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

Good morning.

Before we start, I am sure that most, if not all of you have seen the events of the weekend, and in particular, the disclosure, prematurely, of a statement from a witness who is due to give evidence on Wednesday of this week on a website. I am obviously concerned about the security of the information that is available and to maintain the integrity of the Inquiry as we move forward. As a result, I am intending to enquire, to such extent as I can, into the circumstances in which this statement came to be made available for publication.

There are two features to that. First, retrospectively, and making absolutely no allegation of any sort, I would be grateful if core participants who have access to statements for the vital purpose of preparing questions would re-examine their own arrangements to ensure that the statements are kept confidential, confirm that they are in order and prevent obviously not only deliberate leaking but accidental leaking. I repeat, I am not alleging against anyone that they have done so in this case but I'm obviously concerned for the future.

The second step I intend to take, subject to any representations that might be made to the contrary, is to make an order under Section 19 of the Inquiries Act restricting the publication or disclosure, whether in whole or in part, outside the confidentiality circle which comprises me, my assessors, the Inquiry team, the core participants and their legal representatives, of any statement prior to the maker of the statement giving oral evidence to the Inquiry.

So that I explain the meaning of that, it is this: any person who acts in breach of an order made under Section 19, which binds everybody, is potentially liable for breach of the order and can be referred to the High Court for appropriate action. In that way, for the future, howsoever the document has come into the possession of the person who puts it into the public domain, that person will potentially be liable.

Does anybody have any representations to make about my making an order in those broad terms? Silence, in these circumstances, I think, connotes assent.

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