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

I come here to apply under Module 3 because I submitted evidence to the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee, which they accepted and they published. I said in that evidence, for their press standards inquiry, which has been discussed in this room for months now, that my hearings were stayed for costs -- sorry, my claims -- my libel claim was stayed for costs and they were in private.

I thought this was shocking. I think I said it's reminiscent of a totalitarian state. It was just -- you know, this is England, or the United Kingdom. I just couldn't believe it. So I submitted that and nothing happened, and I wasn't in the report, but they did publish my evidence.

Now, in the meantime, or just before that, rather, Associated Newspapers and Mr Sherborne together sought to stay my claim for costs, the rest of my claim, and again seeking to have it in private. And while they're doing this, Mr Dacre is lobbying Parliament to change the law on CFAs. He gave a speech to the Society of Editors, which everyone knows about, I'm sure, in November 2008, and it reads like a political thriller, really.

He says -- I'm sorry, if I just get my ... (Pause)

He says:

"About 18 months ago [I remind you this is November 2008] I, Les Hinton of News International and Murdoch MacLennan of the Telegraph had dinner with the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. On the agenda was our deep concern that the newspaper industry was facing a number of serious threats to its freedoms."

First he mentions Freedom of Information Act, second, access to the courts, which -- I will just touch on that for a minute. He was worried about private inquests. And considering his legal team, which is a very aggressive legal team -- and this has not been discussed in this Inquiry either -- they were against private inquests, and at the moment, they're currently lobbying Parliament against private hearings under the justice and security green paper.

Now, mind you, they're lobbying Parliament at the same time that they're consenting to me having a private hearing in my libel claims. This is hypocritical and it's not the first part of their lobbying that's hypocritical, but when they lobby Parliament, they bully them. It's a type of bullying -- I've never seen anything like it. They just bully. They bully Parliament, it seems. So at the moment, as I said, even though they succeeded in getting rid of the secret inquests, which actually he says in his speech -- he says:

"Secondly, access to the courts and the very principle of open justice ..."

Those are the words of Paul Dacre, and my libel claim against him is in private.

He says:

"Thirdly, there were very serious financial implications for newspapers of the conditional fee arrangement, the no win, no fee."

So he goes on about this and he gives an example of an MP who sued for libel and he was only -- Martin Jones, he was only awarded £5,000, and their costs -- Associated's costs were £136,000, making a total of £520,000 in costs in a case that awarded damages of just £5,000.

He has a point there, you know, a small amount of damages. Nevertheless, what has also not been discussed in this room is that Associated Newspapers, when they fight a libel claim, they nearly always lose. So it's their own fault if they have to pay these massive damage awards, because -- and I've sat in court quite a few times when they've had libel trials against other people, and it's just obvious they're going to lose. Why don't they just pull out, settle the case? Then they wouldn't have to pay these massive costs. But they don't.

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