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

It's quite a lengthy process that ends up with a line-by-line analysis. On this particular day, the Attorney General had made some comments to the BBC World At One programme, which he -- it wasn't an advisory notice, but he said words to the effect that: "I don't want to comment on today's particular coverage, but I would point out that the contempt of court rules are there to protect the rule of law."

Clearly this story was going to figure as a major piece in tomorrow's edition. It had been on the front page of the previous seven edition of the Sun and other papers and it would actually stay on the front page for ten more editions.

Now, I immediately spoke to our senior lawyer by phone while he was on his holiday, Mr Walford, who I think gave evidence a couple of weeks ago. We discussed that morning's coverage in the other papers, in our own paper. I hadn't edited the previous day but I was in charge, obviously, of this edition and I talked to him about the Attorney General's comments, and we discussed the need for a fine line to be drawn as to how far we could go.

Clearly we'd subjected Mr Jefferies to some unfavourable scrutiny throughout that previous edition. There was even more on the news list for that day's edition, including -- I was asked if we wanted to pursue some lines in some of the other papers, two of them being that he was an associate of a convicted paedophile and that a murder from 1974 was being reopened into Glenis Caruthers' death as a result of his arrest. Both of those lines seemed to me to be far beyond the mark of where we should be going, and also some of the material supplied even in these transcripts and other stories were too strong.

I perfectly readily accept that what we did publish was too strong, but I attempted with the lawyer, and the night lawyer when he came in in the evening, to try and strike a balance between what we could say and what would keep us the right side of the law. Obviously those decisions were wrong, we made the wrong decision, we committed contempt of court and we committed a libel, for which we apologise.

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