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

Yes. I think I do. I hope what we've laid out here on prior notification is essentially two points. One is: of course it's right, where possible, to contact people in advance and it's right for reasons of decency that you mention it. For reasons of accuracy, you want to make sure you hear their side of the story.

The concern that I have is simply: how do you recognise that in the future? And I think there is understandable concern amongst journalists that any significant requirement or any significant obligation to -- for prior notification will result in a surge of injunctions, which even if they are -- if they go through the courts and we take the time and the money to deal with them, the correct outcome is one that we see at the end. I'd be very concerned about that.

But there was a practical point I really wanted to make about prior notification. I remember a fair few years ago I was reporting a story for the FT. I was covering media, and I got a tip-off that one big media company was about to launch a bid for the other, and I called the person I knew of that company and someone picked up the phone and said -- it was late in the evening by now -- "I'm the cleaner, I can't help you." So I called another number there; turned out I got the cleaner. And I called a third and again I got another cleaner. And it later emerged, many years later I discovered that the person who ran the company had heard that I'd been tipped off about it and informed every single person in the office that if they picked up the phone, they should say they were the cleaner.

This is a rather elaborate way of saying: if you make a requirement of prior notification, you could very quickly get yourself in a situation where, because the journalist cannot deliver that notification, they cannot publish.

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