6 March 2012

Leveson Inquiry: Hearings - Module 2 - Press/Police - Day 6

Lord Justice Leveson
   "The focus of the Inquiry is ‘the culture, practices and ethics of the press’ in the context of the latter’s relationship with the public, the police and politicians. All of these matters overlap, and my goal must be to consider what lessons, if any, may be learned from past events and what recommendations, if any, should be made for the future, in particular as regards press regulation, governance and other systems of oversight."

Module 2
"The relationship between the press and the police and the extent to which that has operated in the public interest."

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 today's articles, blogs, comment and information relevant to the Leveson Inquiry:
    Tuesday, 6th March
     Link to Hearing Day 5 HERE

    Today's Witnesses:
    Lord Condon ( Former MPS )
    Chief Constable Lynne Owens ( Surrey Police and former MPS )
    Lord Stevens ( Former MPS )

    Telegraph Live Blog HERE
    Guardian Live Blog HERE

    From Guardian Live Blog:
    Patry Hoskins asks Condon about his experience of countering police corruption.When he was appointed as head of the Met in 1993, he was briefed on a number of corrupt officers.
    There was a hope and expectation that he would find ways of responding to this challenge.
    Condon says in any big force "there will always be a small number of police officers who can sadly be drawn into criminal matters".
    Police corruption linked to the media was "not part of the briefing and at the time was not my concern," he says.
    He says the motivation for corruption was "primarily financial gain".

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Condon: Early 1998 raided homes of 30 serving and retired police officers, starting some major inquiries into criminal matters.
    Condon: Brought together into a special order, rebriefing every officer in the force, so no one in doubt about how serious we were.

    Condon on corruption inquiries: this was a major re-assertion of what the Met stood for and would stand for going forward

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Condon says he was delighted to get John Stevens in has his deputy in 1998 as he was able to carry through his policy when he took over in 2000.
    One of the key planks of the strategy was detection of corruption. One of the issues identified was to research cultural issues that might act as a barrier to staff whistleblowing.

    Condon: in any organisation it's difficult to enforce whistleblowing. I was seeking to legitimise & demand it was right thing to do

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Condon: I honestly believed this was one of the most demanding and appropriate sets of policies for dealing with malpractice.
    Condon's statement contrasts his time as chief constable of Kent force with time at MPS. Commissioner expected to be public figure.
    Condon: As commissioner "my professional relationship with the media...at times would completely dominate [my life]".
    Condon: The commissioner of the day is the public face of policing for their country, whether he or she likes it or not.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Stevens says his professional relationship with the media became "a significant part of my life and at times would completely dominate it".
    He had to deal with IRA terrorism in his time as well as the royal family and the policing of London, in itself a huge job.
    "There would be insatiable demand for the commissioner of the day to be satying things about it, to be saying things to the public," he adds.
    Condon says his dealings with the media were completely different from anything he had encountered before.
    However, he tells Patry Hoskins, this did not detract from his ability to fight crime.
    "Rightly or wrongly, the commissioner is seen as the voice of the police force," he adds.

    Ross Hawkins:
    Condon at #leveson : in 93 small no. of eds & leader writers dominated media agenda around policing, now transformed by net, social media
    Condon at #leveson : would save up warrants then make 2-300 arrests of burglars simultaneously to make an impact
    Condon at #leveson : got burglary to 18 year low, but because it was good news got very little coverage

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Condon says the Met did not have a website until 1996 or 1997.
    The internet and social media have given the police more opportunities to communicate directly to the public, but in his era a high level of contact with the media was necessary.
    Condon gives as an example as Operation Bumblebee, the campaign to reduce domestic burglary.
    He says the Met staged events that "captured the imagination and transferred fear from the public to the burglars", such as making 200-300 arrests on one day. The media would be told about this and there would be dramatic footage of the raids.
    Condon would front such events through personal briefings and interviews.

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Condon: Bumblebee was a major campaign which would have featured in discussions with editors.
    Condon: Members of media invited to attend some raids and arrests, I felt it was in the public interest if done correctly.
    Condon: Controlled images published by controlling press access. Only occasional and tightly controlled.

    Met Police Site for 'Operation Bumblebee'
    Met Shows Off Bumblebee Success - Independent - 1994

    Ross Hawkins:
    Condon at #leveson : Crime Reporters Association didn't seem as exclusive as the Westminster lobby
    Condon at #leveson : would have been negligent not to brief the media on big issues

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Condon: I tried to be scrupulously fair so no accusation of preferred status of journalists or editors.
    Condon: Invited print and broadcast eds to NSY meetings and went to their offices. Needed to push my agenda and inform public.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Condon is asked about how he built relationships with journalists. He says it had been a longstanding arrangement that the commisisoner of the day met with crime reporters. In his time, this practice "petered out" and meetings with the Crime Reporters' Association were no longer monthly events.

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Condon: Policing intensely political but my view commissioner must be without any favourites in the media.
    Condon: Max Hastings always moaned about quality of food + drink at NSY, weakened a couple of times +had lunch at one of his clubs.
    Condon: Had lunch or dinner with Stuart Higgins (Sun ed) on a small no of occasions.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Condon says he invited all print, TV and radio editors to brief them on his planned reforms. He says he aimed to brief each of the editors once a year. He held about eight to 12 meetings a year with editors.
    "No editor seems to have had more than one [meeting] a year," says Condon.
    This is in contrast to yesterday's evidence when the inquiry heard how the last commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, met former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis several times a year.
     Condon says his preference was that meetings were held at Scotland Yard or at the journalists' newspaper. Only on "a small handful of occasions" were they in a restaurant.
     Telegraph Live Blog:
    10.49 Briefing reporters about a terrorist threat to London, Lord Condon tells the inquiry he told the press it was "their public duty" to report events responsibly. He says:
    If you get leaks from any source, you have a public duty around this. Any frivolous reporting of these issues will not be in the public interest. We developed protocols for how they could contact the counter-terrorist unit.

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Condon: When commissioner you make life difficult for yourself if professional relationships cross into friendships.
    Condon: Common sense the hospitality can be ethical but can lead to inappropriate closeness and criminality.
    Condon introduced code of practice for acceptance of gifts and hospitality in 1997.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Condon says after the 1995 Nolan committee investigating cash for questions, the Met set up new guidelines for hospitality at the Met covering gifts, payment for interviews, hospitality and contacts.It also set up hospitality registers for the first time.
    Condon says he launched what he calls the "blush test" for his officers:
    Every meeting with the press that involves hospitality should be able to pass what some people have described as the blush test: would you be happy for a local politician, a neighbour, a member of your family [to be at the meeting] – does this meeting feel right?

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Condon: Declined offers to be columnist as had spent career trying to major on integrity. Would have taken me out of comfort zone.
    Condon: Had offers from Telegraph Group and Sunday people. Most book deals linked to serialisation in press so avoided.

    Martin Hickman:
    Condon declined "lucrative" offers to write a book or newspaper column after he left Met. Not all commissioners behaved like that.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Condon says he had some very "seductive offers" either from publishers or agents and all of those would have had serialisation rights element, but these were never explored as he didn't take up any of the offers.
    He says he was offered a column with the Telegraph group, and had a limited approach from the People, which offered to "ghost" a column for him.
    Condon adds he doesn't remember any specific approaches from the Murdoch stable.
    Leaks to Media:
    Condon is asked about police leaks to the media.He says in a force of 45,000, occasionally there may be leaks for different motivations and probably occasionally for "financial reasons".

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Condon refers to Jan 1998 article by Kelvin MacKenzie on him trying to gag the police in relation to media.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Condon says he was attacked in a 1998 article by former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who was then working for TalkSport. He says he remembers at the time wondering what had caused MacKenzie to write the article, but thinks it must have been his stance on leaks.

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Condon: It is about culture of the organisation, strong leadership and clear guidance. Will be massively enhanced by this inquiry.

    Asked by LJ Leveson about his feelings on things he has heard re Police behaviour and read at the Inquiry:

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Condon: I have been very disappointed and concerned by some of the issues that have emerged. If still in service would be angry. 
    Condon: History of police malpractice has been cyclical. It's about human weakness and opportunity and those two are omnipresent. 

    Guy Smith:
    Lord Condon says he is v disappointed about what heard re hospitality and if still commssioner would be v angry 

    Condon says challenge more difficult today. Officers tweeting and blogging with and without press
    Condon: service at a point where it has to re-calibrate how it delivers info to public via media and social media.


    Pat Oddy:
    Condon came across as the first MPS senior officer to actually grasp the 'perception' argument in relation to dealings with media
    Guardian Live Blog:
    Leveson asks Condon how he would achieve long-lasting change.
    Condon says that before Christmas he spent some time with HMIC chief Sir Dennis O'Connor to discuss this very matter. He said he will respond to Leveson's question at length later.
    He says the challenge is "if you have police officers, tweeting, blogging, the service is at the point where it needs to totally recalibrate how it communicates directly to the public."
    The service has to "get its act together nationally" on this issue, he adds.

    Chief Constable Lynne Owens Witness Statement in Full

    Telegraph Live Blog HERE
    Guardian Live Blog HERE

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Owens: I prefer to keep my personal and professional life separate. Don't want to take risk with press in social setting.
    Owens: You should answer questions honestly and frankly and expect to be reported, unless off the record.

    Owens says she has not received media training in London but has received it at other points throughout career

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Owens says she preferred not to meet journalists for a drink because there would be an expectation that she should say something that she otherwise would not.She declined to give her mobile number out to journalists.

    Ross Hawkins:
    Owens at #leveson : engaged with media but didn't do it over lunch, journo did find it slightly strange (to meet in office)

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Owens: Face to face meetings with journalists always at NSY, never their offices.
    Jay: Some would say this is an extremely austere approach. Owens: I thought it was entirely appropriate approach.
    Owens: Have had some off the record conversations, notably around royal wedding, but generally in CRA environment
    Owens: The higher you are in an organisation, the more open to scrutiny and accountability you should be.


    Hacking Inquiry:
    Owens: Details of investigation into crime squad leaked to media. Never clear whether came from officers, IPCC or MPS.

    Ross Hawkins:
    Owens at #leveson: at Surrey Police all pre arranged meetings with journos are logged on a database
    #leveson to Jay (with gentle reassurance) "I'm not criticising you...."

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Owens: I contributed to the Filkin report personally. Challenge is in implementation.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Owens says all meetings are logged onto a database, this includes all on-the-record and off-the-record contacts.One of the matters under review is that perhaps too many things are being recorded, leading to potential omissions.
     One of the challenges the police face is it is quite difficult to get measured and balanced reports in the media because the sensational and exciting developments are the ones that hit the headlines, says Owens.

    Telegraph Live Blog HERE
    Guardian Live Blog HERE

    ACPO @PoliceChiefs :
    Former Met #Police Commissioner and leader of the Independent #Police Commission Lord Stevens up before #Leveson now

    Guardian Live Blog:
    As deputy commissioner at the Met from 1998, Stevens oversaw a major anti-corruption initiative.
    The Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence was published in 1999 and found the police force was institutionally racist.
    Jay asks how that affected his relationship with the media.
    Stevens says it had a "massive effect" because ordinary officers felt they were all being painted as racist.

    Index Leveson:
    Stevens: dealing with the media only 1 part of the strategy

    Ross Hawkins:
    Stevens at #leveson on situation in 2000 : no one wanted to join the Met because they didn't think it was an org worth joining

    Stevens at #leveson : wanted to allow officers on street and support staff to tell their stories in a far more positive way

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Stevens says the Met was dealing with crisis management, but dealing with the media was only one part of the strategy.
    "The media were a major part of it, but it was a matter of getting on the front foot … and getting the anti-corruption practices that we developed at that time.
     Stevens says his new policy was not to banish bad news stories – the nature of policing means there are always bad news stories – but he wanted to allow "officers on the street to tell their stories far more in a positive fashion".
    "I know good news doesn't sell newspapers or the media, but we were going to try and do some of that," he tells the inquiry.
     Stevens says he wanted to engineer a culture change, which he says were successful.
    Complaints against the police had dropped 50%; crime was coming down; and the Met had managed to divert IRA terrorist attacks.

     Ross Hawkins:
     Jay says independent review of policing set up by Labour has all party support, Stevens is chair

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Stevens is currently the chair of Labour's "independent review" into the future of policing, which has all-party support. He says he hopes it will take into account the Leveson inquiry's findings and report next year.

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Stevens: I've always had a bee in my bonnet about media training being necessary.
    Stevens: I have a problem with off-the-record briefing, especially if police officers are giving their opinion.

    Guardian Live Blog:
     The Met's relationship with the media was built on mistrust before he arrived as deputy commissioner in 1998, says Stevens.
    He adds that the reason people didn't want to deal with the media was because they thought it would be counterproductive and they would be criticised.
    Stevens drew up a policy to reinforce confidence in the force and part of this involved a strategy in relation to the media covering three areas: proactive; reactive; and media training.He says it required officers to be "open and honest" and "never to tell lies to the press".
    Stevens explains what he means by "off the record", and says it depended on the context. He says if a police officer is offering comment it is "very dangerous territory".
    He says it is in the public interest for the police to give off-the-record briefings to editors, for example, on anti-terrorism.
    Stevens adds he is cynical about the phrase "police sources" as it could cover an officer who is not involved in the story or someone who may not even be in the police force.

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Stevens: I've never been let down too much by people on the front line, they tell the story far better than chief officers.
     Stevens: Worked hard to foster good relations with media. I had lunches with eds of all the national newspapers.
    Stevens: Regarded ES as local newspaper for London, saw ed Max Hastings once a quarter. 

    Ross Hawkins:
    Stevens at #leveson : if any (staff) do anything with their own agenda and puts that in front of Met's agenda that has to be questioned

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Stevens says he was keen to take media on police operations because it showed how the Met was tackling crime.
    However, like Condon, he says it shouldn't interfere with an individual's right to a fair trial.


    Hacking Inquiry:
    Jay says Stevens hospitality register is not available. Stevens says all details are in his diary which inquiry has.
    Jay: Looking at diary broadly, not possible to say you're favouring one newspaper group. Stevens: Absolutely determined not to.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Stevens said he had lunches with the editors of all papers but Dick Fedorcio, the director of public affairs, would always attend.
    He had more frequent – quarterly – meetings with Evening Standard editors Sir Max Hastings and Veronica Wadley because he considered it the "local newspaper for London".

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Stevens: Met with Wallis twice with my wife and his, working on charity I was involved with in 2000. Paid for one dinner each.
    Stevens: Meeting with Rebekah Wade and Coulson in 2000. RW conversations always on Sarah's Law.
    Stevens: 2000 lunch with Wallis and Lord Alli in regard to latter becoming an advisor.
    Stevens: Three dinners with Wade and Ross Kemp regarding my charity. Kemp agreed to front event for it.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    On 16 October 2000, Stevens had lunch with Rebekah Wade, editor of the News of the World, with Andy Coulson in a hotel in W1 – he thinks that was the Sanderson Hotel.
    "I always saw Rebekah Wade with the DPA," he says. "She was pursuing Sarah's Law and at that stage she had threats to her … so the conversations were Sarah's Law and [issues] pursuant to that."
    12.11pm: Condon's diary details a dinner with Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the News of the World, at the Birdcage, a restaurant in London W1, in 2000.
    Stevens says he met Wallis twice with their wives in relation to a charity.

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Stevens: Relationship with Neil Wallis was totally professional, as it was with all people involved in the press.
    Stevens: I would rather not comment on it [criticising people who had followed him up in the job].
    Stevens: I'd like to have think I'd been ruthless in pursuing issues with the Guardian.
    Stevens: I'd have gone on and done it. That's what police officers are paid to do, to enforce the law.

    Guardian live Blog:
    Stevens says he finds it hard to criticise his successors, but says he thinks he would have been "ruthless" on phone hacking.
    I would like to have thought the issues that the Guardian raised I would have picked up as commissioner. I think I would have been quite ruthless in pursuing it.

    Guy Smith
    Lord Stevens: sued press twice, complained to IPCC twice

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Stevens says he had to sue the press twice.
    Once was when he complained to the PCC after it was reported he believed in legalising cannabis and the second time was inaccurate reporting on his level of pay.
     Stevens agrees with Condon's evidence that the press should not be "pariahs".
    To use Lord Condon's pharase they weren't pariahs; they were highly professional people who I respected immensely.
    Stevens says he found it difficult to get some stories into the papers. For example, Scotland Yard held awards to commend people on their bravery every six weeks to two months, and it was "incredibly difficult" to get coverage.

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Stevens: Corrections and apologies should be put on exactly the same page and receive same attention.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Jay quotes the Met's 2003 gifts and hospitality policy. It says the perception of suspicion is as important as the facts.
    It says light working lunches in the region of £10 are acceptable, but £150 dinners are not, except in exceptional circumstances.
    Jay says private dinners raise a difficult issue.
    'Revolving Door':
    Jay moves on to the "revolving door" between police and the press following retirement.
    Stevens wrote a number of articles for the News of the World, arranged by his book publisher through managing editor Stuart Kuttner. This was part of the package negotiated around his autobiography Not for the Faint Hearted.
    He reveals he lost all the proceeds from his autobiography after the Northern Rock bank collapsed.
    Stevens says he was paid £5,000 for each News of the World article, which was a vast amount as far as he was concerned, but he "was told this was the going rate". Wallis edited the articles.
    He was contracted to write seven articles a year, but quit after two because of the conviction of NoW royal editor Clive Goodman and investigator Glenn Mulcaire for phone hacking in 2007.
    Stevens didn't give his reasons but "from that night onwards" he never saw Wallis again.
    "I'd never have written the articles had I known what I know now," he says.

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Stevens: Autobiography was serialised in NoW and Times. Writing no more than 7 articles in a year.
    Stevens: Terminated contract with NoW in 2007 following convictions of Goodman and Mulcaire.
    Stevens: I heard other info about unethical behaviour at NoW in 2007.

    Ross Hawkins:
    Stevens at #leveson : I've heard of people absolutely terrified of speaking to press, I don't think that's healthy
     Stevens at #leveson : Rebekah Wade was concerned about Sarah's law, Dacre pushed on Stephen Lawrence, respected them for it
    Stevens at #leveson : Dacre had lunch with some of his premier journos there, was held to task

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Stevens: Sometimes there has to be a relationship between the police and the media for the right reason.
    Stevens: Could respect eds for interest in high moral issues: RW with Sarah's Law and Dacre with Stephen Lawrence

    Guy Smith:
    Lord Stevens: considerable experience with problem of leaks to media from my experiences in Northern Ireland
    Lord Stevens: Inadvertent or deliberate leaking could also severely prejudice the investigations
    Lord Stevens: accuses ex home secretary David Blunkett of leaking behind his back.
    Lord Stevens: considerable tension between us (Blunkett), often caused by newspaper reporting 

    Ross Hawkins:
    David Blunkett s/ment re Stevens at #leveson : "familiar with JS recollections" "My briefing was not behind his back but to the public"
    Blunkett notes Stevens said similar when his book came out, and that he has invited Blunkett to give evidence to his commission

    Ross Hawkins:
    Stevesns at #leveson : totally inappropriate and totally corrupt (if journos tipped off to arrest) staff would have done it for money

    Guardian Live Blog:
    Stevens says he was aware of allegations of corruption in relation to the press.
    "Every now and then" he heard stories that people either still employed or retired were being paid for stories or for tipping people off about where raids were taking place.
     Stevens says he had a system called "ethical testing" and that strategy – which wasn't far from being an "agent provocateur" – did not turn up "any real issue on my watch".
    Lunch Break

    Telegraph Live Blog:
    14.04 The inquiry has re-started for the afternoon session and Robert Jay QC is asking Lord Stevens about the information he had received about "unethical behaviour" at the News of the World.
    Guardian Live Blog:
     The inquiry has resumed and Jay is revisits Stevens's remarks about "unethical behaviour" that led him to sever his ties with the News of the World, where he was contracted to write a column.
    He says this revolved around an article concerning Max Mosley.
    Jay points out that the infamous article about Mosley appeared in April 2008, but Stevens had terminated his contract in October 2007.
    Stevens is pressed on what he means by "unethical behaviour". "General behaviour," he says.

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Stevens: Info referred to earlier around general issues at NoW. Told about Mosley articles by others, in 2008.
    Stevens on leaving NoW: The whole thing didn't seem right to me and I had to get out. (Coulson etc)
    Stevens: Need to stress MPA. Every aspect of the Met put up for debate and accountable.
    Jay: Were you aware of NoW using PI agency Southern Investigations? Stevens: No.
    Index Leveson:
    Stevens says he was not aware of NoW using PI agency Southern Investigations

    Hacking Inquiry:
    Stevens: Some stories being sold had very little credibility and truth. Wasn't aware they were employed by NoW.

    Guardian Live Blog:
    They are now talking about private investigator Southern Investigations.Stevens says he was never aware that News of the World used them.
    In his book his says that at the end of the 1990s he kept coming up in the police.
    The agency was set up by murdered private eye Daniel Morgan.
     Stevens says he became aware that a number of newspapers were receiving information from an unidentified police officer.
    This individual and those surrounding him were selling stories to whoever would buy them. Some of it was "salacious gossip".
    Stevens is asked about the investigation into the murder of Daniel Morgan and if he was aware the News of the World put detective Dave Cook and his wife Jacqui Hames, under surveillance.Stevens says: "No."
    Jay asks id Stevens is being "diffident" about his reasons for leaving the News of the World because he was picking up rumours about phone hacking. Stevens says no, this wasn't the reason for ending his column at the News of the World.
    [It was the] convictions of Goodman and Mulcaire, my thoughts about that and the thoughts about the admission of that and the resignation of Andy Coulson....
    The whole thing just didn't seem right to me and I had to get out.