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

It doesn't, sir, but the way it's been interpreted by those who have an interest in doing so is that it means that there may well not be part 2.

We understand the limitations, as I said. We ask that the Inquiry can continue with the work it's undertaking as quickly as it possibly can, the "possible" being obviously a reference to the ongoing criminal investigation. We understand that.

Let me move on then to the future and to regulation.

In the face of all that I have described, what has the press itself come up with as a solution? It appears to be the proposals which have recently come out of the still surviving, but only just breathing, Press Complaints Commission, Lord Hunt and PressBoF.

I could devote my entire allotted time, which I've probably come close to overrunning, to explaining why we say that however well intentioned it may be, as a proposal to deal with the practice, culture and ethics we've witnessed, it is hopeless.

I will restrict myself, therefore, to making just a few general observations. After all, it is tempting to add, it seems somewhat pointless dealing with the detail since even the media organisations who support it say they can't sign up to the detail of it yet.

So what about the key features of this proposal? It is, after all, a contractual document, a fixed-term of five years proposed. Well, you don't need the lawyers in this room representing the core participant media organisations to tell you that contracts can, by definition, be walked away from. We've seen such organisations do similar things in the past.

What, of course, is to stop this contract being torn up five years from now? Or all of those who sign it to leave en masse? Hardly a sound footing, we say, for the future.

And it is not independent. It is run by the industry, and the Code Committee still appears to be made up of a majority of serving editors.

Perhaps most important of all its features is it is to be self-regulated and not underpinned in any way by statute.

Have these organisations here really learnt nothing from the lessons of history? Those who are old enough to do so -- and although I thankfully don't count myself as one of them, we've had the benefit of some of them give evidence to this Inquiry -- can list the catalogue of events which have brought this issue into the public eye over the years, and the previous answers given by the media, the attempts at self-regulation in the past, which one by one have failed and have brought us to this point.

The Royal Commissions in 1947-9, 1961-2, 1974-7, the Younger Committee Report in 1972, Calcutt one, which set up the Press Council, Calcutt two, which set up the PCC, the outrage over what happened to Diana, the late Princess of Wales, the Information Commissioner's report, the phone hacking scandal and so on. All of these demonstrate, if proof is needed, that self-regulation doesn't work and hasn't worked.

The press have been merrily drinking away in the last-chance saloon, so-called, for years and years now, and while they've been doing so, we have witnessed possibly the most outrageous, largest criminal malpractice this country's press has ever known. Hardly an advert for self-regulation.

I leave the last word on self-regulation to Rebekah Brooks, perhaps fittingly, who said to the House of Commons Select Committee in 2003, in what has now become a rather infamous piece of evidence: Self-regulation, she said, under the guidance of the Press Complaints Commission, has changed the culture in Fleet Street and in every single newsroom in the land.

If that is the press' own assessment of self-regulation, then it is no wonder, I say, that this is what is responsible for the culture of complacency, the culture of intrusiveness and illegality which we've spent months considering. When will the press, I ask, learn that enough is enough?

And they won't agree to any form of statutory underpinning, something which will bind the newspapers into this new regulation, something which we say would keep the regulator accountable.

What is the answer of Lord Hunt and his colleagues? And he has colleagues who say the same thing, to be fair. What is their answer to this? They say there is a fear that this is a slippery road. Any statutory control might be used by a future Government to control the press.

Given the evidence we've heard in Module 3 about how it is the politicians who live in fear of an unaccountable and unelected media, this seems a somewhat laughable suggestion. But it's hard to take it seriously anyway, as Mr Jay put it. These fears are irration, since even if there is no statute, what is to stop any Government at any stage in the future passing a statute if it chooses? Nothing.

But more importantly, this can be dealt with, as Mr Jay suggested or you yourself, sir, recommended, by writing into the statute express statements disavowing any suggestion there should be Government control of editorial content or judgment, and so on and so forth.

The simply fact is that Lord Hunt's proposal is not, as the Inquiry has heard, what the victims would require. Its starting point, its whole premise, is what is acceptable to the industry. But forgive me, we're not here solely to decide what is acceptable to the industry. We're here because the industry is not acceptable to the public, with whom there seems to have been no consultation by Lord Hunt's team.

The public wants more objective standards, and the starting point for that is an independent, statute-backed regulator, which is created for the public and is not run by serving editors, and one which can hold this enormously influential body to account, as they hold us to account in turn.

As you know, sir, the core participant victims have, as a group, as well as individually, made submissions about the future and what regulation should look like, and you have those; and you have, or will no doubt, read them, so I won't repeat the detail of them now.

Can I just say something about their shape and their salient features?

We say there should be an entirely new regime, a clean break, not just in name but in substance, from everything that has come before and failed. There should be separate mechanisms for rule-making, for investigations, including investigations of the regulator's own motion, and most importantly for adjudications. A body of independent adjudicators should rule upon complaints as to media conduct and serving editors should have no role in that.

This adjudicator could deal not only with issues covering libel, privacy and harassment, but broader standards concerning accuracy, news information gathering and so on. And it can also cover matters for which there may be no existing legal course of action, to deal with complaints that the law cannot deal with, at least presently. And perhaps that's where one of its benefits lies.

Take, for example, Bob and Margaret Watson, who travelled down from Scotland to share with all of us the extraordinary pain that they'd suffered because the memory of their daughter had been so terribly and tragically traduced, whose evidence, so beautifully elicited and simple, was hard not to sympathise with.

Maybe where the law currently fails to protect the reputation of those who are no longer around to defend it themselves is precisely where an industry regulator might bring some satisfactory answer. One can only hope so, for their sake and all families like them.

It should involve rules or guidance about prior notification, we say, on which point we've already made detailed submissions.

Let me just say this. It is clear from the evidence, both of the core participant victims and even those from the media and social commentators, that there is considerable support for this requirement. And it is hardly surprising.

There really is no answer to the argument that the only effective remedy for the breach of an individual's right to respect for his or her private life is an injunction to stop the unwarranted intrusion before it happens.

Simply put, once the information is published to the world at large, it is by definition no longer private. So unless an individual is notified in advance of an intention to publish, there is no opportunity to seek the all-important remedy.

Before I move away, this is not a problem which, some have suggested, is irremediable. Arguments against it such as the chilling effect it might have on investigative journalism are specious. No one really believes -- no one who practices in this field -- that such a story like the expenses scandal would ever have been stopped by a judge, even if an MP was mad enough to make such an application. It is Alice in Wonderland territory, but I've already dealt with this in writing.

And the rules may also say something again, something clearer perhaps, about public interest, another topic you'll find dealt with in my written submissions.

It's perhaps no wonder, though, that attempts at a more comprehensive definition of this concept have never been that successful, but perhaps it isn't necessary. It is one of those things where it is easy to spot but difficult to define.

Let me say this, though: very little, if any, of the stories which we've heard relating to the victims who came to give evidence here about shocking press behaviour involved even the hint of public interest.

The vast majority of tabloid stories are about the rich and famous or the just famous, and there is a critical distinction which has been drawn in these courts between the press' role, its vital role as a public watchdog, holding politicians and other elected officials or large corporations to account, and on the other hand its role as a reporter of the private lives of the well-known. This is all the fine print, as we say, we've covered in our written submissions.

But perhaps the most important other way in which a regulator, or rather its adjudication arm, could be of real benefit to the public is in providing a fast and preferably free way of obtaining redress in those cases which seem relatively straightforward in terms of the merits involved or the issues raised, without the need for expensive litigation. A fast, fair and easily accessible system available to all, especially in the absence of conditional fee agreements.

But let us be clear. It is important to remember that an integral part of keeping the press in check is the rule of law. There is a real need here to recognise the importance of the courts, the importance of the court system.

Yes, it is expensive, but after all, let's be honest for a minute, it's the wealthy who are of real interest to the most relevant section of the press. Not, to borrow a phrase from Jarvis Cocker, the rest of us common people.

It is the well-known and successful who these newspapers want to write about. And it is these individuals who can and should still have a right to the courts, and I won't take the opportunity here to explain why we say Article 6 requires this.

Why, you ask, perhaps? Because a tribunal or an adjudication body will never work effectively as a sanction or deterrent to the press. It is no complete substitute. It is not the law that has failed here, it's the press that have failed us, it's the police that have failed us, it's the politicians that have failed us, but not the law.

It was those terrible English laws of libel which gave Mr Jefferies a remedy, which gave the McCanns a chance to properly vindicate themselves, not a form of regulation or a tribunal.

And it was not a tribunal or regulator which uncovered hacking, whether or not this regulator is contractually or statutorily underpinned. They could never, for example, have compelled News Group to tell the truth. It would never have sufficient disclosure powers and it would never be free enough, we say, from self-interest.

It would never, say, have been able to get to the bottom, at least to some extent, as the civil process has done, with all the costs that the disclosure process involves and which ultimately News Group will have to pay.

It is that which has led to the gradually uncovering of the enormity of this scandal. It was legal actions by the so-called rich and famous, such as Sienna Miller and so on, which forced News Group to crack finally, or, to use the evidence of some of those who sat over there, for the scales to finally fall from their eyes.

It was the legal process and the so-called chilling effect of legal proceedings, as I've said, which made the newspapers pay Mr Jefferies a sum which he could hold up as demonstrating that what they did was viciously and wholly untrue, and the same applies to the McCanns. The public have been left in no doubt of the truth of those allegations, and we say that is a product of the rule of law, which has proved time and time again that it works, and, thank God, in this country one thing we can rely on; and it's certainly not self-regulation.

Since we're talking of the future, let me see if I can predict what may happen over the summer in the days after the report comes out. We will see the machine, the powerful and hugely influential press machine, swing into action, and the Inquiry and those who represent it will no doubt be undermined or their recommendations rubbished, maybe even before they're published, on past performance.

Of course, I don't claim any special powers of clairvoyance, much as I'd like to. The fact is we've seen it starting already. It happened right at the outset with the seminars, where we all recall Kelvin McKenzie attacking the competence of the Inquiry by rubbishing its chairman. And it's nothing new. It's like how the same newspaper sought to rubbish the judgments in the Mosley case. An attack that was taken up in common cause by other editors in Fleet Street, one of whom described it in words which should trouble this Inquiry:

"The judgment in Mosley was arrogant and amoral. It was the product of one man: a judge with a subjective and highly relativist moral sense."

Is this the shape of things to come? I ask.

Remember, it was the same editor who dismissed the entire board of assessors here by saying that none of them had the faintest clue about how newsrooms operate, and there were further echoes of this culture in the articles which drew this Inquiry's attention only weeks ago.

If one was being cynical, one might ask how effective to undermine the Inquiry at a critical time by suggesting that behind the scenes the chairman had threatened to quit for having been accused of trying to gag free speech, something which anyone who has sat in this room will know, sir, you have repeatedly explained you have absolutely no intention of doing, on an almost daily basis.

And effective it was, too, since it turned the political debate back again in favour of the press. After all, if this Inquiry has told us anything, it is that those in power seem to be oh so susceptible to the influence of the media and their interests.

Let us not be any under illusions here. Following the end of this stage of the Inquiry, the preparation and production of the report, the counterattack will start, as will perhaps the settling of old scores. The press has a big megaphone and it will be employed outside this room in the way that only they can.

But that only serves to emphasise my point, sir, that this is an industry which should be accountable. That's what the public believe. Accountability. The word which the press are so quick to apply to politicians, to the police, to the judiciary, to anyone else, but which they're so allergic to when it comes to their own position, privileged as it is. That is the challenge that you face, sir.

Perhaps the most important point is that whatever you recommend, it should be supported by the very people who charged you with this task in the first place. After all -- if this even needs saying -- otherwise what is the point of all of this? Why did we all even bother coming? By that I'm not so much concerned with the members of the press. They had to, and I don't mean because of Section 21 notices, but rather because they were driven by fear, and rightly so, of what might happen to them when the spotlight was turned on them.

I meant the members of the public, the victims who came to assist; and not just them but a number of other interested parties as well.

The public want reassurance. They want their confidence restored. If the recommendations which you propose to deal with this crisis of confidence are not implemented, or at least actively and seriously debated, then this was all just words on the part of politicians across the political divide, of great rhetorical phrases, such as that any solution has to satisfy the "Dowler test", or the "McCann test".

However quickly this Inquiry has moved, it has been a long process. The public are tired. They're tired of listening to stories of politicians who fawned to the rich and powerful few who own newspapers in return for support.

They're tired of the policemen who are meant to protect the system of law, instead wining and dining with editors or accepting money for favours. And they are tired of the press, which claims the privilege of freedom of speech to write largely the sort of stories which have zero public interest.

They're tired, for example, of listening to News Group apologise for phone hacking, not because they're sorry for what they've done, but just because they're sorry that they got caught.

And they're tired of other newspaper groups pretending it wasn't them. The press, whose culture is to deny liability in a deeply moralistic tone, sit so poorly with the way in which they've trampled over other people's rights. They are tired of those who represent the press claiming they'll behave better if only they're given one more chance to do so.

I say this to Mr Cameron: the public is tired of promises; it's tired of the politics of popularity over principle, of its elected representatives kowtowing under the influence of the unelected few, which is what the history of media ownership has proved.

I accept that his predecessors have not shown the necessary courage to do this, how they have succumbed to the real chilling effect, the one which certain sections of the media have exerted over our politicians.

Mr Cameron, if you really want to know what the Dowlers want or the McCanns want, they want you to have the courage to take a firm grip on certain sections of the press which are so powerful and yet so unaccountable that even our politicians have been too afraid to stand against them, and to implement the recommendations of an Inquiry, which you yourself set up and vowed to support.

Sir, may I say this in closing: you've managed with considerable success to land the jumbo jet, as you described this Inquiry, within the year, and that is clearly no small feat.

But from the victim's point of view, if the result of the sort of culture, practices and ethics which we have heard about here, and which the victims have been brave enough to recount and relive, if the result of the shocking examples of intrusions into grief, character assassinations of the innocent and the dreadful invasions of people's privacy results in the closure finally of the much talked about last-chance saloon, only for the press, through special pleading of self-interest, to end up being invited instead into a first class lounge. The answer does not lie, we say, in a system which is created by the press, for the press and regulated by the press. That would be a failure. Not just on the Dowler or the McCann test, but for the general public, for everyone except the privileged few who are represented here by the core participant media organisations.

Thank you, sir. That's all I wanted to say on behalf of the victims.

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