20 March 2012

Leveson Inquiry: Module 2 - Press/Police - Day 13

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:
  • From Guardian Live Blog:
Trinity Mirror's QC, Desmond Browne, stands to deny allegations made yesterday that the Sunday Mirror had a surveillance team take a suspect in the "Suffolk Strangler" murder hunt to a hotel in Ipswich for an interview in 2006.
This interview was conducted over two hours in a car park, says Browne.
Tuesday, 20th March:
Link to Day 12 HERE
Witnesses appearing:
Adrian Faber ( Wolverhampton Express and Star )
Tim Gordon ( South Wales Echo )
Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe ( MPS )
Justin Penrose ( Sunday Mirror )
Tom Pettifor ( Daily Mirror )
Chief Inspector Sally Seeley ( Head of Press and PR, West Midlands Police )
Chief Constable Chris Sims ( West Midlands Police )

To be read:
Abby Alford ( South Wales Echo ) Witness Statement in Full

Guardian Live Blog HERE
Telegraph Live Blog HERE

@IndexLeveson :
Faber says advantage of using press office is that there is main point of contact for interviews
Faber adds: downside is that there is limited contact to police on the ground
@nataliepeck :
asks Faber if his paper has a website. He says yes, and an iPad app. Chairman says he was "not asking for an advert".
 Faber: Nothing wrong with a drink, coffee or sandwich at lunchtime but anything more would make me uncomfortable.
Faber: I have been surprised by evidence heard by inquiry, and so have my colleagues.
Faber: Our crime reporter has up to 70 numbers of police officers and press officers.

Guardian Live Blog:
The Express & Star doesn't spend much more than 71p a week on expenses per reporter.
Like its Welsh counterpart, the paper has a very limited hospitality which could include an "occasional" football match and an "occasional drink", says Faber. Asked if it would be a similar outlay to the South Wales Echo, he replies: "It wouldn't be much more."

@IndexLeveson :
Faber: part of having that relationship of trust means that stories that are critical of police are accepted
 Faber: we depend on our contact with our community, if we don't have their trust we can't go back to them
Guardian Live Blog:
Back to Faber. He says readers are "intelligent enough" to make their own mind up about crime statistics, while the police fear issuing figures will alarm local communities.
He says most meetings with police are in the office, but he doesn't see anything wrong with "a drink or a coffee or a sandwich" but if "it starts to get more elaborate than that" the boundaries can become blurred.

@nataliepeck :
Faber: Being invited on raids means our readers can understand and see that justice is being done. 

@danwainwright (W. Express and Star) :
E&S editor Adrian Faber at #Leveson: It's important for a paper that serves a particular community that we present a balance.

E&S editor Adrian Faber at #Leveson: "Anything where a public interest element could come about is tested to the nth degree."

@nataliepeck :
Faber: Danger that journalists and officers will start to look over their shoulder, if all meetings recorded.Adds element of doubt.
Faber: We have professional people on both sides. Would recording conversations make officers more open and accessible?
Faber: The past few years have been extremely painful for regional newspapers - falling revenues and online influence.
Faber: Lucky to have around 100 journalists so can cover the courts, council meetings, health authority meetings in our boroughs.
@rosshawkins :
Once again, #leveson asks about his idea of recording fact of each press/police meeting. Journo says it's a bad idea. Debate follows.
@IndexLeveson :
Faber & #Leveson debating recording press-police contact. Faber says codification would lead to extra dimension that isn't necessary locally
Faber: we have never hacked anyone's phone, paid public officials or asked for money for anything

Guardian Live Blog:
Faber is now joining a long list of editors and reporters who have appeared before the inquiry to voice concern over proposals forcing officers to record all meetings with journalists.
He says it would lead to officers "slightly looking over your shoulder and saying should I be saying this?".
There now follows a lengthy exchange with Leveson on this point. Faber says he worries about such a "codification" but Leveson suggests everyone has to be "sensible" about it – noting a meeting of an officer on a street may not, for example, be worth recording.

Tim Gordon   Witness Statement in Full

Guardian Live Blog HERE
Telegraph Live Blog HERE

@nataliepeck :
Gordon: Gwent police head of press has told reporters guidelines tightening up due to #Leveson and the Filkin report.

@rosshawkins :
Tim Gordon of SW Echo says Gwent police guidelines say cops must ask press officer before talking to press, tightening to #leveson & Filkin

Guardian Live Blog:
Gordon says he has issues with getting information from official channels over weekends in particular, when the press office is not open.
The duty inspector quite often says "nothing is happening" even when the paper has had a member of the public phone in with information and then on the Monday or Tuesday, a press release will be issued to the contrary.

The average reporter on the South Wales Echo “spends 71 pence a week on taking someone out”, the editor Tim Gordon tells
That 71p on average weekly expense claim at the South Wales Echo has to be signed off by senior editor under Trinity Mirror rules

@nataliepeck :
 Gordon: Important to me that our journalists are totally professional - honest and forthright - when dealing with police.
Gordon: My fear with written record is it already suggests there is something wrong with talking to journalists.
Gordon says he is surprised by some of the things that have come out of the inquiry.
Gordon: Really important to us that information flow is fast and comes to us without any access issues.
@IndexLeveson :
Gordon: I am concerned that Gwent police have announced their officers can't talk to the media unless they go through press office
Gordon says his fear is that, with a written record (of contact), it already suggests something is wrong with talking to journos
Gordon: there is a huge difference between regional press and what appears to be happening in some nationals
Gordon: our readers won't allow us to get away with anything that is not right

Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe  Witness Statement in Full

Guardian Live Blog HERE
Telegraph Live Blog HERE

@nataliepeck :
HH: I didn't see close relationships between journalists + officers 2001-4 (when AC). Frequency and extent has been a suprise.
HH: Team was fractured when I came in in September. Public confidence in the Met has been damaged.
HH: I'd rather be criticised for setting the bar too high than too low when it comes to press/police relationships.

@IndexLeveson :
Hogan-Howe says in Met there were concerns that social relationship between some officers and press was overly close
Hogan-Howe: public confidence in Met hadbeen damaged.
Hogan-Howe: I've not understood yet which aspect of our relationship is causing the most damage
Hogan-Howe: dialogue with public important, public needs to be informed on what police service is doing on their behalf

Guardian Live Blog:
Hogan-Howe says he has continued meetings with the Crime Reporters' Association, but there have been concerns over how the relationship will work.
He says the the lunches with senior police officers after monthly CRA briefings no longer take place.
@nataliepeck :
HH: In the past leaked stories have been about individuals, human interest stories, rather than public interest stories.
HH: There is a great benefit in being challenged by journalists who have nothing to gain from destroying the [policy] idea.
HH: Sustained contact can damage integrity or people's perception of it.
HH: Not sure I've seen any evidence that relationships were started with intention of preventing further investigation of hacking. 

Guardian Live Blog:
Journalists have described the relationship with the Met as more "austere", says Hogan-Howe, but he stresses it is still holding press conferences and encouraging local officers to talk to the press.
"I would genuinely like to understand why they say that ... I have not yet understood which aspect of our relationship is causing the damage," he adds.
Hogan-Howe says that over the past few years, press interest has often focused too much on individuals within the Met rather than public interest issues.
"Adult conversations" with reporters who want to challenge police policy or operations are to be welcomed, he adds. "There is a great benefit in being challenged by journalists."
 Sustained contact with journalists over drinks can damage a police officer's integrity, but Hogan-Howe is not opposed to the odd drink.
A drink, so what? for me it's the pattern … one drink, one coffee, one meal, I'm not sure if that's going to damage integrity but I think sustained contact can.

Hogan-Howe: in my experience press has been vital in making sure the police is doing its job
Hogan-Howe cites Rhys Jones murder in Liverpool (2007). Press interest challenging but led to more witnesses coming forward
Hogan-Howe clarifies there should be no background briefing on suspects
Hogan-Howe: caveat is that if suspect is believed to be dangerous, we put into public domain who we are looking for. Difficult test
Hogan-Howe says he didn't feel patronised by report, but adds cannot speak for the journos who did

Guardian Live Blog:
Hogan-Howe says a perception of a bias towards News International puts the Met in a difficult position, particularly the suggestion that a relationship may have "influenced in some way" the decision not to continue the phone-hacking investigation.
The perception might be "rebuttable" but it "leaves a police officer in a difficult position" if they have to explain that relationship "before they explain why they did or didn't do something". People can "accept human error", Hogan Howe adds.

@nataliepeck :
HH: Provided press reassured investigations are well-led and well-managed they will hold off on problems.
HH: About developing a pattern of press/police relationship and having an account so we can monitor them.
HH: Outcome of this inquiry will help us to decide whether we've set the bar in the wrong place, not intended to be bureaucratic.
HH: I have accepted the findings of Filkin report. 
@rosshawkins :
hears everyone on management board of Met are now required to record all contact with media
Hogan-Howe witness statement says he will not tolerate secret conversations between press and police
Head of Met says meetings with press should no longer be enhanced by hospitality & alcohol 

@GuySmithReports :
Hogan-Howe: inspectors and above are allowed to talk to media without need for permission
Hogan-Howe: media training for officers - should not comment on criminal investigation if not involved
Hogan-Howe: doesn't think Filkin report about police/press relationship was patronising to journos eg. flirting with officers
Guardian Live Blog:
Hogan-Howe says proposals to force officers to record meetings with journalists are part of an effort to increase transparency, not to close down communications with the press.
He adds that it would not stop whistleblowing; not involve any bureaucratic form filling or transcripts of conversations, but would aid police examine any potential for bias if there were more meetings with one newspaper group than another.
"I'm not too disappointed that tittle tattle has stopped," he says.
Hogan-Howe says he broadly accepts Elizabeth Filkin's report but he doesn't see why some journalists have found her findings, particularly those about "flirting" or drinking with reporters, patronising or condescending.
"I didn't take it that way and encouraged people to think in a different way about something that had become a problem," he adds.
Hogan-Howe says when he was parachuted in to take charge of the Met last July, he arrived with three values: "humility; integrity and transparency". 
@nataliepeck :
HH: As soon as alcohol is involved then the risk is perception will be that judgment may be clouded.
HH: The more responsibilities comes with the job, the more you have to be sensitive to how people see your relationships. 

@rosshawkins :
Hogan-Howe at describes editor ignoring him at social gathering afraid that he was no longer allowed to speak to him
Met boss Hogan-Howe reveals he gets sent unsolicited books. Publishers, agents (@jonnygeller) who's sending cops books out of blue?

Guardian Live Blog:
On to the "F word": football. Jay asks if match invites are permissible under the Met's hospitality rules.
Hogan-Howe says the Met tries to encourage people to be as open as possible, but says police should not accept gifts or other services that would influence them or compromise judgment.
If they are invited to an event when they are off duty and that offer is linked to someone, for example, who is bidding for a contract, that would be off limits.
Earlier this year the inquiry, the ex-head of counter-terrorism, John Yates, denied being influenced by NoW executive editor Neil Wallis, with whom he had meals and watched football.

@nataliepeck :
HH: Whether celebrities or members of the public, people should expect us to maintain their privacy.
HH: If the press need detail or facts, press office in a good position to help. Officers should comment on operations, etc.

Guardian Live Blog:
Hogan-Howe says it would be "barmy" to investigate every leak from the Met, but the serious ones should always be investigated.
Jay suggests that no amount of recording of contacts with the press would stop the type of serious leaks that Hogan-Howe is referring to.
Celebrities have as much right to privacy as members of the community, says Hogan Howe.
I feel strongly that the police are expected to keep secrets …
Whether people be famous, or a member of public, they expect us to maintain that privacy.
I don't care whether you are famous or a member of community, you have the same expectations of privacy … we the police certainly should not be promoting to the press a victim of crime for the only reason they are famous.

@GuySmithReports :
Hogan-Howe: turnover of 5,000 officers and staff a year at #metpolice out of 53,000
Hogan-Howe: press officers deal with facts and policy. If police/criminal operation, the officers should directly speak to media
Hogan-Howe: senior police officers should explain about criminal operation rather than press officer 
Hogan-Howe: all boroughs and specialist police depts are being encouraged to use twitter

@rosshawkins :
In past Met staff could only have access to net if they had good reason to do it, rule now changed - Hogan-Howe at #leveson

Guardian Live Blog:
Hogan-Howe is asked about leaks from the Police National Computer and Operation Motorman, which exposed the trade of private confidential data including criminal records.
He says it is "unfortunate" that no one was prosecuted, but the police have investigated internal leaks.
I think that's unfortunate, the police service can show it's taken these allegations seriously. It has been explained that 200 people [were involved potentially] there has been an internal inquiry...
It is hard to imagine that so many people in the police are leaking this information; they must be leaking it to someone; not sure what proportion of their leaks are related to domestic issues, or links to payment for some inappropriate intention.
@nataliepeck :
HH: Filkin report, HMIC report and inquiry all important for moving forward.
HH: I do want a good, adult, open relationship with the press.

Justin Penrose  Witness Statement in Full

Guardian Live Blog HERE
Telegraph Live Blog HERE

@rosshawkins :
Penrose of Sunday Mirror says officers are being stopped from publicising successful ops
Penrose lunch with Met's head of press Fedorcio, it was made clear he wdn't get stories from Fedorcio or press bureau
@nataliepeck :
Penrose: Had conversations with some officers who have been wanting to put info out but have been prevented by the press bureau.
Barr asks how Penrose obtained information on Siraj Ali (of 21/7 attempted attacks). Given info by source and shared with police.
Penrose had a lunch with AC Yates, and separate lunch with group including Andy Hayman. 
Penrose: Not aware of senior officers briefing against each other.

Guardian Live Blog:
Penrose says there is a "state of paralysis" in police-press relations; officers are less forthcoming and "more unwilling to talk to the press".
 Penrose says the relationship between the police and the press can lead to criminals being apprehended.
He says an article last November led to 21/7 terrorist Siraj Ali being put back behind bars after the Sunday Mirror handed video footage of him smoking drugs while in a bail hostel, in breach of his licence conditions.

@IndexLeveson :
Penrose re reason behind a lunch with Dick Fedorcio: we hadn't had a chance beyond press briefings to get to know each other.
Penrose says Ipswich story was unique as first suspect (who was later cleared) declared himself as a suspect 

Guardian Live Blog:
Barr begins a lunch-by-lunch analysis of Penrose's relationship with senior police officers.
Two lunches are recoded with John Yates and Andy Hayman, the former assistant commissioners.
Penrose says those lunches were at a time of "heightened fear of terror" and were "largely to give context and overview" of the situation.
He cannot remember the specific content of either lunch but says there was nothing extraordinary revealed.
Dick Fedorcio, the Met's director of public affairs, met him for lunch once at Shepherds. Again, Penrose says he doesn't believe he received any signficant information and the lunch was more about relationship building.
Yates gave Penrose his mobile phone number.
Barr asks if that was unusual, to which Penrose replies: "Wouldn't have thought so."

@rosshawkins :
Sunday Mirror reporter Penrose : there's a real perception police are a leaky sieve, in my experience that's not the case
 Penrose of S Mirror on claims yday paper used counter-surveillance driving to iv murder suspect : "I almost laughed out loud"
Justin Penrose - crime corr of Sunday Mirror : We are being treated almost like criminals to a certain extent
Barrister for Mirror stands to deny claim Sunday Mirror had surveillance team in Ipswich case; #leveson cuts him short
@nataliepeck :
Barr asks Penrose about Dave Harrison's evidence on Sunday Mirror interviewing Ispwich murder suspect. 
Penrose: Journalist traced him and asked if he wanted to speak to us. Was then interviewed. No one involved was PI or ex-sp forces.
Penrose: Story unique as Stevens (first Ipswich suspect, later cleared) is declaring himself as a suspect.
Penrose: I would encourage media training of officers. Variation of approach.
Browne QC, representing Trinity Mirror, addresses Harrison evidence "unsourced hearsay". #Leveson says he does not want to go into it now.

Guardian Live Blog HERE
Telegraph Live Blog HERE

@IndexLeveson :
Pettifor says current state of press-police relations in state of some flux
Pettifor: off the record is a vague term I don't really like using. I see it as non-attributable conversation
Pettifor says he has non-attributable conversations with officers maybe three times a week
Pettifor: recording meetings with press is not going to alleviate problem of corruption

@nataliepeck : 
Pettifor: Informal contact is more difficult. More of a reticence amongst officers not to speak to me if not through DPA.
Pettifor: Have non-attributable conversations with officers maybe three times a week.

Guardian Live Blog:
Pettifor says official briefings and monthly meetings with the commissioner remain, but informal contact with officers "is more difficult now".
He adds that he speaks to Scotland Yard "twice a day on average" and to senior investigating officers "twice to five times a week".
Scotland Yard's press office is not proactive and will phone "very rarely" with a story, he says.
Pettifor currently has the mobile phone numbers of 12 officers, mainly above inspector level but one is for a detective constable.
"If the official information parameter broadens so much that we have all this information out there, then it will very much reduce the need for these unofficial channels of communication," says Pettifor.
He has now finished giving his evidence.

@nataliepeck :
Tom Pettifor has finished giving evidence. #Leveson addresses Browne QC over his concerns.
Browne:Really no good if concerned with fairness for if response tucked away in written submission. #Leveson: Rather like correction by PCC.

Chief Inspector Sally Seeley  Witness Statement in Full

Guardian Live Blog HERE
Telegraph Live Blog HERE

@rosshawkins :
Chris Sims Chief Constable of West Midlands Police giving evidence, beside chief press officer Chief Inspector Sally Seeley

Chief Constable Chris Sims   Witness Statement in Full

Guardian Live Blog HERE
Telegraph Live Blog HERE

Back at #Leveson with CI Sally Seeley, head of press and PR, and Chief Constable Chris Sims of West Midlands Police. @nataliepeck - Sims: Very different context in the Met to the way we work outside [worked for Met for 15 years previously].
Frequency with which W Mids chief constable has accepted media hospitality : "never" - @rosshawkins

Guardian Live Blog:
Chief Inspector Chris Seeley, who acts up as head of press and PR at the West Midlands police, takes the stand alongside her boss Chris Sims, chief constable at the force.
West Midlands police is the second biggest force in the country with 13,000 staff, 30 of whom work in the communications department.
Sims says he has never enjoyed the hospitality of local editors.
Sims worked at the Met for 15 years in the Met and says he says he has "certainly been surprised" to learn of the police-press relations exposed by the Leveson inquiry.
"I genuinely think they don't happen beyond that particular era and location," he adds.

@nataliepeck :
Sims: Makes sense to focus effort on press office as can't have all staff chasing media contacts.
Sims: Press office monitors police officers using social media.
Sims: We shouldn't equate intergrity with recording processes. We do a lot of work on values with officers.
Sims: Aware of leaks after officer appeared "as silhouette" on local televsion.
Sims: Healthy tension between journalists and police. Acts out in the interest of the public.
Seeley: Is a pressure on us to release information but we have duty to victims that info accurate and correct.
Seeley: I'm only police officer in team. 5 trained in journalism - 2 worked in local print and 2 local media.

West Midlands police record all contact with media. “Controlled empowerment” is how Sims describes its media policy - @lisaocarroll - 
Sims: we do a lot of work with police officers about "values", people accept instinctively what's acceptable and what isn't - @ndexLeveson - Sims re hospitality: more important than nature of gift is where it has arrived from and what expectations come with it