RESEARCH TOOLS


Morning Hearing on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Alastair Campbell gave a statement at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(10.00 am) Discussion re procedure MR DAVIES Good morning, sir. I wonder if I might start by raising a point on the evidence of Mr Thomas who is, we hope, coming tomorrow. It's simply this. We would like to apply under Rule 10.4 to ask Mr Thomas some questions ourselves and I raise that now because I think it will help both Mr Jay and us if we know what the position is in advance rather than when Mr Jay has finished his questions. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I understand that. MR DAVIES The reasons for making the application in the case of Mr Thomas are briefly these. First of all, his evidence and the table in his second report, which the Inquiry is well aware of, is obviously of great importance to the Inquiry and therefore to us as well. Secondly, there is a practical issue. Mr Thomas has made five statements, with I think 50 exhibits. There is in addition evidence in response, both from Associated Newspapers and from ourselves. It is therefore a formidable task even for Mr Jay to get on top of all of it and to ask not only all the questions that he wants to ask, but also those that we want to ask LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sure Mr Jay will approve of the word "even". MR DAVIES Yes. And the questions we want to ask as well. Also, of course, putting questions through counsel to the Inquiry works quite well if it's a simple point of clarification or we want to make it clear that something is in dispute, but if there's a line of questions to follow up where it depends a bit on what answer you get, it gets more difficult. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Davies, I understand and I think there are different considerations in relation to Mr Thomas as to other witnesses, but how long are you requesting for? MR DAVIES I would think 20 to 30 minutes, depending a little bit on how much territory Mr Jay covers. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. I see the force in the argument. MR CAPLAN Can I ask for a similar period of time, please? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, well, I understand that, Mr Caplan, and the reason I didn't immediately respond to Mr Davies was that I wanted to see how contagious this was going to be. Yes, all right, I understand. Does anybody else want to do that? All right. In principle, I am minded to agree to make that order. I think that there are differences in relation to certain of the witnesses to others. As regards the time, during the course of the day I'll think about that and return to it at the end of it, but in principle, I accede to both applications. Right. Mr Sherborne? MR SHERBORNE Sir, despite my proximity, I haven't caught that contagion. It's a different matter that prompts me to rise to my feet. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes? MR SHERBORNE Sir, it relates to yesterday afternoon and your exchange with Mr Caplan in relation to Associated Newspapers' public statement. You will recall that much emphasis was put on the fact that the line I think, sir, you say this: "I'm very conscious that the line in the Associated Newspaper article was removed from their online edition and I've not forgotten about it." To which Mr Caplan said: "Yes." It's very unfortunate that in fact the website publication of the article that you were referring to does unfortunately still contain the reference to a "mendacious smear" and I have copies of it. I was somewhat taken aback when it was said yesterday because my understanding was it was still online. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh. MR SHERBORNE But I took it that maybe something had changed. As of 9 o'clock this morning, it still stands in the Mail Online edition of the article, which is a matter you will understand, sir, of extreme concern. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. I understood that it had been taken out of the online edition, which I thought removed the immediate need to go further because it represented its own acknowledgment rather along the lines that Mr Caplan had identified that he understood what I was saying when I put to him what I did. I think it moves it up the batting order, Mr Sherborne. MR SHERBORNE Sir, you'll appreciate no acknowledgement, no explanation LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Sherborne, I understand, I understand. Mr Caplan, if I'm wrong, and I was wrong, then I will be the first to recognise that. MR CAPLAN Sir, the matter is under LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. MR CAPLAN Thank you, I have a copy. Sir, the matter is under consideration. I have got evidence that is being collated. I don't know when that will be finished, but I assure you that the matter is being LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. MR CAPLAN It certainly will not be possible to deal with it with the Information Commissioner coming this week and LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, yes, but then I'd like some thought to be given as to what should be online. MR CAPLAN Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'll ask that question at the end of the day. Thank you very much. MR CAPLAN Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. MR JAY Sir, the first witness today is Mr Alastair Campbell. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. MR ALASTAIR CAMPBELL (affirmed) Questions from MR JAY MR JAY Mr Campbell, please sit down and make yourself comfortable. First of all, your full name.
A. Alastair John Campbell.
Q. You have provided a witness statement to the Inquiry, a more or less final draft of which was provided to the core participants I believe last week, but since then four things have happened. First of all, I believe you've signed the statement?
A. I have, yes.
Q. Therefore it is your evidence. You've made three minor changes on the version which was provided to the core participants. May I just identify for their benefit what they are.
A. Yes.
Q. I'm working from the pagination at the bottom right and giving the last five numbers. Page 21094, slap in the middle of the page after "the News of the World" in italics, a name has been redacted?
A. Yes.
Q. That's in line with Mr Hurst's evidence. 1103, final paragraph, I think it's been added in manuscript on the version which is going to be placed on the screen. It opens now with the words "On virtually all the occasions" in substitution for "On the few occasions"?
A. Yes.
Q. And then page 21109, Mr Campbell, it's the final sentence running onto the start of the next page. That has now been deleted; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. Mr Campbell, it is public knowledge that your statement was leaked, or rather Mr Staines obtained it in some form. It was placed on his website on Sunday. Do you have any comment to make about that to assist the Inquiry, please?
A. Well, when you and I spoke about this on Sunday, your concern and my concern was that my final statement had been leaked. I've now checked against the website all the different drafts that I've done. It's clear that Mr Staines got hold of a draft, not the document that I ever sent to you. I would just like to say that the process this is all my own work and this is I stand by every word in this document, the one that you have, which is the only one that was ever sent to the Inquiry, by the way. The process that I went through was that I sent various drafts at various stages to different people who were helping me, lawyers, three people in the media and some people in my former colleagues in politics, so at various stages the draft went to different people. I've not yet been able to check which against it's now off Mr Staines' website, but I've not yet been able to check to whom I sent the draft that has appeared. I'm confident that none of the people that I sent it to would ever have given it to Mr Staines or indeed to anybody else, but he got hold of an earlier draft, which is why I'm pleased now to be able to publish the final version.
Q. Thank you, Mr Campbell. May I go, please, to your statement LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just before we start. Mr Campbell, this is, and people will see if they haven't already seen, a formidable piece of work. Without going to it at all, I wanted to acknowledge my gratitude to you for the immense effort that you have put in to preparing this for the assistance of the Inquiry. Thank you. MR JAY Mr Campbell, if you'd kindly look at the first page of your statement, again on the pagination at the bottom right it's 21059, so as to make it clear why you're here at this stage, because your evidence is obviously relevant to our third module, the relationship between press and politicians, the Inquiry drew attention to a statement you wrote in 2004: "If the public knew the truth about the way certain sections of the media operate, it would be absolutely horrified." And the Inquiry asked you to elaborate on that.
A. Yes.
Q. And indeed that's what you've done very fully over 55 pages.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. The scope of your evidence is really directed today to that issue rather than other wider issues.
A. Yes.
Q. Of course, we all know about your career at 10 Downing Street but could you fill us in a little bit, please, with your earlier career as a journalist?
A. I trained as a journalist on the Mirror Group, the same training scheme as Nick Davies that you heard from yesterday. That involved training in shorthand, law, the basics of journalism, getting qualifications and then on-the-job training on local and regional papers. I then started work as a freelance for the Daily Mirror. I worked for other newspaper titles as a freelance. I became a staff reporter in the early 1980s on the Mirror. I left there briefly to work for Today, the launch, that didn't go terribly well, and I went back to the Mirror. I was then at the Mirror then mainly as a political journalist, Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, and then I was at Today again for the latter stages of my journalistic career before I went to work for Tony Blair.
Q. Yes, okay. You make it clear in your statement that there are many aspects of the press and journalism of which you are proud either personally or vicariously; is that correct?
A. I am. I think that I quote there one of Rupert Murdoch's Australian executives who once said to me that British journalism is the best in the world and the worst in the world and it's sometimes in the same edition. I think it's important to remember that some of British journalism is the best in the world. I think you saw I watched the evidence to the Inquiry yesterday and I think you saw some very different aspects of British journalism, which included the best and the worst. But the best I would defend, and I do defend a free press. My argument that runs through this document that I have given to you is that the freedom of the press that is being defended most loudly by those who describe anybody who dares criticise them as an attack upon the freedom of the press, that actually that has become a press that is barely worth defending. What I think we should defend is a genuinely free press and at the moment I think we have a press that has just become frankly putrid in many of its elements. Let me emphasise, not all journalists and not all titles, and the terrible thing that has happened since I I suppose I was at the point at which the culture was changing, without a doubt, but what's happened is a very, very small number of people have actually completely changed the newspaper industry so frankly they've now besmirched the name of virtually every journalist in the country.
Q. Your credo or core of what you were saying, but then you elaborate it fully, 21060, three lines down, please, Mr Campbell. You say this: "The centre of gravity in our press has moved to a bad place. The combined forces of technological change, intense competition, an obsession with celebrity, a culture of negativity and amorality among some of the industry's leaders and practitioners have accelerated a down-market trend and accelerated too the sense of desperation in the pursuit of stories." That's the essence of what you're saying and then you begin to develop it: "Speed now comes ahead of accuracy, impact comes ahead of fairness, and in parts of the press anything goes to get the story first." Can I ask you in your own words, turning over to the next page, to give us the five bullet points, the summary of the debit side?
A. I think the first point is that whether a story is true I think in some of our media organisations now counts for less than whether it makes a good story. I thought Mr Peppiatt's evidence on that yesterday was pretty compelling. The second point is what I define as a culture of negativity, in which the prominence and weight given to coverage is not proportionate to the significance or newsworthiness of the matter being reported but whether it fits the agenda of the newspaper group that is pursuing that story. The third point is a lack of anything approaching the transparency or accountability that newspaper organisations regularly demand of every other walk of our national life. A system of regulation of the media which is run by the press for the press and has been exposed as utterly ineffectual, which means that inaccuracies and distortion and unfairness and invasion of privacy goes on and continues with impunity. And finally, a point I alluded to earlier, a culture in which anyone who dares to question the media at any level is accused of trying to take the country into some sort of descent into totalitarianism and an assault upon the free press. So I think they beyond the specific issue which led to this Inquiry of the criminal activity of phone hacking, I think these are, if you like, bigger themes that I hope the Inquiry and in due course Parliament will also look at.
Q. The descent down-market is one of your themes. Do you have a view as to the possible reasons for that?
A. I think it is, as I say on the page before, the newspaper groups are operating in a ferociously competitive marketplace. The advent of 24/7 news and the Internet have forced them to adapt from what they were. If you even take these proceedings, people are able to watch it live on your own website, there are hundreds of thousands of tweets being put out about people's evidence as it is given. That means that when you come to tomorrow and the newspapers, they're kind of they're behind the curve. So what they've had to do is adapt and rely ever more upon impact, which, as I say, has come ahead of standards and fairness, and also rely upon becoming campaigning organs and political players, so they've actually become the newspapers have become part of the political process now, yet without any of the accountability that other parts of the political process are subject to.
Q. Thank you. You also make it clear, and I'm moving on now to 21063, that newspapers are competing in the same space as a slew of celebrity magazines. Perhaps the ramifications of that are fairly obvious, but in your own words, Mr Campbell, what is the result of that?
A. Well, the celebrity culture has taken a pretty fierce grip on virtually all of the media, not just the newspapers, but television as well, and they're in this kind of bizarre symbiotic relationship where the reality TV programmes and the soaps and the Pop Idols and the X Factors create the celebrities which then become the sort of staple diet for the newspapers and the magazines and these magazines have been incredibly successful. As Mr McMullan said yesterday, they're feeding a public desire and demand for this obsession with celebrity and that's forced the newspapers, I think, to set themselves in direct competition with them. I don't blame them for that. I mean the newspapers, they're businesses, they're trying to stay alive in very difficult competitive circumstances, but it does mean that the whole of the media, I think, has moved substantially downmarket.
Q. Apart from the pressures exerted by 24/7 news and the Internet, another of the pressures you allude to towards the bottom of 21063 are pressures created by economic considerations, namely there are fewer journalists, more spaces to fill, particularly online, less time to do it?
A. Yes.
Q. Again, the consequences of that are fairly obvious, but in your own words, what are they?
A. I can remember when I was first on the Daily Mirror, you went into the news room and there were dozens and dozens of journalists in there. There was a huge great open-plan office and there were lots of others who were out and about doing their stories in the field, as it were. So newspapers are now much, much bigger, and they're having to fill this huge space online to adapt to the Internet, but there aren't that many of them. So as I can't remember which witness it was yesterday, but he said actually it's become something of a desk job, where they sit there rewriting other newspapers' copy, rewriting agency copy. Actually, journalism, if you like, as a craft, there aren't that many of them doing it. And I think that again has just been the force of competitive pressure which has forced newspapers to cut down on costs, cut down on the number of journalists that they employ, and I think that we'll probably talk about this later that's had the consequence of their increasing reliance on private detectives, which again I think has been a hugely detrimental factor in the development of newspapers as they are.
Q. The immediate result of that more generally is that the demand for speed means that there's less time to check the accuracy of stories and more of a propensity for inaccurate stories; is that right?
A. Well, I can remember, again, from my own days in newspapers, where it was part if you worked on the night shift, it was part of your job to make sure even within the building that not too many people knew what was on the front page because the competition was going to take place in the morning on the news stands. Now, the competition takes place instantly on the television and across the Internet, and what happens so all the front pages are being sent out to Newsnight, to Sky News for the paper reviewers and so forth, because that's where they're make the first impact. So on the television they have no idea if the front page stories are true or false, but they discuss them as though they are true. So journalism used to be about trying to find out what it true. Now it is largely a discussion about the process of establishing whether something might be true. So it's totally changed what news how news is defined by those who are in journalism.
Q. You summarise that point in your own words at 21065, four lines down: "This is an inevitable response to the pace of change but it has meant that rather than journalism being about the pursuit of truth, much of this is the coverage of the process of getting to the truth, which often gets lost in that process."
A. Yes.
Q. And then you refer to the old editorial rhythms, which you had experienced as a journalist in the 1980s, and those rhythms have rather sped up, perhaps, in the modern age?
A. Yes. Again, I do understand why that has happened. I think it is a result of this phenomenal technological change that has swept through the media industry, but as it's happened, I think too few people within journalism have stopped to think what is this actually doing to our profession, to our trade as journalists, as journalism?
Q. Yes. As an adjunct or part of the same phenomenon, under the heading "A changed definition of news", you say: "This has created a situation accelerated by the Internet and the social networks in which false stories can become news for the fact of being said or reported rather than because journalists have checked them out." And then you give a recent example, rumours that the British husband of a prominent Danish politician was gay, and that was entirely incorrect?
A. Yes. But the fact of it being a rumour said in the political context was felt by some newspapers sufficient to be able to run it. And of course this is further complicated, as you've seen in recent days with Mr Staines, it's further complicated by "journalists", in quotes, who operate on the Internet because they can say what they like and then it's out there and then the rest of us sort of have to scrabble round trying to catch up with something that's already round the world, literally. Again, it's a totally changed context and I think sometimes that we I mean, I do still think the newspapers are the the television, the radio and the newspapers are still the most important parts of this debate, but I think that there's a danger that the pace of change is going so fast that we're even getting left behind now in terms of how we're debating it.
Q. You point out towards the bottom of the next page, 21066, that the Internet is not subject to any regulatory oversight at all. That's certainly true in relation to someone like Mr Staines. Less true, I think, in relation to any press institution who publishes in print, but also uses the Internet?
A. Correct.
Q. The regulation would apply to
A. I think that's where newspapers are at a disadvantage. I've thought about it. I don't quite know what you do about this part of the way the media industry is developing, but I think it's something that I know the French government are looking at whether there is some way of kind of regulating journalism on the Internet. I think it's a very, very difficult thing to do, but I think we have to think about it.
Q. Maybe we'll look into what is happening in the EU in relation to press regulation of the Internet, but doubtless not today. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If during the months to come you think about it and find a suggested solution, I'd be very grateful if you'd let me know.
A. Okay. I shall think about it. I'm sure the press will be delighted you're asking me to think about regulation. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm actually asking everybody to think about it.
A. Good. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm not singling you out.
A. Okay. MR JAY May I move on to your next theme, page 21067, under the heading "When hysteria becomes inhumane", and the classic example of that is the case of the McCanns, which we heard about last week.
A. Yes. I think if anything, my assessment here, which I wrote before they gave evidence, completely understates the inhumanity of the coverage that surrounded them.
Q. You write, as we were told in evidence, that others were subjected to similar treatment and brought libel proceedings successfully as well.
A. Yes.
Q. Can I ask you, though, page 21068, towards the bottom, the article you wrote in the Times on the hounding of Britney Spears, I haven't been able to find a copy of that, but you provide us with the YouTube hyperlink. Are you able to elaborate a little bit on that, please?
A. The reason I wrote that at the time was to make the point that there comes a point with some people in public life or the entertainments industry where they are deemed to be such big figures that actually you can do and say anything and it kind of doesn't matter. I think it started I think the Princess of Wales before she died, you could put her certainly in this category and some showbiz people as well. But the reason I put that in here was actually to show that since then, the distinction between them and what you might call ordinary people who through no fault of their own become newsworthy has broken down. So when the McCanns became a news commodity I remember watching when Madeleine McCann first went missing, I remember watching it and there was one point where I wish I had now I thought I ought to write to these people because you could see what was happening. They thought they were using the media to help them in the hunt for their child, and I could see what was happening, the media were using them to be built into the kind of news commodity which they subsequently became. So that they became "anything goes" people and you could say anything, do anything. As I say in my statement, how nobody from the Press Complaints Commission stood up and said, "Excuse me, what is going on here?" when it was so obvious to anybody who was reading the newspapers and watching the television, is beyond me. I make the point there not as a great defender of celebrities, although I think celebrities are entitled to certain rights as well, but actually to show that the distinction has completely vanished, that somebody who through no fault of their own becomes newsworthy now can be subject to exactly the same sort of inhumane treatment as the reason I described Britney Spears is because it was perfectly obvious at the time that she was deeply disturbed and they were live on television, these shots of convoys of cars, motorbikes, following her to hospital. You just think: does nobody sort of stand back and say, "Should we be doing this?" and I don't think they do. I think some people do. In fact, I quote one photographer who resigned from one of the main celebrity agencies, but you had Richard Peppiatt here yesterday. There aren't that many who resign over what they consider to be wrong or inhumane activity.
Q. The photographer who resigned, you say, admitted that the hounding of Britney Spears had gone beyond anything his conscience would allow. Are you paraphrasing what he said or was it more or less exactly that?
A. I think I was paraphrasing from something that he wrote at the time.
Q. In terms of direct evidence you can give, at the bottom of this page, 21069, you refer to a dinner you attended last year and you were introduced to the editor of Heat magazine. Can you tell us a little bit about that encounter?
A. It was perfectly friendly and amicable. He was a very charming sort of bloke and I was just doing my usual some of the things I've been saying to you and I've said in my statement about my assessment of the impact of the celebrity culture on the rest of the media and on what Britain was becoming as a culture, and he said, "Well, we perform a very useful role. What would you rather have, magazines like ours or public executions?" I think that is the attitude. You know, we allow the people we allow the public to sort of hate or like these people, celebrities, who want to be in the magazines some of them do, some of them don't. Again, there's no real distinction between them. But I think that is a kind of fairly you saw from Paul McMullan yesterday, they think it performs a huge public service.
Q. His position was, and maybe it's shared by others, that all the press is doing is mirroring society outside and perhaps mirroring human nature and therefore it's an entirely appropriate response. Do you have a view on that?
A. I saw when your colleague questioned Mr McMullan yesterday, you put to him some of the things that he'd said to me and I do use the word honest about Mr McMullan, because he's brutally honest about what he did and how he defends it, and there's no doubt whatsoever that the reason why these celebrity magazines are so successful and the reason why X Factor and Pop Idol are so successful is because it's what the public want. The question, I think, that just as in politics sometimes, you have to ask the question, in law you have to ask the question, I think in the media as well you should ask the question as to whether there are broader responsibilities about the sort of country that we are and the sort of country we want to be and the impact that the media culture is having upon that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr McMullan put it this way. He said the only barometer, effectively, was the fact that somebody puts a pound coin on a newsagent's table and buys the paper.
A. That is a barometer, but when you get on to talk about editors are fond of saying when I say they're not accountable to everybody, they say, "We're accountable to our readers every day". They are, up to a point. The readers don't actually know a lot of what goes into producing the stories that they're reading. They very rarely see corrections of anything that's wrong. If they do see them, they're buried away in the back of the newspaper. So they may say they're accountable to their readers on a commercial level, but there's no transparency about the journalistic practices that they use to fill their papers. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And, of course, the very impact of what's been happening in this room for the last two weeks itself is creating a reaction
A. Absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON which underlines the point you're just making.
A. Absolutely. If you go back to the reason why you asked me to come here, my statement that if the public knew the truth about the way parts of the media operate, they would be horrified, the public out there are horrified by what they've heard in the last two weeks and not just because of film stars and but because of what they saw from the Dowlers and the McCanns and the Watsons and they will argue these are atypical. My argument is they are not atypical. This is what happens to anybody that they decide is a major news commodity. MR JAY Thank you. I'm now on page 21070. You make the point there, level with the upper hole punch: "It's the culture of denigration and of desperation to get a story at all costs that leads someone working for a newspaper to think it permissible, despite the law, to hack the phones of celebrities and for editors and executives to commission, condone or turn a blind eye to such criminality." You're making the point there that if there is an ambient culture which tends to point in one direction, it's hardly surprising that certain types of activity ensue?
A. Yes. Again to quote Mr McMullan yesterday, he said that basically the attitude of the editors he worked for was: whatever it takes to get the story, you get it. If that is the attitude, whatever it takes, and they decide to cross a legal line, then what's to stop them the next time and the next time and the next time? And of course the editors may not know. They may genuinely not know that the law is being broken left, right and centre. Here's how I think often it may happen. Let's say that a newspaper commissions a private investigator to do something and they do it successfully and it helps the newspaper publish a story they want to publish and meanwhile the private investigator now knows that actually there's good money in this. So they then go and look for stories, which then sell as if they were freelance journalists, and the newspapers establish, actually, this guy's quite a good source. The newspaper doesn't necessarily want to know or even ask how these stories are coming in. They're treating these people as journalists. But to use Mr McMullan's phrase yesterday, you're talking often about the criminal underworld, who are feeding newspapers, and editors then have stories put before them. Do they know? Do they ask where they came from? Do they always know? When Mr Dacre said to the House of Lords committee he had never published a story based on illegally obtained information, can he really say that? Does he really know that? I don't think he does.
Q. Thank you. The heading now, "The fusion of news and comment/invention", 21071.
A. Can I pick up on one thing in my statement there? I think it is important about the Princess of Wales because I was involved in the management of the aftermath of that and I thought it was very, very interesting the extent to which the debate about the role of the paparazzi in her death barely figured in the days that followed. You could argue that actually we on the political side of the fence could have done more to promote that debate, but actually what we were busy with was trying to calm the country and organise the funeral. But I think there was an extent to which some of our papers were deliberately fanning that sense of public hysteria that there was at the time as a way of diverting attention from genuine public unease about the role of photographers in her death.
Q. Thank you. "The fusion of news and comment", and this is the wavy line of delineation between fact and comment that you touch on.
A. Yes.
Q. And the cult of agenda. Could you expand upon that please in line with what you say in the middle of page 21071?
A. Well, if you look at the PCC code, clause 1 on accuracy, subsection 3: "The press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact." I would say that most of our newspapers every single day are in breach of that on something. I refer, for example, to the Sun on the issue of Europe or the trade unions, the Mail on pretty much anything that doesn't coincide with the view of its editor, the Express on Europe, the Star on asylum seekers. There is a complete fusion of news and comment and it's just taken for granted that is what newspapers now do.
Q. You've alighted there on four fairly right-wing papers, Mr Campbell.
A. No. If you go down I think at one point I say the Mirror on pretty much anything the current government does.
Q. That's a bit later on.
A. It is.
Q. Can we be clear though that obviously you have a certain position in relation to the Mail, for example, because, as you've told us, anything which doesn't coincide with the peculiar world view of its editor you believe might be problematic. Of course, you're LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Actually, whether peculiar or not, that's a judgment, isn't it? MR JAY It is. You would presumably accept that if we are in the realm of comment and expounding a world view, the Daily Mail, through its editor or otherwise, is quite entitled to do that?
A. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Q. Is this your evidence, that the difficulties arise only where facts are misrepresented?
A. I think that "The press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact". If you were to rely upon okay, let me take the Daily Mirror at the moment. The Daily Mirror is a paper I worked for and obviously is much closer to my political view than the Mail would be, but I think if you only ever see stories in that newspaper that are bad for the current government, then that is not distinguishing between fact, conjecture and comment as a strategic decision of the newspaper. What I'd say the reason why I often do concentrate on the Mail in regard to this is, one, because it's the most extreme example, because if you take somebody like Rupert Murdoch, who is routinely described as the most powerful media figure in the country, Rupert Murdoch is a powerful media figure right around the world. His focus upon Britain and upon his British titles is probably fairly small. The Mail is an extremely successful newspaper but it is utterly the product of one person. There's nothing goes in that newspaper that isn't decided pretty much by him. Whatever is written today about my evidence to you is probably being decided by him this morning, and whoever is here to cover it for him, that's what they'll do. And that is how that newspaper works. You heard from Mr Peppiatt yesterday the impact that has upon some other newspapers, because within the media industry it's seen as an incredibly successful product, which it is, commercially it is. They do actually have a lot of journalists, they do invest in journalism. My point is that once they decide that a person or an organisation or a profession, social workers or people who are on strike today or anybody who had anything to do with Tony Blair, once they have decided, as it were, they are one of his targets, then you will never ever ever read anything other than negativity about that person or organisation in that newspaper, to my mind in breach of a PCC code which says that you should distinguish between fact, comment and conjecture. In other words, they only take the facts that fit the agenda, and then they fuse them with comment and conjecture, and then they drive their agenda through every single it's not just headlines, it's pictures, it's the whole lot. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But aren't you there talking about balance, Mr Campbell, rather than distinguishing between fact and conjecture? Aren't you saying actually what they're doing is they're making a strategic decision about what stories that they want to put in the paper?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And is that what the code is on about?
A. No, I think that what they do I would accept that, I would accept that that is a legitimate thing to do, but newspapers having strident positions and strong positions and using their newspapers to promote those, I don't have a problem with that at all. But when they are taking a fact and using that to promote that agenda and it turns out that the fact is inaccurate, which is routinely the case in a lot of these newspapers I mean I go on over the page to talk about the issue of Europe. I'm actually not a huge Europhile; by Blairite standards, I am something of a Eurosceptic, but I've given you there at the top of page 072 just some of the examples of things that Europe has done, in quotes, to us, and they're all untrue. So you have an agenda, "We're anti-European", you then tell the public that Brussels is banning kilts and curries and mushy peas and paper rounds and charity shops and bulldogs and bent sausages and cucumbers and the British Army and British made lavatories and the passport crest, and it's all complete nonsense and they know it's nonsense. They're not all the Mail, by the way. MR JAY You give us a couple of examples towards the bottom of that page: the banning of the selling of eggs by the dozen, and we have those under tab 3 for you, Mr Campbell. We printed that out.
A. I thought the reason I picked on that is because it's actually not that serious a story, but it's sort of typical. Again you had the example of Mr Peppiatt yesterday about the Muslim-only lavatories, where they run the story and then it doesn't happen so they say they've had a victory for their campaign. So the Mail run a story saying that Europe is going to ban grocers from selling eggs by the dozen and then the European Parliamentary Committee puts out a statement saying it's complete nonsense so they run a story the next day saying victory for their campaign on something that was never going to happen. So they have two bites at the cherry on something that is utterly false but fits their agenda.
Q. Then there was a statement from the European Parliament, which we've printed off, which makes that clear.
A. Yes.
Q. Maybe the next document under tab 3, the story in relation to the grammar school girl, can we look at that as a particular example, because you've drawn that to our attention. Do you have that, Mr Campbell?
A. Yes.
Q. We've printed off the online edition, obviously.
A. Yes.
Q. You can see the headline: "Grammar schoolgirl, 14, found hanged after row with pupils from nearby comprehensive." LORD LEVESON: Let's not provide too much detail of this, Mr Jay. The detail of the fact but not the names. MR JAY No, I'm not going to give the names. What happened here is that there was an inquest, as you point out. We've noted what the headline was. The first line of the story: "A girl at a top grammar school was found hanged amid fears she was bullied by pupils from a nearby comprehensive." And you make the point, well, that fits into a certain world view.
A. Yes, the world view of grammar schools good, comprehensive schools bad.
Q. You say if you look into the second page of the article, at the very top
A. It says: "While the inquest did not hear any evidence of bullying
Q. There's reference to messages from friends, but the point you're making is that there wasn't in fact any formal evidence of bullying adduced to the inquest; is that correct?
A. There was no evidence of bullying at the inquest. That is my central point, yes. And that's a story which again I mean, in having researched for this submission, I've deliberately not gone for the in some cases for the ones that made big headlines. I'm trying to show this is routine, this is endemic. This is a you see a story like that and the attitude is, "Well, how do we turn that to fit one of our kind of what we think about the world?" So there's a story that and would any consideration have been given to whether actually that family wanted any further publicity for that? Not a second.
Q. Thank you. I'm going to move over the Al-Qaeda/Loch Lomond story you refer to because as you say that was completely ridiculous, but at 21074, "The story right or wrong", please, Mr Campbell.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. I think it's a point you've already begun to develop early in your evidence, that the commitment to accuracy in your view, whereas it was a cornerstone of journalism some time ago, has ceased to be. Is that a fair summary?
A. Yes, again let me emphasise: not with all journalists and not with all newspapers. But in some of them, in particular the ones that dominate the marketplace and that make the most noise and that have the most impact upon the rest of the media, I think that the impact of the story is deemed to be far more important than the accuracy.
Q. You give some political examples on the next page, 21075, in relation to cabinet reshuffles.
A. Yes.
Q. And plainly there is a lot of mythology about that and stories are made up and often found to be incorrect. Is that not a phenomenon, though, that we've seen over the last 20 or 30 years, in your view?
A. Yes, I think it but I think it's grown and it's developed in a way that I cite an example there of when I was the political editor of the Mirror and I wrote a story trailing the budget, I didn't even say, "This is going to be in the budget", I sort of speculated because I you know, just Sunday for Monday, got to write something about the budget and the editor asked me why I was writing it when I didn't have a clue what was in the budget. I don't think, I could be wrong, I think very few editors today would actually, if a journalist provided a story that said what was going to be in the statement that George Osbourne did yesterday, had they written it last week, will they be going today to that journalist and say, "Hang on a minute, you wrote this last week and he didn't do it"; I don't think there's any comeback at all. I cite an example of one reshuffle where we had I can remember George Robertson was being moved to about nine different departments. He ended up staying where he was. Does anybody go and asks that journalist, "Why did you write that? Where did it come from?" Of course, what they do is they'll say, "Somebody told me" and they you know, they can defend it. It's a nonsense.
Q. Has there ever been a case, to your knowledge, where government has, as it were, reacted to press speculation and done something different to what it was otherwise minded to do?
A. Would do you mean by that?
Q. To make it more explicit, if a journalist speculates about a particular reshuffle
A. Oh, would we do the opposite? No. No.
Q. Okay.
A. The reason why we always knew these stories were made up is because we just didn't talk to journalists about reshuffles. You just didn't. Very few people would know what the Prime Minister was planning, but they'd be routinely written about. It gets very difficult. You have lots of situations where ministers are constantly reading they're going to get moved, fired. It's debilitating within a department, but there's not that much you can do about it. You can't stop it. The only way you can stop it is say, "No, that's not going to happen, this is what's going to happen" and then you get accused of telling them before you've told ministers or Parliament or whatever.
Q. Then on 21075, bottom of the page, you deal with Mr Peppiatt's evidence, which at that stage I think you'd only seen what he'd said at one of our seminars, but we've obviously heard from him yesterday.
A. The point I was making there was that I met a journalist the other day at an event I was at who came up and talked to me and it turned out I used to work with her father, and she told me that she was earning virtually the same today for a shift she was on the Daily Star as her father had earned almost 30 years ago. So there are very few people, I think, will do what Mr Peppiatt has done and resign and then say why they've resigned, because I understand those people need to live and they need to work and they know that if they do resign, there are plenty more people who will come along and do these pretty low-paid jobs as junior reporters. So I was just emphasising that I think actually considerable weight should be attached to his analysis of what the modern newsroom is like as opposed to those who painted a far rosier picture and tried to pretend that all these practices are behind them.
Q. Thank you. The next section of your evidence, "Politics and the media", 21076, is a section which foreshadows our third module, to some extent. If I can be forgiven just for touching on it now, the points you make there about eight lines from the top of 21077, "If the public knew the truth about politicians, they would be pleasantly surprised", are the flipside of the point you make in relation to the press. I think what you're really saying is the culture of negativity and cynicism in the press has had an effect on the quality and nature of political discourse; is that right?
A. I don't think there's any doubt about that. I think that and as I say in there, I apply that statement to all the main parties, including those that I fundamentally disagree with. I think that most people who go into politics do so for the right reasons, and even though some of them went to jail for fiddling their expenses and even though some of them may be incompetent and whatever, I think actually they are basically decent people, but utterly surrounded now by this culture of negativity and also surrounded by I mean, again, sorry to keep harping back to the old days. When I was on the Daily Mirror, a red-top tabloid, we had two journalists in Parliament whose job was just to cover parliamentary debates. Now, today, even the broadsheets probably just have a guy who writes jokes about the politicians and they call it a sketch and that's the coverage of Parliament. Unless there's a crisis or there's a sense of scandal, you see very little coverage of what politicians yesterday is an exception because it was such an important statement, but you see very little coverage of actually what politicians are saying and their assessment of why they're saying it. You see plenty of the downside. I'm just saying I think unless we get the balance in a little bit better place, we should not be surprised if people of quality just decide, "What's the point of going into public life?" I think we're already at that point. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I hope you're not expecting me to come up with suggestions about that. MR JAY I don't know. Some in the press might blame you as in part responsible for this phenomenon.
A. Well, they do, they do. And that's because, I think, they I talk earlier about the sort of they live in denial, in my view, most of them, of what this change of culture is doing and their responsibility within it. I go on later in my statement to say that I think that both sides of the political debate have to accept some of the responsibility for the fact that we've got to where we are, but not because of what they would accuse us of but actually for failing to recognise the damage it was doing and do something about it, because if you like of the collusion and the desire to have them as sort of not destroying you that's putting it negatively or supporting you, putting it more positively. So I know they say that and I reject it. I think it's a very, very self-serving argument.
Q. Fair enough, Mr Campbell. These are things which we'll take up probably in the spring. Can I move on to the next heading in your statement, "The decline of genuine investigative journalism", 21080. You launch that section with reference to an event you did with Carl Bernstein in Italy two years ago and something he said there. Could you help us with that, please?
A. Yes, I had an event at a journalism conference with Carl Bernstein and he said that Watergate, the story for which he is most famous, was a great story but a disaster for journalism because ever since, and you see this every time anything happens, there's always a "gate" attached to it very, very quickly, but what happens now is that a journalist feels, I think as Paul McMullan said yesterday, "God, could I bring a government down?" Journalism is only journalism, investigative journalism, if you can kind of have that sort of impact. But actually and it's been interesting just to when Anne Diamond was giving her evidence and they talked about thalidomide, that is still the investigation that people talk about as being the great investigation because there have actually been so few, and I think that you saw Nick Davies yesterday who clearly is a brilliant investigative journalist, and you saw also the sort of arguments that he has with himself the whole time about how he is pursuing a story, but there aren't many like him in journalism at the moment and they're not encouraged because going back to the economic considerations, I had a colleague on the Mirror who could sometimes spend six months doing a story. They just don't have the time now, or the resources. They have another page to fill, another page lead to churn out, another thousand words on the Internet to fill. Again, I think this is an area, there's some work going on in this in some of the outside organisations, but how you boost genuine investigative journalism I think is also part of this debate, because it's dying.
Q. One almost sees more of it now on the television than one does in the printed press; is that right?
A. I'm not sure about that. I think television is subject to a lot of the same forces.
Q. 21081, relations between politicians and owners and editors. I am going to park that one, Mr Campbell.
A. Okay.
Q. Until spring. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You'll appreciate, Mr Campbell, that we're coming back to do that. At the moment we're focusing on the public.
A. Yes. MR JAY Papers as political players, journalists as spin doctors. That's 21082. This is a point I think which bears on our module. You say at the start: "It is also the case that newspaper owners, editors and senior journalists have increasingly become political players as well as spectators, using newspapers either as instruments of unaccountable political power, or to promote their own commercial interests (as often happens in the Murdoch and Desmond papers' coverage of issues related to their broadcast interests, for example), or to promote their own political agenda, not just in comment columns but across news pages too, which often continue to carry a veneer of objectivity, but whose substance is geared almost word by word to promoting the paper's line on an issue or an individual."
A. Yes.
Q. That's your basic thesis. You then give us an example in relation to a piece in the Guardian and Ed Miliband's recent speech to the Labour conference. Could you elaborate on that?
A. I just thought it was again not untypical. She wrote that after the speech there was a sort of the journalists kind of get together and sort of decide what the line is on the speech. This goes back to the fusion of news and comment. So they tell each other that actually it wasn't very good and he made a mistake saying that, and that actually becomes the news of the speech. That's them if you like as that's what I mean by they are the spin doctors. They are the ones who are deciding what the line is and then it gets promulgated. I quote there David Blake, a former editor. This is a comment he put on my website the next day when I drew attention to Polly Toynbee's observation and he describes rather well how that happens. Again, I'm not sure there's much you can do about that, but I think it's important that the public do understand I'm not make making a party political point here because the same would happen with a Conservative leader as well, where they sort of get together and decide this is the line and the next day that is defined as public opinion. How did they know what public opinion is? How did they know how the public has reacted? I think this probably does relate much more to the debate about politics and the media, but this idea that they will kind of decide how the public is reacting, what the public is thinking, when the public actually doesn't get to hear what the politicians actually say.
Q. Thank you. 21083, the reliance on anonymous and often invented quotes. You say it's a growing phenomenon, reliance on anonymous quotes, and perhaps as a related point, many of those quotes in your view are invented or probably invented. Is that an inference you're drawing or is it something you have direct knowledge of, Mr Campbell?
A. Well, it's impossible to know the extent of it, but I mean, I don't have access to the same sort of research facilities that I used to do, but I could point back to dozens and dozens of dozens of stories which you know to be wrong, and that's why it's often frustrating when you're in a situation where you know a story to be wrong and when you you see a headline, you read the story and it's based upon an anonymous quote. And as I say in here, the anonymous quotes are usually very, very short in the tabloids and a bit longer in the broadsheets. You heard from Mr Peppiatt yesterday about he was ticked off for his anonymous quotes not being good enough, his invented quotes not being good enough. I give the example of the Mail Online and the Amanda Knox appeal verdict which had versions of both verdicts, complete with the reaction. How did they have the reaction to the verdict? Somehow they pressed the wrong button, they published the wrong version, with the wrong verdict, complete with the reaction in quotes. How did they do that?
Q. We've found that example and printed it off under tab 5 in that bundle, Mr Campbell. It's courtesy of Tabloid Watch. Of course, we can recall that the verdict was given at about 10.20 at night, I remember seeing it on the BBC News, so presumably what people had to do was to mock-up two versions, since there could only be two outcomes, and here we have the mocked-up wrong version, which presumably other papers did?
A. I don't know. I don't know. I don't think they did.
Q. There are some quotes here which perhaps is the point you're making. If you look towards the bottom of the page and the penultimate paragraph.
A. Yes.
Q. "Prosecutors were delighted with the verdict It might be said that they would have been, had it been that verdict. and said that justice had been done." It's a bit of a trite quote, but
A. But it would be a very odd thing for them to say, before the verdict, "justice has been done".
Q. If that were the verdict, it's something which they would obviously say.
A. Possibly. On a "human factor, it was sad two young people would be spending years in jail", they also said.
Q. It's back to this speed and accuracy? MR CAPLAN Can I interrupt that the position is clear that we are adamant that the quotes in these kind of stories where there are two versions prepared are actually made and both versions are properly prepared and the people are spoken to in the normal way. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right.
A. So what LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you, Mr Caplan. MR JAY I think, Mr Campbell, your point is
A. That means a journalist has gone to the prosecutor I'd like to ask Mr Caplan whether if I was covering a court case and I went to him and said, "Can you give me a quote for guilty and a quote for innocent", I'd be very, very surprised if Mr Caplan would do that, but we're being led to believe by the paper that he's representing that a prosecutor has said, "I'll give you a quote for guilty and a quote for innocent"? It's absurd. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you're exemplifying something you're concerned about and I understand the point.
A. Yes. MR JAY Still on page 21084. Your point about pre-budget coverage I think is one we've already covered, Mr Campbell; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. You deal with one concrete example towards the bottom of the page in relation to an Independent columnist. It's right to say, though, that he was suspended by the newspaper?
A. Oh, that's the point I'm making, that this is Johann Hari in the Independent who was suspended when it was revealed that he was taking people's quotes from other interviews and pretending they were his own. I'm making the point that the Independent dealt with that. And likewise the BBC and Alan Yentob and the so-called Noddy I think that was called Noddygate, where he was pretending to have been in interviews where he wasn't. I'm making the point that in relation to this business of newspapers making up quotes, that they don't have the same accountability and I give the example of the Sunday Times and John Prescott when John Prescott complained over a quote he'd never made, which they admitted to him that he'd never made, and then when they print their so-called apology in the paper, they said it was a production error. So they won't bring themselves to admit that actually they made it up. I go on to say that actually in American broadsheets and some of the magazines there is a system of fact-checking even of anonymous quotes and that's something that perhaps might help British journalism. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What's that system?
A. Basically, the journalist will write an article and they will then have separate from them, within the same newspaper or magazine, fact-checkers whose job is to check the facts, so that, for example, if any of us were interviewed for a piece, the fact-checker would phone us and say, "You're quoted as saying this, is that an accurate reflection of what you said?", for example. MR JAY In relation to the John Prescott piece, the Sunday Times did thoroughly apologise. This is clear from a printout from the Guardian Online who reported the story on 12 June 2011, which is in our tab 5?
A. But they did say it was a production error.
Q. They did? That was on a tweet: "Due to a production error, a quote was wrongly attributed to Then it was Mr Prescott's tweet MR DAVIES I'm sorry to interrupt. But these are two different stories, the Twitter story. The first one, which Mr Campbell referred to just now, was a genuine quote, it was not made up. What was wrong was that it was misattributed to Mr Prescott. And the paper did and that was it was an error by a subeditor and the paper apologised for it. It was an entirely different story, which was also a mistake, which arose from a misattributed tweet which came four months later. Both were genuine errors and in neither case was anything made up. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR JAY I hadn't appreciated there were two errors.
A. Nor had I. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The great advantage of splitting off these two parts in the terms of reference, and I saw great disadvantages when I first saw them, but the advantage is that it is not the absolute detail examples, one needs.
A. Okay. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But I will not have to resolve this sort of detail. I am looking for culture, practices and ethics.
A. Okay. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And therefore I'm very happy for people to make their position clear. These are examples of the point that you're making and I understand the point.
A. Okay. I'd be very surprised if John Prescott shared the assessment that has just been put to the Inquiry, but LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, you may be right, but the great thing is that I don't have to decide that.
A. Okay. MR JAY There's another story you refer to in the Sunday Express which relates to you, that you were about to take up a position at Manchester United?
A. Not as a player. Yes.
Q. Nor, I think, as the manager. But you were told by someone there, I think, that well, in your own words, tell us about it.
A. This is again trivial on one level. So I was at home on a Saturday evening spending a bit of time with my kids and the phone started ringing from newspapers, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People, saying there's this story in the Sunday Express saying you're leaving Number 10 and going to Manchester United. I said, "To do what?" I was fed up then there were all these quotes, close friends, there was a picture of me and Alex Ferguson together somewhere, there were close friends quoted, "He's fed up with Blair, he's fed up with this, he's fed up with that". I said, "This is completely untrue", and that was verbatim, the response: "I know, but it's a good story". It's one of those you think life's too short to complain about it, bother about it, life goes on. So again I put it in as not atypical.
Q. Yes. I suppose it might be said it's not a very good story, because I'm still struggling, if I may say so, to imagine what role you might have taken up. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Let's move on, Mr Jay.
A. I have played with Diego Maradona. MR JAY I hope that didn't sound offensive, Mr Campbell. It certainly wasn't intended to. The blog spot you identify and we printed out at the bottom of the page. It is worth reading, but we're not going to read it now. But thank you for drawing it to our attention.
A. Again I put that there to show that this is again an "ordinary person" who gets involved in something and it's a pretty horrific read.
Q. Yes. Culture of negativity, Mr Campbell, 21086. You make it clear that in your view that has stemmed from a tripartite alliance, not of course that they are truly allied: Murdoch, Dacre and Desmond. Can you elaborate on that, please?
A. They're certainly not an alliance and I don't suggest in any way that they've sort of come together with a strategy, but I think that Murdoch is the most influential media owner, Paul Dacre, as I've said, is a hugely influential figure within the press and what the press thinks of itself, and Richard Desmond owns the Express and the Star, which have not just in relation to the McCanns but they are as it were at that end of the market. The reason again why I do differentiate between them, so for example in relation to the Murdoch papers, why I would differentiate say between them and the Mail, they do at least have within them a kind of strand of optimism and a strand of hope about the country and the future and not everything is terrible, whereas I think where the culture of negativity is most relentless is actually within Associated Newspapers. But I think the general point I'm making is that those who are at the top of the industry have presided over this cultural shift to what I define as a culture of negativity, and I think they've done it deliberately. I think they feel it suits their interests. I happen to think they're wrong. I think it's one of the reasons why they're in trouble, why newspapers are not as popular and not bought as much as they were, because I think they've misunderstood this idea of what the public want. I think the public want something better than what they give them, but that's what they give them. News is only news if it's bad news for somebody, preferably somebody in power and authority.
Q. What harm does this do?
A. I don't think we can tell. But I've mentioned one area already where I think the quality of people who are interested in putting their head above the parapet, not just in politics but in public services, in all those sort of aspects of our national life that attract media attention, there's barely an individual organisation I would talk to in the sort of life that I lead now who wouldn't at some point say, "You know, we get a really, really bad press for what we do", and if you think about let's just take I mentioned earlier something like social workers. Hugely important. They only ever get defined negatively in most of the tabloid press. That has an impact upon recruitment, it has an impact upon morale, it has an impact upon the service that those people provide. I think I cite, I think it's in this section, where I talk about the MMR vaccine issue. Obviously the person that in a sense who is most culpable I suppose in that is that guy Wakefield who did the research. He may have honestly believed what he was doing, but it would have gone nowhere, given the weight of scientific opinion against him, had it not been for the fact that our newspapers wanted to give him the ventilation of his views rather than the vast majority who said he was wrong. I think that if there's anybody out there today whose child has got measles, yes, they can blame Mr Wakefield, they can also blame the press for the way they covered that issue. Their desire for the negativity to impact upon who at that time happened to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and then using this utterly spurious argument that because he wouldn't tell us whether his son had had the jab, therefore there's some sort of great conspiracy going on, again, utterly self-serving and actually dangerous to public health.
Q. Of course, the MMR issue is an enormously complex one. The underlying science is difficult for a lay person to understand. Newspapers like the Mail might validly say, "All we were doing was reflecting or voicing genuine public concern, given that an issue had been raised by a medical scientist".
A. Yes.
Q. Is that not legitimate?
A. They would say that, but I would argue they weren't giving voice to genuine public concern, they were seeking to exacerbate and fan public concern, and then drive it as a way of seeking to damage the government at the time. And also because health scares and crime scares are at the heart of what newspapers like that do, systemically, day in, day out. What you're suggesting is they would say, "We were doing a public service". If they were really interested in public service journalism, they would have said, "Here's the body of opinion that says this guy Wakefield is wrong", but no, it suited their interests to get mothers concerned enough to say, "This guy must be right because he's being treated like a hero in all our newspapers", and that leads to him being treated similarly on the television and before you know it, parents have stopped giving their children the vaccine and then you have a measles epidemic and never any accountability for the role of the press in that. So Wakefield, he has been subject to accountability in the GMC and all that, but the role of the press in it, which I think is just as important, nothing. No comeback whatsoever.
Q. Thank you. Page 21087, you draw attention to a speech the then Prime Minister gave, possibly in his last days of power, on 12 June 2007.
A. Yes.
Q. We've copied that under tab 6. What he says here but, of course, how one interprets his speech will be a matter for others, is broadly consistent with what you're telling the Inquiry; is that fair, Mr Campbell?
A. Yes.
Q. He does deal with the issue of regulation at page 6 on the internal numbering of his speech as reported.
A. Okay.
Q. The last two paragraphs on the page where he refers to the need for the regulatory framework to be revised.
A. Yes.
Q. He says how this is done is an open question.
A. Yes.
Q. I think it's clear from your evidence that this is the case, but were there discussions between you and the then Prime Minister about this issue in particular?
A. Not so much at this time. In fact, I'd left Downing Street by now and actually I had very little, if any, input into this speech. Certainly when I was still in Downing Street we did talk about it and we didn't disagree about that much but this is one thing about which we did fundamentally disagree, because I felt that he had reached a position and this wasn't about my view, this was about his view. He had reached a position and some of his senior colleagues had reached a position where they felt that this and as I say on 1087, I think the fuel protests and the foot and mouth crisis had been something of a turning point in this where he actually felt that what the press was becoming and had become was something of genuine concern, not just for the damage that it did to the government, which you kind of take as part of the territory, but actually the damage that it was doing to the culture and therefore to the country. His argument was very much that we were still seen as an all-mighty, all-powerful government that the press basically just we were in control of them and this would just look the public wouldn't really understand this. My argument was that he, as the Prime Minister, genuinely saw a problem and therefore had a responsibility to address that problem. His other argument was, look, there's too much to do, and I completely understand that, I completely understand that, but as I say in my statement, he used to he called it my stuck record because I felt that the it was beyond doubt by then that the system of self-regulation had completely failed, that these people at the top of the industry were utterly, as Nick Davies I completely agree with what he said, utterly incapable of being trusted with self-regulation, and therefore if that was a serious issue, it was the responsibility of government to address it. For all sorts of reasons, that never got done. I say within the statement the sort of thing that I thought we should have been looking at, but there was no appetite, there was no appetite. There was a shared analysis, but there was no appetite for change.
Q. We'll come to your analysis of what was required then and what may well be required now. You say in your statement that you noted the lack of serious response to Mr Blair's speech, and others picked that up including Mr Paxman; is that right?
A. It's interesting. That bit that you referred me to on page 6 about regulation, I could be wrong there, but I don't remember there being much coverage at all of the issue of him addressing regulation and whether there should be a change. They all decided the headline was "Blair says the media are feral beasts" and on we go. It sort of hung around for about a day. The issues within the speech sparked no debate whatsoever, and as Jeremy Paxman I quoted Jeremy Paxman he won't forgive me for it but I've quoted him favourably, where he says: "I thought the way we responded to Tony Blair's speech was pretty pathetic on the central charges that the media behave like a herd, have a trivial and collective judgment and prefer sensation to understanding. He said I'm sorry to say but I think there's something in all of these arguments but there was a collective refusal to engage, the media just 'pressed the F12 key. Yah booh. You're a politician. We're media yahoos. Get over it'." And that accurately sums up the way the speech was covered.
Q. Before our break, can I draw your attention to something else Mr Blair said on the seventh page of this document, which rather chimes with something you've said. I quote from it: "It is sometimes said that the media is accountable daily through the choice of readers and viewers. That is true up to a point, but the reality is that the viewers or readers have no objective yardstick to measure what they are being told. In every other walk of life in our society that exercises power, there are external forms of accountability, not least through the media itself. "So its true politicians are accountable through the ballot box every few years but they are also profoundly accountable daily through the media, which is why a free press is so important. I'm not in a position to determine this one way or another, but a way needs to be found. I do believe this relationship between public life and media is now damaged in a manner that requires repair. The damage saps the country's confidence and self-belief; it undermines its assessment of itself, its institutions; and above all, it reduces our capacity to take the right decisions in the right spirit for our future." And then he concludes by saying: "I have made this speech after much hesitation. I know it will be rubbished in certain quarters." Of course, had he made that speech earlier on, he would have been or might have been very heavily rubbished in certain quarters, do you think?
A. There's no doubt about that at all. I mean, I agree with every word of that and I think actually that poses the question that's now before the Inquiry and subsequently will be before Parliament, about what to do about it. But that something has to be done, I don't see how any reasonable person can disagree with that.
Q. Someone might be notionally prodding me to ask this question, and so I'll ask it, that owing to Mr Blair's relationship with the press, particularly the Murdoch press at his zenith, as it were, it wasn't really in his interests to pursue these issues since there was only a downside for him and no possible upside. Is that a fair observation or not?
A. The stage that he made this speech, as you said earlier it was just before he left office, so I don't think it mattered that much. But I think certainly back I mean Philip Gould who died recently and who updated his book, he reminded me that actually I'd been banging on about this well over ten years ago, and I think certainly back then part of the judgment would have been that, you know, broadly the press don't give us as much of a hard time as they used to give Labour governments. That would be seen as a plus. I reached a position, I think one or two others did, that that was kind of irrelevant. Yes, it's easier if you have the press broadly onside I wouldn't even say onside, just not intent on trying to destroy you on a daily basis systematically, that makes your job a little bit easier, but I think that the argument I kept making was that actually this has now sort of gone beyond any political advantage that we might or any other party might think they gain. And I hope, I really, really hope, that the current government and both parties within it do approach this from a position of principle as opposed to calculation about their interests at the next election, because I think this should be a big issue at the next election. MR JAY Would that be a convenient moment for a pause? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Certainly. It's one of the reasons why it's important to move on with the Inquiry, so that the debate can be had sooner rather than later.
A. (Nods head). LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right, we'll have five minutes. Thank you. (11.30 am) (A short break) (11.38 am) MR JAY Mr Campbell, you've drawn attention to Mr Paxman's MacTaggart's lecture, which we've printed off.
A. Yes.
Q. Which is towards the back end of our tab 6. It extends to, on this print-off at least, 16 pages, but if you go to page 5 of 16, you'll see the reference to at the very bottom the response to Tony Blair's speech as being pretty pathetic.
A. Yes.
Q. He does say something about you, though, on the next page, which I suppose I had better read out. Three lines from the top of page 6 of 16, you quote this bit: "By and large, the response to Blair's attack: 'just pressed the F12 key. Yah booh. You're a politician. We're media yahoos. Get over it'. Of course, the attack all seemed a bit rich coming from a government which took the media more seriously and tried to control it more effectively than any previous administration. "I remember once being in number 11 Downing Street waiting to do an interview with Gordon Brown and the side door of number 12 opening. In previous governments, number 12 was where the chief whip had his office. Now, as it swung back, I was astonished to see the place being taken over by what seemed to be a fibre-optic version of a Victorian counting house a squad of young people sitting at a row of desks, on the phone, bending the ears of journalists. At the top could he really have been sitting at a higher desk? That's certainly how I think I remember it sat the brooding figure of Alastair Campbell." A bit of a side swipe at you. I don't really want to ask you to comment. Is that factually correct, however?
A. No. Did we move to number 12? Yes. Eventually Gordon Brown moved there when he was Prime Minister. I'm not going to criticise Jeremy because I thought it was a very, very good speech. Just as a matter of fact, I doubt he would know what the young people were doing on the phone. He assumes they're bending the ears of journalists. And also this higher desk is news to me. "Brooding" I will possibly allow. I also note he says my diaries will turn out to be a gold mine for future psychiatrists. So I don't think he was being terribly serious at that part of the speech, but at other parts he was.
Q. Page 21089, "Labour should have addressed the issue when in power", we've covered some of that already, Mr Campbell. May I deal with the issue of Mailwatch, which is the middle of this page?
A. Yes.
Q. It was your office preparing and publishing rebuttals of false stories in the Daily Mail, and it was called Mailwatch. Is it right that it was dropped after only two weeks?
A. I think it ran for longer. I can't remember, to be honest. I've tried to get hold of some of them but I don't have the same access to government papers that I used to, but no, I think it ran longer than that. It certainly was dropped. I had suggested to the then Prime Minister that the level of misrepresentation of government, government policy, public services, what was happening in the country, was so severe that we should actually assign somebody as part of their job to just look at the Daily Mail day by day and rebut stories that were false, and some days, as I say, it ran to pages and pages and pages. But we dropped it after a few weeks partly because, to be absolutely frank, because other ministers persuaded the Prime Minister that this wasn't a good thing to do. Entitled to their opinion and that's fine. But I wish we had carried it on because I think actually it served a useful public service.
Q. I wouldn't dream of asking you who those other ministers were. We'll move on to page 21090, "Culture of negativity extends well beyond politics", all of which may well be true but outside the terms of reference of this Inquiry. The MMR issue you deal with specifically, but we've covered it at 21091.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. Can I ask you to elaborate, though, on your next theme or heading, 21092, "The media controls the terms of debate about the media".
A. Yes.
Q. Can you expand a bit on that?
A. I've argued for years that the change that is necessary within a culture that's gone bad is only going to happen if there is an honest debate within the media about the media. To be absolutely frank, it's taken the scandals that have led to this Inquiry for that to happen. If they'd had it, then they might have been able to have got themselves to a better place without all this. So, for example, I make the I don't know if it's here or somewhere else in the submission, where I make the point that what's going on at the moment in terms of the media debate on this is exceptional. It's very rare that there is so much coverage within the media about the media and about the press in particular. Because they control the terms of the debate. If they decide that something is not newsworthy and it's not interesting I mean, for example, when the McCanns' case was at its height, I think there should have been coverage then, big, major coverage, debate going on about what was happening to them and what the press were doing to them. It was a part of the story, but it was over there, it was in the corner. So I think that what I'm saying here is that they can decide on a again I'm not suggesting a sort of conspiracy, they get together and say, "Let's decide how to cover this", but they can decide whether something actually gets properly ventilated, they can decide whether the public do get to hear about these debates or not and there's a limit then to what the politicians can do because, you know, politicians are ministers, they're busy. There's lots and lots of things that they're trying to do, but I've been arguing for a decade now that this is a serious issue where the debate has to be heard out in the open. It's not happened until now because the media has kept control of the terms of debate.
Q. Thank you. I'll move forward now to "Dubious practices", 21094. Do you have any direct knowledge, Mr Campbell, about phone hacking? If you don't, please tell us.
A. I do, yeah. Yeah.
Q. Could you tell us, please, in outline what your direct knowledge is?
A. Well, I'd been visited by officers from Operation Weeting and shown references to me in relation to Glenn Mulcaire and I've also been visited by officers from Operation Tuleta, which I know is not about phone hacking but is about, if you like, dubious practices beyond phone hacking, where I was briefed on computer hacking, not suggesting it was me but just explaining what they were looking into. And also briefed on invoices they'd found, that the Mirror had paid private investigators who were looking at me and Peter Mandelson at a certain point, me and a member of my family and Peter Mandelson at a certain point. Can I just say about this though I put this in here because it's part of the general thing you asked me to address. I'm not putting myself remotely in the category of some of the other people who have been here, but in answer to your question, yes, I have direct experience of phone hacking and of some of these other dubious practices.
Q. You then comment on the use of subterfuge and the activities of the News of the World's then investigations editor, Mr Mazher Mahmood, who has now moved across to the Sunday Times, has he not?
A. Mm-hm.
Q. You are concerned about certain aspects of what he does, and we have collected for you some materials under tab 7.
A. Yes.
Q. These all come from pieces in the Guardian
A. The problem with a lot of these stories is that they've been removed from the News of the World website.
Q. Yes.
A. So in researching some of this, the only place I could find anything reliable on it was actually to use material published in other newspapers about it.
Q. The first example you give is directly under tab 7. It's the Earl of Hardwicke case.
A. Yes.
Q. To be clear about this, it did result in a conviction, but given concerns about the way in which the evidence was obtained, the judge imposed a suspended sentence; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. And the judge said this is his Honour Judge Timothy Pontius: "Were it not for that elaborate sting, you would not, I accept, have committed these particular offences."
A. Yes.
Q. You draw attention to that. My understanding of the criminal law is that the agent provocateur defence is not a defence, however it's a factor which can be taken into account LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It depends who is doing it, Mr Jay. The decision of the House of Lords in a case called Loosely. I'm pleased to demonstrate some knowledge. MR JAY Not generally a defence.
A. The other thing you might want to look at though is the PCC code: "Clandestine devices and subterfuge. The press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using hidden cameras or clandestine listening devices or by intercepting private or mobile calls, messages or emails et cetera, et cetera. And of course it goes on to say: unless there's a clear public interest." Now in some of these he might be able to argue that. The reason I put all of these in is I think some you could argue the public interest but the vast majority you couldn't. But they did it routinely. And proudly. That was what made this guy's name.
Q. Which of the ones do you feel would clearly not be in the public interest, the ones you've drawn attention to? Rather than my going perhaps invidiously through all of these.
A. I can't see much in the first one. In the second one, the one about the snooker player, if you read the the World Snooker Body did its own investigation. If you read the conclusions of that, you'd be hard-pressed not to realise that actually this was this guy was sort of only doing it because he was pushed into it because of the circumstances there and he was trying to get out of the room, and I think that's what the Snooker Body accepted. I can't remember what the one about Sven Goran Eriksson was about. I think I would echo something that Nick Davies said yesterday. I think on all of these there are difficult judgments, but I think if you go on, I list at the bottom of that page 095 Sophie Anderton taking cocaine, Kate Middleton's uncle in drugs and vice shock, Peaches Geldof doing a drug deal, swimmer Michael Phelps smokes cannabis, Gordon Ramsay cheating on his wife, Joe Calzaghe taking cocaine, Wayne Rooney cheating on his wife. The point I'm making is I don't think we should buy this line that the News of the World put out at the time of their closure that some great campaigning organ that was changing the world for the better, this journalism, was what was being lost to the world. And then the Victoria Beckham agent provocateur was again
Q. Some of these examples will be put to Mr Mahmood in due course. Thank you for drawing those to our attention. I know there is something that you wish to talk about in some detail, the theme you pick up at the bottom of page 21096, "The growth industry: private detectives of journalists".
A. Yes.
Q. So to give us some context, in the 1980s, what, if anything, was your experience of using private detectives?
A. I don't have I don't recall any. There may have been, there may have been colleagues that were using them, but I don't recall private detectives.
Q. The position now, you refer to various sources, in particular the work or the recruits of Operation Motorman; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. Which we're going to start hearing about after your evidence, doubtless. Aside from obvious problems with criminality in Section 55 of the Data Protection Act, are there any broader issues which you have in mind to bring to our attention in relation to the use of private detectives?
A. Well, I think it has been what that report would suggest has been something of a growth industry and I wonder if again it's partly related to the economics of the newspaper industry, that these are people who can get stories and get information more cheaply and they can do things that journalists should not do or would not do or don't know how to do, and I think that what's happened, as I suggested earlier, is that once it's been established that these guys can do all these things and do them fairly cheaply, then they've just become a means by as regular as employing a journalist. When you look at the numbers involved, when you look at the sort of money that Mulcaire was earning for what he was doing, that suggests he was giving them a lot of product, which ended up as stories in the newspaper. Again, I think it's important to emphasise Operation Weeting is only about Mulcaire. We don't know all the stories that he got and which have been published and which actually came from phone hacking. We don't know, as we read a newspaper any morning of the week, we don't know the extent to which these have come via private investigators. We don't know if, in the pursuit of those stories, those private investigators have broken the law. And the newspaper doesn't necessarily know.
Q. Thank you.
A. I say there at 097 that during the whole when the whole kind of Andy Coulson thing was at its height and people were constantly asked the question, "Would the editor know?", well they wouldn't necessarily know everything that everybody did in pursuit of a story in the newspaper, but they would certainly know that more and more money was being spent on the hiring of private detectives. Did they ever stop and say, "Why are we spending all this money on private detectives"? Probably not, because they know the answer. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That raises questions of governance and oversight as well, doesn't it?
A. Yeah. MR JAY In relation to the Information Commissioner's report, or his first report, we know there were two, you point out, and others have echoed this, that those reports attracted very little or very limited coverage or political comment.
A. That goes back to my point about the media controlling the terms of the debate. They decided collectively this was of no interest, and I also think there was a failure of politics there that no Select Committee thought it was worthy of pursuit, the government didn't think it was worthy of studying in more detail and I mean, there was a real problem that was identified there that's only come to light now. That document's been out there published for years.
Q. Thank you. Phone hacking, 21099.
A. Can I just go back to 098?
Q. Of course.
A. I do think this is really, really important, because newspapers who have been named in this report, several of them have said they've never published stories on illegally obtained information, including Mr Dacre, who said it at the House of Lords committee. His papers are number one and number four in the list of which organisations have the most transactions with the most private detectives trading in private information. That says to me if he can state that confidently to a House of Lords committee, he ought to be able to answer for every single transaction as to what was paid, why it was paid, what those private detectives did and which stories it led to publication in the newspaper, and if he can't do that, he cannot substantiate that statement to a House of Lords committee.
Q. Thank you. Phone hacking, 21099. It may be possible to take the evidence you give in relation to Paul McMullan quite shortly since he largely confirmed it. Indeed, he did confirm it. So that we understand the context, you tell us that you were making a short film for the BBC One Show on phone hacking and you interviewed Mr McMullan. Do you remember when that was?
A. I don't remember, but I could easily check.
Q. Approximately when?
A. A few months ago.
Q. You say some of the remarks he made were not broadcast on the advice of BBC lawyers.
A. He named names.
Q. Yes. Well, you say as well that you had other meetings with him. All part and parcel of the making of this programme, were they?
A. Yeah, also I sort of bumped into him in TV green rooms from time to time.
Q. Everything you say has been substantiated by him?
A. I thought it was interesting yesterday, I think I heard him rightly that he said it was still going on.
Q. Can I ask you about 21100, level with the lower hole punch. Can we just be clear about your evidence in relation to Mr Blunkett. You have no personal knowledge of that, you're simply reporting
A. No, I'm just reporting what's been reported.
Q. Then you refer to Carole Caplin and say you have no evidence of her phone being hacked.
A. I should actually interject there that following Mr Staines' publication of my draft evidence, Carole Caplin got in touch with me and said she had been shown evidence of being hacked and said she would be happy to write to the Inquiry about that, if it was helpful.
Q. Just so that we understand the scope of her evidence, did she give a period of time in respect of which she was told that her phone had been hacked?
A. She thought she'd been shown several pages of Mulcaire's notes. It's interesting. In my I talk about leaking information about the activities and movements, because what we found was with Cherie Blair in particular, she was turning up at places and the press were finding out about it. As I say in my statement, I did at times directly accuse Carole Caplin of tipping off newspapers about what she was up to. I've since apologised to her for that because I now realise I was completely wrong. For example, one of these specific people that Cherie was visiting was in the Carole told me was in the notes, and also during the period 2002 to 2003 as well. As I say, she it's probably for her to say what she knows, but she did say if you wanted to hear from her, she'd be happy to write to you.
Q. Fair enough. The information she obtained in relation to Mulcaire's notes, presumably
A. From the police.
Q.
A. Yes.
Q. As far as you're aware, this related solely to Mr Mulcaire and to the News of the World. It did not extend more widely?
A. To what she was saying?
Q. Yes.
A. She's been shown the Mulcaire notes so far as they relate to her. As I say here, I'd always been the Mail did appear to be the paper that ran the most stories about Cherie and Carole. I think the guy's name was Rayner, I can't remember, somebody who was pumping out stories the whole time and I don't know, I have no evidence of the Mail hacking Cherie or Carole's phone or anybody else doing so beyond what she told me at the weekend.
Q. I'm sure the Mail will wish it to be made clear through me that if we're talking about Operation Weeting and Carole Caplin being shown the relevant pages of the Mulcaire notebook to the extent to which they relate to her, the almost overwhelming inference is, maybe it's the only inference, that we're talking about phone hacking being instigated by the News of the World and this is not evidence which incriminates the Mirror. Would you accept that?
A. The Mail.
Q. The Mail. Would you accept that?
A. It's not for me to accept or not accept that. I can tell you what she said to me. I can also say to you that during various periods of the time that we were in government, we were very, very concerned about how many stories about Cheri and Carole Caplin were getting out to different parts of the media. I have no idea how they were getting out. I now accept they had nothing to do with Carol. Indeed, Carole has subsequently successfully sued the Daily Mail. If you're asking me to say that I would say that the Daily Mail have never done anything untoward, I'm not prepared to say that. I would say I have no evidence of them hacking telephones.
Q. The litigation you refer to was not over phone hacking, was it? To your knowledge?
A. Which litigation?
Q. Carole Caplin's against the Mail.
A. It was a recent case where I think it was libel over something she'd said about she was planning to sell a book or something. I don't remember.
Q. Would it be fair to summarise your evidence in this way: you know of no evidence which indicates that the Mail were involved in phone hacking, but by way of observation or comment, you're not prepared to say that the Mail were not involved in phone hacking?
A. Correct. And also, I go back to the point I made earlier. We've only known in relation to Glenn Mulcaire about stories which have ended up in the News of the World. Again, I'm not suggesting that I know, have any evidence of stories that he got through illegal activities ending up in other newspapers, but I don't know that. And along the way through this whole episode, we've constantly been told first of all by News International and then other newspapers that they don't get up to all sorts of stuff and, well, let's just see where all the evidence leads.
Q. Proving a negative, though, is
A. It's difficult.
Q. often extremely difficult, as indeed it would be in the context of MMR to prove conclusively that there isn't a causal link.
A. I agree, I agree. I agree. All I will say is that in relation to not just Carole Caplin and not just Cherie but all of us who were involved in the government at that time, all sorts of stuff got out. Some of it may have got out because people who were within the government were putting it out there. Perhaps. That does happen. But equally, there were all sorts of situations where you'd just sit there scratching your head thinking, "How the hell did that get out?" And given what we know now, I have revised my opinion in several regards as to how some stuff may have got out.
Q. I think that's as far as I can take that particular issue.
A. Yes, but as I said, Carole Caplin said she'd be happy to elaborate if you wanted her to.
Q. I would like to ask you about other activities of which you have personal experience. This is the middle of page 21101. Rooting through dustbins. First of all, your own personal experience of that, could you help us? It's not nocturnal foxes, it's people going through your own dustbins.
A. I've had the foxes as well, but no, it's people. Yeah, it's people. You wake up in the middle of the night and there will be people going through your bins. It's happened to me on a couple of occasions, it's happened to other people that I know and it happened quite famously to Philip Gould and his ended up mainly being published, I think, in I think it was the Sunday Times.
Q. In relation to the late Philip Gould, I've been asked to put this to you, that similar memos also appeared in other papers apart from the Sunday Times. Were you aware of that?
A. Yes, I'm sure they Philip was a wonderful human being, but not always terrible careful with where he left his bags. So they did, they did, but certainly it is known that some were taken from his bins.
Q. This is the point which I think I've been asked to explore, because it is stringently denied by the Sunday Times. How is it known that material departed from his bins?
A. Oh, I see. Oh, I thought it was I thought it was an accepted fact.
Q. The general phenomenon of people rooting through bins is
A. I thought Benji the binman had confessed to this.
Q. In this particular case it is disputed
A. Okay.
Q. that Philip Gould's memos departed from his bin and I was just enquiring what, if any, the quality of the evidence is to link these memos with the Sunday Times.
A. Okay. Well, I thought it was accepted that they had been, but I'm happy to I don't know. I don't know.
Q. Maybe could you accept in this case
A. If that's been investigated and established, but I certainly I mean, we can't ask Philip now, but he was certainly of the view that these all came through Benji going through his bins and having lots of sellotape and putting them back together again.
Q. Okay. What about personal experience of blagging, please, Mr Campbell?
A. I would say my experience of blagging is small scale. I've had calls from my bank and my telephone company that people have tried to get into my accounts, but once or twice, but nothing that's ever I don't think anything that's ever led anywhere.
Q. Thank you. I'm not going to ask you specifically about what you say at the top of page 211O2 since it comes, I think, from private information which presumably you're not really prepared to talk about. Can I ask you about harassment, though, particularly when you're with children. Can you assist us with any particular examples of that?
A. Again, I'm not going to put myself in the same bracket as these sort of A list film stars who get harassed 24 hours a day, but I have had experience of, for example, being out with I can remember being out with my daughter when she was about nine, being sort of swarmed by a group of photographers, one of them saying, "Don't worry, she won't be in the picture", and I was saying, "How does she know that?" I put that in there because I know you asked me for my personal experience, but I'm not overcomplaining about that.
Q. Targeting of relatives
A. This I do complain about.
Q. Tell us a bit about this, please, Mr Campbell.
A. I think that people in public life who you do develop a very, very thick skin. I have a very, very thick skin. I frankly have reached the point where I genuinely don't care what the papers say about me at all. I've never sued a newspaper. I can always answer back, particularly now in the blogosphere and Twitter and all that stuff, but they know they can sort of get at you through your family. It's almost comical now when I read it, but it wasn't comical at the time. As I say, it's the only time I managed to get an immediate instant apology from the Daily Mail was when they wrote a story about the impact that my father's death had had on me, and the reason it was so easy was because of course my father was alive at the time. This is one time where Mr Dacre, when I phoned him up, sort of admitted he didn't have a leg to stand on and I'm glad to say that we got some money and we managed to build new school gates for my kids' school and new playground equipment that Mr Dacre would be pleased to know is still being used by the children, albeit not today, but that is just one example. To be fair, they apologised.
Q. Yes.
A. Again, it's interesting the background to that because what had happened there was that somebody, obviously with not much better to do with his time, decided to write a book about me while I was in Downing Street, and the Mail thought they were going to serialise it, but the guy worked for the Daily Express so the Express said, "No, you have to serialise it here". So Paul Dacre was miffed at this, that he went back to the Express, so he put together a team of people to pretend to write a book which they put together in a few days, so it was a serialisation of a book which didn't exist which on day one talked about the impact of my father's death. Like I say, if you get a very thick skin, as I've got, it sort of doesn't matter, but your kind of parents and your brothers and nephews and nieces, this is not their world so that can actually have quite a profound impact.
Q. Yes, and you point out that it may also be in breach of the PCC code on intrusion?
A. I think there is again if you go to the PCC code it's clear that people should not be targeted because of their connection to individuals in the public eye. You heard from Charlotte Church about her father's sex life being deemed to be newsworthy because she was famous. Why was he famous? Because he's the father of somebody famous. I point to an example recently in the Mail on Sunday which wrote a story which put two and two together and made several thousand. I made a large donation not that large I made what was deemed at this stage to be a large donation to the Labour Party. One of my sons works for the Labour Party because he wants to work for the Labour Party and he applied for a job and got that job. They do a story about nepotism, suggesting he got the job because I made a donation, ie corruption. Again, did I do anything about it? No. You sort of you move on. But I just make that point that for a lot of people and I'm making no complaint politically when I say this the current government I think are not suffering this to the same extent, but they will, unless the press changes. There will come a point where they do the same to them.
Q. I am asked to put to you some questions in relation to this Mail Online article. It's under tab 7 at the very back and the piece is headlined "Nepotism row as Campbell's son is given a plum job with Labour." It opens with this: "Labour has been accused of nepotism after handing a plum job to the son of former Downing Street spin doctor Alastair Campbell." What they're doing here is merely reporting what a Tory MP was saying. If you go to the top of page 2 of 4: "Mr Harrington, Tory MP for Watford, said last night the appointment of Mr Campbell's son smacked of cronyism", and then a direct quote: "This is the sort of nepotism we have come to expect from the Labour Party under Ed Miliband." Is there really a difficulty in the Mail reporting faithfully what a political opponent of yours is saying?
A. No. I'd be very surprised if I mean, you put that as though Mr Harrington has sort of made the issue. The Mail on Sunday has made the issue and gone and found a tame Tory MP to say what they want him to say. Again that's part of what newspapers do, I used to do it myself in certain circumstances. I'm merely making the point that they would know that that story would annoy me more than most of the bile that they write about me whenever they do because the stuff about me, I genuinely couldn't give a damn, but they know that bringing your family into stories like this and again, I go back to the point we talked about Philip Gould a moment ago, when his daughter applied to try and get a Labour candidature and the press went into absolute kill mode on a 22, 23-year-old young woman who genuinely, out of a genuine political conviction, wants to try and I think she'll carry on and do it, but I think a lot of young people, if they go through that experience, they're never go to put their head above the parapet again.
Q. Finally in relation to this piece in the Mail, although it is put at the end, you see the bottom of page 2 of 4: "The Labour spokesman last night denied any suggestion of nepotism and insisted that [your son] was appointed on merit. He said he was given the job which was advertised because he was the best candidate. The idea that he got the job because of his father was plain wrong." So that's a forthright denial.
A. I said that.
Q. Uselessness of the PCC and what might replace it, Mr Campbell, 21103. You make a large number of points here. Can we try and summarise them, please, again in your own words, what are the bullet points which set out your position in relation to the PCC?
A. That it's failed. That it's failed because this is a body that has been of the press and for the press. That it's had a succession of chairmen and one chairwoman who have been appointed largely as political fixers operating in the interests of the press rather than the public interest. There are other failings that it has which are not necessarily their fault. For example, the fact that they feel constrained from investigating what I would call themes. Again, Mr Peppiatt I think had one example was it Mr Peppiatt? where you have to have a specific complainant who is affected by a story, so it means if generally you think I refer in my statement to Islamophobia. There were points at which I think I raised with two PCC chairs, "Look, this is becoming an issue, don't you think you should do or say something about it" and they said, "Somebody has to complain". So an individual Muslim has to say "That paper is being Islamophobic and it's affecting me as an individual". So that I think has to change. And I just think this entire make-up has been wrong from the start. I understand why it's like it is, because this was the last chance saloon that led to the last chance at self-regulation. So the funding, PressBof, it's entirely funded by the press. Again you could say that's a good thing because it means public money is not being spent on this, but it makes it a vested interest. And then these people who have senior positions I say in my statement that I would I mean, it operated sort of like a gentlemen's club. "Let's see how we can fix this and keep that quiet and calm this down" and the editors, who are on the Editors' Code Committee, they may not be sitting in judgment on individual cases, but they have huge power within the organisation, and in my view, in the body that replaces the PCC, there should be no live current media representatives involved in it at all.
Q. May I deal with a few isolated points before I ask you to address the future. One isolated point relates to what you say in the middle of page 21103: "There were 22,000 complaints that the reporting of the death of the singer Stephen Gately in the Mail by Jan Moir violated parts of the code that deal with grief, accuracy, discrimination and homophobia." The outcome was that the PCC rejected the complaint; is that correct?
A. Mm-hm. Mm-hm. Let me just read paragraph 12, clause 1 of the discrimination of the PCC code: "The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability." Now, they have to make judgments, and I know what judgment I would have made on the basis of that.
Q. I suppose that doesn't mean, though, Mr Campbell, that the judgment of the PCC was wrong, since the PCC in this instance did investigate the complaint and found that there wasn't a breach of the code; is that correct?
A. They did find that, and what I would say is that's a point that I think can still be argued. Now, they made the judgment. My point is they tend to make judgments that favour the press and they put the press interest ahead of the public interest, and I think they've done that virtually through the entirety of their existence. That is not to say they don't do some good work, they haven't done some good work, particularly on mediation and we always felt them helpful in relation to the then Prime Minister's children, but on these bigger questions that we've been talking about, I think the PCC has utterly failed.
Q. I understand your evidence on the bigger question, the meta issues, if you like, but on this micro issue, would you accept that without seeing the article in question, without seeing the text of the PCC adjudication, which we just haven't printed off but we could examine if necessary, it's a bit difficult to form a judgment whether they called it right or wrong?
A. I agree. I can give you my opinion, they've made a judgment and I do accept they have difficult judgments to make.
Q. Okay.
A. I alluded to this one because I sort of felt it was one where if you look at the words of that paragraph of the code, you kind of think it's an open-and-shut case. I could give you other examples of what have been accepted as open-and-shut cases which ultimately did not lead to a ruling in the complainant's favour.
Q. You tell us that when you were in Downing Street you were constantly told by PCC people that the three people who counted in the PCC were the chairman, Les Hinton and Paul Dacre. The PCC people you're referring to, can you tell us a bit about those? You don't have to name them.
A. The chairman. The chairman would make no bones about the fact that part of the you know, they were trying to keep us happy, as the government, they were trying to keep the media barons happy and they were sort of fixing between the two and I was always conscious of the fact that they were sort of you know, these were very, very important people. I'm not suggesting that they sat in judgment on cases, but in terms of what the PCC was and its direction and its strategy and so forth, these were very these were players.
Q. Presumably they were also telling you that there was a triangle, they also had to keep the consumers happy?
A. Yes, and to be fair, I think a lot of time, particularly in relation to the work they did in the regions, that was where the bulk of their work went on, but I think at the national level it was much more on what you call these meta issues, which I think they handled very, very badly.
Q. Is your point that a body dedicated to keeping people happy, indeed certain different constituencies happy, may well fail in achieving the right objective balance between complex issues?
A. Yes. That's why I would recommend that any replacement body, obviously it has to be set up by Parliament, with parliamentary approval, but there should be no political interest on it and there should be no media interest on it.
Q. I'm going to come to the future in a very short moment, Mr Campbell. Can I ask you though about a paragraph at the bottom of the page, which now reads: "On virtually all the occasions we resorted to the PCC I think you've been shown some questions by one core participant. These came to you, I think, over the weekend?
A. Yes, and I said that I had forgotten about the cases where the PCC did rule in favour in relation to the children, and I do accept that in relation to the Blairs' children, they were perfectly good. I'm not sure Cherie would agree with that, by the way, but I think they were okay.
Q. So we can be precise about it, the pronoun "we" in the sentence "we resorted to the PCC", that relates to either the Blairs directly or you on behalf of the Blairs?
A. Or on behalf of others in government. There were lots of instances where we discussed with the PCC the possibility of taking up a complaint with the PCC, but then didn't take it forward either because there were other things to do and life was too short and there weren't enough hours in the day, or because, in one instance, for example, where my partner took a case to the PCC, spent six months being told by the PCC that she had an open-and-shut case and by the end of it being told that they couldn't rule because it was a question of interpretation. And you were dealing with that the whole as soon as you got into it, you reach a point pretty quickly where you're sorting banging your head against a brick wall.
Q. Three upheld complaints were, I think, between 1999 and 2001 related to two of the Blair children; is that right?
A. Yes. And again, it's absolutely explicit in the PCC code, but it's broken fairly regularly, that children should be entitled to have an education without any intrusion from the press.
Q. I've also been asked to draw attention to one complaint, which came from Number 10, which related to stories about the Prime Minister seeking, I quote, to muscle in on the Queen Mother's funeral arrangements, and those must have been in June 2002, perhaps slightly earlier.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. Do you accept that the complaint was withdrawn because a memo from Black Rod himself supported the reports of various newspapers which had covered the row?
A. No, I don't accept that. I accept that Black Rod had clearly been involved in the story. The story remains untrue. But what his intervention did was make it the PCC come to us and say, "Look, this is putting us in a very, very difficult position, so we'd really, really be happy if you withdrew the complaint" and I go back to the point I made earlier. You just give up, you move on. The story wrong, the story was inaccurate, but it became clear to us that they had some sort of source who had said whatever he'd said to them, they'd written whatever they wrote, it remains false, but it became clear to us from the PCC, it was the chairman himself who came to see me and said, "Look, this is just a bit tricky", so we said, "Okay, forget it, we'll move on", and that's the way they operate.
Q. For whatever reason, the complaint there was withdrawn by you; is that right?
A. It was, yes. That was so the PCC didn't the PCC asked us not to put them in a position where they had to make a judgment.
Q. You say at the top of page 21104: "It is also a weakness that the PCC cannot itself mount investigations or step in publicly." I'm asked to put this to you, that Lord Wakeham did step in publicly on the occasion when Mr Blair's son was found drunk in the street, if you remember that occasion. Lord Wakeham was asked to by you; is that correct?
A. That may well be correct. But when I talk about intervening Lord Wakeham and other chairs did lots of that, of talking to newspapers at the time stories were alive. That's not what I mean by intervention. What I mean by intervention is, for example and may I say, in that case, I'd spoken to the Prime Minister as soon as we were informed and we still don't know how that one got out either, let me say. I'd spoken to the Prime Minister and said, "Look, he's been found drunk, he's obviously been drinking under age, we could try and make a fuss about this and say he's under age and he's covered by the PCC code" and the Prime Minister said, "No, I think we just have to take it on the chin", so my first contact with the PCC was to tell them, we will accept there's a kind of public interest in there, we're not going to make a fuss, but it might be helpful if you have a word with them not to go completely berserk about this." If they call it intervention, fine. What will I mean by intervention is when you have something like the Madeleine McCann case and the PCC must be sitting there seeing their code broken hour by hour, day by day, and they sit there and watch it happen. That's what I mean by intervention, that they should be able to step in and say publicly, "Hold on a minute, here is the code and here's where you're breaking it". Never did it.
Q. Thank you. I think I've covered all the questions others have wanted me to put, but I'm just checking because I wanted to cover them all before we looked to the future because you may have an important contribution here, Mr Campbell. You start dealing with it in the longest paragraph on page 21104, don't you?
A. Mm-hm.
Q. Can we pick out some of the themes You have adumbrated some of them already, that the PCC or whatever body replaces it should be independent of government and totally independent of the press. Are you saying by that that in your view there should be no press experience, no press presence?
A. No, not at all.
Q. Can you elaborate on that then?
A. I think there would have to be press experience and press presence, but I don't think you could have, as you have now, serving editors, serving newspaper executives, currently in their positions, in senior positions on the regulatory body. So I'm not saying there should be no people with media experience and also, this thing about independence it is very, very difficult, because ultimately the government does have to make when this Inquiry reports, the government will have to take a position on any legislative change and then Parliament would have to endorse it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There's absolutely no question about it.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's been suggested that I'm doing that. I'm doing nothing of the sort.
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I am merely going to provide a report to the government and to Parliament for them to decide
A. Exactly. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON what, if anything, should happen next.
A. Yes. And you can guarantee that when government sets up independent bodies, there's always an extent to which people say it can't be truly independent because the government created it, but that's just our system, you have to live with that. But I'm saying it should be once it's established, government should not be able to interfere with it and nor should existing media organisations. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There's just one issue about that which I'd like to have your view about, and that is the risk that in an ever-changing market, somebody who's out of the picture, in other words somebody who no longer has to work within the day-to-day constraints of what's going on, will comparatively quickly lose the all-important up-to-date knowledge. Do you see the point I'm asking you about?
A. I do, but I think you have there are lots of regulatory systems that operate in other walks of life where part of their job is to stay abreast of change and to stay abreast of themes. And it may be you could have a system where, within each newspaper, there are representatives who report to that body and keep them up to date with what's going on. You see, I think I agreed with an awful lot of what Nick Davies said about this yesterday. I think the good journalists, who are probably still the majority, certainly outside the kind of small circle of newspapers we've been talking about, if you go into the regions and the local newspapers and other serious national newspapers, the majority of journalists, who are good journalists, actually have nothing to fear from this at all. The people who are fighting hardest for the last, last, last-chance saloon, are the ones who got drunker and drunker than the ones who have gone before because they are terrified of losing their ability to do the sort of journalism that they've been doing over the last decade or so. MR JAY Then you refer to the need for such a body to have real power. Various people have said that. The power to fine owners, editors and journalists. Power to order corrections and right of reply, and a body to pre-adjudicate on privacy cases. If I may say so, you're not the first person to suggest that.
A. No. Again, this is not I say in here this should not be seen as a sort of one-way drive against the press. I think that the some of the case law that exists on confidence and defamation works against the press and the public interest. Trafigura was a very, very good example of that. There is still I was astonished to discover when researching for this, there are still documents relating to the thalidomide cases which have not been published and the defence is confidentiality. So I think there are some areas where existing caselaw works against the press and the public interest, but I think in terms of the you know, I'm not a fan of injunctions and superinjunctions, I think they're a very, very blunt instrument, and again I agree with Nick Davies that if there was somewhere some sort of arbitrating body, independent of government and the press, that journalists could go to in confidence and that victims or subjects of stories could go to as well and say, "This is happening; if this is pursued with, do you see a public interest justification?" I don't think it would be that difficult to set up.
Q. You talk about the Trafigura case, but the thalidomide case, my understanding is that the injunction was upheld by the House of Lords in 1973 or 1974. There was then protracted litigation in the European Court of Human Rights where the Sunday Times eventually won in 1979, but part of the relief or no part of the relief which the European Court of Human Rights granted was to reverse the injunctions. So, in other words, they made a finding on Article 10 but the domestic injunction remains in place.
A. Yes.
Q. I think what we learned from that is that the outcome would be different now given that Article 10 is part of domestic law by the route of the Human Rights Act 1998. Can I ask you, though, further about the PCC. You've touched on this. You would like a power to investigate without there being an individual complaint?
A. Mm-hm.
Q. We can see that. And then you're also suggesting that there should be an annual report.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. One can see the possible utility of that.
A. I say in my submission that the real tragedy for the press and good journalists is that the PCC code is it's a very good code, it's a perfectly good piece of word: accuracy, opportunity to reply, privacy, harassment, it covers the whole lot, hospitals, victims of sexual assault, discrimination, children. Had it been adhered to, I don't think we'd be where we are today, and I think it's a perfectly good basis. But I think what an annual report would do assume there's a new body and there's a new code, or a revised code, but it's the basis of any new code of conduct, then to have an annual report where the regulatory body actually analyses the conduct of each newspaper against the code to which they have all adhered. I mean, newspapers love publishing league tables about schools and hospitals and everything else. You could have a league table of newspapers to see which adheres most closely to its own code, and I think actually that would be would help drive up standards in the direction that they should be driven.
Q. Thank you. Then you have a suggestion on the next page, 21106, looking at the tax status of newspaper owners. What are you suggesting there? I imagine you're suggesting that newspaper proprietors, if they own a newspaper here, should pay taxes as domiciled individuals. Is that what you're saying?
A. The point I'm making here is that it goes back to something I said earlier senior owners and editors now, they are players as well as spectators and people talk about their power. As we've seen, it's a pretty unaccountable form of power, but it is a form of power. And why is Rupert Murdoch an American citizen? Because he could not take on the interests that he's developed in the United States without being an American citizen. Why are the Financial Times currently having difficulty getting into the market that they want to get into in India? Because they have similar systems. So I'm simply saying that, given they have this power, influence upon the body politic and public life, then it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that they should be fully contributing citizens of the country in which they're making so much money and having so much untrammeled influence. As I understand it, Harmsworth at the Mail is a non-dom, the Barclays are non-doms, Rupert Murdoch, American. There's this very sort of opaque tax structure around the world. I put it out there for others to consider. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is that achievable as a matter of practice?
A. Well, the last government legislated so that you couldn't make major donations to a political party if you were if you remember, Mrs Thatcher used to rely on businessmen in Hong Kong? Now you have to be registered here on the Electoral Register and for tax purposes. MPs, to be a member of parliament, to be a candidate in a general election, you have to be registered for tax purposes in the UK. So it can certainly be done. Now, I accept, I do accept that the media is now a globalised industry and that you don't necessarily want to damage our own media interests for economic reasons. I just think, though, that when you're talking about a power, it is a power, it's unaccountable, it's unchecked, I think this is something that Parliament should think about. MR JAY Thank you. Breakdown of contempt of court laws. Try and take this quite shortly, Mr Campbell. You rightly point out the Christopher Jefferies case.
A. Yeah, I wrote this before I realised he was coming here, so you've sort of covered all this, really. But I do think there's a point about training. I think a lot of journalists today are not actually trained to be journalists. So if you were to ask them what the contempt of court laws were and how they related to how they're supposed to cover, I think a lot of them wouldn't necessarily know. And this matters because of the point I made about the rhythms changing. You see it on television the whole time. Something happens, breaking news, "Let's go to the reporter, what can you tell us?" And regularly you see them in breach of the contempt of court laws.
Q. Is your observation directed to some failing in the law itself or is it directed to some failing in people complying with the law and understanding what it means?
A. I think it's compliance.
Q. Yes, okay.
A. Yes. And to be fair, I thought the Attorney General, he took a couple of cases recently and that may change things a bit. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We certainly heard at the seminars, I think, from some of the professors of journalism that they do indeed treat issues of ethics and law seriously in their courses. MR JAY Nonaggression pacts between newspapers. You're suggesting there that they keep off each other's private lives. Is that your inference, that may well be right, or is there direct evidence you can assist us with?
A. I do have knowledge, but it's not something I would like to throw out here, but I do have knowledge of that, yeah.
Q. So we won't. At page 21109, you refer to nepotism being rife within the media, a number of journalists who write articles because they receive gifts or favours. Can you help us about gifts or favours? Do you have personal knowledge of that?
A. Again, Richard Peppiatt talked about this a little bit yesterday. Just read the consumer sections and just ask yourself why often that part of the product is much more positive and favourable in what it's writing about than the rest of the papers. Answer is because they're being given them, the handbags and the clothes and the holidays and everything else that they write about.
Q. Mr Campbell, the section, "Proprietorial interference, including in breach of legal undertakings", it's quite short in this statement. That's not by way of criticism. It might well be a big point in module three of our Inquiry, so I'm going to leave it alone. The herd and bullying culture
A. I do think there's one point that is relevant to this
Q. Okay.
A. and that's the extent to which editors and journalists will say they're not under influence when they're interviewed or they're here, they're not under influence of the proprietor, but it's a myth, it's a myth. And I give one example: the Sun's stance on Europe and the fact that they all share that stance, it comes from the top.
Q. The herd and bullying culture. This section is quite general again. You do cover some controversial matters, if I may say so, namely circumstances surrounding Dr Kelly's death, although you're quite entitled to point out what the conclusions of Lord Hutton were.
A. I do think that's a good example. In fact, the last time I was in this room was for that Inquiry.
Q. Yes.
A. Which concluded, as it did, and in my view reached the only conclusion that the evidence could lead it to, and where the judge said, "Even if it transpires there are no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, the story is untrue", thousands and thousands of times it has now been reported, broadcast and published that the story was right. The story wasn't. And interestingly, the journalist who wrote it, utterly dishonestly, far from that being in this profession something where you are then, as it were, unemployable, has gone on rather from strength to strength. So I see it as a symbol of what this culture is.
Q. Then you refer to the treatment of the phone hacking story in the Guardian, commentary on Mr Justice Eady, commentary on Mr Justice Nicholl. I think we'll take that as read and ask you, please, to cover the last point, "The chance for a free press worth the name". You've really adumbrated this point already, but as it's at the end of your evidence, let's have it again, Mr Campbell.
A. Well, I say at the start of my submission that it's I come at this from three different points of experience, I guess, having been a journalist, having been working in politics and in the government, as it were, at the front line of trying to manage this new media and this new media landscape, and also somebody who's had a considerable amount of media attention myself. I think all three have come together to give me this view that I have, but I do emphasise I totally believe in a free press and I think there are a lot of good journalists in Britain and I think the press should be difficult and they should give politicians a hard time and judges a hard time and the rest of it, but I think we've reached a point where we have to ask that what the press that is being defended by those most robustly defending some of the practices we've talked about, what that free press has become and the damage it's doing to our culture, to our public life, to our public services, to individuals and organisations, some of the individuals you've seen, some of the organisations you probably will, and I think that phone hacking is the issue that has brought this to a head, but I don't think it's actually the most important issue.
Q. Thank you.
A. I think there are bigger themes here that are being brought out and I think it's fascinating the extent to which, now that the media aren't controlling the terms of this debate, the public are already shifting on this. And I've seen plenty of evidence of that in the last couple of weeks, because this is being followed pretty closely and I think the public are getting a mirror on a world they didn't really know that much about, and I think the more they see, to go back to the reason you called me when I said if the public knew the truth about the way sections of the media operate, they'd be horrified, they now do know the truth and they are horrified and they are demanding that Parliament does something about it. MR JAY Thank you very much, Mr Campbell. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Could I raise an entirely separate issue, which I've described on several occasions as the elephant in the room, and that is the Internet?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And the impact of not merely the 24/7 news, which you've spoken about, but of the utterly or potentially unregulated mechanism whereby everybody can be a journalist and whereas you could write a letter to your friend 30 years ago, now you can put it out on the web in a very, very public way and it can go viral and go all over the place. And the problem of seeking to look at these three mechanisms for communication, broadcasting where you have a regulated system with Ofcom, the press where you presently have the PCC, and the Internet outwith what the broadcasters of the press do on the Internet, but from others, where there is no such regulation, and maybe it's not possible to have any. If you have any views on that subject, I'd be very interested to hear them.
A. Well I don't have a formed view, but I think you're right to worry about it and you're right to realise it's part of that debate but I still think we're at that stage where television, radio and the newspapers are still the most dominant forces within the overall media debate. It's changing. So I think that if you manage to get systems of transparency for the people at the top of the industry, and accountability, where the public have proper information about the way that the media is operating and you have a system of regulation that genuinely serves the public interest, you'll drive standards up in the broadcast media and in newspapers. That will have an impact, I think. Because the public aren't stupid. The public are very, very good at working this stuff out. And there's lots and lots of traffic every day on Twitter that is complete nonsense, people telling lies, people talking nonsense. The public sort of work it out and I think you can be quite trusting of them in their assessment LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's not so much Twitter that concerns me
A. It's the blogosphere. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I say concerns, but I'm simply conscious of the point.
A. Right, but you see, a very good example that Mr Caplan made a point of this when he was making a submission to you about whether or not to publish my evidence. He made the point that the blogosphere, because it had been published on Paul Staines' blog, was very alive with it, the Internet was very alive with it, but actually its impact wasn't that huge because the newspapers took a view, "We're not going to go down that route", and it sort of faded. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes
A. Fairly quickly. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Caplan's point, which I considered was a legitimate point, which caused me to reverse my original view on the topic, was that he would not have the opportunity to respond to what you were saying because you hadn't yet said it.
A. No, but my point is I'm actually supporting something he said here. His point was that even though it was out there it's a bit like the Ryan Giggs case, where the press couldn't understand why once the injunction had been broken in relation to Ryan Giggs' private life, why therefore couldn't the newspapers write about it? If I remember rightly, the judge said just because it's out there and some people may know about it does not mean that further harm can't be done by more widespread ventilation. I suppose what I'm saying in a long-winded way is if you get the newspaper regulation right, I think that will have an impact on the Internet as it develops, but I think there may come a point, and it may become impossible, there may come a point where you have to apply some sort of if not regulation but standards which can be applied to the Internet as well. I mean, it surely won't be that long before there will be a defamation case arising from something that is, say, said on Twitter. It's published. I don't know where the law stands on that now. But I think that will develop. But I think this Inquiry is about, because of phone hacking, because of the conduct of newspapers, it's looking at the system of newspaper regulation. I think get that right, and actually some of the other stuff ought to fall into place. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. On this topic of the press and the public, which is what we've been focusing on this morning I appreciate there are bits of your statement that deal with other things is there anything else that you would like to add or that you don't feel you've had the opportunity to expound upon as you wished?
A. No. I think I've I think my statement is there. I stand by what it says. And I've said what I think you might consider in relation to recommendations, and hopefully you'll get lots of other ideas from lots of other people. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. You will appreciate that come next spring, the terms of reference are sufficiently wide to require me to look at other relationships as well, and I'm coming on to the press and politicians. I hope you won't mind if we ask you for your assistance again.
A. I'd be more than happy. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Right. Discussion re timetable MR JAY Sir, may I raise some LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MR JAY timetabling points. The next witness will be Mr Owens. He has a train he needs to catch at a certain time. I hope we'll be able to fit his evidence in. I estimate it will take about 90 minutes. There are continuing issues in relation to Mr Lewis's further evidence. It may or may not be possible to call him this afternoon. I suspect it won't be, but we'll keep his under consideration. There is a bigger problem in relation to Mr Thomas, who is unwell, and we are going to make enquiries over lunch as to how to deal with his evidence, but it may not be possible to hear from him tomorrow or the following day, but I'm going to ask to see what can be done next week. His evidence will have to be taken before Christmas, there is no question of seeking to accommodate him in the new year. There will not be time. This is the appropriate time to consider it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There's no question. Some of the material can be extracted through others who were involved in "What price privacy", can't it? Because he still has to give evidence. MR JAY He is the star witness, and my current view is that the core material should be extracted through him. The other two witnesses I'm not saying are peripheral, but they are less central to the narrative. If necessary, we may have to sit on Friday next week, but I'd really like to deal with Mr Thomas next week because we're going to run out of time the week beginning 12 December and certainly the week beginning 19 December. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. MR JAY I give that warning now. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You can do some work on that and everybody can consult their diaries. We're going to have to be flexible on these things. MR JAY Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. Thank you. MR JAY We will update you informally just before we start at 2 o'clock. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Caplan, I'm sorry to ruin your short adjournment, but I had believed that the sentence about which I particularly expressed concern had been removed. If it hadn't been removed, then I do think it's an urgent matter. MR CAPLAN Yes. I hope to have a conversation over the luncheon adjournment. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. That's why I said I was disturbing your adjournment. Thank you very much. 2 o'clock. (12.57 pm)

Witnesses

Gave statements at the hearings on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 (AM) and Monday, May 14, 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 4 pieces of evidence

Themes

Understand all the key topics and the context behind the Inquiry's findings

Journalism & society
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Regulation
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Politics
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Future of journalism
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Background & history
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Subsequent developments
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Ethics & abuses
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