5 December 2011

Leveson Inquiry: Hearings - Day 11


"I want this inquiry to mean something", not end up as "footnote in some professor of journalism's analysis of 21 century history." LJ Leveson in reply to A Rusbridger's submission to Inquiry.

Lord Justice Leveson
The Panel : top row (left to right)
  • Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty
  • George Jones, former Daily Telegraph political editor
  • Sir David Bell, former chairman of the Financial Times
Bottom row (Left to right)
  • Elinor Goodman, former Channel 4 political editor
  • Lord David Currie, former chairman of Ofcom
  • Sir Paul Scott-Lee, former West Midlands chief constable
 The proceedings are shown here live on the Leveson Inquiry website. 

BBC Democracy Live Leveson Inquiry live-feed here.

Full list of Core Participants to be found here. (Guardian Website)

Relevant links from mainstream media, blogs and social media:

(Twitter feed for Leveson Inquiry on right of Home page of this (#pressreform) blog.) 

Leveson Inquiry Witness List - Week beginning 5.12.11 

Leveson Inquiry Witness Statements  

Videos of Each Hearing on Official Leveson Inquiry Website

Follow Leveson Inquiry on Twitter - #leveson #Leveson 

Guardian Live Blog on Leveson Inquiry

Guardian Leveson Inquiry Round-up Page 

Telegraph Live Blog on Leveson Inquiry

Leveson Inquiry - Evidence, Weeks 1 and 2 - a Crash Course on the Ways of the Tabloids - Inforrm's Blog 

Video : BBC - BBC News Programmes - BBC News Special: the Phone-hacking Inquiry 

BBC News - Phone-hacking Scandal: Who's Linked to Who? (excellent interactive graphics)

Application to Leveson Inquiry by Full Fact For Amendment of Restriction Order 

Newspaper Paid £800 For Sport Star's Phone Bill - Press Gazette

What do You Do When an Entire System Fails? - David Allen Green for New Statesman 

Monday 5th December 2011 - Today's witnesses: Francis Aldhouse (ex ICO), Peter Burden, Alex Owens (ex ICO) - Profiles of Today's Witnesses from Guardian

BBC News: Metropolitan Police Starts Computer Hacking Probe 

News International Hire Top Silk to Fight Mulcaire's Fees Action - Guardian

What Price Privacy Now? - Download PDF ICO Report - relevant to evidence previously given by Alex Owens last Wednesday and Francis Aldhouse today.

Fraudster Squad: Graham McLagan on the Black Economy Run By Corrupt Police and Private Detectives - Guardian - September 2002

Exposed After 8 Years: a Private Eye's Dirty Work for Fleet Street - Independent September 2011

Francis Aldhouse

Full Witness Statement

From Information, Policy and Rights:

'As the principal of Information Policy & Rights, was until his retirement in January 2006, Deputy to the United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner. 

He acted as the Commissioner’s representative to the Article 29 Working Party established by Directive 95/46/EC and he was the first chairman of the Customs Information System Joint Supervisory Authority. As part of the UK delegation, he regularly attended meetings of the OECD Working Party on Information Security and Privacy. and for ten years, the meetings of the Council of Europe's Working Party on Data Protection.'
Watchdog Chief Francis Aldhouse 'Refused to Go After Papers' Despite Steve Whittamore Hacking Evidence - Telegraph

Damning Daily Mail Letter Proves Press Concealed Dirty Tricks - News Alliance UK 

Audioboo: What Council Told Alex Owens re Prosecution of Press - @lisaocarroll

ICO Was Told Editors Should be Cautioned - Guardian

11.20 a.m. Aldhouse stating he's never seen the log books from Whittamore before!

From Guardian Live Blog:

"Francis Aldhouse says he supervised the person who ran the investigations department at the information commissioner's office, who at the time of Operation Motorman was Jean Lockett.Aldhouse says "he cannot recall such a meeting" when asked about Owens' meeting with him and Richard Thomas in March or April 2003. Owens says this is the meeting where Aldhouse told him to back off newspapers.
Aldhouse says he has no record of the supposed meeting, and that if there was one it would have been "casual" and not lengthy or comprehensive."

T Portilho-Shrimpton
Says he had never seen Operation Motorman books. Saw them in office, but never seen the content - Aldhouse

T Portilho-Shrimpton
Aldhouse says he knew Richard Thomas wanted to go to PCC as strategic approach. Didn't think he knew Thomas ruled out prosecution

From Guardian Live Blog:
"Aldhouse says he was "roundly attacked" by the media in 1996 when a new directive came in on privacy. He recalls a meeting with a senior lawyer for one big (and unnamed) media group, who warned that Aldhouse was wasting his time with the new directive. "Newspaper proprietors would ensure that legislation was brought in to suit them," Aldhouse says he was told."
"Aldhouse says he doesn't wish to be speaking up for nefarious practices by certain sections of the press, but says:
You shouldn't catch up the innocent along with the guilty ... I have a particular concern about consequences for local newspapers. If I have an anxiety it's over a chilling effect on [local newspapers]."

Knutsford Guardian likes Aldhouse Aldhouse likes being deputy role

Peter Burden (Guardian image)

Full Witness Statement

From the Guardian Website:
Peter Burden has been a successful writer and entrepreneur for 20 years. His most recent book, News of the world? Fake Sheikhs & Royal Trappings, has stirred up controversy by exposing the methods of those who make a living exposing others. He is a frequent commentator on matters concerning the right to privacy and blogs regularly on the subject here
by Peter Burden

The Long Shadow of the NoW Newsroom - by Peter Burden - Comment is Free - Guardian

James Hanning Talks to Peter Burden: 'The News of the World Hasn't Done a Single Good Thing' - Independent 

Audioboo: What Council Told Alex Owens re Prosecution of Press - @lisaocarroll

From Guardian Live Blog:
"Burden opens by saying that one or two News of the World journalists denied knowledge of phone hacking to him and others refused to talk about it outright."

Hacked off
Burden speaking about story on Bob and Sue Firth, written by Neville Thurlbeck. Says there was fabrication of details

T Portilho-Shrimpton
Burden: from past experience of the way Mahmood operates would have come as no surprise if cricket story had been manufactured

Burden: Jodie Kidd persuaded by Mazher Mahmood to buy cocaine for him, put up as video online.

T Portilho-Shrimpton
Burden says line about kidnapping the Beckhams was said in jest and story based on Mahmood's inventiveness. Led to arrests

Burden: am a full believer of right of investigative journalists to investigate criminality/corruption, eg Guardian/Jonathan Aitken

Jay questions how objective Burden is, whether or not betraying "hostile animus" to NoW.

Alex Owens

Witness Statement in Full
Supplementary Witness Statement

Following his first appearance at the Leveson Inquiry, on November 30th, the Guardian reported:

'Alex Owens, who had spent 30 years in the police force, said every newspaper apart from the "Dandy and the Beano" was named in the documents uncovered as part of the Operation Motorman investigation in the early part of the last decade.

Giving evidence, Owens said "the names of people like Milly Dower's number, ex-directory numbers and that sort of thing" all appeared and he questioned why no-one saw fit to pursue it, given what is now known about phone hacking.

He told Leveson how he went to the head of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) Richard Thomas and his deputy Francis Aldhouse to report his findings. "It was at this point Francis Aldhouse [former deputy head of the ICO], with a shocked look on his face, said 'we can't take the press on, they are too big for us'," Owens said.

"Richard Thomas did not respond. He merely looked straight ahead appearing to be somewhat bemused by the course of action I was recommending. For my own part I remember thinking 'It's our job to take them on or indeed anyone else on, that's what we are paid to do. If we do not do it then who does?"

He blamed "fear" at the ICO and said his bosses "had drawn a red line" between press and the reporters at the top and "the private investigators, the little blaggers and the corrupt people" below who they were allowed to investigate.

Owens says he decided to go public and potentially face prosecution because he believed it was in the public interest. He denied his evidence was "unreliable" because he had lodged a "grievance" against the ICO.

Owens told reporters outside the hearing that he and his co-investigator had planned to concentrate on about 20 to 30 of the worst offenders in the list of 305 journalists in Whittamore's notebooks but no journalists were ever contacted. "We weren't allowed to ask the press why did you want it [confidential information]?" said Owens. This decision to stop the investigation at such an early stage would "never ever happen" in the police, he said.'

10.04 a.m.: Leveson Inquiry has cleared courtroom of public and media as sensitive documents are displayed on monitors. Only lawyers, court officials and Core Participants remain.

Jay is taking Owens through spreadsheets of Whittamore's logs (inc. 'Blue Book, Yellow Book, Red Book'), showing newspaper titles, targeted 'victims', journalists, 'blaggers' and information gleaned.

Jay allowed to mention area and vehicle registration searches done on Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley.

Words 'Confidential Inquiries' also appear in the 'Red Book', but Owens says wasn't able to ask journalists what that meant.

From Guardian Live Blog:
"Owens is being asked what his colour coding relates to on the spreadsheets. Orange is for criminal record checks, he says.Jay suggests that members of the England international football team from 2002 are detailed in one of Whittamore's notebooks. He has found ex-directory searches relating to "our national team, it wouldn't be fair to say which, but then it's rather obvious". "
Discussing comments, annotations in logs.

Prices for info now being discussed.
From Guardian Live Blog:
"Some detail on how much journalists were paying for these private investigator tasks. A vehicle registration search would cost anything between £150 and £200, Owens says, and an occupancy search would cost about £17.50. An ex-directory number would cost £75 to turn up; £75 for a mobile conversion; and £200 for vehicle registration ID."
Private Investigator Steve Whittamore's 'Price List' Revealed to leveson Inquiry - Telegraph 

Video: Leveson Inquiry: Hugh Grant's Car Number Plates 'Were Searched' - Telegraph

Now discussing Taff Jones' 'blagging' work for Whittamore.
Intimating that BT may have been complicit in the divulging of information.

From Guardian Live Blog:
"Jones is a biker and ex-soldier who would ring BT purporting to be an engineer and obtain telephone numbers for Whittamore."

james robinson
on 'vast amount' of Whittamore info: 'difficult.. to see what public interest justification there could be'

Jane Deith
: former Info Commission investigator Alex Owens says lawyer said there was enough evidence of illegal data requests for prosecution

From Guardian Live Blog:

"This is important. Jay is reading legal advice from counsel to the information commissioner's office in 2003 after the Whittamore logs were shown to them.Counsel said the Whittamore logs showed "sustained and serious" breaches by the private investigator on behalf journalists. Crucially, counsel is quoted:
There is little doubt that many if not all of the journalists involved have committed offences ... The overwhelming inference is that several editors must have been well aware of what their staff were up to and therefore involved in it.
Counsel then told the ICO that enforcement rather than prosecution may be the best way forward in dealing with the newspapers."
 Editors 'Could Have Been Prosecuted Over Private detectives Blagging' - Telegraph

Keir Simmons
Dramatic: Senior lawyer told ICO 'several Editors must have been well aware what their staff were up to and therefore party to it'