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

We generally don't, as I mentioned, pay for stories, and on that occasion we took the view that we shouldn't be in the business of paying for stolen goods, that there would not necessarily be a public interest defence for that. If you remember, sir, in this case, what you had to pay for was the right to look at what you could look at. So there was a fee, as I remember it, for looking at the -- at a selection of the disks before you actually acquired them.

It may be the case -- you know, hindsight is a wonderful thing. You look back -- there may have been a public interest defence in that case. There was undoubtedly a public interest in the publication of that story, and going back to the point you just made, if there's a lesson there -- and I certainly -- this is certainly the lesson that I drew, it was that you have to have a set of rules in a newsroom, you have to have a set of standards and a culture, but you also have to be willing to break them in the event that you're presented with a story that is overwhelmingly in the public interest.

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