8 May 2012

Leveson Inquiry - Module 3 - Day 1 - Clarke, Gilmour and Middleton

The Relationship Between the Press and Politicians

Module 3 - Key Questions to be addressed in this Module

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 
Telegraph Live Blog HERE
Guardian Live Blog HERE
Links to articles, comment and information relevant to the Inquiry:
Mulcaire wants to clarify when he can & cannot claim protection against self-incrimination, his lawyer Gavin Millar QC tells Supreme Court  
Wednesday, 9th May:
George Michael's Twitter timeline where he has been revealing personal details of alleged behaviour of NI tabloids:- HERE 
Story which appeared in next day's Sun - George's Van Man Romp - The Sun
Also, News of the World Story - George's Sex Shame - Neville Thurlbeck

 Wednesday May 9th 2012

Judge addresses Media Standards Trust, Full Fact, Index On Censorship and English Pen application on gov CP status.
#Leveson says he has respect for the organisations and they raise issues that are potentially significant. I expect that each CP restrict the confidentiality circle to the minimum number necessary to participate fairly and effectively. To go further and publish the names is unnecessary. Would divert resources + identify those privy to sensitive information. This submission fundamentally misunderstands Section 19 of the 2005 Inquiries Act. #Leveson: If the minister himself seeks to provide a restriction notice, that will itself be the subject of discussion within the inquiry.

#Leveson: I do not doubt the good faith of those who have raised these issues, concerned there is perception I will reduce transparency.
#leveson says he's been misunderstood, _didn't_ give govt core participant status, instead granted to named ministers
#leveson says he won't publish names of those helping core participants allowed to see secret material
#leveson main point is redactions are for personal info/not compromising police work - no disputed redactions thus far
(put crudely - mine not #leveson's thoughts - what matters here is : cd govt mins seek to redact embarrassing material)
#leveson says he'll take the same approach with govt core participants as he has with others re redactions
#leveson warns he may make public any attempt to redact embarrassing material
(those groups may have lost the legal argument but won quite a handy public assurance there from #leveson)
Mr Garnham (for Met) reading report on deletion of Milly Dowler's voice messages
 Witness Statement of DCI John Macdonald 
Gill Phillips for Guardian replying to Met's report

  • Phillips: "Our error was to have written about the cause of the deletions as a fact rather than as the belief of several people."
Sherborne speaking for the victims after Met's report
McDonald statement: I can confirm that there is evidence support the fact that [hacking] happened.
McDonald: MPS analysts believe there was an automatic deletion, which contradicts the phone providers explanation.
McDonald: The MPS cannot rule out that someone has illegal accessed Milly’s voicemail on 26 March 2002. McDonald: Call data for March 26 is incomplete and are therefore unable to conclusively to establish the accuracy of this theory.
McDonald: We cannot conslusively say whether any voicemails were or were not manually deleted…
...however there do appear to have been two messages missing that should have been present when Surrey Police carried out… ...their second recorded download of 17 April…
.... It is not known why that happened and it will not now be possible to provide an explanation.

Met: no evidence to support suggestion that any journo attmpted to hack phone prior to 26 March 02
(in essence suggestion is Sally Dowler suffered false hope moment because of auto deletion - not Notw hacking
Met: we cannot conclusively say whether any vmails were or were not manually deleted, but 2 msgs missing

Guardian response to #leveson Met evidence here
Guardian Timeline 

3:30 p.m.:

Sherborne makes a submission asking #Leveson to make newspaper publishers answer questions about Operation Motorman files

More from Guardian Live Blog on Mr Sherborne's submission re Operation Motorman files and subsequent repercussions amongst individual papers:  Here
Today's Witnesses:
Martin Clarke ( Editor, Mail Online )
DCI Brendan Gilmour ( Operation Glade, MPS )
T/ACC Russell Middleton ( Operation Reproof, Devon and Cornwall Police )
Witness Statement of DCI John Macdonald  

Martin Clarke  Witness Statement in Full

Martin Clarke's Guardian Page 
Guardian Live Blog HERE
From Guardian Live Blog, describing Martin Clarke:
He has a reputation for terrifying his subordinates – described as a composite of Kelvin MacKenzie, Piers Morgan and his editor-in-chief, Paul Dacre – but also known for his news judgement.
Clarke is editor and publisher of the MO, responsible for editorial content and commercial side of business. The Mail Online is biggest newspaper website in the UK and has been most visited news site in the world (head-to-head with NYT).
Clarke: Editorially I report to Paul Dacre. Speak to him most days a week, but don't sit down and dicuss content.
Clarke: See the chairman of Associated on a resonably frequent basis. Is interested in long-term direction of the business not ed.
Clarke: Have around 70 journalists spread between London, New York and Los Angeles, number changes from day-to-day.
Clarke: Vast majority will be our own stories or agency stories, do moniter the Twittersphere. Sometimes a tweet will be the story.
Clarke: Looking at numbers helps us to craft the most engaging product that we can.
First mention of the Mail Online sidebar. Clarke describes it as "lighter content" on the site but not exclusively showbiz.

Clarke: speaks to Paul Dacre most days but he trusts editors to get on with it
Clarke: Mail Online has 70 journos working there most days
#leveson hears Mail online is happy to report whatever other reputable news orgs are saying while trying to confirm it 
Clarke: if every other news org in world is reporting leader of N Korea has died incumbent on us to do same
Mail Online's right hand bar - pic/celeb stories - accounts for third of traffic

Guardian Live Blog:
Clarke says Mail Online is happy to report what other reputable news organisations are reporting, although its journalists will attempt to stand the story up themselves.
He adds that this what any other 24-hour news channel would do, and that Mail Online would not publish something that did not come from a reputable source.
Clarke says the "vast majority" of Mail Online stories come from its own journalists or reputable agencies for a fee.
Mail Online journalists will also "monitor the Twittersphere," says Clarke. "Quite often the tweet will be the story," he adds, pointing out that journalists will check first if the tweet is genuinely from the person it purports to be from.
Clarke says Mail Online does not follow analytics of its most popular stories "slavishly".
The right-hand showbiz bar generates about a third of Mail Online traffic, Barr says, reading from Clarke's witness statement.
Clarke: British newpapers have voluntary embargo on pics of Pippa Middleton going about her daily business (echoes Mail pic ed).
Clarke: English language news is not one market anymore, it's a global market. Fleet Street well-plaved to exploit it.
Clarke: We don’t produce two versions of one story…everything we publish is available everywhere in the world.
Clarke: We don’t find the current regulatory environment too disabling, are occasions when it can be frustrating or irritating.
'You'd be starting an argument with me, Mr Clarke' .... (about regulation v legislation)
Clarke: not on level playing field with US competitors, important it doesn't get any more skewed
Clarke: (on site being read internationally) this is Fleet St's big bang, this is our chance to compete with everyone in world
Clarke: you've heard from a very junior member of the Huffington Post
Clarke on flagging up corrections online: if someone felt strongly we should, we would  

Clarke: "Our business is not built on one-hit sensationalist virals" [Erm... Samantha Brick?]
[It doesn't matter if you have a good record with the PCC b/c resolved complaints don't go on record even if you breach the code]

Clarke: We don’t find the current regulatory environment too disabling, are occasions when it can be frustrating or irritating.
Clarke: Have a very good record in terms of PCC complaints and external legal complaints.
Clarke has a dig at Carla Buzasi "you've heard from a very junior member of the Huffington Post, if I may say so".
Clarke: I believe that those abuses and criminality were largely confined to one newspaper group.
Clarke on the Mail: It’s an ethical decent newspaper run by decent people.
Clarke: Celebrities will ring up and say "actually the truth is this", so quite often we’ll just correct content as we go along.
Clarke: 99 percent of the time, if not more, people complaining just want the mistake corrected or removed.

Daily Mail Reporter Can't Explain How False Report Got Published - Poynter

From Guardian Live Blog:
Clarke says one of the benefits of the internet is that stories are iterative, and can be updated.
"Quite often we will correct content as we go along," Clarke says.
He adds that 99% of the time, complaints just want a story corrected rather than a published apology.
"It's an evolving animal of a product," he says.
Clarke: In 3 years has had 205 legal complaints, 35 for privacy issues + 3 compensation payments against 6 PCC privacy complaints.
Clarke: Unreasonable for foreign nationals to export their own countries' levels of privacy wherever they travel around the world.
Clarke statement: 2 payments to German sports personalities and 1 to a UK celebrity as published info could identified their house.

Clarke: unreasonable for foreign nationals to export their own countries' levels of privacy wherever they go in world
Clarke arguing he can be subject to French privacy law because UK is in EU. US websites don't have that problem
Martin Clarke tetchily replying to LJ Leveson
Clarke: Stephen Fry has nearly 4 million users, reaches more people in an hour than I can. So is he going to be regulated?
Clarke clearly sees the death of print media within next 20 years.
Clarke: A blogger might not see the advantages of regulation a being worth the time or the effort.
Clarke: If people are going to name rape victims on Twitter then they're very easy to find and the police know where they live.
Clarke: You're saying can we compel private bloggers making a small amount of money from the internet to sign up for regulation?

#leveson: camel's back may well have been phone hacking incident, but many more stories created public concern

Clarke: There is need to convince the public that it isn't broken, the press needs to do more to reengage the trust of the public.
Clarke: Now we’re obsessesing over an industry that is, as I say, becoming less important, and in the course of fighting…...the last war, we’re going to stop newspaper websites from winning the next one, quite frankly.

From Guardian Live Blog:
Clarke is asked about the PCC.
He does not believe it is "as broken" as other witnesses to the inquiry have made out. Clarke goes on to tie the phone hacking issue to the PCC, before Leveson interjects.
"Mr Clarke, you're becoming an advocate," he warns, before saying that phone hacking was the "straw that broke that particular camel's back" but the PCC was labouring under other issues.
Clarke:Do you need to regulate the net anymore than need policeman standing in the corner of every pub watching what everyone says.
Barr asks Clarke if he essentially agrees with Paul McMullan of the infamous "privacy is for paedos".
Clarke: You're using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, not the same thing as it is to say you shouldn't regulate the serious media. 
Clarke asked about the Amanda Knox verdict dual story mistake. Says result of human error and over-zealousness.
Clarke: One thing than made me angriest was that there was no need for it (not in the office that day). 
Clarke: We had a thorough inquiry, firm advice was issued and I’ll be very displeased if any of those things happen again.
Clarke: Pictures of TOWIE star taken in Dubai "I would stake my year's salary on it being taken with consent".
Clarke: I have to produce a website which makes a profit because profit is the only real way of having any freedom in journalism.
Clarke: Celebrities' biggest concern in life is not appearing on MO.

Clarke on Amanda Knox verdict now - wasn't in office, three errors, no need for it; no benefit to being 10 secs faster than oppo
Clarke: we had a thorough inquiry, advice issued, very displeased if any of these things happen again
Barr talking about Mail story about "an actress from the well known television show The Only Way is Essex"
Clarke: self evident those pix were taken with consent, photos with v short lense right in front of her
Clarke ws: MailOnline publishes 4-500 stories a day; we have received only 205 legal complaints over past three years
Clarke: if we're not there to take a pic the celeb will helpfully twitter one

Clarke over. Barr reads in several additional statements including Paul Dacre, Damian Green MP, Lord Stevens and JK Rowling.

DCI Brendan Gilmour   Witness Statement in Full
(This witness not being shown on any live feed, either to public or press)
Guardian Live Blog HERE

Gilmour: Met civilian employee was searching Police National Computer & info from searches ending up in papers
Met officer Gilmour: investigating journalists didn't present any fear... but did recognise significance & attention it'd attract
Gilmour explaining they had PNC audit, Whittamore invoices for checks & press stories with info - so "good evidence"

Gilmour: Left Marshall (civilian comminunicaitons officer at Tooting force) in post so team could investigate activities covertly.
Gilmour: Interviewed 7 journalists under caution, identified from ledgers of Steve Whittamore (relates to conspiracy to corrupt).
Gilmour: Already had very good evidence that link between jouralists did exist evidentially, that they were requesting the info.
Gilmour: All of them stated they would not have used Whittamore or any other agency if they had known info was obtained illegally
Gilmour: Press strategy wasn't because we feared backlash but we knew this would attract a lot of attacks.
Gilmour: We never had a direct link between Marshall and Whittmore. We had Marshall, King, Boyall and then Whittamore.
[March 2004, CPS advised that there was insufficient evidence to charge any of the journalists.

From Guardian Live Blog:
Gilmour is asked about Operation Glade, the Met police's 2003-05 investigation into police corruption.
He refers to "isolated and sporadic" incidents involving the police national computer.
Jay says that Gilmour said in a note at the time that "careful consideration" should be given to the journalists involved.
"This isn't my entry, I believe it's DS Tony Fuller," says Gilmour.
Asked what it means, Gilmour says: "I'm not in a position to answer that. I can give a view. I think it's because of the significance of what we were dealing with and recognising that significance, giving it due consideration and the fallout from what we were doing."
Jay says the note suggests the issue would generate "huge press interest". Was there? "I don't think so," says Gilmour.
Gilmour interviewed 7 journalists - 2 freelance, 1 NOTW, 1 NOTW (Scot), 1 Mirror, 1 Sun Mirror, 1 Mail on Sun.

From Guardian Live Blog:
In March 2004, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) advised that there was insufficient evidence to charge any of the journalists.
Gilmour says he was "disappointed" that the police had not gathered sufficient evidence to prove guilty knowledge on behalf of the journalists.
His force interviewed seven journalists: two freelancers, one News of the World reporter, one News of the World reporter in Scotland, one Daily Mirror reporter, one Sunday Mirror reporter and one Mail on Sunday reporter.
Gilmour says he was disappointed at the verdicts in court cases involving Whittamore and three associates.

T/ACC Russell Middleton  Witness Statement in Full

(From Western Morning News)
Byline: ANDY GREENWOOD Chief Reporter
Evidence that a Devon and Cornwall police officer carried out illegal data checks on former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was buried by a court ruling in 2006, it emerged yesterday.
Six men - two serving police officers, two former officers and two private investigators - were charged in 2004 after a complex, two-year investigation which took detectives all over the country. It exposed a web of alleged leaked information, fed from a Devon and Cornwall police officer to a network of private investigators across the country. But after nearly two years in the courts, the case collapsed in 2006 at Gloucester Crown Court with Judge Paul Darlow ruling it was "not a proportionate use of valuable resources to prosecute these matters".

Guardian Live Blog HERE
T/ACC Middleton being sworn in
From Guardian Live Blog:
Middleton reiterates that his force was "open minded" as to the prosecution of journalists, but did not have anything that "directly or indirectly" linked members of the media to the illicit information.
He confirms that two senior politicians were named in the information.
Jay asks whether this led Middleton to believe the press may be interested.
Middleton says it may have done, repeating that the investigation had not ruled out any specific avenue.