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

I do understand the point you're making, my Lord. Anybody can request -- any reporter could request access to a police operation. As you know, reporters are frequently given access to police operations. I mean, I would -- let's look at the nightly menu on television. If you watch traffic cops or any one of these fly on the wall series, some of which are very good, actually, that's journalists being given long-term access to police operations in a particular area of the country, and that's at the discretion of chief constables, wherever they happen to be.

In a broader picture, the police also operate -- certainly the Metropolitan Police operate with their Press Bureau what is called an "if asked system". That's to say officers might arrest somebody for a particular offence, and although they do not necessarily make public that information, if I get to hear about it one way or another and I ring up the police and say, "I'm really interested to know", the Press Bureau of the police, and say, "I'm told that you arrested a man in connection with this homicide", or whatever, "and I want it on an if asked only basis", they would confirm that indeed a 36-year-old man has been arrested today in connection with this offence, but they won't disseminate that information generally.

So there's a decision-making process which there's some information they disseminate generally all the time and there's some information which they, for various reasons, say we'll only talk about this if we're asked to do so.

I think this came under the heading of that, essentially, that I had shown an interest in Operation Grafton, apparently nobody else had. As a result of that, my continuing interest in it, as you say, I saw an opportunity and was able to reach an agreement to get access to -- and also, of course, in a real sense, because of the nature of what was going on, it would have been impossible for the police to accommodate a coachful of reporters.

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