21 December 2011

Leveson Inquiry: Hearings - Day 21


"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) 
From Guardian:
Here's a quick reminder of the four modules within this first year of the inquiry.
Module 1: The relationship between the press and the public and looks at phone-hacking and other potentially illegal behaviour
Module 2: The relationships between the press and police and the extent to which that has operated in the public interest
Module 3: The relationship between press and politicians
Module 4: Recommendations for a more effective policy and regulation that supports the integrity and freedom of the press while encouraging the highest ethical standards.


Follow Leveson Inquiry:-
Links to articles from media, blog pieces, comment relevant to today's proceedings:

Hundreds of Computers Linked to Press Hackers - Independent - Sat. 17th December 2011
BBC Radio 4 Programmes - Recording - 16th December 2011 - Computer Hacking and the Press
Audioboo /Leveson Inquiry Week 5: BBC Radio4Today - Peter Hunt
BBC News - July 2011 - Jailed Mirror Reporter James Hipwell Accuses Piers Morgan
Leveson Inquiry - Evidence Weeks 3 and 4, 'the Good, the Bad and the Ugly' - Inforrm's Blog 
The Hacking Inquisitors: 'People Thought I Was a Paranoid Conspiracy Theorist' - Guardian
Phone-hacking: the Sun Boss Tells Alan Rusbridger the 'Guardian Needs to Clean up Its Own Stable' - Huff Post
Audioboo - English Chamber Choir Sings the Leveson Inquiry - via @JohnW_Bromford
Brother of Dead Phone-hacking Whistle-blower to Give Evidence - Telegraph
Sir Alex Ferguson's Medical Records 'Blagged' - Telegraph
Piers Morgan to Appear at Press Standards Hearing - Telegraph

Chronology of the phone-hacking investigation since 2005 - long, very detailed article from New York Times. Written by Don Van Natta Jnr, Jo Becker and Graham Bowley, Sept. 1st  2010 :here

Revealed: Why the NUJ Allowed Private Investigator to Join the Union - Press Gazette 

1.28 p.m. "This just broken from News Int - the publisher of the News of the World has settled a cluster of phone hacking claims against politicians and celebrities -

News International can confirm that seven claims against News Group Newspapers (NGN) and Glenn Mulcaire have been settled following discussions with News Corporation's Management and Standards Committee, acting on behalf of NGN. The claims are Mark Oaten, Ulrika Jonsson, Abi Titmuss, Michelle Milburn, Paul Dadge, James Hewitt and Calum Best. NGN has agreed to pay appropriate sums by way of compensation and costs and have expressed regret for the distress caused."
Sky News - News International Paid Total of Hundreds of Thousands in Settlements to Celebrities
Culture, Media and Sport Committee Publishes Letter from Linklaters LLP - UK Parliament
What Will Piers Morgan be Asked About? - Shane Croucher - Business and Law 

Piers Morgan Confronted By 'Worst Hits' - Michael White - Guardian 
What Does CNN Do With Piers Morgan Now? - Guardian 
Did Heather Mills Leak Her Own Voicemails to Piers Morgan? - Telegraph
Morgan Urges Leveson to Show More Balance to Press - Press Gazette 
Leveson Questions Guido - Guy Fawkes' Blog
Jon Slattery: 'Barking' Nott Bites Back at Piers Morgan's Jibes
Hipwell: Hacking was 'Bog-standard Tool' at Daily Mirror - Press Gazette 
Andy Coulson Loses But Glenn Mulcaire Wins in Legal Fees Battle with Rupert Murdoch - Evening Standard

From Telegraph Live Blog:
12:56 James Dingemans QC, counsel for the Daily Express, has expressed his concern that the inquiry is being "highjacked" and turned from its "inquisitorial" nature into one which is increasingly "adversarial", with journalists being given questions for which they are not prepared. 

13:04 Leveson interrupts a spiel from Mr Sherborne, who represents 51 "victims" of press malpractice, about allegations that the McCanns had something to do with Madeleine's disappearance to say:
Quote There is absolutely no foundation at all that the allegations that emerged through the press at this time that Dr and Dr McCann were involved in any way in any inappropriate conduct in relation to the disappearance of their daughter.

Ross Hawkins
there are inevitably some credibility issues that will arise (with witnesses)

Daily Express Editor Was 'Obsessed' With Madeleine McCann Story, Inquiry Hears - Guardian

Wednesday 21st December 2011
( Link to Day 20 HERE )

Today's Witnesses:- Nick Fagge, Padraic Flanagan, James Hipwell, David Pilditch

Nick Fagge

Nick Fagge

Formerly a reporter at the Daily Express and now at the Daily Mail

List of Articles in Daily Mail Written by Nick Fagge
Nick Fagge's Entry in Journalisted.com
Daily Mail Uncovers 'Truth' About Catgate -Blog
Fagge says he always tries to verify stories and be sure of the legality of them but in Portugal was litigation was last thing on their mind.

 Witness Statement not available yet

Questioned by Leveson, asking again about handing in fragile stories, whether he felt this was right.
Leveson asks wasn't the very fact that information was difficult to come by from the police a story in itself?

Is it unfair of me, Leveson says, to ask after all that happened with the McCanns, why did press act in a similar way to Mr Jefferies? Fagge answers only that Leveson may take that view, but he wasn't there.

Daily Express Editor Was 'Obsessed' With Madeleine McCann Story, Inquiry Hears - Guardian

Peter Hill, Ex-Editor, Daily Express

Peter Hill: 'I Did Too Much on the McCann Story' - Guardian - Feb. 2011

 From Telegraph Live Blog:
"14:48 Fagge says the bosses of the Daily Express were "obsessed" with the Madeleine McCann story:

The Madeleine story was on the front page of the Daily Express more than any other newspaper because the editor decided it would sell newspapers. It became an obsession of his."
Interview ends here.

Padraic Flanagan

Padraic Flanagan

Padraic Flanagan's Entry in Journalisted.com

Full Witness Statement

Senior News Reporter.
Was also in Portugal to report on the McCann story. Had 14 or 15 sources. Wide variety in Portugal.
Had no source into the police. More than 2 journalists TV and press. He and Pilditch helped Portuguese media with the British side to the story.
Oct. 2007 - Story - originated in Portuguese news paper. Had 14 questions to be sent over to the British police to be answered. Same source gave them the 'Tapas 9' story and the supposed suspicions about the McCanns' friends. Flanagan says he wasn't alone working on this story. Not trying to evade responsibility. Intimating he had made clear to the Newsdesk that the story would be difficult to stand up. He suggests his managers would have been able to tell whether the story would stand up and that the sources were credible.

Says so many journalists in Portugal at same time - pressure to write something.
Says in Portugal wasn't a case of can I stand the story up, but what can I find to write today?
Would discuss with newsdesk throughout the day what was happening. Lot of material to work through too. He felt the newsdesk was fully aware what he was writing and what his sources were.
Working in a foreign country with their legal conditions was very difficult. Jay asks why write the story at all. Flanagan says it would be a very brave reporter to tell newsdesk you couldn't write a story.

Huge appetite in UK, in Newsdesk at Express for the story.
Flanagan says felt Express were more likely to settle out of court than fight litigation.

Ross Hawkins
Flanagan at : you're sent there to produce stories, rather than investigate yourself & find if there's anything worth writing about
On being questioned by Leveson about the fragility of a storyline, Flanagan says journalists feel the need to fill a vacuum.
Leveson: surely you don't want to fill the papers with stories which can be very damaging to people and are complete piffle. Flanagan says journos do the best they can with what they've got.
Flanagan now apologising to McCanns.
Says they had an advisory from the Dowlers explaining how upsettingseeing photo almost every day of their daughter in the papers. (there is a picture of Madeleine McCann in the Express at least once a week, as well as those of Princess Diana which appear at regualr intervals!)
Interview ends.

James Hipwell

James Hipwell, ex-Daily Mirror Reporter

James Hipwell's Profile Page in Guardian
James Hipwell Profile - Telegraph
BBC News - Video - Jailed Mirror Reporter James Hipwell Accuses Piers Morgan
BBC News - Tipsters' Stock Hits Rock Bottom
'City Slicker' James Hipwell Loses Appeal - Press Gazette

Full Witness Statement

BBC News - Phone-hacking 'Bog-standard Tool' Says Former Mirror Journalist

Jay asks Hipewell what guidance as to ethics there was at the Daily Mirror. Joined Daily Mirror after being in journalism for 7 years. Trained in Magazine journalism. Was not given PCC code to follow either there or in magazines. Never saw copy of code at the Mirror (Piers Morgan said it was always prominently displayed yesterday)
Jay reading from Hipwell's court case where judge commented that there was obviously no guidance given to Hipwell.
PCC 1999 and 2000 ruled that Mr Morgan 'had breached the Code of practice......and had not made sure his staff....' Hipwell agrees with what the PCC ruled.
Hipwell had no ethical training at Mirror, nor had any lead from editors re ethics.
Direct line manager was Morgan.Morgan insisted that Hipwell and his partner were answerable to him and him alone. The City Slicker desk was next to Morgan's.
Morgan loved Hipwell's column and wanted to learn about what they were writing about. Morgan very 'hands on' in the newsroom. QWould come and look at what was on their screens. Morgan made recommendations about changing it. Very involved. Daily contact. He was the Editor, everything stopped with him. He was the Dear Leader. Strong minded, enormous charm and charisma. Paper was him. He did a very good job. Flair. Fresh inviting newspaper. (in direct contradiction of Morgan's evidence of 5% editorial oversight yesterday)
Showbusiness team was within 3 feet of Hipwell's desk. Showbiz team was at least 10 people, all sitting together.
Reading from Hipwell's evidence - reveals how much phone-hacking went on at the Mirror. Hipwell was taught how to do it. Journos at the Mirror seems to know that journalists from the Sun were also hacking. Hipwell says although it was 12 years ago, he remembers it clearly. Mainly talking about Mirror Showbiz desk.
Hipwell says that to him it wasn't ethical, but seemed to be considered the norm at the Mirror. Happened every day. Says Mirror Showbiz stories came from that method.
Hipwell did not report this or mention it to Piers Morgan because he thought although it was thought of as slightly underhand, it wasn't considered illegal. The Showbiz desk made no attempt to hide phone-hacking methods from their managers. Hipwell says Morgan must have known because of the style of Editor he was.
Hipwell says Morgan very interested in Showbiz gossip and would take great interest in the celeb stories. Because of legal ramifications, the journos must have told the editors how they got the stories.
He did not see hacking discussed in front of the real executives at the Mirror, but with the editors.
Now talking about the Herald Sun in Australia where Hipwell's assertions re phone-hacking were strongly denied.
Each desk - Royal, Health, Showbiz etc -

From Guardian Live Blog:
"Hipwell says hacking was openly discussed in front of editorial management.
Senior editors are considered managers on newspapers. The news editor, the show business editor; they are considered the newspaper managers although they are editorial.
I did not see hacking talked about in front of genuine management of the company although I did see it discussed with senior editorial managers"

Natalie Peck
Barr reading from Herald Sun article where Hipwell describes a boss asking journos to "trawl usual suspects" (hack certain celebs).

Ben Fenton
Barr for points out Hipwell is contradicted by a former colleague in an Aussie newspaper interview.Reminds Hipwell he's on oath.

caterina caracci
Newscorp Inc owns Melbourne paper the Herald-Sun and The Australian-national paper. Murdoch owns approx 70% of Aus papers
Jay asks if it is true that a colleague hacked into the voicemail of Piers Morgan - Hipwell says was at beginning of 2000 - did it right next to Hipwell.
From Guardian Live Blog:
"Leveson tells Hipwell that this is not how it has been presented in the past, he says it was an "assertion". They are discussing an article in the Guardian in which he said the Mirror found out about Ulrika Jonsson's affair with Sven-Goran Eriksson from a voicemail left by the then England coach on the TV presenter's phone."
Now discussing the movement of journalists from one paper to another. Showbiz desk at Mirror had people from the Sun etc. Seems to be suggesting that the ph-hacking habit was spread from News Int. to other titles.
Legal scrutiny at Mirror: Hipwell says in-house lawyer was used to assess for libel. Says the legal team took a special interest in the City Slickers desk because the paper were having influx of letter in complaining about the column. Victot Kayam mentioned. Lawyer asked to look at all copy before it went out for printing.
Hipwell assumed all columnists had to do this to prevent litigation.

From Guardian Live Blog:
"Cruddace asked that the raw copy would be emailed to him before it went to the page layout artist.
We did that for at least a year before we left the Mirror ... We did what were told and sent him our copy first."
Hipwell says Morgan would be there late at night looking at screens, changing headlines, re-writing copy. Stamped his authority on every page. 'Cult of Piers' was what the paper was all about.

Ross Hawkins
Hipwell at : on 1st day of column Mirror splashed on a City story that turned out not to be true

The Media Blog
Hipwell says he was not "aware of a journalist at the Mirror who ever withheld a source from the editor"
Hipwell says all journos under pressure to deliver stories. Morgan was threatening and told journos he would sack them. Sent out emails. (Morgan did not deny this yesterday) 
Hipwell thinks Morgans's methods were 'menacing'.
Hipwell says there is no financial advantage to getting a scoop.
Now on to the Insider Dealing case:
Hipwell has written that Morgan was as guilty as Hipwell and the other columnist charged with Insider Dealing, but that he got away with it. They all traded on the same information. Morgan had more more money.
Says Morgan bought £67 000 worth of Viglen (owned by Alan Sugar) shares the day before Hipwell's column went out in wife's name.
Leveson asks if Hipwell knew that what they did was against the law. he dropped the Tip of the Day when his partner was away on holiday, but Morgan noticed and made him reinstate it. Hipwell says they got too enthusiastic, and that it was right that he was held to account. Leveson asks what Hipwell did or what he was encouraged to do to make sure what the 'four corners of the regime' should be.
Hipwell says there was no consideration of the ethics of the case.

11 00 a.m. Live feed down.

Please refer to these links for rest of Hipwell's interview:
Guardian Live Blog of Today's Leveson Inquiry Proceedings
Telegraph Live Blog 

T Portilho-Shrimpton
Trinity Mirror's barrister is disputing Hipwell's evidence. Tells he won't cross-examine him though

Dr Evan Harris
Ooh Desmond Browne QC for Trinity Mirror Group is up contesting Hipwell evidence while trying to avoid cross-exam. Interrupted by

Hacked off
says his concern in this case is nothing to do with Trinity Mirror, is to do with how the PCC conduct itself

David Pilditch

David Pilditch, Daily Express

David Pilditch' Entry in Journalisted.com

Full Witness Statement

'McCanns Are Lying' - Daily Express

Article by David Pilditch in Daily Express October 2009

Jay asks about Pilditch' involvement in covering the Madeleine McCann story.
'Uniquely challenging' covering this story.
Getting to the truth of the matter was very difficult because the police were bound by confidentiality
Pilditch says the McCanns were left to do the work the police would normally do.
Throughout the whole of the investigation there was no strategy where there should have been focus.
Leveson asks whether that should have been the story. (lack of focus by police)

From Guardian Live Blog: 
"The inquiry is now talking about a series of defamatory articles written in the Express. He is being asked if he was responsible for the headline on one story naming the McCanns as "prime suspects".
Pilditch says this would be the job of the editor or the night editor.
The story starts by saying "Kate and Gerry McCann are still regarded as the prime suspects in the disappearance of their daughter".
Pilditch explains he "didn't really write this story"; that it had another journalist, "Nick Fagge's name on it"."

Natalie Peck
DP: A lot of pressure as press presence from all over Britain and Europe. You can't not cover the story.
Guardian Live Blog:
"Pilditch explains how stories about suspects would emerge.
The police had been round the resort and other areas on their own inquiries and we were finding out lines of inquiries from local people. They were given descriptions of potential suspects and when a whole of witnesses giving the same description you have a pretty good idea of what the police were working on."
Pilditch says his sources were Portuguese. Senior officers in the Portuguese police were briefing unofficially and he was able to develop a dialogue with them Also some of the local journalists who were talking to them every day.
Was able to obtain an accurate and truthful picure of the investigation. Jay says best he could do was to get information from the 2 Portuguese journalists who were talking to the police.
Pilditch says he was satisfied that the information was accurate. Confirmed that his source was dealing with the most senior officers in the case. Due to the secrecy, was impossible to verify to any proper legal standard.

T Portilho-Shrimpton
Two of Pilditch's sources were local journalists in contact with police and other a translator working for police  

Natalie Peck
DP: Other sources were Portuguese newspapers, McCann's spokesman, local crime reporters with good police contacts.

T Portilho-Shrimpton

Pilditch: various lines of inquiry emerged. (in very early days focus was on an abductor)

Hacked off

Pilditch: told news desk about discomfort writing stories that he didn't know were 100 per cent correct
Hilditch said he told his newsdesk of the difficulties he was having and that they were treading a very fine line legally, and they listened. 
Sept 2007 -  Sept 2008 some defamatory stories. Jay asks if he didn't see that publishing stories which wouldn't stand up was a risky business. Pilditch says he was given conflicting advice by Portuguese lawyers which seemed to suggest matters were different. Jay suggesting Pilditch actions at the time bring in contempt of court issues.

From Guardian Live Blog:
"When the McCann's were named as "aguidos", it was not something that could be ignored. The lawyers in Portugal that effectively an aguido is a suspect and it gives the police an opportunity to put much tougher questions than they would to a witness and I think the McCanns themselves were given very tough questions.
Leveson intercepts and suggests it's like "active proceedings" in UK law when reporting restrictions are in place for the press.
11.55am: Pilditch says he shared his discomfiture with his newsdesk
We may not be able to defend these things because we may not be able to get confirmation. They took that on board.
He added:
I am not a legal expert, but I felt that the situation as it presented itself, that was the case. I'm certain the newsdesk would have conversations with lawyers about this.
There would have been discussions - that was the situation we were in and there was no way around it."


Pilditch: I was just reporting on day-to-day developments, that was what my job was.

Natalie Peck

DP: Sub-editors wouldn't write headlines, would be ed or night ed. It's never the journalist.


Jay and Pilditch establishing that it's never journalists who write headlines. Editor would have final say.

The Media Blog

"Sub-editors just fit stories into space," says David Pilditch...well that's his copy screwed forever.
Although Pilditch' byline was added to a particular story, seems he didn't write the story.

Natalie Peck

Pilditch explaining that as Nick Fagge's name first on byline, he wrote majority of story. DP only submitted small part of copy.
Jay finds it amusing that Pilditch says he's doesn't know who wrote in the story ' 10 fingers of suspicion'. 
Pilditch is becoming more and more vague and forgetful.....
Can't remember if he used those words. he files his story and there are others who change the copy perhaps. he presented a story and he can't tell Jay, Leveson whether the final words printed were his.
Jay suggests that he looked at Portuguese newspapers and compiled his 10 points for the Express story from those. Pilditch disagrees.
From Telegraph Live Blog:
"Jay is now quizzing Pilditch about the language used in a story that referred to the "10 fingers of suspicion".The story also reports that "Portuguese detectives could fly to Britain for make or break interviews".
Jay puts it to him that the language is "quite heightened" and Pilditch is making it sound like guilt or innocence would turn on these interviews.
Pilditch says he can't remember if he wrote the exact words - the article was written four years ago.
Leveson now asks whether he reads his own stories?"


Jay now asking Pilditch about the inconclusive DNA "findings" mentioned in his piece
Jay asks if Pilditch did any personal assessment of the plausibility of the Police findings. 

T Portilho-Shrimpton
Pilditch: the problem with a lot of this stuff was the way that information was leaking out (for McCanns' stories)
Guardian Live Blog: 
"The inquiry is now talking about the priest who helped comfort the McCanns in Portugal in the wake of their daughter's disappearance. Referring to a story about the "tormented police", Jay observes "this is rather a loaded story".
The priest, it says, felt under tremendous emotional strain because of some sort of confession had been given to him by Dr Kate McCann. The story says 'The tormented priest insisted he would stand by his vows and take his secrets to the grave'.
Jay says it was "journalistic licence" to assert "that the priest not merely stands by his religious obligation but that he would be taking the secret to his grave because he was given a confession by Dr McCann".
He says everything in this last sentence about the grave is an "inference".
"You weren't told that by anyone were you?"
"Leveson puts it to Pilditch that he was repackaging "tittle tattle" that exposed newspapers exposed to massive damage claims.Leveson asks did Pilditch make the paper aware of the "extreme fragility" of the information?
All the things that are being written, about the priest... it's all fluff, there's nothing to it
Pilditch says:
It's not tittle tattle, because it was information coming from senior detectives who were investigating the case."

Natalie Peck

: You were getting all sorts of tittle-tattle form different people when you knew the police couldn't officially talk, is that fair?

T Portilho-Shrimpton

: you may not understand Portuguese law, that's fair enough, but you do understand, sure you'd agree, that stories need to stand up

Natalie Peck

Sherborne questions Pilditch's point that police files vindicate truth of his story. says was reporting what police were thinking.