RESEARCH TOOLS


Afternoon Hearing on Monday, March 5, 2012

Roger Baker and Elizabeth Filkin gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(2.00 pm) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, Mr Jay. MR JAY I think we left it at paragraph 3.1.6, which is unregulated conduct or other unregulated conduct. What specifically are you referring to here, Mrs Filkin?
A. I wanted to make sure that I had recorded that numbers of people within the Met and indeed some journalists told me about perfectly healthy contact that they didn't at this moment believe to be regulated, where they had trusted relationships and that those were handled professionally and sensibly, but they were relationships which other people didn't know anything about or didn't not many other people knew about them.
Q. Would this cover, then, off-the-record briefings or just informal exchanges which might never find their way into a newspaper piece?
A. Off-the-record briefings if you like, formal off-the-record briefings which have been agreed by both sides will be off the record, with it being agreed that the journalists won't print anything at the moment because it might do harm or jeopardise some investigation. No, I don't think they would be referring to those. They would be referring to informal contact or people that they knew when there was something that they wanted to have reported correctly that they would ring up and give information to, which they weren't neither side was describing as unhealthy, not as information which was going to harm anybody, and so I was trying to record that there was lots of perfectly ordinary relationships which were about both sides doing their jobs. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But it's rather in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? What one reporter and policeman will say is healthy and worthwhile, albeit informal, somebody else may say, "Well, actually, that looks rather dangerously like the provision of information to the journalist which we don't think is healthy."
A. I quite agree, and that is why I say that one of my recommendations is that all contacts should be recorded, that there should be people might be given a general authority to be responsible for talking to the press about areas that they're responsible for, but that they should record that they've had that contact, and I think that's very important because I think corporately the organisation has to be able to do some review of that. I also think it protects people, that they have properly recorded it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But Nick Davies, the journalist whom you were speaking to and who, of course, has given evidence to the Inquiry, would say, "Well, if you do that, it will all dry up and our ability to hold the police to account, which is one of the things we're supposed to do, will be lost because we won't get whistle-blowers." I mean, there's a different side
A. It is the dilemma, and what I am not saying is that if you have a proper process and you are required to keep a brief note of contact, that that will stop all unregulated contact. I don't think it will. But I think it will go some way to regularising those arrangements in a more professional fashion, and if the Met does, at the same time, improve its internal procedures for people to bring matters which need scrutiny to the attention of people internally, and indeed if the Met increases the amount of information that they provide to the media, I hope it goes some way to deal with that. But I also say that I don't I'm not in any way saying that there won't occasionally be proper whistle-blowers who are acting in the public interest, who do feel, rightly or wrongly, that they haven't been heard and are giving proper information out, and I say in relation to those that when the Met becomes aware of them, they should deal with that proportionately too. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, that's another problem, according, again, to evidence that I've heard. Yes? MR JAY Relationships themselves, section 3.2. The first issue is inequality of access. I think you are referring here to certain journalists, wherever they are from, getting too close to certain senior police officers; is that correct?
A. Yes, and as we heard this morning, that some journalists felt very much cut out of the club, as it were. Some crime journalists feel that they haven't been allowed into the Crime Reporters Association, and other journalists feel that because they're seen as difficult I would say in many instances good at scrutinising that they were in the past given short shrift.
Q. The quid pro quo here is that the journalist brought into the club would be less likely to write a critical piece of the particular police officer or perhaps the force as a whole; is that right?
A. That would be the implication. How often that occurred, I don't know.
Q. Excessive hospitality, section 3.2.2. You say: "A culture had developed at some senior levels in the organisation which made it normal, and in some cases expected, that contact with the media would be close. In addition, hospitality, which is now widely considered inappropriate, was accepted." That probably speaks for itself, but in terms of the hospitality you're referring to being inappropriate, you're referring both to it in terms of quantity and quality, presumably?
A. Yes, and quantity, quality and being skewed towards certain publications.
Q. Are you able to identify those certain publications?
A. Well, they're only identifiable through the published registers and I think you identified it very clearly in the list you were giving today. There was certainly a lot of hospitality given by News International newspapers.
Q. And then the next subsection, "Different rules for some". This is an important point: one rule for senior contact with the media and another for the rest of the organisation." The importance of this point, presumably, is if the culture of the organisation is set by those at the top, it's particularly invidious, if not unfortunate, if those at the top are not setting the right standards. It's self-explanatory.
A. And as I say, I think that that sullied other relationships of the top through the organisation, or some parts of the top. I think it's very important that I underline "some parts".
Q. The next page, six lines down. You say many have told you they would not give confidential information to the DPA because leaks regularly occurred and such leaks have harmed work. Can you give us some sense of the quantity of evidence here? "Many" have told you?
A. Yes, it was a very constant refrain from a lot of people at very different levels within the organisation that they were concerned about some of the relationships and I underline "some" of the relationships within the DPA and the media, and that the DPA favoured some journalists and indeed would trade and would indeed, on occasions, because of that, cause harm. I gave an example where harm was obviously caused, but that was, of course, not the only example that I was given.
Q. The trade that you are referring to here is the trade of information from the DPA out to the journalists, and whatever comes back in consideration for all that?
A. Well, often this the trading that I was referring to earlier, which is: "I'll give you this story if you'll keep this story out." That seemed to be the main consideration, but there were quite a number of people who said to me that they thought that it didn't necessarily have to be like that, that it was about people who had their pets or who were frightened of certain journalists, and so all of those things were said to me. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Does this mean that really what the DPA are doing is acting as a sort of extended newsroom, this time giving out information rather than receiving it, but its members acting in the same way as if they were reporters, rather than as if they were providing a neutral, impartial service?
A. Certainly and I do underline that, of course, my interviews and my report is very much looking back on how things were. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I understand that.
A. I don't wish to and I know efforts have been made recently to improve things considerably in the DPA. But certainly what had happened, it appeared, in the past was, as you suggest, that instead of seeing themselves as a public information, public affairs operation, which collected and provided information, and provided access for journalists to people who were responsible for pieces of work, were in some instances, because they had been led to believe that is how they should proceed, were involved in that sort of trading. MR JAY Friends and family. I think that section is probably self-explanatory. May I move on to organisational context. You have obviously considered the policies and standard operation or operating procedures which we have in the bundles prepared for the purposes of the Inquiry. It's your view that: "None of these documents provides clear and straightforward guidance on what is acceptable in dealing with the media."
A. None of them did when I began my work. Some of these have been improved since then.
Q. Your plea is in terms of providing over-arching principles which help police officers and staff apply sound professional judgment. What would those principles be?
A. Well, they're the sorts of principles that I have tried to set out as being core, that people should be very careful in their dealings with the media, that they should think about what they are going to say before they say it, that they should record briefly what it is they have said, that they shouldn't respond to pressure. There's a whole sort of list of things which I would say people who are dealing with the media need to be aware of so that they can operate sound judgment in terms of what they do provide and what they don't provide, and of course they need to be absolutely clear that they don't provide anything that's confidential.
Q. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Presumably there should be a good reason for them providing what they do provide?
A. Absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Not just because this will be a good story.
A. Absolutely. But there's lots of information that the Metropolitan Police collects which would be of great interest to the public which isn't confidential and which is statistical, which is information about their neighbourhoods and so forth, which I think the Metropolitan Police ought to do more to disseminate. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I readily accept that. I'm much more concerned, though, not about, if you like, the general flow of detail, but how one really stops the telephone calls saying, "Celebrity X has just been burgled and will be coming into the police station to make a statement if you're here at 5 o'clock."
A. I agree with you, it's difficult, and that as I've said earlier, it seems to me that it is about creating a culture within the organisation and within small parts of the organisation that this is not what we do here. MR JAY Thank you. Section 3.3.2, relationship between corporate and local communications management, is probably one we can take as read. It speaks for itself. Internal perceptions. This is page 25 of 56, 3.3.3. This is dealing with the question of leaks. You make the point that everybody has an opinion as to where leaks are most likely to occur but there's no consensus.
A. It's always somewhere else. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mm. MR JAY Did you get a sense at all of scale of this problem, its quantity?
A. Well, it was a big enough scale for a lot of people with inside the Met to be worried about it, but in terms of numbers, no, I couldn't say anything solid about that, I don't think, other than almost everybody I spoke to felt it did the Metropolitan Police Service harm, that it was thought, sometimes wrongly, to leak. I make the point that in some instances and I saw instances of other people in other organisations leaking information about the Metropolitan Police Service. So that obviously happened too, but certainly people within the Metropolitan Police Service felt that it did them harm that that was a reputation or a perception, however accurate it turned out to be.
Q. You point out, in the middle of page 26, a certain amount of leaking is inevitable. Investigations of leaks tend to be futile and resource intensive. Then you say that in your view there's an overreliance on a quasi-judicial approach, with criminal avenues pursued where ordinary discipline and appeal arrangements may be more effective. Is it not the case that the difficulty in proving leaks, and particularly investigating them, applies whether you're looking at criminal contexts, where admittedly there's a higher standard of proof, and in the disciplinary context as well?
A. Yes, and I don't belittle the difficulty of doing those leak investigations, but I think there are some things that the Met could do more speedily on though things. If, for example, you know that the information was only held by three people, you haul the three people in and you say you're going to take action against all three until the person tells you who it is. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's a bit tricky, isn't it? That rather reminds me of school. Somebody threw the rubber, and unless the person owns up
A. No, but I think that there are of course you're right, and of course, any of these methods to deal more quickly with leaking has those problems and may not lead to anything sensible, but I think that it's possible that ordinary discipline arrangements that would operate in any other business could be more effectively used by the Met than very lengthy procedures which move towards criminal outcomes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand that, and I'm sure that's right, but the problem isn't just confined to the Metropolitan Police.
A. No, of course not. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's throughout government.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And once you have the culture that it's all right to do it, then it happens, and trying to get to the bottom of it, if only to acquit the innocent as well as convict the guilty, is extremely difficulty. But the real difficulty is how you address the culture of preparedness to do it in the first place. That's, to my mind, verging on the holiday grail, but which nobody yet seems finally to have solved.
A. I'm sure you're right, I have no doubt, and I have no doubt that this it difficult, but I think there are other things the Met could do. For example, they're very loath to tell their staff that they're carrying out some of these enquiries and even more loath to tell them what the outcome was. I give an example not in relation to a leak but in relation to another matter, in which people across the Met had to get their information from the tabloids about what had happened to somebody. The information that was given internally was I'm sure somebody tried to be absolutely proper and not in any way undermine an individual more than they were undermined already because they were being sacked, but I think it doesn't help to create a culture that we don't approve of this and we do take it seriously and we do take action on it if you don't tell people that you're taking action on it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON How much of it would be addressed by being much more open, by recognising that, of course, if you say, "We're looking at this", then whoever is doing it will close down now that's, of course, a risk and number inevitable, but how much do you improve if you are much, much more open? "This is what went out. There are 15 people who could have done it. Now we're looking to see, we're not sure what we're going to find, but the more this happens, the more we're going to have to perhaps rejig the team, perhaps do this, that and the other, and let's have some ideas, please." Engage with people.
A. Yes, I think you're absolutely right, and: "We'd like some information, please, and it's your duty to protect this organisation through giving us that information." So I think there's a number of those sorts of approaches which would help somewhat, but I share your view that it won't solve the problem totally, I'm sure. MR JAY Thank you. I move on to the section, page 28 of 56, 3.3.5, "Scrutiny and monitoring of propriety issues and corporate culture". We're back to the point here which you developed at an earlier stage, namely the culture emanating from the top and the lack of consistency in how some of the senior team conduct their relationships with the media and how they view gifts and hospitality. I think you said earlier in some areas, amongst some people, there are or at least there were inappropriate relationships. "External environment", section 3.4. In a nutshell, what is the issue you are addressing here, Mrs Filkin?
A. I hope I'm giving due regard to the very difficult and complex job that the Metropolitan Police have to provide, and the way in which they are often the eye of a media frenzy, which I think does make all the things that it's easy for somebody like me to say often very difficult to carry out. So I'm trying to acknowledge that. I'm also trying to say that they're in a the Met are in a particularly difficult situation because there is politicisation. Some of that, there's nothing wrong with it. It's politicians saying what their views are and different politicians from different parties saying what their views are. I think the Met should be very careful about trying to respond with their own views to political statements in sort of the media because I don't think, in my view, that that's their role, but I understand if they feel that they have this hard operational information, that they might feel that they want to get that out in the public domain. I'm not arguing against that. But I think that the fact that six management board members have left the Metropolitan Police in recent years, where the media coverage of what was happening to them or the arguments that they were having with other people, does make their situation even more difficult than in some many other organisations. So I was trying to acknowledge those sorts of things that they have to contend with, but they do also have to contend with the fact that there are several other organisations who have an absolutely legitimate role in relation to the police and who may have very different views about what it is proper to provide to the public.
Q. Yes. In section 3.4.2, you refer to sort of an inherent conflict of interest. A journalist may, on occasion, need to consider breaking the law in the public interest and then the police may have a correlative obligation to investigate that subsequently.
A. Yes.
Q. May I address the issue of the term "police source", which is page 32 of 56. Its use, as you say, tends to imply a leak, but it may be used properly to indicate that the source is an institution or someone which is different but related, such as the MPA, or indeed it may be as a mask to try and protect the real provenance of a source.
A. Absolutely.
Q. Were those differences explained to you by journalists or by police officers or are those inferences you've made?
A. I was in one other organisation when a person who had a relationship, a proper relationship, towards policing gave information to a journalist, so I saw that happening, and I was in another organisation where a person said they had given information in the past and had described themselves as a police source. So I saw those sort of things happening. I don't know that anybody explained those things to me, other than seeing what was actually occurring.
Q. Thank you. Section 3.4.3, former employees. This is the revolving door point and it's a concern which you're expressing in line with the Home Affairs Select Committee.
A. Yes. There are two bits to it. There's the bit of former employees very quickly taking up jobs in the media, but perhaps even more concerning than that is former employees who become investigators and who either have favours to call in from colleagues that they used to have, or indeed they haven't got favours to call in but they have good contacts inside, and those people trust them and give them information because they think they're all trying to do the same thing. So I think there need to be very clear guidelines for people within the Met about how they relate to former employees. And the Met, as you will have seen from my report, also employs quite a lot of former employees in a variety of roles, and all I'm advising is that the rules that should apply to the staff ought to apply to anybody who is working for them temporarily or on short-term contracts, having left the Met. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Or, indeed, on any contract.
A. Of course. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's not a question of the basis upon which they're employed.
A. Absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So that's three roles for retired police officers: in the media, or commenting about the media; within the area of investigation where they might exploit their contacts with the press; or back in the police, where they might continue practices which might have been acceptable once but which are no longer acceptable.
A. Yes, and then the other bit, which is going to work for security firms, which I think sometimes leads to, again, people coming back to their colleagues for information and LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I'm putting that into the second point.
A. Yes, I think you're right. MR JAY Section 3.4.4, shared responsibilities and the importance of collaboration. There you're dealing with possible confusions which might arise between the IPCC and the MPS, and you provide a case study, the shooting of Mark Duggan.
A. Yes, and I understand that a new protocol between them has now been agreed.
Q. You summarise these problems, section 3.5, page 37 and 56. You pick up on the themes we've been discussing: the issue of perception, how damaging it is, the difficulty of proving it, the close relationship that's developed between parts of the MPS and the media has caused harm, lack of hard evidence about improper disclosure but boundaries need to be established and perceptions corrected. Chapter 4 was your findings and recommendations, page 38 of 56. Your first point, the way the MPS communicated with the public, second paragraph there: "The way that relationships with the media have developed has resulted in the perception that some have better access to MPS information than others. I am convinced that some information has been given inappropriately." And you say towards the bottom of the page: "For these reasons, I consider that more, not less, contact with the media as a whole is essential, providing it is open and recorded. However, it is important that the public are informed through all media outlets, not just the national print press, because different sections of the public use media in different ways." So in order to address this access problem, there are two sort of competing well, not competing but complementary strands. One, more access, but the access this is the second point should be open and recorded, rather than subterranean.
A. Mm.
Q. That's your key finding one and recommendation one in the middle of the next page, and the supporting advice which locks in with recommendation one is at page 49 of 56.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. It probably speaks for itself, so I'm not going to take you to that unless there are any particular points you wish to highlight.
A. No, I hope that's clear.
Q. Then the next point is 4.2, "Leadership and trust within the MPS". This is the senior officers not following the rules, a wide variation in how the senior team interpreted policy, et cetera. Maybe I should pick up a point most of the way down page 40, where you say: "Many police officers and staff would welcome a less defensive stance and greater willingness to inform the public about the difficulties and challenges faced by those working in policing." That, again, is a point we've already discussed, and I think your turn of phrase was "a challenging environment" as opposed to a defensive one, and the recommendation you make at page 41 of 56 the supporting advice is at page 50: "The MPS senior team must signal a change in culture and set a consistent example for all staff on the ethical standards they expect." Then 4.3, corporate management of ethical issues: "In the past, the MPS did not identify as a risk the close relationship of some senior officers and staff to certain sections of its media. During my inquiry, members of the senior team acknowledged that there were significant differences of opinion about the need to develop close relationships with the media and the appropriateness of receiving extensive hospitality as part of it." And your recommendation there, page 42 of 56, says: "The Commissioner delegates responsibility and resources to a member of his senior team to initiate change in the way the MPS approaches integrity and ethics issues at all levels." And the supporting advice is at page 51. Transparency. This is the back-door briefings point through informal and unofficial channels, which you've already covered in the body of your report. What about the strength of the fear you recognise halfway down page 43, that acquiring a greater degree of transparency I think this is probably Mr Davies' point may stifle good investigative journalism in the public interest? I mean, how much weight do you give to that fear?
A. Well, it's a real fear, and certainly journalists have expressed it very forcefully to me. So they're anxious about it. I think if all the things that I'm saying are adopted by the Met, particularly the openness and more contact with the media, this should not happen. Yes, it will be more controlled, I hope, and less harmful, I hope, but I'm not in any way wishing to undermine proper scrutiny. The opposite. I mean, I think there's quite a lot more scrutiny that needs to happen. So I'm trying to encourage more scrutiny, and I think the Met should be about encouraging more scrutiny. So, yes, there may be problems which people may have to work through. If they find that everything's dried up, this is a very proper thing to discuss and set right. So I but I don't at the moment see that that will be a problem or a particular problem.
Q. So is this right: the general rule should be maximum transparency but if you can find public interest exceptions, which are narrowly defined and properly applied, then fair enough.
A. And deal with those properly and proportionately.
Q. Yes. Your recommendation, page 44 of 56 the evidence in support of it is page 52: "All police officers and staff who provide information to the media should make a brief personal record of the information they provide." Then 4.5, these are the core principles you spoke of earlier. You're not in favour of creating another set of SOPs or media policy. You've pointed out already that the guidance has, in your view, changed and improved. It's the identification of core principles. Perhaps the key principle is the one you've italicised in recommendation 5: "Permissible but not unconditional. This should be the over-arching principle." So in your own words, what are you seeking to convey by that?
A. Well, I'm seeking to convey that there will be some information and the Met must make it absolutely clear what that is that everybody who works for the Met can and should pass on to members of the public, to local media outlets and to anybody else who talks to them, and that there should be a general view that this 54,000 people who are working for London and working for the public are responsible people and that they can as long as they stick to what it's being said can be given out, they can give it out, and that people with particular responsibilities at certain levels and I've set out the levels will tell their line manager that they're going to be investigating X or doing Y, and the assumption will be that part of that job is that their job is to keep the media informed and not informed, as is appropriate, and that it will be their responsibility. So I'm saying that numbers of those things will be, if you like, agreed they might be agreed now and it will be in six months' time that a chief inspector doing something will be because that's his or her area of work and they'll be able to provide information on it.
Q. Yes.
A. So I'm saying there should be clarity about who is providing what, but the assumption should be that a lot more people will be providing information, and I hope that will go some way to do what so many people within the Met wished, that the public was better informed about the difficult job they have to do.
Q. Thank you. Then item 6, "Communications infrastructure". This, of course, is the directorate of public affairs point: "There are two perceptions which are in play here. First, the DPA is unwilling, in some instances, to provide information to the public. Secondly, that information is sometimes misused." Then you say: "I am also concerned by the perception that the access provided to the media by the DPA has not been impartial, a view that's been expressed internally and externally." You've told us about that. "This perception appears to have grown as a result of a particular style of leadership." May I ask you, please, to develop that sentence?
A. Well, I can only develop it by saying that the person who was the senior person in that department was said by a considerable number of people who spoke to me to have set that tone and that style within that department, and that made it clear that certain newspapers were favoured over others. So all I was doing with that was recording what really a very large number of people had said to me. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That, of course, is a fertile breeding ground for people to try and get information around the back door.
A. Of course, and that was said to me by numbers of journalists. MR JAY So we're clear, the "certain newspapers" are those in the News International stable; is that what you were being told?
A. Yes, I think mainly, but it may have been wider than that.
Q. Thank you. Recommendation six, which flows from that, is clear. Finally, prevention. This is the leaking issue. You say: "Until recently, leaking has not been recognised as an organisational risk, nor have clear messages of deterrence been sent. The MPS should publicise misconduct findings or prosecutions in enough detail to inform staff and provide more management information." Then at the bottom of page 47: "Agreeing a set of core principles which leave staff in no doubt about what is appropriate will enable the organisation to identify breaches more readily." And your recommendations LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just before you do, you say on page 47: "Most agree that whether money is involved or not, providing information for personal reward of any kind amounts to corrupt conduct." Does that mean that some people did not consider it inappropriate to accept money or other consideration?
A. I assume that some people, who I, by this time, knew that there was some evidence that some people had accepted excessive hospitality, for example did not regard that as improper, and I made the assumption that that must also be true of some people who accepted money, because what I was told was that some people accepted money for giving information to the press such as "Celebrity X is going to be at the police station today", felt that they were just being treated like any member of the public would be who rang up the tabloid. So I think there were a few people who thought like that. But the point I was trying to make was that most people didn't think like that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, well, I'm gratified to hear it, but I'm rather concerned that anybody should think that phoning up the press to give them some information, such as the presence of celebrity X or the fact that famous person Y has been burgled, or has called the police, all of which examples we've seen
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON (a) is ever acceptable, a fortiori that it should justify the receipt of money.
A. I couldn't agree with you more. MR JAY Maybe some felt because certain tabloids offer money if you phone a particular number with a tip
A. That's right.
Q. that if they're phoning in
A. Off duty.
Q. at one minute past 5 in the afternoon, then it's okay. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON They're off duty! MR JAY I think that's the possible argument which you have been treated to.
A. Yes, I think you're right.
Q. In relation to leaks and prevention strategy, it's the creation of the right environment, clear messages of deterrence, and I think you made this clear earlier not pursuing overlong technical investigations which might lead to a criminal prosecution but being more pragmatic within a disciplinary context. Have I correctly understood it?
A. Yes.
Q. Thank you. Now, the ideas for practical guidance, which is after the first 56 pages, these are helpful and probably self-explanatory. You apply, obviously, some common sense here, that the offer of a pint of beer may not be objectionable. It's a question of fact and degree, but there comes a point when maybe it's a bottle of champagne or whatever you're on impermissible terrain. Just one issue, because we may be picking it up with the next witness. Perhaps it's one of terminology, because there can be confusion about it: the on or off the record point, which is page 510.
A. Yes.
Q. What's your feeling here? "On the record" obviously is self-explanatory, but "on the record" can mean different things to different people in different contexts.
A. Yes.
Q. It might mean "Don't use it at all", which is its rare meaning, in fact, in the United Kingdom, or it might mean, more frequently: "You can use it but don't quote me." What is your practical advice in this domain?
A. I think the practical advice and with all this, my what I hope was little bits of practical help were not making an assumption that many police officers didn't know these things. Of course they do. But I was trying to provide them with what they asked for, particularly for new recruits and more junior ranks particularly. But in relation to on or off the record, my key recommendation to people would be: talk to the journalist and find out what this actually means before you start. To exercise some judgment about it. Many journalists are absolutely proper about it, tell you exactly what they will do or won't do with an off-the-record briefing, and if you explain to them that you can give them information but they can't use it at the moment, will respect that. There's no issue. Some won't. Some are untrustworthy, and like any other walk of life, one has to weigh up people very carefully in terms of what they're saying. I have no doubt that the police will have to occasionally do off-the-record briefing, because otherwise they would jeopardise an investigation, and a reporter may have got a bit of a story which, if they ran it, would be very harmful, and the only way to prevent that being run, in a sensible fashion, would be to give them an off-the-record briefing and to tell them that you would inform them as soon as you could when it was possible to let that get out onto the public airwaves.
Q. Then you list ten tactics to watch out for, which I'm sure is salutary advice not just to police officers but more generally.
A. I hope so. MR JAY Whether or not they're often deployed is obviously a matter for debate. Well, those are all the questions I have for you, Mrs Filkin. It's possible there may be some more. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I repeat what I've said before: I'm very grateful to you for this, which makes a great part of what I'm doing much easier, if not redundant.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But how it's been taken forward will doubtless be the subject of some questions of the present Commissioner and how it's going to be monitored will doubtless be the subject of the evidence of the next witness. Thank you very much indeed.
A. Thank you. MR JAY Shall we move straight on to Mr Baker? Mr Baker, please. MR ROGER BAKER (sworn) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Your full name, please?
A. It's Roger Baker.
Q. You provided the Inquiry with a witness statement which bears the number 8252. The date of the statement is 21 February 2012. You've signed and dated it under a standard statement of truth, so is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry?
A. It is, sir, yes.
Q. There are various annexes to the statement and there is also, of course, the report of HMIC published in December 2011, "Without fear or favour: a review of police relationships", which is the fourth tab in the MPS master bundle section on reports. First of all, Mr Baker, could you tell us, please, about yourself? You had a 32-year career in the Police Service; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. Starting in Derbyshire, moving to Staffordshire and then North Yorkshire, but you were appointed Chief Constable of Essex police in July 2005; is that correct?
A. That's right, yes.
Q. You retired from the Police Service in July 2009 and in September of that year, you were appointed one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about HMIC. It is a statutory regulatory body set up under the Police Act 1996; is that correct?
A. That's correct, yes.
Q. Very briefly, what are its functions?
A. I think it's a police watchdog, in that it assesses policing and police forces in the public interest. So that can range from looking at local efficiency and effectiveness of a police force to broader policing issues such as the riots of last summer. And we do that in hopefully in a way that the we ask questions that the public would want us to ask and we report it back to the public in hopefully straightforward terms. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So the whole point about HMIC is that in the main you are ex-chief constables. So you've all held senior police rank?
A. No, it's a broad church, sir. There should be four inspectors and one chief inspector. Of the four, two of us are ex-chief constables. One is now the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Bernard went across. He was an inspector. He's now the Commissioner of the Metropolitan, and the other two inspectors currently don't have a police background. One was a chief crown prosecutor in London and one worked for the Audit Commission. So there's a mixed range of skills. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And are you looking at operational issues?
A. The whole breadth of through operational, strategic. That includes police authorities. That's the governing body for policing at the moment as well. MR JAY In July of 2011, you were asked by the chief inspector, who is Sir Dennis O'Connor, to conduct a review of police integrity, which included police relationships with the media, and having conducted that review over a five-month period, the report I referred to was published in December of last year; is that right?
A. That's correct. The Home Secretary asked Sir Dennis on 20 July on carry out a review into not just media issues but into broader issues of integrity and policing and Sir Dennis asked me then to carry out that review, which we'd completed most of the work by the end of September, in truth, so it was a matter of, yeah, eight to 12 weeks we took.
Q. We'll address that in due course, but your witness statement also deals with your interactions with the media in your capacity as Chief Constable of Essex. It might be said that there are two schools of thought here, or certainly a spectrum. There's the austere wing and there's the more expansive wing when it comes to relations with the media, and if I may say so, you're certainly firmly to be found in the austere wing, not that that's a criticism, or indeed praise; it's just an observation that's going to be borne out when we see the evidence
A. Thanks for the observation. I see where you're coming from. I think you did oscillate, depending on the circumstances, between the two, but I've never objected between to being called austere, not in these times.
Q. We'll see to what extent there have been oscillations. You deal with the media and public relations departments which all chief constables have, and the electronic diary. The diary is no longer available, but we've had a picture looking at other people's diaries. What would it show in your case, if it were available?
A. It would show, in relation to the national media, every few months I would have some interaction with them based on either my national work or the bigger issues within the county of Essex. More locally, that would be based primarily around either initiatives that the force were launching or the meeting structure of the police authority, in truth, drove a lot of this, so if there was a police authority meeting, there would always be a discussion with the press after it because these things were in the public domain and I thought that was quite proper. Like any of these jobs, there was a honeymoon period when you first start, where you would have slightly more interaction with the media because they wanted to know what your plan would be as the incoming Chief Constable.
Q. Thank you. In terms of what the media were seeking from you in your personal dealings with them, you deal with what you were seeking to gain for the police through your personal contacts with the media in paragraph 3. You say that the media was seeking information and/or your views on high profile events or issues affecting the force and the communities of Essex. Did you ever get the feeling that they were hoping, if not expecting, you to be indiscreet?
A. Not in the main, no. I think they wanted a view from the leader of the organisation. If I were indiscreet, I'm pretty sure that would be played back to me, so I'm not that naive. In fairness to them, I had a balanced press, I thought not all of it great, but a fairly balanced press over the time I was Chief Constable in Essex. They would publish criticisms when we'd got it wrong, but also when we did things right, there was a balance of reporting, I thought, from most of the media. There was one occasion which I've covered in this statement where there was a slight issue. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do you distinguish there between the local press, the Essex press, and the national press, or do you just say generally?
A. I'd include all of it, in truth. So national, regional and local was a balanced coverage, in the main, and it would change from one minute that you were quite popular on what you may be saying or doing to other times you would be held to account quite properly and robustly by the media for what they perceived you'd got it wrong. But that was across the whole. That included as well some of the social media sites, certainly in 2006, were fairly vitriolic about some of the change of management that I was employing in Essex. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But all that's probably fair enough, isn't it? That's holding power to account and providing an alternative view for you to think about.
A. Absolutely, sir, yes. Hurtful at times, but appropriate. MR JAY Off-the-record conversations, page 8254. You say you didn't have any with the media whilst you were Chief Constable. To be clear, what do you mean by off-the-record conversations?
A. It's more to the extreme of what you described to Elizabeth Filkin, that this was going to go no further any stage. I think a lot of it is in definition actually. Some of it is if "not yet for publication" would be more to the point, and in my previous to being the Chief Constable because the question the Inquiry asked me was "as a chief constable" there have been times when I've been leading major inquiries where I've had "not yet for publication" conversations. I'm not a huge fan of what people term "off the record", although they do mean different things by it, I've found, but there is a place for it. If that is in extremis, if life is going to be endangered, as you put to the previous witness, if an inquiry is going to be prejudiced, then there is a place for it, but it should be limited, in my view.
Q. So by the term "off-the-record conversation", are you intending to cover conversations which are not going to be used by the media or are you covering conversations which are going to be used by the media but not attributed to a particular individual?
A. In the from my statement, every conversation I had in the four years, there was none of it that I wouldn't attribute with the media. None of it, as I can recollect, during that period of time.
Q. So the media, if they were going to use what you said, would always attribute it to you as Chief Constable, but there were occasions when it wasn't yet for publication, so they would be expected to wait until the appropriate time. Have I correctly understood it?
A. That would be the price of me being a chief constable. Certainly when I was a deputy chief constable, as an example, I led a manhunt where a man had killed a number of people, murdered them, and was going to murder others, and the media were about to get in the way. So I told them things that I didn't want them to publish for a couple of days whilst we could get on and catch this man and that, for me, was off the record. But they could publish it later down the line.
Q. I understand. The issue of hospitality this is perhaps why, amongst other reasons, I said you were at the austere school, because apart from the Sun bravery award, you say that you don't accept or didn't accept hospitality from the media other than a drink of tea, coffee or water. So no meals, no alcohol. This is it?
A. Makes me sound extremely dull, but that was the case in my time as Chief Constable. And in truth, there was never occasion to do that. We were polite with each other, and courteous, but I always found tea and coffee or water a bit like here suffices. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm not sure how the Inquiry would go if there was
A. A bottle of fine champagne. MR JAY It might go more quickly. But this was in line with the gifts and hospitality policy in place in Essex?
A. That's right.
Q. But apart from perhaps you feeling that this was the right thing for you to do, do you have a view more widely as to whether hospitality only in this very limited sense namely you were going to accept tea, coffee or water but nothing more that that is a good idea or maybe it's a bad idea. What do you feel about it?
A. I think the thrust, so when we get to the report, is there needs to be clarity on what the thresholds are for all people. Not only chief officers, but for those people that leaked, because most of them want to do a good job but there needs to clarity and if you don't have clarity, then you can't govern or control or have oversight on these things because it's too loose. I personally have a view I do drink alcohol, by the way; I don't abstain that there is an issue, I think, with whether you're on duty or off, as a police officer, should you be drinking alcohol? My view it's a personal view is not on the public purse, should you be doing that. But that's not police policy; that's my own view.
Q. If you're accepting alcohol from a media organisation, it wouldn't be on the public purse, of course, would it?
A. No, but if I'm seeing a media organisation, I am working. It wouldn't be my I was not offered alcohol by the media, by the way, certainly in the terms of this statement, for the four years. But if I had have been, I wouldn't have taken it anyway because why would I be having that conversation? This is not something I'd do in my spare time. In my private life, would I be meeting with the media? No, I wouldn't. That would, by my definition, be work. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you did have some meetings with the national media?
A. I did, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And you didn't find that those meetings were more preferably conducted over dinner?
A. No. There was never an invitation, whether it was just me LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Or vice versa.
A. my veritable character. There was never a slip to the Ivy and we'll treat you LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, no, forget the Ivy. There was never a suggestion that actually your relationship would be easier to maintain and develop in a more social setting, whether it's because they take you or because you invite them to the headquarters of the Essex police?
A. It was never an issue for me that we we had contact that included the national media. We did speak to each other, we didn't always agree with each other, but that was always for me business time and I never had any feedback from them that they wanted to do it any other way. So I didn't need to be in a more convivial environment or atmosphere. We got on and we did business. I stress we didn't all see eye to eye on matters, but that was always done in what I saw as work time. I think in some places it may be a bit more intense, particularly in the City of London here, but I was only just down the road in Essex anyway. It's not a billion miles. I don't seem to have answered your question, I see. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, you have answered my question, but it might lead to a follow-up question, which is whether, in the course of your work for this Inquiry that you've just conducted, you saw or understood any reason why it might be different for the Metropolitan Police than it had been for you in Essex.
A. I have some observations. I mean, to be clear, my review was not about the Metropolitan Police; it was more broadly. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I know, I know, but you did look at the Metropolitan Police.
A. We did look at the Metropolitan Police and I got a sense that there was an intensity about the environment, that you have a lot of people physically located here, so having those relationships and there can be something seductive, I guess, about the environment whereby you are working here so it's you know, let's pop into a let's socialise, almost, together, and do business at the same time. That doesn't always apply outside of London, would be my take on it this wasn't a particular strand of the Inquiry, I have to stress but I did make the point because lots of chief officers and the police were saying to me: "This is a London problem, Roger, not for here." I don't accept that bit. I think it's a problem for the whole of England and Wales, but I think there is a different level of intensity on some of those relationships, and I know I'm generalising, here in London. MR JAY So you felt that the problem went outside the Metropolitan area but are you saying that the problem was, in quantitative terms, greater in the London area or do you think it was prevalent in an equal way throughout the United Kingdom?
A. Well, there's a scale issue, forgive me, on the size of the Metropolitan Police and the nature of policing in the Metropolitan Police, that they do some top-end business which is going to be interesting to the public and therefore very interesting to the media. They have responsibility for counter-terrorism and things like. And to be blunt, crime and everything that goes with it, policing, is of an interest. It will sell newspapers or cover space. But that is not to suggest that the media will not be interested in other parts of the country, and the point for me was: a lot of this you can still cover it by not leaving London if you wanted to, if you took social networking. If I were a journalist, which I'm not, you could cover most of these things virtually, if you so wished. And when we go on to the report, a lot of the gaps and the lack of threshold and what's appropriate and what isn't applies equally outside of London than it does within the Metropolitan Police.
Q. Thank you. I may move on to paragraph 27, if I can take the intervening paragraphs as read. That's at the bottom of page 8257. You're still dealing with Essex here. You say: "A record of all my meetings and contacts with the media was recorded in my electronic diary. I was always accompanied by a member of the media and public relations department who would have recorded the contact and key aspects of the interview discussion." So those are two important safeguards, which you underline: "The Essex Police media policy, talking to the media, reflected the ACPO guidance and required a record to be made of all information provided to the media by any member of staff. This policy also stated that off-the-record contact with the media should not be undertaken. All media releases by the media and public relations department and divisional media co-ordinators were recorded. The Essex media policy is an intranet-based system." And we've had a look at that. I've been asked to put to you this point in relation to off-the-record briefings by another core participant, that page 29 of the report "Without fear or favour" recorded that different forces had different approaches to off-the-record briefings. So far so good?
A. Yes.
Q. Would you therefore accept that in some circumstances, with appropriate safeguards, it can be appropriate for a police officer or member of police staff to engage in off-the-record contact, for example about an operation or to correct inaccuracies in previous reporting?
A. I would accept there will be circumstances where once there's clarity of definition, I think, is important for the future of what "off the record" means and what it doesn't mean. There will be circumstances at the top end of the business where lives are at threat, there's a national security issue or an inquiry is about to be completely scuppered by certain behaviour, then that would be appropriate to have a conversation that was not yet at that moment to be published. I think there is a difference. I think a more broad-brush approach, where people are making up their own rules and definitions of what this looks like, for the best intentions, is what I've found is a major gap in this when we carried out this piece of work, ie there's no clarity about the rules, the policies are very different, albeit well intended, and so that leaves lots of the staff with nowhere to go, in my view.
Q. The person who gave me the question might say: well, "off the record" means, in this context, you can quote it but you can't attribute the source. Why is that objectionable, it might be said, if the purpose is to correct inaccuracies in previous reporting?
A. Well, on the latter bit, if you're going to put some inaccuracies right, then why not say so? I could make my own scenarios of where you think, in very extreme cases, you might want to keep that out of the public view, but if your purpose is simply to say, "You've got that wrong, here's what it looks like", then say so. For me, that is more on the record than off the record. I don't mean to be pedantic, but that it is more on the record. Nor do I wish imply by this that there isn't a major role for investigative journalism because I think it's very healthy in holding the police to account, but there are ways of doing that by asking questions. Now, it should be in extremis. I know not many people agree with this, by the way, but you've asked me for a view. My view is this should be used in extremis, but when you are using it, there has to be a good deal of clarity of what is meant, otherwise people start making up their own rules of engagement, and what there isn't in the police-media strategies and policies at the moment is anything around relationships other than in one case. So that does, in my view and the Association of Chief Police Officers are going to come back to me in the next few weeks with a response to the recommendations on how do you close some of these gaps.
Q. If the purpose in the mind of the journalist is to hold the police to account and questions are therefore asked by the journalist, for which, by definition, I suppose, it would be appropriate for the police to answer, if they are to be held to account, why is there anything inherently undesirable in the answer coming back from the police officer: "X, Y and Z, but it's off the record; in other words, you can't quote me, but you can report what I've said"? Is that objectionable in itself?
A. No, I think if it's a case of, let's say, whistle-blowing, where you want to bring something to attention but you don't want your name on it, that, for me, is a different issue. Where you need to flag: there's a problem here for the public, nobody is doing anything about it, I want to draw it to your attention, there are many ways you can do that, including speaking to the media. So on that bit of it, I have no objection. Where we did the public survey work for the "Without fear or favour" report, they raised the issue, in my view quite properly, around transparency. Now, I think you need both ends. You can have these on and off-the-record conversations as long as, for the public, there is a degree of transparencies which like Elizabeth Filkin, one of the recommendations in this piece of work is there should be a record of what the contact was, what was discussed, and it's logged so there can be some governance arrangements put around it to safeguard the public.
Q. But if it's going to be logged, then in due course it might enter the public domain and it is therefore although it was originally off the record, the public, in due course, will see which police officer it was who spoke to the press on a particular occasion, even if the newspaper piece had not identified the officer. Isn't that the problem, that the officer then would be less willing, perhaps, to give the information to the journalist which it might be in the public interest to give? Would you agree with that?
A. The thrust of it, yes. The detail of it, not entirely. So, for example, the police already have systems where they deal with very sensitive information. Covert human intelligence sources, for example, where that really would be dangerous for people's identities to be leaked into the public domain. So the police are accustomed to dealing with information and intelligence, and I don't see why the fallback for me on this is where do the public sit, including all of those within this? And the feedback has been loud and clear, that whilst their confidence in the police is high, they want it to be a transparent relationship wherever possible, and I think you can do both things. You can, in extremis, have these off-the-record conversations, once you've defined them, and you can have a system which allows governance and oversight. If you can't do the latter, you're left with making your own rules up again.
Q. Paragraph 31, Mr Baker, deals with your experience of leak inquiries. Five investigations in all during your four-year tenure. None of the investigations resulted in disciplinary action being taken, which I suppose is an indication of how difficult it is to prove this sort of disciplinary infraction; is that correct?
A. Well, they are difficult to deal with, but it's been made more difficult by the fact that there is a sloppiness of rules around what is permissible and what isn't, if that makes sense. Now, on these five cases I wouldn't have been told about these five cases while I was Chief Constable because I was the discipline authority, if that makes sense. So if these had come to fruition from a misconduct point of view, I would have been the person in judgment ultimately. So it was only after I got the request to provide a statement that I found out there had been these five cases. That's perfectly normal. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand that, because if you're the judge, you can't have been part of the prosecution team.
A. Exactly, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And it's a rather interesting position that chief constables hold. But have you found out now the detail about these five operations or do you just know there were five?
A. I just know there were five. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So you don't know, for example, whether the investigators knew who had done it, but because of the looseness of the rules, didn't feel it was disciplinary, or just never found out who had done it?
A. That's correct. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That actually ruins a whole series of questions I wanted to ask you.
A. I do apologise. MR JAY You mentioned that part of the difficulty in certain instances, at least, surround a lack of clarity in the rules themselves. Are you including Essex within that criticism or not?
A. Oh absolutely, yes. This wasn't these issues contained within the report were not top of my agenda when I was a chief constable. So for example, secondary employment, you know, what your cops and your staff may do outside of work. It was actually the Sun newspaper that exposed me with a that actually superimposed a wizard's hat on my head with a rabbit sat on my desk, that we'd got two magicians and a wizard I'm not sure what the differential is employed in second jobs. So was it the top of my agenda? No, it wasn't. I don't say that with any pride but it wasn't. Most of these issues, I have to say, weren't. Was the relationship with the media and all the nuances of it top of my agenda as Chief Constable? No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is it convenient to take a break, Mr Jay? MR JAY Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We'll give the shorthand writer a few minutes. Thank you. (3.22 pm) (A short break) (3.28 pm) MR JAY Mr Baker, paragraph 55 of your statement, 8263. You're asked for your impression of the culture within the Essex police in relation it its dealings with the press and you say you believe that "Essex police, as an organisation, tried to be as open as possible with the press to provide the best information to ensure the public were well-informed and confident in our service". Then you say: "As individuals, my impression was that many of my staff, particularly the more junior staff, were apprehensive of dealing with the media and deferred that role to those more senior and/or with the relevant training." We heard the adjective "defensive" used in relation to the Metropolitan Police this morning. Is that an adjective which could be fairly applied to Essex police between 2005 and 2009 in your opinion?
A. No, not defensive. There were times, I guess, we'd be annoyed, where we thought the coverage was inaccurate, and it may have appeared to the media we were being defensive because of how we had structurally approached our dealings with the media. That is to say that not everybody within Essex police would deal with the media, so we'd rely on training and what the issue is and whether it was divisionally based or corporate. So there were a range of options which didn't include all members of staff. Now, that may have come across, if you worked for the media, as being defensive, but it certainly wasn't the intention to be defensive. Put it that way.
Q. Thank you. Question 56. On reflection, that was a bit of a wide-ranging question, to set out the most important findings to emerge from your report. You might have just said, "Please read the report", rather than expect you to summarise them. One point you make it's an important one, on the next page four lines down: "From the public's perspective, the Police Service needs not only to act fairly, but be seen to be acting fairly." So you place perception almost on the same level as importance as reality; is that right?
A. Absolutely, yes. I think it was particularly important that not only as a regulator but all of us, that we take the public's view, particularly if you're talking about the public interest, and that's what, on this occasion, 3,500-plus members of the public who were surveyed said, "That's what we think."
Q. In terms of what's happening with your report, published in December 2011, I think you've given the end of this month as the cut-off date for the police services to respond to it; is that right?
A. That's right. For the Police Service, which is the Association of Chief Police Officers and currently the Association of Police Authorities, to come back to me with their views on the report. I have to say, they seem to have received it very well. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, but having done a number of these reports before, there's been a difference with this one, that they were very open to engage the service across the piece, responded to quite a burdensome request from the inspectorate to provide lots of information in a very short period of time, which they did, in my view, the best to do, and there have been no naysayers to this point. But I will know at the end of the month what the initial thrust is. I then intend to reinspect this piece of work prior to the Police and Crime Commissioner's taking up post in November of this year. So by October of this year not only will we have what the solutions are to this this piece of work, that is but how they're progressing, how they're being implemented. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm very keen to understand how your work ought to be considered in the context of mine, or vice versa, because if I also report in or about October, there is a risk that we will be ships that pass in the night, and I don't know whether you will have a time, after you the receive the responses but before you do a reinspection, where you publish anything on what I'm going to call emerging findings, so that I can take into account your views before I make any recommendations which might impact upon the relationship between the press and the police, which are certainly within my terms of reference. Do you understand?
A. Exactly, sir, yes. I don't believe for a moment we'll be ships that pass in the night, and why I say that is we have met and I know you've met with Sir Dennis, to ensure that there's not duplication and that we don't interfere in any way, shape or form with the Inquiry, and we intend to do that for the next phase. And also forces have said to me that clearly you have primacy around this, so when you talk about the new media policies that will come out, they will all reflect what this Inquiry's findings are, which is understandable. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I wasn't thinking about primacy or you treading on my toes. I wanted to make sure that I could use the expertise that you bring to bear from your experience as a police officer and as an inspectorate so that whatever I recommend fits with what you think will work. You may have heard that I've said to editors throughout that I am very keen that what I suggest, whatever it might be, doesn't immediately get the riposte: "Well, that shows how little clue he has", and so it just sits on a shelf gathering dust. And in the same way I say about the regulation, if that's what there is to be, of the press, so I say it in relation to the police, where there isn't likely to be a statutory solution to anything. It is much more going to be around the culture and the positioning of the Police Service so as it to be able to address the issues that have emerged both through the report commissioned by the Commissioner and by the report commissioned by the Home Secretary have spoken about. I see the bits of work as complementary. You've come at it from the inspectorate's perspective, Elizabeth Filkin's come at it from the internal police perspective, albeit only the Metropolitan Police. I have to sort of try and grip the whole piece, and so it's not that you will tread on my toes; it's that I will want to make sure that what I can do, what I recommend, if that's where I go, fits with what you think will work. Do you follow me?
A. I follow you entirely, sir. I think I'm confident, as you describe, that the work will be complementary, and clearly we will be talking to your Inquiry team as this work progresses, and where we have been very clear with the Police Service is they are best placed for the police bit to come up with their recommendations for this, but we, as a regulator, will be testing that, as the public would expect us to, because it's LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's exactly what I want to happen, and I hope that ACPO are doing just that, and if my hope and expression of hope is passed to the relevant people in ACPO, that will not disappoint me.
A. I'm sure they're watching this as we speak, sir. MR JAY In relation to evidence-gathering for your report, first of all, your witness statement makes it clear that you gathered evidence from members of the public. You refer to qualitative and quantitative research which was conducted by an independent organisation.
A. Yes.
Q. Obviously the quantitative research was going to be much greater. Presumably that was providing multiple choice questions, as it were, was it?
A. That's right.
Q. And ticking boxes. Can I ask you, though, how you obtained evidence from within the Police Service itself?
A. We carried out having developed the methodology which was agreed with the Home Secretary, the terms of reference, we did share that with other people who were carrying out reviews at the time, including this Inquiry. Having developed that methodology in terms of reference, one of the things we did was we checked all of the databases to try and find out what the scale of the problem was, what the quantum of the issues we were dealing with. We then carried out a two-day inspection, if you like, a review in each force and authority, where members of staff and secondees who were working for HMIC at the time went along and spoke to stakeholders and gathered evidence from all forces in England and Wales, including the police authorities. Beyond that, we included the National Policing Improvement Agency, the British Transport Police and the Police Service of Northern Ireland that weren't part of the Home Secretary's terms of reference. They contacted us and asked if they could be included. So we went to every force and authority, interviewed the stakeholders, got the policy documents, got the evidence, if you like, from them, which we were sharing with them as we went through it, and then started forming a view that is now captured within this report.
Q. I appreciate that the media weren't the centre of your report, that they were just one aspect of it, but were you able to gather evidence from any organs of the media?
A. Yes, quite a few. They were seen as being very key to this because part of the genesis was the phone hacking issues. So we spoke to lots of people from the media, from the Crime Reporters Association to representatives of Hacked Off, to people who have written academic pieces on the media and the police, to try and get a view on what were the most suitable recommendations and where the evidence was around this. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you've not been to Scotland?
A. Not Scotland, sir, no. We don't just to be clear, there is a separate LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, I'm sure. I mean, you explained that you went to Northern Ireland, and that's separate as well, isn't it?
A. But it's covered by us as an inspectorate. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh, I see.
A. Scotland has a separate inspectorate. That's not a reason for not going there, but that LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do you know whether they've conducted any parallel exercise?
A. We have been talking to them. I don't think they have at this moment in time, but that's an assumption on my part. MR JAY The one message which came through your questionnaires of the public this is 8265, still part of your answer to question 58: "The public associate integrity with being treated fairly by the police. The public association of integrity with fairness suggests that they see inappropriate relationships and the conflicts of interest that might arise as a consequence to be one dimension of police integrity, but not the only one, and this has implications for the police if they're seeking to tackle corruption and inappropriate relationships from the perception of the service users or the public more generally." That's an important point. It's a point which came through Elizabeth Filkin's evidence as well. Can I ask you about the point you make at the bottom of the page about governance, oversight and control? In a nutshell, what is the point that you are making there? I appreciate it's developed in the report.
A. My view is that what the report is trying to say, or hopefully communicates, is that you need to be very clear on what your values and standards are as an organisation. Some of that is in place through officers being attested, new members of staff joining the organisation. Underpinning those values needs to be a clarity of what is appropriate and not appropriate within the component parts of this report. So we discussed hospitality earlier. There needs to be a real clarity on what is appropriate behaviour and what isn't, and if there's something that falls between, what course of action do you take. It's only then, in my view, can you apply proper governance and oversight to this. Otherwise you're putting the cart before the horse. If you've not got clarity of rules on what a good job looks like, you can't come along and regulate it. So whether I'm a new Police and Crime Commissioner, whether I'm the Inspectorate, whether I'm the Chief Constable, then I'm operating almost in a vacuum. The point also in the report is I do not believe there should be geographic differences to this. There are 40-odd different ways of doing this at this moment in time that I find odd, I think the police find odd, in truth, and certainly the public think that is unusual.
Q. So there has to be one nation-wide policy, the policy has to be clearly expressed, it's understood that there may be grey areas in the middle, but subject to that, the need for clear rules and clear guidance is well established, and it's only then that governance, as it were, can take over, because one knows what one is governing, a set of rules which are clear?
A. Exactly. It's only then that governance can work. I think it's particularly important in relation to the question you've pointed out, because the governance of policing is changing quite seismically at the end of this year ie. police authorities go, with the Act, and one individual, ie a Police and Crime Commissioner, comes along it's very important that these matters start to be nailed down.
Q. Can I ask you three general questions before we start to look at parts of the report. Did you get any sense, Mr Baker, as to how extensive a problem leaks are within not just the Metropolitan Police but more generally within the Police Service, in quantitative terms?
A. Well, on the on those that were reported we checked, as I said, the databases to find out what was being reported, not just within the police, but we took the Police Complaints Commission, the various commissioners who keep data on the police. So we searched the databases to find out what was the scale of the ill that everyone seemed to want to cure. What we did find out, over a five-year period we went back to April 2006 in the main we found 314 cases that could be classified as leaks to the police. I'm sure there were far more that hadn't been recorded in this way, but 314, which broke down to relationship issues, which had to be fairly specific within this, which there were 12 of across England and Wales, and 302 which were around information disclosure to the media, most of which couldn't be traced through sources. So there could have been a relationship but it wasn't clear. Beyond that, there's clearly a lot more going on, is my view, and part of that is because this is not the top or hasn't been the top of people's agendas. Your systems and processes have not been focused on finding these things out. They've had to be fairly major issues for them to become recorded at that moment in time.
Q. So is this right: the recorded or recordable leaks are perhaps the tip of an iceberg, or is that putting it too high?
A. It's an assumption on my part, but it would be an assumption there are on inappropriate disclosure of information to the media and others, my sense is there would be from my experience, there would be more than this around if you make organisational changes, you're quite likely to be reading about it in the media quite quickly. Most of those will not be recorded as leaks to the media historically. They may be now, but they wouldn't have been in the past, would be my submission. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So those are the things that you know about that you don't know the number of them. There is also stuff that appears in the press which you don't know has come about by a leak, but if you really did the work on it, you would find it would have to be a leak.
A. It would certainly have to be a leak, sir. One of the other dimensions to that is: where did the leak come from? Because within this, quite a few people assume it's the police, and I'm sure in part they'd be right, but because of the nature of the way the police do business, ie lots of growth and partnership work, lots of other people have access to that information and intelligence in very real time. I'm not saying that, by the way, to deflect it from the Police Service, but lots of people will have their hands on that information. But you're right; this is only what is recorded and that we found during this research. MR JAY I turn now to the specific issue of social media. To what extent is that becoming an issue or a problem and in what way?
A. Well, there's clearly been a communications revolution around how not only the media but the public communicate with each other, and not unlike other organisations, the police in my view have been struggling to keep in front of that or apace with it. So very few have what I would call robust policies around what you can and cannot do on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, et cetera. Please don't misunderstand that, I'm not against any of these sites, there are lots of positive aspects from the Police Service communicating with the public on these social networking sites to inform the public of issues in their areas that they would want legitimately to know about. But the controls around it and, again, what a good job looks like has become very blurred and the blurring I found, doing this piece of work, was the differential between what is public in your professional life, what should be in the public domain. There will be bits of your private life, I guess, which it's okay to expose in the public domain anyway, because it has some relevance, but there will also be other bits about you that are, in my view, best kept private, because it's nothing to do with anyone else and it can taint people's judgment on the professionalism of, in this case, the Police Service. So we found examples of people we got an organisation that knows far better than I do in these cases to do as a piece of research with eight forces to find out the people who were using a social networking site, Facebook in this case, to find out whether they were engaged in any inappropriate behaviour, and whilst the numbers were small, ie on the inappropriate behaviour, it was clear there are no great checks and balances around how people should be using this media. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Could you give me an example, just so that I can understand?
A. An extreme is somebody who had identified themselves as working for a police force, were exposing themselves on taking photographs of themselves minus appropriate clothing, and it had appeared on Facebook. Lots of this seemed to be silliness, in truth, not organised criminality, and it was generally holiday snaps that had probably been taken many years previously when you were far younger, that in some bizarre moment, generally under the influence of alcohol, I suspect, that you've decided to share with the rest of the world in the tweetosphere or whatever it's called, so that would be an extreme case, to other cases of "I don't really like working for X police because they don't know what they're doing", so that would again impact on public confidence. To stress, these cases were small in nature and my guess, and it is a guess, is that these people weren't doing it from malice aforethought, it was just an act of stupidity, but the impact on public confidence can be quite high, if you're following this on the network. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is this a question of education?
A. It's as what's, I think, written through the report, sir, is a clarity on what you can do and what you can't do that doesn't impact on your rights as an individual, and says, "Look, whilst you work for us, this is okay, this isn't okay", so exposing your genitalia, having identified yourself as a member of X-shire police might not be the corporate image that you're trying to get across. MR JAY Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON How carefully phrased. MR JAY (inaudible) the vices of lavish or overlavish hospitality, and you explain the principal objections to that, but in the course of your work, did you find any examples of, sort of, frank corruption, or was it always the quid pro quo for hospitality was either an expectation that a story might not be written in a certain way, was more diffuse rather than blatant? Can you assist us on that?
A. Well, hopefully. In relation to broader hospitality, so that would be not just hospitality with the media, there were some isolated cases which are alleged to be corrupt, which are being investigated, and part of that was the genesis of the Home Secretary's commission to Sir Dennis and then to me to carry out this review, ie it wasn't just about media relationships. Some of that was relationships with contractors who wanted to do business with police. So some of that, it is alleged, is corrupt in criminal terms, ie that it's being investigated. In relation to the entries we found relating to the media, hospitality entries and there is an amendment, if I may refer to it in a moment none of those overtly you could say were corrupt or otherwise because our piece of work wasn't an investigation to that degree. All I can tell you is there were a number of entries, and on page 41 of the report
Q. Yes?
A. it does give a figure on the number of entries that excludes the bulk of the entries from the Metropolitan Police, I was told today, which there are an additional 230. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Sorry, page 41 of the report?
A. Page 41, sir, fifth paragraph, which says: "Over the last five years we found 9,600 entries, of which less than 1 per cent, ie 68, related to gifts and hospitalities or gratuities and hospitality received from the media. That involved 23 forces." The 23 forces bit is right. What I found out this lunchtime was that it had only included a certain amount of time from the Metropolitan Police and not the whole of the five years. The whole of the five years for the Metropolitan Police includes another 230 of those. That's not a reflection on the Metropolitan Police, by the way. It's our error, not theirs. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So, to get the picture, if you include all Metropolitan Police, that number of 68
A. Goes to 298. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We have to be a bit careful about that figure as well, because although it's four times the size, the Met is by far and away the largest employer
A. Exactly, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON of staff and by far and away the most likely to have any of these sorts of contacts.
A. Exactly that. I think it's back to the earlier discussion around LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. I just wanted to make the point before it was described in some other way.
A. Thank you. MR JAY Mr Baker, we're going to go through the detail of the report with Sir Dennis O'Connor next week, but may I go through the overview with you and pick up some highlight points and the methodology insofar as we haven't covered it? On the internal numbering of the report, it's page 7, the "Overview". That, in our bundle, is going to be about 4383. I say "about" because my bundle doesn't contain the URN numbers, but I know what the front page number is. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What's the internal number? MR JAY 7.
A. Right, "Overview". MR JAY And the essence of the issue you really strike at the heart of the matter here five lines down: "A conflict of interest arises where police officers or staff give or appear to give preferential treatment to one interest over others. At best, this behaviour may be regarded as inappropriate; at worst, as corrupt. Potential conflict of interest include the access and influence accorded to individuals and organisations; inappropriate disclosure of information to the media and others, whether for financial gain or otherwise; excessive or inappropriate hospitality, especially when offered to senior officers and other decision-makers; question marks over contractual arrangements and police/supplier relationships; and secondary business interests which may conflict or be perceived to conflict with the integrity of the police force." The review methodology you've covered this quite generally in answer to earlier questions, but here we have the detail around 500 interviews with stakeholders within the Police Service, as well as approximately 100 focus groups. Did you conduct any interviews with stakeholders on the basis that what they said wouldn't be attributed to them in your report?
A. There were, I understand, a couple of senior stakeholders that we'd call the external reference group of clear opinion formers who didn't want the comments attributing within the report. I think there were two of those, by recollection.
Q. Yes.
A. The focus group mentioned at the first bullet point was within each force and authority that we visited, we held a couple of meetings with staff, because a lot of this is focused on very senior people, but we wanted to get a view from the workforce on how they saw these issues, and I think it's right to say here that their moral compass was very strong on these things. They were very clear that lots of these things, in their view, were not acceptable. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So the staff were tougher on their forces than the public?
A. The staff were clear in two parts, sir. One, where there was clear leadership from the top, they understood what the rules were and were happy to go along with that. And secondly, where it was less clear and when they were talking about what gratuities and hospitalities it was right to receive, in my words their moral compass was very strong. There was a clarity of, you know, most things were not acceptable. Teas and coffees were; beyond that then the Police Service shouldn't be engaging in it. MR JAY Can you explain the benchmarking exercise, which is the fourth bullet point, just elaborate on that? What is that?
A. We did another two. One was we contacted not only police forces, nationally and internationally, but other organisations to take a view on all of the component parts of this report. So what were their relationships with the media and how did they manage it, some of which is cited in the report. So the New South Wales Police media policy, how New York Police Department dealt with integrity testing, because they have a 650-strong team on internal affairs that are separate from the police, if you like. I don't necessarily advocate that model. But also other organisations such as banks, charity organisations so third sector on how they were dealing with inappropriate disclosures of information and relationships. So not just about policing, but added the Police Service benchmark, and we didn't find the cure for this in any other organisation. In fact, in many parts, the Police Service in England and Wales was a lot stronger than many much the organisations, nationally and internationally, that we spoke to. So if you took in appropriate disclosure of information recorded by the Information Commissioner, there are far more complaints about other organisations than there are about policing, for example. So the police came out of that strongly. I know it's easy to put them in the spotlight with this, but whilst they have a way to go, whilst you'd find on policies and procedures 70 or 80 per cent of forces would have some sort of policy, if you applied that to most of the sectors, you were down to 20 and 30 per cent had got policies around it. In some cases, the Police Service were outshone by other organisations, but generally in just one component part of what we looked at.
Q. And the review findings, on the internal numbering page 9, the first bullet: "We did not find evidence to support any contention of endemic corruption in Police Service relationships, either in relation to the media or more generally, with the majority of police officers and staff striving to act with integrity." By definition, you weren't intending to duplicate the work of Operation Elveden there, were you?
A. No, to be very clear, in relation to Weeting, Elveden and the Surrey inquiry around Milly Dowler, we did speak to those inquiries, but at that time, bearing in mind this was September when we closed the data gathering, they had no data recorded because their inquiries were ongoing. Similar to a point made earlier, it was not our intention to get in the way of those inquiries. So it wasn't an investigation into the Metropolitan Police Service, the Milly Dowler inquiry or any of that. This was around the terms of reference as shown in the inquiry and what we found with the 43 forces and others in England and Wales.
Q. The fourth point: "Visible consistent leadership is a key contributor to promoting integrity and raising awareness of or focus on these issues." If I were to ask you to substantiate that with evidence, how would you do that? Obviously this is a very important point, if it's correct. I am not saying it isn't correct, but how do we know it's correct?
A. The cases where we went into forces and found that, particularly from the very top, where the chief officer and the chief officer team were very clear on what was right and what was wrong and that was being articulated in not only bits of paper but the way they behaved, you would get that feedback from the staff, but you'd also see it when you tested some of those areas of business. Where they would bring in that clarity to it, we found a difference.
Q. Thank you. On the next page, a point you've already touched on: "A hugely inconsistent approach [second bullet point] across the service and a lack of clarity about where the boundaries lie." And you're contending for a country-wide approach, on my understanding, and a clear approach?
A. That's the recommendation, or one of the recommendations is there needs to be an agreement of what the thresholds are and a framework that's to a nationally agreed standard, is my view, because I don't see, when it comes to integrity, how you could argue geographical differences on some of these things.
Q. Then the sixth point: "Governance and oversight is generally weak and limited proactive checks and balances take place." Clearly the strength of governance and oversight would be indicated by a more proactive approach; is that correct?
A. Exactly more proactive, but you need to put the first component parts in place first. You need to be very clear what you're actually governing.
Q. Understood. Then page 11, information disclosure. That probably speaks for itself. These are leak investigations. Hospitalities and gratuities this is the lack of consistent approach point, and also a lack of proactivity, page 12. Procurement and contracts, page 13. Can I just ask you to develop the point on secondary business interests and risks? Again, there is an inconsistent approach countrywide.
A. Yes.
Q. You're referring here to what, more specifically, Mr Baker?
A. There is an ACPO policy on what second occupations police offers because there is a differential between police officers and police staff, although some have tried to renegotiate contracts with police staff. Police officers are guided by regulations where they need a chief officer authority to take up a secondary employment. The current guidance are there are four areas whereby that shouldn't take place. Two are around driving, ie being a taxi driver or giving driving instruction. One is about giving financial advice, being a financial adviser, and the other one is giving professional training around things like taser or self-defence. We found examples in a good number of forces that people were employed ie police officers and staff were employed in those functions, so the existing policy wasn't being adhered to. But we also found examples of things that need clarity, in my view. So there weren't legions of them, but you'd find examples of cage fighters, door security, those types of occupations, whereby what I'm saying here the Police Service needs to be clear with what you can and cannot do, what is compatible and isn't. To balance that, when we ask the public, they seem to be more relaxed about some of these other things because people do understand the age of austerity, and their view was, in a general term, as long as there were no conflicts of interest, they thought that most secondary employments were okay, as long as there wasn't an obvious conflict of interest. So again, a lack of cooperacy, if you like, within the Police Service I think would benefit from being tightened.
Q. Thank you. The governance and oversight issue and the lack of consistency across the country we see again at pages 15 and 18. You're developing there points you've already made orally. Your recommendations and there are seven of them, I think
A. Six.
Q. Pardon me. Six core recommendations, pages 19 and 20. Those are recommendations which have been generally well received amongst your 40-plus police services throughout the country; is that right?
A. That's right. I mean I was, I have to say, having done a number of other pieces of work, extremely impressed with the energy that the Police Service put around. They took it very seriously. They appeared to be taking the recommendations very seriously. We will know at the end of this month what some of those products will look like. MR JAY Well, the main narrative section of the report I'm going to take up with Sir Dennis O'Connor next Monday. The original intention, for the avoidance of doubt it might appear to be a bit bitty to the public is we were going to have you on the same day but for reasons which I can't now recall, that didn't prove possible. So that's why you're here one day and Sir Dennis next week, but specific matters on the detail we will take up with him as we go through the report. I think those are all the matters I was going to raise with you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There's one thing I would like to raise with you. I readily understand the difference that there might be between Essex and the Met, but do I gather from what you're saying that although they had yet another set of rules and approaches, there was a similar difference between a large force like Greater Manchester and the Met as well?
A. That's correct, but there are also large differences between LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Essex and Greater Manchester?
A. Exactly. If you're trying to find a commonality of the differences, I don't think you will, sir, or good luck to you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm not necessarily going to look, because actually all that's a run-in to what I am going to ask about, which is Northern Ireland, because Northern Ireland is a separate Police Service where they have their own issues with the press and their national press, the Northern Irish press, is based in Northern Ireland along with them. I just wanted to know whether you found that the Northern Ireland Police Service was nearer to the Met or to one of our other regional forces. Do you see the point I'm trying to get to?
A. Yes, I see the point entirely, which of that information I don't have with me to give you, but the sense I got from looking at the Police Service of Northern Ireland response was, yeah, there are some scale similarities, but the intensity that one experienced with the Metropolitan Police and the media around London wasn't the same as what we experienced on this piece of work with the Police Service of Northern Ireland. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's interesting, because the police may say, "Actually, you can't compare us to anywhere else in England and Wales. We are the centre, we are doing the highest profile operations that the national press are going to be the most interested in. Therefore we have to be considered a special case." Nobody's quite articulated it in that way, but the argument is there. But a similar argument might be deployed in Northern Ireland, where the Police Service in Northern Ireland are responsible for the core Northern Irish policing issues, and there's a national press, if you like, in Northern Ireland, which would be focused on what the Police Service in Northern Ireland are doing. So one might expect the same sort of issues. I don't know whether you've done the comparison
A. I see the point entirely, sir. I think the difference for me is, because those similarities may exist, a lot of the turning the stone over in relation to the Metropolitan Police Service in this case wasn't the HMIC piece of work. The phone hacking with the Home Affairs Select Committee and all of that was pre-existing, and so Operation Weeting and Elveden and all these things were ongoing prior to HMIC being commissioned. So the bit that's missing from the point you're making, from my perspective, is we didn't have that richness of data with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, ie they got a two-day light touch, along with other police forces in England and Wales. So it may exist and we may be able to do some further work on it to come back to you on what that looks like. The bit that's missing from the Police Service of Northern Ireland is a level of exposure and scrutiny that the Metropolitan Police have enjoyed since the summer of last year. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. I'm not sure they would agree with the verb you used, but if there is something in relation to Northern Ireland which you think would be of value from what you've learnt, I'd be quite interested to learn about it, because that's the nearest I'm going to get, I think. I appreciate they've not received the exposure that the Met have received, and therefore the comparison may not be helpful, but if there is anything there, I'd be very interested to see it.
A. I understand. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed. Mr Baker, thank you very much. I said in relation to Elizabeth Filkin's work, and I say equally in relation to the HMIC's work, that I appreciate that you did this for the Home Secretary and that's what you do, but it is tremendously valuable to have got this report and to be able to fit it in to the parameters within which I'm working, and I'm very grateful to you and to Sir Dennis for ensuring that the way in which you did the job and its structure would fit with what I am doing rather than create a conflict with it. So thank you very much indeed.
A. Yes, sir. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. So? MR JAY That concludes the evidence for today. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I thought you were going to say that. Thank you very much. 10 o'clock tomorrow. (4.15 pm)

Witnesses

Gave a statement at the hearing on Monday, March 5, 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 5 pieces of evidence
Gave statements at the hearings on Monday, March 5, 2012 (AM) and Monday, March 5, 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 2 pieces of evidence

Themes

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

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