Afternoon Hearing on 02 February 2012

Bill Butler and Baroness Hollins gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(2.00 pm) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MR BARR Thank you, sir. Mr Butler, before the luncheon adjournment, we were exploring possibilities for the future, in particular the model which concentrated more on businesses than upon individuals. Can I just put this to you: this is an industry where there are a lot of self-employed private investigators and, one supposes, a lot of one-man bands. How does a system which focuses upon business rather than the individual ensure proper regulation of the self-employed and the one-man band?
A. In part, for the reasons I described earlier, we are not abandoning the standards that are required of individuals anyway. This is an enhancement of it. It's not dissimilar to other sectors. The door supervision sector is populated by individuals who are self-employed or small companies, and so are the close protection sector. The proposals, they are no more than that, they have yet to be developed, but quite clearly recognise that individuals who are self-employed will be captured as individuals in not a dissimilar way to the arrangements now. The advantage, and I think this was also referred to this morning, is companies that reemerge where the controlling mind in the company, the attitude and approach in the company is not one that you would wish to tolerate, and those at the moment are a problem more generally in the private security generally, it wouldn't just be in the private investigating sector, where they can reappear and where the controlling mind or those who are actually operating and directing are able to reappear as a new business. What this allows us to do is to address the business, however small, and within our approved contractor scheme we already have businesses which meet good standards which run from micro through to very, very large companies, and we already have arrangements in place which will allow us to address the individual issues. But at the heart of that, I come back to the fact that that basic criminality, fit and proper and the competence test will remain. They won't disappear. And they will be policed by the regulator. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, it doesn't matter whether you're a one-man band or you employ 150. You have to meet the criteria.
A. Exactly. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The criteria may be slightly differently formulated because the systems would be required for the company which might not be required for a one-man band, but that would be the difference.
A. Fit and proper issues for a company are of a different nature, a different order, but they are still about fit and proper and about the competence of the company at another level. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MR BARR Moving on to a different topic, section 55 of the Data Protection Act and whether it should carry a custodial sentence, as I understand the SIA's evidence, it's that certainly what is being proposed would not be incompatible with that, but does the SIA have a view one way or the other as to whether that is a good idea?
A. We don't formally have a view one way or the other, and as far as the regime is concerned, as I mentioned before lunch, if somebody is cautioned it's treated as a criminality issue and dealt with within our regime. The seriousness of it in terms of how it's disposed by the court might add to the length of time before somebody can be considered for a licence, but it's not germane. I have on a number of occasions spoken to the Information Commissioner about this, and I know he's passionate, but in formal terms I don't have a view.
Q. Can we now turn to page 8 of your statement and paragraph 24, to look at the exclusion clause in the PSIA which you briefly touched upon before lunch, and which appears to provide an exclusion in relation to journalism. Let's look at the clause. It says: "This paragraph does not apply to activities carried out for the purpose of obtaining information exclusively with a view to its use, or the use of information to which it relates, for the purposes of or in connection with the publication to the public or to a section of the public of any journalistic, literary or artistic material or of any work of reference." I would like to explore with you your understanding of what that means. Is it your understanding, first of all, that it means that a journalist would not, could not be, as a matter of law, subject to regulation by the SIA, even if private investigators were to fall under your remit?
A. The point is, of course, moot. The designated section has never been brought in, so this has never been tested. So really on the basis of how we feel at the moment, and in paragraph 25 we've set out what the explanatory note said. I think key in this is the word "exclusively", which kind of narrows the parameters slightly, and I'm advised that the form of words at the end is picked out of human rights legislation in terms of freedom of the press, so it's a standard form of words. I think it's certainly true to say that if the designated activity was as currently defined in the PSIA, it would, at best, cause some confusion as to what was in and what was out, particularly around the matters that this Inquiry has been looking at. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's what bothers me. It's not Mr Barr's concern, and I'm sure he'll be coming on to it, namely the position of journalists, whether a journalist would have to be licensed. I'm much more interested about the private detective who says, "Well, I'm doing this entirely for this particular newspaper and they're doing it entirely for journalistic purposes".
A. That would be my concern, sir, as well. I have to say that I think there's a broader issue, and perhaps this reflects partly on one of the questions that you asked me before lunch, is that paragraph 4, which defines the activity of private investigations, was phrased as a part of the passage of the 2001 Act. It has not been touched since then. And it may be that one of the things that would help is some consideration of how this activity might best be defined for the future. It's possible under the Act to use secondary legislation to add and to redefine. I suspect that changing such an exclusion as this might not be possible by secondary legislation, although that's not my area of expertise, but certainly if we were to be designating this activity, I think we would want to be working on the basis that it was designated and defined in a way which reflected current practice and concerns, rather than the position in 2001. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sure that's right, because of course it's not that I want a journalist to have to be licensed. The journalist will have his own potential defence even now under Section 55, and he can argue it out, if it's necessary, in court. It's rather that the detective or investigator shouldn't have a way out consequent upon an exclusion which wasn't designed for that purpose.
A. I agree entirely. For the avoidance of doubt, I have absolutely no desire to regulate journalists. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, I'm sure you don't.
A. But I do LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Actually, the trouble is I'm finding difficulty in finding somebody who does!
A. I'm prepared to sell you a regime framework, I think. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. But I think it's important in the light of the considerations here that this definition should go I ought to say in the interests of fairness that it's not just journalistic activity that's excluded. Market research and lawyers and accountants are also excluded. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Of course.
A. For perfectly good reasons. So it's not just that journalism is the only thing that is excluded. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, you're trying to catch those who are in the business of conducting private investigations.
A. I think there are two questions there. One is: how do we define private investigations to make sure it covers what the broader church so we don't define ourselves out of areas in that respect. And how do we cover this issue around the balance between the freedom of the press and the human rights issues, which I think this clause was inserted for, and making sure there is still effective regulation of those who are carrying out private investigations in some sort of capacity related to the press. That is an area, I think, where some help and consideration would be appropriate. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you've already understood what I'm keen to have from you, and if there's anything, any other area, that you think I've omitted but where you can provide me with assistance, then provide it.
A. Thank you. MR BARR If the position in relation to journalists is clear from the wording with the assistance of the guidance note, what I'd like to explore is what the Chairman mentioned a moment ago, the position of the private investigator. If the private investigator's investigations remembering that it's investigations that the statute latches onto is working for journalists and also doing other private investigatory work, would you see that that sort of person would be a person who would fall under your regime, if it were to come into force?
A. If part of their work if any part of their work fell under the definition, they would be required to be licensed. It may be that the part of the work that they were doing wholly and exclusively for purposes of journalism might be in doubt. However, if they misbehaved in that section, our regime is broad enough to pick them up. If they were subsequently arrested or charged or committed some sort of misconduct, we could look at that in the context of whether they should continue with the licence. The answer to your question is this is a kind of minimal issue. If you are doing any of these activities, then you must be licensed. So if a small part of your activity is other than, then you would be called to be licensed.
Q. So where the real issue is is a person who works exclusively doing private investigation for journalists?
A. That's where the issue would be, if this was designated in its current form, yes.
Q. So that is a particular matter that requires some careful thought?
A. Yes. I would hope that we can avoid the problem. Having foreseen the problem, and you've enunciated it very well, it would be unfortunate if we fell into the hole afterwards.
Q. Can I finally ask you, you've explained what the present state of play is, just to what extent it was informed, if at all, by first of all the ICO's report in 2006, "What price privacy?", and then secondly I'm going to ask about the phone hacking scandal. Have either of those events influenced your thinking?
A. The "What price privacy?", as I said earlier, the consideration the intention to bring private investigation in goes back to the Act. The "What price privacy?" had a positive impact in terms of trying to move things forward and that commitment to make sure the Section 55 offence was captured within the regime. I have to say not just of course private investigations. I licence other people for whom that would be a risk and for whom I would want to bring that in for. Insofar as the concerns of this Inquiry, hacking and blagging, it really reinforces our thinking in the minds of everybody, the need to get on with this. MR BARR Thank you. On that note, I'll finish. Thank you.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think that's a very appropriate note to finish. Thank you very much indeed, Mr Butler.
A. Thank you, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. MR JAY I think we're ready to start with the next witness. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Very good. MR JAY The next witness is Baroness Hollins, please. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. I'm very conscious that Baroness Hollins covers a part of the Inquiry which we dealt with really last November, and I feel it's appropriate just to say something about it before we embark upon her evidence. During the course of the Inquiry, a number of people have come forward and provided an account which is relevant to the terms of reference and chimes with the concerns that have been enunciated by some of the witnesses. Each one of these accounts has been considered by the Inquiry team. In the main, the view has been taken, and I am responsible for it, that it is unnecessary to add to the evidence that otherwise we've received. However, in this particular case, I've taken the view that an exception is to be made. But I do want to make it clear that by calling this additional evidence, I do not intend any discourtesy to those from whom we have not adduced further evidence. I'm grateful to everybody for the assistance that they've provided the Inquiry. MR JAY Thank you. Baroness Hollins, please. BARONESS SHEILA CLARE HOLLINS (sworn) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Thank you. Please make yourself comfortable and first of all your full name, Baroness Hollins.
A. It's Sheila Clare Hollins.
Q. Thank you very much. You provided us with a witness statement dated 14 December of last year. You've signed it and you have appended a statement of truth to it, so this is your formal evidence to the Inquiry, Baroness Hollins?
A. Yes, it is. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Baroness Hollins, let me say to you as I've said to others who have come to give evidence about their own experiences that I'm grateful to you for doing so, particularly conscious that you're going to be talking about matters that are private and personal to you, and there is some inconsistency in doing that in a public setting, and I'm extremely conscious of the inevitable concern, if not distress, that will cause. So in those circumstances, I'm particularly grateful to you for assisting me as you have. Thank you. MR JAY Baroness, you are a Doctor of Medicine, Member and Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatry, is that right, and indeed past President of the Royal College of Psychiatry. You are also Emeritus Professor in the psychiatry of learning difficulties at St George's Tooting, I believe; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. President elect of the BMA, and you were made a life peer in 2010.
A. Yes.
Q. You're independent, you don't hold a political whip, as it were. With that background, may I move straight, if I may, to the terrible events of 20 April 2005, when your daughter was the victim of an appalling knife attack.
A. Yes.
Q. I'm not going to go into the detail of that, but we're concerned with press coverage. You provided us with a selection of articles. Does that represent anything other than the tip of the iceberg?
A. Oh, I mean it's just the tip of the iceberg. There were the press coverage of my daughter's injury was just everywhere, every day. She was on the her story was on the News at Ten, for example, every night for a month. When I travelled from one hospital to another to see whether she could change hospitals, sitting on the Underground, there were four different newspapers across the way, all of them with the front page story about my daughter. That was ten days after the attack. This went on for months. And every time there was any piece of news, it was always front page. And still there is still quite recently there has still been some press interest in her. So we have a selection of articles, but we didn't buy newspapers, we didn't collect articles about her. The only articles we have in our store, a box of them, are ones that people gave us, but we know that it was just huge, the amount of coverage. And it was incredibly intrusive.
Q. Yes. You make the point in your statement that the press on the whole were kind in the sense of what they printed.
A. Yes.
Q. But your concern relates to the intrusive nature of the coverage. You say in paragraph 6: "It was incredibly stressful for us and came on top of the extraordinary pressures resulting from my daughter's injury."
A. Yes.
Q. Could you elaborate on that for us, please, the effect on you of the intrusion and the nature of the intrusion?
A. Well, I mean, I gave some small examples there, but for example, on the first day the police actually had to order journalists out of the garden of my daughter's where my daughter was living, and they were very upset about being asked to move. But they were actually camping in the garden of her house. Or a journalist who arrived at my mother-in-law's house, and she was terminally ill at the time, she lived 200 miles away, and she rang up to say that this journalist had come and wouldn't leave until she gave her a photograph of my daughter. Which photograph should she give? She didn't know what to do. We asked the journalist to leave and again had to resort to calling the police to arrange for this journalist to leave. It's that sort of thing. Or, I mean, constantly people arriving at the doorstep, and often they would come with flowers, and the flowers were beautiful, but that wasn't really the point. The point was that it was the we had a big task. We had a little there was a child to look after, there was somebody critically ill to attend to, and everywhere we went, you know, we arrived at the hospital, there would be photographers outside. We had to find different ways out of the hospital. The police actually mounted a guard on each door of the hospital ward to protect her privacy. As volunteers. We had volunteer protection. It began because they were they didn't know who had injured her, and they were trying to make sure that she was safe, but then it became safety from the journalists. I mean, it was extraordinarily intrusive. Or the example of sitting in the visitors' waiting room, we didn't know of course whether other people sitting there were not visitors but journalists, but again flowers would arrive and we began to joke that there must be bugs in the flowers on the table because things that we talked about in the waiting room would appear in the papers the next day. So we began going out into the corridor and speaking on our phones in the corridor when we had information to share, to try to avoid whatever was going on in the waiting room. We couldn't trust anybody, and it began to form a division amongst members of the family about how to deal with it and in some ways it was more traumatic, if you can believe it, than the experience of actually attending to the real tragic event that had taken place.
Q. Were all the stories that were published about your daughter factually correct?
A. No, they weren't. Not at all. I picked out a couple of examples for you but there was a lot of fabrication. I mean there is one example, which was of we were building a house next door to my daughter. In fact, we had started to build the house before she was injured, and there was an aerial photograph of it and a sort of plan of the house, and an article saying which room my son-in-law was going to have as his study, which room my grandson was going to have as his nursery, how it had been designed, specifically after her injury with my daughter's needs in mind, and so on. It was all fabricated, the whole thing. The name of the cottage, the rose bush that was going to be built and what it symbolised. It was all made up. It was a very nice story, but it wasn't true. And there were quite a lot of stories like that. You know, again it's distressing when a fabrication is made, which of course then people believe. The only good thing that came out of that was journalists would come to our house, thinking they were coming to my daughter's house, so she didn't get quite as many people knocking on her door. I could tell the journalists walking up the drive and go out and say, "Who do you write for?" because I knew that's what and it was every day.
Q. We'll come to that particular piece in a moment. Can I ask you another introductory question, as it were. Did you employ someone to help you try and manage the issue of press intrusion?
A. We did. We to begin with, we had a number of people approach us offering to help us deal with the press, but their motivations seemed to be about getting the largest sum of money to sell her story, we were offered sums as large as, I don't know, ?300,000, but we weren't interested in money and we actually felt that it was wrong to take money for something like this. What we were looking for was somebody who would help us to minimise the press coverage, and try to prevent some of the sort of competitive nature of it. So we employed somebody we paid a daily rate to to try to manage that, and her advice to us was to issue very short statements whenever there was something new, to try to anticipate what the press were going to be really really interested in, but to issue it to the Press Association so that it was equally available to all newspapers, all the journalists at the same time, and to avoid the possibility that anybody could claim an exclusive. So that's what we did, and we asked the hospitals to respect that we were going to manage the press through our agent, and on the whole, I think that worked quite well. But it was an expense that we had to incur in order to be able to try to sort of have some control over what was being said.
Q. Thank you. We're going to go through some of the articles which you provided to us. We've discussed these beforehand and the ones we're going to look at you've expressly agreed can be put on the Inquiry screen. There's one article, however, we're not going to look at. I'll make that clear.
A. Yes.
Q. The first one I'd like to deal with, because I'm going to address these in chronological order, is the one in the News of the World of 24 April 2005, which has our number 58822. Baroness Hollins, it's going to be under tab 9, I think, of the little bundle we prepared for you. It is on the screen, thank you. "Exclusive: New shock in Abi attack. Knife mum was pregnant." The date of the article is 24 April 2005. The date of the attack, as I said, was 20 April 2005. Can you help us, please, was your daughter pregnant?
A. She was. She didn't know she was pregnant. She was five weeks pregnant. And it came to light when she was admitted, because hospitals routinely do pregnancy tests on women who are admitted to hospital. So this was news to the family, and it was very intimate and very sensitive information, and there was no way that information should have been in the public domain, and we do not know how it got into the public domain. It's apparent from the story that they confirmed it with very close family, but I do not believe that that person would have informed, would have leaked this to the press. Somehow that information came out. So there are two issues. One was how on earth did they know, but the other one was what were they doing publicising something so personal and intimate? No woman tells the world that she's pregnant when she's five weeks pregnant, you know? That just felt very hard.
Q. On my understanding, it's a breach of the code of practice, but that may be the least of it. It speaks for itself. Can I just ask you, though, for the avoidance of doubt, we do see a photograph.
A. Yes.
Q. Was that a photograph which
A. I believe that photograph was the photograph when the news of her injury was first released, and this, remember, would have been the 21st, so the story was breaking the next day, because she was admitted to St George's quite late in the evening, although it had happened on the 20th in the afternoon, and so I think the but her father-in-law was asked for a photo, and this was by the police who said that it would help the police investigation, and so this photograph was issued by the family.
Q. Thank you. Next in sequence LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Sorry, did you say the photograph was given to the police or issued generally?
A. It was given to the police so that they could issue it, and I believe they gave it to the Press Association. MR JAY Baroness Hollins, if you don't mind going back to tab 4, an article in the Evening Standard, 9 May 2005. Our number 58816. This is the death of your mother, I believe?
A. Yes.
Q. On 8 May. But reported in the Evening Standard on 9 May. Do you know how this information came out?
A. No. I don't. I know that the police knew about it, but I do not know how it got into the public domain. After it did, we issued a statement, but we do not know how it got into the public domain.
Q. The article itself says, halfway down: "In a statement issued by the hospital, the family said today Mrs Kelly's death had come as a 'great shock'." I've been asked to put to you by a core participant that what happened here is that the hospital announced the death on 9 May and that was accompanied by a statement from your family, which was released to the Press Association, and the Evening Standard, as it were, reacted to that statement. Might that be right?
A. You see, I think this was the only article that I had, but my recollection was that we issued a statement in response to something already being in the public domain, so I'm not saying that so the Standard may well be right, but I think we issued a statement because it already was had got into the public domain, but I don't have that documentary evidence. But that was why we did it. I think otherwise we would have waited a few days. We probably would have issued a statement at some point, but you can imagine, we were very shocked by my mother's sudden and unexpected death.
Q. What happened at her funeral? Anything relevant to our Inquiry?
A. Yes. The police came and advised us that there were a lot of journalists waiting outside the church and that they thought it would be advisable if we have a police escort and were taken to a side door. They said they thought that some of the journalists believed that if they were there, my daughter might actually come to her grandmother's funeral. I mean, she was in intensive care, so it shows some lack of understanding as to actually what, you know, kind of injury my daughter had sustained, but the police said that they were going to do their best to keep journalists out of the church, so we were, in fact, escorted to a side door.
Q. Thank you. The next article in sequence is one you've already referred to in your evidence. It's under tab 5 and it's the piece in the Sun, 24 November 2005. I'm not quite sure whether it has a unique reference number. Yes, it's 58818. A Sun piece entitled "A house of hope". As you were telling us, there were a considerable amount of incorrect information in this, apart from the basic premise of the article being factually incorrect. We can see that the bungalow was going to be called Hope Cottage; is that correct?
A. No.
Q. It was "designed with the aid of medical specialists to cater for paralysed Abigail's needs"; was that correct?
A. No.
Q. "The domed bungalow features numerous skylights that will flood the cottage with light on sunny days, a special request from Abigail." Is that correct?
A. It does have lovely skylights and lots of sun, but it wasn't a special request of Abagail's, no.
Q. Then the reference to the "rose garden and fruit trees will be planted near the bungalow", that's the second column. Was that correct information or not?
A. As it happens, we do have some roses, but most gardens do, and no, it wasn't a special request of Abigail's, and this was my house.
Q. It says "exclusive". Do you know where this information was derived from or is it your belief that it was entirely made up?
A. I mean, I have no knowledge of where I mean, the pictures of the house are correct. The description of the house, you know, is interesting, but, you know, it's made up. I mean, there are it's full of assumptions. I've marked the article with "nos", there are several other nos in there. For example, a house for ourselves being built in the grounds and we've sold our house so we can look after our daughter, it's not actually true. We were already building this house. So there are just an awful lot of kind of assumptions that are being made there. I have no idea where this came from.
Q. Thank you. Next is a piece in the Mail on 12 November 2005. We're not going to look at this on the screen Baroness Hollins, because of certain information in it which had not entered the public domain, but I'm going to ask you to talk through it in a way which will not be intrusive, or overly intrusive, may I add that qualification. Can you tell us, please, your principal concerns about this article? It's under our tabs 6, 7 and 8.
A. Well, this was a two-page spread, and it was linking my daughter's injury with an injury which my son had sustained some years earlier, and the point about it is that my son is a vulnerable adult and he had been able to give evidence in court and as a consequence of giving evidence, the men who had injured him had had prison sentences. But his name, his photograph and the names of the men who injured him were all published there. There were many, many things in the article which were untrue, but that information was correct, and I think this article probably upset me more than any other. One, because of the fantasy linking of his assault with my daughter's assault, and the untruths, but secondly because I felt that it put him, as a vulnerable adult, at risk and exposed him to risk, when actually we were less able to provide him with the kind of support that he needs because we were attending to our daughter's needs, and, you know, well, there were just a lot of inaccuracies. Some of it written quite nicely, makes a nice story, it's lots of sensationalism in it, lots of people ready to you know, asked us questions about it and believed what it said. I'll give you one example from within it, where it talks about how, because of his experience, he was able to provide my daughter with a lot of support, and that he spent hours at her bedside and was a huge comfort to her. Well, actually, the reality was that for him it was maybe a three-hour journey by public transport, with a support worker, okay? That took some negotiating, because that, you know, would have meant extra hours for his supporter to be with him to do that. Three hours there, three hours back. He was quite stressed about it. He didn't you know, he doesn't like visiting hospitals. You know, it wasn't a great experience and actually he saw much less of her than we would have liked him to see, because of the difficulties of getting him there. So, you know, it's perhaps a hoped-for outcome from the point of view of the journalist trying to write about it, but it's fantasy. But I particularly felt upset because I felt vulnerable for him, because he is a very vulnerable adult.
Q. Yes. And there's a frankly, if I may say so, absurd attempt to link the circumstances of your daughter's assault with the circumstances of your son's, because it's quite clear that there was absolutely none.
A. Yes.
Q. Thank you. The next one, Baroness Hollins, is the trip to Lourdes in July of 2006, which was in the Sun on 31 July, at our tab 2, page 58814. Is this the front page? I think it is, isn't it? Do we know? Yes, it is.
A. Yes, it is the front page.
Q. And the piece continued on pages 4 and 5. We don't have page 4, we only have page 5, but I think we're going to see: "Abagail's miracle. Brave stab victim takes Lourdes trip." Was this a private trip?
A. Yes. It was part of a pilgrimage, but it was arranged in such a way that yes, it was a private trip and it was arranged in such a way that the knowledge that she was going to go on this trip was kept very quiet before she went, and although she knew that when she got there, that people would recognise her, the intention was that she would be able to go and have a private pilgrimage, a private retreat with her family, without the kind of intrusion that had accompanied previous expeditions, and it took a huge amount of organising just for her to be able to go, because it does. The Sun, of course, had been incredibly supportive when she was first injured, and they'd actually encouraged their readers to write in with letters of support, and I think probably there were something like 10,000 letters of support and cards of support and so on which came, and so that had been, you know and they felt very kind of warmly towards the generous support that they'd had from the public. But on this occasion it appears that two people went out to Lourdes and took these photographs of her children and herself without their knowledge, without their permission. They knew nothing of it until they returned home, and it's a telephoto lens. This is not a picture taken close up with their knowledge.
Q. This is at page 58817 on the next page, isn't it? And I understand that you have no objection to the photographs being shown on screen, since the children obviously are very much older now.
A. Yes.
Q. But to be clear, are these photographs taken at Lourdes?
A. Yes. Oh yes, absolutely. And there's a photograph there which shows there are other photographs as well, but there's a photograph which shows not just my daughter's children but also other children of friends, and completely without their parents' permission or knowledge. And there were also inaccuracies in the stories that there were, including, for example, that I had been there, and indeed it shows the gullibility of the public, because people believe what they read in the newspaper, and people would come up to me and say did I have a good holiday in France and I would say "I didn't go to France". "Oh yes, you have, you went to Lourdes". "No, I've never been there in my life". "Yes, you went with your daughter". "No, actually, I have never been to Lourdes, I did not go with my daughter. I know it said it in the papers, but please don't believe what you read in the papers". But that sort of thing would happen regularly, and it's you know.
Q. Thank you. The final article we're going to look at, Baroness Hollins, is under your tab 3. It's our page 58815. It's an article in the Sun, 24 April 2009. It might be 27 April 2009. It's not LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It is the 27th. MR JAY Pardon me. Again the caption or the headline is: "My miracle. 4 years on, stab mum Abigail regains speech." First of all, was that accurate?
A. No. No. She regained her speech when she was still in hospital in 2005, and indeed this had been reported in the newspapers in 2005. She had difficulty speaking until she came off her ventilator, because of the complexities of speaking when you're ventilated, but she actually regained her speech while she was still in hospital.
Q. Thank you. Again, it's said to be an exclusive. Were any interviews given at that time?
A. No. But what had happened was that she wrote a foreword for a book which was written by a friend about Lourdes, and in the foreword, after the what actually happened was the Daily Telegraph asked if they could reprint the foreword as an article, and after discussion, my daughter agreed that it could be reprinted in the Daily Telegraph. And so some of what they're talking about in this article was actually, you know, drawing on that piece that she had written for the book. I think. It says there: "Since my spinal injury, I prayed to God for healing." Something like that.
Q. Thank you. We see a little insert, the Sun original piece in 2005: "Boy, 2, sees mum butchered." Do you have any comment on that?
A. I find that very upsetting. I mean, it's sensational, it's actually an inaccurate description of what happened to her, and I think it's unnecessary. I think I also feel I partly feel upset about the fact that this this is available off the Internet, you know. I worry about what people, including her children, will access from the Internet in years to come of this kind of nature, and I just think it's unnecessary.
Q. Thank you. Go back, please, to your witness statement in paragraph 10, which deals with the birth of a granddaughter for you, obviously a daughter for Abigail. I think her name was Rebecca; is that correct?
A. Yes.
Q. In 2010. You point out that there were two or three reporters on an apparent rota, who appeared to be surveying your daughter's house entrance from a car parked 50 yards away for six hours a day for three or four weeks. And when approached, one journalist said he was doing nothing wrong, and the police had already inquired but they could not force him to move. Had you been in contact with the police over this at all, or your daughter?
A. No. I don't believe anybody had contacted the police. The local police are very tentative, and it wasn't a car park, it was there's a side street, so it's a country area where we live and there's a side road which we walk down regularly to go to the common, and I mean I can tell you about the activity of the cars, because we walked past them and we were curious to know we were fairly sure they must be journalists, so we took care to see what evidence there was in the car, and they always had a laptop and there was always the Daily Mail on the back seat and on the front seat, and but it was not the same car every day. On one occasion, I decided, because the Press Complaints Commission had said and we believed that when she went out, that the car would follow. We hadn't realised it to begin with, but we believe that she was followed all the way to a friend's wedding very soon after the baby was born, it was her first outing. And then there was a journalist who actually had to be asked to leave her son's school sports day. I mean, a school sports day, small children, a journalist, uninvited, incognito and trying to take photographs, was asked to leave and in fact did leave, but had apparently followed them there when they'd gone out. But we tried to take a photograph of one of the cars and the journalist, and the journalist became very angry with us and said, "Why are you taking a photograph? Do you want me to take a photograph of you?" and that's when he told us that he'd already been asked to move on by the police, and said that he was doing nothing wrong. My daughter started not going out during those hours.
Q. Did you raise this issue with the PCC?
A. I did. And they said to me that in order to take any action, they would need to know the name of the journalist and have evidence of anything that's been published. I don't know whether anything was published. Nothing was drawn to my attention.
Q. Did you mention the Daily Mail to the PCC?
A. I did.
Q. I've been asked to put to you that the Daily Mail photographer was apparently discreetly positioned about 200 to 300 yards away from your daughter's house. Might that be right?
A. I should think it is probably about 200 yards. Less. 150, I would say. Probably 150. No, even less, maybe 100. No, I would say it was it's definitely he was positioned in such a way that he could see anybody coming in or out of the driveway, which we share with our daughter, and I would say it's no more than 100 yards. If he was 300 yards away, he wouldn't have been able to see the doorway, the entrance, because further up this road is a hump, and if he was 200 yards away, he would have been the other side of the hump and wouldn't have seen anything.
Q. Thank you. I'm also asked to make it clear to you that no photographs were taken of your daughter Abigail with Rebecca, I think because the implication might be that photographs were taken of Abigail without Rebecca.
A. I think that may be true, but I don't know, I don't have records. I think I think that's probably true.
Q. Can I just understand, the car which you say was 50 yards away, is that the car with the copies of the Daily Mail or are we talking about a different car?
A. No, it's the car with the I mean, I would have thought it was more like 50 than 100, but it's certainly not more than 100. I'm not very good on precise distances, but they always parked in exactly the same place, and each car we saw had copies of the Mail in the back.
Q. You've covered paragraphs 11 and 12. Can I ask you about paragraph 15.
A. Yes.
Q. This was an article apparently in the Mail on Sunday, indeed as you state. You make it clear that two photographs were provided but there was an express promise that only one would be used, but in the event, both were used; is that correct?
A. Yes. What happened was it was an article that I'd written for a small circulation, weekly journal, which somehow the Mail on Sunday obtained a copy of and contacted me to ask if they could use it and asked for a photograph, and after some discussion, essentially they were saying to me that they were going to use it whether I agreed or not, but it would be really nice if there was a photograph, and they also said that it was going to be towards the back of the paper. In the event, it was on the and I sent a photograph, and they said that it was too grainy, could I send another one, and they wouldn't be able to use it. So I sent another one, and they then used both, having promised that they would only use the one. So that was one issue. The other thing that happened was they put it on the front page, and to make it worse, it turned out that the article they'd got, which must have been leaked somehow from the original journal, was actually my first draft, which I'd changed quite substantially, and so again I felt quite and they wouldn't let me see the copy that they were going to publish. It made me much firmer about insisting on seeing anything before it's published in future, and I've learnt quite a lot from that, so yes. So they kept and published the two photographs and they then promised that they would destroy them, which they did not, and they reused one of them some time later. I think it was in 2008. October 2008. And their response to using this photograph again, when I pointed out to them that they said they'd destroyed it, was to say they thought they'd destroyed it, and they were very sorry, but could they please pay a fee for its use. I pointed out to them that actually paying a fee for something which had been used dishonestly was not really the point and that we on no account would accept a fee for any journalism about my daughter, and in the event, they paid a donation to a trust fund for her, but a small donation to a trust fund for her, but that was quite upsetting too, that somehow they thought that paying a fee would somehow make it okay.
Q. Have you made any complaint to the Press Complaints Commission in relation to the matters which you've told us about, Baroness Hollins?
A. I rang them on two occasions. One occasion I've told you about. The other occasion, I can't remember the precise detail, but I formed the view that it was going to be too difficult because what they seemed to be interested in was my detailing one specific incident, and the point is that our distress about press intrusion was not about one particular incident, it was about hundreds of incidents. It was about the whole well, the culture of the press. Plus, you know, we've had we'd had quite enough to do, and to find the time and energy to pursue a complaint when we were actually struggling to cope with new experiences at all levels, it didn't really seem to us that it was going to be a fruitful avenue of, you know, direction, basically. So no, we didn't.
Q. Your evidence focuses on two organisations, News International, Sun and News of the World, and Associated, the Mail and Mail on Sunday. Did you ever complain to either of those organisations about the matters you've told us about?
A. Well, I complained I didn't complain to the management, no. I complained to the one of the editors about the paragraph 15, and I had a correspondence with him about that, but no, I did not go to the management, although I know that the adviser that we were employing had certainly spoken to I believe had spoken to management about behaviour. But nothing had been taken up in terms of a complaint. I think we felt that the whole you know, that there wasn't any point complaining. It just didn't seem as if, you know, anything would change. So we were trying to cope with the experience, really, and to manage it as best we could ourselves, but no, we didn't pursue a complaint. MR JAY Thank you very much. That's very clear and that covers all the questions I had for you. May I ask you this open question. Is there anything else you would like to say which I haven't expressly asked you?
A. I think just that, and maybe I've managed to explain it, but, you know, the intrusion seemed really not to have any sensitivity to the fact that we were not in any way seeking publicity. My daughter was not a celebrity. We were dealing with something that was very difficult for everybody, for a lot of people to cope with, and here we had this intrusion into our lives and it felt like that intrusion was insensitive. It's not that some of the stories weren't kindly, but it felt and the way that people got those stories and then the fact that the stories weren't true, that was just such a burden on us and it caused quite a division within our family. We were together when it was about my daughter, but when it came to the press, it caused a lot of upset with people not knowing a lot of emotion caused by this kind of public exposure, which had an effect far wider than my daughter, who was injured, but on many different members of the family whose lives changed as a result of that, and often it was the press kind of window on our lives that just made it so hard. I don't think that's right. I think that we had more right to privacy than we were entitled to. I think the last point I would make was that I was trying to do a job at that time as President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of Psychiatrists had to employ media advisers to try to manage because one of my jobs was to appear on the television or the radio to speak about issues that the college was concerned about. That was my role. We had to negotiate, because I would be introduced as my daughter's mother, and if they had been allowed to get away with it, they would have spent the whole time trying to talk about her, rather than trying to talk about the very important issue that I was supposed to be representing my profession on. So we would negotiate. You know, if you're going to insist on mentioning my daughter, then there is only one photograph, it's the official photograph, and you can have 30 seconds, but that's it. And that would be negotiated. Because otherwise they would and it interfered with my ability to do this job. At one point I thought maybe I'm going to have to resign the position in order that somebody can actually represent the profession properly, because, you know, they are only interested in me as my daughter's mother, and I don't think that's right. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON One moment. Can somebody tell me when the anti-harassment policy was introduced? The PCC scheme for preventive measures. MR JAY It was certainly in Sir Christopher Meyer's permanent evolution speech of May 2003. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So before all this? MR JAY Yes. But we can get chapter and verse. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There are a number of concerns which I unbundle from what you've said, and I'd like to be sure I've understood it.
A. Okay. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The first is that you and your family became targets of press intrusion because of a terrible attack on your daughter.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The second is that requests to desist weren't heeded.
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The third is that they were continued.
A. Mm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Not merely for days, but for very much longer.
A. Mm-hm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And the fourth is that there appeared to be no remedy, nothing you could do to bring it to a stop
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON except by bartering away your privacy. And the example that you've just given at the very end is an example of that.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON To some extent, of course, the terrible circumstances of the attack on your daughter fits with other incidents that have caught public attention and one only needs to go back to the evidence of other people in the Inquiry to see some other examples.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But if you had input into how that could be stopped, is there any suggestion that you would make from your perspective and I'm not casting responsibility that I have onto you.
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But it's clearly something you've thought about, and, for example, I noted you went through those articles writing "no, no, no, no", so pointing out your concern while making it clear the articles were sympathetic, they weren't having a go at you, they were just creating a story.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is there anything that
A. Well, I I mean, I think that I mean one thing is I think that plagiarism when I've said journalists ought to quote their sources, people look horrified and say it's something absolutely dear to journalism that they must protect their sources but I think if you're protecting your sources in order to cover up that actually you don't have a source, that's not good enough. And if you're presenting inaccuracies, then somebody ought to be able to go back to you and you should be able to get an apology or a clarification. But there's also the fact that people will once something is on the Internet now, and it's been published as fact by one paper, it's simply republished by another paper. Maybe the words are changed, the orders are changed around a little bit, but the same facts emerge, and so we would see one story being released as a so-called exclusive in one paper, and it would be appearing in different guises for the next two weeks in lots of different newspapers and women's magazines and whatever, with the same facts being repeated. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Facts which weren't accurate in the beginning.
A. Facts which weren't accurate anyway. So I think there's a responsibility to tell the truth, okay, but you have to be sure of your facts. The second thing is I think if you've taken it from another newspaper, then you should quote that source, because the first source ought to be responsible for the truth of it, and if the second one is going to quote somebody else, then they should say where they've quoted it from, because otherwise the untruths just get extrapolated, and I think this is a particular problem in the Internet world, you know, the electronic world, the digital world where everything can be just pulled down and used again and repeated ad infinitum, and so I think the responsibility to get it right the first time is incredibly important. And what worries me is that truth doesn't seem to be part of the code. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It is, actually. I think accuracy is a part of the code, but I can well understand you're far too busy worrying about your daughter and your grandchild and all the problems that that throws up to be starting to
A. Well, if we picked up every fact that was wrong LORD JUSTICE LEVESON lick a pencil and start writing complaints.
A. Exactly. That's one of the other issues. I mean, as a person because, you know, we were newly recipients of press intrusion, so we hadn't had experience of how to manage it, or how do you behave when somebody misquotes you? We didn't know any of this. We were having to learn. But our priorities were somewhere else, so LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, one can add to the problems I've identified the fact that you had sufficient concern that you felt you had to spend your own money to employ somebody to advise you.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON At a time when you have more than enough on your plate.
A. Yes, and not enough money, because of course it's very expensive going through a trauma like this. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes I understand. The other feature, which it's worth underlining, is that what might have been less intrusive prior to the Internet when traditionally today's newspaper is tomorrow's fire lighter, it's now there forever.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And I think that's what you were expressing a concern, if I pick it up, that your grandson, as he gets bigger and starts to trawl, may read inaccurate material which tells a false history, but which is spurious in its potential accuracy.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON He will read something that goes back to the events, thinking, "That must be as it was", when it never was.
A. Yes, that's right. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. And I don't know how you control for, you know, the I mean, people were concerned, and so I mean, people wanted to know what was happening to her, but part of that was that this you know, it had become a big story, and I don't know what I don't know what you can do in terms of regulation to prevent something being of public interest, but of course some of the reason for the public interest was because it was because of exaggeration and inaccuracy and so on. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, the story, the attack can be public interest, but there is a line
A. Yes, of privacy. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON it seems to me, which goes beyond that which is justified in the public interest into intrusive breaches of privacy.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And I'm not necessarily using that word in a technical sense; I'm speaking generally. It's why I'm particularly grateful to you for coming to put this account into the record of the Inquiry, because the other accounts we've had, if you take Mr Jefferies, who was accused of crime and then all sorts of stuff thrown out about him; the McCanns, where there was an ongoing story and a wish to engage, for understandable reasons, to find their daughter, but on the other hand material that was of an entirely different nature. Your account is straightforward unlawful violence which has had an impact on everybody else, with nobody trying to hurt you, nobody trying to be unpleasant or to have some dig, perhaps for motives which are not to be criticised, but going beyond what anybody could legitimately feel appropriate.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And that's why I felt that I was very keen for you to come and discuss it, and I'm extremely grateful to you for doing so. Again, I'm sorry to put you through reliving it.
A. It has been hard, I have to say, going back and searching for newspaper articles and contemplating doing this has not been easy. But I think the reason that I did write to you in the end was because I thought that what we would say was a little different to what had been said already, and members of the family thought it was important. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, if it helps at all, I agree with them.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. MR CAPLAN Can I just repeat an apology that we made at the time, if I may? It relates to the Mail on Sunday, and Baroness Hollins has described how two photographs were published instead of one, and I would just like to say that a sincere apology was given at the time. I'd like to repeat it now, and a donation I accept that Baroness Hollins will think that's not a sufficient response, but a donation was made to the Abigail Witchalls Trust and the apology was given because there was a genuine mistake made in publishing two photographs instead of one. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Caplan, thank you very much. Baroness Hollins obviously hears that. Of course, my concern is a slightly wider one. Thank you very much indeed. This is remarkably early, Mr Jay. Have we not got anybody else that we can deal with now? No, don't. That concludes this week. I'm grateful to core participants for their agreement to add to their submissions shortly in writing, because it will allow me to deal with the matter, I hope, before the end of the weekend, or at least so that I can decide the matter on Monday. Otherwise, I think it is 10 o'clock on Monday morning. Thank you. (3.18 pm)


Gave statements at the hearings on 02 February 2012 (AM) and 02 February 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 11 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 02 February 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 2 pieces of evidence


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