Morning Hearing on 20 March 2012

Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe , Justin Penrose and Tom Pettifor gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(10.00 am) MR JAY Our first witness today is Mr Hogan-Howe, please. MR BERNARD HOGAN-HOWE (sworn) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Your full name, please?
A. My name is Bernard Hogan-Howe.
Q. You've provided us with a statement dated 20 January of this year. You've signed and dated it in the standard statement of truth. Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry?
A. It is, sir, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed for the work you've obviously put into this statement, in the time when you haven't been having to assume all sorts of other responsibilities as well.
A. Thank you. MR JAY Mr Hogan-Howe, you've been the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, having been appointed on 12 September of last year. Before then, you were Acting Deputy Commissioner. Between 2009 and 2011, you were one of Her Majesty's inspectors of constabulary, with responsibility for the London area, amongst other things, and between 2004 and 2009, you were Chief Constable of Merseyside police.
A. That's right, sir, yes.
Q. In paragraph 5 of your statement, Mr Hogan-Howe, you explain that by the time you became Commissioner, you were reasonably familiar with the MPS, and then a little bit later on, the next page, 55642, you say your impression of media relations in the MPS in September 2011 was informed by this prior knowledge. May I ask you: what was your impression of media relations in the MPS?
A. This is when I returned in September of 2011?
Q. Yes?
A. I think at that time obviously the concerns around phone hacking were contemporary, concerns about the relationship with the press generally were clearly an issue, prior to the setting up of this Inquiry, and it was clear that the whole organisation was still suffering from the consequence of Sir Paul Stephenson's retirement, prior to my appointment, the fact that John Yates had announced his retirement, together with another assistant commissioner, which was not at all related to this Inquiry, was in the process of leaving. So the whole team at the top was in quite a lot of flux and I think that, together with the phone hacking inquiry, meant that the relationship with the press was quite unstable.
Q. I'm not going to ask you about your impressions of the phone hacking inquiry. You say in your statement: "It is right to observe that those relations [that's to say media relations] were neither in a normal nor an entirely healthy state in September 2011." Can I ask you to explain in a little bit more detail. In what way abnormal or unhealthy?
A. First of all, the phone hacking inquiry under DAC Sue Akers had started in 2011, at the beginning of that year, to have a deeper investigation. What that meant was I don't suppose anybody at that stage was quite sure where that investigation would lead. Would it lead to one newspaper, to one proprietor or to many proprietors and many news agencies? So I suppose at that stage people were wary of where that inquiry would lead and what the relationships with the press were like as a result. Secondly, the sorts of things that were being discovered meant that relationships with journalists were having to be looked at very carefully, because obviously no one wanted to compromise that investigation; they wanted to make sure that they were treating the inquiry in an honourable way, with integrity.
Q. Were you of the opinion or was it your impression that relations between certain sections of the MPS, some inspaniduals at the top and the media, were overly close?
A. That was the concern that seemed to be in the public mind. I think even within the Met there were concerns about that. I think people have acknowledged that over time although, in my view, the policy I think Sir John, now Lord Stevens, had established during his time, I think, in spirit was the right spirit, that probably the practice of that strategy had led to some too close a relationship with the press, and that was the feedback I was getting both from within the organisation and from those who cared about it from the outside.
Q. The feedback you were getting, what were the manifestations of the overly close relationship between some members of the MPS and the press?
A. I suppose it was really the things that have been reported to this Inquiry about social relationships as opposed to professional relationships. I don't think there was a concern about the fact that there were press briefings and that there were briefings which were not for reporting. I know that it may be that this Inquiry may want to say something about the limits of how far the press can be briefed outside what is reported, but I think everybody accepted that that was something that happened, particularly probably in some of the more serious crimes and also to explain the more general context in which the police operate and some of the challenges that we face. So I think in that sense, everybody accepted that was a good thing, but I think it was the close social relationship that people were more concerned about and what at the very least, the perception it created. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Had you got that image or impression when you were an assistant commissioner in the Met or is that something that's evolved over the years?
A. Certainly, sir, my impression is that when I was in the Met, which was 2001 to 4, that during those three years, I didn't see that that relationship in that way existed then. Yes, there were times people would meet socially, but not with great frequency and I couldn't really say that I was aware of any great pattern of that type of meeting. Now, it may have been happening and I was unaware of it, but secondly, I didn't get people reporting back to me that was a concern for them at that time. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Have you been surprised by what's emerged from the Inquiry?
A. Probably some of the extent of it. Probably unsurprised by the fact there was some contact and some of it was social. I think that probably, in many organisations, would have been something that people might have expected, but probably the frequency of it and the extent, I think that's the thing that's been a surprise. MR JAY When you use the verb, in the penultimate sentence of paragraph 5, "relations were distorted", can we be slightly clear, Mr Hogan-Howe, what is causing the distortion in your view?
A. Probably best represented by we I think this Inquiry has heard that one group of journalists who the Commissioner and the management board meet are the Crime Reporters Association. I think you've had some of their members here, who talked about that relationship, and broadly that means that the Crime Reporters Association, as a group, meet with the Commissioner or the management board about every four weeks and it's a broad briefing about issues that are contemporary, usually in London at that time, either issues that the Metropolitan Police will raise or that the journalists are raise. Well, when I took my first one of those meetings we're still having them. Those meetings are still occurring. They occur at New Scotland Yard, the press officers are there and it's a very open meeting. The big concern for the journalists was: how are we going to maintain a relationship, given that, one, this investigation is being carried out, number two, now, by the time I'd taken over, this Inquiry was well in train? So that's been a concern for them during that time and they wanted to make sure that they maintained good professional access and that any action I took on behalf of the Met didn't compromise the proper and honourable work that the media can do to help the police to either reduce crime or catch offenders.
Q. In that context, Mr Hogan-Howe, we've heard that I think it was from July 2011, so it would be Mr Godwin's decision, the lunches, the CRA lunches after the CRA briefings no longer take place.
A. (Nods head)
Q. Do you have a view about the good sense of that decision?
A. To be fair, I'd not realised that there were lunches before. I'd only known about the meetings every four weeks. I was unaware of the lunches, probably because I had prepared for this Inquiry. So I was unaware of the lunches, so if it stopped, I'm not sure I stopped it, but I've not tried to restart them. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think Mr Jay said that it was Mr Godwin who stopped them.
A. Right. Oh sorry, I was unaware. But just to give an indication that we tied to keep some level of normality I know that one of the criticisms that's been aired at this Inquiry has been whether or not my response and our response has been too austere. Have we drawn the line too harshly to maintain good professional relationships? But certainly at Christmas, there are a couple of events. We put on I think it was just before lunch. We put on an hour's buffet with a drink to which the CRA came into and it was just a Christmas event, and CRA always meet in a pub and invite senior members of well, various organisations, including the Met, to go along. We had a big debate and in the end we decided we would go but only for a short time. So we tried to maintain some normality and social element to the relationship but try to keep it on a proper footing, where we were open about it and could therefore be held to account. But it's been a difficult line to draw, given that we do want to maintain a good professional relationship, but neither do we want to be criticised as being too close and therefore having our impartiality criticised.
Q. It may be understandable, in the light of recent events and pending the conclusions of this Inquiry and others, that the pendulum may have swung possibly a little bit too far in the other direction. Do you feel that that might have happened, at least on an interim basis?
A. I'm prepared to accept that criticism if it comes. I suppose there are a few things that I might ask the Inquiry to consider in, you know, making a judgment on that. Number one is that as I took over in September I've already pointed out that the team was fractured, but the team I now have, which is now five months after I took over, is not the team I had back in September. There were people leaving and there were gaps in the team and there was quite a lot of disturbance to the team. Secondly, it seemed to me that obviously public confidence had been damaged in the Met and the way that its relationships with the press, so I needed to set a new boundary. I prefer, I think, to be criticised for setting the boundary too high than I would by this Inquiry for even having under warnings, having set it again too low. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I don't think the word "criticism" would be appropriate. You were coming in to pick up the pieces of what's happened and to try and I think it's your word or it's certainly a word I've used recalibrate to make sure it's on an even keel. Nothing I'm going to say is going to undermine the enormous importance that I attach to the police generally being able to engage with the public through the media, not merely because of the concept of policing by consent but also because of the vital importance that the public play in the prevention and detection of crime. So nothing that I am going to say will be intended to impact adversely on those features, which I consider to be absolutely critical to the way in which our democracy operates.
A. I think, sir, the only other thing I'd add in terms of making the decision we've made about where we draw the line is of course, I have to try and get the message over to the 53,000 people who are employed by the Met. As anybody who has been involved in big organisations knows, you can have some wonderful policies and structures, you can do wonderful training that takes two years but you can send a very clear message quickly, and in cultural terms, I thought there was a need to do that. So the bar may be in the wrong place and I would accept, you know, it's possible to criticise where we set it, but it was to send a very quick, clear signal about where we set it until, of course, this Inquiry results, and I didn't have the benefit, as I'm sure you will have over the next few months, between all the witnesses, of knowing exactly what's happened, not just what I've read in the press or what inspaniduals have told me. So it seems to me the whole benefit of this Inquiry is that many witness also appear, they will give their account and it will be accepted or not, but the judgment at the end of that will be more profound than I could have reached back in September of last year when I only a partial account of what I thought the problem was. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You also have the benefit of Sir Denis' report and that from Elizabeth Filkin, which all feeds into what I'm doing and what you've had to consider. So I appreciate the landscape is very different now to that which obtained last September.
A. I think the only thing I would add, sir, is that I am generally I know some journalists have appeared who have said that they feel as though there's been a more austere a drawing in of the Met in their relationships with the press, but I would like to genuinely understand what causes them to say that because as far as I'm aware we're still having press conferences, we are still working around, you know, about various crimes that we have to that are going through the court system. We are still encouraging our neighbourhood sergeants to work with the local press to get stories out there, good and bad at times. So I'm not quite sure in what area they feel it's been most impacted and I genuinely would like to understand that because if we have got the line wrong, then we may need to redraw it, but I've not yet understood clearly what is the aspect of our relationship which is causing the most damage, and I think if we did understand that, it would allow certainly me to determine how we best prepare for the future. MR JAY It may be the journalists are referring to the flow of information, to use their term, which they were in receipt of before but less of now. You might call it unauthorised disclosures or, in extreme cases, leaks, but the flow of informal information, either which provides background context to their stories or sometimes the basis of an exclusive. They may be sensing that that's dried up a bit.
A. I suppose what I don't want to encourage is leaks. I mean, confidential information I think that's unwise. I would never want to stop somebody in the public interest who wants to in the genuine public interest wants to reveal something that is not getting out another way, and in fact there is a statutory defence for that type of sharing of information with the press. What we're trying to interrupt is a relationship which imagines that a public interest story may come along one day, because of course, at the start of that relationship, presumably if there's a public interest story to come out they're unaware of it. So it's not trying to stop the inspanidual giving information which might be helpful to a democracy or to the press or to air a concern; it is trying to make sure that inappropriate relationships don't develop. It's that that we're trying to stop.
Q. We put at one extreme whistle-blowing, which is protected by statute. The other extreme is clearly confidential information, the disclosure of which is unauthorised and inappropriate, and then we have in the middle a whole melange of information, some of which may be in the public interest, even though it's not whistle-blowing, other parts of which may be inappropriate. It's the flow of that information which it's difficult to regulate and where it's difficult to find the boundary between the public interest and not in the public interest.
A. Yes, I suppose the extremes are usually fairly easy to identify, in the sense that if there's a criminal case involved or a civil case involved, then or have a duty of confidential to somebody who's given us information, expecting it would be maintained at confidential, then we have to respect that and do something to make sure that that confidentiality is maintained. At the other extreme, you've got the selfish leak, and I suppose in the middle you have got that grey area. I suppose the difficulty has been, with the Metropolitan Police, probably over too many years now, has been often the stories have been about inspaniduals and have become human interest stories rather than they become public interest stories. Best probably we avoid that, and anything we can do to prevent that, ideally that our behaviour doesn't cause a press story. But I suppose we need to make sure that the public interest stories are less and the public interest stories are high.
Q. Because in the grey area, there are two concomitant issues. The first is that the police officer may be making a judgment as to whether or not spanulgence of the information is in the public interest, and the police officer may get it wrong. Secondly, if the journalist is in receipt of information which has been disclosed, rightly or wrongly, the journalist then has to make a judgment as to whether or not publication of the material is in the public interest, and it's regulating those sensitive decisions where the problem, I think, really lies. Would you agree with that?
A. I agree, and although on the whole, I think that's probably one of the areas in which we probably work best together with the press, because in sensitive areas where they have information which we genuinely think, for a criminal justice process, shouldn't be in the public domain, we will explain our case and my experience is that often the professional journalist will not try and there's no purpose in damaging benefit in damaging a criminal justice process. Equally, sometimes the police need to be challenged about whether they should release more information because that would be for the public good. Sometimes we hold things back that they say, "Are you sure about that? These would actually help somebody defend themselves or it might help them be aware there's a problem." That has, I've found in the past, been a very healthy debate. It helps sometimes at press conferences, or in the margins after, when we would challenge each other as adults and I think that adult relationship is a good thing, and that debate usually enhances the product, and I think I mentioned in my statement that an idea or policy or strategy from the police that can withstand the test of a searching press conference is usually not bad policy. If it can't, it usually means you've probably got it wrong. So I think there is a great benefit in being challenged by journalists who have nothing to gain from destroying the idea.
Q. You mentioned as well the sort of contact which you don't think is in the public interest is the journalist cultivating an officer that wasn't the term you used maybe offering the officer a drink or whatever, in the expectation of getting a public interest story somewhere further down the line. Have I correctly understood the sort of point you're making?
A. Mm.
Q. Is that necessarily contrary to the public interest, human nature being as it is, that the drink is offered, the relationship is fostered and in due course the officer may be more likely to spanulge something in the public interest. You say that officer may equally be likely to spanulge something which is not in the public interest? Is that the problem?
A. I suppose it's the sort of thing where you know, there's no doubt that police officers and the press will meet on social occasions. The question is if the only reason for the meeting is around their social interaction and if complicated by alcohol, it seems to me there is a risk that in fact the relationship judgment is clouded and the relationship develops in another way. I suppose for the Police Service, it seems to be important to say that at least for appearances, but more fundamentally because of the way we should operate, because of the probity of the way we operate, we need to leave the perception that we are not tainted by being too close to any part of society. That sometimes can isolate us. So I think we have to make sure we're not isolated, but I think at times that just by what might be seen by some as austere, provided we have a good professional relationship, provided we're open about it and provided that therefore we can be held account, we're using probably the right place. Will that stop all officers having a drink with a journalist? I doubt it. If you it happens once, so what? For me, it's the pattern. If it was to be a regular relationship, it's that that starts to change the nature of it. One drink, one coffee, one meal. I'm not sure that of itself is going to damage anybody's integrity or the perceptions of it, but I think sustained contact is something that can. I don't say it always will, but I think it can. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON A very good example, I suppose, of that is the perception of the whole investigation into Caryatid and thereafter, isn't it? That's probably what has caused something of the swing back: the allegation that the police deliberately didn't pursue Caryatid further, the allegation that the investigation wasn't reopened in 2009 and 2010 because of relationships or the perception that that was so, is what's led to the fact that now, of course, Weeting is defaulting to look in enormous detail at all the material, and it's perhaps not surprising that police officers have become distinctly concerned about what their seniors might think of what they're doing. Would that be a fair presentation of the picture?
A. I think so, sir. The first thing, it seems to me from what I've heard of the evidence and seen, is that where those relationships were started, between a journalist and/or a well, a police officer, I'm not sure I've seen evidence that in fact that relationship was started with the intention of preventing any further investigation of phone hacking. However, it's left the perception, at least, which is maybe rebuttable but is an assumption which has to be challenged, which is that it may have influenced in some way the thoroughness of that investigation. And that's an unfortunate place to be for a police officer, to have to start addressing that before they explain why they did or didn't do something. It can be hard enough sometimes to explain why you did or didn't do something even when it's a very straightforward case where there can be no allegation that there was bias involved, but where there's an establishment of some perception of bias, then it leaves a police officer in a difficult position if that investigation doesn't go as well as it should. There are many reasons we fail. We fail sometimes through negligence. We fail through error. We fail because we just didn't do our job properly. I think people can accept human error. What the except is that if that's contaminated by a perception of prejudice. MR JAY Similar issues arise not just with the media but when the police are investigating alleged wrongdoing in government; is that right?
A. Yes, and I think that's an area which I think the Inquiry's touched on too, which is about: we investigate, you know, some simple crimes. A burglar somebody who steals a car, where you have a inspanidual and a relatively straightforward case. What can be quite hard is where we investigate large organisations and that includes the government. So particularly the Met, because of where we are and the scale of the organisation, if we investigate a very large, complex organisation, we can be investigating very discrete parts of it. The closer that discrete part gets to being a pattern of behaviour across the organisation, or the nearer it gets to the hierarchy of the organisation, the more it is of a challenge of how we maintain a relationship with that organisation going forward. It's not only with central government; it can be with a local authority. There are many ways in which the police have to be careful about that relationship once we start either to deal with the organisation as a victim or as a potential offender. It's a great challenge as to where that line is drawn and I think people are public knowledge about the investigation we've had into the security services about some of their historical investigations. We still have to maintain relationships with those security services. We have a duty to maintain public safety, but at the same time we have to investigate fearlessly. So it's not an easy line to draw at times and we try hard to get that right. I can't sit here and say it's an easy line to draw. Whether it be government, whether it be very large organisations in the press in one case, or some very large public bodies or very large private bodies, we have to think our way through it quite carefully. MR JAY A bit later in your statement, paragraph 18, you identify five public interest reasons why the media should be properly informed. You don't include there the issue of reputation management, which arguably features in the media policy. Is that something which you feel is appropriately put forward by the organisation? Unless you think it comes out implicitly in point 4.
A. I think it is implicit because I certainly wouldn't ignore it. I think you have to at least consider that that's important. In fact, if you bear in mind where Lord Stevens' media strategy started, it was the consequences, in a way, of the MacPherson Inquiry: an organisation that was feeling pretty insecure, that was on the back foot in dealing with not only the press but with the public in general, and I think he was trying to promote a more confident Met. Something that I've always felt strongly about is I, as a now commissioner, chief constable before the leadership of a police force or service has a duty, as an ambassador, to get the story out there about what they're trying to do. People may criticise about not doing the right thing. They may criticise them when they got it wrong and there may be many reasons for criticism, but I think it's an important part of leadership for a police force to get out the context in which that organisation operates, the challenge they face, some of the things they try to get right, and I think that dialogue with the public is vital for no other reason than 60 million people pay nearly 13 billion in taxes every year and deserve to understand what it's being spent on and how the police fulfil their duties. So I think there is a vital probably I wouldn't you the words "reputation management", but I do think public information is vital to make sure the public are informed about what their Police Service is trying to do on their behalf.
Q. The boundary between getting the best information out about your service and spin is often quite difficult to define, isn't it?
A. It could be, but perhaps if I could offer well, probably one example where the I think just an example of where the Inquiry may make its own judgment about whether it's spin. We, in Merseyside and here in London, are having a big push against uninsured motor vehicle. We take lots of motor vehicles off the road that are uninsured and the broad argument is because uninsured drivers, 70 per cent of them are criminals, they have a criminal for criminality. So it reduces their mobility and in any case, they shouldn't be driving around in uninsured cars. So we have a big push on that and we get the press involved. Two days out of every 28, the whole organisation, right across London, will do this so the public can see and we tell the public about that, either by them driving past it or by using the press to get the message over. Now, it's not the entire thing 53,000 people do 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but it's one of the things that we can explain clearly in a way that the press may not report some of the more routine, the more mundane things. They're very important, but are not as easily reported. So I think some may call that spin, but I think it's just explaining to the public that you're taking something seriously, what we're doing about it, and if they see 20 officers stopping lots of cars and taking them off the road, it's not because they're speeding, although that's important; it is because there is actually a serious reason behind it and we're acting on their behalf. So I think there is a great value in explaining to the public the scale of the task, because of course, as sometimes you know, in criminal courts and for the judiciary, they only see the cases that come before them. We're not always able to put in the public domain all the cases we would have liked to have brought, had we had enough evidence, or all the cases where we never had a suspect but there was a crime, and that's the reality that people live and this is trying to fill that gap.
Q. Is it the job of the press in any way to help the police in terms of the face the police wants to present to the public?
A. I think they have a duty I think they accept this duty, which is to you know, in the public interest, to share information that the police may offer if it either stops crime or stops someone becoming a victim or helps the police and the criminal justice process to catch and prosecute an offender. So I think there is a duty there that it seems to me there may not a legal duty but certainly a moral duty which they accept, and certainly my experience in the past is that they've been vital to making sure that in really difficult cases the police have done their job. And I just offer two examples from Merseyside, which is, one, the murder of Rhys Jones, the 11-year-old boy who was shot dead in Croxteth, and the public interest, as expressed by the media, which was a huge pressure around the investigation, actually caused more witnesses to come forward and for people to help us in extraordinary ways that we might not have normally expected. The other one was the racist murder of Anthony Walker, a young man who was murdered for no other reason than he was black and he happened to be walking with a white girl in the Knowsley area of Merseyside. The furore and the anger that came from that enabled a lot of people to help us in ways that aren't always publicly known but made a real difference to that case. I don't think we'd have solved, as we did in that case, within about 48 hours. We got the offenders back from because they'd gone off the Holland and a huge amount of work produced by football clubs, Manchester City, because there was a relative there; they helped. Lawyers helped in a way that we'd not seen before. The whole extradition process worked incredibly smoothly. So I give those as two examples where the interests of the press may be challenging, and they may ask a lot of hard questions and, at times, criticise the Inquiry, but those are two case where had we not had that help, I doubt we'd have had the success we had in both case. There are many other examples I'm sure we could quote in London and across the country but they were two powerful for me in Merseyside. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is there a risk with those cases, these extremely high-profile cases where the press get extremely interested, that there is a prospect that what might be otherwise generally accepted canons of press reporting simply fall by the way. You don't need me to give you the examples of those in the recent past.
A. No, sir, and I think that example we're probably both thinking of is a pretty awful example of that and there should never for me, there should be no naming of suspects by the police or by the press. It's just intolerable for two reasons: one, it's improper, legally well, I'm not sure it's illegal but it's improper. But more importantly, it often is wrong. If you look at the Reece Jones case, which took a year to actually arrest and charge the offenders and in the end, I think we arrested and charged about 11 people in that case, the offender was named on the wall on a wall in the area in which Reece Jones was murdered. It was painted on the wall the name of the offender. That was public knowledge and everybody in the area thought they knew they did it, and we thought we did too. But there's no way we confirmed that to the press, nor should we ever have done that. We worked our way methodically, over a year, to prove the case against him and the people who had helped him after the event. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's not so much the identification of somebody who is "helping the police with their inquiries"; it's more or I ask for your comment upon whether it's more the creation of an image around that person which is potentially detrimental to the investigation and the operation of the criminal justice system in a fair and impartial way. Would that be fair?
A. Well, sir, for me there should be no comment by the police on suspects. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, that's fine, but I think you said no identification.
A. Ah, sorry. Well, I should have been more careful. I was trying to mean that there should be no background briefing on suspects. There should be no comment about suspects. Of course talk about the inquiry, about how many people are investigating, is there a line of inquiry. You know, there are times when you will announce an arrest and there are times you may not, but there should be no reason for you to say, "And this man, this woman, are people who we are interested in and we are now pursuing a case against them." I can see no benefit in that and no reason for it. I suppose the only caveat to that would be if you have someone who you believe is dangerous and is on the run, as we may find in France from the events of yesterday, is that if you have someone who you believe is a strong suspect in a case and if you do not arrest them quickly, with the public's assistance, then they will go on and hurt someone else or commit some very serious crime, then on those occasions and I think we used that in the we did use it in the Anthony Walker case, is that we put into the public domain who we were looking for. But it is a very hard test, because there is a risk therefore to the court process later. If you've named someone and shared a photograph, it can limit some of the evidential lines that may be available later. So it's always a case that that type of revelation is always made after a careful discussion, particularly with CPS and our own lawyers, to make sure that we can substantiate the dangerous and, number two, is there is reason to alert the public at large so we can locate them before they hurt someone else? That would be the only time I could see. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Tell me: in the cases that you have been responsible for, has this been an open dialogue with the press to ensure they don't go beyond the lines that you feel appropriate or have you rather just had to leave them to get on to do what they want to do?
A. What's tended to happen I think has been that often they will if we take the Reece Jones case, where there was a name on the wall and they report back to us what they have seen, they report what people in the area tell them and they say, "We believe X is the person responsible", we didn't and we shouldn't confirm or deny that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Let me give you a different example. I know about the case because, as you are probably aware, I tried those who were convicted of murdering Anthony Walker. There was an issue about a website where messages were left in support and raised questions about risk of prejudice to a potential trial, and you will remember there was a big debate as to whether the trial should be in Liverpool or moved out of Liverpool, and in the end it was conducted in Liverpool with a jury from Lancashire. That's how we coped with that particular problem. But I'm just wondering whether you see a role for the police in seeking to engage with the press in trying to ensure that that sort of issue doesn't arise, whether it happened in that case, whether you see a role for it, how you see that developing.
A. I think in the cases where the press come to us and say, "We believe X committed this crime", we would always counsel them not to share that information with the public. It seems to me that if we are able to put into the discussion we don't initiate that piece of information as a starting point, but if they come to us with something which we know to be true, then we can hardly deny the truth and if they're right, they're right. But I think we have got a duty to try and persuade them to use that information responsibly, which often will mean not publishing it, because that, for me, will compromise the criminal justice process. That's what it's there for. All they can be reporting, often at an early stage of an investigation, is their suspicion. Well, as we've seen numerous times, suspicions don't always materialise into charges and charges don't always materialise into convictions. So for me, there's never a reason to start sharing partial information, and on the whole I've found the press to be pretty good at that. The difficulty comes when you have a long-running investigation where the press start to challenge, on behalf of the public, whether the investigation is being run in a professional manner and whether or not you're taking all steps you can to secure a conviction. That's where it can become more challenging. But I think provided the press are reassured that it's a professional investigation that's being well led, well-managed, they accept some of the problems we sometimes face and they will hold off. You sometimes see challenges when they don't think that's the case.
Q. A related theme is the issue media ride alongs, the media or perhaps other public figures coming along to arrest operations by the police. I've been asked to raise this with you: that the risk to Article 8, privacy rights in particular and possible Article 6 fair trial rights is such that as a matter of principle investigating journalists who never be invited to such occasions. What's your view about that?
A. I'm not sure I agree. I think for the reasons I said earlier, I think there is a place to explain to the public through the press what's happening, and provided there is no identification of the suspect or information for them later to be identified, then I don't see that in my view I mean, obviously it will be for others to do decide it's a risk to the judicial process, and what usually happens is that the faces of the people are blacked out. I suppose if there was any location that was so obviously related to one person, then it would be a risk to take a journalist along and then show pictures before a court trial of the occasion. But there's probably two broad groups of use of the journalist in those cases. The first one is where the publication of the material is after the conviction and the other one is when it's transmitted on the day of the event, and they're usually for these big operations that we carry out. But usually great care is taken to make sure that, first of all, the press who are at the event are chaperoned. They have no right of entry into the properties so they should not go into the properties. Number two is that the inspaniduals who are the suspects and are the subject of arrest when you get there, or were being sought when you arrived, are not identified, and there should be nothing, the written nor the visual accounts, that allow that to happen. It is really to get the story that the police are taking action in an area about a particular type of crime, be it drugs or whatever, not that this inspanidual was a subject of the investigation. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Hogan-Howe, could I ask you to slow down a bit.
A. Sorry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Because I think we're having a bit of difficulty making sure we get every word.
A. Sorry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR JAY May I ask you please to go back in your statement, Mr Hogan-Howe, to paragraph 12, our page 55645. This is a policy which one deduces that Mr Godwin imposed, that all members of management board are being required to give a record of all contact they have with the media, and by implication that's the fact of contact, not necessarily what was discussed, although it may include the gist of what was discussed, may it? I don't know. Can you assist us on that?
A. Yeah, generally the idea would be not to have a transcript, nor trying to capture in any way the conversation, but at least the reason for the meeting. I suppose if there was anything critical that was mentioned that there ought to be a record of, then that seems to me to be wise. Of course, what this doesn't distinguish in this paragraph in my statement is obviously that you'd have a different standard about an ongoing criminal inquiry or a civil litigation or anything that was contentious. You might have to come to a completely different view about how much of the material was recorded.
Q. A number of journalists have expressed the view, not necessarily in the context of the management board but more widely about contact with the police, that this imposes an overbureaucratic requirement and one, moreover, which may well have a chilling effect, because human nature being as it is, if you require a record of something and possible auditing of it subsequently, there will be less contact. Do you accept that?
A. I hope not, because I think the principle that's behind this is to try and establish an open and accountable relationship with the press. That's the only purpose of it. Not to stop it, not to inhibit in its generosity of sharing information. The idea is merely to make sure that the fact of the event is recorded and that therefore someone later may say, "Why did you have that meeting?" and then there is no secrecy. I think if the meeting was an open event, or an open event if the meeting was for a good purpose, a policing purpose, I can see no reason why somebody would query that. I suppose if it was a whistle blower, you may come to a different conclusion, but I'm not we're not trying to stop the whistle-blowers. This is about developing a pattern of relationship and by having an account, we can monitor that to see whether or not an inappropriate relationship is developing or whether, as has been said by some of the witnesses in this Inquiry, has it been a partial relationship with the press to one newspaper, one journalist, disproportionate to the whole media that's available? So that's the purpose of it. The operation of it in the first few months doesn't seem to have produced any great bureaucracy because the idea is just using diaries to capture the event, and diaries can capture the broad purpose of the meeting. We're making some we are monitoring it at board level to make sure that we are in the right place, because the criticism in the past has been the leaders aren't in the right place, so we need to make sure we're doing it properly, and then there's a more random sampling further down the organisation. But I don't think there's any great forms to be filled in. Now, what I can't anticipate is how the journalists have perceived how that's worked for them, but we as I said earlier, we seem to be having the same number of professional contacts in those things which we should properly discuss with the public.
Q. I think it goes back to a point I made earlier. It's the "flow of information", in inverted commas, which may or may not be authorised which is, at least in part, dried up. The evidence the Inquiry has received is that that has been the result of this change in policy since the summer of last year. Of course, the more formal contacts, the interviews, the briefings, even the off-the-record briefings, that hasn't altered; it's the slightly more subterranean contacts which may have dwindled. Would you accept that?
A. If that's what the journalists say, I'd have to accept it. I have no real evidence myself one way or another, really. I suppose I'd not be too disappointed if tittle-tattle is stopped, but if there was things of genuine public interest, then it would be a shame if that sort of thing had been a problem, and if we have a more accountable system, then I would be more proud of that than I would be of a system for which we can't be held to account. So I'm not disappointed at that, but obviously the outcome of this Inquiry will help us to decide whether we've set the bar in the wrong place. But it is certainly not intended to be bureaucratic and it's certainly not intended to inhibit the proper relationship between the press and the police on behalf of the public.
Q. We move on to a separate matter, and that's of training. Paragraph 15. You rightly tell us that the current SOP for media contact authorises officers of inspector rank and above to speak to the media without the prior approval of senior officers. Just the related point: do you have a view as to whether existing training in the MPS for those of inspector rank and above is sufficient?
A. I think we're going to need to revisit that. First of all, we've come to, as I said, some interim positions awaiting the outcome of this Inquiry. So we've made some changes to our policies, but I think one of the ways to embed policy is to make sure that we train people appropriately, so we've already started to feed into our probational training and the promotion training these types of issues that come up in this Inquiry. But what I didn't want to do until, I think, the autumn, when this Inquiry reports, is set up a whole new set of training for up to 53,000 people and then find we have to do it again and reset it. So we've come to an interim position, which may change. We've shared it by normal communication methods. We haven't fundamentally yet changed our training, and I think it's just a bit premature for me to conclude that I have exactly the right place to set that training in, although people are already aware of this Inquiry and they're already aware of some of the risks from the past.
Q. Then you say in the next paragraph, paragraph 16, our page 55646, four lines down: "The training [that's existing training, which is I think largely provided by the DPA] seeks to help officers determine what information is and is not appropriate to provide to the media." Can you assist us a little bit more with that, Mr Hogan-Howe? How can officers make that differentiation and how does the training assist them do that?
A. The first thing is that I suppose we try and differentiate, first of all, between a criminal inquiry, a criminal investigation that the officers or staff are involved in, because that's quite different from any of the other things we deal with. Not everything we deal with is a crime, and not everything action of a police officer or all our staff is involved in crime investigation. There are many other things we do too. So I think the first thing is: is this a criminal investigation? What we try to ensure, I think you'll see through our policies, is if an officer or a member of staff of the 53,000 is not involved in an investigation, they really shouldn't be commenting on it. That's really vital, because of course the senior investigating officer, particularly in a very serious crime, may well be held to account during the criminal justice process for the press reports of their investigation and what information was released by the press during that investigation, for the very reasons we were talking about earlier. And the SIO, the senior investigating officer, is in court quite often and challenged about: "Why did you say this to the press? Why you did make that press release at that stage?" So we try to impress on our staff: "If you're not involved in an investigation, don't comment on it, or if you feel as though there is a need to, the very least you have to do is talk to the SIO because it may be a critical part of the inquiry that you are totally unaware of some of the other contexts in which that inquiry is being carried out." The second thing is generally we do try and promote good healthy relationships, for example with the neighbourhood sergeant. They're expected to know their local journalist, get information out there and to accept if they get a query from them about what they're doing about a particular problem. So the idea is to overall have a positive relationship, but I accept that as a police force, we there are restrictions when we're investigating crime.
Q. When you begin to look to the future in your statement, page 55649, paragraph 22 and following you state in paragraph 23 a clear need to review the existing procedures, and that is in train. The philosophy behind this is clear from the last sentence of paragraph 22: "It matters not only that there is no impropriety in our relationships with external organisations but also that there does not appear to be any such impropriety." Can I ask you specifically your views about the recommendations in the Elizabeth Filkin report. You make it clear that, generally speaking, you favour her recommendations. Well, that's implicit in paragraphs 26 and 27, but is there anything in particular about her recommendations rather than the narrative of the report which you'd like to tell us about?
A. I don't think in particular. I think the first point we make is that we accept the findings. The conclusion that Elizabeth Filkin draws, we accept. We're having to do a little work around some of the recommendations, only in the sense that for a very big organisation we have to make sure those recommendations will work and certainly my view of leadership is that I don't sign up to just broad principles. I want to know how it's going to work. How do we expect 53,000 people, plus a few more who join us as volunteers, to actually operationalise this? So for me, we're doing a little more work just to make sure that we operationalise that, and there was an appendix to Elizabeth's work which was trying to make more practical some of the principled findings. There are one or two areas in that which probably we want to discuss a little more before we actually say that we accept that in total, but on the whole the broad thrust of the report we accept.
Q. One or two of the journalists we've heard commenting on that report have used the words "patronising" or "condescending". Do you too he will that that comes close to the mark or not?
A. I was asked that question in the press conference which we used to launch the report, and I just couldn't recognise that from my reading of it. I didn't feel patronised. I accept that some journalists did but I wasn't sure why. They mentioned, for example I think there was something in the report about flirting and about having drinks with journalists. Well, I didn't take it in that way, and I thought it was written in a sensible style and encouraged people to think differently about something that had become a problem. So I couldn't see that myself. I didn't take it as patronising for police officers, but I can't speak really, I suppose, for the journalists who did.
Q. I think we've also heard evidence it may be have been in the HMIC report that this should be seen as one aspect of a wider issue the sense of ethics and proper standards within the police and that media engagement is only one manifestation of that wider issue and a police officer should have a proper sense of their integrity, what's right and what's wrong. First of all, do you agree with that, and secondly, if you do, how does one best foster these right attitudes, these right thought processes?
A. I think Elizabeth Filkin says if we only concentrate on our relationship with the press, we will probably miss the point in terms of some of the issues we have to address. So I accept that broad point. This is a symptom of something that we have to address. I suppose we have many guides in coming to that integrity issue of how what standard do we apply. So we have the Nolan principles. We have the oath that we swear to uphold the palace impartially. And there is ACPO has carried out various pieces of work about ethics. So therefore there is a body of knowledge which we can use as points for referral, but I don't think they're too unique. You can say that, but I'm not sure they're unique to the police. I think there are other organisations which would observe similar principles of integrity and probity. So for me that's important. Probably the second point for me is that I know I'm going to refer a little to Merseyside, but I've only been back in the Met for a few months, so my most profound experience of leading an organisation was in Merseyside, but within a year we'd come to our own judgment about what our values were and the only guide I gave was I didn't want us to have more than four. You can have a long list which no one can remember or you can have some that can really guide people in the moral dilemmas that sometimes policing delivers. So we agreed four that the organisation consulted on and we came up with four that certainly I could stand by, and we'll do something similar in the Met. I'm not sure it's right always to impose values, but I think there are things that you can agree amongst yourselves about the things that you, as an organisation, stand for. With that piece of work to do, we only really have these points of referral, as in Nolan, as in the oath, and as in the ACPO standards.
Q. You say in paragraph 29, Mr Hogan-Howe, fourth line down, page 55651, that you will not tolerate secret conversations between police officers of whatever rank and representatives of the media: "Contact with the media must always be such as serves the public interest; contact for other purposes can no longer be acceptable." One can understand clearly that secret conversations which are not in the public interest are unacceptable, almost by definition, but some secret conversations may be in the public interest. First of all, do you feel that's right, and secondly, if it is right, how can one differentiate between the secret conversations which are and are not in the public interest?
A. This possible it puts it too starkly or in absolute terms, but the point I was trying to get over was that when speaking to especially as I have to 53,000 people, we put things as clearly as possible, without some of the caveats that, on considered reflection, you may add to that. This is getting over the broad point that in professional terms I wouldn't expect there to be secret conversations. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Why should there be secret the word "secret" just concerns me a little.
A. Yeah, that's the spirit that this phrase was trying to get over. I mean, you can imagine two people who have grown to a friendship or know something private about each other and they share a secret in that sense. In human interaction, I can see how that that might happen, so that's not going to be stopped and I'm not sure anyone can condemn it, but this is really concentrating particularly on the professional and those things for which the Police Service remind accountable and making sure they are discharging their duties properly. That's the point you're trying to get over, not that there can never be a secret, but I think secret conversations about their professional duties are probably inappropriate. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If you're afraid that your superior officers might be critical of you disclosing particular information, then shouldn't that be something of a litmus test as to whether you should be doing it in the first place?
A. I agree. That's really the spirit of what this is trying to get over. But there will be occasions where I suppose there will be secrets shared that doesn't destroy anybody's credibility or honour or integrity. But this is a place to rest, I think. I don't know, sir, if just to return you made a question about values and just one thing struck me which I thought I'd mention, which is as I arrived in the Met, back in September, I offered the organisation I said I don't think it's right to impose values, but I offered the organisation three values by which I hoped they could judge me, and therefore you know, for a new start for us, which were humility, integrity and transparency. They were things that were important to me both in policing generally but also in my dealings with the Met, let alone with the public of London and the people who visit here. Now, there are reasons for each one of those, but probably some the reasons we're here today underpin some of the approaches I think we need to consider for the future.
Q. Reading on in paragraph 29, the point where I left off, you say: "Furthermore, and consistent with that approach, meetings should no longer be enhanced by hospitality and alcohol." So you're making possibly a link there between meetings which are enhanced by hospitality and alcohol and secret conversations. Are you intending to?
A. Not particularly. I think I can see the way that reads, but I'm not sure I had that clearly in mind. I think it was just to say that it seems to me that if there is a professional need to meet, it's not clear it needs to be over a meal. There are ways to meet without that happening, and as soon as alcohol is involved, then the risk is, going back to perceptions, that someone's judgment may be clouded. So if it remains a professional meeting, is there a need for it? If there is no need and of course, as I say, going back to do you remember the meetings that you might occasionally have, where you bump into someone at a social event where alcohol is available? Say, for example, you sat by an editor of a newspaper. I think one of your witnesses referred to that particular event an event like that happening where I was at an event. Is the answer that if you happen to be sat next to an editor of a newspaper, you get up and walk to another part of the room or you cannot sit together? I don't think, for me, that would be a very sensible solution to the problems that the Inquiry is identifying, but I did remark before in meetings with Mr May(sic) that that event that the editor referred to, for me, from my perspective, was just an example of how silly it can get, because that person walked into the room, with me previously completely unaware of who he was, at a social event. I sought to engage him just in saying, "Good evening." He didn't look at me, spent the rest of the next 15, 20 minutes not looking at me at the same table and eventually he stood up because he was sponsoring the event, and I then understood he was the editor of a newspaper. Eventually, after about an hour had elapsed, he said, "I wasn't going to speak because I wasn't sure that we could." It seems to me to get to that position would be silly. I don't think anybody's regarding an occasional meeting with a fellow professional at which you may well discuss policing or contemporary issues as a risk to the integrity of either organisation. I only offer it as an example of how inspaniduals who are genuinely trying to do the right thing might end up a silly place. I don't think this Inquiry is intending that and certainly I'm not, but I can see that that was the outcome on that particular occasion. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think I've said over the last day or so that there is a risk that there is a lack of certainty and clarity, an unhappiness about what's going on, that inevitably will take some time to settle down.
A. (Nods head) MR JAY A number of witnesses have made the point: well, police officers are busy people, a natural occasion to meet is at lunchtime or in the evening, and therefore it follows from that that it could and should be over a meal, because not merely is it a natural occasion, but it's convenient and appropriate. Would you agree with that?
A. The same point's been made to me by a couple of journalists. The only point I made back to them, half in jest but not entirely, is that the police stopped giving alcohol in interviews some time ago. I'm afraid that when alcohol comes in, inhibitions are well, there are less inhibitions. I think there is a reason why alcohol is an important factor. It's not just the social event; it's the impact that alcohol can have on everybody's judgment. So I think it's probably best avoided, but I'm not sure it has to be an absolute rule if you happen to meet.
Q. We haven't yet looked, Mr Hogan-Howe, at the current policy on gifts and hospitality, which is in the file immediately to your right under tab B9. It starts at page 04810. It's the gifts and hospitality policy, which started
A. I'm sorry, I'm just struggling to find it. What was the reference again?
Q. It's tab B9.
A. And then page?
Q. The first page
A. Ah, okay.
Q. I don't know how that volume is paginated, but it should have or hopefully has the number at the bottom which ends 04810. It might not. Does it say: "Resources policy, gifts and hospitality. Notice reference date: 8 February 2012."
A. It does. If it helps, the page I have is 1 of 14 on the top right-hand corner.
Q. Yes. My copy's been cut off. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's printed from the intranet on 10 February 2012? That's the copy I have.
A. (Nods head) MR JAY Is this an interim policy, as it were, which is awaiting the outcome of this and other inquiries?
A. It's an interim policy in the sense that we've adopted it from I think it was February, I think you referred to earlier that we adopt from February, interim in the sense that we're awaiting the outcome of the inquiry to see whether or not we should amend it.
Q. You certainly wouldn't describe it as sybaritic. If one looks at some of the detail of it 04812, the pagination at the top, I think it's page 3 of 14 you can see the purpose: to protect the integrity of the MPS, ensure that inspanidual members of staff are note compromised by the acceptance, rejection or offering of gifts and hospitality So that would include the issue of perception. "Scope". If you look at paragraph 4, it refers to "an offer of a gift or hospitality being perceived or provided, whether on or off duty". Is this intending to capture attendance at sporting events which may be technically off duty if it's on a Saturday afternoon at Twickenham or wherever, and possibly even dinners which are outside strict working hours? Is that the intention?
A. That's it, really. It's not intended to capture people in their private moments when they're not that whatever they're doing has nothing to do with their professional responsibilities. This is purely if they are invited to a social event or an event or given a gift or hospitality when they're off duty, that clearly that offer is linked to their role as a police officer or member of the police staff of the Metropolitan Police. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So if they're a member of a football team and they win a competition and they get an award, that's fine?
A. Yes, yes, sir, by all means. I mean, there will be some grey areas where you have to look into it, but on the whole it's fairly clear. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh yes, one could easily postulate a circumstance where it's a police football team and the sponsor of the event has decided the winning team should receive an enormously expensively expensive glass decanter. One can change the facts.
A. I think the other thing we have to be aware of is that sometimes and there's been criticism about attendance at sporting events in the past is that the offer you you need to enquire into who is making the offer. Is the organisation which is organising the event or is it another organisation who you might be procuring a contract with, at which this is access to a sporting event? And then you have to query what's the modification behind it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So that might cover, for example, being invited into a box at a football match?
A. Yes. So therefore that type of question has to be asked. So clearly the person may be off duty or not at work, but the link is back to their employment, and it's that, really, that we're trying to capture there. MR JAY Yes. But if there's no link at all with employment, then it's outside the policy; is that right?
A. Sorry?
Q. If there's no link at all with employment with the MPS, then we're outside the policy?
A. Yes, I think it's wise, certainly for very senior people, to be more generous in their interpretation of this and to overreport rather than underreport. If they have nothing to hide, even if it's a private event, it's always better probably to explain. Because of course the test goes back to the perceptions test. If this is a large public event at which a recognisable character, whether they be the Commissioner or someone else who is a public figure, is recognised, the public or the press may always understand in what circumstance are they there? They may be paid to be there and be there quite legitimately, but if there is any suspicion that there's another reason for them being there, then we ought to probably record it and then, if asked, we can explain. So it's trying to encourage people to be as open as possible and the more senior the person the more that responsibility lies with them, I think.
Q. The general principle is in the policy statement, section 5: "The policy of the MPS that police officers and others must not accept gifts, hospitality or other benefits or services that would place them or be perceived to place them under an obligation or compromise their judgment and integrity. Offers of gifts and hospitality must therefore be declined with an explanation of this policy. The only exception to this is where it can clearly be justified that to refuse would cause serious offence or damage working relations." Can I just understand what is being permitted here and what isn't? A gift or hospitality can be accept if it doesn't compromise judgment and integrity; is that right?
A. Broadly, yes. I mean, if it helps, perhaps, the Inquiry, the sort of things that sometimes happen in this area for example, in the time that I've been Commissioner now for around five months. Through the post, unsolicited, I will receive a copy of a book. It's neither a I've not known anything about the book. The books are not always what I nor we would necessarily want to read, but for whatever reason, the office of Commissioner attracts that type of interest. The Metropolitan Police provide a protection service not only to the Royal Family but also to the embassies in London, and often the embassy will offer a small gift to represent their gratitude for the work that's been carried out, and I think it's generally offered in the spirit of just saying thank you. They're usually very small amounts in value. So it's just trying to recognise from time to time if someone offers something, we try not to reject something if we can, but on the whole probably best that we don't accept gifts. But generally these will be very low value things and certainly if there's anything of a high value, then they're not accepted or I think occasionally we've had slightly higher value gifts where actually they have been auctioned off and then the proceeds have gone to some charity. So we've not sent the gift back, but we've made clear that we can't accept it to the donor but if they accept that we use the proceeds to commit to a benevolent fund of some kind, then people seem to accept that's a reasonable way of dealing with it. So we don't get a personal benefit but the charity might.
Q. Some further assistance here is provided by the appendices, C and D, which are page 05822 at the top of the page, it's page 12 of 14.
A. Thank you.
Q. Appendix C, gifts and hospitality that can be accepted and do not have to be recorded on the register. You have cups of tea, in the second item, working lunches and dinners which form part of meetings, training events, et cetera, where attendance is in the interests of the MPS. So those don't even have to be recorded on the register because they're part and parcel of work events, really; is that right?
A. That's right.
Q. Then appendix D, on the other hand, examples of gifts and hospitality which should never be accepted. These are financial payment resulting from publication of articles, repeated acceptance of gifts and hospitality from the same person or organisation, even where the value on each occasion is less than ?25, and then gifts offered from outside contractors where there's a plain appearance of bias, I suppose. Then there must be cases in the middle where gifts and hospitality can be accepted but do have to be recorded in the register. Have I correctly understood it?
A. That's right.
Q. That would include, therefore, meals, provided that they meet the general test in section 5, that it wouldn't be perceived to or would not place the recipient under an obligation or compromise their judgment and integrity?
A. Yeah, I think that one of the other broad principles that goes along with this is that if you are offered a gift, the first thing to do is report it to someone else, rather than make the judgment yourself. If you have to make the judgment at the time then make it, but at the very least is to let someone more senior know that that's happened or that you've been offered something, and therefore you have the benefit of that the wisdom of their judgment and also their responsibility for you either accepting or not accepting that gift. If it was my case, I'd expect to do that with the chief executive of the now the Mayoral Office for the Police, previously the Police Authority, if I needed guidance on that.
Q. Is the intention that this policy may be reconsidered following recommendations by others, including this Inquiry?
A. Certainly, sir, yes. If there's any further advice or any judgments that this advice here is inaccurate or unhelpful, then of course we would reconsider. Or there's a better way of expressing the intention that lays behind these different appendices. It is a sad list, in a way, of detail which you might hope you don't have to create that sort of list, but that's the level we've got to of trying to give clear guidance so that there can be no confusion about what is okay and what isn't. If there's a better way of expressing it, then we would be happy to consider it. MR JAY Those are all the points I had on that policy. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Anybody exercising judgment as to what's appropriate and what's not appropriate actually may not need the detail, but the detail is there for those who don't know where the line should be drawn.
A. Yes, sir, that's right. If you bear in mind this is for 53,000 people in various roles, some who have not had a huge amount of training, some who have come into contact with the public quite regularly. I'd have very little excuse for not understanding the principles behind this or why it's important to have these rules, but we employ analysts, cleaners, drivers. You know, there are many other people who need very clear guidance and they haven't had the benefit of training, nor have a great history of getting involved in this type of decision-making. So it's designed for two broad groups of people: one who should know and then those who may not. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The other problem about it, of course, is that the further up the management chain one goes, the more careful one has to be.
A. I think so, sir. I think the more responsibilities that come with the job, the more you do have to be sensitive, again, to how people see if, even if it's well intended. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's the point. MR JAY I move off that issue to a different one. It's paragraph 30 of your statement where you deal with the issue of restraint of trade, and leaving the MPS and obtaining employment elsewhere. I think in relation to ACPO-ranked police officers which is commander level and above?
A. That's right. Well, certainly in the Met. In the provinces it's assistant chief constable is the equivalent to commander.
Q. The position now is that the new authority is responsible for perhaps you can help me with this. After January of this year, MOPC appoints who of the ACPO rank?
A. The MOPC appoints actually, it doesn't directly appoint anyone now. What happened, back as I explain in the (inaudible), prior to the Police Authority existing, of course, the Home Secretary was the authority for the Metropolitan Police and appointed it's Crown appointment the Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner and the assistant commissioners who were there at the time. They were all Crown appointments carried out through the Home Secretary. When the Police Authority was created this is something of the order of 2000 then they took responsibility for the appointment of office of Commander, Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner, but the Commissioner and Deputy remained Crown appointments. The position now, as of January 17, is that when the MOPC was created instead of the Police Authority, the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner remain Home Secretary Crown appointments on the advice of the Met, whereas with the other chief officer ranks are appointed and disciplined by the Commissioner. So it's gone through a transition over the last 12 years, but that's the latest iteration, is as of January 12, then up to Commander, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner appointed by the Commissioner, although we have agreed with the MOPC that in fact we'll do it on their advice in the way that they took our advice when they were previously appointing commanders. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's rather interesting, isn't it? Because in non-Met areas, presumably the Commissioner, if that's comes into force, will be responsible for appointing the Chief Constable, which is probably the same rank level as Assistant Commissioner.
A. That's right, sir, yes, although obviously the singular lead of the organisation. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand that. I understand that. MR JAY Under the MPA terms and conditions which relate to ACPO-ranked officers, which I suppose no longer applies, there was a provision, clause 25, which related to post authority employment and appointments and the consent of the chief executive of the MPA was required in relation to two categories of employment, which doesn't in fact cover media employment, on my understanding. That's the same as yours?
A. That's right, sir, yes. This advice is more pointed towards procurement, so that there is not an inappropriate relationship develops between say, for example, I was to retire tomorrow and that I don't go and work with an organisation that is contracting with the Metropolitan Police, because one, I might have information which may be helpful to their bid, number two is it might be seen that they have an inappropriate influence. So that's where that advice is pointed towards, is ensuring that that doesn't happen, or if it is to happen, it's at least being considered by the chief executive to whether that's an inappropriate relationship.
Q. The issue then of restraint of trade clauses which might apply to media employment after leaving the MPS is terrain which is previously unchartered, isn't it?
A. It is, sir, yes.
Q. You're suggesting at the end of paragraph 30 that such restraint of trade clauses should be limited to a reasonable period, which you suggest might be 12 months. Have I correctly understood it?
A. Yes, sir. I mean, it seems to me that something of the order between 12 months and two years is probably where this might settle, but I certainly would advise a cooling-off period.
Q. Thank you.
A. I think just to offer you might imagine that after this Inquiry that it seems blindingly obvious, but I think equally it's a little difficult sometimes for retiring colleagues to make judgments on colleagues they've just left behind, when of course some the consequences of their tenure must overhang their departure.
Q. Can I move on to the issue of leaks now, Mr Hogan-Howe. Page 55656. It's paragraph 43 and following. Since you've started as Commissioner, there have been nine separate investigations, five investigations linked to information leaks to national newspapers. So this is covering a six or seven-month period, is it?
A. That's correct, sir, yes.
Q. Are you able to assist at all your view as to the motivation behind these leaks to the media?
A. I'm afraid I'm not because I just don't know the outcome of those particular inquiries, but I think we tried to explain the statement if not, I can now which is that often this is started by a report within the press that indicates there is a police source. That doesn't always indicate it's a member of the Metropolitan Police or even it's a police officer. If it appears to be an unauthorised leak, then we want to establish: well, was it an unauthorised leak? Because sometimes what appears to be unauthorised when you start asking questions, you discover in fact it was an authorised leak, but just the management board weren't aware of it. That's fine if it is with a proper thing, but where we can't establish that early on, we try to find out why did that particular information leak. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's interesting that everybody's saying, "Oh, well, it's all very much more difficult while the Inquiry is ongoing and we're not having the same contact", and yet still, in the period since you've started, there have been a number of incidents of which you have some concern.
A. Yes, sir. I think there is an irony there. One thing I would like to make clear I've tried to make it clear in my statement I would never argue for every leak to be investigated. I think you can drive yourself barmy, I think, if we did that. It is where the consequences are serious or it might display a pattern of behaviour that we want to investigate. It's those things that are of concern to me, not, as I said earlier, tittle-tattle. If it happens, it happens, but big organisations, that will happen from time to time, but it is if it starts to damage our reputation in terms of the integrity of how we handle confidential information and sometimes secret information, which it is vital we have that for the trust of our partners and of the public that we are able to maintain that sort of secrecy. MR JAY But it's self-evident that no amount of recording of contact with the media or at least the requirement for such recording would prevent the sort of leaks you're referring to here, would it?
A. No, sir, I don't think so, but I think what it does mean is that if we do establish the source of the leak and then we ask them did they report that meeting, did they report their account, then there's a starting place for an investigation, both for a monitoring exercise or audit, to say: is that an appropriate link? Is that an appropriate sharing of information? It allows us to have that conversation. If someone has chosen not to point out the contact, then it puts them in position where they have to explain more, and that is the nature of any investigation of that type.
Q. If you're fortunate enough to ascertain the source of the leak in circumstances where it hasn't been recorded, then you're already sort of part of the way down the road to establishing that it was unauthorised.
A. I think so. It's not conclusive evidence, but it's a starting point that builds an assumption that might be challenged later, but the person who has a duty and a policy that says that's what they should do, they have to explain, presumably, why they choose to ignore it.
Q. And turning it around the other way, if you do record the fact of the contact, that assists you because it suggests that you're being open and therefore the dissemination is likely to be authorised, or at least not inappropriate.
A. That's right, sir, and I think the balance between what is public interest in a newspaper and what we would prefer to keep confidential I realise is a difficulty of judgment, but I feel strongly that police are expected to keep secrets. We're expected, on behalf of national interest or sometimes people just give us information and trust us with that information, believing that we will keep it as a private matter, unless of course the legal process later says it should be disclosed. Whether it be government or commercial partners or local authorities, when they tell the police things, I think they expect that we keep it confidential and if we investigate probably just one thing to add: if we're investigating someone's life, as we do when we have a victim of the crime, people are invited into their life to complain about an assault or a burglary, and in the process of that they share a lot of private information. It may be they've met someone they don't want to talk to someone else about. There can be many reasons why people's private modifications need to be kept discrete, and they will share that with us because they trust us not to leak it, and I think if we see a great deal of leaking by the police whether people be famous or whether they be a member of the public, they would expect that we can maintain that privacy and I think they deserve to expect that the police should maintain that so far as we can. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So that would cover photographers turning up at somebody's home who had been burgled, that somebody happening by chance to be well-known?
A. Yes. For me, I don't care whether you're famous or you're a member of the community. You have the same expectations of privacy. So far as we can maintain it, from the information we have, we, the police, should not be promoting to the press that someone's been the victim of crime for the only reason that they happen to be famous. For me, that could never be right. MR JAY Is this a convenient moment? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. We'll take just a few minutes. Thank you. (11.27 am) (A short break) (11.36 am) MR JAY Mr Hogan-Howe, may I deal with the Police National Computer. You worked for two years with the HMIC. That was 2009 and 2011?
A. That's right, sir.
Q. So you are aware, therefore, of significant problems with the PNC over a number of years and alleged or actual abuse. Could you help us, please, with the scale of that problem, both in the Met and elsewhere?
A. I'm sorry, sir, I'm not sure I could give you exact details of numbers, but we could certainly provide the Inquiry with that detail if you would like it. I think over the years it's been a chronic problem for the Police Service about unauthorised leaks of information, sometimes where officers and staff have used it for domestic purposes, but unauthorised, and occasionally fairly rarely, but occasionally where they've been paid for information that's been passed on to people who shouldn't have had it.
Q. Do you have any view as to the additional safeguards which might be imposed to prevent the type of abuse you've just referred to?
A. I am not it may always be that there could be more done, but I'm not sure the scale of the problem is such that there would be any need at the moment to increase the safeguards. They're fairly rigorous. First of all, there is a password access to computers, which means that the user of the computer can be identified fairly quickly. The biggest difficulty often is when there are printouts from computers, and if they are not managed properly, then wide access to the printout can lead to a wider dissemination than is legally allowed. That is a risk that we have to keep an eye on. The other area that is pretty helpful in helping us to monitor this type of problem is that certainly in the Met, we have a covert professional standards department. We have an overt one, so if a member of the public complains against a police officer, they will overtly investigate that, but then we have a covert team, quite a large team, who, if there is a suspicion of this type of misconduct, will covertly investigate it, either through the IT systems and through any other legal investigative technique that we have available.
Q. There was an FOIA request reported in the Telegraph in July 2011 that the MPS confirmed that over 200 officers and support staff in the Met have been disciplined for unlawfully accessing the Police National Computer in the previous ten years, 106 of whom had accessed the information in the last three years. That gives us some sense of the scale of the problem, but I suppose you would say that's against the background of millions of accessing of the computer over the last ten years?
A. I think so. First of all, it's serious. I would never dismiss the seriousness of it. Each incident is serious because for the reason I said before the Inquiry broke, that we have a duty to protect information, and we have a legal duty to protect information. So each incident would be serious. But if one was to consider over the ten years, each year we'd employ 53,000 people and we turn over probably 5,000 to 10,000 people a year, the numbers involved admittedly, the ones we discover are relatively small in a very big organisation. But each incident should be taken seriously. I'm not sure yet it's a very serious problem organisationally, although others may conclude it is.
Q. I've been asked to put this question to you in relation to data protection offences in particular, and this covers the PNC: that you obviously know about Operation Motorman, which was the ICO investigation nine years ago now, and then operations Reproof and Glade, which were police operations. All of them ended either with no proceedings being brought or, it might be said, a singular lack of success. The question is: what is your view of the fact that the attempts to prosecute inquiry agents have been difficult and that no journalists have been prosecuted?
A. I think that's unfortunate. Certainly I think the Police Service can show that it's taken these allegations seriously by the fact, as you explained, is that 200 people have at least had an internal discipline inquiry. Where it can be proved there's a breach of the criminal law, then that course has been pursued, but it's hard to imagine that with so many people in the police are leaking this information. They must be leaking it to someone. What I'm not sure but we perhaps could find out for you is what proportion of the leaks are related to domestic issues and what proportion are to leaks for payment or for some other inappropriate intention.
Q. If you're outside the domestic issue, there's a fairly clear presumption that payment is likely to have passed hands for the information, isn't it?
A. If I was the investigator, that would be my starting point, to exclude that before I considered other motives, but of course there are potentially other motives.
Q. Can I ask you, please, about the Directorate of Public Affairs, which is paragraph 69 and following, page 55665. I suggest to you the press view, that some members of the press say the DPA, to use the terminology of one of them, is a necessary evil. It has to be there because there can't be instantaneous access to police officers who are investigating crimes. But should the DPA, in your view, be the conduit to the officer who will be providing the information or should the DPA be providing the information itself?
A. I think a mixture of the two works quite well. I think if it seems to me the DPA work quite well. If the press office sorry, if the press require a lot of detail, say a set of crime statistics or they're inquiring about factual matters which the press office can help with, or about policies or things of that type, it seems to me the press office are in a good place to provide material and search out that information which is generally available but the press can't get hold of it directly. If, however, you're talking about a police operation or a police criminal investigation or anything that's related to the Police Service as it operates, it seems to me that the leads in the organisation, who are generally the police officers but sometimes police staff, are the ones who should directly speak to the press to express what the policy is or talk about a particular problem. So I think the two working, hopefully in harmony, can work as a partnership pretty well when it's working in a good way. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So you would recognise a concern. You would be concerned if the feedback came that actually journalists were finding it increasingly difficult to get to speak to SIOs or officers in particular areas within their expertise?
A. Definitely, yes. I mean, it's certainly something that I always see when on the occasions that I have met editors or senior people within a local newspaper or sometimes a national one, one of the things I particularly the local ones, say Merseyside, I always wanted to know what was their journalists' experience of their work with Merseyside police, because they have a unique experience of that and one I don't have. Sometimes they are competitive beasts and they want what they want and it needn't necessarily be what they should be getting, so the press office has a guardian role on our behalf. But it was more than that; I wanted to know how they were dealt with, whether they thought they were being dealt with professionally, whether the reasons offered nor not getting information was valid. So I'm always keen to know whether or not the DPA press office are acting as our ambassadors, or too much as a guardian and preventing access. Certainly I'd expect them to get access to the SIO and personally I don't like to see, when there is a police incident or an incident the police are dealing with, a press officer giving an account of what's happening. I think the public should be more reassured by a senior police officer who stands there and explains what's happening, what they've done, and then is held to account as inspanidual if it goes well or if it goes badly, and I don't think a press officer is in the right place to be able to do that directly and be the spokesperson on behalf of the organisation about an operational matter. That's a professional view I hold and I accept that not everybody would agree with that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think the press probably would, but possibly you could help us with this: can you contrast your experience as Chief Constable of Merseyside, dealing with, presumably, the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, as then was, daily newspapers morning and evening, and the press back here in the Met?
A. It is very different. The big obviously the big newspaper here there is only one: the Evening Standard. But the Evening Standard has both a local London effect but it also has a national impact too, not least of which is it feeds into the national dailies on the following day. So we have to acknowledge that it has a significance beyond a local paper. Secondly, obviously any story that's reported in the national newspaper becomes a national story, not just for London. So the dynamic that's at play is significant and then secondly, not only have you got the national dimension through the national newspapers, but of course something that happens in London as the capital city can be nationally significant but also internationally significant. A murder here with a foreign link can often have an impact beyond anything that we can sometimes anticipate. As we've seen over the last few months, there have been attacks on embassies in other countries which have led to attacks on embassies in London, and we have a duty to maintain the safety of all those people who are in those embassies. So I think for many reasons, the dynamic with the press here is quite different, and then finally the impact of the 24-hour reporting through the mass media. The pressure of that here is it's pretty voracious and of course, they have space to still and we have stories to fill it. So that is a competitive environment, which I think only now we're starting to see the latest ramifications, which is social networking and inspaniduals reporting on major public stories. So I think that impact in London I can't say by what factor, but it's hugely amplified to my experience which I saw in South Yorkshire and in Merseyside, but also the last time I was in London, and I left in 2004, returned now in 011. That dynamic, I think, is a major more of an impact than I've seen previously. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON How do you believe the police should use, if at all, the more modern methods of communication? I'm talking about media such as Twitter.
Q. I think we need to get into using that media. In fact, we've started in two big respects. One is that we now have not only a policy but we actually have all the boroughs and the specialist departments, who are now being encouraged to use social networking rather than discouraged in both the IT we have, computers, but also our policies in the past have discouraged that, and so we've now changed that so in fact it's the reverse, and the second thing is to actively allow our own staff access to the Internet. The situation in the past had been is that you could have access to the Internet as one of the 53,000 if you could show good reason to do it, and you end up in this terrible irony where there's open access for the public to information that could be helpful to enquiries or to try and find a missing person or many of the reasons which for information that's on the Internet that helps us to do our job, and yet you would have to believe that we employ 53,000 criminals because we don't give them access to the joy of the Internet. So we just changed that and the reverse assumption is going to apply. So both in our use of social network and in our access to Internet, we're encouraging our staff to use it, not to have to explain why they want to use it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Of course, that carries with it its own responsibilities.
A. It does. There may be an inquiry in ten years' time to say why ever did I do that, but I think the main thing for me is I prefer to monitor the risks of doing it than I would like to sustain the risks of not doing it. I think the risks of not doing something are pretty high. When people go home and get access to an Internet, that is a great opportunity. We employ some great people and we pick them to be for their integrity, not because they're bad people, and we train them and they do some fantastic things on our behalf, and then to say: for the few who might abuse it, we're not going to give access to the whole organisation, I think for me, it's barmy. So we have decided to change that assumption, but it will bring its own risks and we have a plan in place to monitor that. Now, no doubt some will let us down and we'll have to deal with them appropriately, but I prefer that problem rather than an organisation that's a few years behind the times. MR JAY The last point, I think, Mr Hogan-Howe, relates to the HMIC report. You say in paragraph 98 this is our page 55675 that you fully accept the recommendations in that report. The position is that the Deputy Commissioner is reviewing the recommendations and will report in due course, or at least communicate the fruits of that review to HMIC; is that correct?
A. That's correct, sir, yes.
Q. Could you give us the some timescales for that?
A. We expect to report in April, have a paper back to our management board in April this year. Then we'll share the outcome with the HMIC and if this Inquiry would like to see that LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It would be very useful. I entirely endorse your view that it's sensible to have one go at all this, and if you have the HMIC and Filkin and me, whatever I may say, whether it's good or bad, you need to be able to view it all of a piece. I'm sure that's right.
A. That's really helpful, sir. I think the one thing that we know already, for example, though, is that the HMIC talks about areas which Elizabeth Filkin doesn't. So, for example, it talks about how we work with people who procure contracts, that we need to monitor certain things there. So there are things that are additional to Filkin and some which may not be directly linked to this Inquiry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Of course.
A. But you know, we will try and keep them together as long as we can and we will certainly share our conclusions from that April meeting. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR JAY Those are all my questions, thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Hogan-Howe, thank you very much indeed. Six months in, is there anything else you would like to say that might assist me in the work I have to do?
A. No, sir. First of all, I owe you an apology because I've been calling Mr Jay "Mr May" for the entire inquiry, which is my mistake entirely. I got your name wrong. It wasn't that I misremembered. So I apologise. But I think in terms of the Inquiry, I mean, it seems to me that it's really important that we, the police, get this right. I think, as you've indicated already, to keep it as simple as possible, to give people guidance in those areas I always think that if we can achieve some kind of philosophical position where people in the dark hours, when there's no one there to guide them, know which way to turn, then that's usually the best thing. We could have a long list of inspanidual small examples or get one thing that says: actually, if the answer to that is: "I don't think that would be a good idea", like: "Would you put it in the Daily Mail? Would you tell your parents?", whatever that test is, if you're not happy with that the answer to that question, then probably don't do it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The trouble with going into too much detail as that somebody says, "Well, hang you, you didn't mention that. You mentioned that but not this." You can be overly legalistic about documents which go into too much detail.
A. Mm. And I think I would like to get over the point I hope it's come over is that I think the spirit of what Lord Stevens started is the spirit I'd like to continue with. I do want a good adult, open, challenging relationship with the press, but I don't want us to be left in a position where our integrity is perceived to be compromised. Clearly, not to be compromised is the main thing, but certainly no perception of compromise, which leaves us in the position that if something goes badly, the reason that we didn't do something was because the relationship was perceived as being inappropriate. So any guidance we can be given on that would be really helpful, and as I said for me, for me, having to talk to the 53,000 people we have and keep it simple for me tends to be really helpful in getting the message over culturally, quickly. So I think any guidance on that would be appreciated. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. You probably know that I've asked each of your predecessors whether they had any ideas that they should feed in to me. You have the advantage of being represented before the Inquiry, and I have no doubt that you'll have the opportunity therefore, through Mr Garnham, to comment upon whatever else emerges, but if there's anything that in the ensuing weeks you feel you want to feed in, please do not hesitate to do so.
A. Thank you, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed. Thank you for your time. Right, Mr Barr? MR BARR Sir, the next witness is Mr Penrose. MR JUSTIN KEITH PENROSE (sworn) Questions by MR BARR MR BARR Mr Penrose, can you tell us your full name, please?
A. It's Justin Keith Penrose.
Q. You've provided a witness statement to the Inquiry. Are the contents true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?
A. Yes.
Q. You tell us that you are currently the crime correspondent at the Sunday Mirror.
A. That's correct.
Q. You've come to that position having forged a career originally on the Kent Messenger group, and then by way of a stint working for, first of all, the Sun and then the Ferrari Press Agency; is that right?
A. That's correcting.
Q. And you've been working for the Sunday Mirror since August 2004?
A. That's right.
Q. You're a member of the Crime Reporters Association?
A. That's correct.
Q. You tell us a little bit about that in your statement. Can I pick up, first of all, at paragraph 6 of your statement, where you describe a state of paralysis at the moment in relations between the media and the police and say that the police tend to be less forthcoming and more unwilling to talk to the press.
A. That's correct.
Q. You've heard this morning the Commissioner saying that he is not aware of any decline in the amount of formal communication, briefings and the like. Do you agree with him about that?
A. I do formal briefings, yes, because when there's a big case or, as he referred to his monthly Commissioner's briefings, they are still happening. What I was making reference to really was if, for example, we would like to do an article on a particular area, then that's largely being stopped. It may be a certain squad or certain investigation, or you know, things of that nature, it's just not really happening. There's also I had discussions with some officers who have been wanting to put information out about successes that they have had, and they've just been prevented, as far as I've been told.
Q. Have they told you who is preventing
A. They said they'd gone to the Press Bureau and said, "Can we do something on this?" and they've been told no.
Q. You're also referring to the more informal channels of conversation that you describe later in your statement?
A. Yes.
Q. You tell us at paragraph 8 that when you first got the job of crime correspondent you were invited by the then chief press officer, Bob Cox, to come and meet the press officers. Whereabouts did you meet them?
A. At New Scotland Yard.
Q. Was there any hospitality afforded to you when you attended?
A. I may have had a cup of tea.
Q. In paragraph 10, you tell us about pre-verdict briefings. Can I just be clear what the benefit to you of those briefings is? Is it so that you are fully aware of the facts when the verdict comes in, so that if the verdict is a guilty verdict, you can publish straight away with confidence?
A. That's correct.
Q. Would it be right that if the verdict is not guilty, then it all falls away?
A. Absolutely.
Q. You tell us at paragraph 12 that you've been out on police operations. You describe going out in an armed response vehicle and also accompanying officers on stop-and-search operations targeted at knife crime.
A. That's right.
Q. Do you think that that sort of opportunity is a good thing or a bad thing?
A. I think it's a good thing because it's I think what's being lost so far over this period of months is the good things that the Metropolitan Police and other police forces do. I mean, the idea of going out with the armed response vehicle was to sort of give some kind of idea as to what armed officers do on a daily basis and to give the public a general overview of what they do. The knife operation was alongside a as you can see in the exhibits an article on the successes that the Met had had in seizing knives over the previous, I think, year or few months.
Q. Did you feel properly equipped, from an ethical point of view, to deal with any of the issues which might have arisen while you were out and about on operations? I'm thinking here about issues to do with not compromising police operations, the identity of suspects, privacy issues and that sort of thing.
A. Absolutely 100 per cent. I mean, you know, every time we do something with the police, we are working with them. We're not working against them. If something had happened in one of those operations, then discussions would then take place with the press office as to what exactly could be printed and what couldn't. We're not in the business of going against what they would what would be agreed upon before we set out on that outing with the police.
Q. In that vein of co-operation, you tell us at paragraph 14 about an incident where you obtained information about a criminal offence and you passed it to the police. The suspect in that case was a Mr Siraj Ali, who had been responsible for attempted bomb attacks on 21 July 2005. Can I ask you how you came about that information? Was it as a result of a tip or did you positively go out to investigate Mr Ali?
A. What happened was that two weeks prior to, I think, the article that eventually went in about him being recalled, we ran a story about Mr Ali's being released from prison and the fact that he was in a bail hostel. We were then contacted by somebody, who wasn't a police officer, who said that he believed that Mr Ali was smuggling drugs in the bail hostel. This was a clear breach of his licence conditions. As a result, he obtained some footage of Mr Ali. We then obviously called the Metropolitan Police and they came, took that footage. He was then tested on one occasion and was clear, two days later tested again and then recalled to prison because he'd tested positive.
Q. As a newspaper reporter with responsibility for crime, do you ever instigate investigations into people who you suspect of criminal wrongdoing?
A. I would say no, simply because we don't really have the resources to do such investigations.
Q. Moving on now in your statement to paragraph 15, where you describe contact at various levels with people within the Metropolitan Police Service. You tell us about attending commissioners' briefings and having met commissioners at Press Bureau Christmas drinks. Can you give us a flavour of the sort of messages that the commissioners have sent out during these briefings?
A. Well, it's likely to be talking about anything that they either proactively would like in the newspapers but also he takes a range of all the commissioners I've dealt with have taken a range of questions during those briefings about stuff that is going on at the current time.
Q. You tell us at paragraph 15C that you had lunch once with the Assistant Commissioner John Yates, possibly in 2009. Can you recall what you discussed at lunch with Mr Yates?
A. I've been trying to think. I really can't recall much of what was said at that meeting. Certainly, nothing that springs to mind, nothing that resulted in any kind of story. It was more to meet Mr Yates as a senior member of the police force.
Q. Whereabouts was the lunch?
A. I can't remember exactly the restaurant. It would have been a restaurant around Scotland Yard.
Q. Was there any alcohol consumed?
A. I don't recall.
Q. You tell us at subparagraph D that you also attended a lunch as part of a group with Andy Hayman. At the time you made your statement, you weren't able to recall who else was present, but we've drawn your attention to a document provided by Mr Hayman, his electronic diary. Has that refreshed your memory
A. It has.
Q. as to who was there? That record says that as well as yourself, there was Martin Brunt from Sky, Guy Smith from BBC London and Richard Edwards of the Standard. Does that mean the Evening Standard?
A. It does, yes.
Q. Can you recall the topics of conversation at that lunch?
A. Those lunches in were at a time where there was a heightened fear of terror because of the attacks in 2005, and the lunches were largely to give sort of context and an overview of the current counter-terrorism situation. They were on the basis that they were completely non-reportable, but I don't remember thinking: "He shouldn't have said that" or anything of that nature. It was to give a general overview, as I say, and context.
Q. The record tells us that the lunch took place at Boisdales restaurant. Can you recall whether there was any alcohol involved?
A. I think there was on that occasion.
Q. Have you been to lunch with any other very senior members of the Metropolitan Police Service or is it just Mr Yates and Mr Hayman?
A. Well, I think I say in my statement I had one lunch with Mr Fedorcio.
Q. We'll come to that in a moment. I'm thinking about operational officers at the moment.
A. Not that I can recall. Not of assistant DAC level.
Q. Can I take it, therefore, that the approach of these two very senior officers stood in some contrast to the behaviour of the other very senior officers who have served whilst you've been a crime reporter?
A. I couldn't judge, sir. I think maybe I just had not been to lunch with others. That doesn't mean that other people weren't having lunches. I just I couldn't really comment.
Q. You do tell us, as you mentioned a moment ago, about a lunch you had about 18 months after you began as crime correspondent with Mr Fedorcio. Can you recall where that took place?
A. I believe that was at Shepherds.
Q. Is that a restaurant?
A. It's a restaurant close to the Home Office.
Q. Who attended that lunch?
A. Myself and Mr Fedorcio.
Q. What was the purpose of the meal?
A. We hadn't had an opportunity, apart from the occasional word at press briefings, to really get to know each other, and it was simply on that basis of introducing myself better than just going: "Hello".
Q. Did you notice any change in your relations with the Directorate of Public Affairs?
A. No.
Q. Did it improve them or
A. It to be honest with you, it did nothing to my relationship with Mr Fedorcio. I mean, he knew who I was. I would like to say at this point though that at that lunch he made it very clear that it was paramount that the Metropolitan Police didn't leak information, didn't leak stories, and I was left with, you know, on no uncertain terms, that if I was going to get any stories, it certainly wouldn't be from him or from the Press Bureau, in the sense of stories that are not formally put out.
Q. In your dealings with Mr Fedorcio and the DPA, did you believe that you were being treated equally with other competitors or did you ever sense that there was favouritism at the DPA?
A. I think so there's a distinction that needs to be made, really, in that daily and Sunday newspapers are very different beasts and by the very nature of things happening during the week, they will be reported in daily newspapers. There's always going to be a greater emphasis on dailies, but sometimes I did feel that more could be done for Sunday newspapers.
Q. So the spanision really between the dailies and the Sundays as opposed to one newspaper and another?
A. Yeah, absolutely. I don't think it was a degree of favouritism for the dailies. It's just I think the mindset was generally: "We need to get this out."
Q. You tell us at paragraph 16 that Mr Yates gave you his work mobile phone number. Was that unusual for such a senior officer?
A. I wouldn't have thought so.
Q. Did you have the mobile phone numbers of other very senior officers at the Metropolitan Police?
A. Well, I hadn't been out with them on any occasions and I think I may have had I'm I mean, I don't know if I did, but I was certainly given cards at briefings by other officers. I couldn't tell you if they had their mobile number on those cards or not, though.
Q. Are you able to make any comparison between the sort of numbers that you were holding and those that your competitors had?
A. I wouldn't know, sir.
Q. You tell us at paragraph 17 about the mutual interest that there can be when the police and the media work together, and you give, as an example of that, the common interest in reporting matters accurately. But there will, of course, be occasions when there is a conflict of interest, for example, if you want to run a negative story about the Metropolitan Police, and later in your statement you tell us of just such a story which you ran about the failure to apprehend the night-stalker earlier than in fact happened. When you are researching and working on a negative story about the Metropolitan Police, have you found that they've remained co-operative or do they seek to clam up and dissuade you from investigating?
A. Who are you referring to here?
Q. The Metropolitan Police Service in general.
A. In general? No, I find that when you go to the Met with a negative story, they will be as far as I'm aware honest and open about it. Whether they would be proactive with that information is, of course, another matter.
Q. I'm getting the sense that you might have to prod them a little bit more if you're after the bad news rather than the good. Is that fair?
A. Well, I just think that they won't put out bad news as a general rule, because I think it would damage the image of the Metropolitan Police. If I was to get a story about the Metropolitan Police that was negative, and I went to them with that, they would either confirm or deny that, and in my experience they have largely been truthful.
Q. You tell us at paragraph 19 of your statement of an occasion which arose when the police asked you, for operational reasons, not to publish a story by Doreen Lawrence and Duwayne Brooks. You tell us that you agreed not to run this story. Was that because of the reasons that the police gave for not wanting it published?
A. Yes, absolutely.
Q. And then and I'm sure this must have been much to your frustration you say that the story then appeared in the Sun the following week?
A. No, that's the story that is the one afterwards.
Q. That's a different story?
A. Yes, the story that you make reference to there is as I say, we had a story about
Q. I see, my mistake.
A. Yes.
Q. So is it your understanding that when the police ask, for operational reasons, that newspapers don't publish, that on the whole that's abided by across the board?
A. In my experience.
Q. Can we move now to the socialising that you tell us about at paragraph 22 of your witness statement. You say that you've been out socially with various officers of most ranks. When you say "most ranks", can you give us an idea of the span of ranks that you have entertained?
A. Between constable and chief superintendent.
Q. You say that these have included taking senior officers out to lunch. What other sort of social opportunities have you taken with officers from the Metropolitan Police Service?
A. It could be anything between sort of going for a coffee, going for a sandwich, going for a pint after work. I mean, it's just general normal social situations such as those, really.
Q. Is the purpose of these events, from your point of view, to cultivate contacts and to encourage the flow of information, the stories, whether immediately or in due course?
A. It's to cultivate trust, as far as I'm concerned. I think the trust is all important because I think what's being lost is that these are highly professional people, who some have been in the job for 20, 25 years, but when they're dealing with heinous crimes, murders and robberies and such, they need to trust the person they are speaking to about the information that they are releasing. They need to feel confident that I will use that information in the right way and that I'm not going to print something that could jeopardise that inquiry, and I think going out for a drink and getting to know people they get to know me, that they can trust me. As a result, they tell me information and, you know, to think that all information the police give is somehow shady and illegitimate is just incorrect. Most of the time, it's about the inquiries that they're working on.
Q. Have you found it to be an effective and productive method of engendering trust and encouraging the flow of information?
A. I do find it helps build up trust, because the more you get to know somebody, the more you know about them, the more you can work out whether you can trust them or not.
Q. And the information that results, is it given to you sometimes on the record and sometimes off the record?
A. Yes.
Q. When you've been given information off the record on these social occasions, have you ever had any instances where you've been given opinions by officers which are not the Metropolitan Police house line?
A. When you say "opinion", you mean opinion on
Q. On a particular subject. We had a witness yesterday who told us about being given various opinions about, for example, knife-proof vests and things like that.
A. Occasionally, but it's not something that I would ever then use in a story. I see it as one officer's opinion.
Q. Have you ever come across senior officers briefing against each other?
A. It's not something I've been made aware of, no.
Q. Have you ever been given or offered information about the involvement of a famous person with the police, whether as a victim of crime or because they've got into trouble?
A. From a police officer? Not that I recall.
Q. What about a civilian member of police staff?
A. In my experience, a lot of celebrity stories tend to be from members of the public or people that are associated with those celebrities rather than from the police. I think there's a real perception that the police are a leaky sieve, and in my experience that's not necessarily been the case.
Q. Have you ever had a police whistle-blower come to you?
A. How do you define whistle-blower? In the sense of the night-stalker story that you mentioned?
Q. Someone who is coming to you to give you information which is not in the public domain, which is in the public interest, but not necessarily a matter which the Metropolitan Police have been broadcasting?
A. Oh, yes. As I say, the example that you referred to about the mess-up in the night-stalker investigation. Other times where a police officer has been fired for gross misconduct, you could argue that's certainly in the public interest, that the public have a right to know if a public servant has been fired for doing something terrible.
Q. When you get that sort of story, what is your understanding of when it is in the public interest to publish otherwise confidential information about the Metropolitan Police?
A. Well, it's just that. You know, it has to be in the public good, in the sense of releasing information that would not come out otherwise. I think part of our job is certainly to hold the police to account, and, as I have found in my time, the police will not put out information that is negative for them.
Q. You tell us in your statement that some of the contacts that you've cultivated within the police you've come to consider as friends. Can you give us some idea about how many people you would put into that category?
A. Couple of handfuls, a dozen or so.
Q. You tell us later in your statement about the regional forces and your experience of dealing with them. Can I ask you to contrast and compare your experience of dealing with regional forces and the Metropolitan Police Service? Have you noticed significant differences?
A. It tends to be regional forces only tend to really engage with the national press when they have a huge story on their grounds. Say, Surrey Police with Milly Dowler, Kent Police with the Securitas robbery. Apart from that, they don't tend to engage in the same way as the Metropolitan Police do.
Q. You give the example of Milly Dowler and you tell us, at paragraph 27 of your statement, how they organised briefings and indeed some functions, which included a few beers in a bar between senior officers, press officers and reporters. Am I understanding it right that that was, in your experience, a wholly unusual thing for a regional force to do?
A. Yes, it didn't happen very often.
Q. Did you have any informal contact with police officers in the Milly Dowler investigation?
A. No, not that I recall.
Q. Can we move now to paragraph 30 of your witness statement, where you mention, amongst others, the example of the Suffolk police's investigation of the Suffolk strangler. I think you're aware of some evidence that was given yesterday by Mr Harrison, suggesting that the Sunday Mirror had interviewed a suspect and had taken him away in a car which exhibited defensive counter-surveillance driving. We've been given a copy of an article dated 17 December 2006, published in the Sunday Mirror and I have been told by your counsel that the relevant section is in the first column near the bottom, where the text tells us that the person in question, a Mr Stevens, was spoken to by a Sunday Mirror reporter not you but a Michael Duffy in a car park near his home and not in a hotel, as Mr Harrison described yesterday. What's your personal knowledge of these events?
A. Well, I was in Suffolk at the time, but my job was largely to deal with the police, but I was aware in the morning that one morning, we were going through the newspapers and Mr Stevens' name was referred to as someone who had associated with prostitutes. I can't remember the exact context of that, but his name certainly was in the local paper. Mr Duffy then traced him through by use of the electoral roll, knocked on his door and asked him if he'd like to speak to us. You can see the results of the interview that was published.
Q. Can you help me, do you know whether anyone involved with the Sunday Mirror's activity in relation to this story was a private investigator?
A. Not as far as I'm aware.
Q. Anybody with ex-special forces experience?
A. It couldn't be further from the truth.
Q. Are you able to help us as to whether or not there was any counter-surveillance technique involved when Mr Stevens was driven to the car park where he gave the interview?
A. I sorry if I appear flippant, but I almost laughed out loud when I heard that quote. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It is interesting, but do you have a comment on the publication in the Sunday Mirror of a very, very lengthy article with somebody in respect of whom proceedings are then active?
A. Well, I believe that the tapes we then handed over to the police as a result of our interview would do more to help the investigation than hinder it, sir. MR BROWNE : I don't think, with respect, proceedings were then active. He wasn't arrested until the following day. MR BARR I think the factual position, if you look at the paragraph above, the one I was reading from it says: "Stephen said he was quizzed by cops once in a car and three times at Ipswich police station. The first interview was just days after Tania was reported missing on October 30. The second interview was conducted under caution and recorded." LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR BARR You've heard the Commissioner this morning express concern about publishing the name of suspects. On any view, Mr Stevens was a suspect and had been questioned several times. Having heard the Commissioner, do you now have concerns about the approach to this story?
A. I think this story was a unique position, in the sense of Mr Stevens was declaring himself as a suspect. I think you'll read there he actually said, "If I was the police, I'd arrest me too." I mean, you know, that is a unique situation. That's not something certainly that has ever happened in my career, that I've been speaking to someone who has declared themselves as a suspect. In any other given situation, if you say that somebody is a suspect, then of course the chances are they will go on the run, which is in the story that I referred to that we didn't run, which was that a former Flying Squad officer held up a bookmakers clearly, it was a story that was of interest to me. I called the police and said, "This is the story we're planning on running." I was then asked not to run that story because, although he had been named internally on the intranet at Scotland Yard, there were hidden cameras that he wasn't aware of, so he was not aware that the police knew who he was. Now, we did not run that story for that reason.
Q. Can I move now to paragraph 42 of your witness statement, which is dealing with ethical issues. You confirm that you never paid police officers for stories, but you go further than that and say that you seek to avoid putting the police in a position where they feel that they should provide information to you in exchange for anything that they consider that they are getting from you. Isn't the difficulty with that that where, as you've described, you're sometimes giving hospitality to senior police officers, that hospitality might give rise to an expectation that they will then co-operate with you without hesitation?
A. I think there needs to be a common sense approach. I mean, you can see from my records I've lunched with the senior officer you've mentioned once. I'm hardly showering them with hospitality, and I think that, yes, if you are taking the same officer out on a weekly basis, then clearly the perception of that would clearly be wrong. If it's the occasional meeting, then no, I don't see that that is in any way considered should be considered as me expecting anything back for it.
Q. Trinity Mirror has a system for recording hospitality. Is it right that you don't record the name of the person that you've given hospitality to or do you?
A. It depends. On these occasions, I certainly would have declared the name.
Q. In the hospitality register?
A. (Nods head)
Q. Has the Metropolitan Police, or indeed any other police force, ever tried to dissuade you from publishing a story which is critical of the police force?
A. No, I don't believe so.
Q. Moving to the future, do you think that giving police officers clear guidance as to what they can and cannot properly say to the media would assist in encouraging clear and confident communications in the future?
A. I would encourage training of any sort for police officers, certainly media training, because in my experience you have some officers who are quite confident in dealing with the press, and they, in my experience, know what they can and cannot say. Other officers clam up and will not speak to you, even if it would benefit their investigation. So yes.
Q. Your statement is very sceptical about the possibility of requiring police officers to record contact with the media. Do you think that if they clearly understand what's permissible and what's not, so there's no concern about whether they will be effectively confessing to something they shouldn't have done do you think in those circumstances there would be any difficulty with a minimal level of recording, something which is not going to be administratively burdensome?
A. The problem I have, in speaking to officers about this, is that these standard operating procedures that the Commissioner referred to, they're not only for association with reporters but also for association, for example, with criminals. What's happened, I understand, in the past is that say, for example, an officer's brother was arrested over something. Well, then what happens, as I understand, is that there's a risk assessment on that officer as to what risk he then poses to the organisation in the area that he is in. Now, I would imagine I've been told that the same thing would happen with association with the press. The point here is that that officer, I understand, will then be very likely not to be placed on investigations where there is sensitive material or involving certain people LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, who has said that to you? Are you saying that people are likening the problems arising from a relationship with a criminal with the relationship with a journalist? I mean, that's ridiculous, isn't it?
A. Mr Hogan-Howe said he was referring to his comment was: "I believe we stopped serving alcohol to suspects a long time ago." I refer to the same thing. We are being treated almost like criminals to a certain extent. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think you're taking Mr Hogan-Howe's comment entirely out of context, but there it is. MR BARR That was, in fact, the last of my questions. Thank you very much. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. MR BROWNE : Sir, could I just say, before he leaves the witness box, one or two things about the Sunday Mirror article which wasn't before the Inquiry yesterday when Mr Harrison gave evidence and which you've only had a few moments to look at? First of all, the assumption that was made by Mr Duffy, the reporter who found Mr Stevens, was that he had been ruled out by the police. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, Mr MR BROWNE : That's clear from the second column on page 4, about halfway down. The other point that perhaps I can be forgiven for raising now is the evidence that was given LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, Mr Browne, I don't want a speech about it because each one of these witnesses might generate some points. I'm sure you'll be able to make submissions about this in due course. If there's a specific error that you feel ought to be corrected, by all means, but if I start to permit you to develop an argument, then I am going to be in terrible trouble with others who want to do likewise. MR BROWNE : Well, yes, but my clients, it was suggested yesterday, had put a Sunday Mirror surveillance team on to the police, who were in turn surveying Mr Stevens. There clearly was no surveillance team. The evidence of Mr Harrison was unsourced hearsay about something that had been said to him during the course of a briefing on either Tuesday or Wednesday LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Put in some evidence, Mr Browne. I'm not hearing this now. If you want to do something, by all means do, but I think that to start to receive submissions at this stage, on the evidence I've heard, will start to take me a very great deal of time. MR BROWNE : I'm only concerned, in the light of what Mr Harrison said, that the Inquiry should be fair to the Sunday Mirror reporters involved and to Mr Duffy and to Mr Penrose. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Browne, I hope that I've been trying to be fair to everybody throughout. MR BARR Sir, the next witness is Mr Pettifor. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. MR THOMAS DANIEL PETTIFOR (affirmed) Questions by MR BARR MR BARR Mr Pettifor, could you tell us your full name, please?
A. Thomas Daniel Pettifor.
Q. I understand you want to make a correction to paragraph 8 of your witness statement. On the fourth line up from the bottom, it says June 2004. I understand that should become June 2005; is that right?
A. That's correct.
Q. There are also some additions you wish to make to your witness statement, and we will deal with those as we go along.
A. Okay.
Q. But subject to that one correction, are the contents of your witness statement true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?
A. They are.
Q. You tell us that you are the crime correspondent at the Daily Mirror. You started your career working on the Hackney Gazette. You've worked for the news agency National News, and you started work for the Daily Mirror in June 2005. You became the crime correspondent relatively recently, in May of last year.
A. That's correct.
Q. Like many of the crime reporters, you've described the current relations between the Metropolitan Police and the media as being in a state of some flux.
A. Mm.
Q. Do you agree with the last witness that it's not so much official briefings that have been affected, but the more informal contacts and the result of requests made to the DPA?
A. Yes, I would agree with that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Can I just understand that a little bit? Do I gather that there is a different approach from the DPA now than there used to be, as a result of which officers won't talk, or is it the other way around?
A. What I was saying there was that official contact so briefings that we'd have, pre-trial briefings remain, the monthly commissioner briefings remain, but informal contact whether that comes from the DPA or not I don't know, but informal contact with officers is more difficult. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do you find perhaps I should have asked the last witness that you're more likely to be stopped by the DPA from speaking directly to an officer than you used to be? So in other words, they're no longer acting as a conduit
A. No, if I make a request to speak to an officer, they're always very helpful to put that request to the officer, as I understand it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But the officer doesn't respond as he used to? Or
A. There may be more of a reticence amongst officers to speak to me if I make an approach not through the DPA. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just phone them up?
A. Yes. MR BARR You tell us at paragraph 12 of your witness statement that you probably speak to Scotland Yard press office twice a day on average, but you also tell us that they sometimes call you, putting through senior investigating officers at court, so that you can publicise a particular case. How often do you get calls from the press office?
A. Fairly rarely, actually. If they know that the Mirror's interested in a story, they might or that a story would be of interest to us, they might contact us, but I can't think I'm just trying to think of an example. I can't think of one at the moment.
Q. How often do you speak to SIOs at court and on the telephone?
A. I try to well, it all depends, but fairly regularly. Maybe once, twice a week I would go to court and speak to officers and on the telephone it could be well, it varies between twice to five times a week, maybe.
Q. In your answers to question 13, so far as they relate to operational officers, you describe really very little contact with very senior members of the Metropolitan Police. Is that simply a reflection of the fact that you've been doing this job for less than a year, or is there something more to it?
A. I hope it's just the fact that I haven't been doing it for very long. As I say, there is a we're in a state of flux at the moment, so there may be a bit more of a distance being kept by senior officers and the press, but I'd say it's because I've only been doing the job for a short time.
Q. In terms of your dealings with Mr Fedorcio, you tell us that you spoke to him, along with other reporters, on the day the royal wedding last year, and that a month later, in May of last year, he came to the Daily Mirror's offices. As a result of meeting him there, you emailed him asking, I think, for access to the Commissioner for an interview. You've exhibited the email to your statement. It got a response from Mr Fedorcio, and he didn't promise you an interview. He told you that the Commissioner would be speaking at a forthcoming CRA briefing, and what he also said was: "But I do have a queue filled by your colleagues and competitors. We'll see." Did you get any sense that you were being played off with your competitors for access to the Commissioner or am I reading too much into that?
A. I think you are. That's a fairly straightforward statement. I'd just started in the job. I think any crime reporter would make an application to interview the Commissioner when they got a job, so I'd just got at the taxi rank, as it were, put in my application, my request. There would have been everyone else would have been asking for the same thing. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And all he's saying is: "You can go to the back of the queue." MR BARR Have you yet got to the head of the queue?
A. I haven't had that interview yet, but I don't think the current Commissioner is going to be giving interviews to any particular newspaper, apart from the Evening Standard, maybe.
Q. You tell us about attending the Scotland Yard summer party last year, and you say there were a lot of people there, maybe a hundred or so. Can I be clear: was this a party simply for the press?
A. It was described as the Scotland Yard summer party. I mean, there were officers there. I think there were freelance journalists and a lot of journalists, so I think it was mainly for the press.
Q. And if I've understood correctly, reading it with paragraph 18 of your statement, there was a complimentary bar?
A. Yeah.
Q. You tell us that looking now at question 15 when you speak with press officers, you're primarily doing so to check facts. Are you also trying to obtain stories when you deal with the DPA or are they not a good source of stories?
A. Do you mean exclusive stories?
Q. Of any kind.
A. Well, I would be doing a story all the time when I'm speaking to the DPA, but normally I wouldn't be expecting to get an exclusive story from the DPA. I would be checking facts. Unlike Justin, who works for the Sunday Mirror, I often have to do day-to-day stories that are moving quite fast and I need to check facts with the DPA and they're very good as helping me with that.
Q. That's where you find them most useful?
A. Yes.
Q. Paragraph 18 is one of the paragraphs that you want to make an addition to. As I understand it, what you would like to add to paragraph 18 is that you were also given a glass of wine when you were reporting the royal wedding? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right, don't worry about that. Thank you. MR BARR And a similarly quite straightforward addition to paragraph 19. I think you say that you have also met another detective chief inspector for lunch?
A. Detective constable.
Q. Detective constable, I'm sorry. You tell us that you find the briefings at the Metropolitan Police provide valuable. What I'd like to ask you: to what extent do you find the informal contacts that you might have with the Metropolitan Police Service staff valuable as well?
A. By informal contacts, what do you mean?
Q. When you're speaking to them in any other way other than at an official briefing or press conference, whether you're speaking to them outside court, whether you're taking them for a coffee
A. Yes. I mean, that's really helpful, not necessarily for stories gathering in the short term but just for understanding the job that they do, and for me to have a deep background knowledge of policing, so that when big stories do break, hopefully I can explain the context to my editor and I can write a more accurate story. So it is very helpful in that respect, and also you can really get deep into policing issues when you're talking to people privately, and it can give me ideas for stories in future.
Q. How do you compare the way in which the Metropolitan Police Service interacts with the media and the way in which regional forces interact with the media?
A. As I say, I don't have much contact with regional forces because the Mirror has regional reporters who cover their areas and speak regularly to the police there. I've said that the smaller forces may be slightly less harder to contact just because they have smaller teams, but I wouldn't like to make a comment particularly because I've been doing this job for a short time and haven't had much experience of dealing with other forces.
Q. Do they offer less hospitality?
A. Well, I've never had a face-to-face meeting with an outside force, so
Q. Can we move now to paragraph 30 of your witness statement, where you tell us about going along with the Metropolitan Police to watch their operations. In relation to the people trafficking operation, you say the Metropolitan Police offered to take you along. Do you know anything more about how that opportunity came to have been presented to you via your newspaper's news desk?
A. All I know is that we were running a campaign on people trafficking, highlighting the issue, and that my line manager approached me and said that this would be a good thing to do. I'm not sure whether one of our executives had contact with the Met over our campaign. I don't know who was overseeing the campaign.
Q. In terms of access to witness operations taking place, are you content that your newspaper gets an equal share of the opportunities or do you have any sense that there's a problem?
A. Having just started the job, it's hard to gauge that. You've heard evidence from other crime reporters and former crime reporters who have been doing this job for over two decades, so I would expect them to have more access than me after doing a job for eight months, ten months.
Q. How frequently do you have off-the-record conversations with the Metropolitan Police Service?
A. Well, if I go down to court and speak to an officer during a trial that's concluding or ongoing, that would normally I mean, "off the record" is a slightly vague term that I don't really like using, but it would be a non-attributable conversation, just to give me context on the story. So it could be a couple of three times a week, maybe, that I would have non-attributable conversations with officers.
Q. Does that mean that it's quite an important part of the information flow between the police and yourself?
A. I'd say so, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But it's rather important to understand that. What you're saying is you're interested in a particular case, you go and chat to the officer in the case to get some context or background, not because you're going to report it but just to make sure that what you do report is accurate, fair and balanced?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's rather different from going to an officer to say, "Tell me about some entirely specific piece of work", which isn't connected with a case they're doing and you're just looking at, for example, knife crime in Hackney or whatever. How would you go about getting in touch with an officer if you wanted to do that?
A. If I wanted to speak to an officer off the record about a specific subject? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Or about knife crime in Hackney, say.
A. I'd go, probably, to the regional press office, the east area press office, and ask them to put me in contact with an officer. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you're not there necessarily seeking an off-the-record meeting; you're wanting information. You've described your off-the-record material in relation to a specific case
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON because you're not seeking to quote the officer; you're simply trying to understand the context?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's rather different from the sort of meeting you might have if you're investigating a specific topic. Is that fair?
A. That's fair, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right, okay. Thank you. MR BARR Have you ever been offered a story about involvement of a famous person with the police, either in the role of victim or someone who's got into trouble?
A. Not by a police officer.
Q. A civilian member of police staff?
A. No.
Q. Have you ever been approached by a police whistle-blower?
A. What, a police officer who is a whistle-blower?
Q. Or civilian staff.
A. No.
Q. You tell us at paragraph 42 of your witness statement that you currently have mobile phone numbers for 12 officers. Can you indicate the range of ranks that they span?
A. They would be mainly above inspector, actually.
Q. Do you have any below?
A. There's one detective constable.
Q. I understand that at paragraph 49 of your witness statement, you wish to make an addition, that you also know of a former Trinity Mirror reporter who has worked for a police press office; is that right?
A. Yes, currently works.
Q. The other reporter who you mention in paragraph 49, who was not a Trinity Mirror reporter
A. Press officer, sorry.
Q. which newspaper did that person work for?
A. He worked for the Sun.
Q. Looking to the future, do you see a benefit in police staff having clear guidance as to what they can and cannot say to the media?
A. By police staff, do you mean police officers?
Q. Officers and civilian staff.
A. I believe they have guidance already, but if there was a national I mean, there should be national guidelines for all the forces. I think Lord Justice Leveson is looking at that. And I believe that there should be a charter of open information. There should be more information being given out and officers should be trained to look for what they can give us rather than think about what they can't give us.
Q. Do you think that if officers have the benefit of national guidance as to what they can and can't say to give them the confidence to speak to you, that there really will be any chilling effect if they also have to make a minimal record of the fact of contact with a journalist?
A. I'd be interested to know what the point of I mean, having this record of meetings with the press is obviously not going to alleviate the problem of corruption, which is obviously a very, very small problem, and if it was to flag up people meeting the press very regularly I mean, I've heard people saying three times a week, which obviously doesn't happen I don't know if it would work, because perhaps officers just wouldn't meet the press or they wouldn't log it.
Q. But it would allow a monitoring of the position, wouldn't it?
A. I understand that.
Q. That's truly a good thing, isn't it?
A. Hm, if it makes officers more paranoid than perhaps they are now, then it's not a good thing, and I think it's important that we have a flow of information that isn't necessarily official to find out things that, as Justin said, the police forces would never put out and we'd never know about if we didn't have this flow of unofficial information.
Q. But putting aside the whistle-blower, doesn't it make more normal interactions between the police and the media that much more transparent?
A. I would have to think about it. My gut reaction is that it will freeze up information flow more than it is already is at the moment. Whether I mean, I think transparency at senior levels is a very good thing. I think DAC and above showing their hospitality records in all forces will alleviate problems, perhaps, that have arisen that led to this Inquiry. I think at senior level is important to have transparency. MR BARR Mr Pettifor, thank you very much LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Let me just ask you one thing. If you are right and there should be a greater willingness on the part of the police to share information, and indeed I think the Commissioner didn't in any sense dissent from that proposition, then that information becomes official information.
A. Yeah. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If it's official, what is the need for unofficial information?
A. I think you've hit the nail on the head there. If the official information parameter broadens so much that we have all of this information out there, then it will very much reduce the need for unofficial channels, and if police forces actually said, "Right, we've got this negative what could be a story, or this negative occurrence that's happened, let's put it out there, let's not worry too much about it", I think that would really help. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm not sure that you're going to persuade them to make a positive feature of the things that they're not happy about
A. I'm not saying a positive feature; I'm saying they release this information. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON but it may be that they should be more prepared to deal in the same way with potential negative stories as they deal with positive stories.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Which is a slightly different point. Anyway, there it is, thank you very much.
A. Okay. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. Mr Browne, I don't intend in any sense to close down the concern that you have. I understand, and I understood when the evidence came, that Mr Harrison was giving hearsay of what he understood, which may or may not have been right. But you'll appreciate that I am looking at the entire area at a high level, and not wishing to condescend to a detailed analysis that would occur if each time there was a disagreement, somebody wanted to make a statement about it. That's the point that I was making. MR BROWNE : I understand that, but when I raised the issue of fairness, it was simply this, that on more than one occasion allegations have been made to which there was a good response, and the allegations are publicised, they are very often reported in other organs of the press, and it's really no good, if one is concerned with fairness, that subsequently, tucked away in some written closing submission, would be the answer. Now, you have said LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Rather like a correction by the PCC. MR BROWNE : Well, I won't follow that hare, but the point I'm was simply this, that what is clear from this article and I'm not going to make a speech is, firstly, the sequence of dates, that the article was published the day before the first briefing and two or three days before the second, which was said to have raised the question of the so-called Sunday Mirror surveillance team. In fact, what one sees from this article is, firstly, that there was no team, no specialist inquiry agent, no special forces, as was put LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you don't necessarily see it from the article because it wouldn't necessarily be admitted in the article if it was true. MR BROWNE : Well, what one sees from the article, and this accords with the evidence of Mr Justin Penrose, who was part of the team in Ipswich, is that in fact the interview did not take place in a hotel, as Mr Harrison suggested, but in fact in a pub car park, see six lines from the bottom of the first column, and lasted over two hours, as is clear from eight lines down from the top of the fourth column. So it doesn't look as though the police were surveying Mr Stevens at the time LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you don't know that, do you, because this is where it all gets rather difficult. The police may very well have been watching him, may very well have lost him, your reporter taking him to a car park may very well have not wanted to have been seen by another reporter, not seeking to evade the police. There are all sorts of issues. That's what concerns me about investigating the facts. MR BROWNE : Forgive me, it is in fact simpler than it might first appear, which is that Mr Driscoll's evidence was I'm so sorry, Mr Harrison's evidence was that Mr Stevens was taken to a hotel to be interviewed. In fact, he was interviewed over a period of two hours in a pub car park. Well, thank you for allowing me to say that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right, thank you very much. 2 o'clock. (1.01 pm)


Gave a statement at the hearing on 20 March 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 2 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 20 March 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 3 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 20 March 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 2 pieces of evidence


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