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

To some extent, the factual framework which forms the basis of your specific inquiry, and which is postulated by reference to the evidence, also and already speaks to culture, practice and ethics. It's there. And the investigation of culture, practice and ethics is necessary in order to review the extent, if at all, to which the regulatory regime has failed.

At the end of the day, would you agree with this proposition: the purpose of this Inquiry cannot be to answer all the factual issues not just because of the present police investigation, not just because of what I say for shorthand is the self-denying ordinance, but also because it would be quite impossible to look at ten years of journalistic endeavour across a wide range of titles, to do balanced and fair justice to individual incidents?

What it's driving towards as I have seen, but help me if you think I'm wrong, is to create what I have called a narrative to justify the conclusions I reach as to the regulatory regime, and the question is: to what extent will I be helped by investigating further specific facts in an attempt to devise the answer to the questions that I have to answer?

Now, I can quite understand the two specific questions that you have asked. The second is perhaps of greater significance than the first, and I'll tell you why I think that, and I'll let other people comment if they want to in due course. And if not today, then tomorrow, because this is obviously an important matter. I don't want people to feel that they have to respond on the hoof.

There is a value to the question: what steps have been taken to identify whether this information is still being used? Because that affects the here and now. And I can see an argument that, although I'm not descending into detail, the here and now is important.

What steps were taken against journalists who used Whittamore, and what is their present position now, is a slightly different question because that really goes to what I make of the answers which I've already received, namely: well, we think this was legitimate. Because I would then have to analyse: well, was it legitimate or what do I make of this answer that all these cases where there is -- if I use the formulation of principle that I discussed some weeks ago -- strong prima facie evidence of breach of the law can be answered by saying, "We accept that, but actually we looked at it" or "we didn't look at it", whatever.

The fact is that if I consider that to be the case, strong prima facie evidence, then it's important that I introduce, it seems to me, a regulatory regime which copes with that problem, whether or not it was dealt with properly then because of all the other events. It's not just Motorman that I'm talking about, it's not just Caryatid that I am talking about, it's not just the McCanns or the Watsons or the Jefferies. I could carry on with the different stories that we heard last November. Because they all may provide material which allows me to reach conclusions all directed to the recommendations that I have to make.

And in that regard I bear in mind what Mr Clarke has said, because he wasn't, I think, the first to speak about the problem of the Internet. I think I made the point about it being the elephant in the room very, very early on in the Inquiry, so I'm alert to the problem, and so there's a, if you like, rock and a hard place through which I have to manoeuvre myself.

But the question I'm really asking, Mr Sherborne, is: I understand the reason for the request and I understand that any one of your clients are entitled and doubtless have gone to the Information Commissioner to find out personal details about them, but I want to know to what extent, for example, your first question helps me solve what I have to do.

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