25 January 2012

Leveson Inquiry: Hearings - Day 31


"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
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.

Witness list for this week (23rd - 26th January) to be found HERE
Video Recordings of each day's proceedings HERE
Live Feed From Leveson Inquiry Site HERE
BBC Democracy Live Feed HERE 

Guardian Live Blog 
Telegraph Live Blog
BBC News Leveson Inquiry Page 
#Leveson Twitter Feed 
Dan Sabbagh (Guardian Journalist) Twitter timeline  
Ben Fenton (Journalist FT) live Leveson tweets and comments
Live Blog - Hacking Inquiry - Hacked Off
Hackinginquiry on Twitter (Hacked Off)
Twitter Feed For Roy Greenslade - @GreensladeR  (relevant and interesting when listening to Mahmood's testimony)

Misleading headlines?

Today's links to articles, info and comments relevant to the Leveson Inquiry (frequently updated) :
    Christopher Jefferies has attacked Avon & Somerset police after the editor of the Daily Mirror told the Leveson inquiry that the force had leaked information about him to reporters.We will have a story shortly. Here is a statement from Jefferies' solicitors, the Stokoe Partnership:
    It has become apparent that evidence put before the Leveson inquiry confirms our earliest concerns about the confidentially with which the arrest and detention of our client was dealt with by those investigating the murder of Joanna Yeates.
    As a result of our attendance at the police station and of our reviewing of the material in the media, it became apparent that information had been deliberately leaked by as yet unidentified individuals in flagrant breach of their duty.
    Our client strongly believes this to be the case, as there was information within the public domain which was only known to those privy to the investigation material.
    Our client is of the view that this information had been leaked and we share that view.
    There needs to be an independent inquiry into this potentially criminal conduct on the part of officers from Avon and Somerset police, as well as the crown prosecution service.
    As regards any legal action against Avon and Somerset police for wrongful arrest, this is a matter which remains under review.
    • Tom Watson at Oxford Media Convention quoted on Guardian Live Blog:
    Our colleague Mark Sweney has listening to Tom Watson MP at a panel at the Oxford Media Convention.Asked about the allegations that a Times journalist accessed a blogger's email account, Watson said that editor James Harding should be asked if he had been aware at the time that the journalist had hacked an email account and if so, why high court judge Mr Justice Eady was not told.
    He added about the Leveson inquiry in general:
    I think the time for kicking and screaming in front of Leveson and acknowledging small changes is rapidly closing. This window is closing and editors need to come up with a reform package that has teeth. One thing worse than reform package proposed by politicians is a reform package proposed by proprietors.
    I do think newspapers probably need to get all the dirty stuff out and start again.
    Watson said he was "open minded" about press regulation and would be happy with a system where editors "acknowledged when they have done wrong and put it right".
    My instincts are they don't have the will to do that. We might need some statutory backdrop like the ASA. If there is an independent body that can oblige an editor to apologise or place in a particular place in a newspaper.
    Watson also said that if "politicians are going to act we need to practice what we preach", adding that the secretive lobby briefings with journalists would have to go.
    "Those days have to go, we need to recalibrate that relationship."



          Wednesday January 25th 2012
          (link to Hearing for day 30 HERE )

          Today's Witnesses:

          David Allen Green (Jack of Kent)
          Mazher Mahmood (tbc)
          Bob Crow (RMT Union)
          Jonathan Grun (Press Assoc)

          Witness Statement to be read:

          Roy Greenslade

          2p.m. - Directions Hearing for Module 2

          LJ Leveson begins with a drawing together of threads for Module 1.
          • Seems appropriate to recall a number of witnesses because of evidence which has been available since the witnesses appeared.
          • Anonymity ruling - Associated Newspapers - Caplan says waiting for final decision as to whether an appeal will be made. Leveson - if there's to be an appeal, assumes will be brought on very quickly and is very keen to maintain momentum of Inquiry.Caplan says he will let Mr Jay know at the latest tomorrow morning.
          • Thursday 9th of February proposed date to close Module 1. May overrun by one day.  
            Hacking Inquiry Live Blog HERE with details of this afternoon's Direction Hearing for Module 2

            David Allen Green ( Jack of Kent Blog)
            David Allen Green

            Green: for blogging I put a lot of thought into why I'm publishing. I use Twitter in a more inconsequential way

            The Dragon Fairy
            "You can't look at a blog in isolation...often the information has come from somewhere else" - DAG On blogging & superinjunctions

            Ross Hawkins
            at : citizens are pushing stories forward because they have the time and they are active citizens

            Ross Hawkins
            at : in summary he's saying tweeters and bloggers shdn't all be characterised as rogues

            T Portilho-Shrimpton
            DAG: during Lawrence cased everyone (on twitter) could have linked to the Rod Liddle piece on the Spectator... it didn't happen

            Tentacle Sixteen
            "The better blogs and the better tweeters link to the information."

            DAG says it's wonderful how mainstream media are now working with citizens

            Jonathan Haynes
            DAG () is explaining how Twitter works to . Covered 140 characters, links and hashtags so far.
            Guardian Live Blog:

            Green is asked about injunctions.
            He says in most cases injunction-busting information on Twitter is "very carefully put in the public domain by non-blogging social media sources".
            Green suggests that information is published using social media often by people with an agenda.
            "Most alleged abuses by people using social media often can be traced back to someone who may or may not have and agenda," he says.
            Green is asked whether it is feasible to regulate blogs.He says that bloggers and tweeters should not be characterised as rogues, and says people in social media often act more responsibly than those in mainstream media.
            Asked about regulation, Green says one way of encouraging good blogging is for public bodies to provide "first-rate" information.

            Jonathan Haynes
            DAG talking about "David Rose" (Johann Hari) and Night Jack now

            DAG: Got interested in investigating Hari case because of nasty habitual comments about Nick Cohen by David Rose

            The Dragon Fairy
            " DAG talking about Hari " WikiP background at

            Ross Hawkins
            at : eventually Hari revealed truth to his employer - wasn't outed by blog, it just collated info

            Matthew Huggett
            DAG believes Sunday Express's journalism on the Dunblane was "utterly horrible" and "scandalous"

            DAG: Apology by Sunday Express forced by social media long before PCC

            From Guardian Live Blog:
            Green says that use of photographs from social media by tabloids is "analogous" to the phone-hacking scandal. Newspapers do it "routinely" without believing they are doing anything wrong, he adds.Leveson asks for further information on these kind of abuses.

            Joel Gunter
            DAG says NightJack identification seemed like "spectacular piece of detective work", but he thought, "I'm not quite convinced".

            lisa o'carroll
            Times editor James h Harding has submitted a letter to inquiry explaining what went on re Patrick Foster
            From Guardian Live Blog:
            Green is asked about the NightJack blogger, whose identity was revealed by the Times in June 2009. Times editor James Harding said in his witness statement to the Leveson inquiry that he had disciplined a reporter who "gained unauthorised access to an email account". The Guardian reported last week that this related to the NightJack blogger's email account.
            Barr reads out a letter sent by Harding to the inquiry on 19 January.
            In the letter, Harding describes the exposé as in the public interest. It adds that the reporter was told to go about indentifying the blogger through legitimate means, after he told his managers that he had accessed the email account.
            "On that basis, we made the case in the high court that the newspaper should be allowed to publish," the letter from Harding says.
            "He had used a highly intrusive method to obtain information without prior approval … This was an isolated incident and I have no knowledge of anything else like it."

            Mazher Mahmood (2nd 'appearance' at Inquiry)
            Mazher Mahmood will not be identified

            Article from 2006, written by Roy Greenslade for the Independent:   
            Why I'm Out to Nail Mazher Mahmood
            Guardian page with many articles about Mazher Mahmood 
            BBC News - Reporter's String of Scoops
            Mazher Mahmood: No Hacking Involved in Cricket Sting - Press Gazette
            News of the World Goes To Print For the Final Time - Telegraph
            News of the World Investigations Editor Denies Phone-hacking in Pakistan Cricket Fixing Trial - Telegraph
            BBC Sport - Snooker - John Higgins Cleared of Match Fixing Claims - Sept. 2010
            Truth Behind Beckham 'Kidnap Plot' - Observer
            BBC NEWS - Beckham 'Kidnap' Case Collapses - June 2003
            Mahmood denies Indy Report He Paid Murder Case PI - Press Gazette
            Public Interest Overriding factor, 'Fake Sheikh' Tells Leveson Inquiry - the Free Speech Blog
            'Fake Sheikh' Mazher Mahmood 'Lives Under Constant Death Threat' - Telegraph

            Ross Hawkins
            Greenslade has provided witness statement & exhibits though we learn as begins

            Ross Hawkins
            In short Mahmood accused of going to computer room at S Times to change agency copy on story to suggest error was agency's not his
            Barr asking Mahmood about tampering with computer files, 23 years ago at the Sunday Times. Had had run-ins with Roy Greenslade but maintains that he was a very young reporter, inexperienced. Made mistake, but Barr reminds him it was an act of dishonesty to which Mahmood agrees.
            Barr now asking him about the veracity, accuracy of his earlier testimony. The word 'disagreement' is in question. Mahmood mentions several run-ins wit Greenslade. Barr asks if his earlier testimony was disingenuous. dmits it was wrong, was young and naive at the time. Intense pressure on him at the time.
            Barr looking at Michael Williams' article - 'I've seen the future of journalism and it is crap'.

            Barr now mentioning Mahmood's relationship with Greenslade. Mentions several critical articles, Mahmood agrees, then some in praise of Mahmood by Greenslade re cricket scandal and Sarah Ferguson money for meetings affair.

            Joel Gunter
            Little David Brent moment from Mahmood. Put to him that praised his match fixing stuff. A: "Well, hard not to though".

            Roy Greenslade
            Mahmood He denies Williams's allegation that he bribed computer man - completely untrue

            Ross Hawkins
            Mahmood at : points out Greenslade wrote piece headlined "why I am out to nail Mazher Mahmood"

            Roy Greenslade
            Mahmood Continues to say I had disagreements with him at Sunday Times - Can't remember one. Treated him same as other reporters

            Gordon Rayner
            Mazher Mahmood tells that NoW sometimes settled libel cases rather than incurring cost of fighting them.

            Roy Greenslade
            Mahmood Counsel now questioning him about Turcu, one of Beckham kidnap accused. Says his previous evidence was unclear

            From Guardian Live Blog:
            Mahmood points out that Greenslade has been "very critical" of his investigations: "He didn't like me then [at the Sunday Times in the 1980s]; he doesn't like me now."Barr points out that Greenslade praised Mahmood's Pakistan spot-fixing cricket scam.
            "Hard not to, to be honest," replies Mahmood.

            Hacked off
            Mahmood alleges Gashi, subject of one of his stories, turned on him after being deported He called Greenslade to make allegations

            Roy Greenslade
            Mahmood He pours scorn on his previous investigations ally on Beckham kidnap story, Florim Gashi, calling him mentally unstable

            From Guardian Live Blog:
            Mahmood is asked about Florim Gashi, a Kosovan asylum-seeker and former trusted source of the News of the World reporter.
            Mahmood tells the inquiry that police have described Gashi as "mentally unstable" and has made "a series of bizarre and ludicrous allegations" since his deportation about the reporter.

            Mark White
            Source who tipped off Mazher Mahmood about Beckham kidnap plot later alleged Mahmood put him up to it. More awkward questions!

            Hacked off
            : could I express some concern that you can't recall what would be quite an important discussion for your protection

            Barr now asking why Mahmood continued to use Gashi after the Beckham case - and all of the issues around credibility that produced. 

            Ross Hawkins
            Mahmood at : we deal with unreliable people but we vet the info (says crack addict source stole his tape recorder)

            Roy Greenslade
            Mahmood Further use of Gashi after Beckham plot - even though regarded as unreliable witness. MM says often deals with such people
            Leveson asks whether it's wise to use informants/witnesses who are proven to be unreliable.

            Gordon Rayner
            Mahmood: I was foolish to alter records to cover a mistake I made. Led to his resignation from ST.
            From Guardian Live Blog:
            Roy Greenslade has tweeted a quick reaction to Mahmood's evidence:
            Twitter icon Mahmood #Leveson His questioning concludes. My quick thought - never known him to stumble like that before and have such loss of memory

            Bob Crow (RMT Union)
            Bob Crow

            Witness Statement in Full

            Jay begins by speaking about Crow's surveillance by Webb. Crow does not know why the surveillance was carried out. In his statement he says as public figure, he expects media attention. Jay asking where the line should be drawn. Crow explaining what his job is as Union leader. Sees it as quite right for a newspaper to question calls for strike action, but when the make it personal, it is wrong.
            Now looking at article in Mail on Sunday which highlights use of personal assistant's, Mr Scott, scooter to get to work. Commentary in MoS about significance of this. Crow says these pictures must have been taken covertly. Crow questions importance of such non-stories, but is concerned about the way information was gathered.

            Hacked off
            Story made the Mail on Sunday. They're alleged to have obtained information about the owner of the scooter from PI Steve Whittamore

            Someone blagged info about the scooter from DVLA, gave it to Whittamore who passed it on to the Mail or the Mail on Sunday.

            From Guardian Live Blog:
            News International hired the former police officer Derek Webb to undertake surveillance of Bob Crow, the inquiry hears.
            Crow suggesting that phone-hacking must have happened because thwy knew he would be picked up by scooter that day. Leveson suggests someone may have known where the scooter's home was and waited for it to leave to pick Crow up.

            Jay now asking about the Sun story We Hold  Up Bob Crow on His Way to Work

            Crow describing a holiday where his privacy was invaded by the News of the World.

            Guardian Live Blog:
            Crow says he has a case against Thomson Cruises alleging that a member of staff divulged information about him to a private investigator.
            He adds that he has no evidence this is linked to Derek Webb, the private investigator previously hired by the News of the World.

            Ross Hawkins
            Bob Crow at : now examining story by Notw's Neville Thurlbeck about Crow on holiday in Grenada

            Ross Hawkins
            Bob Crow at : Florida based PI was trying to track him down in Grenada; was then photo-ed elsewhere in Caribbean
            Sunday Times tried to get a copy of an AGM agenda from a caretaker - available only to members. Bins were searched at the hotel. Crow mentioned evidence previously given by editor to Leveson Inquiry that they didn't bin-search and says that obviously this was not true as they have CCTV footage of the man doing it.

            Laughter in court when Crow says he knows councils have little money at the moment, but didn't think they'd end up using journalists.....

            The Sun apologised to Bob Crow HERE

            Bob Crow ends his evidence by asserting that his Union has been the subject of harassment by the media for a number of years.

            Peter Howells
            Bob Crow : Settled a libel case with the Sun about having a union car and a union house ; neither of which were true
            Roy Greenslade (statement to be read)
            Roy Greenslade

            Johnathan Grun (Press Association)
            Jonathan Grun

              Witness Statement in Full

              From Guardian Live Blog:
              Jonathan Grun, editor of the Press Association, has taken the stand. Grun was only listed to appear late this morning.

              The Press Association provides a "constant stream" of stories and video to the big news organisations, including the Guardian, the BBC and the Daily Telegraph.
              Its editorial values are summed up as "fast, fair and accurate", Grun says.

              Grun says that PA's focus on accuracy means that its media clients should not have to "make further checks" on the story before it is published.
              All PA stories have an attributable source, he says, which provides protection for the agency and the customer.

              Ross Hawkins
              PA's Grun at : making points PA is impartial, reports claims accurately, is mindful of libel risk
              Guardian Live Blog:
              Grun says that PA often reports live from events. If those events contain critical comments about an individual, PA will "go to the other side" later for a response.

              Jonathan Grun of PA now up at : 'Bond of trust' with customers means they must be able to use reports 'without further checks'

              Hacked off
              Grun talking about pictures of celebrities with their children. Always ask about the circumstances in which the picture was taken

              Ross Hawkins
              PA's Grun at : make corrections quickly to stop mistakes being spread too far online

              Ross Hawkins
              PA's Grun at : "gravest editorial error" PA has made in his time there, confused person in story with s/one of same name

              Grun: error made by established journo, so ashamed that they resigned. Says you gain experience from 1,000 tiny scars of mistakes