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

I did deal with this in my evidence to the Select Committee back in September 2009, and of course a fair number of individuals have had access to the Motorman material, either through subject access requests, "I think I may be in the file, I want to check, I want to see, I want to get it corrected", or indeed as a result of court orders, where litigants in various civil actions have persuaded the court that they ought to see the material.

When I went before the Select Committee in 2009, it was apparent to me that a number of members of the committee had a very good understanding of what was in the Motorman files. I suspected at the time that that might have come from some of the material which had been released under court order. Members seemed to be particularly well briefed. And at that point, I formed the view that the Section 59 position where we had not been making available information in -- to the newspaper groups certainly needed to change.

So far as the individuals are concerned, I'm still very ready for subject access requests by those who may be concerned. The difficulty about simply contacting everybody lies in the nature of the dossiers themselves. Mr Jay, you've seen them. I don't know whether all the core participants are in that position, but these are notebooks, and sometimes the information contained in them is deeply obscure. I said in my witness statement that the individual who made the notes must have had a perfect understanding of what he was intending, but it isn't always clear. That partly explains why there's sometimes a discrepancy between the spreadsheets that we've compiled and the notebooks.

If you said to me, "You ought to notify everybody whose name appears in the Motorman files", I'd be hard pressed to do that. It isn't just a question of resources, it's it isn't immediately clear who is being referred to, because it isn't just celebrities, it's all sorts of people who may or may not be part of a story concerning a celebrity or whatever it is; it's just a name. Sometimes it's just a surname.

I think Richard Thomas put the point very well in his response to you on this matter, when he said: if, having established the identity of the individual and their address, we wrote to them to say simply, "Your details appear in the Motorman file, we can't tell you why", that might be an even greater breach of privacy than the original offence, because there would be a suggestion that there's no smoke without fire. Other members of the family might see the letter and say, "Hey, what's going on?" and I couldn't tell them any more than a name appears in a file.

It would be a phenomenal undertaking. Just because there's a name, John Smith, I would then have to work out which John Smith. The example I gave to the Select Committee was Ziggy Stardust, that's a bit easier to do, but there are an awful lot of very anonymous names and it simply isn't practical.

However, if Hacked Off and their lawyers are representing particular individuals, then that's what we're here for: subject access requests, off we go.

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