind of hounding, this level of intrusion into your private life? Especially if you are well-known for guarding your privacy as fiercely as Ms Rowling does.

She will explain the very real corrosive effect that this has had on her children.

Finally, one other point she will deal with, which may seem a small one, is the obsession with publishing the address of people in the public eye, or sufficient details of their homes so that they can be identified. This is a complaint which she has in common with a number of well-known people, although I think she is the only person giving evidence to this Inquiry who refers to it expressly. It's a problem she's had with a number of publications over the years. It may, as I've said, seem at first blush like a small point, but it is one which is of importance to her, since she deliberately chose to live in a remote part of rural Scotland in order to keep her family's privacy.

In the past, one tabloid newspaper has even printed the street name and photos of her house, photos which apparently showed the CCTV cameras and other security measures which she has had to employ to protect herself and her children from those, for example, who are well aware of her commercial success. And simply because her address is not a secret in the sense you could probably find it somewhere on the Land Registry if you carried out the necessary searches, does not mean that it is not private, and it doesn't mean that it justifies the publishing of details in a national newspaper with all the security risks that this creates.

Then there are the other core participant victims who will give evidence of the way that they have constantly had to fight against a steady stream of lies or distortions published about them because it suits the press to portray them in a certain way.

Sheryl Gascoigne is one of them, for example. She will explain how the minute she married Paul Gascoigne, she became a villain in certain sections of the press, especially after their divorce, but even before, despite being the well-documented victim of domestic abuse.

Regardless of the true position, she has been persistently portrayed as the callous, money-grabbing wife, blamed for her ex-husband's well-documented problems in story after story, so many times indeed that fiction has turned into accepted fact. Or at least was until she decided in the end to bring a series of libel actions, as she will tell you.

She is an example of someone who initially dealt with the fame which she received when she started a relationship with a national hero by deciding that the best course was not to take on the press but rather to maintain a dignified silence. It is a view which after many years and countless press cuttings she was forced to change, primarily because her children were angry at what they read about their mother.

She will tell you how the decision to fight back, as it were, in 2009 and to use her legal rights was an effective one. It is something the Inquiry will obviously consider when looking at how the press are regulated in the wider sense. However, while she won all of her libel actions, the best remedy for her would have been for these lies not to have been published in the first place.

As she will tell you, this decision to use legal means has at times been risky. It nearly cost her her family home, as she had to place it on the market to fund her legal action to clear her name. Thankfully, she won just before the house was sold, but her attempts to try to set the record straight, if not for her, then for her children, who have to read about these lies, is one which has not been easy.

Charlotte Church is another core participant with a similar complaint, albeit with her own unique set of circumstances. Having started her professional life when she was just 11 years old as a child prodigy, she has had to enduring intense media scrutiny and in particular what appears to be a concerted attempt to disparage or denigrate her. Given that a lot of this has happened as she was struggling, like most girls of her age, with the pressures of becoming a teenager, some of the reporting was deeply irresponsible, not to mention plain wrong.

She also chose, like many, to take the course of least resistance. The press, or at least various newspapers, are going to publish what they publish; why fight it? That is, until her children started to reach an age where they could read the lies and distortions published about her for themselves, published by those intent on perpetuating the stereotypical image of her as the voice of an angel who eventually fell from grace.

She will dismiss the myth of the so-called whingeing celebrity, as well as the line trotted out in self-defence by more tabloid journalists than I can count that celebrities somehow need this publicity and only complain when it's negative. I will let her deal with that.

More importantly, she emphasises the particular protection which young people need, especially those who, because of a certain talent, enter the public eye without any real idea of the consequences.

Just to show you how topical her evidence is, she will recount how a week or so ago a story hit the newspapers about how she is meant to have made an exhibition of herself drunkenly proposing to her partner in a bar while singing karaoke. It was a good story, with all the favourite tabloid stereotypes about her: a drunk Charlotte Church, karaoke singing in a Welsh bar, a drunken proposal. Everything. The problem is it was a complete fabrication. Not least because she wasn't even there on the night in question. Did anyone check with her? No. Did anyone think about whether this was intrusive let alone true? Apparently not. To use the Kelvin MacKenzie line, it sounds right so it probably is right, so let's lob it in, bugger sources or respect for people's private lives.

For the journalists, perhaps they decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story. These no doubt are the same type of tabloid journalists Trevor Kavanagh, the political editor of the Sun, was referring to in the seminars when he described them as the "finest creative professionals in the business", although he was speaking without a hint of irony.

Ms Church will also describe the massive effect which this kind of journalism has had not only on her life but the lives of her family and friends, collateral damage, one might call it, and the worst excesses of the press came when she was between the ages of 16 and 20, reporters cutting holes in the shrubbery and installing secret cameras, being chased in a car, photographers trying to open a car door while she was inside, trying to take photographs up her skirt. On one occasion she begged the News of the World not to reveal where she lived as there was a threat to kidnap her at the time, but they refused. Or the time the press revealed she was pregnant when she hadn't even told her parents, so desperate were the newspapers to get an exclusive scoop on her private life.

Before I leave the topic of the damage which the press can do in terms of false portrayals, let me give you two further examples. Examples which seem to fit the description Mr Peppiatt gave when he said that tabloid newsrooms are often bullying and aggressive environments in which dissent is often not tolerated, in particular when it comes to big stories.

One doesn't need to explain that to Gerry and Kate McCann. The disappearance of their daughter on 3 May 2007 was on any view a big story, and one which had the press falling over themselves to cover, taking up almost permanent residence in the beginning in Praia da Luz.

When he gives evidence, Mr McCann will explain how it felt for him and his wife to be thrust from what one might call anonymity into the public limelight in the worst possible circumstances, one with which any parent would sympathise. It may be appropriate for me at this moment to read out what clause 5 of the Press Complaints Commission's code says, entitled "Intrusion into grief". Clause 5 states in terms which appear to have no public interest qualification:

"In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively."

Mr McCann's evidence will be a perfect example of how hopelessly inadequate this self-regulatory code is as a means of curbing the excesses of the press. He will refer to the blatant intrusion which he and his family suffered throughout, particularly when they were back in the United Kingdom, from the press camping outside their door to how his children were terrified as they were driven around by their parents. He will explain how sensitively the media dealt with this.

Moreover, he will explain how in the months following the abduction of Madeleine, the behaviour of the press changed from an attitude of support to one of hostility, a change which he suspects, and we say rightly, was based on the commercial imperative to bring home exclusive stories for editors greedily waiting back in the United Kingdom watching the expenses bills of their journalists mounting up. Apparently journalists were being told, he will say, that they had to get a front page story, or their job was on the line.

What happened in those days in late 2007 and into 2008, when stories about the missing toddler became thin on the ground and the pack of journalists were sitting idly in the bars, must be some of the darkest days for this section of the press. Some of the headlines that were published, either based on some nonsense supposedly gleaned from the Portuguese police, often on nothing at all, were a national scam, and I list some of those headlines:

"DNA puts parents in frame. British experts insist their tests are valid". "Parents' car hid a corpse. It was under carpet in boot, say police". "It was her blood in parents' hire car, new DNA tests report". "Kate and Gerry's sabotage plot". "Maddy's grave, McCanns buried her on beach". "Waiter can prove that parents lied, says Maddy police. What Kate called out". And finally "Maddy sold by hard-up McCanns".

And all this despite the fact that the couple had tried through the police to circulate letters to the editors begging them for restraint, especially given the ongoing search for their little girl, but all to no avail.

Of course, one thing did eventually work, you'll be pleased to hear. I say you'll be pleased to hear, sir. That depends on whether you are a believer in the Press Complaints Commission or self-regulation. It was a libel complaint that worked, worked at least in the sense that the campaign to vilify this poor couple with the sort of nonsense stories that I've read out stopped. A massive payout, to use the tabloid phrase, was made by the Express, the worst but by no means the only offender, and this proved to the world that these accusations were untrue. But there are still some people out there who will no doubt believe that there is no smoke without fire, perhaps, the ones who still ring the McCanns' house or try and send them messages.

Money doesn't cure all the ills, as the Dowlers will testify to, but unlike a privacy claim, it does prove to the world, at least to the ordinary reasonable person, that these outrageous lies are just that and at least Express Newspapers published a front page apology.

If this was a one-off, an isolated case of the press going too far, it might be forgivable. A lapse in judgment, albeit that it was only the Express Group, but it wasn't. The McCanns' experience is not an isolated or unique experience, and it has nothing to do with too much sun and sangria clouding the brain of a pack of journalists, as my second example demonstrates.

He is someone called Christopher Jefferies. A year ago, you would never have heard of him or seen him, unless you were lucky enough to have been taught by him during the 34 years he worked as an English teacher. Yes, for 34 years he dedicated his life to teaching and building up a reputation as an exemplary professional.

It took the tabloid newspapers only a matter of moments to destroy that reputation in the last days of December of last year.

Worse still, he was catapulted, like the McCanns, from anonymity into the public spotlight in the most terrifying way possible, as the man responsible, they claimed, for the murder of Joanna Yeates, the Bristol girl who rented one of the flats of which he was a landlord and who disappeared on the weekend of 17 December and whose body was discovered on Christmas Day 2010.

We all now know that Mr Jefferies was entirely innocent and the murderer, Vincent Tabak, has now been convicted. But it created a media feeding frenzy of almost unparallelled proportions, a frenzy which, sir, as you know led to two newspapers being found guilty of contempt of court.

On one view, as he sat in a police station answering questions, Mr Jefferies was thankfully unaware of the clamour to convict him which occurred in the press as they appointed themselves his judge, jury and executioner. Once again, it is lucky that when he was released on bail, he was cosseted by friends. Indeed he only fully understood the breadth of the articles which sought to vilify him some time later. Perhaps that is all one can deal with in a situation like that. Thankfully, I don't know.

But one reason why Mr Jefferies is an example to us all is that this could happen to any one of us, celebrity or not.

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