Morning Hearing on 19 March 2012

David Harrison , James Murray and John Twomey gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(10.00 am) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Good morning, yes. MR JAY Before I start with Mr Harrison, there's one statement to be read in today. It's that of Mr Scott Hesketh, please. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR JAY The first witness is Mr Harrison, please. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR DAVID ELLIS HARRISON (affirmed) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY First of all, your full name.
A. David Ellis Harrison.
Q. Thank you? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Jay, it's right that this evidence is being taken slightly out of order. It fits with some other evidence which we're going to hear, but it has to be taken out of order for convenience to the witness; is that right? MR JAY It is indeed. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR JAY Mr Harrison, you provided the Inquiry with a short witness statement dated 19 February of this year.
A. Yes, I did.
Q. You've signed and dated it under a statement of truth, so this is your formal evidence to the Inquiry?
A. It is, yes.
Q. To be clear, it hasn't been given pursuant to a statutory notice; you volunteered it?
A. Not at all; it was entirely voluntary.
Q. First of all, please, your employment as a crime investigator or intelligence officer with SOCA. That's the Serious Organised Crime Agency. For those who don't know what SOCA is, what is SOCA and what does it do, in a nutshell?
A. They are entrusted to investigate serious organised crime. That would be drug smuggling, people trafficking, money-laundering, any other crime that was instigated by an organised crime group.
Q. Thank you. Would their work ordinarily cover murder investigation?
A. No, not normally.
Q. We'll deal with the circumstances in which SOCA was involved in this case. You were employed there between April 2006 and July 2008, and previously you carried out the same role for Her Majesty's Customs; is that right?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. In December 2006, you were part of a SOCA surveillance team working on the Ipswich murder inquiry. First of all, remind us, please, for those of us who don't remember, what was the Ipswich murder inquiry?
A. It was a serial killing of five girls in the Ipswich area.
Q. Thank you. The murderer was apprehended in December 2006 or January 2007; is that right?
A. Yes, that's correct.
Q. What were the circumstances in which SOCA were asked to assist Suffolk police in relation to this investigation?
A. We were briefed that the surveillance resources of Suffolk constabulary were not such that they could continue 24 hour a day surveillance on any potential suspect. We were asked to deploy two surveillance teams to the area, which we did.
Q. So you were a member of one of those teams?
A. I was, yes.
Q. You say in your statement that you attended the first operational briefing on 18 December 2006 in the evening. You were taking over from the Suffolk surveillance team and the briefing was delivered by the branch commander. First of all, who was the branch commander and what did he say?
A. The branch commander was a chap called Simon Jennings. He was in charge of SOCA generally for that area, even though the surveillance teams had come from London and Birmingham. He delivered the first half of the briefing, a kind of "welcome to the operation", basic reasons why we were there, and then he handed over to the operational briefing commander.
Q. At that stage, were your attentions directed to the individual whom you're describing as the first suspect?
A. Yes, that's correct.
Q. And to be clear, the first suspect was, as it transpired, not the murderer?
A. That is correct, yes.
Q. What were you told, if anything, about one newspaper's interest in this operation?
A. At the end of the briefing, as part of the intelligence that had been received, we assumed by Suffolk constabulary, that a News of the World surveillance team had been deployed to identify who we were and where we were based.
Q. How would the News of the World have obtained that information about SOCA?
A. My opinion is it would have come from someone close to the investigation team, either the Suffolk murder inquiry or SOCA.
Q. Because there are no other possibilities, are there?
A. No, not really.
Q. Your surveillance activities then commenced, and during the course of those activities, were you aware that you yourself were the object of surveillance?
A. Yes. Once we'd been told that there was a surveillance capability looking for us we didn't know how many people that involved, how many cars, whether it was one guy stood on the payment or four or five vehicles we obviously took that into account during our surveillance activity, so we were always looking for potentials surveillance teams.
Q. Did you see any or anybody who might be a surveillance team?
A. Yes, on at least one occasion, I believe two occasions, there were vehicles that attempted to follow us. They were we identified them because they were sat in positions that we would sit in if we were doing the same job, on the outskirts of Ipswich. If you're trying to from their point of view, if they're trying to lock onto a surveillance team, the best thing to do is wait for them to finish work and go back to their hotel. Well, it would have been probably pretty obvious we'd stay well outside Ipswich, so if you put a car on the main roundabout, on the main route out of Ipswich, you have a pretty good chance of seeing something, if you know what you're looking for, and there were at least two occasions where we saw a vehicle plotted up on a roundabout that attempted to follow us.
Q. It sounds as if the person or persons who were carrying out the surveillance on you knew something about the art of surveillance?
A. Yes. If they knew nothing about surveillance, they wouldn't have got anywhere near us.
Q. Were you told anything at the briefing that Mr Jennings carried out as to the possible identities or rather the employers of the people who were carrying out the surveillance, or the ex-employers?
A. Yes, we were told that they were probably ex-special forces soldiers who would have a good inside knowledge of surveillance techniques.
Q. You tell us in your statement that there was a later briefing, a day or two later, either 19 or 20 December. What were you told during the course of that briefing?
A. This was to do with the same suspect. We were then told that a Sunday Mirror surveillance team not exactly surveillance team, but some sort of capability that allowed them to pick up the suspect and get him to a place where they could debrief him without us being able to follow them. So it could have been a couple of cars designed with counter-surveillance capabilities to pick the suspect up and take him off.
Q. How did people know that it was the Sunday Mirror who had engaged this team?
A. I've no idea. I assume it's the same source as the original briefing.
Q. You tell us in your statement in the last paragraph of the first page that's 10041 that colleagues on your surveillance team said that they had watched this was the first suspect him picked up and driven around by a team that carried out anti-surveillance manoeuvres before dropping him off at a hotel to be interviewed?
A. That's correct.
Q. So whoever it was who were conducting this surveillance obviously knew about surveillance as well?
A. Yes, that's correct.
Q. Because without giving away any of the tricks of the trade, as it were, you refer to "anti-surveillance manoeuvres".
A. Yes.
Q. One can imagine what they might be. On the next page, you explain the harm to the public interest that you only identify the News of the World in this context. Do you intend to confine your observations to the News of the World rather than exclude the Sunday Mirror?
A. I think that the Sunday Mirror objectives were merely to pick the suspect up, either without being seen or and take him to an area where he could be debriefed without being followed, so I would exclude them from this comment. I would make it sort of merely in terms of the News of the World.
Q. You identify the two respects that you believe the actions of the News of the World jeopardised the murder inquiry. In your own words, could you summarise those two respects for us, please?
A. Yes. It is historically known that murder suspects, before they are arrested, before they realise they're being investigated, may return to the scene of the crime. They may try to dispose of evidence. They may try to move bodies or they may even try to commit further offences. If, whilst doing that, they thought they were doing followed they obviously wouldn't know that it was a legitimate police surveillance team or whether it was a newspaper, but if they thought they were being followed, they might very well stop what they were doing or not do what they'd planned to do, and because their evidence if a surveillance officer can see the sort of evidence we were after, if that is not possible, then that weakens the prosecution case in the future.
Q. Your second point is perhaps it's more obvious to us.
A. Yes. The second objective of our surveillance was not only to look for evidence look for the target to go back to the scene of the crime, but it was also to make this you are that if he had intended to commit further murders, we were in a position to either stop him or call resources in to stop him. Again, if our surveillance had been weakened by having to try and avoid other surveillance teams looking for us, if we'd lost the subject, he may have gone and committed further murders because we were dealing with something else, we were trying to keep away from other surveillance teams.
Q. In the events which happened, however, the first suspect was, as you've told us, not the murderer, but there came into your sights, as it were, a second suspect, who I think you were involved in
A. Yes, very briefly. MR JAY Thank you very much. That's all the questions I have for you, Mr Harrison. Thank you very much indeed. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON In a free society, of course, Mr Harrison, journalists are entitled to go where they want, but how potentially difficult does it make the inquiry if a journalist does take off a suspect to interview him themselves?
A. Well LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Which was the second limb of the concern that you expressed.
A. I think the main point would be: if, by their actions, they had lost us, if we hadn't been able to follow the suspect because they had picked him up and taken him off to a hotel, for instance, and then left him at the hotel or dropped him off somewhere else that he want and we weren't there, that person is not under control, we're not fulfilling the objectives that we want, either to protect people from further offences or to gather evidence. So they could easily pick him up, take him to the hotel, lose us, drop him off and he could go and do whatever he wanted without us behind him. So that is a potential risk to the well, to public safety. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Although the probability is that the press, doing such a thing, weren't so much interested in you as other members of the press.
A. Well LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You don't know?
A. I don't know about that, no. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. Thank you very much indeed.
A. Okay. MR JAY Thank you. We have a technical problem with the screen here. May I ask that we LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And with mine. MR JAY All right. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. We'll let that be resolved. Thank you. (10.22 am) (A short break) (10.35 am) MR JAY The next witness, please, is Mr Twomey. MR JOHN JOSEPH DONALD TWOMEY (sworn) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Your full name, please?
A. It's John Joseph Donald Twomey.
Q. You've provided the Inquiry with two witness statements?
A. That's right.
Q. The first is in your capacity as crime reporter at the Daily Express, the second in your capacity as chairman of the Crime Reporters Association. The first statement is dated 8 February, the second 28 February. There's a statement of truth on each statement. Are both your formal evidence to the Inquiry?
A. Yes.
Q. Thank you, Mr Twomey. First of all, please, your career. You were first employed as a general news reporter, appointed crime reporter in 1983. For a short period you were a crime reporter at the London Daily News, but since October 1987, you've been crime reporter of the Daily Express?
A. That's correct.
Q. And from 2009 that must have been on the retirement of Mr Edwards you've been chairman of the Crime Reporters Association?
A. That's correct.
Q. Can I ask you, first of all, two general questions about the Daily Express. The first question is: what is the sort of crime story that Daily Express readers expect to read and therefore you aim to write?
A. I think you could probably describe it as a judicial sort of crime story about murders, armed robberies, the police investigating serial offenders, maybe sex attackers, and the kind of stories that I think Daily Express readers wish to read are the ones that end up with the killer or the armed robber, the serial sex attacker in the dock at the Old Bailey getting life imprisonment. It's the old-fashioned cops and robbers stories, if you see what I mean. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So the take is the serious crime end rather than the macro-criminal view about communities and harassment and nuisance type crime?
A. I would say so, yes.
Q. And not, presumably, gossip about what's happening in political terms inverted commas around "political" around the management board of the Metropolitan Police, for example?
A. No.
Q. Is that right? The second general point is we've heard from a number of witnesses that there's less money around to do serious reporting. (a) Is that true in relation to the Daily Express, and (b) if it is true, what, if anything, have been the consequences of that?
A. I think there probably is a tighter budget at the Express than other papers. The consequences might be that you can't bid for exclusive interviews, perhaps, unless they fall within our interest range. Perhaps pitches are if they're sold exclusively, might go to other papers with a bigger budget. That is not always the case. We can always step in, you know, with a bid that would outbid other papers, should it be absolutely in our interest range.
Q. Okay. At paragraph 4 of your first statement, Mr Twomey, you tell us, going back now to the 1980s, that, broadly speaking, crime reporters acted as cheerleaders for the police, and Scotland Yard in particular, and the MPS could normally rely on uncritical coverage from daily paper crime reporters. Is that an observation, Mr Twomey, which applies to crime reporters as a whole or to the Daily Express in particular?
A. No, at that time that would be crime reporters as a whole. Joining the group of daily paper crime reporters, that was the impression you picked up very quickly from the older hands, and clearly you followed their example.
Q. What do you think were the reasons for this phenomenon, uncritical coverage?
A. Well, I think it's because maybe it was a tradition that crime reporters worked so closely with detectives, they were very friendly with them. They would promote the CID and they would, in return, as it were, get good stories and it would be in their interests, the interests of both sides, if that kind of coverage was continued.
Q. In paragraph 5 of your statement, you speak of direct relationships with senior detectives, unmediated by the DPA. Can I ask you, please, about interactions with detectives at that stage. Were they based around the pub? How did it work?
A. I think I have to say that it was probably based around the pub, the local pub to a police station or near Scotland Yard, near the courts where they regularly had their cases: clearly the Old Bailey, other major courts.
Q. In paragraph 6, you explain that the culture changed for a number of reasons.
A. Yes.
Q. Many of them are clear to us. You highlight in particular the Stephen Lawrence case, but all these factors played a part in transforming relations between police and the media, and the upshot was that the media became more critical of the police?
A. That's right.
Q. Presumably that applied to the Daily Express as well, did it?
A. It did.
Q. Was that something that you were comfortable with or not comfortable with?
A. Well, I think those stories had to be written. Quite clearly, the miscarriages of justice, they had to be exposed, they had to be rectified, the problems had to be rectified so they wouldn't recur. Publicity played a major role in that, I think, and those were the stories that needed to be written. My concern was perhaps "concern" is putting it too highly, but you still wanted to get back to the traditional story. You didn't want the paper full of critical stories when your contacts were probably just doing the same good work as they were in the past but not getting it promoted in the same way that they were.
Q. And the contacts you're referring to are the senior detectives you mentioned?
A. Yes.
Q. And these are the individuals who are providing you with the information you refer to under paragraph 8 of your statement; is that correct?
A. That's right.
Q. Can I be clear, though, when you say in paragraph 8: "In practice, less information was passed to reporters, both formally and informally." At that stage we're talking now late 1990s, possibly the
A. Yes.
Q. first decade of the 21st century. What do you mean by "formally and informally"?
A. Formally from the press office, the Press Bureau, where they would have been more open, there perhaps would have been more press conferences. There was less information from the official channels. Your contacts might not be so ready to give you information. Your contacts may not meet you as often. They might some of the people that you had been speaking to previously may simply just drift off to and you'd lose contact with them. So the upshot was that from both the official channel there was less information but there was although it might be more patchy, there was probably less information coming through your informal contacts as well.
Q. How did it work with the informal contacts? If you wanted information about a case which was not their case, did your informal contacts tend to put you in touch with the detective who could assist you?
A. Well, that could happen, yes. Quite a few occasions when over the years, when detectives you would go and meet them and ask them if there was anything that could be printed or published, any developments in their inquiries, and they may turn around and say, "No, there's nothing, but superintendent so-and-so, my friend, my colleague, who you don't know, I know that he has an interesting development in his inquiry", and you could then he might even say, "I'll introduce you to him if you don't already know him", and you would go along and you would have a discussion. That officer, the second officer, might say, "I'm quite happy with you to write a story about that." Under certain conditions, he might say, "It's just not ready for publication just yet", or he might say, "We do have an interesting development but I'm going to go through official channels and we'll put it through the press office."
Q. I have been asked to put to you this question but you may already have answered it: what kinds of informal information was not being passed which would have been before?
A. Well, I think well, it would be the whole range, really. I mean, whereas people would be quite happy to talk about developments in inquiries, court cases coming up, some twist and turn in some inquiry that had long that was long established that would have been of interest, and they probably felt it wasn't right and they wouldn't tell you.
Q. When information was passed to you informally, was it passed either in the pub or over the phone?
A. It would be very unlikely to be over the telephone, I think, so it would be in a social setting, yes.
Q. In your view, when this information stream I won't say dried up but became was flowing less freely, did it impact on your ability to write stories in the public interest?
A. Well, it may have done. It's difficult to say. It's difficult to quantify. They may have wished to pass information about an inquiry that was going wrong, about some a chance to catch an offender that had been missed. They may have been reluctant to say that under those conditions in that era, so that probably would act strictly against the public interest.
Q. You mention, however, a change in the MPS media strategy following the publication of the MacPherson report, which was in 1999. This is paragraph 11. You say: "Against the background of corrosive publicity, more meaningful relationships were actively sought with newspaper editors." Was this a charm offensive?
A. I think it was, and I think it was probably more than that. I think they clearly had a message. They were in dire straits, as I think Lord Stevens has explained to the Inquiry, in terms of the numbers of officers who were leaving, and they weren't getting any in to replace them. But there was an element of a charm offensive, I guess, but it was that was on the there was a message, a real proper serious message to put over, that the Metropolitan Police could cope and that they were getting back on their feet, and it might take a few years, three years, four years, five years, but they would achieve it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just before you go on with that, can we go back to your last answer, which I've been reflecting upon, when you said that the drying up of information may have affected the public interest stories. Could I ask you this: who, in that regard, is the better arbiter of what's in the public interest? Is it the journalist and his editor or the detective and his superior? And is the real problem the mismatch between trying to dictate by over-arching decree and the rather more sensitive decision, case by case, as to what might aid a prosecution process? Do you see the question I'm asking?
A. Yes, indeed, but I think the to make that decision, if it's going to be the detective or the newspaper editor, that information has to be aired somewhere. There has to be some sort of dialogue, there has to be some sort of debate about whether it is in the public interest or not, so if we don't get to hear about it LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But once you've heard about it, the police have lost control, because once you hear about it you can decide: "Well, I think this is in the public interest and I won't pay attention to your view"; you can do that.
A. Well, it could happen like that, but you would have to look at it clearly, you would have to look at it case by case, each one having its own particular circumstances. MR JAY Would there be a discussion at editorial level? You obtain information where you know police disclosure was unauthorised.
A. Yes.
Q. Is there then a discussion within the newspaper as to whether it is in the public interest to publish?
A. Well, there would be, yes. I mean, I think you know, the reporter might decide that it needs to go to the editor. It might be the news editor. This might be some discussion about that. I think there would be a careful reflection. There wouldn't be a rushing into print. I think you would have to look at the impact you know, perhaps if it was a serial sex inquiry, you would have to look at the impact on victims and the ability of if the person was still outstanding, on the ability of the police to catch the person. That would be the paramount thing. So you would never go ahead with any story that would possibly jeopardise apprehending a criminal, or if you were in a position to write a story that would actually jeopardise the safe prosecution, someone having a safe trial. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Does it matter if the story becomes one of those all-embracing stories that everybody's after? We've heard, during the course of the Inquiry, of a number of such investigations that really did catch the attention of everybody, and therefore what became important was to publish something else on the story, irrespective of the consequences that it might have. You can think of some examples, as I know I can.
A. But you would have to I think you would have to err on the side of caution then and not not just follow the and not just follow the momentum of where that series of stories was going. I think you would have to call a halt and the decision would have to be made at editor level. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But do you think that's always happened?
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So one has to calibrate that in some way?
A. I suppose so, yes. MR JAY When you say that you don't think it's always happened, are you referring to your paper or to the press more generally?
A. Well, the press in general.
Q. What sort of things have gone wrong then, insofar as one can generalise?
A. Well, there have been stories in the past, perhaps, where there's deemed to be a great interest from the public, and, you know, perhaps, rather rashly, follow-up stories have opinion published that, with hindsight, shouldn't have been. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON One can go back over the years: the moors murders. We've talked about 25 Cromwell Street.
A. Yeah. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON More recently, you could talk about the murder of Joanna Yeates, where the story becomes so important to the public
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON that caution goes to the wind. Would that be unfair?
A. Well, it could appear to be like that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you don't think it is it?
A. Well, no LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You're being cautious and that's entirely fair enough, Mr Twomey. I understand that.
A. Yes, but I think there are a lot of decisions that have been made over the years, with hindsight, people would have taken a different course. MR JAY Can I deal with methods? We've heard about obtaining informal information and we understand that, but once obtained, is it your practice to check out through more formal sources within the police whether the information you're receiving (a) is true and (b), if true, its publication would harm the public interest?
A. You would certainly have to check almost all the information. If you got it from the horse's mouth if the SIO told you, then you work out with him what you could write. If you heard it from an informal source, you would go to the official channels to check it out, but they may come back and say, "For reasons that you don't realise, for reasons that you haven't been told, you're treading on territory perhaps where you shouldn't go", and if that were the case, then I'd I wouldn't I certainly wouldn't even tell the news desk. That would be the that was always the way that I operated: you checked out a story first to make sure it was accurate, but if there were any problems about writing it and getting it in the newspaper, you would want to hear about those before you told the news desk. Sorry, I was going to say that's a safety valve, because that the checking that it's true may not be at the same time as somebody who's then ringing you up and saying, "Hang on a minute, you're straying into territory where you shouldn't go."
Q. You're very experienced. You've been the crime reporter at the Daily Express for 24 years. You probably have more experience than many of the news editors. Are there occasions in which there's almost a tension between you and the news editors, where you may be exercising more restraint than they might be prepared to because you understand the issues more delicately than they do?
A. I think that's correct, and I think that's where you have to trust your own judgment. There can be tensions, and you just have to trust your own judgment and stick to your own judgment.
Q. I may be wrong about this, but if my recollection is being true to me, the Daily Express wasn't involved in any critical way with the Mr Jefferies stories; is that correct?
A. I think I'm not entirely sure, but I think you're right.
Q. Did you write any stories on that case?
A. No.
Q. No. May I ask you to look at paragraph 15 of your statement now, Mr Twomey, when you indicate that the officers you mixed with were ranked mostly from detective sergeant to detective superintendent. We can understand why: because the sort of stories you were writing
A. Yes.
Q. they would be providing the most useful information. In the context of that statement, can I ask you what was the purpose, then, of you meeting up with more senior officers, from commissioner level down to assistant commissioner or deputy assistant commissioner level?
A. Well, from time to time I know the over the years, you would people would be promoted. You may know them as Detective Chief Superintendent, but then they might come back as a commander or a DAC and you get to know them there. The senior officers as far as I was concerned, it was probably good to meet them from time to time if you had the opportunity, but the bread and butter information for a crime reporter came from the inspector, chief inspector, superintendent.
Q. Did you meet with the more senior people either in your capacity as a senior position, really, within the CRA or to gain a broader perspective on the crime issues of the day?
A. Well, meeting up with the assistant commissioners, deputy assistant commissioners, that was normally done in my capacity as being a senior member of the CRA, particularly since I was the chairman. The purpose of doing that is obviously you get the benefit, as an individual crime reporter, but the purpose of meeting senior ranks as a CRA chairman is to build up that relationship with the organisation to ensure that the access we did have was continued and so we could but also to improve it and to ensure that should there be a high-profile investigation or a terrorist emergency, the CRA could get the access we felt we needed so we could get on-the-record information, possibly the non-attributable information that they like to give us from time to time, and that we got that as quickly as possible.
Q. The lunches after the briefings were always both non-attributable and non-reportable; any information you were given wouldn't leave the table, as it were.
A. That's right.
Q. But you make it clear in paragraph 21 that the talk was always very general. Are you referring here to background context information regarding the terrorist threat, for example?
A. That's right, yeah. That's right. That would be the if you were meeting an assistant commissioner who had the terrorism brief or the DAC who had the terrorism brief, obviously it would be very beneficial, I think, to both sides to have a broad general discussion, a context discussion, as you say, about the terrorist threat, any new developments. There would be a wide-ranging talk, but it would probably be on general policing matters. You might talk about court cases, terrorism court cases not the ones that were up and coming but the ones that had just finished. There would be aspects of the investigations that you might not know about and it was very interesting to hear how those successful terrorist anti-terrorist investigations and prosecutions were put together and how they were assembled. They wouldn't be giving any secrets away, clearly. We wouldn't want them to and you wouldn't expect them to do that, but you sometimes came away from a lunch like that with a great deal of knowledge and an enhanced knowledge of how the anti-terrorism world worked.
Q. How often did these lunches tend to last, insofar as one can generalise?
A. Probably about two hours, I should think.
Q. Did you ever hear things during these lunches which weren't particularly of interest to you, because of the sort of stories you wanted to write about, but might have been of interest to other newspapers? I'm talking in particular about what might be described as leaks relating to poor relationships within the management board, for example.
A. I can't recall anything like that, no.
Q. Can I ask you, please, about lunches with Mr Fedorcio.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. Paragraph 23. You explain: "It makes good sense to have a good working relationship with the head of public affairs at New Scotland Yard. I had less contact with his predecessors." It's largely self-explanatory why it made good sense to have a good working relationship, but to be clear, you weren't seeking any particular privileged information from him, were you?
A. No. No. All those lunches that were organised by the CRA, the first rule was that it was non-reportable. It didn't mean to say that that opened the door for any kind of discussion about secrets or gossip or tittle-tattle; it just meant that anything that was said was nonreportable, and the point of my meeting with Dick Fedorcio was the same as meeting with assistant commissioners and other senior officers: so that you could basically, you were still promoting the CRA as a body. You were trying to help keep the access that we had and you were always trying to improve it.
Q. When you met with Mr Fedorcio over lunch and it was about once a year, we believe, Mr Twomey was it usually with another CRA journalist, or were these one-to-one lunches?
A. They probably would be more often probably about twice a year, I should think. It would be sometimes one to one, sometimes with one or two other CRA members. Perhaps I ought to say that in my dealings with Dick Fedorcio, I always found him very proper and very professional and very loyal to the organisation and those in command.
Q. You say in paragraph 24 that you speak with him certainly since the summer of last year, one would need to use the past tense.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. regularly by phone, both mobile and office." Would he frequently telephone you?
A. No, he wouldn't. There were conversations which he rang. He might have been wishing to alert me about an event coming up, a CRA briefing, perhaps, or he may have rung after a CRA briefing where he wasn't present and wanted to know how it had gone, if everything was all right.
Q. Did you telephone him ever for the purpose of asking him to put you in touch with the officer, whether it be a detective sergeant or detective superintendent or someone in between, who was dealing with a case of particular interest to you?
A. No.
Q. You say in paragraph 29 you provided hospitality for MPS officers on numerous occasions over the past 28 years. Why is it necessary or was it necessary to provide hospitality at all?
A. I don't think it's well, it's not necessary. I think police stations are, by and large, rather grim and inhospitable places. Like most people, detectives want to get out of the office and the pub or the wine bar, the restaurant is a convenient, more comfortable or convivial surroundings. But you wouldn't say that the hospitality element of it was necessary; it was just much more convenient.
Q. You've explained to us earlier in your statement this is paragraph 21 that since the resignations of last summer, CRA lunches with senior officers have ceased.
A. Yes.
Q. Is that a good or a bad thing?
A. I think it's a bad thing because it may be a marker as to their attitudes in the future. You know, those lunches did have value. I think they had value for both sides. In fact, as far as I can remember, the CRA lunches with Mr Clarke, when he was the DAC in charge of counter-terrorism, I think that was the idea of the press office to have that. I think he wanted to get around as many crime reporters and other journalists who specialised in police and security matters. I think he had already gone around the editors to talk about terrorism in general terms and he wanted to do the same with the people who were actually going to be writing the stories.
Q. You make it clear in paragraph 30 that the standard of restaurant is, as it were, directly proportionate to the rank of the officer involved. I've been asked to put this to you: why is a more expensive restaurant less public?
A. Well, it may be. I think it's it you would try and choose the restaurant that was nearby the Yard, that was kind of proportionate to the officer's rank, as a mark of respect to them. There are places that are very crowded and expensive. You would try and go for the places where the tables weren't quite so close together or might be less busy at lunchtimes so that you wouldn't be overheard, or the chance of being overheard would be minimised.
Q. We don't need necessarily to name the restaurants, but what sort of price a head are we talking here?
A. Well, it's probably it would probably be ?60, ?70, ?80 maybe a head, maybe a little bit more sometimes.
Q. These must therefore be lunches with alcohol, it goes without saying; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. We know from our examination of the hospitality registers that there were two or three lunches with Mr Hayman
A. Yes.
Q. when he was head of counter-terrorism, SO15. The purpose of those lunches, presumably, was the same as elsewhere: to learn more about the general context of police operations of counter-terrorism; is that correct?
A. Yes.
Q. Is this also correct: that the subject matter went no wider than that, although it might have gone quite widely into areas which simply you couldn't put into the public domain? Have I correctly understood it?
A. Well, there might be references to I don't think they occurred really that often. I think because they were social occasions, there would be a portion a large portion of the conversation would be about, say, anti-terrorism, putting it in the context. There would be other general matters you might talk to people about over lunch, subjects like the news of the day, anything that was that had captured people's attention that morning, in the morning's newspapers, perhaps.
Q. Do you feel that in any way the quid pro quo for these lunches was the freer flow of the sort of information you wanted to receive?
A. As far as the so far as the CRA was concerned, the benefit of those lunches, as far as I was concerned, was to keep the access open, to try and improve it. If we did have a terrorist emergency similar to the one as in 2005, we wanted similar access to that which we got then, but we wanted it to be we wanted it to be improved, we wanted it to be quicker. So to have good relations, you could make your point to the people that already knew you, who knew that they could trust you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm not, in any sense, puritanical about eating and drinking. I really am not, and I don't want to focus on it, but is it really the case that the way of attracting the attention and interest of the most senior officers was, if not inevitably, at least in more than a small part, by inviting them to a very nice lunch? This wasn't something that could be done entirely properly but without that sort of encouragement?
A. It could clearly, it could be done without going to a restaurant. It could be done in a police station or at Scotland Yard, quite clearly. That was the tradition and it had been for many years. It was perhaps what they were used to, and they wanted to get out of the office as much as anybody else. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I can understand that, but again, it's a perception thing, isn't it?
A. Mm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The need to improve relationships, the need for each to understand the other, the need for the police to be able to get across the criminal justice message and for you to understand that message is obvious, clear and sensible.
A. Mm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But help me: doesn't it create a bit of a problem if the way you have to do that requires this sort of inducement?
A. I wouldn't see it as an inducement. I think common sense applies. It's just a convivial and convenient and more comfortable way of meeting. But clearly you don't have to have the food and drink element. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Reflecting back on it now I'm very keen to use your experience, as I have been with all the other witnesses do you think that I am being too straight-laced if I express a measure of concern about the perception of what's happening?
A. No, I don't think you are. I think it's I can see clearly, I can see the point you're making, but it does go on in a business world. It goes on in Parliament. Defence correspondents meet army officers in their clubs, in restaurants. It doesn't mean to say they're knocking back ?400 bottles of champagne. Over a couple of glasses of wine and a decent meal, it LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I understand that. I understand that.
A. And it's what there's a tradition there, and I think they would expect it. They don't want to be stuck in Scotland Yard when they could be out in a comfortable place. I think that's you know, in surroundings with people they know and they can trust. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, do you think it's something that should continue or do you think that actually, in the light of the perception and everything that's happened, some other way ought to be found? I'm not leading you to an answer there; I'm very interested in what you actually think.
A. I don't think you should lose that. I think the you know, there's a question of flexibility. If the rules if new rules, should they be introduced, if they're too strict, it will it will make it more difficult for reporters like me to get access to information, to get access to officers. If you only can meet them in police stations or at Scotland Yard, they're I think they will probably be more likely to be toeing the party line, as it were. You wouldn't get in a wider context, not the CRA kind of lunches that I'm referring to perhaps I'm drifting off the subject there, actually, but it would be a shame to lose that because it makes everything so formal and restricted. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So you want the senior officers to be unguarded? That's not surprising; that's what you do for a living.
A. No, but I mean, they realise they can be less guarded in their speech when they're talking to trusted crime reporters. Once you LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand the relationship is important and they need to be able to build up a trust of you, and you want to be able to decide whether you can trust them to tell you the story as it is as opposed to as somebody might want you to believe it to be. Is that it?
A. That's right. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Not entirely easy, is it?
A. No. MR JAY You told Elizabeth Filkin the Metropolitan Police is a very powerful organisation: "In many ways, it's a very secret one. Power needs to be checked and senior civil servants need to be held to account. Restricting or overregulating contact between crime reporters and police officers will make that crucial function vastly more difficult." Do you feel it was part of your function, not just theoretically but in practice, to hold officers to account?
A. I think that memo was written it tried to get the collective view of the CRA members who wanted to who had actually gone to meet Elizabeth Filkin, and that reflected part of the discussion that she had already heard orally in front of her, and I had summarised that just in a memo at her request. I mean, it is clearly, it is part of any journalist's function to hold public servants to account. It's not my prime objective as a crime reporter for the Daily Express. My prime objective is to get the information for the types of stories that I've described.
Q. The information will often be background information, which will inform and give colour and texture to the story which you will write maybe six months or a year later.
A. It could be there.
Q. Could you help us, please, with your impression of Mr Hayman. Was he someone who spoke in an unguarded fashion after the two glasses of wine you've mentioned?
A. He was freer in the way he expressed himself. I think if unguarded if you mean if he gave away secrets, no, I don't think he did. He certainly didn't do in my presence, not when he was talking about counter-terrorism or anything else, for that matter, and it was always clearly I'm sorry if I'm repeating myself, but it was always on those social occasions, there was this strict rule anyway that applied: it was nonreportable.
Q. Although it may not have been of interest to the Daily Express, did he share things with you about tensions in the management board during any of these lunches?
A. No. No.
Q. Okay. May I move off that topic to paragraph 34 of your statement, Mr Twomey. This is accompanying police officers on raids at the police's invitation. I appreciate it's difficult to get a sense of this, but do you feel that the Daily Express was fairly treated in terms of the number of invitations it received vis-a-vis other newspapers?
A. Over the years, yes.
Q. Apart from resulting in good publicity for the police, what was the public interest in these stories or these invitations?
A. Well, I think in a broad sense, if people see photographs, TV images of the police basically smashing down doors, taking away suspects, there is a sense that they've reinforced the public's confidence in them to deal with serious major crime, that they're not simply there to investigate it after it happens, that they're actually trying to take people criminal networks out of the out of society, and that bolsters the confidence in the police.
Q. Have you ever been invited along, even informally, to raids or arrest operations which don't involve the sort of serious criminal but, for example, celebrities?
A. No.
Q. Do you know anything about situations which have arisen where celebrities are arrested or come of interest to the police and there's a posse of press photographers there?
A. No. I have never experienced that. Not when before somebody's been arrested. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, the point is that at the moment of their arrest, it's not merely the case that police officers go in but the press are there as well.
A. Yes, I see what you mean, but I have no knowledge of I've never had information about that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you have seen that sort of thing happening?
A. Oh, well, of course, yeah. MR JAY Can I ask you about your use of the term "police source". How do you use it?
A. That would be a police officer. Maybe sometimes a press officer but it would probably be almost always be a police officer.
Q. In paragraph 50, Mr Twomey, you're dealing in general terms with the ethical issues which arise, and I appreciate this is at a level of generality. The second sentence: "Reporters should not be persuaded by personal contacts to ignore or bury unfavourable stories." To your knowledge, have attempts ever been made by the police in your presence to persuade reporters to ignore or bury unfavourable stories?
A. No, not in my presence, but you do hear of that kind of thing that has gone on in the past.
Q. How far in the past is this?
A. Oh well, I think well, over the well, probably not in the recent past; probably 20 years ago. Maybe longer than that.
Q. So these are the days of meetings in pubs, which we heard of earlier on, are they?
A. Well, it you know, it could be done like that but it was a long time ago.
Q. It's not something that, to your knowledge, Mr Fedorcio seeks to achieve, is it?
A. No.
Q. Then you say, again, at a level of generality: "There should be no trade-offs accepting an exclusive story in return for not running a critical one. I have no personal experience of this." But do you have any personal knowledge of that happening?
A. No, it was just in general terms. It goes back to my earlier answer about burying unfavourable stories. Perhaps they, in the past you know, perhaps in the long distant past, crime reporters have buried unfavourable stories hoping perhaps in return they might get a decent exclusive.
Q. Then you say again, maybe not so much at a hypothetical level: "The MPS and other forces often try to identify reporters' sources of information." Have they tried that with you?
A. Yes, over the years they've done that. They've tried that.
Q. Is this in the context of so-called leak inquiries or is it in some broader context?
A. I suppose it must have been over the years, I guess I've been the subject of a leak inquiry. I think they must have been fairly half-hearted. You get to know about them maybe after they'd been concluded, and it seems sometimes that they've identified the wrong people. I've never been formally interviewed or directly asked.
Q. But even if you had been, you make it clear that you wouldn't identify who your source is because you have a moral obligation not to?
A. Exactly.
Q. So to be clear, there's nothing unethical about receiving information which has been leaked or unauthorised, but the police, of course, would be interested because there would be an ethical issue regarding the leaker at their end. You understand that?
A. Yes.
Q. But the fact that information has been provided to you or may have been, pursuant to a leak, is a factor which you weigh in the balance in assessing where the public interest lies?
A. Yes.
Q. Can I ask you about paragraph 58, which again is quite general. When you talk about the corporate image of the MPS: "Statements from the MPS and other forces often bear a corporate stamp stock phrases which reflect core values are often repeated whether they are strictly relevant or not." Are you referring there to the language in which press releases are couched?
A. That's right, and sometimes if you get a press release after a court case that quotes an officer in the case, it some of his comments may have a very definite familiar ring because the same phrases have been used in previous press releases, attributed to other officers.
Q. You have some comments to make about the HMIC recommendations.
A. Yes.
Q. In your own words, what is your general concern?
A. My general concern is: should any new arrangements require officers to record contact with journalists all contact with journalists, and then make a report of that, that contact, and put it into a database, then that would have a kind of a freezing effect. Officers would be less likely to talk to you. They would give out less information to you when they do. Some officers may just cease contact with you completely. I think that all journalists will find it in their career that people at a certain level in their careers are quite happy to talk to you. If, say, a detective chief inspector is anxious to get a promotion in the future and a rule like that is introduced, should it be, then he or she will probably cease all contact because they don't want when they go for promotion or maybe to a selection board for a specialist CID unit, they don't want anyone to be able to access the database and say, "Well, hang on, that person in the last three years, for instance, has seen crime reporters every now and again " LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But hang on, wouldn't it be rather better if it was thought that maintaining a healthy and worthwhile relationship with the press was an important part of the job, so far from being a matter of criticism, is worthy of commendation, provided the contact is appropriate and not worthy of criticism? So if he is constantly seeing you and each time after he's seen you there's an article in the Daily Express which reveals some, as it were, briefing against the Met, that would not be unimportant.
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm not suggesting it would be as unsubtle as that I'm deliberately painting it in very bright colours but that sensible communication followed, that sensible dialogue, that you were understanding the problems that London faced, that even if you were critical of things that had gone wrong, you were recognising the openness of the Met, that might be a senior officer doing his job properly. Now, why do you say that it would be looked upon always as a matter of adverse inference?
A. Well, I it wouldn't be looked upon always but I think the reaction of officers, particularly, should it be introduced, the initial reaction, would be for them to pull back. They would err on the side of caution. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Depends how it's sold, doesn't it?
A. Absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So if it's said, "Look, we don't trust any of you to get this right, therefore everything has to be recorded", that's one thing.
A. Yeah. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If they say, "Well, it's sensible that we monitor what's going on, or we can do, or we can audit it" that's the word of the time "but it is an important part of the job that you can relate to the press, that you can involve them in the positives about your community and explain the problems so that there's a broad understanding", that's good. What would be wrong with that?
A. There wouldn't be anything wrong with that, but I think the way that officers would look at that, they would just see somebody from the professional standards department looking down a list of contacts seeing Daily Express four times, the Sun three times, Daily Express again, then the Sun, and they will say, "Well, they're favouring those two organisations, we shouldn't be dealing with somebody like that." That would be the fear in the officer's mind before he continues his contact. I think, as you say, sir, it would be all dependent on how it's sold to the officers, but that was reading the HMIC report, that was my concern. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, I understand the point. MR JAY May I move on to your separate statement, which you provided us as chairman of the CRA? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is that a convenient moment to have a short break? Then we'll come back for the Crime Reporters Association after the break. Thank you. (11.36 am) (A short break) (11.42 am) MR JAY Mr Twomey, before moving on to the Crime Reporters Association, I've been asked to put this point to you, looking at it quite broadly: is it the role of a crime reporter such as you to identify the criminal before the police does?
A. What, to publish it, do you mean?
Q. No, no, not to publish it.
A. No, I don't see that. I don't see that. I mean, it's no, no.
Q. So you're not carrying out a sort of complementary detective role?
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If that's right, what do you think of the evidence that you've heard this morning, as I have, about some newspaper having surveillance teams to do this or to do that in the way that we heard? I'm just interested in your view.
A. I mean, if that did happen, that's quite shocking. I'm quite dismayed if that is the case. I've got no reason to believe that it isn't, other than it's just quite unbelievable, really, that a newspaper should go to those lengths. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So that took you by surprise?
A. I think it would have taken most reporters, certainly most crime reporters by surprise. Almost all crime reporters by surprise. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON How interesting. MR JAY Yes. I'm sure it would take you by surprise in the sense that it's not something the Daily Express or yourself would ever dream of doing, but there's another sense in which it might or might not take you by surprise: were there rumours that this sort of thing went on?
A. I've never heard of surveillance teams being put on surveillance teams. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So, all right, it's not to beat the police; then what is your role? What does a crime reporter do?
A. A crime reporter reports on the investigations that are current, and maybe on witness appeals to help to assist the police, to get witnesses to come forward. I see it as following that investigation through to the start of the court case, reporting on the court case and reporting on the outcome, hopefully with the right criminal safely convicted and locked up. I think if you that's what newspaper certainly Daily Express readers want. The public in general clearly want that from their fiction, because they well, I don't need to go into that. So when it's fact, it's doubly compelling and memorable. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Does it go on also to require you to see where things have gone wrong when they do go wrong, and lessons to be learnt?
A. That's part of it, certainly, but it's also to promote the good work that the police do, that certainly the CID do, and that's where the public's appetite for crime stories is; it's in the work of the CID rather than the broader police story. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So would you cover, for example, the concept of kettling and public order
A. I might do, but it's it would fall within my remit, certainly, and another reporter possibly would do that because there was a political element to that. It certainly wouldn't be in the mainstream. That kind of story wouldn't be in the mainstream of my work. MR JAY The CRA, Mr Twomey. You give us some of the history. Set up at the end of the Second World War, it now has 47 members and you have provided us with a list of the current members and we can see who is represented and who is not. In terms of the officers, as it were, the chair, secretary, treasurer and president, those are elected, are they?
A. Yes.
Q. And likewise the committee, the executive committee?
A. That's right.
Q. You say in paragraph 8 of your second statement: "The rules call for applicants for membership to be sponsored by two existing members."
A. Yes.
Q. And presumably there's a small annual membership fee, is there?
A. That's right. It currently stands at ?30.
Q. I'm just seeing what additional you say in this statement which we haven't already heard from. Yes, paragraph 19 maybe, Mr Twomey. You rightly say: "Members have their own contacts but the CRA as a body has no jurisdiction over these relationships." Is the CRA concerned at all with ethical considerations and a code which regulates relationships of its members with the police?
A. It's true to say we don't have a code. I think there was a code many years ago. I think Jeff Edwards, when he was at the Inquiry last week, made reference to the code
Q. Mm.
A. of conduct. In my time in the CRA, I've not seen one, so
Q. You can't assist us further with that?
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you've been in the CRA for 24 years, so that's a fair time.
A. Yeah. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So if you've not seen it, to such extent as there was one in the mists of time, it's passed into history?
A. Indeed. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But do you think there is anything additional that you believe crime reporters should follow beyond that which is contained in the general approach that all reporters should follow?
A. I think probably now is the right time to give that some careful thought, and it might be beneficial to crime reporters and CRA members in the future if they did have a code of conduct or a statement of principles. I think we would have to sit down and make sure that the wording of any such statement of principles was carefully put together so that it would be enduring. MR JAY Just a miscellany of points, Mr Twomey. It's of interest in paragraph 26 that when Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke retired in 2008, he received a gift in recognition of his outstanding leadership and devotion to public service during the terrorist emergencies of the last decade. That presumably was the collective view of all your members, was it?
A. Yes.
Q. Was that sort of gift unusual?
A. I can only recall those two other gifts to Lord Condon and Lord Stevens. So in my time, I can only think of those three. So I think it's acknowledged the certainly in police circles, not only in this country but probably abroad, the role that Peter Clarke played during the those emergencies in the first decade of this century. And that was a small token, I think, of our regard.
Q. In a sense, you would be in a position to know. You've received these informal briefings over the years, you understand the nature of the terrorist threat and also the MPS response to that threat. So it just gives us some insight into the regard you have for him.
A. Yes.
Q. In paragraph 46 now, page 07128, you give us one example of the value of a non-attributable CRA briefing. In your own words, please, could you tell us something of that?
A. There was a particularly brutal double murder in south London. The victims were two young French men. I believe they were postgraduate students, only here for possibly a year or a short time. They were attacked in the home of one of them in south London and they were tied up, they were tortured. The two attackers were after their cash card PIN numbers and one of the victims was subjected to a rather extraordinary level of violence. He was attacked by a knife they were both attacked with knives, and after they were dead, their bodies were set alight. Once I think the victims had been identified and their next of kin had been informed this double tragedy had occurred, there needed to be a witness appeal and it had to be done very quickly. I think that was the view of the investigating officer, who was a detective chief inspector, as I recall. I think he was quite young in that rank, as well. He didn't feel able, for whichever reason, that he could give details of the post-mortem examination and therefore that level of appalling violence on the record, on camera, in a witness appeal style briefing. That information was given to us non-attributably by a senior press officer, and it resulted in a great deal of publicity, as you can imagine, and that publicity did have the desired effect. One of the attackers came forward two days afterwards. He gave himself up at a police station. His partner, as it were, was also arrested a short time afterwards, and subsequently I think I'm right in saying that the man who gave himself up made certain admissions. He tried to talk his way out of it, and that formed evidence against both men, and they were subsequently convicted of the murder of those two French men. I think the point about that sort of formal non-attributable briefing is clearly its importance is underlined by the fact that one of them gave themselves up and that there were subsequent convictions. I think it had to be done quickly. I think that was the any delay would have possibly been fatal to the impact of that witness appeal. For whatever reason, the investigating officer didn't feel able to give those details in conjunction with the witness appeal on camera, on the record, and the senior press officer took the decision that he would. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So does that mean just so that I understand it, was that merely to inform you of the gravity of what would emerge, or to inform you so you could publish non-attributably the extent of the injury?
A. No, it was to inform us so that we could publish the true level of violence, which obviously was terribly shocking but it did secure the kind of publicity that they wanted. Massive publicity on television, radio, in the newspapers the next day, and I think when the man gave himself up at the police station, his first words were something like: "I'm the man you're after." LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But I don't understand, Mr Twomey, what the difference is, because if you're publishing the details, then you can only have got them from the police
A. I know. With hindsight, it's it's a it's difficult to he probably could have done it himself, but I think I do know that if they were going to do it on the record, they might have had to check with other agencies, other authorities, the French embassy perhaps, the Foreign Office. There would inevitably have been delays. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But why does doing it unattributably matter? The French embassy, if they're going to be concerned, are going to be concerned if it's obviously come from a policeman.
A. Exactly. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But that's the sort of contact that is critical to our society.
A. Exactly. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And therefore one doesn't want to do anything that minimises the opportunity the police have to garner the assistance of all forms of media in the detection of crime, and in participation with the criminal justice system. I entirely agree with that. The question is how that should impact on everything else.
A. But if there was for whatever reason I am just not privy to the reason why the decision was taken to be non-attributable. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But
A. But I know the briefing had to be done. It had to be done then. So maybe they just said, "We're not going to have any problems with this at all if we have it non-attributable." MR JAY It doesn't quite add up, exploring human motivations, but sometimes people act irrationally. What might have been done on the record wasn't. That's your evidence?
A. Indeed.
Q. Can I ask you, please, about paragraph 52, when you're dealing with the issue of leaks. Are you giving this evidence from your own direct experience, or are you drawing inferences from your assessment of circumstances in which leaks have been made to others?
A. I think the latter.
Q. So when you're looking at the range of factors, a feeling that the public is being misled by official statements from senior officers, anger at certain decisions for instance, closed-down inquiries or redeployed staff it's based, really, on your experience of how you think police officers operate, having worked with them for so long; is that fair?
A. That would be fair, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The answer is is this too naive? there shouldn't be misleading statements out to the public, and that if there's concern about decisions that are being made, they should be explained. Isn't that the answer to that? Openly.
A. Exactly. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Because once you start to say it's actually legitimate for somebody to complain, your example, about the decision to merge the Special Branch and anti-terrorist branch, the whistle-blower, if you so call them, is seeking to take operational decisions to the greater court of public opinion, which may be to the advantage of nobody.
A. Mm. MR JAY I think it's clear from your evidence that the sort of story in play here might not have been of interest to the Daily Express; have I correctly understood your evidence? Or would it be of interest to the Daily Express, the merger of Special Branch and anti-terrorist branch?
A. That was I think that particular story was announced at a press conference, a general press conference. I'm not sure if it would really interest the Daily Express readers but I do know that the background of that particular thing, that there were a lot of former and serving Special Branch officers who wanted to keep their independence. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That rather makes my point, doesn't it?
A. Mm. MR JAY The last question, really, because you cover the HMIC. Paragraph 61, Mr Twomey. To be fair to you, you're not the only journalist who criticises Elizabeth Filkin's report as being condescending. Somebody else used the term "patronising". I'm sure you haven't compared notes when preparing your witness statements, but to be clear, why have you come to that conclusion in relation to certain parts of her report?
A. The certain parts were the bits at the end, the bits that covered "avoid alcohol", that section. I think if you look at it, there's a handy traffic light system where "avoid" has a red is in red lettering and something where caution is being urged has amber and something that's okay is in green. It didn't quite go with the seriousness of the earlier part of the report and I think there's some condescending remarks about women in there. I know she did speak to women reporters and I think they probably are entitled to be a little upset about that.
Q. You're referring there to flirting, aren't you?
A. Yes. MR JAY Those are all the questions I have for you, Mr Twomey. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Could I just ask one more question, and that's in relation to the membership of the CRA. We've been told that actually pure crime reporting has been overtaken by what might be described as home affairs reporting. Is that something that you've also noted?
A. That's correct, yes. When I first started, there were one or two home affairs reporters in the CRA. Now there are a lot more. There will probably be a lot more in the future. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON My question is this: 47 doesn't seem a very large number in the context of the press as a whole.
A. Mm-hm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is there a risk that it might be being perceived as something of a slightly elite group of reporters and therefore give rise to the possibility that unless it was rather more open, it doesn't really reflect what the public interest requires in open and transparency in everything? It's not for me to interfere in your association, but I'm just asking the question.
A. Some people, I think, could perceive it as an elite group. I don't think they I don't think they it's not a correct perception, but I can see, looking from the outside, particularly where crime reporters get exclusives they believe might have come through CRA channels or because they're members of the CRA, where it's actually their own independent sources and that concern, that perception is reflected in Mrs Filkin's report, I think. I think that's something we'll have to live with, really. If reporters who mainly report on police matters want to join the CRA and they work for a national newspaper, then they can probably join. It may be that they already have two or maybe even three members already, so that may not be fair to their competitors. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But why should you worry about whoever is in it, provided and I accept this is an important proviso because of some of the other evidence I've heard they have sufficient background knowledge to ensure that they don't need to be taken down the green slopes of criminal investigation or criminal issues and are ready for the red or the black run, which is, as I understand it, if I pursue my skiing analogy further, really what the Association does. The Association is there to say, "We know the background, we know what we're talking about, therefore you can cut to the chase immediately, you don't have to give us the introduction"; is that fair?
A. That's fair, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So provided anybody can demonstrate they have that knowledge, in whatever way they want to demonstrate it, and therefore will never be asking the "Well, take me back to the beginning" type question, why should you be restrictive on membership?
A. Well, that would mean that basically anyone could join if they were an experienced reporter, and what we've tried to preserve, what we've tried to take to the police, is the idea that if they brief us, they are talking to people who have a commitment to crime reporting, to policing affairs, and therefore they're signed up to the three rules, that "non-reportable" means non-reportable, "non-attributable" means non-attributable, and we don't break any embargos. If there's somebody who is an experienced reporter who wants to sort of dip in and dip out, and they're not showing any commitment to the organisation LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Okay.
A. or any commitment to those three principles, then there might be a risk then of letting in somebody who decides that they're just going to bust it wide open, and that would be quite damaging. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sure that's right. So can you ensure and do you ensure that actually not merely that you're open to every national newspaper and I might debate with you whether it's necessary to be restricted to national newspapers but that in fact every national newspaper does have a representative?
A. They do, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So there isn't a question of favouritism?
A. Exactly, yes. I think they should do. I mean, those national newspapers that are not represented are not represented by choice by them. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's not that they would ever be kept out?
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Because that's probably very important, isn't it?
A. Exactly. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That they're not kept out. It's open to all national papers. It's open to all who have that degree of commitment.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Okay. Is there anything that you would like to add to what you've said?
A. Well, I would like to reflect on something that you asked of, I think, Jeff Edwards. I think you invited him to arrange for the CRA to draft some sort of guidelines LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. embracing the possibility that records need to be kept. It's probably best done through me, and I would like to take up that offer. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Of course, of course. Of course I wasn't excluding you
A. Oh no, I just wanted to make that clear, that it would be through me rather than through Jeff. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's entirely appropriate, Mr Twomey. Having thrown out the offer to the CRA, of course it embraces the current leadership of the CRA. Had you come first, the request would have been made of you. It was Mr Edwards, so the request was made of him.
A. appreciate that. The other point I was going to make was that should those new arrangements be made, that perhaps the CRA, along with other bodies like the Society of Editors, the NUJ, representatives from broadcasting and online branches of the industry, might be able to assist in some sort of regular review of how should the new arrangements be introduced, the impact of those new arrangements on police/media relationships. I wouldn't say that so it's just a platform for making complaints but so that if they're working well, we can encourage positively encourage others to follow suit, perhaps express our concern if we don't think they're being adhered to. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If you are prepared and you think it would be valuable and I think it would be valuable for you to engage with those other bodies to bring them into your discussion, and you can incorporate their views in anything you send to me, I would be absolutely delighted, because the more that the press are doing and the media generally are doing this for themselves, actually the better. That doesn't bind me into anything, but I think I've already said to you this morning you understand your business much better than I will ever understand it. I'm working quite hard on it, but you know what works and what won't work, and you know what I want to achieve and what it is legitimate for me to achieve, as you have recognised. So any help you can give me, with the assistance of those other bodies, would be only too welcome.
A. Right. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed.
A. Thank you. MR BARR Sir, the next witness is Mr James Murray. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR JAMES ARTHUR MURRAY (sworn) Questions by MR BARR MR BARR Mr Murray, could you confirm your full name, please?
A. James Arthur Murray.
Q. You provided the Inquiry with a witness statement. I understand that there are a number of corrections that you would like to make to it before confirming the truth of its contents. First of all, in paragraph number 1, I understand that you wish to omit the references to television; is that right?
A. It's just because it's a grammatical error there. Something's gone wrong.
Q. This is in the third line on page 2?
A. Yes, so: "I have a great deal of experience in television news and tabloid and broadsheet newspapers." "Television" is not necessary there.
Q. You wish to omit that one word?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's the word "television" you're omitting?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's fair enough, as long as I know. MR BARR Paragraph 8, first line, the number "6" should in fact be the number "7"; is that right?
A. That's right.
Q. And in paragraph 27, second line, where you have written "Crime Writers Association"
A. "Crime Reporters Association".
Q. You meant to say "Crime Reporters Association"? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON They do very different things, I hope.
A. I don't think there is a crime writers association. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I thought it would be a fictional body.
A. Could well be. MR BARR Subject to those corrections, are the contents of your witness statement true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?
A. Yes.
Q. You are the associate editor, news at the Sunday Express, aren't you?
A. Yes, that's my title.
Q. And you've been with the Sunday Express for ten years now?
A. Ten, 11 years, yes.
Q. You started off as the news editor and then became investigations editor?
A. Yes. At the Sunday Express we have quite a small staff, so we do other things as well, so I sometimes do book reviews, I sometimes do showbusiness stories, I oversee the work of other journalists. We do a multitude of tasks.
Q. But your remit includes crime?
A. In this context, yes. This is why I'm trying to be helpful to the Inquiry with my work in the crime field and my experience over the years.
Q. You tell us a little bit about your professional background in paragraph 1. You've been a journalist for more than 30 years now and you've worked both in local media and also at national level. You've worked for both tabloid and broadsheet newspapers; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. Moving now to that section of your witness statement which deals with relations between the media and the Metropolitan Police, you tell us at paragraph 4 of your witness statement that you think that the culture of relations has always been professional and positive and above board. Can I ask you to tell us what you consider amounts to an above-board relationship between the media and the Metropolitan Police?
A. That means having good discussions on the phone with Press Bureau, with the staff there, so you'll be clear and concise in what you're trying to achieve in getting information from them to help you construct a story. When you're invited along to a press conference at the Yard, it's cordial, the officers are polite, they introduce themselves, you introduce yourself. There's a professional understanding that you're both there to try and achieve the same aim, which is to get an accurate story out into the public domain, which may assist in the apprehension of a criminal or may assist in the inquiries the police are pursuing. Above-board I'm aware that there are corrupt officers, obviously, and they sometimes manifest themselves you hear rumours of that. In my dealings, I have never been approached by a policeman at any level who has said something along the lines of: "I'm quite happy to help you if you make a little payment to my daughter's piano lessons" or anything of that kind. I would consider an approach like that to be underhand, and I would be you know, I would decline it. So when I say that my dealings with been above-board, what I mean is I've never been approached in any means or any way to be party to any underhand relationship with an officer.
Q. Have ever been given a tip-off by either a police officer or someone working for the police about involvement between the police and a celebrity or other famous person?
A. I can't think of a specific example regarding a celebrity that comes to mind. I have been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a phone call when somebody's said they've got a good story about so-and-so, and you say, "Thanks very much", and you make further enquiries to establish the accuracy and the veracity of the story, and then it may be that a short time later you ring up your contact, your source, and say, "Would you like to have a little drink or would you like to have a cup of coffee or would you like to have a meal by way of thank you for being helpful in that matter?"
Q. Is this a police source?
A. Yeah, it can be a police source. It can be a member of the public who's got information about a crime. I mean, the sources can come from a multitude of different ways.
Q. And the interesting person you refer to is somebody newsworthy?
A. No, I'm saying I can't think of a specific example in relation to a celebrity, which was your question, but I can think of phone calls I've had when, for instance, there's going to be an interesting arrest made or there's been a big theft of property. I think I got some information about a job in London when some vaults were raided and a large sum of money was taken, and jewels, et cetera. That was appreciated.
Q. Are we talking here about communications from the Directorate of Public Affairs or are we talking about operational staff?
A. On that occasion, it was not a police officer; it was somebody else, another source informed me.
Q. Somebody who worked for the police?
A. Somebody who had knowledge of the event. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Obviously, actually.
A. I'm not trying to be difficult, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, no.
A. I'm not also going to betray any sources. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I don't ask you to do that. I've got the message about sources quite early on. But are you surprised let me ask this question when you hear that the police have gone to the home of celebrity Y, who has reported a burglary, but the photographers from the press have already beaten them there?
A. Doesn't surprise me, no. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do you think that is entirely professional, positive and above-board?
A. No. In the old days, there were people who had scanners. I worked at Thames News in London for ITV and I was on the news desk and also did bulletin writing, and there were people who spent all day listening to the police wires, and they would be tipsters. I didn't deal with them directly; it was dealt with by the news desk executives. And they would hear information, you know: "There's a serious incident at X." They'd heard it on the scanner and then they would ring up the news desk. There's incidents where that happened. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. So that LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's not necessarily from a policeman, but with the ability to scan into radio/telephone communications in that way has long since passed into history, hasn't it?
A. It has, yes. It was very common, I think, in the 1980s, and it was quite well-known to the police that this was going on, I believe, but you know, that's what happened. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But it doesn't explain what happens these days.
A. No. It's that you're right to say that that sort of tip-off from a scanner has come to an end. I never heard of that when I was working in newspapers, by the way; that was whilst in television, because that's how they relied on their tips because they had to be there with a camera crew very, very quickly, you see, whereas a news reporter can be there an hour later and catch up with events, but obviously if you're trying to capture the scene when there's just been a shooting or when there's been a bank robbery, then it's vital that you get the immediate picture. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. I'm not looking at how the television operates.
A. No, I appreciate that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I have more than enough to do, thank you very much, Mr Murray. Yes. MR BARR Have you ever had anyone from the police, whether uniformed or civilian, come to you in the role of whistle-blower?
A. No, but I've had lunches with senior officers on occasions, and detectives, who have said not so much whistle-blowing. It's grumbles: "We're concerned about this, we're concerned about that." Often it would be things like they're concerned about the lack of equipment they have, that they wanted stories going into the press that they needed stab-proof vests, that they wanted to be better protected themselves, that they wanted some officers were keen to they seemed to have causes that they wanted to inform you about and promote. They weren't sort of taking the lid off corruption or anything like that. I wasn't lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a dossier of information which gave prima facie evidence of corruption. However, I did get the message that these people were conveying that sort of information.
Q. Did you get the impression that they would be quite pleased if you were to write a sympathetic article without naming them?
A. Yes. I think they felt they had it's like politicians when you go out for lunch with them and it's off the record. They're always very pleased when you take up their cause and you try to be objective, not just to publish their view but you try and counter it with the other side and you try and make your own decision and gather extra information to see if what they're saying actually merits attention.
Q. But these views were not necessarily the police party line?
A. Yes. I think Scotland Yard and other forces always found it slightly difficult to go on the record and say things like: "The government is not giving us enough money to get equipment, the government's not doing you know. They had their federation spokesman and whatever, but it maybe they felt that they were too vulnerable. There is a certain shyness, I think, which is something you touched on earlier, this wanting to have everything off the record and whatever, which gets on your nerves a little bit, because I'm a great believer in being transparent and open, and in these meetings I always encourage the officers that it gives the story much more credibility and veracity if we can name you as the source, because, you know, that information is not particularly scandalous or whatever, it's a common view, sensible opinion, and what's the problem about attaching your name to it? And often the reply would be: "It's just not worth the internal politics, it's not worth the flak. I'd rather we did it this way." That's fair enough, you have to respect their view, as indeed you respect the view of the public. It's the same view. If a member of the public doesn't wish to be named, then you respect their view as well.
Q. We'll come back to lunches in a little while, but before we do, I'd like to explore some of the more formal avenues of contact that you've had with the Metropolitan Police. First of all, you tell us in paragraph 5 of your witness statement that you regularly telephoned Scotland Yard and usually spoke with staff at the Press Bureau.
A. Yes.
Q. I think that's the Directorate of Public Affairs.
A. Yes.
Q. Can you give us your opinion, your experience, about how effective that avenue of communication is for obtaining information about the activities of the Metropolitan Police Service?
A. Well, they don't have an open-door policy, so you can't walk down Scotland Yard and walk in and have a cup of tea with someone instantaneously. So the only means if they're not calling a press conference is to phone them. Often the Yard, in my experience, released precious little information about major crime and it was quite hard work getting information out of them, like pulling teeth on some occasions. So you had to think in your mind, prior to ringing them, what were the key elements that you wished to draw from them, and I would often write down in my notebook three questions which seemed, you know, about to keep things fairly simple, on a particular running crime story that I wished to pursue, and if somebody would come back with an answer to those three questions, and that can be dealt with quite well on the phone because they take note of the questions, then they go away to the senior officer, have a discussion about those questions and then come back with a response, which is either giving you extra details to those questions or telling you: "Question one is not something we wish to talk about. Question two, we can add a little bit of detail. Question three, you've got no chance. We're not going near that." So it would be on that level. Then obviously in the old days, they used to hold far more press conferences than they do now and so there's much more communication. It was a good opportunity, the press conferences, to have a chat with the press officers and speak to the senior officers afterwards. So those were much better occasions and often you'd have the press conference the three officers would be lined up, they'd speak their bit, TV would pull off and then there would be a little chat in the back room with the senior officer in the case on an off-the-record basis, with CRA status or not. I was quite lucky because I knew the crime guys Mike Sullivan, Jeff Edwards, John Twomey and often it wouldn't matter whether I was a CRA member or not. I would be involved in those briefings.
Q. May I pick up on a few themes from that answer. First of all, you tell us that there were occasions when you felt that the Metropolitan Police didn't give very much information out. Can I ask you whether you thought that was because they were being excessively cautious or whether you thought there were legitimate, if frustrating grounds for withholding the information, or whether you sensed that the information was being given out, not to you but to somebody else?
A. It's probably a bit of both. Certainly sometimes you got the impression that CRA members did get fuller briefings on the phone than non-members and sometimes I think Mike Sullivan alluded to this if you annoyed them with a story, you might get a little bit of a frosty reception and an "Oh, can't tell you much about that" response, and that would last for a couple of weeks, then there would be a thawing and then you get a fuller briefing, as it were, but whether there was any truth in any of those sort of gossipy rumours, I don't know. I certainly was aware sometimes, when I'd written stories which may have annoyed senior officers, that for the next couple of weeks life could be a little bit difficult and then it got back to normal again.
Q. Next, you
A. But I do think that the Yard, more so than other forces, does release less information, just as a general picture. I mean, the CRA is very much a London-based organisation, I think, in many respects. A lot of the guys who the sort of core members like John, Mike, Jeff in the old days, they were really involved in home counties and Met operations. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The CRA is restricted to national newspapers, isn't it?
A. Yes, but in terms of LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The biggest player, of course, is the Met.
A. It can be, sir, but I mean you can also have major crimes in Greater Manchester. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There isn't a part of the country where you can't have a major crime.
A. No, but and in my experience, when dealing with the press officers and the senior officers in the other forces, I found that they were more willing to accept questions and respond more fully to those questions and to give perhaps more interviews. You know, if you rang up with a request to speak to the investigating officer in a case, often it would be granted in the Met, possibly, but often would be: "Oh, he's very busy on inquiries, we'll get back to you", sort of thing. MR BARR Am I right to understand that you're not a member of the CRA?
A. No.
Q. Why not?
A. Because I do many different things, many different sorts of investigations. They're not all crime-related. Sometimes they do spill into crime. I mean, I did an investigation into an Islamic school down near Tunbridge Wells, where they were acting suspiciously and there was very little being taught. The story was published on the Sunday. The following week, 300 officers raided that school and there were a number of arrests made. Arrests were also made in London. So what started out as an investigation into Muslim alleged extremism at a private school, if you like, an education story, then developed and became a crime story.
Q. Have you felt in any way disadvantaged in your work covering crime stories because you are not a member of the CRA?
A. On certain occasions when, after major trials, there would be briefings and sometimes there would be briefings for CRA members only, so the senior officers would get together with the journalists and have a chat, and if you weren't in the CRA, you didn't get that information. But whilst I was news editor, we had a crime reporter who was a member of the CRA and who did go and attend to their briefings. She enjoyed the interaction between the other crime journalists and the social events and the going to the Yard events as well.
Q. What's the position now? Does the Sunday Express have a CRA member?
A. No, we don't.
Q. Is that something that you think is just unnecessary or is that a matter of regret?
A. Well, at the moment, relationships seem to be very poor between the Met and journalists. The normal lines of communications have been chronically damaged, potentially, you know, for a long time, and we don't see any value at this stage in being a member of the CRA when so little information is coming out of the Yard, or, in some cases, other forces, but the Yard in particular.
Q. How long has this situation been extant?
A. What, the difficulties?
Q. Yes, the difficulties.
A. Probably since the Guardian published its story in July of last year. David Leigh and Amelia Hill wrote a story about an investigation into phone hacking and the allegations that News of the World had deleted messages belonging to the phone of Milly Dowler. That had an enormous impact throughout the industry to chronically and potentially fatally damage relationships between journalists and the police, because we do have a relationship of trust. I was actually the news editor on the Milly Dowler occasion and Andrea Perry was the crime reporter who was charged with working on it, along with other journalists, and we spent an enormous amount of time patiently building up relations with Surrey Police, meeting them at briefings, having coffee, gaining their trust, and saying to them: "We want to work with you on this inquiry and be as helpful as we can because it's imperative that everything is done in order to find this girl." She was missing for quite some time, about six months, I think. So we worked well and we established a good relationship. Milly Dowler's parents gave us, I think, from memory, a little statement on what would have been her birthday, which was very touching. We had photographs of Milly that we requested via the press office, and so, you know, all that trust over that long period of time, which still existed today, was blown out the water by these allegations.
Q. You've spoken about a perception that the number of press conferences that the Met has given has reduced. Over what period of time has that reduction occurred? Is that something that you date back to the middle of last year or is it something that's occurred over a different timescale?
A. I was thinking in when Lord Stevens left and Sir Ian Blair took over, which was in 2005, Sir Ian was the new man and he seemed to be taking a positive view of the press. Not that Lord Stevens didn't; he was an excellent Met Commissioner and relationships were very good with him. And at that time there were good relationships building up. I think I had lunch with Dick Fedorcio and Andrea, and we were both of the same mind that we should improve and build on relations. You'll see in the statement that I mentioned meeting Sir Ian Blair and having some champagne with him
Q. I'll be coming to the meetings, but my question was: from when do you date the decline in the number of press conferences?
A. Well, I think difficult to put an actual date on it, with respect. I would say there's been a big impact since the revisions in the Guardian newspaper.
Q. Moving now to paragraph 7 of your witness statement, where you tell us about meeting up with senior detectives for meals and drinks. Can I ask first of all about the number of people at these meals. Did you normally take out a single detective for a meal or would you take more than one?
A. It depends. Sometimes it would be one detective, sometimes it would be two. Often when a team of detectives have been successful in a prosecution at the Old Bailey, word would get around that they were having drinks in a certain pub, so you go in the pub and there might be ten detectives there, all, quite rightly, celebrating and having a drink because they work very, very hard in an extremely difficult environment.
Q. On occasions, would you take a solitary senior detective for lunch?
A. Yeah, but I just think on one occasion, which was, I think, after a successful prosecution in relation to a vault job when millions of pounds was taken and the criminals were tucked away, myself and a colleague were invited down and we had a very nice drink and a meal, and then it was too late to get trains home, so they called they were having lifts home in Yard cars, and so one of the officers who lived near me kindly said, "Would you like a lift in the car?" knowing that I'd have difficulty getting home. So I said, "That's very nice of you", and we both took the car, so effectively I got a Yard car to my home.
Q. Are we talking about a celebration then that's lasted beyond the stamina of public transport?
A. Yes. It maybe started about 7 o'clock and it's gone to 11.30 or something and the trains you have a problem with the trains. You know, that's it wasn't an abuse of privilege because the officers do have access to these cars because they have to be at events at certain times. I mean, I may have had a little bit too much wine and they I don't think any of them were inebriated beyond doing their professional function, but it was a good night and a memorable night. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If they've worked very hard and they've had a result, it's not perhaps surprising.
A. Well, I don't see LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, no. An image of me is being created which is not entirely accurate. The question is where it crosses the line, or if it crosses the line.
A. Well, I've never I can only speak for my personal experience, and if anyone's suggesting, "Oh, right, you've gone out for this meal with the police, you've had a load of drink, da da da, the next step, you're dropping brown envelopes all over the place" it's just so far removed from the truth, really. It doesn't happen like that. The officer would be, first, mortally offended that that would be even suggested, in my opinion, and it would actually ruin the relationship because the relationship you're trying to build up is one of trust and so he doesn't want to receive a silly request and I certainly wouldn't give it, and likewise, you know, I don't want to receive a silly request, and he probably knows from my character, my nature, and a bit of background what I'm like. Because the officers do like to get to know you a bit. They like to know what you do, do they play a bit of golf, do you play darts, or whatever you know, whatever things, just as normal chit-chat.
Q. If we stick to what actually happens, do you try and cultivate particular contacts? Do you form a relationship with particular senior detectives which you can then rely upon in the future when you need information?
A. Depends, because I move in different areas. One minute I'm doing a crime story, the next minute as I mentioned to you earlier, what I'm currently working on, which is looking at a solicitor. So it's varied.
Q. Put it this way: have you taken the same senior detective out for lunch more than once?
A. Oh yes, I've taken the same detective out maybe five, six times, ten times.
Q. You tell us later on in your statement that you normally have a budget which doesn't exceed ?80 on meals.
A. Yeah.
Q. Just to be clear, is this ?80 a head or ?80 for how many people?
A. ?80 would be for two, so ?40 each. So within that you get the idea is you get a starter, your main course, your pudding, a bottle of wine and maybe a couple of beers, and that normally reaches around ?80. Obviously if there's two or three other people there, then that budget will go up.
Q. You tell us that these
A. But that hasn't been done for a while. Certainly that hasn't been done since the Milly Dowler revisions. Everything's on ice, everything's frozen. Nobody wants to know, nobody wants a phone call. Everyone's the sort of Big Brother not "Big Brother", but everyone's cautious, everyone's frightened.
Q. You tell us that the status of the communications at these events is off the record. Do you mean by that that what you are told can be reported but not attributed?
A. There is some confusion over these terms and it's not just amongst senior officers; it's also amongst some journalists. Sometimes there's an OTRNFP briefing, which is "off the record, not for publication", which means that: "We're telling you all this" and sometimes you wonder what's the point of it, because you're telling me all this stuff and I can't do anything with it. Great. Really, what you want is a briefing where you can work out what you need to know for publication. The whole purpose is for publication, and this is what I try and stress to the officers. Sometimes it's very useful to pick up some background information on internal politics or why X was done or Y was done or whatever, but essentially you're there to gather information to include in a story. So I would say I mean, things could develop as the meal goes on. One minute they can say something and then you chat further and they say, "Actually, I don't mind if you do mention that. So you can put it in the story, but would you mind not attributing my name to it?" That's fine. On other occasions, they might say, "Let me have a think about that overnight and I'll give you a ring tomorrow. Come down, we'll have a cup of coffee and we'll work out formal words or a structure and they can be attributable."
Q. Can I take it from that answer that these lunches have proved to be a fertile source of stories over the years?
A. Yes. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Can I go back to the party after the case and ask this: presumably you were very pleased to be invited to a gathering of detectives celebrating a successful prosecution?
A. I was, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Did you ever ask yourself why that might be?
A. I can't remember forming that question in my mind. I just assumed it was a nice gesture. I got to know the guys fairly well and that was it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And they were entertaining you, were they?
A. It's quite a long time ago. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right.
A. I think I offered my credit card. I can't remember how much was taken off it. I think I did pay I didn't pay all the bill for all the officers, if that's what you're asking me. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, I'm just
A. I think I paid a contribution. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON trying to work out how this works.
A. In usual cases, you pay the bill. Sometimes the officer will turn around and say, "Don't worry, you got it last time, I'll pay", and sometimes if you're just meeting for a quick drink or a coffee, it's very fleeting and it doesn't really matter who pays. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand, and I'm not being over-sensitive. I'm just trying to understand the nature of the relationship and whether it has potentially the seeds to cause difficulty for either of you.
A. I mean, certainly there is the potential there, because there could be corrupt journalists and there could be corrupt officers. Put the two together and you have a tricky situation. But all I can tell you is from my own experience, what's happened to me. MR BARR Can we move now to paragraph 8 of your witness statement, where you tell us about meeting Sir Ian Blair and how an event was arranged at which Sir Ian was present when you and colleagues attended a tour of the Black Museum at Scotland Yard?
A. I think it's called the Crime Museum now. It was previously known as the Black Museum.
Q. You tell us that it was organised by your then crime editor, Andrea Perry. Was it therefore attended just by people from the Sunday Express and the Metropolitan Police?
A. I think Martin Townsend, the editor, was there. The deputy editor at that time, Dick Dismore, myself, Andrea I think there were some other production staff there as well. Andy was there. I think there was probably about six or seven of us.
Q. But not from other newspapers?
A. No. This was solely for the Sunday Express.
Q. You tell us that champagne was served.
A. Yes. We went to Sir Ian's office. I can't remember which floor it was on, and we weren't expecting champagne, but he was very friendly, very convivial, and there was a glass or two of champagne, certainly not a third glass, by way of just being pleasant and being convivial and saying, "I'm the new guy, let's have a social event, I'll tell you a little bit about myself", and we just had a very pleasant conversation. He mentioned that his he had roots in the north of England. He just gave a few basic details about his background, which was quite interesting, and he's a bright, intelligent guy and he spoke well.
Q. So the champagne was provided by the Metropolitan Police?
A. I don't know from which budget it came from, whether he had his own personal entertaining budget or whether, as Commissioner, he had an allowance for a budget. I assume it came from an allowance from the budget, as most government departments, foreign office or whatever, have a budget to do that sort of thing.
Q. Apart from the introductions and any conversation about the exhibits in the museum, what sorts of topics of conversation were discussed?
A. We just I think we chose we had about an hour discussion before we went down to the Crime Museum. He didn't actually accompany us down to the Crime Museum; we were in his office. The first part of the conversation was really just a bit about his background, as I was saying. He talked about what we'd call plastic bobbies, you know, the versions of the PCs on the streets. I think the editor had some reservations about how effective would they really be in defeating crime on the streets. So there was that's about the only area that I can recall where, if you like, an issue arose. The rest of it was just friendly chat and it all seemed perfectly straightforward. MR BARR Sir, would now be a convenient moment? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, certainly. All right, we'll leave you in the Black Museum and come back at 2 o'clock. Thank you very much. (12.58 pm)


Gave a statement at the hearing on 19 March 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 1 pieces of evidence
Gave statements at the hearings on 19 March 2012 (AM) and 19 March 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 1 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 19 March 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 3 pieces of evidence


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