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

Yes, Mr Jay, you have. In a nutshell, during 2002, 2003, I was working quite a lot for the Mail on Sunday, I'm that shadowy beast, the Mail on Sunday freelancer about which much is written and very little seen, quite often. Because of the nature of -- they hired me essentially to set up and to advise them on a property supplement which they wanted to run. That necessarily involved talking to a lot of prominent and famous people, and, you know, when you stop doing something, people sometimes think you are still doing it, so it's possible that people were fishing, looking for leads relating to that.

During 2005, I wrote a long series of articles for the Times newspaper which were about alternative investments and the alternative investments in motorcars through to wine through to expensive bars of gold and stamps that, you know, that people had decided to go into, and that again involved talking to a lot of quite well-known people.

I think it's relevant that the interview technique that I adopted then was not the usual "slash, burn and run" technique that many reporters adopt, in other words they go and see somebody, ask them some questions, rush off, write the piece and then duck and hope that the flak doesn't hit them. What I was doing was to write drafts of the pieces and then send them to people and ask for their comments, and I did that for two reasons. Firstly, because of the appalling culture of tabloid excesses, people are reluctant to actually talk to me at all and it was a way of getting them -- drawing them into the process. Secondly, I felt that some of the subjects I was being asked to write about, I wasn't wildly expert on, although I knew quite a lot about it, so there was a more chance, a more-than-usual chance that I was going to make factual errors, and it was as way of stopping that happening. And also, I wasn't giving them editorial control, I was asking them to engage in a process and a debate, and I found it quite productive to do that.

However, it did mean that there was more phone traffic going backwards and forwards between me than usually is the case, so messages were being left for me, and I was responding. So it was worthwhile for a fisherman to fish, in a phone hacking sense. There was something for them to look for.

Then in 2006, I wrote another long series of stories for the Times, which was about -- if you recall, right at the beginning I said I had a background in technology writing in journalism, so I do have some expertise in that area, and I wrote a long series of pieces that were about the confluence of telecommunications and computing, and identity theft -- which seems somewhat ironic in retrospect, that whilst I was writing about identity theft, my own phone was being hacked, but that appears to be what was going on -- but that in itself was enough bait, I suppose, for me to have been of interest. So I think those were the reasons, without going on too much, about why it was that I was of interest.

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