15 May 2012

Leveson Inquiry - Module 3 - Day 5 - Boulton and Wakeham

Tuesday, 15th May 2012

Today's Witnesses:
Adam Boulton - Sky News Political Editor
Lord Wakeham - Former Head of PCC

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 
Guardian Live Blog HERE
Telegraph Live Blog HERE  
Yesterday's Hearing HERE
Links to latest articles, comment and information relevant to the Leveson Inquiry: 

  • 10:00 a.m. From BBC News:
  • Rebekah Brooks to be charged over phone hacking

    Breaking news
    Rebekah Brooks and her husband, Charlie, are to be charged with perverting the course of justice as part of the Met Police phone hacking inquiry.

    6 to be charged in relation to concealing evidence from police. And Rebekha ıBooks and Cheryl Carteer conspired to remove 7 boxes from NI
    CPS charges contd: allege RB, Charlie Brooks & others conspired to conceal docs, computers and other equipment from police
    RB is accused of removing boxes from NI between 6 July 2011-9 July 2011. She resigned as CEO 15 July 2011
    RB left NI 15th July 2011. The concealing documents/computers allegation relates to period 15-19 July 2011

    Meanwhile two more arrests - an HMRC comployee & 43-yr old woman - by cops probing corruption of public officials

    From Guardian Live Blog:
    Separately, the Metropolitan police has arrested two suspects in relation to its Operation Elveden investigation into allegations of illegal payments to public officials.
    A man, 50, who is employed by HM Revenue & Customs and a 43-year-old woman were arrested at their home address in northwest London early on Tuesday morning.
    The arrests followed material passed to the police by News Corporation's management and standards committee.
    Scotland Yard said in a statement:
    The 50-year-old man is an employee of HM Revenue and Customs. He was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office (Elveden arrest '28'), contrary to common law and suspicion of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.
    A 43-year-old woman was also arrested at the address on suspicion of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office and suspicion of money laundering offences under Section 328 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. (Elveden arrest '29').
    Both are being questioned at a central London police station.
    Today's arrests are the result of information provided to police by News Corporation's management standards committee. They relate to suspected payments to a public official and are not about seeking journalists to reveal confidential sources in relation to information that has been obtained legitimately.
    Lord Justice Leveson's Statement - 2:00 p.m  Statement in Full
    A stern Lord Justice Leveson.
    #Leveson: One of the consquences is that fufulling the terms of my requirements, Murdoch produced a series of [Michel] emails.
    #Leveson: [The emails] formed the basis of much immediate comment.
    #Leveson: I am absolutely not taking sides, but prepared to say very important to hear every side of the story before drawing conclusions.
    #Leveson: I am approaching my task in a politically neutral fashion and intend to ensure the principles of fairness maintained.

    Leveson said he would look into "facts" around Sky bid as relating to inquiry. Repeats he has said he needs to hear "every side" of story
    Lev says "I see significance of the way the bid was handled" as relating to his inquiry.
    Harman accused Hunt of not answering questions in Parlt because cult sec promised to answer Leveson instead.

    #Leveson: 14 May points of order raised in Commons relevant to inquiry [by Harriet Harman].
    Harman asked: Could you clarify…remains the case that the SoS for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport is accountable to this House?
    Bercow replied:When Parliamentary Questions to ministers are tabled, those questions should receive substantive and timely answers.  
    #Leveson currently reading from Hansard transcript of Commons yesterday, regarding Hunt.

    Leveson is clearly animated... 
    #Leveson: I do not intend to consider, let alone adjudicate, on the issue of whether or not the House has been mislead.
    Indicates that Michel + Smith + Hunt will be giving evidence to Inquiry "before the end of May'.
    Leveson says it is for Parlt to decide how far Hunt should account for himself as regards Sky bid.

     #Leveson says it's not for him to say anything about what should or shouldn't be placed before Parliament
    #Leveson: Hope members of the House consider consquences on the inquiry. Would be concerned if CPs take advantage of early viewing.
    #Leveson says if Michel/Smith material disclosed early + "minds made up" would consider it inappropriate to question them, or Hunt, on it.
    #Leveson: I hope allowing inquiry to proceed as planned will not amount to serious inconvenience either to Parliament or political process.
    [#Leveson essentially asks politicians to respect process of the inquiry so Hunt/Michel/Smith evidence can be addressed properly.]

    Lev says that Michel/Hunt material should not be disclosed early; if it was he might not question them on it. Asks parlt, media to back off
    Reading back key Edward Leigh qt is : "this House is supreme and sovereign, and we should get everything first";
    #leveson response in essence is - not if you want me to handle Hunt BSkyB bid you don't

    4:17p.m. - Guardian Live Blog:
    Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour party, who asked the Speaker the question about Jeremy Hunt's evidence, has said she will comply with Leveson's request to back off.
    Two hours after his intervention, she tweeted:

Adam Boulton   Witness Statement in Full

@adamboultonSKY ( Twitter - 17th January 2010 ):
the incompetence of #Leveson beggars belief. Why on earth has #womanontheleft been called in to simper at @arusbridger?
@benfenton @paulwaugh It's not exactly Perry Mason is it or even examaining Kelvin. And we still waiting for M'Lud to intervene

Guardian Live Blog HERE

Boulton speaking today in personal capacity and not on behalf of Sky News or BSkyB, Barr says #leveson
Adam Boulton is asked about his marriage to Anji Hunter, who worked with Tony Blair
Barr asks Boulton if his marriage to Anji Hunter (former aide of Tony Blair) is e.g. of close links between politicians and press
Boulton says Hunter was leaving No.10 & moving 2 business, otherwise pursuing relationship would've been "potentially compromising"
Boulton: I think the media (press or electronic) should have no greater rights than the individual in terms of freedom of speech
Mr Barr asking the questions of Adam Boulton
Boulton: If you have broadcasters who are regulated, it is good to have press less regulated - can make allegations to be tested.

From Guardian Live Blog:
Sky News field producer Jim Old has just tweeted:
Boulton: There are different types of journalism. The type Sky does is not so well suited to investigative journalism. 
Boulton: type of news journalism we do probably less inclined to investigative kind that emerges in newspapers and magazines
Boulton says that sort of journalism might not flourish if subject to Ofcom rules
Boulton: fact that broadcasting in this country has been controlled by law and press has not is actually good

Guardian Live Blog:
Boulton says there are different types of journalism and that Sky News is "less inclined and probably not so well suited to" the investigative journalism that might appear in newspapers or magazines.
He says that type of journalism "might not take place" if newspapers were regulated by an Ofcom-style body.
Is there any other inhibition by being regulated by Ofcom?
Boulton replies that there is a place for people to go "over the top" in journalism, adding: "I think it's good that not everything comes under regulation."
Boulton: Is there a greater caution in what you do because of Ofcom regulation? yes.
Boulton: Original phone hacking allegations were reported. Within the news business there is a sense you move on to the next thing.

Boulton: I felt after one session with Nick Davies at the CMS select committee, I didn't think he had unearthed anything new.
Guardian Live Blog:
Boulton says that all media are subject to "the court of public opinion" and ethics, which can ultimately have commercial consequences for news outlets.
On the phone-hacking scandal, Boulton says he is not sure it was an "unreasonable proposition" for the news media to move on after the convictions of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire in 2007.
He adds that if it had not been for the Milly Dowler allegations "we wouldn't have had the watershed moment which we had".
"I have to say I felt after one session … of Mr Davies [Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist] before the culture, media and sport committee I didn't feel he had unearthed any new information at all … and subsequently he did."
Boulton says the Guardian has focused on media matters because of MediaGuardian, while other newspapers do not have a dedicated media desk.
However, Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist who exposed the phone-hacking scandal, is not on the MediaGuardian section of the newspaper.
Boulton: Subsequently Nick Davies did unearth new info, but before that sense of 'nothing to c here, move on, was perf reasonable'
@lisaocarroll So the Gordon Taylor story wasn't new? Hmm. Not how the FT saw it, that's for sure.
Boulton: Salesman will probably have drink with people he's selling to, doesn't mean they spend entire time trying to strike deal.
Boulton: journalists develop a semi-social, relationship with politicians so you are not cold calling when you need comment
Boulton: If a proprietor had obsession with an issue like passport for pets ..... (This was an obssession of late Lord Rothermere)

Boulton: I am in favour of full disclosure of govt meetings with proprietors as a a matter of automaticity
Boulton: I would personally lean towards a more detailed disclosure than at present
Boulton: A Campbell used comments we made about journalists at a lunch at Chequers. We were puzzled as to why were invited there
Boulton: Things that we felt we had a right to have (during Labour regime), were handed out as favours

Boulton: greatest power any news outlet has is whether it chooses to cover something or not 
Boulton: Understandable politicians will want to draw attention of journalists to issues which are of concern to them. 
Adam Boulton: "Obligation to tell the truth at all times was not felt by Blair government or Brown government" 
Boulton now really dissing Campbell. There was an increasing sense that you could not really trust comms people in Labour. 
Boulton: BSkyB had nothing to do with NI and was regulated just like BBC, ITV

Boulton: Sometimes people have made the wrong assumption about BSkyB and News International, Sky is independent broadcaster. 
Adam Boulton: In 23 years with Sky had 3 discussions with Rupert Murdoch
Boulton: we were more careful than ever not to make a comment that could be construed as an opinion on BSkyB takeover bid
Boulton: Received emails from CEO - it was not our business to lobby or to take sides over the bid.
Boulton: Sky News has never sought or, to my knowledge, been invited to go to such a lunch or such a meeting (at No 10). 
Boulton: print colleagues do not have the same level of access to senior politicians to TV journalists who get access for footage
Boulton: Lunches are therefore a "constructive way" for print colleagues getting to know ministers etc
Boulton: Younger crop of politicians are avoiding lunches with journalists
Boulton: Meets contacts on expenses half a times a month. Does he ever feel obligation towards a contact then asks David Barr
Boulton: "You don't want to become too pally with politicians if you are interviewing with them on a regular basis."
Boulton: Some ministers not keen to appear on Newsnight because they feel they're not allowed talk about what they want

Boulton: It is a bargaining thing about access, agreeing to discuss something in exchange for also discussing different issue.
Boulton: Have been told anacdotally by politicians - won't appear on Newsnight as not allowed to discuss something were promised.

Boulton: Blair view that media are feral is a little bit paranoid

Boulton on Blair view that news isn't news unless it generates heat wrong. "Not our job to regurgitate known facts, to repeat views of govt"
Blair fan of sensationalist headlines himself, says Boulton - No 10 suggested that Iraq could get missiles to UK in 45 mins

Boulton on scandal: News - what is new,what is different - will win out over regurgitation of known facts and government positions.
On being asked whether Blair was right that media hunt in 'feral pack', Boulton disagrees.
'The elephant in the room is competitiveness over stories..'
Boulton: Blair view that media are feral is a little bit paranoid
Boulton: I am the only person to have doorstepped the Queen and get her to talk about politics
Boulton: In Thatcher era, doorstepping led to best quotes such as 'rejoice, rejoice", or "we are a grandmother". Blair stopped this

Boulton: Tony Blair did not do doorsteps. He would not respond. I'm the only person ever on t Boulton: Comment result of journalists looking for another way to add value to a story. he doorstep of the Queen.
Boulton: A no of politicians have expressed to me their fear of intrusion and exposure, and very often they mention the Mail.

Boulton: when my own first marriage broke up my house was rung, reporters attempted to talk to my children; I make no complaint
Boulton: Having an organisation that is prepared to debunk the powerful may be quite salutary overall for society.
Boulton: Roy Hattersley (Labour Dep Leader) said of Sky "do right by us and we'll do right by you".
Boulton: When Lord O'Donnell, and others, were PM spokesman the most authoritative person in No 10. Spads don't have this.

Boulton: when Campbell stopped briefings, civil servants who took over never really had the authority to convincingly brief for govt
Boulton: To this day most journalists would go to someone behind the back of the official spokesman.
Boulton: fear is if you put spokesmen on record you create mini celebs in their own right

Boulton at #leveson: I've never been told any masonic secrets in the lobby

Boulton's on Carol Caplin's ex Peter Foster and flats in Bristol. Godric Smith spoke with 'integrity' when he said Cherie had no contact
Boulton: But as it turned out that was not true - there had been contact with Peter Foster

Boulton: Off the record is no longer a distinction which is widely understood by the public. 
Boulton: In my experience the lobby is simply a means of briefing specialised journalists.
Boulton: I can't see any evidence of a cover-up by journalists on MPs' expenses.

Guardian Live Blog:
"Off the record" is not a concept understood by members of the public, Boulton says.
"If you put the PM's spokesperson on the record you risk creating mini celebrities," he says, adding: "Or, in the case of Alastair Campbell, big celebrities."
He is similarly irked by official embargos which he says are often used to benefit one news medium or another.
To Bouton: What should happen to those journalists we've heard about in this Inquiry?
Boulton: Professional journalism will only thrive if people want to consume it, because they trust what we are saying. 

Guardian Live Blog:
Boulton suggests that the Leveson inquiry would not exist today if the Guardian had not reported in July last year that Milly Dowler's voicemails had been deleted, leading to a "false hope" moment among the missing girl's family.
"Without that allegation, subsequent history – possibly including the existence of this inquiry – would be very different," he says, adding that he is "posing it as a question".
The Met police said earlier this month that the full truth about the circumstances of hacking into Milly Dowler's phone may never be known.
Boulton: There are some politicians in some circumstances who would like to curb freedom of expression.
Boulton: Belonging to regulatory organisation - self-reg possibly backed up by statute - is desirable for newspapers and magazines.
Boulton: I remember the NUJ days of closed shop
Boulton: Media may raise an issue but public view may not go in the direction you think eg. Prescott punch, they took lighter view.
Boulton:Politicians like to have press supporting them and they go someway to court them,but doubt leads to transforming behaviour.

Boulton: was a little surprised PM and leader of opposition felt need to turn up to News Corp party last summer
Boulton: The Wendi Deng/Brooks/Sarah Brown PJ party. "completely bonkers that this level of intimacy" went between PM and Murdoch
Boulton: Nothing wrong in News Corp having party, but "I was a little surprised that PM etc felt compelled to turn up".

Boulton: When heard about Wendi Deng PJ party (with Brooks + S Brown) I was surprised by intimacy and thought would end in tears.
Boulton: I think there was a carelessness. Did [press/politicians] become too excessive? Yes.
Boulton: Was what went wrong at NI the responsibility of the PCC? #Leveson points out made pronouncements without investigating.

#Leveson: We would agree that regulation independent of government is crucial. Boulton: Yes.

Adam Boulton's testimony complete.
Lord Wakeham     Witness Statement #1 in Full
Witness Statement #2 in Full

Guardian Live Blog HERE

Ms Patry-Hoskins questions Lord Wakeham
Lord Wakeman has provided the inquiry with two witness statements. He is the only person to be Leader of both HoP.
Wakeham chaired a subcommittee looking at the recommendations of Calcutt's second report.

Discussing Calcutt's second report (see a piece by the Guardian's David McKie from the Index archive here: ) #leveson
Wakeham: the voice in cabinet was that if we were going to bring in statutory system, had to have definition of public interest

Wakeham: Seemed to be voice in cabinet that if we were going to bring in statutory system, had to have public interest definition.
Wakeham: Told John Major I wasn't sure it was going to work and persuaded him.
Wakeham: Knew Conrad Black and the late Lord Rothermere but didn't meet Murdoch until after I went to PCC.
Wakeham: I didn't think a privacy law would be easy to get through Parliament and wouldn't protect people who read newspaper.

Wakeham: privacy law is very difficult for the public to deal with unless they're rich.
Wakeham: I got better commissioners when I was running PCC by choosing people than the Public Appointments Commission have got.
Wakeham: I think the newspaper industry did not want statutory control, and accepted they needed chairman with a bit of clout.
Wakeham: I don’t think you could be the chairman of a body that was running a system of self-reg unless you believed in it.

Wakeham: couldn't be chairman of body running self regulation unless you believed in self regulation
Wakeham: can’t imagine being a good chairman of press council if you didn’t believe in press freedom

Wakeham says he urged Palace to complain about topless pic of Royal in paper; reaction from Palace was "almighty dither"  
Wakeham: Streamlined complaints handling system, improved sanctions and contacted editors. Wakeham: Persuaded palace to complain about topless pic of member of royal family published. Wouldn't have if I hadn't intervened.
Wakeham: Lot of people were making "pretty frivalous" complaints to Press Council. PCC trying to avoid that, hence no third party.
Lord Wakeham answering LJ Leveson's question as to plight of single-issue groups who complain to PCC
#Leveson: Groups have come before me arguing legitimate complaint that as a group they aer being traduced and there is no remedy.
Wakeham: HRA meant rich and famous sought remedy through courts. PCC then seen as a second class, on the cheap alternative.
Wakeham: Called Murdoch after Lady Spencer pics in NoW. That sent message round the industry that PCC weren’t to be trifled with.
Wakeham: In my day 50 percent of complaints regarding local press.

From Guardian Live Blog:
Wakeham is asked about the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana. He was chairman of the PCC at the time and launched an urgent review of the committee's code following accusations that chasing by paparazzi contributed to her death.
About half of all complaints to the PCC at the time were about the local press, Wakeham says, pointing out how much the newspaper industry has changed since 1997.
Wakeham says he had to "move carefully" to make sure editors were satisfied with any proposed changes to the PCC code.
Wakeham: Piers Morgan published photos taken by a photographer over the wall of nursing home #leveson; Wakeham wrote to Murdoch 
Wakeham: bulk of PCC work was in dealing w/ complaints from public, got as many complaints from local press as we did from national
Wakeham: changes 2 code did make a difference, crux of what I tried to do was say editor was responsible for what appeared in paper

Wakeham: The crux of what I tried to do was to say editor is responsible for what appears in newspapers, including paparazzi pics.
Wakeham: The respect of the PCC has gone down in recent years because they haven't had the high profile complaints they used to.
Wakeham: During my time at PCC I thought there was an improvement, I'm not sure what has happened since.
Wakeham: It was very important to get editors on board with the PCC, they wouldn't have been in favour of fining each other.
Wakeham: Changes to PCC code (1998) we right at the time and a significant improvement.
Wakeham: You have to pick the moment when the press was in the mood to accept a tougher code [telling?].
Wakeham: Changes to PCC code (1998) were right at the time and a significant improvement.
Lord Wakeham speaking about the privacy laws
Wakeham: HRA brought in privacy law- I thought would be damaging to self-regulation, a vehicle for the rich leaving poor no remedy. 
Wakeham: a case of privacy that costs you half a million pounds is of limited value to the public 
Wakeham: I have to tell you Parliament is in favour of strengthening restraints on the press whenever they find an opportunity.
Former PCC Lord Wakeham: I was never a regulator. I didn't pretend to be a regulator. We got the code and refined it and refined it
Wakeham: My speech in 1995 calling for removal of sword of damocles suspended over 4th estate was to 'get rid of regulator'

Wakeham: PCC was best way of protecting public and didn’t want to see it destroyed in the way it has been in the last few years.
Wakeham: I've taken the view that the complaints handling of the PCC was pretty good. It was cheap, it was quick.
Wakeham: It seems to be self-reg could be one stage in a process which might end up in the courts.

Wakeham: self-regulation in a free society is what I would want to achieve

From Guardian Live Blog:
 Asked about the Human Rights Act – which he has publicly criticised – Wakeham says that it does not have appropriate safeguards for journalism in the public interest.
Wakeham: It seems to be self-reg could be one stage in a process which might end up in the courts.
Wakeham: What I didn’t want to do was to use the PCC as fishing expedition for people needing info to go to court.
Wakeham: We always had newspapers who refused to pay their dues to the PCC and didn't want to be a part of it.
Scepticism writ large as Lord Wakeham speaks about the Parliamentary will to bring in Statutory regulation of the press!
Wakeham: The Northern & Shell issue is "serious". It ididn't happen in my day.
Wakeham: I would be very reluctant to advise the government to introduce statutory controls of the press
Wakeham backs Lord Hunt's legal contract, forcing newspapers to comply with regulation.

#Leveson: There's no question of my suggesting statutory control of the press at all.
Wakeham: Threatened editors with statutory reg, "if you go on like this I'll tell PM you are impossible + can't deal with you".

Wakeham saying he got press to behave by threatening them with statutory regulation 
Wakeham: Who wants you to be anything other than a winner? #Leveson: I actually perceive this responsibility quite differently.
Wakeham wishes #Leveson luck. His evidence is over. The chairman says he will make a statement at 2pm on recent events.