29 May 2012

Leveson Inquiry - Module 3 - Day 14 - T. May and M. Gove

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

Previous Hearing (Tony Blair)  HERE
Links to latest articles, comment and information relevant to the Leveson Inquiry:
CPS not prosecuting Guardian's Amelia Hill or MPS officer. Sensible decision

Guardian Live Blog HERE

@BBCPeter Hunt: Leveson: Theresa May is in court with 7 aides. Oh and 2 bodyguards. Were they searched on way in?
Theresa May, Home Secretary, swears in..
Mr Jay askes about allocation of Police resources and the responsibilities of the Home Secretary..
Theresa May explaining her precise responsibilities with regard to the Police service..
@nataliepeck: Jay QC is asking May about operational details of the police, HMIC and the IPCC.
Guardian Live Blog:
Jay asks May about the IPCC.
She says it is independent and decides what and how to investigate. However, she can ask the body to undertake particular pieces of work.
10.03am: Jay asks May about her role as head of the police force.
She says she sets the policy background, but funding for individual operational areas such as counter-terrorism is a matter for the police.
@nataliepeck: May: Expect the Police and Crime Commissioner to recognise the operational independence of chief but should be discussing budget. Jay says ACPO guidance on hospitality provided to May in a letter 11 May 2012 (response to HMIC report). 
Guardian Live Blog:
Asked about policing in London, May says the Metropolitan police authority and chief constable will decide where to allocate resources in consultation with the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
#Leveson‬: This is a fast ball Mrs May, does the guidance on business interests also deal with post-employement? (Is now being worked on).
May: ACPO is doing further work on the guidance and will make it available to the inquiry when it is finished.
Guidance states there is an expectation that meetings with journalists will be noted in some way.
May: Guidance brings in clear framework in for offences so officers understand how meetings or discussions can take place.
May: I think it's trying to apply a framework of common sense to the relationships that the police should be having with the media.
LJ Leveson discussing the ACPO draft guidelines re contact between media and police..
 May: I think it appeared that different rules or guidance were being operated in different forces.
May: We need a framework that does not have a chilling effect and enables common sense to be operated.
ACPO guidance: It is important to be aware that speaking terms are sometimes misunderstood or used interchangably.
Jay moves onto phone hacking. Says first came onto May's radar after NYT 2010 article.
Jay asks about urgent question answered by May in HoC, 6 Sep 10 (tabled by Tom Watson). May says she didn't read the whole NYT article.

Police banned from taking hospitality bar light refreshments and trivial gifts banned under interim ACPO guidelines unveiled at Leveson
May: Not the role of the Home Sec, is operational matter for the police to decide whether the info hints at new evidence.
Jay: Wasn't position being reached that there was a cogent body of evidence indicating this issue worthy of further investigation?
May repeats: It was not for the Home Secretary to decide whether there is evidence, it is for the police to investigate.
May: There was a specific question as to whether individuals had been informed, who were on the list, as to whether phones hacked.

Guardian Live Blog:
May says it is important that the police can complete their investigations, and then judgements can be made.
Jay suggests that a cogent body of evidence was emerging in September 2010 that warranted a further police investigation, including the "for Neville" email.
May maintains that it is for the police, not the home secretary, to decide whether there is fresh evidence worthy of investigation.
Jay says it is clear that the issue of phone hacking had already become "highly politicised".
May says debates in the House of Commons will always have political aspects, but her job is to look at the facts and make a decision based on that.
The decision was that police are investigating and it was up to them whether there was sufficient evidence to investigate further, she says.
May ws: I was not briefed on formally [on hacking] and I do not recall any converations about it before Sep 2010.
#Leveson‬: Were you aware this investigation was to interview all those who had spoken to the NYT under caution?
May: Aware interviews had taken place and no further information forthcoming from those interviews.

Leveson: insight into briefing doc for Theresa May. One headed Top Lines. And phrases if needed before 1 section; if pressed before another
Jay refers to 27 Jan 2011 phone conversation between May + AC Tim Godwin. Met operating on different definition of hacking to DPP.
Note of call: [Godwin] noted not right to ask another force to look at this as important for Met’s reputation for them to do this.
Note of call: TG reassured the HS that the phone hacking investigation was under control.

Guardian Live Blog:
May had a conversation with acting Met police commissioner Tim Godwin on the telephone, says Jay.
The home secretary went to see Alison Leavitt, the senior CPS official, the following week, the inquiry hears.
Leavitt told May that the police had used a "very different definition of phone hacking" to the definition the CPS believed should now be the case.
Jay moves onto briefing (28 Jan). Lord Fowler asked PQ on what government doing to prevent phone hacking. Questioned Godwin/Yates.
May says cabinet minister having phone hacked wasn't national security issue because phone involved wasn't secure one
May: Understanding there shouldn’t be discussion of matters of national security concern across a mobile phone that was not secure.

Guardian Live Blog:
Jay moves forward to 10 March 2011, when May says that ministers took the view that phone hacking was under ongoing scrutiny by Scotland Yard.
10.52am: Jay asks whether there was a national security element to the phone-hacking scandal, given that at least one former cabinet minister had been targeted.
May says it did not because the mobile phones targeted were not secure so "there should not be material security concern on those telephones".
Pressed by Jay, May says that no restricted material is sent to or from mobile phones that are not secure.
She ads there would also be an understanding that matters of national security should not be discussed on unsecured telephones.
May: Right for the police to determine how and in what way they should indicate to people whether or not their phones were hacked.

Leveson: Robert Jay QC criticises grammar in a Home Office briefing document. May aides titter.

Jay: Is this issue related to the resignation of Andy Coulson on 21 Jan? May: Not at all, as far as I'm concerned.
May: I believe that in a free and open and democratic society, a free press is absolutely essential.

Guardian Live Blog:
May is asked why the government did not take active steps to establish whether a former prime minister's phone had been hacked.
She says that the police should be allowed to identify and contact those who had their phones hacked.
It was not felt necessary to take further action against News International before the police investigation was complete, she adds.
Jay suggests the issue was being "parked" and asks to what extent it was linked to the resignation of Coulson.
"Not at all," says May.
May: There has been a growing concern on the role of the PCC. We will await the outcome of the inquiry with interest.
#Leveson‬: As you've asked me to solve the problem it's a bit difficult for me to ask you for your views.
#Leveson‬: Would be grateful for a small amount of money for every time I've said same over last few months [importance of press freedom].
May: Issues raised on how press operate, and way in which individuals do or do not have redress when inaccurate statements made.
May briefed on 5 July 2011 ahead of appearance in front of Home Select Committee (refers to Guardian's Milly Dowler hacking story).
May: My view would still have been that the balance probably lay with self-regulatory system.

Guardian Live Blog:
Jay takes May back to the phone-hacking timeline.
He says that on 23 June 2011 May was provided with advice on a letter the Labour MP Tom Watson had written to the head of the Met police investigation into phone hacking, DAC Sue Akers.
May was advised to note Watson's letter and not respond.
Jay says that Watson claimed in the letter that "a cleaner had been brought in to eradicate evidence", but did not expand other than to say these were allegations and "not hard evidence".
May was briefed in July 2011 ahead of an appearance before the Commons home affairs select committee on the day after the Guardian broke the phone-hacking story on Milly Dowler.
#Leveson‬: Hacked Off, at that stage, a prominent arguer of this Inquiry, they were certainly raising all sorts of other issues,weren’t they?
May: Thinking through the timing of issues, that's why I hesitate to say absolutely but obviously they have been raising issues.

Theresa May wrote to Scotland Yard on 14 July 2011 asking questions about its relationship with Neil Wallis, ‪#Leveson‬ hears
Theresa May received a reply from Scotland Yard but told the force she "remain concerned" about links to Neil Wallis, ‪#Leveson‬ hears

May: Were growing number of examples questioning police integrity. We were in danger of police/public relationship being damaged.
May being asked about Neil Wallis and Chamy Media
May: Thought was wrong for Sir Paul Stephenson not to talk to me about hiring of Wallis (said in case embarrassed PM over Coulson).
(Home Office has released to ‪#leveson‬ advisers' briefs to Home Sec on potentially tricky political qs in Commons)
(current quoted briefing from a Mr Timothy, presumably Theresa May's special adviser Nick Timothy ‪#leveson‬)

[‪#Leveson‬ makes it clear this was a potential question, no evidence Sir Paul said he couldn't speak about Wallis in case of embarassment.]
Briefing note on Coulson/Wallis comparison: The government were not in charge of investigating allegations of wrongdoing at NoW.

Guardian Live Blog:
May is asked whether Stephenson felt he could not talk to her or any other minister about the Neil Wallis issue.
"I certainly don't recall any such conversation," May says.
May: Pleased to hear from Sir Denis [O'Connor, HMIC] that of deliberate malpractice infrequent and not widespread.

Guardian Live Blog:
Here is a short summary of May's evidence so far:
• New 'commonsense' guidelines on contacts between the press and the police are being drawn up.
• May told Scotland Yard she was 'concerned' about its links to former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis in July 2011.
• May did not read the September 2010 New York Times article on phone hacking.
May received HMIC draft report in December 2011. Wrote to O'Connor suggesting timetable of April 2012.
Jay confesses he overlooked a document "in the flurry that constituted last night"
Mr Jay - and the rest of us - can read that second IPCC report here
Jay apologises for not having read the second IPCC report, received by inquiry last night.

#Leveson‬ notes the IPCC have said the inquiry's conclusions may impact on their work in this area.

Guardian Live Blog:
In briefing notes, May advised that all forces take note of Filkin's recommendations, not just the Metropolitan police. She says Filkin's report and the ACPO recommendations should be read in conjunction.
May says that senior police officers should have "a degree of media training".
This is being examined as part of ACPO's guidance, she adds.
May endorses Filkin's recommendation of "permissable but conditional" relations between police officers and journalists.
May: Hiring of (Wallis's firm) Chamy Media by the Met added to picture of concern about these issues and need to do wider study.
May: I didn’t attempt to dissuade Stephenson because the letter was already on its way with his resignation.
May: Stephenson led Met well, it was stronger for his leadership and it was in that context that I expressed regret.

May: I was surprised by Sir Paul Stephenson's resignation from the Met after Champneys revelations 
May: important to reinforce understanding of police integrity by having proper frameworks of how police interact with the media
May ws: Certain practices uncovered during phone hacking investigations fell well short of what expected in law-abiding society.
May: Police and Crime Commissioner will be important in terms of democratic accountability at local force level.
Jay moves on to press/politicians (module 3) questions after a lot of evidence on police (module 2). 
May: I don't see the relationship between press and politicians as transactional, certain behaviour can't always be assumed.

Theresa May corrects her own grammar under gaze of Mr Jay

Guardian Live Blog:
Jay turns his focus to the relationship between politicians and journalists. May says she does not believe there is a "risk inherent" in the relationship.
"I don't see the relationship as quite the transactional relationship as you describe," May tells Jay, after the inquiry counsel asks whether both politician and journalist expected something out of their discussions. "It's about the responsibilities operated by the individuals," May adds.
May is asked whether certain newspapers can "excite" public opinion about immigration. She says newspaper opinion on immigration is varied so there is not one single theme. 
May; No politician who often as I do goes out on doorsteps can be in doubt about strength of public feeling on Art 8 + immigration. 
May: there is a public concern about uncontrolled immigration that is reflected in the press
May; Opinion in media on immigration varied. It's important to look at what media saying but also look widely at public opinion.
May: no politician who as often as I goes out on doorsteps can be in doubt of strength of public feeling on Article 8, immigration
May says opinions in media on immigration are varied, important to look at what media saying as well as public opinion widely

May: Press can portray certain groups negatively + positively.Recognise evidence this inquiry has heard about collective portrayal.
#Leveson‬ pushes May on potential for groups to raise generic complaints with press standards body. May: May be option but would be careful.
May: Concern I would have is the extent to which regulation appears to impose a view on the press, making societal change harder.
#Leveson‬: Don't anticipate specific regulation of content but robust approach to what could be breaches of the code for groups.

May: there needs to be a system by which people can raise concerns about what is being said in the press

[‪#Leveson‬ testing his thinking on regulation again, this time specifically on possibility of group complaints.]
Theresa May would not rule out new press regulator based in statute, but warns against any curbs on freedom 
(May v cautious, less I suspect because she's in any trouble, more she doesn't want hline saying : Home Sec demands xyz press regulation)
May: Wouldn't rule out stautory solution but need to get the balance right between ensuring redress and freedom of the press.

Guardian Live Blog:
Theresa May had telephone calls with Rebekah Brooks and Dominic Mohan on 11 May 2011 about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the inquiry hears.
May spoke to the pair about the Home Office review of the evidence involved in the disappearance. She says that the Home Office had been discussing with ACPO "for some time" about undertaking a review and it was not given the go-ahead at short notice.
May says she does not recall having a conversation with David Cameron on or around the 11 May about the Madeleine McCann disappearance. Neither Brooks nor Mohan indicated that May would "be on the front page of the Sun until the review was announced", she says.
This phone call to Brooks and Mohan was at her instigation, May says.
Asked whether she was under pressure behind the scenes to launch the review of the McCann case, May says the Home Office had been working on it for some time.
May does not directly answer the question, but Jay seems satisfied with the response and moves on.
 Theresa May's evidence now complete.

From Guardian Live Blog:
Here is a lunchtime summary of home secretary Theresa May's evidence:
• New "commonsense" guidelines on contacts between the press and the police are being drawn up.
• May telephoned Rebekah Brooks and Dominic Mohan about the review of the Madeleine McCann case in May 2011.
• May told Scotland Yard she was "concerned" about its links to former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis in July 2011.
• May did not not rule out a statutory backstop for a new press regulator, but warned about possible "unintended consequences".
• Senior police officers should be media trained, May told the inquiry.
• May did not read the September 2010 New York Times article on phone hacking.

Michael Gove:

Guardian Live Blog HERE

Michael Gove arrives at ‪#Leveson‬, only 2 aides (May had 6), no visible security. Evidently nobody wants to attack u if ur just education sec

Michael Gove swearing in...
Michael Gove doesn't think the relationship between politicians and journalists are 'poisonous'...
@nataliepeck: Michael Gove, education secretary, has been sworn in. He says the relationships between journalists/politicians are nuanced.
[Gove worked for the Times before entering Parliament. ‪#Leveson‬]
Gove says he doesn't believe relationship between press and politicians is poisonous. Some acrimony, but poisonous an overstatement
Gove: It’s certainly the case that there are sometimes elements of the relationships between politicians and (cont)
Does Gove always talk like this? Sounds like a voiceover for a multiple-choice survey.

Gove: news and comment fused since first public prints appeared
News and comment have been fused in newspapers for hundreds of years, Gove says. [Hmmm. Don't have to be and haven't always been]
Gove says we rely on common sense to differentiate between comment, reportage and polemic. [Gove answers very fluent. Unhesitating.]
Spin doctors have been there since the Roman republic. [V short term view IMO. Assyrians were terrible spinners. Not bad at weaving though]
Gove: Most scrupulous journalists strive to ensure readers are aware of the difference between news and comment.
Gove: Choosing to read a newspaper does not mean you buy into the mindset or the editorial line.
Jay: I think it's clear from your evidence already that you're asking us to tone down characterisation of toxic relationship.  
Jay: Have I correctly summarised your opinion? Gove: Perfectly.
Gove: Newspaper proprietors like others who have wealth + wield influence. From time to time will attempt to influence politicians.  
Gove says Murdoch had no editorial influence over his leaders (when at the Times).
Gove: It was my role when writing leader to represent the world view and stated view of the editor.
In witness statement, Gove describes himself as a politician who has never fought shy of asserting [his] opinion.

Gove: have met Murdoch, Rothermere and Desmond, each operates differently, all fascinating to meet
Gove: Wasn't too surprised by Murdoch saying you could find his views in the Sun, is distinction between that and the Times.
Gove: The Sun is a newspaper which in most respects reflects Murdoch's world view. Times put together in a very different way.
Gove. The Morning Star and the Socialist Worker are freely available on the news stands but sell rather less than the Mail and Sun.

[Just realised what Gove's evidence reminds me of: Schoolboy doing a French oral exam. V precise, well-prepared, somehow super-real]
Gove says anyone who has power or wealth can derive advantage from that if they can influence politicians.
[Gove is saying that we shouldn't just look at Murdoch and other proprietors as influence peddlers]
[Major Jayspeak moment. Jay describes Gove's description of Murdoch as impressive and significant as "rather a lapidary statement".]
Gove: Rupert Murdoch is one of most impressive and significant figures of last 50 years
@nataliepeck: Gove: Rupert Murdoch is one the most impressive and significant figures of the last 50 years. Jay points out most of Gove's meetings with News International but others with Lord and Lady Rothermere and Alan Rusbridger. ‪Gove met once with Richard Desmond on 7 Jun 2011. Jay asks about 19 May 2010 meeting with Murdoch, Brooks and ten others, within two weeks of formation of Coalition. Gove: After the main course there was general discussion involving most of the participants…it touched specifically on education. 
10 June 2010 meeting with Brooks and others: Social occasion with wife and Charlie Brooks.
17 June 2010 lunch with NI execs and editors inc. Murdoch and Brooks. Gove: BSkyB bid not discussed in my hearing.  

@rosschawkins: Gove recalls being interviewed before News Int board two days after BSkyB bid announced, bid didn't come up. Gove: haven't followed progress of BSkyB bid with the same interest as others
@nataliepeck: Gove: Not followed the progress of the bid with the same interest as others. Have no recollection of being informed before launch. Gove: Would have been significant if someone taken me into confidence, I have absolutely no recollection of such a conversation. ‪Gove: O2 concert with Brooks, husband and friends in Dec 2010. Gove: Phone hacking not discussed with Brooks or Murdoch at 16 June and 26 June 2011 meetings.

@benfenton: Can't remember discussions of phone hacking with Murdochs and Brooks at a breakfast [this was late spring/June] 
Gove says he did discuss Coulson's resignation from No 10 with Rebekah Brooks at meeting on Jan 31. They shared "human sympathy" for him
Gove: To the best of my recollection, did not discuss phone hacking or BSkyB bid during informal interactions with Murdoch etc.
Gove: I tried to exercise appropriate judgment on all occasions.
Gove: Certain common sense judgments which apply to politicians, judges, barristers, about exactly when you make excuses and leave.  

Gove: public don't need steering, judging or coaxing towards particular view. Capable of making judgment about politicians.
#Leveson‬ asks why public hold politicians & journos in low esteem. Gove: twas ever thus

@nataliepeck: Gove: I that human nature doesn't change much over time and politicians and journalists have always been held in low regard. Gove: I have met Paul Dacre on at least two occasions. I respect him as one of the most impressive editors of our time. [Laughter in the press annex at Gove's emphatic declaration on Paul Dacre.
Gove: There can be irresponsible newspaper campaigns, but also from pressure groups and charismatic politicians. Gove: Have seen no evidence of express or implied deal between a proprietor/editor and politician. 

@iankatz1000: Gove: "If a wealthy individual has a newspaper it might be another reason to [pause] be polite".
@nataliepeck: Jay asks about the issue of schools and Murdoch. Gove: Meeting in late Nov 2010 on NI investing in academy with James Murdoch, Brooks, Will Lewis, James Harding, Mayor and others.
Gove wanted "the children of the East End to benefit from a philanthropist investing" in a school.
If you want to understand what this line of questioning of Gove at ‪#Leveson‬ is about this is essential reading
@nataliepeck: Gove: News Corp wanted to set up school in East End in order to ensure their sense of corporate social responsibility fulfilled.
@lisaocarroll: Gove WS: when Klein was in London we were guests at rupert's house for dinner on 26 Jan as well as dinner at Matthew freud's house 
@dansabbagh: Gove says he knew nothing about News Corp's educational subsidiary, Wireless Generation, until he "read about it in the Guardian".
@nataliepeck: Gove: I was aware Murdoch and others had an interest in the way technology would change education. Jay: Were these discussions in the context of a possible commerical venture? Gove: Not in the UK, no. Gove: I believe that Rupert Murdoch was only interested in establishing a school for purely philanthropic reasons. 
What is your assessment of the illegal practices of the press?
'I would worry about the curtailment of freedoms....'
@nataliepeck: Jay refers to module one. Gove: From time to time I would see the inquiry's deliberations and evidence reported in newspapers, yes.
[For context, Gove has spoken out about the chilling effect of the inquiry. ‪#Leveson‬]
Gove says he wants to ask if cure [for press misbehaviour] was worse than the disease.
Gove's arguing laws in place to deal with miscreant press; ‪#leveson‬ rolling out his that-wdnt-work-as-excuse-for-speeding analogy
Gove trying to attack the inquiry. Arguing that existing laws should have been enough to tackle infringing journalism.
#Leveson‬ starting to sound a little weary of Gove's schtick. (He's also the first witness I've heard refuse to let the judge interrupt)
Gove: I think the burden of proof is on those who wish to regulate to make case regulation would be effective.
Gove racking up some major brownie points with Dacre and News International with his attack on regulation of press
Leveson unamused. "I don't need to be told about the importance of free speech...I really don't". The headmaster intervenes.
Leveson pushing Gove back hard - judge asks what of subjects of stories?
 Complete gear change now. Leveson's delibrative questioning clashing with Gove's libetarian vim.

Leveson and Gove are arguing, quite firmly, about balance between freedom of press and errant behaviour of the press.
#Leveson‬: Unashamedly on the side of those who say that we should think very carefully before legislation and regulation... …because the cry “something must be done” often leads to people doing something which isn’t always wise.
Gove: By definition, free speech doesn’t mean anything unless some people are going to be offended some of the time.  
Gove: Unfortunate tendency arose, a belief that we could mitigate against the evil inherent in human nature by enacting regulation.
Gove: Sometimes good intentions result in the infringement of individual freedom + an unrealistic expectation of how people behave.  Gove: I have seen people wrestle with the equal weight given - as I understand it should be - to both Article 8 and 10.
[‪#Leveson‬ and Jay tag-team in operation to test Gove's arguments.]

[Jay has gone for a John Stuart Mill to the solarplexus. This is getting vicious now. ]
Gove counters with saying he is pleased to be compared with John Stuart Mill.
Laughter in court as Gove takes reference to JS Mills as a compliment. Jay: that's not what I intended
#Leveson‬ puts forward his idea for small claims mechanism outside of the courts, enabling people to obtain swift redress.
Gove: Merit in newspapers holding themselves to a high standard but as modern media changes, titles will change with it.
Gove: Part of the case you make is for reform of defamation law. There must be a grey area between subject and newspaper.  
#Leveson‬: I don’t immediately see a problem. That balance [between privacy and free speech] has to be made by somebody.
[Robert Jay has made wise decision to sit down for the time being.
Gove: It's undeniable that those who take a libertarian view would be sceptical.
'I'm not asking for a specific anything......'
#leveson‬ outlining idea of cheap arbitration for press complaints that press cd ignore but wd face higher damages if they did & lost claim
Gove arguing danger this wd create a 'club' that press would have to join on pain of extra cost, not sure case is made

Michael Gove and Theresa May markedly different approaches at ‪#Leveson‬, but both ministers wary about statutory intervention towards press.
That small point will be significant once ‪#Leveson‬'s recommendations cross their Cabinet desk in October.

Gove: when faced w/ regulation, case for liberty needs to asserted so public debate around deliberations is as plural as possible