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

No, they were not considering Motorman. We've heard from Mr Owens, we're heard from others and we've all seen the material ourselves, so we know the volume and we know the nature of the checks that were being carried out at the request of a number of newspapers. That's why I say it is reflective of the culture, practices and ethics of the press one doesn't need to single out precisely which newspapers were involved or who did what to whom and when.

And we say again it is equally not good enough to say, as Mr Dacre did, for example, and he is but one example, that this was just a quick way of getting information which could otherwise have been obtained lawfully, if journalists had just a little bit more time to do so. A lazy journalistic tool, apparently.

Again we say the scale and the nature of the checks and requests that were carried out at the request of these newspapers is a complete answer to this. Put simply, these are details which could not have been obtained by wholly lawful means.

And whether, for example, as Mr Thomas said, this illegal trade in personal information, the victims of which number as many as they are in relation to Mr Mulcaire's activities on behalf of the News of the World, whether, as Mr Thomas said, this is more or less serious than hacking is irrelevant, because both were the unlawful tricks of a very tawdry trade in people's private information. And whilst to greater and lesser extent some of newspapers have put their hands up and admitted to the use of Mr Whittamore, of course they had to because we have seen it in the books that the core participants have been privy to, the answer which has come back from the core participant media organisations is that this is all historic. One core participant, I recall, described it rather optimistically as "very historical".

Let me explain very briefly why that is not the case and why we say there are questions, important questions, about this which still need to be answered.

It's not historic for a number of reasons. To start with, it's not historic in terms of the dates alone when these activities took place.

Just to give you two examples: after all, Milly Dowler's phone was hacked into by the News of the World before Mr Whittamore's offices were raided and whilst he was still plying his very lucrative trade. And when "What price privacy now?" came out, it was in the same year as Mr Mulcaire was convicted. Simply because the full scale of what took place at the News of the World only came to light, despite the company's best endeavours, much later doesn't make what was revealed by Operation Motorman in 2006 historic.

It is also not historic because as also appeared clear from the evidence of some of the core participant media organisations, these newspapers continued to use Mr Whittamore after his offices were raided, after he was arrested, after their journalists were interviewed, after Mr Whittamore was convicted and even, even after "What price privacy now?" was published.

But equally important and what makes this far from historic, we say, is the true consequence of this systematic purchasing of people's private information without their knowledge and in flagrant disregard of their rights, not to mention, we say, also the law, over a number of years, and that is, for example, what has happened to the journalists who routinely used Mr Whittamore's services, of which there are many, as the Operation Motorman books reveal? What has happened to the information which they obtained as a result? Has it mysteriously disappeared?

I wish I could answer those questions, despite having sat in this Inquiry since November of last year, but I can't. Those who can answer it, namely the core participant media organisations, we say have never properly done so. And this failure has real significance for the Inquiry because, and I take this as one example only, Mr Caplan, in his opening submissions, like other core participant media organisations have done and no doubt will do as well, placed great store upon the fact that no penalties were awarded against any newspaper for this and no journalist was ever charged.

We've heard about this this morning from Mr Gilmour, as I said, and whilst the police have explained what they did in relation to this investigation, and the problems that they found, we have had no proper answer from the newspapers.

We now know as a result of Mr Gilmour's evidence that not only were the journalists questioned, but they were done so with the full knowledge and support of the newspapers' legal departments and also external solicitors.

There are, we say, questions which need to be answered. Did the newspapers in the face of this mount an aggressive defence, like News of the World did, in relation to hacking, or did they take it seriously and clean out the Augean stables?

That brings me to the application.

What I'm not asking you to do, sir, as you invited me, is to seek the names of individual journalists, something to which they clearly object, despite the fact that they are so keen on other occasions to name names, and we're not asking for the unredacted files of Operation Motorman to be published so the public can see them, despite the clear public interest there might be in it.

What we are asking the Inquiry to do is to require these core participant media organisations to answer what we say are relatively straightforward questions which they have not done so far.

The first of those is: what steps, if any, were taken in relation to those journalists who used the services of Mr Whittamore? Were they in fact fired? Were they disciplined? Were they admonished in any way? Or are they in fact still working for the newspaper, as we believe, and have even been promoted to senior positions, as we understand it?

The second of the questions is: what steps, if any, were taken to identify whether any of this information, any of the information obtained through the use of Mr Whittamore, was and is still being retained or used by the newspaper? And if no such steps were taken, why not? And it needs now to take place.

We say these are questions which are relatively easy to answer, because the core participant media organisations have all the information they need. They have both the internal information as regards what was done at the time and they have all of the Motorman information which was provided to them by the Inquiry.

Presumably that was one of the reasons why this material was given to them back in December, and it is answers that they can give in writing.

We say however the logistics are dealt with, these are questions which need to be answered and need to be answered before the end of this Inquiry.

Sir, that is my application.

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