RESEARCH TOOLS


Morning Hearing on Thursday, December 15, 2011

Colin Myler and Daniel Sanderson gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(10.08 am) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Before we start, can I make one statement and make a request. It is a mistake to think that I do not read the newspapers, and I am concerned that what is said at the Inquiry is accurately reported. I'm conscious that there was a report that I decided that we should resolve the Milly Dowler issue before Christmas. That's not actually what I said. What I said was: "I want to know next week, before we break for Christmas, precisely what is proposed should come before the Inquiry, and that requires a consideration on the part of the Metropolitan Police. It also requires consideration by the Guardian. I am very happy to consider also reflections that you want to make and those, if any, that Mr Rhodri Davies wants to make as well." I was, of course, addressing Mr Sherborne. I'm not being over overly critical, but it is important that expectations are not generated which then aren't met. I don't want an inquiry, I'm not concerned as to how the error has crept in, and I'm not being, as I say, overly critical, but I would be very grateful if those who are reporting the work of the Inquiry do so accurately. The transcripts are there for people to see, and it shouldn't be overly difficult. So that's a mild warning shot. The second thing I want to ask before we get back to Mr Myler is where we are with Mr Pike, and there is one issue there that we need to resolve sooner rather than later. MR JAY He's working on it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Working on it? MR JAY Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. MR JAY He needs to see various files, but he is expediting it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Right. MR COLIN MYLER (on former oath) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Mr Myler may we move on to a different topic, namely the negotiations of the settlement of the Gordon Taylor litigation. The best way into that is this file 4, which I'm calling the generic file 4.
A. Yes.
Q. And it's tab 6, please. We now admit the Select Committee documents, the ones which were placed on their website and then more widely disseminated. Can I ask you first, please, about JCP2, if you look at the pagination at the bottom of each page, Mr Myler. You'll have to turn over a few pages and you'll find JCP2.
A. Yes.
Q. This is a briefing note which Mr Crone prepared, we know from other evidence, on 24 May 2008. Was it sent to you?
A. Yes. I believe it was.
Q. It speaks for itself. You presumably read it carefully; is that correct?
A. Yes.
Q. The next step is JCP7, please, Mr Myler, which is a transcript of Mr Pike's note of a call with you on 27 May 2008.
A. Yes.
Q. These are the only notes available. Mr Pike is recording what you are telling him. You spoke to James Murdoch. Can you help us please with the second line: "Not any options wait for silk's view."
A. I mean I don't recall this conversation, unfortunately. Mr Pike did take a note of it and said himself without refreshing his memory it was difficult to remember it too. I can only assume that because silk's view had been asked about this, that it was literally that: we wait to see what outside counsel's view is of our situation.
Q. Yes. The "not any options"? It may speak for itself, but
A. Yes. I infer from that that it essentially was what silk's view was subsequently, which was: you have an option to go to trial or you have an option to settle.
Q. But of course you didn't have the silk's view then.
A. No.
Q. So "not any options" might mean we're in a bit of a corner here, there's very few options?
A. Yes.
Q. The third line: "One result of Goodman CG [that's Clive Goodman] sprayed around allegations, horrid process." That more or less is what you're saying to Mr Pike, isn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. I'm particularly interested, though, Mr Myler, in the sixth line: "Didn't believe culture in the newsroom Editor." Could you help us, please, with that?
A. No. I mean I don't know what he means by "Editor", whether he's talking about the previous editor or whether he's talking about me, or whether or not I just don't know the answer to that, I'm afraid, Mr Jay. And then after that: "Editor didn't know
Q. "A lot", I think we
A. I'm sorry?
Q. The indecipherable is "a lot".
A. From that you could assume that the allegations that Mr Goodman had made was that more people knew than didn't know about what was going on, but I'm I don't know whether that's what Mr Pike took from what I'd said.
Q. Right. It can be read a number of ways. It might be referring to the previous editor, or it might be referring to you. Are you able to assist as to which?
A. That whether or not I didn't believe the culture in the news room was what Mr Goodman said?
Q. No, it's what you're telling Mr Pike.
A. I
Q. Mr Pike is recording what you're telling him. Do you see that?
A. Yes. I honestly wouldn't know how to interpret that.
Q. Okay.
A. It's fair to say that, as I said earlier, the allegations that Mr Goodman made, it was a horrid process and they were investigating. And Mr Goodman didn't produce any evidence we asked him if he had any to support his allegations.
Q. One possible explanation, and this I suppose might assist you, and I put it forward, is that you, the editor, in May 2008, didn't believe that there was a culture in the newsroom where this sort of thing went on?
A. Well, I certainly didn't believe it was going on while I was there.
Q. No. But it wasn't going on before. I mean, maybe I'm sort of asking you a very leading question, but
A. I think I think, quite frankly, Mr Jay, I mean the information that we've subsequently discovered is very difficult not to cloud trying to assimilate this and what it might mean, because if you'd have asked me 18 months ago what I thought that means, it might have been a different answer to what I now, perhaps, and what we all believe it to be, and that's only because of the information that's been put before this Inquiry, that certainly I wasn't aware of before, that may have existed. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's a fair observation, Mr Myler. It's very difficult to go back three years without remembering what's happened in that three years.
A. Particularly when information has come to light via the police that you tend to take more as fact than some of the fiction and allegations that have been made in other places. MR JAY Yes. A little bit further on in this document you see the dash and then "Assurances to PCC". That's a reference, is it, to the assurances you had given to the PCC?
A. I assume so, yes.
Q. Then the final dash or bullet point: "CM my position as Editor cannot ignore it back to CG plus appealed against his sacking, failed to give direct evidence had to be seen new editor couldn't be seen to dismiss their allegations." That's more or less self-explanatory. You were saying there that the allegations which were being made you couldn't ignore; you had to take seriously.
A. Yes.
Q. But you didn't necessarily believe. Can I ask you though about your state of mind insofar as you can throw your mind back to three or four years ago, and the one rogue reporter defence. Did you believe the one rogue reporter defence before you saw Mr Crone's briefing notes, which is earlier on in this bundle?
A. I think there had been no evidence presented to support any other view, and I have to say that one of the things that was very foremost in my mind when I came back was the, as I understand it, the police took away three black bin liners of evidence from Mr Mulcaire's home when he was arrested in August 2006. And given what I believed to be a thorough police investigation throughout that period, and the fact that the police had not interviewed any other member of staff from the News of the World other than Mr Goodman, I think that weighed heavily on my mind that I assumed that they would have done so if they had had any kind of evidence or reason to speak to somebody else. So that did weigh heavily on my mind. And also, when Mr Goodman was arrested with Mr Mulcaire, the company called in Burton Copeland to act as the go-betweens and the word I've used before is a bridge head, as I understand, between the police and the company, so that anything that the police wanted Burton Copeland would facilitate, so that there was full transparency and there was no opportunity to accuse the company of being an obstruction to what the police were looking for.
Q. Privilege has not been waived in relation to the Burton Copeland advice. Have you read the sentencing remarks or were you aware of Mr Justice Gross' sentencing remarks delivered in January 2007 and the reference to others at News International?
A. I wasn't acutely aware. I was aware of the trial, I was aware of the circumstances. Again it was an awkward situation where I don't think my appointment had even been announced, and I was heading back from New York, so it was a bit you know, there was a lot going on. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What about the fact that Mr Goodman was the royal reporter and that a number of these targets clearly couldn't be described as coming within that generic description?
A. I think the other I think Mr Goodman also had a column, didn't he, called I think it was called Blackadder, and I think there were sort of non-Royal stories and snippets and gossip that appeared in that. So, yes, I mean I'm aware of that, but again there appeared to be absolutely no evidence that was presented to me, or certainly to the company, that I was aware of, that led us to believe that it went beyond Mr Goodman. MR JAY Once you'd seen Mr Crone's briefing note, did your mind change or not?
A. It's fair to say that I always had some discomfort and I always the term I phrased was I felt that there could have been bombs under the newsroom floor and I didn't know where they were and I didn't know when they were going to go off. That was my own view. But trying to get the evidence or establishing the evidence that sadly the police already had was another matter.
Q. The bombs under the newsroom floor metaphor may be an extremely good one, Mr Myler, but just taking it a little bit further, Mr Crone told us that he didn't believe the one rogue reporter defence from the outset. Did he express that view to you?
A. No. He expressed very, very much more recently the view that it was a remark that perhaps I think the phrase he used was that it might come back and bite us, or bite the company. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, he said that to me, but Mr Jay is really asking whether here was the head of legal services who was close to it in this country when you were in America, he didn't share it with you at the time?
A. Not that I recall, no. No. MR JAY But we know Mr Silverleaf's opinion was written on 3 June 2008. Can we be clear about what your evidence is about it? Did you see that opinion?
A. I don't recall seeing the written opinion. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just before we go to the opinion, have you finished the phone call? MR JAY I have, but obviously I've missed out a point. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, there is point that I would like. Two points, actually. First of all, "have email from member of staff"; do you know what that's about?
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Because it may be that somebody's telling you something which appears to be relevant, but you can't remember?
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And then "Les no longer here James would say get rid of them cut out cancer", and the important word in that sentence is "them".
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So could you elaborate on that?
A. All I can think of is that if you go back to the top of the note where "One result of Goodman CG sprayed around allegations, horrid process", and then there are initials which I won't name, they were individuals that Mr Goodman had made very serious allegations against, and I questioned those individuals about the allegations, putting it to them what Mr Goodman had said, and again, in the absence of any evidence to support Mr Goodman's allegations, they were denied. Very strongly. So perhaps in the conversation with Mr Pike I had recounted Mr Goodman's allegations and perhaps mentioned the names of the people that he mentioned. I couldn't go any further than that, sir, I'm sorry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right, thank you. Sorry, Mr Jay. MR JAY Leading counsel's opinion, you don't remember seeing it?
A. I don't remember seeing it.
Q. So does it follow that you might have seen it?
A. I'd like to think that I would remember significant parts of it if I had seen it.
Q. Were its contents, though, summarised to you?
A. Yes.
Q. Why didn't you ask to see it, Mr Myler?
A. I I don't know. It doesn't it wasn't common practice for me to read counsel's opinion. I more often than not relied on a sort of verbal review of it and that all was served well and I had no reason not to do it any other ways, and that's certainly Mr Crone told me silk's view of our position.
Q. Did he tell you words to the effect that in leading counsel's view there was a powerful case for there being or having been a culture of illegal information access used at the company in order to produce stories for publication?
A. I don't recall that phrase "powerful culture", no, I don't. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That would presumably hit you absolutely between the eyes.
A. Yes, precisely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Because if you're there to do anything
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON it's to cope with that.
A. Yes, absolutely. And it went back to the allegations that were made by Mr Goodman. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And you've no recollection of being told this?
A. No. MR JAY I was going to suggest it was the high watermark of the opinion, reading it, apart from the figures he gives towards the end, but he also says: "Not only does this mean that NGN is virtually certain to be held liable to Mr Taylor, but to have this paraded at a public trial would I imagine be extremely damaging to NGN's public reputation." Was at least that message communicated?
A. The message that I remember being communicated was very clear: that our position, following the discovery of the "for Neville" email, was fatal to our case. That was what I remember being the central message from silk's view. A view that was shared by Mr Crone, by Mr Pike and indeed by myself.
Q. In paragraph 7, leading counsel says: "Little doubt that Mr Taylor's case will be advanced on the basis that Mr Mulcaire was specifically employed by NGN to engage in illegal information gathering to provide the basis for stories to appear in NGN's newspapers. I would not imagine that NGN wishes this kind of allegation to be given any more publicity than is inevitable from the bringing of the claim." Well, that speaks for itself, doesn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. That there's really a very important reputational issue here?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you understand that one way or the other?
A. I think I understood very clearly that the option of a trial, which would have brought back everything the paper had gone through with the Goodman and Mulcaire trial, was something that clearly wasn't nobody was very keen on.
Q. You mentioned the bombs under the newsroom floor, but this was creating a tendency for one or more of those bombs to explode if there were a trial. Would you agree with that?
A. Possibly. But yeah, possibly that would have been the case. As you've heard from other people before me in this witness box, the company, not unreasonably or unsurprisingly, wanted to try to get things back on track after Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman went to jail, and it was a significant process to do that. So there was no appetite, I think, to go back to that place.
Q. What was your understanding at the time as to the value of the claim?
A. In terms of its monetary value?
Q. In terms of what leading counsel was advising, given you say you didn't see the advice?
A. All I understood was that the money that was being asked for was an incredible amount of money. This was a story that hadn't appeared in the paper, by the way. It seemed an extremely high amount, but it had also been made very clear that Mr Taylor was not in the position to budge. And he was adamant that he wanted that sum or he wanted a trial.
Q. I'll come back to that, but it's really what the true value of the claim was likely to be, making allowance for the fact that there's not much decided authority in this area and leading counsel does his best on his own experience, but what was your understanding of what he was advising?
A. I'm not sure whether I had a clear understanding of what he was advising. The negotiations that were being conducted by Mr Crone and Mr Pike with, I think, Mr Lewis, Mr Taylor's solicitor, were pretty blunt, I think. It was made very clear from Mr Taylor's position that he wasn't too keen to negotiate. It was this or not. I think that was the atmosphere in which those negotiations appeared to be conducted.
Q. Didn't you want to know what leading counsel thought the true value of the claim might be?
A. Well, maybe I assumed too much, but I assumed that Mr Pike and Mr Crone, who had far more experience than me of dealing with claims of this nature from a legal point of view, and what the value was I mean, as I said yesterday, I'd been out of the country for five years and I was quite astounded how the landscape had changed in the five years I was away, so a lot of things had moved on.
Q. All the more reason for wanting to know what leading counsel's advice was because you didn't have much experience, but weren't you told some ballpark figures that leading counsel was advising?
A. I can't remember whether or not the figures that were mentioned to me were specifically what counsel was suggesting. I remember that, you know, there were these huge figures being talked about and whether or not they were based on silk's advice or it was a mixture of Mr Crone, Mr Pike, I honestly can't remember.
Q. Mr Myler, the other side's figures had nothing to do with the true value of the claim, did they? You knew that.
A. No, Mr Taylor was in a very strong position and a figure was put on it.
Q. That's right.
A. That was it.
Q. But the question was they had nothing to do with the true value of the claim, you knew that they were much more than the true value of the claim. Are we agreed?
A. Yes.
Q. But in order to calibrate the sort of offer which you might make to settle this case, you would need to know as best you could what the true value of the claim might be. Are we agreed?
A. Yes. Yes.
Q. So didn't you ask or weren't you told what leading counsel was advising as to what the true value of the claim might be?
A. I can't remember specifically whether I was told what counsel's figure was. Perhaps you could tell me what the figure was and see if I can remember.
Q. He was saying, paragraph 17 of the advice at JCP24: "In these circumstances it is impossible to arrive with any certainty at the high level of damages which will be awarded. My view is that the court might award a sum at any level from 25,000 to 250,000 or possibly even more, although I think this extremely unlikely. My best guess is that the award will be either about ?100,000 or about ?250,000, depending upon the personal reaction of the judge who hears the claim."
A. Yes.
Q. Was that communicated to you?
A. I can't say for sure that it was, but it would be wrong to say that it wasn't.
Q. Was it probably communicated to you?
A. It may have been. I you know, my recollection from those conversations was always the issue of this was a case that we didn't have a choice with, and it was a matter of what the figure would be to settle, and a figure that Mr Taylor would accept. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Who had the authority to settle this? Who was saying, "Yes, offer this", or, "Don't offer that"? Was that you?
A. No, no, it was the chief executive. Because it was clear that at the level that Mr Taylor was coming from, it was way beyond my authority, certainly way beyond Mr Crone's authority. That was way out of our league. MR JAY But in order to communicate the true value of the claim to the person who had the authority to settle the claim, the chief executive, you would have to know what the true value was, wouldn't you?
A. Yes. I mean, sort of fast-forward to 2010, 2011. I was in one meeting, I believe, with Mr Silverleaf when we were discussing some of the civil litigant cases
Q. I'd rather you didn't cover that because you're going to move straight into privileged areas.
A. No, I'm talking about the broad reason of how he was assuming today what the probable compensation would be, or award, in a case of some of those cases, so
Q. We can't go there, Mr
A. No, no, I'm not going there. I'm just saying that was the only other occasion where I specifically remember getting that advice about the potential award in a case of what we're talking about. Not that Mr Taylor was a run-of-the-mill case.
Q. I continue to express some bewilderment about this, Mr Myler, because in nearly 30 years' experience, I haven't actually seen a client who doesn't want to know what the true value of the claim is, whether I'm acting for a claimant or defendant, if I can be forgiven for just offering that little piece of anecdotal evidence. And here's you not apparently concerned to know what the true value of the claim is. Is that really your position in June 2008?
A. Look, I was perfectly happy with Mr Crone and Mr Pike's experience to deal with matters with leading counsel, and I am sure that they would have reported to me, if only as a matter of courtesy, anything they thought was relevant for me to be aware of. I had absolute confidence in their experience and the way in which they conducted matters, and I had no reason to believe that whatever negotiations they were having, either with Mr Taylor's legal team and whatever conversations they had with Mr Silverleaf, I had perfect confidence in that.
Q. Okay. But after leading counsel advised, an offer was made to Mr Taylor under the rules of ?350,000. Were you aware of that?
A. I'm sure I was aware, but I can't I mean, there's a lot of moving parts to this sequence, so at what stage that happened, I couldn't be specific.
Q. Were you asked for instructions by Mr Pike or Mr Crone to make that offer?
A. That would be something that we would need to have talked to the chief executive about. I wouldn't have taken that decision on my own to have done that, because it exceeded certainly my authority.
Q. That's right, Mr Myler, and that's the slightly bewildering part, because we know that you didn't ask the chief executive for instructions because by the time you met with him on 10 June, the offer had already been made, hadn't it?
A. I I I need to be reminded of the sequence of events. I'm sorry. There was a you know, I wasn't involved at every step of the way about every conversation that took place either between Mr Crone and Mr Pike, Mr Pike and Mr Lewis, or Mr Crone and Mr Lewis. I'm sorry, I just wasn't in that place.
Q. Do I have this right, that instructions had to come from someone, and that someone logically would have to be either you or the chief executive?
A. Yes, but I wouldn't have taken it upon myself to sanction that amount of money because I would have had to have gone to the chief executive to have got authority for that.
Q. Can you look, please, at JCP11.
A. Yes.
Q. Which is an attendance note of a discussion between Mr Pike and Mr Lewis on 6 June. You see three lines into it: "Said that JCP have sent across a Part 36 letter [that's an offer of settlement] in the sum of ?350,000." So the best evidence we have is that the offer of ?350,000 was made on 6 June, which of course was after leading counsel's opinion and before the meeting with the chief executive on 10 June.
A. Sorry, is JCP Mr Pike?
Q. Yes.
A. Sorry, yes.
Q. Now, Mr Pike can't act without instructions?
A. Mm.
Q. Instructions must have come from the client, which, I repeat, must have been either you or the chief executive; would you agree?
A. Yes. Or yes. And Mr Crone being aware that this was a very tough negotiation that was only going to go one way. It wasn't going down, it was going up in value.
Q. Are you saying that you think you had a conversation with the chief executive to authorise the offer of ?350,000, which must have been on or about 6 June; are you saying that?
A. No, I'm not saying that at all.
Q. Because the only conversation we know about was on 10 June, don't we?
A. Yes.
Q. What might be said is that the likely sequence of events was this: that the contents of the opinion were communicated to you on or about 3 June, and you gave instructions to make an offer of ?350,000 on or about 6 June. Would you agree with that?
A. I don't recall it, but if I think we all knew we were in a difficult position with a difficult negotiation, so again I just can't remember having a meeting or a conversation of that nature, but as I've said, Mr Crone is a very, very experienced legal manager and lawyer, and, you know, had conducted negotiations like this for many years. Not, clearly, to this amount, which was the reason why we brought it to the attention of the chief executive.
Q. But Mr Crone could not act without instructions, could he? Not properly act without instructions?
A. He would Mr Crone had his I mean the legal budget wasn't apportioned by me. The legal budget was apportioned by the company. He would he had responsibility for that budget. I didn't. But he would, you know, talk to me about cases, but often he would just get on and do them and deal with them.
Q. At this level, though, he wouldn't, would he?
A. I don't think he would, no. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's not actually 6 June, Mr Jay, because on 3 June it's clear that they focused on ?350,000. MR JAY About to send, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Because Mr Pike is telling Mr Lewis that they were about to send a further Part 36 offer in the sum of ?350,000. MR JAY Yes, sir you're right. So it could be at any stage, but more likely to be closer to 3 June than 6 June. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, probably prior to 3 June. One wouldn't normally tell an opponent that you were just about to make an offer for ?350,000 unless one had authority to do it. MR JAY There's another point on the 6 June attendance note, JCP11. What Mr Lewis was saying do you see in the middle paragraph: "ML said that Taylor wanted to carry on because of all the issues surrounding what NGN had done. One way or another, this was going to hurt NGN. Taylor wanted to show that the News of the World stories had been illegally obtained. He wanted to demonstrate that the News of the World had been doing this and that it was rife in the organisation when the News of the World had been making public statements, including statements in Parliament, telling them that they were simply a rogue trader. Taylor was not happy about this. He wanted to speak out about all of this." Was the gist of that communicated to you?
A. No, I don't recall that specifically. What I remember being told was that his position was very simple. He wanted a million pounds or he wanted to go to trial. What I remember being told was that he wanted to humiliate the paper.
Q. Have you seen the recent emails disclosed to and then by the Select Committee, which have been reported upon?
A. Can you remind me where they are?
Q. I can show you them now. (Handed)
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. MR JAY Look at the third page of this little clip of documents, Mr Myler. You'll see first of all an email from Mr Pike to Mr Crone timed at 17.18 on 6 June. Do you see that?
A. Yes.
Q. "Tom, just confirm my without prejudice conversation with Mark Lewis, Taylor's lawyer. "1. Taylor's attitude is that he wishes to be vindicated or made rich. "2. He wishes to see NGN suffer. One way or another he wants this to hurt NGN. "3. He wants to demonstrate that what happened to him is/was rife throughout the organisation. He wants to correct the paper telling parliamentary inquiries that this was not happening when it was (NGN's line having been that there was a rogue trader in Clive Goodman). "While Lewis had not taken instructions on exactly how much Taylor now wanted, following the Part 36 ?350,000 offer on Tuesday [I'm sure we could work out whether the Tuesday was 3 June, it wouldn't take us long to find out] he said Taylor had previously made clear that what he wanted if we were to keep the matter confidential was seven figures plus indemnity costs." I paraphrase that adds up to ?1.2 million. So that is what Mr Pike is telling Mr Crone. Then if you work back through this email stream to the previous page, Mr Myler.
A. Yes.
Q. 7 June 2008, 12.30, Tom Crone to you: "Mark Lewis, Taylor's lawyer, came back yesterday with his client's position (see it confirms our expectations of Taylor). I told Julian to get us if possible a few more days for service of the amended defence which is currently due to be served on Monday at the latest." And then he continues with various matters we needn't read out, but towards the end you see: "In terms of doing a deal with Taylor, I think the best course is to counteroffer the figure we discussed earlier this week plus costs. That would amount to ?700,000. But there's a further nightmare scenario in this, which is that several of those voicemails on LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Somebody's email. MR JAY [somebody's] email were taken from [somebody's] phone. He was at the time and still is Towards the bottom of the email but on the next page: "As you know, we have put in a Part 36 offer, ?350,000, which should give us good protection in terms of what a judge might eventually award if we can't settle with Taylor, we can sit on this offer in the reasonable expectation that costs from here on will have to be paid by him. It's not what we want, but it's the only weapon we have." Certainly the inference I've drawn is that you were forwarded, along with this email, Mr Pike's email, which we see underneath, timed at 17.18 on 6 June 2008. Do you see that, Mr Myler?
A. 6 June?
Q. Yes.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It follows, doesn't it, because if you look at the heading of the email to you, it's from Tom Crone to you, subject is "Forward: Strictly private and confidential and subject to legal professional principle".
A. Yes. MR JAY So it is forwarded.
A. Yes.
Q. Indeed, it's the same point when we work up. So you knew several things, didn't you, Mr Myler? One of them was that Mr Taylor wanted to demonstrate that what had happened or was still happening is/was rife throughout the organisation. You knew that, didn't you?
A. I accept this. I think I only got this yesterday, so I only got the bundles the day before, so forgive me. We did ask NI many months ago for assistance with files and they were refused, so please forgive me.
Q. But you also knew that Mr LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, Mr Myler, I don't want you to be taken at disadvantage. Do you need time to look at this?
A. No, no, I accept what you're saying. I haven't got a problem with that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. MR JAY Mr Crone was also explaining that the Part 36 offer which had been made of ?350,000 should give you good protection in terms of what a judge might eventually award.
A. Mm.
Q. What did you understand by that?
A. Well, Part 36 means that if you put a figure in that is higher than the award of the courts, the other side have to pay costs, and costs being an integral significant part of any action.
Q. Absolutely. And it would effectively have wiped Mr Taylor out. But the other point is you must have known or understood what the true value of the claim was; wouldn't you agree?
A. It follows that if that's the figure that Mr Pike and Mr Crone were suggesting, I would have gone with the suggestion, because it would have been the legal opinion about what the figure should be for a Part 36.
Q. Of course by that
A. And I had absolutely every confidence in their opinion. And experience.
Q. In fact we know if Mr Silverleaf was right it was extremely good protection because it was highly unlikely he was saying that Mr Taylor would get above ?250,000, but did you know that at the time?
A. I can't recall knowing what Mr Silverleaf's figure was, no.
Q. And then the email stream continues going backwards through the documents but forwards in time. We can see, it speaks for itself, that on Saturday 7 June which would make 3 June the Tuesday at 14.00 hours, 31 minutes and 41 seconds apparently LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Two hours after you'd got Mr Crone's email. MR JAY It's forwarded to JRM: "James, update on the Gordon Taylor Professional Football Association case. Unfortunately it's as bad as we feared. The note from Julian Pike of Farrers is extremely telling regarding Taylor's vindictiveness but again that speaks for itself. It would be helpful if Tom Crone and I could have five minutes with you on Tuesday." And then the reply comes back not very long after, at 14.34 hours, but again it's not for me to ask a question to you about that, Mr Myler. Maybe I can ask someone else. At the meeting on 10 June, can you recall what was provided to Mr Murdoch?
A. Not specifically in terms of what was handed over. I know that whenever Mr Crone went to a meeting with the chief executive, or indeed an editor, he tended to have the particular relevant file with him, and anything in that file that he would feel the chief executive might ask to see or be referred to. So I'm pretty sure that he would have had in his file every relevant document that he felt that James may have asked to see, or to be referred to.
Q. If you can't remember, tell us, but can you remember what documents, if any, were shown to Mr Murdoch during that meeting?
A. I have said before that I can't recollect whether he handed over the "for Neville" email, as such, for him to see. I can't remember whether he did that. I am aware of what Mr Crone has said in his testimony, and I have no reason to disbelieve that he did what he said he did.
Q. Was the word "culture" mentioned? Particularly in the context of paragraph 6 of leading counsel's opinion. Can you recall? Culture of illegal information access used at the company.
A. I can't remember. That's one word. I mean, I just can't remember. I don't believe a note was taken of that meeting.
Q. The only evidence we have of it is JCP13, Mr Myler.
A. Yes. This is a note that Mr Pike took from a call with Mr Crone.
Q. Absolutely. And the only three people at the meeting, we know, were Mr Crone, Mr Murdoch and you; that is right, isn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. The note says: "JM said he wanted to think through options."
A. Yes.
Q. Could you help us with that at all?
A. I believe and I assume that that means he wanted to think about the conversation that had taken place and the previous conversations or correspondence that had been sent to him, so that he could consider finally what he perhaps wanted to do.
Q. What authority, if any, did Mr Murdoch give at the meeting to settle the claim?
A. It was my view that Mr Murdoch wanted to settle the claim and didn't want the option of a trial.
Q. But what instructions, if any, did he give as to the level of settlement?
A. I don't believe that he wanted to pay a million pounds, but I think he was happy to go away to see what negotiation could take place to settle the claim.
Q. But that rather suggests that Mr Murdoch didn't give a ceiling on the authority. Can you remember whether he gave an authority at a particular figure?
A. I can't remember if there was a particular figure, but I do recall that I think I left the meeting believing that he wanted to settle. Not at any price, but that settling was the best option.
Q. So why did Mr Murdoch want to think through the options? Or maybe that relates to something which took place towards the beginning of the meeting rather than the end of the meeting. Do you follow me?
A. I do, but I couldn't second guess what that means.
Q. Although the note, of course, relates to something which occurred after the meeting, because it's a conversation between Mr Crone and Mr Pike. What about the fourth line? I'm not going to read it all out, and of course it doesn't really matter what you say, frankly, in a private context, but just help us with where you were coming from there.
A. I don't know. I've been trying to think what that might mean. Forgive my intemperate language.
Q. You don't have to.
A. I don't know. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You don't like what's happening.
A. Perhaps the Northern gene was kicking in and I was being rather blunt. MR JAY One possible explanation is that you were extremely angry about what was going on here, that you well knew that the other side had you over a barrel and that you were coming to the point where, no, they could, as it were, as you say here, and frankly let's see them in court. Is that a possibility?
A. I think that's a very fair possibility, if not a probability, yes.
Q. That may be understandable, but he then says: "On the end of drip, drip, do a deal with them." Could you help us with that?
A. I don't know. I mean perhaps it was where did this end, you know, where did it end and does it end? I don't know.
Q. And then: "Paying them off plus then silence fails." The interpretation we were given in evidence was that you were concerned that if Mr Taylor was paid off on the basis of a confidentiality stipulation, it wouldn't necessarily do the company any good because his silence might not be attained, and moreover, the evidence would come out anyway. Do you see that?
A. It is what happened.
Q. But is that what you were saying then? Was that your state of mind, in other words?
A. I think it follows from that phrase that maybe I used that that was you know, this is just never-ending, potentially.
Q. And then the final bit: "If intriguing progress." Could you help us with that?
A. No. No, I can't.
Q. Was the thinking at least this, Mr Myler, that the potential reputational damage to the company was enormous. Although it was risky, because silence might not be attained, it was better to pay Mr Taylor at an overvalue with a view to attempting to secure a degree of silence?
A. I think that's fair, yes.
Q. If I were to use the term "cover-up", would you embrace that or shrink from it?
A. No, I wouldn't embrace that. I don't believe it I don't believe it was a cover-up. I think that we were dealing with a very difficult negotiation and newspapers deal with if not as difficult as this, but they deal with very complex and significant negotiations throughout the course of their business very regularly, and I don't believe it's wrong or unreasonable of any business to try to protect the reputation of itself, particularly after what had happened in the course of 2006 and 2007. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It might be slightly semantic, mightn't it, Mr Myler? What one person might describe as a cover-up another person would describe as an attempt to limit reputational damage?
A. Absolutely, sir. MR JAY After all of this, namely settlement achieved with Mr Taylor, did it remain your view that the one rogue reporter defence was correct?
A. No, it couldn't it couldn't be correct inasmuch as the "for Neville" email had indicated that at least another reporter had transcribed it, and it named another reporter.
Q. Leading counsel had counted up, I think, three people, hadn't he, without of course naming them? You are aware of that, aren't you, Mr Myler?
A. Sorry, remind me?
Q. In the context of it's paragraph 3 of leading counsel's opinion, JCP20.
A. Paragraph 3?
Q. 3. Six lines down. I'm going to miss out some names: "The material obtained from the Metropolitan Police has disclosed that at least three NGN journalists appear to have been intimately involved into Mr Mulcaire's illegal researching into Mr Taylor's affairs." Were you aware of that allegation, or, rather, that opinion?
A. No, because I don't recall seeing Mr Silverleaf's opinion, so I this doesn't ring any immediate bells with me. Certainly with the naming of them, I hadn't seen that he'd named people.
Q. But you knew the terms of the email, didn't you, the "for Neville" email, as it's been called?
A. Yes, yes.
Q. And you had plenty of background knowledge of the context?
A. Yes.
Q. So what Mr Silverleaf is saying here, even if you didn't read it at the time, is not really a surprise to you, is it?
A. No. No.
Q. Can I deal briefly then with your dealings with the PCC? I hope you have a bundle which contains relevant PCC documentation?
A. If you tell me which bundle it is.
Q. It has an index at the start called "Index to evidence bundle for News International and the PCC".
A. This appears to be your bundle, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh, the one that I was missing yesterday?
A. Yes. I think it may be the one that you handed me, but do you need it back? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, no, you make sure you have it if you need it.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And I'll worry about it later. This is headed "Index to evidence bundle for News International and the PCC". Do you have one of those? It's this sort of weight.
A. I have 3, I have one that's unmarked, which is here. Maybe it's this one. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Maybe that one.
A. What is the first page? It's "Bundle for Colin Myler", it says. MR JAY Does it say "Index for evidence bundle for News International and the PCC"?
A. No. Okay. We'll hand you another copy, which I'm afraid is not tabbed. Is yours tabbed? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mine is tabbed. Let him have mine and I'll use the one that's not tabbed and work it out. MR JAY I'm privileged with tabs. (Handed) If you could go to tab 39, Mr Myler, page 40377, you'll see I hope there a letter you wrote to the PCC on 22 February 2007. Are you with me?
A. Yes.
Q. The letter is quite a lengthy one, but can I just alight on a few points? Question 1 you see towards the bottom of the page: "Were Mulcaire and any other external contributors aware that when using their material, the newspaper had to work within the terms of the code and the law? "Answer: So far as Mr Mulcaire is concerned, I cannot say with certainty that he was aware that he had to work within the terms of the code. I'm sorry I can't be more specific, but as you'll see from my response later in this letter, I do believe that Mr Mulcaire was operating in a confined environment run by Clive Goodman." So that was your state of mind then, wasn't it?
A. Well, I'd been at the newspaper for three weeks. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, this must be right, mustn't it: you have people to help you compile
A. Yes, of course. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON a response
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON because you hadn't had the chance to go through everything yourself. This is a long letter.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It might be fair to ask what you did to ensure that the contents of this nine-page letter were actually accurate or did you simply rely on your staff to make sure that they were being accurate in response to the PCC?
A. First of all, I'm responding to a letter that Mr Toulmin had sent to me on February 7. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. Then it took until the 22nd to respond. Can I just have time to read my response to him? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Please. Absolutely, take that time.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm very sorry that you haven't in advance. Mr Jay, how many documents are you going to take Mr Myler to? MR JAY Five. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I wonder if it's not sensible to give him a list and let him read them quietly without all of us watching.
A. If you don't mind, I don't mind. MR JAY It's going to be best if you follow Lord Justice Leveson's advice, Mr Myler.
A. Thank you.
Q. If you could make a note, if I could ask you to read documents tab 36
A. Sorry, I don't have a pen. Thank you. 36, yes.
Q. 35.
A. Yes.
Q. 34.
A. Yes.
Q. And 33, in that order, please.
A. Thank you very much. I'm sorry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, no, it's not for you to apologise if this bundle didn't get to you. But I think it's very important that you just have a chance to read them and to think back yourself into the time.
A. Yes, thank you very much. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON This isn't intended to be
A. Okay, thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON a trick
A. No, of course not. Thank you very much. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON business. We'll retire for a few minutes to allow that to happen. (11.07 am) (A short break) (11.24 am) MR JAY Mr Myler, we're on the first letter in this batch, 22 February 2007, where you over the course of the eight or nine pages explain to the PCC the steps that you were beginning to take to remind staff of the code and the contractual changes which you were implementing, and it's similar, indeed identical, to the evidence you have given us.
A. Yes.
Q. On the last page of this letter, page 40385, question 4, you say: "I believe it's very important to understand the Goodman/Mulcaire case in perspective. Although, as I've said earlier, there can be no question of complacency, this was an exceptional and unhappy event in the 163 years of history of the News of the World involving one journalist. The gravity of the affair has been recognised, two people are in prison, Clive Goodman has been dismissed and his editor has resigned. These events have had a profound impact on the News of the World and its staff." So it's confined to one rogue reporter, isn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. And that was your belief at the time, wasn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. You'd only just arrived, after all. This is four weeks or so into your job. Were we sort of at the potential unexploded bombs under the floor, at least as regards your thinking?
A. I hope you don't take that out of context, Mr Jay. No, there were significant issues to be dealt with within that period and as a matter of courtesy and importance, it was important to respond to the PCC, which was also a very difficult time and intense period for them too.
Q. Thank you. Can I ask you, please, to look under tab 36, which is a letter you wrote on 10 May 2007, page 40442.
A. Yes.
Q. Which deals with the issue of cash payments. You say in the first substantive paragraph: "So far as your first paragraph is concerned we have finessed our rules on cash payments in order to take all steps possible to avoid a repetition of a Goodman-style occurrence. "Though clearly, however stringent the rules may be, there can be no absolute protection against a determined wrongdoer. "That said, the protocol, policy and process now in place, for which every member of staff is required to strictly adhere, are as follows: "1. Cash payments are to be kept to a minimum and are the exception." Was that the stated policy, Mr Myler?
A. Yes. Yes.
Q. "2. Requests for cash payments must be accompanied by a compelling and detailed written justification signed off by the relevant department head." Was that the policy which you implemented?
A. I think that was in part already in place. I think the process when I arrived was that any request for a cash payment had to be agreed and signed off by the departmental head, I believe.
Q. Point 3: "Information supplied on cash payment request documents must be accurate and comprehensive."
A. Yes.
Q. Was that the policy which was applied at all material times after your arrival?
A. I believe so.
Q. What did you mean by "comprehensive" in the context of the information to be supplied?
A. That the information wouldn't just, you know, be a name. It would be about what that person had provided, to be paid.
Q. What information had to be comprehensive, though?
A. What exactly what that person had done to be proposed to be given a cash payment.
Q. So if it was private surveillance, you would expect to see comprehensive details, would you, of the nature of the surveillance?
A. Yes.
Q. But was that applied, that policy, to your knowledge?
A. To my knowledge. Nothing was brought to my attention that, as far as I'm aware, caused a managing editor or deputy managing editor to be concerned to bring it to my attention.
Q. Point 4: "In the exceptional event of a requirement for a cash payment to a confidential source, the following applies: "(a) if the department head/staff member requesting the payment asserts that the identity of the source must be withheld, he/she is required to demonstrate clear and convincing justification for such confidentiality."
A. Yes.
Q. So that was the policy. Was that the policy before you arrived?
A. I don't know what the policy was. I can't be clear about the policy before, to be honest.
Q. Did the clear and convincing justification have to be in writing?
A. Preferably it would be in writing, but if it were something perhaps where the departmental head that was requesting anonymity may have preferred a conversation with the managing editor and the managing editor may have accepted and agreed to that
Q. What did pardon me.
A. Sorry, that would, I would have thought, have been in more extreme circumstances, not the norm.
Q. But what did have to be in writing, this is point (b), "the reason for making the payment to a confidential source", it would have to be in the form of a memo to the managing editor's office?
A. Mm.
Q. Okay. Tab 35 now, Mr Myler. We're forward in time to 27 July 2009. The question from the PCC was, bullet point 1, really, level with the lower hole punch: "Does it remain your position that the illegal behaviour of Clive Goodman was a rogue exception and that no other journalists or executives of the newspaper were aware of the practice of phone message tapping by anyone employed by the paper? And two, can you provide the commission with full case details of the process undertaken by the newspaper after the arrests of Goodman/Mulcaire [the date is wrong, but that doesn't matter, it's August] to establish the extent to which phone message tapping was prevalent at the News of the World." Then the third point I can paraphrase. It's the royal journalist point, and Mr Taylor et al were not royal figures. The request was to identify the individuals. The fourth point was the relationship between Mr Mulcaire and Mr Thurlbeck, arising out of the email. Then there are three other points. You replied to that, I think, at tab 34, which is our page 40725. You start by dealing with Guardian reports, don't you?
A. Yes.
Q. Four lines into the letter: "The relevant Guardian reports alleged that 'one senior source at the Met' said that officers on the Goodman enquiry 'found evidence of News Group's staff using private investigators who hacked into thousands of mobile phones'. The Guardian went on to say that 'another source with direct knowledge of the police findings put the figure at two or three thousand mobiles'. "These allegations by the Guardian were not just unsubstantiated and irresponsible, they were wholly false." And then you refer to what various police officers had said, including the former Assistant Commander Andy Hayman, who had limited the number of mobile phones hacked into to "a small number perhaps a handful", and then you refer to that material. Can you ask you this: putting to one side what the police might or might not have found, had your internal enquiries demonstrated that the Guardian reports were unsubstantiated and irresponsible?
A. In what respect?
Q. In the respect of hacking into thousands of mobile phones?
A. I didn't have any direct information that our internal enquiries had gone to that point, and as I said earlier, one of the things that weighed heavily with me when I came in was the fact that the police hadn't interviewed anybody else other than Goodman in their enquiries.
Q. But in order to say that the Guardian's allegations were unsubstantiated and irresponsible, you really needed to have positive evidence which contradicted what they were saying and am I right in saying you didn't have such evidence?
A. No I was relying on what the police said.
Q. But you weren't relying on any information you had obtained by way of internal enquiries within your newspaper, were you?
A. Other than the appeal that Mr Goodman I had to conduct with the head of human resources and the allegations that he made, and then talking to those individuals who he made allegations against. There was no evidence provided to me to support what the Guardian had said at all.
Q. Can I ask you more specifically then, the first bullet point which was put to you by the PCC on 27 July you answer on page 40726. Do you see that?
A. The first response?
Q. Yes.
A. Yes.
Q. "Our internal enquiries have found no evidence of involvement by News of the World staff other than Clive Goodman in phone message interception beyond the email transcript which emerged in April 2008 during the Gordon Taylor litigation and which has since been revealed in the original Guardian report." Then you refer to the email and the inferences you drew from it. I'm not going to read out some names, but if you look at the next paragraph: "Email searches of relevant people failed to show any trace of the email being sent to or received by any other News of the World staff member. Those who might have been connected to the relevant story denied ever having seen or knowing about the relevant email and no evidence has been found which contradicts these assertions." That wasn't quite leading counsel's view, was it, in paragraph 3 of his opinion?
A. Mr Silverleaf, you mean?
Q. Yes.
A. No. Because he named the same people; correct?
Q. Mm.
A. Yes.
Q. I think you told us 45 minutes ago now that certainly your state of mind after June 2008 is that you no longer believed the single rogue reporter defence; that's right, isn't it?
A. Yes, because the "for Neville" email was evidence of that. I made that clear.
Q. You made that clear, you're right to say, to the PCC but weren't you effectively saying that in your view there was no evidence which went beyond Mr Goodman?
A. Other than before the discovery of the "for Neville" email, yes.
Q. Okay. Then in the next bullet point LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But actually, that response to which you've just referred, the junior reporter was merely transcribing and the other two persons named denied ever seeing or knowing about the relevant email, you personally were concerned that it was no longer tenable, but here you merely assert that it's the right answer.
A. I can only abide by what I wrote at the time. Or what was written at the time. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But it's not what you thought. According to what you told me earlier today.
A. About the? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON About the rogue reporter defence.
A. Well, the rogue reporter defence failed to hold once the "for Neville" email was discovered. And I made that clear to the Select Committee I think in July of 2009, I think it was, about its significance. MR JAY But I think it's being pointed out to you really for the second time, because I did it, Lord Justice Leveson has done it, that although it is true you are referring to the email, you were effectively discounting the evidence and saying that the single rogue reporter defence is true, continues to be true. Do you see that?
A. But yes, and that clearly, perhaps, was an error, because this letter was dated 5 August and I'd appeared before the Select Committee in the month previously. So I'm sure that the PCC were aware of that, if that clearly that was following my evidence to the Select Committee, which was very heavily covered.
Q. It might be said that the PCC were carrying out an investigation and hoping for a full and frank answer from you, and it might be said that you didn't give them quite a full and frank answer. Can I suggest that?
A. Well, I had no reason not to give them a full and frank answer.
Q. Okay, Mr Myler.
A. For that, I apologise.
Q. The second bullet point covers matters we know about including the Burton Copeland investigation. The third bullet point is the royal journalist point. Again you give a rather emollient answer to that question: "At trial, the prosecution neither produced nor referred to any evidence that others at News International, apart from Clive Goodman, knew of or were involved in Glenn Mulcaire or Clive Goodman's illegal activities. We do not know what evidence, if any, there may have been to support the judge's reference to others, nor do we know who he was referring to." Not merely emollient, but may I suggest slightly disingenuous, Mr Myler. Would you agree?
A. Well, first and foremost, Mr Jay, I wasn't here for the trial, I didn't attend the trial, and I had to rely on those who did attend the trial. And however way you describe the flowery or emollient language that was used, I had to rely on the people who were there to provide me with the information. Again, I apologise for the use of language, if you don't think it's appropriate, but I had to rely on those who were there. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I can understand that, Mr Myler, but this was a devastating indictment of News of the World. Did you ever read the transcript which had been obtained just as a matter of interest?
A. I don't think I did. MR JAY Okay. And then the final letter from the PCC to you
A. Is this 33, sorry?
Q. It is 33. 3 September 2009, 40741. The PCC are, if I may say so, on the point, because Mr Toulmin yes, he writes to you and says: "Thanking you for the letter, I'm just writing to ask for two small points of clarification. I've now obtained a copy of the judge's sentencing remarks in the Mulcaire/Goodman case. These include the reference to Mulcaire dealing with others at News International, which was highlighted by Paul Farrelly MP during your appearance before the Select Committee. "Confronted with the same point at the Select Committee on 2 September, Assistant Commissioner John Yates said it did not seem extraordinary for Mulcaire to have had dealings with a number of different people at the paper, given his role as a private investigator. The key point therefore seems to be not whether he had contact with other people but whether these people were aware that the information that he had passed to them had been obtained illegally. Anything that you can do to clarify this point would be welcome. Would it be correct to assume that your internal enquiries would in any event have sought to establish whether others at the paper were aware of Mulcaire's illegal activities. "Secondly, I just wanted to tie down the point about Clive Goodman being the royal editor while most of the targets were nothing to do with the Royal Family, because only the charges to which he rather than Mulcaire pleaded guilty relate to individuals who were nothing to do with the Royal Family. Might he in any case have been expected to suggest other stories in his capacity as editor of the Blackadder column? It would be helpful if you could confirm whether or not he held this position at the relevant point." The bundle doesn't unfortunately contain your reply to the letter, but we will dig it out in due course, but do you remember whether you replied to it?
A. I'm sure I did, yes. I'm sure I did.
Q. The PCC are certainly on the point, but unfortunately based perhaps in part on what you told them, they then, as we know, promulgated a report in 2009, which was subsequently withdrawn. This is at tab 21, just refer to it, dated 9 November 2009. They refer to the claims in the Guardian not quite amounting to their billing or words to that effect. You know the one we mean. I mean, do you feel that you were entirely frank and open with the PCC in this correspondence?
A. Absolutely. I had no reason not to be full and frank and open with them. And I had no belief that they didn't think that I was not being anything other than full and frank with them.
Q. Some more general questions, Mr Myler. Can I ask you, please, to comment, if you will, on a piece of evidence Mr Neil Wallis gave on Monday. It's at page 98 of the afternoon's transcript.
A. Is it in this tab?
Q. It isn't. If you need to look at it I will give you my copy, but the point is quite a simple one. It's not going to come up on the screen because I've only just thought about it.
A. Okay.
Q. The question was in relation to tips. This is from sources. The question was: "How does it work? The tip is provided, the material is offered up, however you want to describe it, and then the staff journalist would write up the story; is that correct?" And the answer was: "No, I wouldn't have thought so. You offer me a tip, I decide I'm interested in it. I then task a reporter to go and make that story work, see if that story will work." Do you agree with Mr Wallis' description of the process?
A. No. You see if the story is true.
Q. Rather than whether it will work?
A. You establish if it's accurate, yes.
Q. Because it might be it's true I didn't pick this up with Mr Wallis after he gave that answer. It might be said, well, the way it works is that we see whether the story fits into our conception of what it might look like.
A. No.
Q. And then we proceed to see whether the story can be written that way. Is that the process?
A. That might have been Mr Wallis' process, but the reality is that, you know, you don't just take a phone call from somebody and say "This is happening". You say, "Thank you very much, we'll establish whether or not it's true and accurate".
Q. Can I just test that with you a little bit further? I'm sorry to go back to Mr Mosley's case, but it might be said that the thought process which went on there was that the story looks to us as if it's probably true, and after all we know all about Sir Oswald Mosley and who he was, so we won't bother with the fine detail, we just proceed with publishing it on that basis. So what drives the story is a certain preconception of what ought to be the truth. We see how that played out in Mr Mosley's case. But that might just be a microcosm of a general tendency in your newspaper as to how to proceed. Would you accept that?
A. Absolutely not. There's no suggestion that anybody works on the basis that a story ought to be true. You establish if the story is true. And that and only that will decide whether or not it's a contender to be published.
Q. So you very robustly reject that proposition; is that correct?
A. I reject absolutely a proposition that, you know, we sat down and thought about a certain subject and how it should be and then set about trying to fit that recipe. It wasn't like that at all.
Q. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's not enough that it sounds to be true?
A. Not at all. It has to be true. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm just bearing in mind some rather colourful illustration that was given in one of the seminars by a former editor, not, I understand, an editor for a very long time, who took the view that you looked at the story and if it sounded right, then I think the phrase was "you lob it in".
A. Mm. In which part of the library of fiction did that appear? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, I'm merely saying what he said.
A. Perhaps I could recount LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I wouldn't I am not going to hold it against him or anybody, because I said I wouldn't, but in the light of your emphatic answer, it allows me at least to ask
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON what you say about that proposition.
A. Yesterday you took me back to the example of the Sunday Mirror story and the footballers, and a few years ago I was involved in another case that resulted in the High Court involving a very well-known pop celebrity. We had run a story that alleged that he had gone back to a very significant problem of bulimia. Very quickly the story wasn't true. It came from America, from a very distinguished freelancer we hadn't had any trouble with. I sent one of our best reporters out there. Within hours he found out that we had been fooled, totally fooled, taken in. It didn't happen. The celebrity's lawyer called me after I'd called him, and said, "The story isn't true and we are immediately going to apologise and can we sit and talk about a donation to whichever charity you want or to the person himself?" The response that I had was, "The only condition that he will agree to not proceeding to trial is if, in the apology, you accept that you knew the story not to be true before you published", and I said, "I can't agree to that because that's not true"; and it went to trial and we lost, there were significant damages, we did appeal and it changed the law of judge's directions on libel. So the point of forgive me for taking the time, but the reason why I explain that story is because any editor who would publish something knowing before he published that it wasn't true would be foolish and reckless. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON With great respect, that wasn't quite what I was asking about. There are different states of mind.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Obviously if you know something, knowing it not to be true, then you are being extremely foolish.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON At the other end of the spectrum is knowing something that you know is true or that you're satisfied on a full analysis of the evidence is true.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But there are two intermediate stages. The nearest to knowing it's not true is being reckless: don't care whether it's true or not, it sounds right, lob it in.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And the next one is being negligent, not doing enough to check.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I only ask you to comment upon it because it was something that was said which certainly achieved a certain amount of publicity at the time.
A. Yes. Well, I've never been of the "lob it in" school of journalism, and I may have been accused of being negligent, but I haven't gone into a situation intending to be negligent. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is there a "lob it in" school of journalism?
A. I don't think there is. I think that there were some aspects through particularly the McCann era, the early days when Madeleine went missing, that were truly appalling, and by any standards of journalism they should never have appeared in stories in this country. And I think that the industry did not like what those newspapers were doing, those newspapers were held to account publicly, and I think most journalists that I know today, and certainly editors that I know, have incredibly high standards of ethics, of professional ability, and total understanding and respect for the law and certainly the PCC. And yes, we get it wrong. Editors make decisions daily and they will not get them right. But the manner in which we are perhaps all tarnished as being reckless and negligent, it's a Wild West out there, that if a story sounds right, lob it in, it's just not there. In my experience. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, I ask you because it was a journalist that said it. It wasn't me.
A. No, of course not, sir. Of course not. And thank you for allowing me to explain. MR JAY Can I ask you this, another general question, about photographs.
A. Yes.
Q. Which of course are extremely powerful, as the House of Lords explained in the Campbell case, and indeed as an editor you would fully empathise with that view. Is this right, that the majority of photographs of celebrities will be obtained from freelancers?
A. Mostly. A lot of them, yes. Not all, but most, yes.
Q. What steps, if any, are taken to ascertain whether such photographs were obtained in breach of the PCC code or the privacy of the subject of the photograph?
A. I can only speak from the way I dealt with my picture desk and the picture editor, and that was that before he would bring them to me, he would have made sure that the photographs were taken properly, not in breach of the code, and if they were some kind of a sensational set, that he would just want me to see knowing that maybe they'd go to another newspaper that might use them. If they were in breach of those conditions, we wouldn't use them.
Q. Have there been occasions, then, when you have as it were rejected photographs because you've believed, known or suspected that they were in breach of the code?
A. Yes, I have.
Q. How would you know that they were in breach of the code, taken in breach of the code?
A. Because an individual was, on this particular occasion, was on a private beach.
Q. We've heard evidence of paparazzi photographs which were obtained in intrusive, indeed sometimes threatening circumstances. That's something which is not unfamiliar to you, is it?
A. No.
Q. Wouldn't you know from looking at the photograph, quite often, that it might have been obtained in such a way?
A. That it was in breach of the privacy?
Q. Yes.
A. Yes. Yes.
Q. And are you saying that in all cases when confronted with such a photograph and a decision whether or not to publish it, you would say no if you felt that it was
A. If it was in breach of an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, in other words if a celebrity, for example, had gone to a specific resort or an island where, as a result of doing that, it was abundantly clear that that expectation was reasonable, and it was private, you would be in breach immediately if you used those photographs.
Q. Yes. You're giving us the same clear case to demonstrate the point, but we've heard evidence of cases where the photograph was obtained either intrusively or certainly insensitively, or in worst cases as a result of harassment of the subject. Those would be matters which you, as an experienced editor, would know about, isn't that correct?
A. Yes.
Q. Is it your position that you would reject the publication of such photographs if you knew or suspected that the photographs had been obtained in such a way?
A. Unless there was a public interest defence in using photographs that had been taken under subterfuge or whatever, but that were evidence of supporting the story that met the criteria legally, lawfully and within the PCC code, I wouldn't be interested in them, no.
Q. The ultimate responsibility for the publication of these photographs would be the editor's, wouldn't they?
A. Yes.
Q. Have there been cases we've seen one in relation to a different newspaper, I should make it clear, in the evidence we heard about four weeks ago now from Sienna Miller where you've been given photographs which have been doctored in some way?
A. Doctored?
Q. You know the Sienna Miller example which we heard evidence about.
A. No. Forgive me.
Q. When she was playing with a disabled child and the photograph was presented in such a way that she appeared inebriated and that was the caption.
A. I have never, to my knowledge, been involved with any set of photographs that have been doctored.
Q. Okay. Can I ask you a more general question, and this is the final question I have: it's clear, isn't it, that the editor of a newspaper has enormous power and enormous responsibility in relation to decisions which can affect the private lives of individuals; would you agree?
A. Absolutely.
Q. Would you also agree that sometimes those decisions have to be made swiftly and are hard decisions?
A. Yes.
Q. What improvements, if any, in the system might you suggest to enable those decisions to be taken better?
A. Emollient language, Mr Jay. I think it's all about it's all about personal standards, really, and I think that, you know, you don't learn on the job, as it were, as an editor, but certainly experience is probably the most important factor in it. I think one of the lessons that I've learned over the years is that you do, if you can, take time out. That you discuss, that you broaden the debate, and listen to other people's views. And perhaps I can put it another way: that you make decisions sometimes that disappoint your executives about why you don't want to publish a certain story, and then you hope that the experience that follows from not publishing a story explains to them why you chose not to publish it. In other words, it was the right decision not to do so. So you have to take you have to reflect and you have to take advice from people whose counsel you value. MR JAY Thank you, Mr Myler. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Could I just go back to the photographs example?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You may not have seen or heard the evidence that I listened to some weeks ago, you may have read about some of it. There were examples, Mr Jay mentioned Sienna Miller, I think she spoke of being spat at to get a reaction.
A. Mm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Presumably that is not something of which you would approve?
A. Totally. Absolutely not. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Jumping out of bushes to take photographs when a famous person is with his or her children?
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Unacceptable?
A. Unacceptable, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Hounding a house to get a reaction from somebody who it was felt had a useful story?
A. No, absolutely. I do think, sir, it is important to try to some of the stories that have been put before this place really do belong in a place that was a long time ago. Those actions were perhaps regarded at the time as being it's okay. There's no place for that now, and I think the industry has understood that, reflected and changed its attitudes to that. Indeed, I think if you look and talk to any major proprietor of a freelance picture agency, most of them are going out of business pretty fast. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The reason I'm asking you about these is because I think you're the first editor who's given evidence and I'm anxious to test certain propositions and I'll do it with others as well. Some of the examples are much, much more recent than that. You mentioned the McCanns.
A. Mm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON How about the complaint made by Mr Grant about the approach to the mother of his recently born child?
A. Mm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is that acceptable or not acceptable?
A. Is this where there was harassment outside the house? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Correct.
A. Unacceptable, yes. I think that if you make an approach to ask somebody to be photographed and they make it clear that they're not interested, they don't want it, increasingly my experience has been that the public's knowledge of how to deal with that, if they feel that that request from them to the individual photographer outside their premises is not going very far, the knowledge now of phoning the PCC and asking the PCC to put a cease and desist order out there is far more commonplace than people realise, and it is effective, because the cease and desist does go to the editor and that then tends to be passed around to the relevant desks. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's a pity that it's necessary
A. Yes, perhaps it is. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON if everybody actually appreciated the rules.
A. Yes, it is, and maybe it's a time for the industry to reflect on certain matters of decency. I know there might be some guffaws of moral indignation that the former editor of the News of the World can be talking in these terms, but that actually is what I believe and I think we might, as an industry, be a better industry for that reflection. And I do believe that reflection, actually, has taken place. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I have no doubt at all that the events of the last five months have caused many to reflect.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And, again to prove that I do read the newspapers, the recent observations of Mr Clifford go some way to that effect. The real question is: will it last? And how we should go about creating a system that ensures that it does last?
A. Absolutely. It's fundamental to whether or not the industry survives. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, the industry has other problems as well, and I well understand that.
A. Yes, it does. It does have commercial and economical issues. But I think one of the things that this Inquiry so far has brought to the public's attention is the despicable way, in many respects, or in some respects, that some members of this profession have behaved, and it would be desperately unfair for the public to believe that everybody behaved in that way, because they do not. But it is true to say, I think, that there are huge challenges facing this industry. We are an industry historically that is quite dysfunctional. The competition between us, not just commercial but in terms of getting the most, the best story, is such that we're not very good at even coming together to agree on saluting the great and the good. We can't agree on a system for the British Press Awards, we can't agree where it should be held. You go into a judging session sometimes, which I did many times, and it's also almost like a war zone. You have the broadsheets on one side and the tabloids on the other and they say, "We should win" and they say, "We should win". The saddest thing is that the collective brain power amongst those who produce newspapers is pretty magnificent, and if only they could drop some of that commercial rivalry, understand and face the problems and issues that affect all of them. This is not about broadsheet, broadcast media against the red tops. These are issues that effect all of them. I mean, I've found it quite extraordinary that the way in which TV was reporting Gerry McCann's and Kate's testimony, where they quite rightly talked about what they regarded as intrusive behaviour by photographers, particularly when they were in the car, the TV broadcasters were reporting this as if it was in the third person. If you look back at the occasions that Gerry and Kate were talking about, count how many television cameras were there. It's as if they're not part of this issue, they're not part of this problem. They are. And unless the industry really does come together and unite and engage with courts, with the judiciary, with politicians and agree that things do have to change, from both sides and all sides, not just on ours, I think it's a pretty gloomy and grim future, but I hope that doesn't happen and I hope that through this Inquiry they will be able to unite and come together on common ground where they can change many things for the better. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I have made it abundantly clear, and I think I've said it publicly in this Inquiry, in fact I know I have, that this is a problem for the press. It's not my problem.
A. Yes. Precisely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But their solution has to be a solution that satisfies the legitimate needs and requirements of others. So let me give you a simple example of something that might be suggested. And I'm not saying it will be, I'm just postulating a possibility. That whether or not an editor knows where a photograph came from and how it was taken, he is responsible, even notwithstanding his best efforts to ensure that it is entirely compliant and doesn't intrusively affect somebody's rights, he is responsible if he publishes it. If he has some right back against the photographer, that's a matter for him, but he's responsible for it.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And that responsibility has to be met with a potential sanction, I don't know how, I'm not pretending to have solved it, but if that's what's established, then he carries the can. Or she.
A. I think there's an acceptance, an acknowledgment that that definitely needs to happen. I mean, my experience of the PCC is that self-regulation does work. I hope that through this Inquiry you can see that self-regulation is and continues to be the way forward. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Myler, the PCC doesn't regulate anybody.
A. No, no, I'm talking about self-regulation works, but the current manner in which it works needs to be strengthened. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh, well
A. Considerably so. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If you have some thoughts upon that, you can put them into writing and I'd be pleased to read them.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I won't ask you to elaborate at this stage.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right, thank you very much indeed.
A. Thank you. MR JAY Thank you, Mr Myler. The next witness is Mr Sanderson. MR DANIEL SANDERSON (affirmed) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY First of all, make yourself comfortable, Mr Sanderson, and provide us with your full name.
A. My name is Daniel Mark Sanderson.
Q. Thank you. You have provided a witness statement which starts at our page [5]2723, which extends over four pages. Have you now signed a copy of that statement?
A. I have.
Q. And is that the evidence that you give to this Inquiry?
A. Yes.
Q. Can I ask you first about your career and about yourself? You started, I believe, at a regional newspaper; is that right?
A. That's right, yeah.
Q. Just tell us in your own words your career path until the News of the World?
A. I started my journalistic career as a local newspaper called the Worthing Herald. From there I went to a company called Kent News and Pictures. I was at Kent News and Pictures for about eight months and then I moved to a company called Ferrari Press Agency. From Ferrari Press Agency, I was I started work at the News of the World on a Saturday. I worked on a Saturday for about a year, and then was offered a full-time job at the News of the World.
Q. Yes. And the year you're referring to is that the Saturday job started, I think, towards the latter part of 2006; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. And then the contract job in 2007, is that also correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. When did you become a staff reporter at the News of the World?
A. That was in 2009, I believe.
Q. So in 2008, when the McCann diaries story came out in September, you were in a very junior position; is that correct?
A. I was. I was probably the most junior reporter at the newspaper.
Q. Right. You tell us something about the background to this McCann diary story, that on 28 July 2008, the story appeared in the Sun newspaper which said that extracts of Kate McCann's diary had emerged in Portugal; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. Did Mr Edmondson ask you to track down the person who was in possession of the diary and was leaking extracts of it in Portugal?
A. That's correct.
Q. What did you do to track down the diary, as it were?
A. I phoned I made contact with two newspapers in Portugal. I was advised that one particular journalist was in possession of a copy of the diary and made contact with that person.
Q. Was that person a Portuguese journalist?
A. That's correct.
Q. Was there a discussion then about how much it might cost to obtain the diary from I think it was a woman, from her?
A. I believe that formed part of the conversation, yes.
Q. Yes. But you, of course, did not go out to Portugal yourself, did you?
A. No.
Q. You say in your statement that you liaised with Mr Edmondson, who was the news editor, was he?
A. That's correct.
Q. And were told to ask a freelance journalist called Gerard Cousins, who was based in Spain, to travel to Portugal to meet the journalist and collect the diary; is that right?
A. That's correct.
Q. And it's at that point that your involvement, as it were, ceased until the diary arrived in the News of the World's offices on Saturday, 6 September 2008; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. Can I ask you this, though, in relation to the diary: were you aware that the ultimate source of the diary was the Portuguese police?
A. I wasn't aware at the time, no.
Q. When, if at all, did you become aware of that fact?
A. I haven't I didn't speculate as to where the diary came from at the time. Yeah.
Q. So is your evidence you didn't know from where the diary came at the time?
A. All I knew at the time was that I'd read in the Sun newspaper that there were extracts being circulated around Portugal, and obviously somebody was responsible for circulating those extracts, so I was then asked to make enquiries as to how that was the case and who was in possession of a copy of the diary.
Q. But you didn't believe, did you, that the McCanns had put out the diary in some way?
A. No, but I didn't speculate at the time where the diary had come from. It's the point I'm trying to make. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You may not have speculated, but it's quite an interesting question. Were you at all concerned about the provenance of the diary? We now know that the Portuguese law does not permit all this and that this diary was obtained quite wrongfully. I'm not suggesting you knew that at the time, but I appreciate you were doing the bidding of the news editor, but were you concerned about the provenance of the diary and the propriety of doing what you were being asked to do, or not; was it just a question of being told what to do and you did it?
A. I don't want to give the impression that I just flippantly, you know, was told to find out the source of the diary and so I did that. You know, a diary is clearly a private document, but at the time, as I say, this was being publicly circulated around Portugal. What the newspaper planned to do with the diary once we were in possession of it I didn't know at the time. Does that answer your question? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand that, and it may be that copies are going around Portugal. But you did not concern yourself, you were simply doing the job that you were asked to do?
A. No, it's not every story I ever embarked on with the News of the World I considered things like privacy, public interest and, you know, whether I was adhering to the PCC code. It was clearly a private document, I understand that. But the reality of the situation is that at that stage we weren't in possession of the diary, so we didn't know what we were dealing with. The other point that I think it's very important to make is that as I understand it, the News of the World had no intention of publishing that diary LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm only interested now you're going to were you told this at the time or is this something again you learned later?
A. Was I told what at the time? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON About the intentions of the News of the World?
A. No, no, I was told at the time that we would not be publishing the diary unless we had the specific express permission from the McCanns. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I see. We'll come back to some of those questions, I'm sure Mr Jay will, when you've actually read the translation of the diary. MR JAY Were you told by Mr Edmondson before the diary arrived in the offices of the News of the World, which we know to have been Saturday, 6 September 2008, that there was no intention of publishing a story based on the diary until the McCanns' express consent had been contained?
A. That was my understanding, that there would be a conversation between the News of the World and the McCanns to obtain their permission to publish the diary.
Q. Were you told that by Mr Edmondson in those terms?
A. Yes.
Q. You said that you weren't going to speculate as to the source of the diary. You also said it was a private document. Did you think at all about the provenance of the diary?
A. My understanding was that we were going to the News of the World was going to obtain permission from the McCanns.
Q. But that's a separate issue, Mr Sanderson. There's the issue of obtaining consent and there's the issue of the provenance of the diary. Were you thinking at all about the possible provenance of the diary?
A. Of course I was. My understanding of the situation was that at the time it's very, very difficult to speculate about the provenance of the diary until it was actually in the office, and, you know, I was a junior reporter at the time. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Sanderson, I'm not going to be critical of you in relation to the decisions you've made about this. You were asked to do a job and you did it.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But one of the things I am required to think about is the culture, practice and ethics of the press, as I'm sure you are very, very aware.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Therefore, what junior members of staff are thinking about is actually not unimportant, and that's why you're being asked the questions.
A. I know, and I fully appreciate that. MR JAY Can you assist us then with your answer? Because we have a private diary and that diary has somehow entered the public domain. Those are the facts which you know.
A. Yes, absolutely, but as I've said before, they were already in the public domain circulating in Portugal and I have to say I wasn't aware of the judge's comments that you're referring to at the time about it being, you know, a private document. I wasn't aware of that at the time.
Q. I think you said earlier that you were aware that it was a private diary
A. I was aware it was a private diary. A diary is by definition a private document. I accept that, and, you know, with hindsight it was clearly the wrong decision to publish.
Q. When you come back to the office after the weekend on Tuesday, 9 September 2008, Mr Edmondson shows you a copy of the diary. It's all in Portuguese, so it's been translated evidently from the original?
A. That's correct.
Q. Was there anything about the diary which caused you to speculate as to its source or was your state of mind the same as it had been previously?
A. Thinking back, I mean it had obviously been translated from English to Portuguese. I mean, the source was I suppose, thinking back, it must have come from the Portuguese police, absolutely.
Q. Why do you say that?
A. From memory, when I was looking through the documents, I believe there were comments on certain pages, I think. I can't remember.
Q. Which obviously you don't speak Portuguese
A. No, but there were notes and comments, and I don't know, it looked like some kind of official document, if that makes any sense.
Q. So was it at that point that you realised that the source was probably the Portuguese police?
A. Oh yes, no absolutely, absolutely.
Q. Did that cause you any concerns?
A. The whole thing caused me concern. The whole thing caused me concern.
Q. Did you share those concerns with Mr Edmondson?
A. Did I share them with Mr Edmondson? It's very, very difficult for me to try and explain, but essentially my thinking throughout this whole process was that this story was going to be published with the co-operation of the McCanns. Does that make any sense?
Q. Yes.
A. So, you know, we were translating the document, we were writing the story, we were checking with the McCanns that they were happy with the story, it would be published, the McCanns would know all about it. That was my understanding of the situation throughout. Because, don't forget, I wasn't aware necessarily of what the newspaper planned to do with the diary once it was in the News of the World offices.
Q. But once it was in the News of the World offices, the position was that it was translated on a piecemeal basis?
A. That's right.
Q. And the English translation came back to you; is that correct?
A. That's right. I arranged for the diary to be translated from Portuguese back into English, and as you can probably imagine, that was quite a laborious task.
Q. Indeed. And when the translation comes back, do you start writing up the story?
A. That's right, yeah, yeah. The translation was coming through in sections and I was writing the story during the week.
Q. I think it was your concern also to ascertain that the diary was not a fake, so you were checking the translation against Internet sources; is that right?
A. That's right. We looked at the diary and for every entry we would cross-check that, we would cross-reference that with stories that may have appeared in the newspapers. So, for example, I think there was an entry there was one entry about the McCanns planning to visit the Pope on a certain date, and we I cross-checked that with reports that they had seen the Pope on that date.
Q. Yes. In relation to obtaining the agreement of the McCanns, your evidence is, and this is page 52725, under question 6, just above the lower hole punch: "My understanding of the situation was that Mr Edmondson had sought permission to publish the diary from Mr Mitchell. I acquired this understanding because Mr Edmondson told me he was going to speak to Mr Mitchell about the story at the end of the week." So the conversation was likely to take place, if it was going to take place, on the Friday, 12 September; is that right?
A. That's my understanding, yes.
Q. But it's not your understanding, is it, that there was any earlier conversation between Mr Edmondson and Mr Mitchell?
A. No. No.
Q. Had you completed the story, at least from your end, by the end of the week?
A. Yes.
Q. So it follows, does it, that by the time the story was given up by you to Mr Edmondson, you didn't know one way or the other whether the McCanns' consent had been obtained?
A. No, my understanding was that the McCanns' consent would be obtained.
Q. Well, your understanding, at its highest, was that the McCanns would be asked through their agent whether they consented. Is that not the true position?
A. Sorry, can you repeat that?
Q. Your understanding was, at its highest, that the McCanns' agent would be asked for consent at the end of the week. Is that not correct?
A. That's correct, yeah.
Q. But you didn't know one way or the other whether the McCanns would give the green light to the publication of this story, did you?
A. No, but my understanding was that if they hadn't given the green light, then the story wouldn't have been published.
Q. Your understanding was that if they didn't give the green light, at a point after you provided the story to Mr Edmondson, then the story wouldn't be published?
A. That was my understanding, yes.
Q. Was the story, once you'd given it to Mr Edmondson, in other words your copy, between then and its publication, how at all was it changed by editors?
A. How was the story changed?
Q. Yes. Well, your copy, how was it changed?
A. Well, from memory, I wrote a story based on the extracts from the diary and it was changed it was changed what essentially happened was that all of my pieces were taken out, and the diary was just published in its entirety, or extracts of the diary were published in their entirety without any without any writing from me at all. Does that make sense? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So it wasn't a story that you'd written at all. It just became the diary?
A. Basically, yeah. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And was that the bits that you'd taken out of the diary or other bits?
A. No, no, that so I filed this very long story that had explanations of bits of the extracts in, and the story that appeared in the paper, all of those explanations were taken out and it was just the diary. There was a bit on the front page that I'd written, but MR JAY I see. So the front page contained your
A. It was like an introduction. It was an introduction.
Q. And then the rest of it were just extracts from the diary; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. So your story, as it were, was somewhat mutilated, if I can
A. It was changed, yes.
Q. It was changed. Of course, as your statement makes clear, and this is in relation to Mr Edmondson speaking to Mr Mitchell, you say: "I didn't actually ever have the conversation with Mr Edmondson specifically that he had received permission to publish from the McCanns."
A. No.
Q. So this was because, presumably, you'd handed over the story to him before he'd had any conversation with Mr Mitchell; is that correct?
A. That's true. Yeah, that's the case.
Q. You also say in your statement under paragraph 5, but still on page 52725, you say: "However, with hindsight, the decision to publish Mrs McCann's diary was clearly the wrong one. Having read how the article made Mrs McCann feel, I intend to apologise to her for writing the story once I have given evidence." So you're giving that apology publicly and we understand that. But can you explain why it was clearly the wrong decision, in your own words?
A. Yes, I have every intention of apologising to the McCanns for my involvement in the story. I know it's not your question but that is my intention. I felt I did feel very bad that my involvement in the story my involvement had made Mrs McCann feel the way that it had. So that's the first thing. Why was it the wrong decision to publish? Because they didn't have the permission to. They didn't have Mrs McCann's permission to publish that story. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Can we unpick that a bit, too? You read this diary?
A. I did. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Some of it is factual.
A. What do you mean LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Some of it is factual, she's describing events that have happened?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But it's also an intensely personal document.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON As you read it for the first time, did you think you had any business writing a word of it without making sure that this truly was what they wanted?
A. Seeking their permission, seeking the McCanns' permission wasn't in my sphere of responsibility. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You see, it's all very well having a conversation with somebody saying, "Is it all right?" but a lot depends upon the tenor, and what's actually happening, what's being done.
A. Mm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And one can visualise somebody saying, "Yes, well, if you're simply going to say I kept a diary, that's fine".
A. Sure. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But to reveal the most intimate moments may actually give rise to other considerations which require a rather more careful consent.
A. Absolutely. My understanding of the situation was that the news editor spoke to the McCanns' press secretary on a daily basis, so in terms of getting the McCanns' consent or having those conversations, that really was a job for the news editor. I didn't have the McCanns' mobile number, I didn't have the McCanns' press secretary's mobile number. The first time I spoke to the McCanns' press secretary was about three weeks ago, when I heard how the story had made Mrs McCann feel and I phoned him to tell him my intention to apologise. That's not just for this Inquiry, that's because I'm genuinely sorry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sure it is, but did you expect I appreciate that the word copy approval is never given, but did you expect that in order to get a fully informed consent, effectively the McCanns would be shown what you had written?
A. You would have expected that, yes. MR JAY Can I ask you some general questions about culture in the News of the World? How would you define the culture in the News of the World when you were there, Mr Sanderson?
A. It was a high pressure environment to work in.
Q. Yes? Anything more that you could tell us?
A. What would you like to know?
Q. Well LORD JUSTICE LEVESON How it manifested itself. How the high pressure manifested itself.
A. In order to work at the News of the World, you have to give a certain part of your life over to it. It's very, very hard work. The phone is constantly the phone is constantly on. You can be called evenings, weekends. There's no point making any plans with friends because if you do, they're likely to be cancelled because the news editor wants you to go on a job. It was very hard work. It was very hard work. MR JAY Did you feel you had to buy into that, as it were?
A. Yeah. I mean, you can't work at the News of the World if you're not prepared to work hard.
Q. Was there a culture of bullying in your view?
A. No. I didn't experience that.
Q. You heard the question I asked Mr Myler based on Mr Wallis' evidence about a certain conception of the story driving the direction into which it's going to go and be written.
A. Mm.
Q. Do you feel that that was the position or not?
A. No, I think that's nonsense.
Q. Why do you say that?
A. Because, it's like Mr Myler pointed out earlier on, a story only ever appeared in the News of the World if well, stories that I worked on, the first thing you did was you made sure it was true.
Q. Is that the first thing you did and the last thing you did, or were there other things you did before considering whether it was appropriate to proceed with a story?
A. You talked about you talked about picking up the phone and receiving a tip. To take you through the process, you know, the first thing you did when you received the tip was ascertain whether the tip was true. I mean, there were other things, like, for example, you picked up the phone and you saw you worked out whether the story was appropriate for the News of the World, so you used your values and experience of the newspaper to see whether that story that the person is phoning in with is appropriate to the News of the World. And then you went about proving that it was true. It was never that you sat there thinking, "Oh, well, you know, let's make up this story about this person". The story had to be true.
Q. How did you go about verifying its truth?
A. Well, there were numerous processes that you went through to prove a story was true. Do you want to know them or
Q. Yes.
A. I mean, for example, with any story, if you met somebody with a story for the News of the World, the first thing that you did was you sit down and say, "Okay, you're telling me this story. What evidence have you got that what you're telling me is the truth?" Okay? So there would be things like text messages. You're telling me something, how can you then prove that that's true? Can you show me text messages that prove what you're saying is true? Can you show me credit card bills? You said you were somewhere, can you prove that for me? Are there other people who will back up your story? Will you sign an affidavit saying that what you're telling me is the truth? There were so many levels that you went through to prove that a story's true, because you're the first gatekeeper, if you like, and then that story that you've managed to establish is true then goes to the news editor and then goes up to the editor.
Q. And then in terms of compliance with the PCC code, in particular privacy issues, but that's not the only issue, what process, if any, do you go through to satisfy yourself that those matters are being addressed?
A. Well, the whole time that you're operating as a journalist, you have the PCC code you're considering the PCC code at every level.
Q. You've given us a very precise process, if I may say so, in terms of verifying fact or verifying evidence.
A. I'm just trying to explain to somebody who might not know the intricacies of the operation, that's generally how you work.
Q. But in relation to the code, very often it's a balancing exercise between rights of individuals and the public interest.
A. Yes.
Q. Is that a process you were familiar with?
A. It's something that you have to think about as a journalist every day. You have to consider the PCC code, and I think Colin Mr Myler said earlier it's about personal standards, and you have to maintain those personal standards while you're operating as a journalist.
Q. Were there occasions when, apart from the case we've been discussing, when you felt uncomfortable in relation to your obligations under the code on the one hand and what you were being tasked to do in relation to a particular story on the other?
A. No. MR JAY Okay. Thank you, Mr Sanderson. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Facts are one thing. What about comment?
A. What about comment? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Newspaper stories do not merely consist of a recitation of facts. They are then the subject of comment, which actually then provides the focus of the story, doesn't it?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Would that comment be yours or one of your more senior manager's?
A. I'm sorry, I don't follow. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I want to know to what extent did you include within your stories comment and context which was yours rather than the facts that you'd actually simply been given.
A. You got the facts and then you wrote the story. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON With your own comments to it?
A. I was quite factual when I wrote my stories. I didn't really add comment. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You didn't add comment? Did you ever see that comment was added?
A. Stories are sometimes changed by subeditors, so you'd write a story, you'd send that through to the news editor, they'd send it through to the subeditors, and it would be changed to fit with the space of the page. But, you know. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But not in any sense to change the slant of the story?
A. Not in my experience. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I see. All right. Thank you. MR JAY Thank you, Mr Sanderson. I think the next witness is due to start at 2.00, so we can have a slight longer LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Very good. All right, thank you. Thank you very much indeed. (12.45 pm)

Witnesses

Gave a statement at the hearing on Thursday, December 15, 2011 (AM) ; and submitted 1 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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