Afternoon Hearing on 19 December 2011

Matthew Driscoll gave a statement at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(1.30 pm) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. Yes, Mr Patry Hoskins? MS PATRY HOSKINS Sir, I thought there was something you might want to mention before we started. Do you want to wait until after the evidence? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, let's deal with the evidence first. MS PATRY HOSKINS The witness this afternoon is Mr Matthew Driscoll. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR MATTHEW DRISCOLL (sworn) Questions by MS PATRY HOSKINS MS PATRY HOSKINS Thank you very much. Make yourself comfortable. I see that you have the bundle in front of you. Could you please confirm your full name to the Inquiry?
A. Matthew Driscoll.
Q. Can you confirm that the contents of the statement you've provided to the Inquiry are true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
A. Yes, they are.
Q. Mr Driscoll, I'm going to ask you mainly about your time at the News of the World, where you worked from 1997 to 2007, but before I do that, I'd like to ask you a little about your early journalistic career.
A. Sure.
Q. You tell us in your statement that you worked initially for a period of 12 years prior to joining News of the World as a journalist?
A. Yes.
Q. First in local papers and in television, also for an agency; is that correct?
A. Yes, I worked for a sports agency and I freelanced for the News of the World as well.
Q. Then you moved to Express Newspapers to work as a sports writer for the Daily Star?
A. That's right.
Q. I'll come back to that in a moment. It's from there that you moved to the News of the World in June 1997; correct?
A. Yes.
Q. From your employment tribunal decision, I've taken the following dates: you worked for the News of the World from 24 June 1997 until you were dismissed by letter dated 26 April 2007, so a period of almost ten years.
A. Yes.
Q. Is that about right?
A. Yes.
Q. I will be asking you about this in much more detail in due course, but just so that we're clear from the outset, you challenged that dismissal in an employment tribunal?
A. Yes.
Q. That's correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. And the Tribunal found that (a) you'd been unfairly dismissed?
A. Yes.
Q. And (b) that the newspaper was also found to have discriminated against you on the grounds of your disability; correct?
A. Correct.
Q. They were ordered to pay you compensation of almost ?800,000 plus legal costs; correct?
A. No. Only a certain amount of legal costs were paid.
Q. Included in that figure.
A. Mm.
Q. It's fair to say that during the time you worked there the Tribunal found that the then editor had presided over a culture of bullying; is that correct?
A. That's what the judgment found, yes.
Q. I'll come back to the whole of that in due course. I just wanted to set the context. Can I start, please, with your employment at the Daily Star. How long did you work there?
A. I think it was about eight years, off the top of my head. It was a long time ago.
Q. What was your job title?
A. I started off there as more or less junior sports reporter, then I was promoted to a more senior role during my time there. So I covered England football matches and flew around the world with the England team.
Q. So if I can deduce, eight years, you left the Daily Star in 1997?
A. Yes.
Q. So you must have started there in the late 1980s?
A. Yes. I was a very young journalist at the time.
Q. Have you had the opportunity of either reading or hearing the evidence of Richard Peppiatt?
A. Yes, I read it last night.
Q. He told us all about the practices and ethics at the Daily Star during the time he was working there.
A. Yes.
Q. Do you recognise that? Is that your experience of working there?
A. There's certain aspects that I do recognise, but a lot that I don't recognise.
Q. Can you tell us about each of those?
A. When I was there, the Daily Star had a very small budget compared to the rest of Fleet Street. They couldn't really afford to spend a lot on news gathering, and certainly the use of any of the dark arts, as they now seem to be called. The Daily Star wouldn't really be able to afford that kind of stuff, even if they wanted to. But while I was there, it was quite sort of I'd like to call it sort of good old-fashioned journalism, really. You went to go and see people and talk to them fails to face and knock on doors and the Daily Star was maybe not so much on showbiz but certainly on sports, which was obviously my experience, it upheld good standards.
Q. Which aspects of his evidence did you recognise?
A. Certainly the grey area that there comes about in showbiz reporting, when you get publicists. I knew quite a lot of the showbiz guys on the Daily Star during my years there and they would be hounded by publicists trying to give them information, and they maybe didn't feel it was their duty to find out whether that information was true or not, since it had come from an official source from that famous person or whichever celebrity was trying to sell a record or a film. There was a big grey area in that field of what was true and what wasn't that was going into the paper.
Q. What about he discussed fabrication of stories, fabrication of quotes.
A. That never
Q. Did you recognise that experience?
A. No. Definitely on sport, and in all my experience of other journalists on that paper during the many years I was there, I never heard of even people making up stories, fabricating stuff to get in the paper. That's not to say maybe in the showbiz world you know, there might be a situation where they allow to put a quote into a famous person's mouth with the blessing of a publicist or an agent or manager who are trying to get their names in the paper. Possibly that could go on, but I never saw anything like he mentioned.
Q. All right. Is there anything else you'd like to say about the culture at the Daily Star while you worked there?
A. Well, maybe because of their small budget, they were very fearful of getting sued. It cost a lot of money. Out-of-court settlements are things that the editor would get very angry about, so if anything, the smaller the budget, the more accurate a newspaper wants their stories to be. We all know the Daily Star is a very sensationalist and and that was the field it worked in, but they certainly wouldn't have wanted to have ended up in court paying out large amounts of money to someone who's 's been libelled, so there was a big onus on that paper to make sure that things are accurate at the time I was there.
Q. How did you come to leave the Daily Star?
A. I was approached by the News of the World to go and work for them.
Q. Would it be fair to say that you were poached from the Daily Star?
A. Yeah, yeah.
Q. I'm going to take your time at the News of the World chronologically, if I can. Turn to tab 5 in your bundle.
A. Yes.
Q. You should find an appeal statement.
A. Yes.
Q. Can you just tell us what that statement is and why you prepared this statement.
A. This was a statement that myself and my legal team at the time prepared to appeal against my dismissal.
Q. All right. For the purposes of the core participants who have access to the document system, it's 21286, but I would rather it wasn't shown on screen, if that's all right. Thank you very much. This explains at paragraph 2 that you started working for the News of the World in June 1997 as the north-eastern football writer. Who did you report to at that stage?
A. My sports editor, and obviously the editor as well.
Q. At that time, during 1997, who was the editor of the News of the World?
A. Phil Hall.
Q. It would be fair then to say that you worked under Phil Hall, you worked under Rebekah Wade and then under Andy Coulson as well?
A. Yes.
Q. And in fact, right at the end of the time of your employment
A. It was Colin Myler, yeah.
Q. it was Colin Myler. Were you a staff reporter when you started working?
A. Yes.
Q. You tell us that you then relocated to Yorkshire to concentrate on the northern football clubs?
A. Yeah. The clubs I had to cover were the north-eastern football clubs initially.
Q. But within two years, so I guess by 1999, you were promoted to chief northern football writer and you moved to Chester, you tell us?
A. Yes, to be closer to Liverpool and Manchester United.
Q. I understand. You tell us in the statement, for those that don't have it, that you managed to forge a very good relationship with the football managers that you encountered?
A. Yes, that was part of my sort of duties, really.
Q. During the early period, 1997, 1999, were there any problems with your employment at all?
A. No. Those were my sort of happiest days, really, in Fleet Street. After a very difficult time of relationships with some managers of football clubs, because of the previous regime, maybe, or the reasons they'd fallen out with the paper, I managed to build bridges again and my career then was on the up. It was a very good time.
Q. What was the feedback you were receiving from the sports editor you reported to?
A. Mostly glowing reports of how well I was doing and which was proved in my tribunal, with all the promotions and pay rises I got.
Q. You also go on to explain that you continued to have good relationships with the football managers whose teams were you covering and you got some very good scoops and everything seemed well at that stage?
A. Certainly, yeah.
Q. You tell us that you'd always wanted to come back to London to work, and you then attended a meeting in London where you were told that you were to become chief sports writer?
A. That's right.
Q. Can you tell me, do you have an approximate date for that meeting?
A. No, I don't. I'd have to go through the records of my tribunal, which might have got a bit closer to an accurate date for that, I'm afraid.
Q. What about a year?
A. That was it would have been 2003, I think.
Q. How do you feel about that particular promotion?
A. I was very pleased. There was a sort of shake-up on the paper. A few people left and certain people were promoted and I was one of them, so I was quite excited about it at the time, yeah.
Q. You then go on to tell us that at that time your pay increased in line with the promotion but you didn't seem to have attracted the job title?
A. No.
Q. What was your understanding of why you hadn't actually become
A. There was a change of editorship kind of halfway through that, and Andy Coulson became editor, and I was still waiting for something to be put in writing, and then I found out that someone else had been given that job without any discussion with me. Clearly a new editor turns up, he wants his own chief sports writer, he wants to choose his own guy and put his own guy in, so that job was given to someone else without any discussion with me. Obviously, I wasn't very happy about it.
Q. Right. As far as you understood it, it was due to the fact that Andy Coulson had come in as editor and he'd simply appointed someone else?
A. Yeah.
Q. Then comes the event which you describe as the event which you say: "I still see this event as the beginning of the end of my time at the News of the World." It's the if I can call it the Arsenal purple shirts incident. Can you tell us about that in your own words?
A. Yeah. In newspapers there's one thing you must always take notice of: if you get a tip from the editor, you give it a lot more credence or a lot more importance, because clearly that's come from the editor. One day I got a phone call saying that Andy Coulson had heard from somewhere that Arsenal were going to play in a special new strip and it was my job to go since I covered Arsenal, to make sure if that was true or not. Through exhaustive phone calls and enquiries, I was told categorically by Arsenal Football Club which it wasn't true, which I now believe that to be a lie, and then a few months later, it appeared in the Sun on their back page and it was in fact true. I then get a phone call from my sports editor at the time saying, "We're dead. Coulson's going to go absolutely crazy over this and will want to know why we got this wrong and why this appeared in the Sun." And as I said in my tribunal, when a sports editor says, "We're dead", what he means is: "You're dead." The buck stops with me. It's never going to go any further and he's not going to take the blame for it. So I knew then that things were going to be difficult for me, and you hope, really, that you can sort of knuckle down and get on with your job and that things will smooth over, but it transpired it didn't.
Q. Did Mr Coulson ever speak to you personally about that incident?
A. No. I suppose that's kind of the way it works in newspapers. The authority he maybe expresses his opinion to the sports editor, knowing that the sports editor will then convey his opinions to me. I mean, I would speak to him now and again on the editorial floor but not in that case.
Q. I'm going to turn to culture, practices and ethics at the News of the World and I want to start with the topic of blagging, if I can. In your witness statement, you tell us about blagging practices. I'm going to start with the incident which involved a Premiership football manager's medical records. Please don't name him, but tell us the story in your own words of what happened.
A. I had been given a tip that a very many prominent football manager had health problems. I didn't know how bad they might be or how significant they might be, but it was something I had to check out. I did it through it sounds like old-fashioned means now by actually ringing contacts, speaking to people and people that I knew on you know, from my time in sport, and it was clear that something might be up because all the signals I was getting back was: there might be a problem. But then I couldn't get any further forward on it because I sort of hit a brick wall in terms of getting anyone to go on record to tell me whether something was true, and that manager involved clearly wouldn't co-operate either, although I did approach him, and in the end I had to go to my sports desk and say, "I really don't think I can get any further forward with this." And then my sports editor said, "Leave it with me. We'll see what we can come up with." And then it was I'm pretty certain, as I said in my tribunal, it was that day I got a phone call back saying, "You're absolutely right with the story."
Q. Who was the phone call from?
A. My sports editor. He said, "You're absolutely the right. The story is true. I have his medical records with me at the moment." Having been on the Daily Star where none of that ever happened, I was a bit aghast that it seemed that easy to obtain someone's medical records. He said, "It's nothing life-threatening, but I know exactly what it is, what procedure he's had," and I did ask, "How was that obtained?" and I was told it's through a blagging technique. I was told that will sometimes you'd get a situation where if an investigator sent a fax to a GP or a hospital saying, "I'm his specialist, I need these details", it was incredible how many times that would just get sent straight back. There were different techniques to obtain them and I was told they weren't obtained through any illegal source but it was from through blagging at the time.
Q. Do you know whether the sports editor himself had carried out the blag, or whether there was someone else that he instructed?
A. I'm pretty certain the sports editor certainly didn't do it, no. There were specialist people on the News of the World who did that sort of stuff.
Q. When you say you're pretty certain, did he tell you that? How did you know that?
A. He didn't tell me that, but I just know through working practice that he wouldn't have got involved with blagging, and there were special people on the news desk or features desk that he went to.
Q. Did you ever see a copy of the medical records?
A. No, I didn't. This was a phone call.
Q. Do you know if the News of the World put the medical records to the Premiership football manager in question?
A. I know there was a phone call to that football manager to tell him exactly what we knew and that he was very upset about it, and he made his thoughts known about that and said that there was no way he wanted that story to appear in public. And this is another technique on the News of the World, if you want to call it a technique, that information is a tradable commodity, and it was put to [blank] that we wouldn't use this information and in the end it was mentioned to him that we would keep it quiet and we would keep it out the public domain, and because of that, he then started cooperating with the paper.
Q. Can you tell me about whether or not you ever witnessed any other incidents of blagging?
A. I can think of one other incident, when
Q. Again, please try not to mention any names.
A. I'm sorry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just before you leave the last one, do I gather that as a result of whatever the deal was, the particular information that you had been checking out did not appear in the public domain?
A. No, it didn't. Sorry, I probably didn't explain that very well in the end because I was trying not to say certain words. It was basically made clear that we wouldn't use that information, and because of that well, for instance, a few months later he gave us some stories to use in the paper. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So there was a deal done, effectively?
A. You could definitely call it that, yeah. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MS PATRY HOSKINS Perhaps about before with we leave that incident, I should ask you this. Some might say there is a public interest in obtaining medical records in some cases. If, for example, a politician, very prominent politician, had an illness that might threaten his ability to do the job, it might be appropriate to obtain medical records in this way. Do you think there was a public interest in obtaining the medical records in this case?
A. I think there was a certain public interest in finding out the medical well-being of a prominent figure who works for a very large company. You know, a lot of managers work for public limited companies. The method used though, I wouldn't agree with that.
Q. You were coming on to give me LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But what about the use of that information, if only to get some other advantage? Do you think that's fair enough?
A. The use in the way that we ended up using it, you mean? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. No, I don't agree with that, to be honest. I think that's to say, "We've got information, we won't use it as long as you co-operate", which is the kind of deal that was being done there LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But just pushing that a bit further, if you agree that you shouldn't use the information, and if you agree that you shouldn't deal with the information, what is the justification for getting the information?
A. Don't get me wrong. If the News of the World had obtained this information and it had been quite serious, then I think the story would have appeared in the paper, no matter what. I think they would have considered that public interest. The fact that it wasn't serious meant that it wasn't as big a story as maybe they had they thought it had been initially, and therefore it was a lot more convenient to keep it quiet, to not upset someone who was a prominent figure, and to then use it as a trade, yeah. MS PATRY HOSKINS You were coming on to tell us about another occasion when you understood blagging to have taken place. Again, please don't mention any names.
A. No, I can think of one case when a prominent Premier League football player had tested positive to a drug at his training ground and in that case someone pretended to be from that football club and rang up the FA, and that was a blagging technique, and the FA were then happy to talk about the whole situation, all the ins and outs of what had happened that week, and which stood up the story, which satisfied the lawyers, and therefore the story appeared on the back page of the paper that week. And that was after I'd spent all week tracking down the player involved and I had tracked down various different sources, but it was that blagging technique that got that story on the back page, that satisfied the lawyers that it was true.
Q. Did you personally witness the phone call or were you told about it?
A. No, no, I was just told about this.
Q. You tell us in your witness statement at paragraphs 7 to 8 that you spoke to colleagues about this blagging technique and they told you that the practice had gone on for some time and also that the obtaining of medical records was common practice. Do you recollect that?
A. It was certainly something that wasn't a rarity, no.
Q. Did you ever raise your concerns with your sports editor or with anyone else at the time?
A. No. I mean well, I certainly raised my surprise that anything like that could be done. That was all new to me, having come from the Daily Star. But, you know, as I've thought about it long and hard, it would be a very brave journalist, certainly in the early years of his career on the paper, to suddenly say, "I'm not happy with these techniques that are being used." You'd be basically making a decision over your career there. Anyone on that floor who complained too much would find themselves pushed out, certainly.
Q. Can you assist us with why you think this type of practice was going on? What was the purpose? Why did they have to resort to this?
A. The main reason is to make sure a story's true. You know, this is kind of the irony, really. Tabloid newspapers are very fearful of getting a story badly wrong, and the lawyers are just as the in-house lawyers are just as scared of that because it costs a lot of money if you do get it wrong. Not only do you have the humiliation of putting an apology in the paper or it being followed up and being disproved by other papers, it can then cost you a lot of money in out-of-court settlements, and money is the be all and end all of tabloid newspapers, really, and the pressure was on to make sure a story was correct and that you wouldn't get any comeback legally. So there was a pressure to use, as it now turns out, almost any means necessary to make sure that a story was 100 per cent true.
Q. Are there any other blagging incidents that you'd like to draw to our attention?
A. Only ones I heard of. The examples I've given you are the ones I'd directly worked on, yeah. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sorry, I just have to follow up the last answer. So everything that was done was done to avoid libel?
A. That's my opinion, yeah, certainly. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Any consideration given to concepts of propriety or privacy?
A. I'm sure there would have been sometimes, but I think the biggest priority was to make sure that that story was true, to make sure there would be no litigation further down the road. I think that's where the onus lied. MS PATRY HOSKINS I'm going on to accuracy of reporting. It leads quite nicely from your last set of answers. Am I right in concluding, then, that stories were not fabricated at the News of the World?
A. No. Any suggestion of that, I think, is absolutely crazy because, you know, as I said, the litigation would be too severe. It would cost too much money.
Q. We've heard some witnesses say not necessarily witnesses but we've heard some say that if a story sounded true, you would just lob it in. Is that something that you recognise?
A. No. No.
Q. I'm going to ask you about phone hacking now, please. Again, it's very important not to mention any names. You touch on this very briefly at paragraph 12 of your statement and you say this: "I feel sure that the introduction of hacking, obtaining medical records and all of the rest of the so-called dark arts were at least partially based on satisfying lawyers that the crux of stories were sound."
A. Mm.
Q. Tell us about the extent of your knowledge about phone hacking at the News of the World, please.
A. I had no direct involvement or direct knowledge about it. My knowledge goes as far as speaking to colleagues of mine at lunch and on certain jobs. I mean, it was wide it was known throughout the whole of Fleet Street that news reporters and features reporters could writers could obtain either text messages or voicemails. It goes back a long way. I heard, towards the end of my Daily Star years, that there were scanners that they could get that would scan into old mobile phones and listen to phone conversations of royals and celebrities. It had been going on for some time.
Q. You mentioned features and news. Why?
A. Well, because in sport, we speak to people face to face. I have to work with them every day of the week, so there's no there would be no interest in me using any of those techniques on a football club. First of all, I'd have a reputation that I used those techniques, then I'd be ostricised by other football clubs. So sports is completely different to news and features. News and features can basically write one story about somebody and never have to speak to them again, really, or never see them again.
Q. I understand. So would I be right to conclude that your evidence is that phone hacking, as far as you're aware, wasn't happening on the sports desk?
A. Certainly not.
Q. But it was happening, although you have no direct knowledge of it, on the features and news desks?
A. No, to say it never happened on sports, it might not be quite correct in terms of the fact that sport would sometimes, I was told at the time, have bits of information that would be filtered down that might apply to a sports personality but that came from news and features.
Q. I understand. I'd like you to comment on the evidence of some other witnesses who have come to give evidence to this Inquiry, please. We're going to start with Mr McMullan. Did you hear his evidence or have a chance to read it?
A. I saw most of his evidence.
Q. We know he worked there between 1997 and 2001.
A. Yes.
Q. He was eventually deputy features editor. That overlaps with your time at the News of the World. Did you ever meet him?
A. Only in passing. Not very often.
Q. I understand. For our benefit, behind tab 10 you were find his evidence. You see at the bottom of each square there's a page number. It starts at page 29.
A. Yes.
Q. Actually, if you scroll through to page 49, you see that?
A. 49, yeah.
Q. In the top left-hand corner. He's asked at line 10 sorry, do you have page 49?
A. 49, yes.
Q. I should say for everyone else's note, this is 29 November 2011, page 49 of the transcript, line 10.
A. Yes.
Q. Do you see that? Mr Barr asks him: "Can I move now to the question of voicemail interception? In your experience, how common was voicemail interception by journalists at the News of the World?" He says: "By the rank and file journalists? Yeah, not uncommon. These journalists swapped numbers with each other." I'll pause there because there are some names. Do you have any knowledge of that technique?
A. No, I don't, personally. Through word of mouth. I know that certain journalists would be able to get into voicemails. I'm pretty certain it did go on, but to say the rank and file is incorrect, I think.
Q. If you then turn to page 61, so a bit further on, line 20, he's asked this. He's being asked about a particular interview he'd given without his knowledge: "Was the statement that you believed that phone hacking was widespread across Fleet Street true?" He says: "Yeah, I thought the News of the World was one of the least bad offenders. The others were much worse." I don't know if you saw that?
A. Yeah.
Q. Do you have any knowledge, personal or otherwise, about phone hacking around the rest of Fleet Street?
A. Again, this is only word of mouth from colleagues of mine who worked for other papers, but I'm pretty certain it wasn't just the News of the World. I would agree with some of that.
Q. If you look over the page to page 65 LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Sorry, could I just clarify that? MS PATRY HOSKINS Of course. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is this knowledge that you had dating back to when you were working there?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Or knowledge that's only come chatting about it through 2011?
A. Oh no, no, certainly from working there, yeah. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MS PATRY HOSKINS On page 65 at line 17, Mr Barr asks him about blagging, one of the topics we've just been discussing.
A. Mm.
Q. He's asked, line 20: "You've already mentioned once an example of blagging being used. Was blagging a commonly-used technique to obtain information when you were working at News of the World?" He says: "Yes. Serious wrongdoers don't admit it but they're generally really pompous and overbearing people and it's an absolute joy to bring them down." Then he gives an example. Now, again, given the evidence that you have given, would you agree with him that blagging was something which was a commonly used technique at News of the World?
A. I believe it to be common, but obviously in my experience it was only used a few times directly with my involvement.
Q. He's then asked about the use of private investigators on page 78. I don't necessarily need to read about it. He says that it was an extensive practice using private investigators. Do you have any knowledge of private investigators being used whilst were you at News of the World?
A. No.
Q. Finally at page 85, he talks about searching through bins for information. Do you have any knowledge of that particular technique?
A. None direct. Only I heard that certain writers would go that far. Well, if you can call them writers, that is.
Q. Again, just to echo the chairman's question, was that something which you heard about at the time
A. At the time, through my years of being on the road as a sports writer, you'd hear anecdotal stuff like that.
Q. We can leave Mr McMullan's evidence. You told us earlier that blagging and other unethical practices seemed to be happening for the simple reason that there was real legal pressure for evidence for stories?
A. Yes.
Q. We heard about that pressure from other witnesses. Do you think that would lead to a pressure to adopt these particular practices?
A. I believe that's where a lot of the pressure came from. I'm not saying that was the only pressure that may have forced well, not forced, or encouraged a news reporter to use certain methods. Clearly, you know, other ones would be to get a story, to sell the paper, to get a big front page exclusive. There were a lot of pressures on a news staffer at the News of the World to perform and get stories.
Q. But you go further, Mr Driscoll, in this sense, at paragraph 34 onwards of your statement. Particular in paragraph 35, you explain that in your years at News International, you came to believe that News International were confident that they were untouchable because they were sure they had the government and police fighting their corner. They felt they were almost beyond the reach of the law, you say. You go on to explain that most of the journalists on the paper were decent people who had been trapped into this whirlpool, you say, of trying to obtain stories, but senior executives on the paper, I think you say, were handed too much power and their egos were allowed to run wild.
A. Mm.
Q. Is that something which you think was confined to the editors or senior executives at News International or is that something that you saw reflected throughout Fleet Street?
A. I'd say throughout Fleet Street, really. It's a kind of bizarre world that the editors and big executives on newspapers work in. They rarely get questioned by anyone, certainly their staff. Most of the people they're surrounded by are people who are going to say yes and are going to agree with them most of the time. I can think of a few examples where most of the staff would be thinking: "Why have we got that on the front page? Why is that story being used? It's not going to sell papers. It's the wrong story to have this week or this day." But no one was brave enough to actually say that to the editor, and editors would lead a very cossetted life. You would see some people become editors having been good journalists and very good industry men, and it was a classic cliched example of power corrupting. They'd suddenly walk into this life of chauffeur-driven cars and very high salaries and I think some of them lost touch with reality. The be all and end all is the readership. As long as the readership maintains and this is in a declining industry, so the editors were under pressure from the proprietors to make sure that that readership maintained a certain level and certainly that pressure was then passed down, but it was all about making sure that they sold more papers and made more money for what I was trying to say by that is I just think they reality wasn't they didn't keep a grasp of reality very well.
Q. I understand. I'm going to come back to you and how your employment at News of the World came to an end, but before I do that, is there anything else you'd like to say about unethical practices or illegal practices at News of the World, other than ones we've discussed?
A. Not other than the ones we've discussed, no.
Q. I'm now going to come on to ask you about another aspect of the culture at the News of the World, namely bullying, and I'm going to do that by reference to your own case, if I can. Again, I'm going to take it chronologically. If we turn back to tab 5, which is your appeal statement, and if you look at paragraph 11 onwards, that will give you an idea of where I'm going with my questions.
A. All right.
Q. We're going to start, please, with the incident involving I can name him because it's nothing controversial Kolo Toure at Arsenal. I understand that you published a piece or an article on 31 July 2005 about Kolo Toure, and that the whole point of the article was essentially that you'd interviewed him and asked him about how he felt about living in London as a Muslim man after the July bombings in London.
A. Yeah.
Q. Would that be a fair assessment?
A. That's right.
Q. We don't need much detail about this, but it's correct, isn't it, that this article was the subject of a complaint by Arsenal Football Club because the PR officer took the view that she would prefer it if you restricted your conversations with Arsenal players to football-related matters. Is that a fair assessment?
A. When it suited them, yes. Unless a footballer was doing an autobiography, in which case they talked about anything, and complaints were quite common from football clubs all the time.
Q. So they made a complaint about that particular article.
A. Yeah.
Q. When the complaint came in, you were asked by your sports editor to provide a record of the interviews that you had undertaken with Kolo Toure; is that right?
A. Yeah.
Q. You had a tape of the first part of the interview?
A. Yeah.
Q. And you had written notes of the second part, as I understand?
A. Shorthand, yeah.
Q. Did the interview actually take place in two parts on two occasions?
A. Yes.
Q. Out of pure interest, why did you have a tape of the first part and only shorthand notes of the second?
A. Because I was chasing him around to get enough to make it into an actual spread and they were training in Austria at the time, so you only get certain almost minutes, sometimes, to interview players, so you try and make the most of it at the time.
Q. Okay. You were asked for those the tape and the notes, and you sent them, there was some trouble in opening the particular email and then you sent it again; is that right?
A. That's right.
Q. Then you were summoned, as I understand it, to a disciplinary meeting for failing to provide the information that had been requested; is that correct?
A. Yes, that's right.
Q. You tell us that the disciplinary meeting was chaired by the very person that you had sent the information to?
A. Yes.
Q. Is that right?
A. Who, it turns out, was responsible for that not being sent to Arsenal Football Club. To give you just a little bit of background, the Press Complaints Commission had received a complaint, and that was taken very seriously on the News of the World, and the editor at the time was very keen that this was chased up and that we responded appropriately. So the duty wasn't to me to respond; it was to the sports editor who was given that task. So it was a bit surprising, really, that he was chairing a disciplinary hearing to look into something that he had actually done not done himself.
Q. I don't want to go into a massive amount of detail it's unnecessary to do so but it's clear that at the meeting they had to accept that you had sent the information that had been requested of you because you had the email to prove it.
A. Yes.
Q. But you got a written warning for failing to have both parts of the interview on tape?
A. Yes.
Q. Correct? Now, from your experience, did every interview have to be tape recorded in this way?
A. No.
Q. Tell us more about that.
A. I'd worked on the paper long enough to know exactly of course, if you could have everything on tape, you would, but if you were walking down a street or standing in the rain talking to a footballer who you know pretty well, shorthand is very adequate. In fact, sometimes you'll find that shoving a tape recorder under a football player's nose makes them more conscious of what they're saying, so you'd quite often take things down in shorthand. So it was it suddenly became that that was policy on the News of the World when I knew it wasn't because I knew a lot of time news reporters would go out and just only use shorthand.
Q. Had anyone ever been disciplined on that basis to the best of your knowledge?
A. Certainly not to the best of my knowledge, no.
Q. How did you feel as a result of that disciplinary meeting?
A. Very angry, and I voiced my opinions to my sports editor at the time, because I felt it was very unjust, but I then sent a letter to Andy Coulson saying that basically, I was sort of given the impression that it's sort of: take the yellow card, as they would call it, and take the disciplinary, and Andy Coulson will feel satisfied that he's disciplined someone for this. So I sent him a letter saying, "For the sake of harmony", I think I said something like that, "on the paper so I can carry on my job, I will take this, although I still think I was vindicated in my actions."
Q. As I understand it, that letter to Andy Coulson suggested that you wanted to move on from the incident?
A. Yes, put it behind us, yes.
Q. You received a response from Andy Coulson dated 11 November 2005?
A. Yes.
Q. What did he say in that response?
A. He said, "In my opinion, I would have sacked you", which I found amazing, for someone who had been working on the paper for so long. This was the first ever incident of anything maybe that I could be questioned over, and since I had been questioned and had proved that I'd done everything that was asked of me, I found it quite amazing that he would say something like that.
Q. The employment tribunal obviously saw that response and made comments on it, which we'll come back to. How did you feel about receiving that response from the editor of the newspaper?
A. I felt that I was on borrowed time, to be honest. When an editor writes you a letter that sort of irrational, you know that, yeah, you're confined of on borrowed time, really.
Q. You continued in your employment at News of the World. Let's move to six months later, March 2006. You have another run-in with Mr Coulson. This is in relation to an incident relating to a piece that you'd written about Charlton. Can you tell us about that in your own words?
A. Again, it was a complaint about a chief executive who said he'd been misquoted by me and that I should have approached him on a story. And not for a big club we're talking about. I think the actual article was about four or five paragraphs. Normally, these get relayed to me and I sort them out. I go and see him and sit down and chat about it and sort it out. But again, the newspaper made it into some enormous crime and the disciplinary machinery whirred into action once again. I knew exactly what it all meant: they were just trying to find ways to get rid of me.
Q. The article you wrote subsequently turned out to be entirely true, didn't it?
A. It was proved in a biography, yeah.
Q. In the light of that particular incident, you tell us that you wrote a letter to your sports editor saying you feared that Mr Coulson was trying to force you out and offering to leave the paper if that's how he felt.
A. Yes, because I'd seen this happen to colleagues over the years and there's almost nothing you can do to suddenly persuade an editor that you are still a good journalist. If he decides he doesn't like your face any more, you can't swim against the tide. I actually generally felt that, you know, I could leave that paper and I was employable certainly on other papers and shake hands and not let it degenerate into a war, almost, you know, and I didn't I was conscious I didn't want to fall out with people over it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Over what sort of period of time are we talking about? Because you're talking very much, in both this answer and a previous answer, about your perception of the culture of what was happening in the paper.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Was that something that was brand new on to you or was that something
A. No. As I said, I'd seen colleagues of mine get similar sort of treatment. I don't think anything as bad as what I ended up having to endure. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just at News of the World or otherwise?
A. Not just at News of the World, because colleagues of mine would tell me stuff that was going on at other papers and some of the treatment there could be terrible from editors. An editor can make you look very good, but he can also make you look very bad, because he decides who gets the tips, who gets the stories to work on. He also can decide whether your copy gets into the paper or not. At the same time, he can decide to protect you and give you a large amount of space in the paper. So if a journalist finds that his face doesn't fit all of a sudden, they can quickly make you look quite bad, which editors, because they have that much power, can do quite easily. MS PATRY HOSKINS Can we orientate ourselves in time? These two disciplinary meetings or hearings took place after July 2005 and then March 2006?
A. That's right, yes.
Q. By then you had been at the paper for eight years.
A. Yeah.
Q. Prior to that point, had there been any negative feedback about your performance as a journalist?
A. Not at all. In fact, as my tribunal showed, I'd had mostly glowing assessments for every year, including, as I said, promotions and pay rises.
Q. Moving through the chronology, there was a second disciplinary hearing about this Charlton matter and you were given a final written warning; is that right?
A. That's right.
Q. You were represented at that hearing by Steve Turner, who will be giving evidence tomorrow. You set out in your appeal statement what a devastating effect all of this had on your health.
A. Mm.
Q. For your sake, I don't want to go into that in any great detail, but it is fair to say that at around this time you went to your GP and he diagnosed you as suffering from severe depression?
A. Yeah, which, as my GP tried to explain to me which again is relevant, I think, to this Inquiry, that journalists work under an incredible amount of pressure and stress, and it was his opinion that you get used to that level of stress. You just think that's normal. You know, the high sort of fast lane of sort of Fleet Street does take its toll. You travel around the world, you work at a great pace, so if something doesn't go quite right, you can quite easily get tipped over the edge. You're used to a high level of stress, but you're almost at saturation point and that was his opinion of what happened to me.
Q. You tell us that this diagnosis was in July 2005; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. You weren't dismissed until April 2007.
A. No.
Q. Can you tell us about your health during that two-year period?
A. It got progressively worse, and my GP was at pains to sort of try and obviously help me and make me better, and he was stressing the importance to distance myself from the source that was making me that ill, which was the News of the World. They took no notice of any instructions that he gave me. They it made no difference to them at the time.
Q. Again, I don't want to go into huge amounts of detail about the way that News International acted during that two-year period it can all be read in detail in the appeal statement, sir but I do want to highlight some the behaviours. I'm going to read you out a series of things that happened and you tell me whether I've assessed it correctly.
A. Sure.
Q. July 2005, you were diagnosed as suffering from severe depression and the advice of your doctor was that you should distance yourself from News of the World in order to get better?
A. Mm.
Q. News of the World were told this by your union representative at the time. They were told that that was the advice?
A. Yes.
Q. That you should distance yourself. Despite this, at least during the initial period, they called you on your home number or your mobile every day?
A. Usually more than once a day, yeah.
Q. Usually more than once a day. They also sent emails and recorded delivery letters to your home. You said it felt like every day. It may not have been
A. It may not have been, but it certainly felt that, yeah.
Q. They insisted that you see a company doctor in order to confirm your diagnosis, and despite being told that you would see an independent doctor, they sent you a letter saying that you would have your pay stopped if you didn't agree to see the company doctor; correct?
A. Yes.
Q. The company doctor arrived at your home regardless of being told that you didn't want to see anyone from the company?
A. It was actually the company nurse.
Q. The company nurse. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So it's not that they wanted you to see a doctor. You were prepared to be seen by an independent doctor but
A. Anyone, yeah, but I was by that time, I was very distrustful of their motives, so I insisted it had to be an independent doctor that I would see. MS PATRY HOSKINS The company nurse arrived at your home regardless. They then stopped your pay, despite the fact that you had medical certificates covering the whole period; is that correct?
A. Yes.
Q. That caused you severe financial difficulties on top of the health difficulties that you were suffering?
A. Yes.
Q. Then, with the help of your union representative, it was reinstated, but only on the basis that you agreed to see their choice of independent doctor?
A. Yeah.
Q. Your diagnosis worsened after that point?
A. Mm.
Q. The independent doctor confirmed the original diagnosis. Then your pay stopped again?
A. Yes.
Q. When contacted, they promised to reinstate it, but they didn't?
A. That's true.
Q. Then you got a letter on 5 March 2007 threatening to dismiss you on the grounds of ill health?
A. (Nods head)
Q. Then they sent you a letter inviting you to another disciplinary hearing over your attendance record and capacity for work, yes?
A. Yes.
Q. You then told them that your father was seriously ill with heart problems and you couldn't attend this hearing because of the fragility of your own health and the fact that you were dealing with your father's health problems.
A. Yes.
Q. Despite this, that meeting went ahead in your absence and you were dismissed?
A. Yes.
Q. Have I fairly represented the course of events over that two-year period?
A. Yes, I believe you have. MR DAVIES I'm sorry to interrupt, but I think this is actually a one-year period. MS PATRY HOSKINS I'm so sorry, is it? MR DAVIES Yes. I think there is a an error in Mr Driscoll's statement. MS PATRY HOSKINS Do you mean the July 2005 date is wrong? MR DAVIES Yes. It is July 2006. MS PATRY HOSKINS Is it July 2006, the diagnosis?
A. Yes. Yes, I think sorry about that. I think you're right. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. Can we correct that in the statement as well, please, that goes on the website? Can we just make a change? MS PATRY HOSKINS Of course. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MS PATRY HOSKINS All right. So all of that happened over the course of one year?
A. Yes.
Q. I'm going to turn, please, to the employment tribunal proceedings and I'm going to refer to that in just a little detail so that essentially we can see whether the Tribunal accepted that what you say now is true. We know that you appealed your dismissal. The decision of the Tribunal is at tab 3. It's document 21328. We can show that a screen. We can see from the front page of that document that the Tribunal proceedings took place over three separate weeks in summer 2008.
A. With a four or five-month gap in the middle of it.
Q. Can I ask, how was your health at that stage?
A. Not particularly good, really. I was by that time, I was on different medication, so it was stabilising.
Q. How did you feel about going through with the appeal?
A. It was something I had to do, really. I just I obviously clearly didn't want to do it. I would have done anything to have avoided that situation, but I had to do it.
Q. Right. Just for the record, we can agree, can't we, that News International agreed that the mental health problems that you had suffered were a disability for the purposes of those proceedings?
A. Yes.
Q. We can look at the front page and we can see there the findings in very short form: "The unanimous judgment of the Tribunal is that the claimant was unfairly dismissed. The complaint of disability discrimination succeeds, as further set out below." This says the case has to be listed for a remedy hearing. We don't have the transcript of that, but we can come back to exactly what they said during that remedy hearing in due course. Can I ask you, please, to turn first of all to page 4 of that document, under "Unfair dismissal". The only question in relation to unfair dismissal was: "What was the reason or principal reason for the claimant's dismissal?" Just so we orientate ourselves in the law. I promise we won't go through the law in any detail. If we then turn to pages 6 and 7 on discrimination, we can see that the relevant questions were paragraph 23: "Was the claimant a disabled person between the relevant periods?" Mr Davies is quite correct to say it was July 2006. We can see that. And yes, News International accepted that you were a disabled person. Then there was a question about direct discrimination which is too long for me to read out, and there is also, under the heading "Harassment" at paragraph 27: "Did the respondent engage in unwanted conduct which had the purpose or effect of (a) violating the claimant's dignity or (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him by Then there's a whole series of particulars. Do you see that?
A. Yes.
Q. Just for the sake of completeness, on 8 and 9, we can see that there were also relevant questions on disability-related discrimination, paragraph 29 onwards, and failure to make reasonable adjustments, paragraph 33 onwards.
A. Yeah.
Q. Then they go through the relevant law, which we can ignore because it's lengthy and not relevant for today's purposes, but if we turn to page 17 internally, we find the findings of fact. Can we just pause there. Did Mr Coulson come to give evidence at the tribunal?
A. No, he didn't.
Q. Who did give evidence?
A. They had quite a long list of people giving evidence. My sports editor, my HR LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We can see it at page 16, paragraph 75: the director of human resources, the occupational health manager, the occupational health doctor, the human resources business partner. Then Mr Kuttner, the managing editor, Rosemary Ryde, the senior legal counsel, Mike Dunn, the sports editor and Paul Nicholas, the deputy managing editor. And you had yourself, your union representative and your father?
A. Yes. MS PATRY HOSKINS If we look at page 18 internally. At the top of that page you'll find paragraph 83. I'm not going to go through all the findings of fact but I'm just going to highlight some of the particularly important paragraphs.
A. Sure.
Q. Paragraph 83, they note the promotions that you've referred to. They were provided about copies of your appraisals for certain years, and each of the three years you were classified as very good, good and good. The comments given were very positive. There was only one slight reservation: "He does not pull as many stories as we would ideally like." But other than that, all the comments were positive. And at 84, they conclude that the promotions and favourable comments show that you were, at least up to that point, a successful, well-regarded tabloid sports journalist and they say it's significant because ordinarily it's slightly surprising for someone to go from being a successful sports journalist to an unsuccessful one. Do you see that?
A. Mm.
Q. If you move down to paragraph 87, they were then considering the question of whether or not you had gone on to become an unsuccessful journalist, and they find, about halfway down that paragraph, that Mr Dunn who was Mr Dunn?
A. He was my sports editor.
Q. With the benefit of hindsight, in an attempt to bolster the defendant's case, had exaggerated any shortcomings that you may have had. Again, we don't need to read out all the reasons they give, but that's a finding of fact that they make, that there was an exaggeration of any shortcomings.
A. Yeah.
Q. At paragraph 88, they note that one further staff assessment for 2002 you were downgraded to a satisfactory rating, but there were no appraisals after that for the years after that.
A. None that they would supply to us, no.
Q. They said that was rather surprising, and at best the explanation given was: "After that year, we didn't actually provide any written staff assessments. We would simply deal with it by talking to the relevant staff member. There wouldn't be a formal written appraisal in the traditional sense." And the Tribunal says this: "At best, there appears to be some double standards in this, given his later criticisms of the claimant for failing to have sufficient documentary evidence to back up his articles." They then go on to confirm at paragraph 89 what you say about the Kolo Toure incident, whether or not Mr Coulson turned against you as a result of the incident in late 2004. They find that to be entirely true.
A. Yes.
Q. Now if we turn to paragraph 103, which is just over the page, internal page 21. They confirm what you say about the first disciplinary hearing as well.
A. Yes.
Q. Again, I don't want to read that out in detail, but they find the sports editor to have exaggerated what he said about that disciplinary hearing, et cetera. Turning over the page again, we have a series of paragraphs that start at paragraph 104, please.
A. Yes.
Q. They record this as a matter of fact: "Mr Kuttner wrote to Mr Coulson by email dated 9 November 2005." This is obviously after the first incident relating to Kolo Toure.
A. Yes.
Q. "The contents of what he wrote are telling. He stated that the situation was not black and white enough to dismiss [you]. He went on to state: "'Of course, we could still fire him and pay the going rate for that. Mike Dunn tells me Driscoll can't be got shot of.' "The decision to give the claimant a first warning, although the outcome of a disciplinary hearing chaired by Mr Dunn was made by Mr Kuttner with the agreement of the editor, Mr Coulson." So that's what was going on internally at the time of the first disciplinary hearing?
A. Certainly, which clearly I wasn't aware of at the time until disclosure.
Q. Then at 105, they note that you felt it was highly unfair to have been issued with a warning and they record the fact that you wrote essentially saying, "In the interests of harmony, let's just get on the with job."
A. Yes.
Q. At 106, they say this: "Mr Coulson responded to Mr Driscoll's letter. The contents of his response are also very telling. He stated: "'I also disagree with the adjudication. In my view, your actions on this matter merited dismissal.'. "He went on to state that his performance would be monitored closely and that if it did not improve or there was a repeat of any of the failings, further disciplinary action may be invoked against him." So I pause there. The Tribunal clearly saw the response of Andy Coulson to your letter and found as a matter of fact that he had said those things to you?
A. Yes.
Q. In a letter?
A. Yes.
Q. Let's read on: "He offered no words of encouragement. In the context of Mr Coulson being the editor of the paper, this was a bullying remark. A less bullying response might have been to encourage him to take the criticisms on board and work with Mr Dunn to improve his performance and reputation to its former high standards." Do you see that?
A. Yes.
Q. At 107, they go on to turn to another dispute of fact, and that's your contention that the reason or principal reason for your dismissal was simply the fact that the respondent wanted to remove you and that the disciplinary action over the Toure article was a pretext and formed part of a continuous chain that subsequently led to your dismissal. You see that?
A. Yes.
Q. They said, halfway down that paragraph: "We find the disciplinary action over the Toure article, subsequent disciplinary action over an article he wrote about the then Charlton manager and proposed disciplinary action about the failure to comply with an instruction to attend the office at 10 am each morning was a pretext. It was a pretext for Mr Coulson's desire to get shot of the claimant, which was accepted by other members of the respondent's senior management team." You see that?
A. Yes.
Q. They go on to give a very lengthy set of reasons as to why they make that finding, which we don't need to look at in detail, save for one point of detail, please, at paragraph 107.2 on page 23. They say this about Mr Turner, who's coming tomorrow, and that's why I note it. They say that he was an impressive witness: "He gave unchallenged evidence that he was involved in three similar case to that of the claimant at the News of the World, which had each taken the same path. In each case, the journalist was unreasonably subjected to disciplinary proceedings, realised the newspaper felt his face did not fit any more and that they were trying to drive him out, and asked him if a severance package was available to resolve the matter." I'll ask Mr Turner about those incidents tomorrow, but do you have any knowledge about those incidents?
A. Only from what Mr Turner has told me.
Q. In that case, I'll ask the source directly tomorrow.
A. Yeah.
Q. Could you please turn to page 25 internally and paragraph 118, please. The Tribunal says this: "We have given some examples of exchanges amongst the senior management team. The impression given to us from reading the documentation and considering the evidence as a whole was that the senior management team were going through a cynical process of giving an appearance of fairness towards him [you]. By giving him a first warning, a final warning and then dismissal, they hoped to avoid a successful unfair dismissal claim. Pursuing a twin approach of both taking disciplinary action and discussing a settlement that would lead to a possible compromise agreement would also be a way of being able to settle a possible claim at a modest level." Now I'm going to turn to paragraphs 129 and 130. I don't have very much to go, I promise. On 18 July 2006, the claimant sent an email to Mr Kuttner and Mr Dunn. This is where they essentially accept that you had been taken ill and that they knew from that date that you were ill and that the advice had been to refrain from work for three weeks and had been placed on medication. Paragraph 130: "Mr Wallis reported to Mr Coulson. Mr Coulson's response is instructive. He stated by email to Mr Wallis, dated 19 July 2006: "'Want him out as quickly and as cheaply as possible.'. "We find that Mr Coulson's desire to get rid of the claimant as quickly and cheaply as possible was his desire not only on 19 July 2006 but as early as August 2005." I could read a lot more, but I'm trying to focus on the paragraphs that are illustrative. They agree with everything you say about the period when you were ill. That can be read in detail. At paragraph 189 onwards so that's over on page 38 they give their overall view of the evidence of the witnesses. "We have considered our overall view of the evidence of the witnesses, having taken into account all the evidence provided to us, including documentary evidence. We have given some examples above of the ways in which we were not impressed with the evidence of witnesses of respondent. These are examples only, and there were many other occasions when we felt that witnesses of the respondent were giving evidence that was evasive or unsatisfactory in other respects. We were, overall, far more impressed with the evidence of the claimant and his witnesses. Even although the claimant remains, we understand, unwell, his evidence appeared far more straightforward and plausible than that of the respondent's witnesses." Then at 190, I don't need to read it out, but they again refer to the respondent's longstanding desire to remove you and they find that they were not persuaded that capability was the reason or principal reason for your dismissal. You see that?
A. Mm.
Q. Last of all, I turn to their conclusions over the page, page 40. Paragraph 195 is probably the only paragraph that we need to read parts of: "If capability was not the reason or principal reason for the claimant's dismissal, what was it? The original source of the hostility towards the claimant was Mr Coulson, the then editor of the News of the World, although other senior managers either took their lead from Mr Coulson and continued with his motivation after Mr Coulson's departure or shared his views themselves. Mr Coulson did not attend the Tribunal to explain why he wanted the claimant dismissed." I don't think we really need to read anything else. We note in passing that they conclude at 229 that dismissing you was an act also of direct disability discrimination. We know that this matter then went on to a remedy hearing and you were awarded almost, not quite, ?800,000. You obviously obtained that compensation. Did you seek anything else from News of the World? Did you seek an apology or
A. Yeah.
Q. Tell us about that?
A. I instructed my legal team to ask them for an apology.
Q. Was that in the light of
A. I felt I was owed an apology.
Q. In the light of this judgment?
A. In the light of this judgment, in the light of the years of terrible treatment I suffered at their hands.
Q. So did your solicitor write to them and seek an apology?
A. Yes. Along with some other things that I wanted, including my company car, et cetera, and no apology was ever forthcoming. There was no suggestion even that they would apologise.
Q. Did they appeal this decision?
A. They didn't just appeal it. They appealed it three times.
Q. Were they successful?
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Did it have a full hearing in front of the employment Appeal Tribunal?
A. The appeal? Yes. There was obviously very lengthy delays as well, after that. They even went to the Court of Justice for an injunction to stop me going any further forward. There were three different appeals that Mr Turner will be able to go into probably a bit more detail. MS PATRY HOSKINS We can ask Mr Turner better that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Presumably if there was a decision of the EAT, we could read that?
A. Yes, actually, Mr Turner will be able to supply those. MS PATRY HOSKINS I hadn't understood there to be a full hearing, so I can find out that overnight. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Please. MS PATRY HOSKINS 2007, which is when you were dismissed, is also the year that Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman were convicted.
A. Yes.
Q. Can I ask you to if you have a document which I'm not sure has been handed up to you, sir. I'll cause that to be handed up. It's an extract from the CMS committee on phone hacking from 6 September 2011. (Handed) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MS PATRY HOSKINS Here, senior executives at News International are being asked about why, given that Mr Goodman had been convicted of a criminal offence, he attracted such a large payout.
A. Yes.
Q. Let me read you just one paragraph from the evidence of Mr Chapman to that committee. It's actually on the second page. I know there's a blank page in between for those of us who have that copy, but if you look at the second page that actually has anything written on it, if one looks halfway down the page, there's a large paragraph in the middle. In the context of being asked about why Mr Goodman was given a large payout, Mr Chapman says this: "One thing that Daniel has not mentioned [that's Daniel Cloke] is that there I have noted that on the editorial side at News International, there has certainly always been more of a feeling of family compassion and humanitarian stuff, which, as a person on the commercial side at News International, I am not sure that I would enjoy. I do not think that there is anything sinister in that; I just think there is quite a big feeling of family on newspapers. When someone messes up badly and commits a crime, I think there was also a feeling that, yes, they have done a terrible wrong, but their family should not suffer. I am not sure that applies through the business to the rather newer commercial side at News International." Had you committed a crime, Mr Driscoll?
A. No. Certainly not.
Q. Do you agree with the sentiments of Mr Chapman there about the family feeling?
A. It's almost laughable, really, that he would even suggest something like that. This is a business. These people went to jail for something that they had done, and to give this impression of this lovely family atmosphere as I said, it's laughable. I asked for help with my legal expense early on, when I knew I needed legal consultation because of my situation on the paper, and that was refused, and as you've seen in my judgment, the treatment I suffered I don't know what's family about that. It certainly wasn't an embrace of a kind nature. So it's just I don't know. I'd love to know what he's actually describing there, because it's certainly not the News of the World.
Q. You say that you asked for payment of your legal costs or help with your legal costs?
A. Initially, yes, we asked for that.
Q. We know that Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman had
A. They seemed to give them a lot of help, yeah, but I got none.
Q. But that was not your experience?
A. No.
Q. I think there was something you wanted to say about the treatment of Mr Thurlbeck in comparison to the way you were treated. He, of course, was found by a judge of the High Court to have, in effect, blackmailed some ladies in respect of the Max Mosley story?
A. Yes.
Q. And certainly was severely criticised by the judge. He didn't lose his job?
A. No, and that was a great help during my tribunal. The Max Mosley case did help to highlight the disparity of treatment. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON 107.8 of the judgment.
A. Yes. MS PATRY HOSKINS Thank you. You don't have it here. Sorry, Mr Driscoll. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, no, of the ET. MS PATRY HOSKINS Oh, sorry, I thought you meant the High Court judgment. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No. MS PATRY HOSKINS That's very helpful then. We could have a look at that if you wanted. 107.8. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Page 23. MS PATRY HOSKINS Sorry, sir, I thought you were referring to Mr Justice Eady's judgment. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON My fault. MS PATRY HOSKINS I'm sure it's all mine.
A. That's right, yes. As I said, it did highlight what I knew all along, that I was being treated completely differently to other people on the paper, in a very cynical manner.
Q. Why were you treated differently, in your view, Mr Driscoll?
A. The editor had decided he wanted me out, so his executives went along with that instruction by any means possible to find ways to get me off the paper. And here we had a colleague of mine, Neville Thurlbeck, had done things that I wouldn't dream of doing myself, and we asked the executives that appeared at my tribunal: "Was Neville Thurlbeck disciplined for any of this stuff?" and they sort of vaguely said that they couldn't remember, but we knew that he hadn't and there was clearly a very different set of instructions towards me, instead of Neville Thurlbeck.
Q. I understand that you received an anonymous email which may have indicated to you that your phone was hacked during the time that you were bringing these employment tribunal proceedings?
A. That's right, yes.
Q. Can you tell us where you are with that?
A. I've been in contact with the police and so far they've cross-checked it against the Mulcaire notes and my name hasn't appeared, but they've told me that they'll get back to me. They have more stuff to go through to cross-check my name against. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What's the date of the email?
A. It was about in fact, it was three weeks after my judgment arrived. I can only think maybe it was a former colleague who felt that once my judgment in my tribunal had finished, maybe they were able to tell me. I would still love to know who it was. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do we have a copy of this email?
A. No, not in these notes. MS PATRY HOSKINS Can you provide that?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's three weeks after September 2008?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, well, I would like to see that if you don't mind.
A. Certainly. MS PATRY HOSKINS Can I ask you about the consequences of all of this, please, how your dismissal has affected your career.
A. Well, it's finished it.
Q. Why do you think that is? Why has it finished it?
A. I'm the guy who's taken on the bosses, really. You know, tribunals like this in the newspaper industry are extremely rare. Normally there's some kind of out-of-court settlement. For it to go the distance is very rare, so who would want to employ someone who's taken on the boss and won and is also happy to talk out about it? I'm happy to highlight exactly how bad it was and how bad the treatment I had to suffer was, so I can't imagine any editor wanting to snap me up tomorrow.
Q. Have you tried to apply for other jobs?
A. I have, and nothing's come forward.
Q. Have you had any other contact, direct or indirect, with News of the World since then?
A. There was evidence in my tribunal from the managing editor of the Sun at the time, who actually said that he would consider giving me a probation period if there was a job going on the Sun, to wait and see how I would cope with that, which my barrister at the time felt was a discriminatory comment, but it gave an impression to the severity of the sort of the impression that the rest of Fleet Street had towards me. You know, if you've been ill, you're seen that you're weak and you've shown signs of frailty, and I certainly did that and I also showed signs that I wasn't happy to sit back and let it happen without some kind of fight back. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's the absolute reverse of frailty.
A. Well, as it turned out, it did, but my illness, I suppose, they would class as a frailty, yeah. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON How are you now?
A. I'm still on medication, but I'm certainly a lot stronger now that it's all behind me. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Good. MS PATRY HOSKINS To what extent do you attribute the illness that you suffered from to the treatment that you received at the News of the World?
A. Oh, it's entirely down to that. I was a very fit and healthy person until 2005.
Q. Had you ever suffered from depression before?
A. Never, no, no.
Q. There are two things that are very clear from the evidence that you've given, Mr Driscoll. First of all, in many respects you thought the News of the World was out of control, and two, that you were relatively angry with them for the treatment that you received, undoubtedly with justification. Some might say that your expose of the dark arts at the News of the World is untruthful and may well be because you hold this grudge against them. What do you say about that?
A. I'm sure News of the World would love people to believe that.
Q. But is it right?
A. When I spoke to the New York Times me and Sean Hoare spoke to the New York Times, I wasn't really sort of whistle-blowing. I suppose I was blowing a fuse more than anything else, because I was very upset in the treatment no, I was upset about how the journalists seemed to be getting all the blame for everything that had gone on at the News of the World, because I knew that the executives were in charge of all of this. They knew everything that was going on underneath, and it was easy for them to shove all the blame to a guy on the front line who goes out getting stories, who runs around the world and the country trying to find them stories to sell their papers, and I felt that was very unjust, and I know when I tried to get Sean Hoare to come forward and talk, he felt the same as well, that it just wasn't fair that journalists on news were getting all the blame for everything that had gone on because of the culture in that newsroom. You know, my tribunal found it was a culture of bullying. I would say it was a culture of lying a lot of the time. They were covering stuff up. They were trying to convince people that it was this rogue reporter. So there was no axe to grind on my behalf. I was just very unhappy that they'd somehow tried this line of defence, which just wasn't fair to the staff. And you'd have hoped that when Colin Myler came in after Andy Coulson had gone, that things would have improved, but clearly they didn't, and I know another thing that upset me and Sean was that Andy Coulson gave the impression that he was ultimately responsible, that's the reason he resigned, and we knew it went a lot further than that.
Q. Okay, we'd better pause there. I want to ask you a question about regulatory change. You've indicated to me that you might want to say a few words about possible changes to the regulatory regime, which might assist others. Do you have anything to say about this?
A. Clearly the Press Complaints Commission has suffered quite a battering in the last sort of year or so. In my experience, certainly on sport, any complaint to them was taken very seriously and editors would take it very seriously. So it's I don't see how it's right to suddenly say that we need another body or they will never work unless they have enough power, because in my experience, they were working. Maybe they the powers weren't didn't extend to sorting out, obviously, the illegal practices that were going on maybe at certain papers, but then they weren't known at the time. The PCC maybe just needs to be bolstered, in my opinion, because in all the stories that I heard of at the News of the World or worked on, if the PCC ever got a complaint or it was mentioned to them, it was taken very seriously. It was considered something you had to worry about. MS PATRY HOSKINS Do you want to assist us with any particular ways in which it would be bolstered or is that just a general comment you would like to make?
A. No, I think that is a very difficult conversation, about how to give the PCC enough weight. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But how can you have a regulator to which you don't have to be a member?
A. No, I agree with that. I think everyone should be a member of it. Otherwise it doesn't work. Every paper in Fleet Street, and not just papers; TV websites, the LORD JUSTICE LEVESON TV is different.
A. But I'm saying this is maybe where it falls short. Maybe there needs to be an all-encompassing body to mete out fairness, as well, on all walks of media life. But I think it was nearly there, but just didn't obviously clearly have enough weight behind it. How you would correct that would be quite a lengthy discussion, I think. MS PATRY HOSKINS Mr Driscoll, thank you very much indeed. Is there anything that you would like to add?
A. No. MS PATRY HOSKINS Sir, by some miracle, that's been exactly 90 minutes. Could I release Mr Driscoll? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much, Mr Driscoll. MR DAVIES Could I ask one question? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What's the topic? MR DAVIES I just wanted to clarify the nature of the complaint that Arsenal Football Club made. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Very good. Questions by MR DAVIES MR DAVIES Mr Driscoll, the employment tribunal recorded, paragraph 91 of judgment, that amongst the complaints by the press officer was that although they had been upset in the past when players' quotations had been spun and taken out of context, he I think that's a reference to you was putting words into Mr Toure's mouth that he had not said. Is that an accurate record of the complaint that Arsenal made?
A. An accurate record of the complaint, yes. MR DAVIES Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I am going to ask the question that follows on. It might be an accurate record of the complaint. Is it an accurate record of what happened?
A. No, no, not at all. I actually took legal counsel about taking legal action against Arsenal Football Club over comments they made by email to my paper and sports editor, but it was out of time by the time my tribunal had finished, so I couldn't do anything about it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Issues of qualified privilege in any event. Was what you put end the paper reflected by either the recording or the shorthand notes that you wrote?
A. Yes, yes. Definitely, yes, which I demonstrated to the Tribunal and my sports editor in the in my disciplinary hearing. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. MS PATRY HOSKINS Thank you, sir. Can I release Mr Driscoll? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Thank you very much, Mr Driscoll.
A. Thank you. MS PATRY HOSKINS Sir, that was our only witness this afternoon, but I understand there are some matters that you wish to raise. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. I am conscious that we've moving through the witnesses that deal with module 1 and in the middle or slightly later in February, we shall commence module 2. I think we've previously requested those who wish core participant status to make an application in that regard, but I think it's probably sensible to repeat that request and to ask for any further application for core participant status in relation to module 2 to be made as soon as possible, but no later than the end of the second week in January, so that I can make decisions about that and proceed accordingly. Does anybody have anything else that they wish to raise? I'm sure these early days won't become a habit. Thank you very much. (3.04 pm)


Gave a statement at the hearing on 19 December 2011 (PM) ; and submitted 2 pieces of evidence


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