23 April 2012

Leveson Inquiry - Hearing - Lebedev, Barclay and Ryley

Lord Justice Leveson

Useful Links:
Leveson Inquiry Witness Statements HERE 
Leveson Inquiry Witness Lists HERE
Video Recordings of each day's proceedings HERE
Live Feed From Leveson Inquiry Site HERE
BBC Democracy Live Feed HERE 
Guardian Live Blog HERE
Links to articles, comment and information relevant to the Leveson Inquiry
Monday, April 23rd 2012
Today's witnesses:
John Ryley ( Sky News ) - 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Aidan Barclay ( Chairman, Telegraph Media Group ) - 2:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Evgeny Lebedev ( Owner, Independent and Evening Standard )

John Ryley

Barr: You have ultimate editorial responsibility for all of Sky News’s content-gathering activities and output on all platforms.
Barr taking Ryley through broadcasting code on privacy, public interest and subterfuge.
First mention of "intercepting emails" in Ryley's evidence.

#Leveson : has just jumped in and said SKY NEWS was breaching the criminal law. Going to be a good week I can feel it in my bones
John Ryley admits in response to #Leveson intervention that Ofcom does not allow exception for breach of criminal law (eg email hacking)

#leveson: where does Ofcom code give any authority for breach of criminal law? Sky News' Ryley : it doesn't
#leveson: Journos have done things they're happy to go to prison for because they think that is their duty
Ryley: Introduced written guidelines - any unlawful story gathering must be approved by senior ed, head of Sky News and legal dep. 
Barr moves on to email hacking of the Darwins. Says Ryley has some direct knowledge. In case of Smiths, relying on info told.
Ryley: Gerard Tubb is very good reporter and would have been a series of discussions with sources surrounding story.
John Ryley, Sky News - uncomfortable questioning!
#Leveson LJ points out no public interest defence in Computer Misuse Act
Ryley: any requests to carry out subterfuge will be recorded in writing
Ryley: I am pretty much ruling out unlawful conduct #Leveson (but journalism is a tough business, he adds)
Ryley: Tubb would have been wasting his time trying to persuade police to do more
@skymarkwhite :
John Ryley says he learned about accesing emails of Smith family in Sept 2011. Told about Darwin emails on Jul 1st 2008
John Ryley says Sky News 2011 review found has found no evidence of payments to public officials
John Ryley says Sky News correspondent Gerard Tubb was tasked with putting together background report on Darwins

@monstris: (Leah Borromeo)
Ryley's obv rattled. He only ever does that "hmmn yeah" thing when he's narked. Good to hear him backing up tho.

Barr tries to establish whether police knew in advance Tubb was going to access email accounts.
Ryley: Prima facie belief came from fact John Darwin had been using emails a lot to go about his business during disappearance. 

Ryley at #leveson: sources close to prosecution were suggesting it might well be worth looking at the emails; no encouragement from police

Ryley: sources close to pros made clear they would not be following up emails. But there was no encouragement of Tubb from police
Barr: was your reporter investigating the crime rather than reporting it?
Ryley: job of my journalists is to report the news (not to investigate crimes)
Barr asks whether Tubb essentially investigating rather the case. Ryley says "not one in the same" and journalists report news.

Ryley says police were not looking at Darwin email accounts and that was a factor in reporter's decision to access accounts

#Leveson hears of sky email exchange involving Tubb after failed attempt to access Darwin emails. Reply to Tubb said "Bad luck Inspector"
Mr Barr questions John Ryley, Sky News
Ryley: "I don't know" if trial judge knew email had been accessed by Tubb
Ryley: I was personally aware of further accessing of emails by Tubb: thought it would be "agreeble" if it tracked down money  
Ryley: I wasn't as aware of [Computer Misuse Act] as I should have been
Ryley: "I think it's unethical" to pay someone to surreptitiously access records of foreign state 
Ryley: Tubb's job was to report day-to-day news from North of England, and that's what he got back to doing
Ryley: we believed the local authority could have done more to track down Smiths.

Ryley: Police used passwords etc. provided by Sky and then went on themselves. #Leveson asks if they had legal authority to do so.
Ryley: Tubb hacked accounts a second time to look at where Darwin's money had gone. A "possible story scented".
Ryley: I probably wasn’t aware of Computer Misue Act and RIPA as I should have been, to give you an honest answer. 
Barr moves on to email hacking of Martin and Lianne Smith.
Ryley: Sky News had reasonable grounds for suspecting if local auth had done more, might have been able to track family down.
Ryley apologises for incorrect statement, says letter drafted with phone hacking and payments to public officials in mind.
Sky News hacking of Darwins' email accounts was described at time by prosecution as 'pivotal' in securing Anne D's conviction

Ryley says he understands police were given Darwin email passwords by Tubb to access emails themselves
Ryley says the accessing was justified as among other things, Martin Smith was a suspected paedophile on the run
Leveson: @SkyNewsHead John Ryley the emails accessed included 5 voicemail messages.

#Leveson offers Ryley opportunity to say what happens at Sky nothing to do with other Murdoch operations. He does. All rise.
Sky News did not disclose email hacking in letter to #leveson last September. 'V regrettable' says Ryley.

Questioning ended.

Aidan Barclay   Witness Statement in Full

Guardian Live Blog HERE
Mr Barr begins his questioning of Aidan Barclay
Aidan Barclay manages UK businesses - inc TMG - owned by father Sir David Barclay and uncle Sir Fred Barclay.
Barclay says concept of "stewardship" is the underpinning for all the family-owned businesses.
Barr refers to 2010 thank you note from Murdoch MacLennan to David Cameron. States Telegraph "not fairweather friends".
Barclay discussing claim by Dominic Lawson that he intervened in story on David Blunkett. Story ran anyway.
Barclay: Aware of TMG opposition to BSkyB takeover, concerned with matters of commerical competition.
Aidan Barclay chair of Daily Telegraph publisher now giving evidence - and you don't see a Barclay on camera every day
Aidan Barclay: final decisions rest with editors, appointment of eds is down to ceo
Barclay: Expects highest standards of governance & ethical behaviour [of his many companies] but tries to avoid micro-management
Barclay: Not in the editor’s interests to tell me what’s going on. His responsibility to do things in interests of paper & reader
Aidan Barclay says four of his editors will testify that he doesn't interfere.

Aidan Barclay now being asked about Cable story, and 's story about what Telegraph had gathered
Aidan Barclay says no PM or opposition leader ever asked for favour, and he's never asked for one 
Aidan Barclay says he might give a politician a plant at Christmas, something of that nature, no more than that
Gordon Brown and Aidan Barclay sent each other books about economics
Barclay: It's not my habit to know about these things before they hit the press, I would have read it when published.
Barclay says he was not forewarned about the MPs expenses story.
[Wonder if Tony Gallagher will be recalled to answer questions on Cable story…] 
Barclay says he has provided meals for poiticians and small gifts, such as a plant as a Christmas gift.
Barclay: Relaxed and social meetings with Tony Blair and often spoke to Gordon Brown about economic theory. 

Barclay also claims he wasn't forewarned about MPs expenses story, which says had potentially huge ramifications for his paper

Barclay describes meetings with Tony Blair as "relaxed and social" - never suggested TMG take a different political approach
Barclay discussed economic theory with Gordon Brown. Gave him a "very relevant" book on history of US monetary policy in 2008
Aidan Barclay speaking of Telegraph's political fairness
Barclay complained to George Osborne recently about business regulations and eg Chinese tourists getting UK visas. 
Telegraph editor had daily call with David Cameron during 2010 election campaign, Aidan Barclay tells
Barclay adds that the daily call might not have gone on all through 2010 campaign, he didn't check.

Barr says inquiry has seen a series of text messages between Barclay and David Cameron.
2010 text from Barclay congratulationing DC on birth of his daughter and referring to "daily call" to paper during election. 
Barclay on Cameron texts: There hasn’t been a lot of them over time...could I have equally sent an email? Probably. 
Barclay: Relationship with David Cameron is cordial, businesslike and friendly.
Barclay says was asked about BSkyB bid by David Cameron at a No 10 dinner but did not have extended conversation. 

Aidan Barclay suggested extension to Bank of England liquidity scheme, scrap talk of bank tax in text to Cameron
Aidan Barclay once texted David Cameron: "David did you ring me? I had a missed call"

Leveson one text between Aidan Barclay and PM: "David did you ring me? Missed call from your mobile no. Aidan "
Leveson: Aidan Barclay on texting PM -- not a lot over time. They do go direct to recipient . 
Barclay sends news articles to politicians which he thinks they might find interesting. Thinks they don't have time to read papers
Cameron asked Barclay for his views on News Corp-BSkyB takeover at informal dinner in 2010. Didn't comment, conversation moved on
Barclay: It’s v important that Telegraph is involved in everything. [Being in touch with politicians] enables paper to do their job
Barclay: When we took over Telegraph in 2004, it never spoke to the Labour party and had fallen out with the Conservative party
David Cameron asked Aidan Barclay, chairman of TMG, for his view on News Corp-BSkyB takeover at informal dinner in Nov 2010 

From Guardian Live Blog:
Barclay had 12 meetings with David Cameron, including an informal dinner at the prime minister's home in November 2010, the inquiry hears.
Cameron asked Barclay for his view on News Corp's proposed takeover of BSkyB at one of these dinners in November 2010, Barclay says. He says that Cameron did not comment on the takeover, because the conversation was over dinner with spouses and moved on quickly.
Barclay: No problem with greater transparency in press/politician relationships.
Barclay: I’m concerned that we don’t go too far in the proposals, rules and regulations can layer on top of one another.

Aidan Barclay: find it difficult to volunteer for more regulation, we're over regulated in biz sense anyway

Barclay's view is that "regulation creep", an aggregation of rules with unintended consequences, could ruin newspapers. #leveson unconvinced
#Leveson is back investigating the possibility of setting framework in statute and "let everybody get on with it".

Questioning ended.
Evgeny Lebedev   - Witness Statement in Full

#leveson lebedev in court 73 wearing skinny black jeans
#leveson. The questioning of the Murdochs is not confined to any one module subject. "these modules are not self contained" , says leveson.

#Leveson: Proprietors cross the modules. Richard Desmond fitted in around time of PCC evidence hence earlier appearence.
Lebedev manages UK media operations of Lebedev Holdings Ltd (owns the Evening Standard, Independent and Independent on Sunday). 
Lebedev: I write myself but I don't expect editors to take on my stories unless they want to. I expect them to take them on merit.
Lebedev: It has happened that my stories have not been taken into the Independent or the ES, in which case I take them elsewhere.
Lebedev: Independent & ES aim to support & champion world class journalism that is ethically sound, in the public interest
Lebedev acknowledges that Independent and Evening Standard have different political leanings
Young Lebedev says his editors don't have to accept stories he submits. Just seen squadron of pigs overhead

Leveson: @mrevgenylebedev says he often reads something he doesn't agree with in his papers -- esp the Independent.

Lebedev: I think there are probably various degrees of friendships but yes, I would consider Boris Johnson a friend.
2011 New Statesman inteview with Lebedev, now under discussion at #Leveson:
Lebedev: Met Gordon Brown when PM and stayed in touch. Met David Cameron four times, once since PM.
Lebedev: I don't see any problem with politicians and editors having contact, we occupy the same sphere.
Lebedev: Met Ed Miliband twice since he became Labour leader.
Ms C. Patry Hoskins questions Evgeny Lebedev
Lebedev asked if considers Boris Johnson a friend, says "there are varying degrees of friendship, but yes, I consider him a friend"
Lebedev: Having knowledge from the horse’s mouth [Boris Johnson] about London issues is very valuable
Lebedev says he has never been asked by PM to support a particular political party or policy
Lebedev: Those who have committed crimes need to be punished, but the robustness of the press in this country needs to be protected 
Evgeny Lebedev answering questions at Leveson Inquiry
Lebedev met Nigel Farage, just about to meet George Galloway; have diverse interests in politics
Lebedev: unfeasible to erect Chinese walls between editors & pols, problems begin when proprietors try to influence policy
Lebedev: politicians general overestimate influence papers have on political process
Lebedev : Robustness of the press should be protected
Inquiry barrister to Lebedev : News Int staff meeting with govt far more frequently than you were

Strange that Leveson says he's met Nigel Farage, and is about to meet George Galloway, but not Livingstone
'The job that was meant to be done by the police was done by the Guardian,' says Lebedev
Lebedev: boris Johnson a personal friend. I meet him every three or four months. He has met Brian paddick but not ken livingstone
Lebedev: if press is over regulated it completely changes the whole process of how Westminster works

Lebedev: Robustness of the press in this country should be protected. Can see the effects not having a free press has on Russia.
Lebedev: If there is system where everything is that regulated…it creates a tyranny of consensus.
Lebedev: Enforced new codes of conduct at ES and Independent and sought assurances over phnoe hacking and Op Motorman.
Lebedev: Not adverse to statutory backstop because there needs to be a way to make sure everyone is involved.
Lebedev on future reg: There cannot be any lingering sense of an old boys club, or appointments being made in inexplicable manner.
Lebedev: Editors loathe making apologies, especially in the same space that the victims was wronged.
Lebedev: [The press is] a really expensive element of British democracy that needs to be protected at any cost.
Lebedev: A free press something that needs to be treasured and valued because I’ve seen the other side.
Lebedev: We’ve seen in recent revelations there’s been extraordinary abuse of power by the press - that shouldn’t happen again
Lebedev: I think we’re in danger of building a society where every element of democracy becomes too feeble
Lebedev: If the press becomes too feeble, we end up with tyranny of consensus
Lebedev: Since I’ve acquired Evening Standard and the Independent, none of the journalists have been getting up to illegal activity
Lebedev: There needs to be a way of making sure everyone in industry is part of a regulatory body, including online
Lebedev: Don’t see why there should be a [regulatory] differentiation between news printed on dead trees and what appears on screen 
Lebedev: The important news, which holds those in power to account, that’s what needs to be protected, preserved, cherished
Lebedev continues to stress that the British media is "an element of British democracy that needs to be preserved at any cost"

#leveson asks whether regulation online cd start with online publishers who make money through ad revenue
Evgeny Lebedev indicates he may support statutory framework for self-regulation [you're riding the wave, bro]