Morning Hearing on 28 March 2012

Joanne Bird , Jane Furniss , Sir Hugh Orde and Chief Constable Andrew Trotter gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(10.07 am) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Good morning. MR JAY The first witness today, please, is Ms Jane Furniss. MS MARY JANE FURNISS (affirmed) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Your full name, please, Ms Furniss?
A. It's Mary Jane Furniss.
Q. You provided us with two witness statements, the first in your capacity as Chief Executive Officer and Accounting Officer of the IPCC, and it's dated and signed by you on 20 February. And the second covering press issues more specifically?
A. That's correct.
Q. Bearing the same date. Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry, the truth of which you are content to attest to?
A. It is.
Q. Thank you. Dealing with your career first, you were appointed a CEO of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the IPCC, in December 2006. Before that, you were a civil servant, initially in the Probation Service then subsequently in the Home Office, responsible for various aspects of criminal justice policy, legislation and reform. Is that broadly speaking correct?
A. Yes, that's correct.
Q. Thank you very much. The IPCC, first of all. Most of us in this room are probably fully aware of what it is and what it does. The general public may be less aware. In your own terms, please, what is it and what is its role?
A. It is the body that provides oversight of the complaints system for the police. There are other organisations we also have responsibility for, but I think for the purposes of the Inquiry, I'll focus on the police. It's a slight misnomer, a name that Parliament gave us, which gives the impression, of course, that we deal with complaints against the police. In fact, we don't, largely. Matters come to us in three different ways. The public can seek our advice and assistance in making a complaint against the police, but those complaints are the responsibility of the Police Service to deal with. The public can then make they have a right of appeal to us if they're dissatisfied with how the police dealt with their complaint, and we get about 7,000 of those each year. Perhaps most importantly, the police are required under law to refer matters to the IPCC, so certain categories of misconduct by the police or incidents that have caused concern are required by statute to be referred to us. To illustrate the point, when someone dies as a result of police action or as a result of police inaction or allegedly so, they're required to refer it to us. Other serious misconduct. The police can also choose to refer matters to us if they believe it would be in the public interest to do so. That broadly covers the remit.
Q. Thank you very much. That's very clear. So when we look at the statistics which you've provided LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just before we go on, could you just explain then what you do?
A. Of course. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You've explained where your work comes from.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But how do you go about fulfilling the remit that's given to you?
A. In relation to complaints and appeals, our process is that a member of staff, suitably trained, will assess the matter that comes to our attention. In an appeal, they have the responsibility to determine there are different kinds of appeals, which makes it even more complicated to explain, but different kinds of appeals against, for example, the Police Service's decision not to record a complaint against how they've handled it and against the findings or outcome of how they've handled it, and what my staff do is review the evidence it's a paper exercise, the appeal. They would review how the matter had been dealt with and determine whether the police had actually come to the right decision based on the evidence, and as a result of that, we can require the police to take further action. We can uphold the appeal and require the service to reinvestigate, for example. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So it's more than looking at process; it's also looking at outcome?
A. It can be both, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. So that's the appellant mechanism.
A. That's the appeals and complaints element. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. The investigation element, one of the most important decisions that the Commission makes is the mode of investigation for a matter that's been referred to us. So a decision needs to be made as to how this matter should be investigated, and we have three options ourselves, and a fourth one that the IPCC can decide that the matter should be independently investigated by our own staff, fully by our own staff. It can decide to manage the investigation under our direction and control but where most of the work will be done by local police staff and usually Professional Standards Department police officers. Thirdly, we can supervise it, where the direction and control is with the force, but the IPCC receives the report at the end of it. Fourthly, we can decide that it's perfectly capable of being investigated by the police without our intervention. It's quite a with hindsight, this is obviously the decision that Parliament made back in 2002. With hindsight, it is a rather bureaucratic system, which is quite difficult to explain to lay people and to members of the public. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you're doing quite well.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Let me just ask one more question about that: if you decide to investigate independently, do you have your own, as it were, police staff, or ex-police staff?
A. We have our own investigators, about 150 staff, who support the investigation work, and those staff are not police officers, any of them. Some of them, a proportion of them, have worked as police officers or police staff prior to coming to us, but the majority are people who we've recruited from all sorts of walks of life. There are some lawyers, there are some people who have been investigators in the financial services world, there are people who have done a wide range of jobs, and we have a training programme for those investigators. The investigators have similar powers to constables. They can arrest, they can interview under caution, and we do on a very regular basis. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. Thank you. MR JAY Thank you. The statistics then which you provided in your statement, page 08164.
A. Yes.
Q. This is looking at a five-year period, where the allegation has been improper disclosure of information. We can see over that five-year period there were 5,179 such allegations, which are only a small proportion in percentage terms of all the allegations which come their way to you; is that broadly speaking right?
A. Yes.
Q. If one looks at tab 4 in the bundle which you've been provided with, this is broken down in the last three years as between various forces being 44, 45 police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A. Yes. The breakdown is only for the three years, Mr Jay.
Q. Yes.
A. Because we weren't able to do that for the earlier period because of the computer case management system.
Q. The improper disclosure of information might be to the media, it might be to a private detective or it might be to someone else altogether, is that broadly speaking correct?
A. Yes, I think it's important to recognise that it's quite a wide category. It may be something and I don't mean to diminish its importance by describing it this way it may be a curious police officer who's decided to access the Police National Computer, for example, to find out something about a celebrity. It may be someone who's looking to see whether his daughter's new boyfriend is a suitable young man. It could be a very wide range of receiving information, getting information to which they're not entitled, through to information being sold to organised crime. It covers a very wide range of activity under that particular label, and it's not possible to break down, not without going to every force and asking them to do that kind of analysis, to know precisely how many fall into those different categories.
Q. Would it include therefore improper access to the Police National Computer?
A. It would, yes, improper access in order to use the information, yes, it would.
Q. Yes, thank you. In terms of referrals, you make it clear at the bottom of this page of your statement, 08164, that it's not possible to do an analysis breaking down the 15,000 referrals of all types between April 2004 and 2011. But you have been asked by the Secretary of State in the summer of last year to prepare a report on your experience of investigating corruption in the Police Service?
A. That's correct.
Q. That's the top of the next page. So this presumably was triggered by the events of last summer?
A. It was, yes, that's right.
Q. And you're expecting to report imminently?
A. Indeed. The report is almost ready to go to the Home Secretary. I think it will go in the next few days. As I think I've explained, because she requested that under the powers in the Police Reform Act, it's a report that she will undoubtedly want to place before Parliament before it's put in the public domain, so we will be publishing it on the same day that she places it before the house. If it would be of help, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't send it to you confidentially prior to that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'd be very grateful, but you're in a position to tell me whether you think it will be of any help, because you've seen it and I haven't.
A. It will be of help in the sense that it doesn't reveal endemic corruption between police officers and journalists. It's a much wider examination of corruption. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Of course it is. So what it may do is provide some context?
A. It will provide quite a lot of context, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That will be very valuable, and presumably, or I'm sure you've seen the HMIC report and indeed what Elizabeth Filkin did for the Met?
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So if it provides another window on that general topic, then I'd be very grateful.
A. Yes. We deliberately ensured that it compared and contrasted with those two reports and looks at it from a rather different angle, and one of the things that it does in some detail is report the public's view, because we did some new primary research to gather the public's view about the issue of police corruption. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That will be very valuable. I hope that when it is public, there will be no difficulty about my assuming it enclosing it within the record of the Inquiry so that I can use any facts contained within it for the purposes that I require.
A. No, sir. I think I would have submitted it to you if it had been a public document already, so I was suggesting I send it to you in confidence now, or at least when the Home Secretary has it, anyway, and that then after that there's no reason at all why we shouldn't submit it to you more formally. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR JAY The next section of your statement is dealing with referrals covering the allegations of the type which may be of interest to this Inquiry, namely improper or unauthorised disclosure of information. Three years, 2008 to 2011. You provide some details of these, I think, on page 08166; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. We can examine some of these, but I don't think any have been put in evidence yet before the Inquiry. The first example was investigation by the Metropolitan Police in 2006 with an allegation that information about pornographic images of children found during an investigation was leaked to the News of the World. Can you help us somewhat more about this? Did the investigation ascertain that there had been a leak by a police officer to the News of the World?
A. It certainly I'm sorry, I wouldn't be able to tell you the detail, I'm not familiar enough with it. If it would help, I can make sure that that's provided. There is a public report on it. But my recollection is that it did and this was before my time as chief exec, I think it happened the summer before I was appointed, but the there were no finding of misconduct, so that leads me to believe that there wasn't any deliberate leaking of information.
Q. Thank you. And the fourth item relates to the Ian Huntley case and the allegation there was that police officers had leaked wedding photographs, which found their way into three national newspapers.
A. Yes.
Q. There was an investigation by the local police, but it concluded there was no evidence to support the proposition that there had been leaks?
A. I think that's correct. I think in fact the family members who made the complaint accepted that what had happened was not as a result of police action. It was probably other people who had the photographs.
Q. The last one is Surrey. The allegation there, a police officer gave information to journalists during Operation Ruby, but it was ascertained that again there was no evidence to support the proposition there had been leaks. What was the nature of the information there, do you know?
A. I'm sorry, I don't. I'd have to get others to tell you that.
Q. Okay. Then you give other examples, but they are illustrative of the same point. I move on to
A. Mr Jay, could I just add
Q. Certainly.
A. I think there are often times when people believe that information has found its way into the press as a result of leaking when actually it's the result of a number of people, both in the police, in the IPCC, in public bodies, having information and other members of families, friends, individuals providing information, and journalists, who are good at this, add it all together and then it can look at if someone has leaked information. Usually, or in many of these cases and in others, it's a result of putting together small items and not as a result of anyone putting the story in to a journalist in an organised kind of way.
Q. Thank you. Next, please, page 08170. Question 10. You refer here to the IPCC code of conduct, which establishes the principle that all media contact should be referred to and channelled through your press office. No other member of staff is ever authorised to issue press statements. Is the rationale behind this principle that as you're dealing with matters of high policy, it would never be appropriate for a member of staff to go off on his or her own bat and speak to the press?
A. It's really in recognition of the fact that almost everything we do is serious and needs to be handled carefully, and that we have a basic approach as an organisation that we will make information available unless there's a very good reason not to, rather than the other way around, and it's a case of when, not whether. The when is very important, so that a member of staff choosing the time and choosing to talk to a journalist in an informal kind of way will almost certainly disrupt that plan and may, in fact, damage the investigation if it's done in an unhelpful way. So it's deliberately we're a very small organisation. There are only 420 people in it. Therefore, we want to have an organisational approach to these things where people aren't allowed to decide that they know better than others as to when and how information should be put in the public domain. It's a very important principle, and the organisation abides by it, by and large.
Q. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, this is very different from a Police Service which might have issues at all sorts of levels, whether it be neighbourhood policing or community issues
A. It is. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON or local hot spots of crime.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You're dealing only with the most sensitive and therefore likely to be the most newsworthy concerns.
A. That's correct. Very, very few of the matters that we're dealing with won't appear ultimately in some kind of public hearing, an inquest, criminal proceedings, misconduct proceedings. And if they don't appear in any of those, they certainly appear in the newspaper. So it's very important that we're disciplined about it. MR JAY Yes, and you in common with most, if not all, police forces now have this software tool called Spotlight.
A. We do.
Q. People have given it slightly different names. I think Solcara has been
A. I'm not sure, I think Solcara is the company that makes it and Spotlight is its trade name. I don't know.
Q. This ensures that all media contact is logged and the type of information which is disseminated by you appears halfway down page 08171.
A. Yes.
Q. You, in common with others, are now beginning to use social media as a means of putting information out?
A. We are. We have been doing for probably about 12 months or more, yes.
Q. As a facet of this, can I pick up question 16, that you don't provide off-the-record briefings because as a matter of principle there's no need to. Indeed, it would be inappropriate to.
A. Yes. I think there's been a I recognise in reading the transcripts of earlier evidence that there's been a debate about what the definition of "off the record" means. What we meant, what the Commission meant when it came to the decision that it wouldn't do it is giving unauthorised, you know, "it's my personal view that" kind of that isn't actually the statement of the Commission. The Commission is a legal entity and the people in it form that body, and so they've made a decision, but prior to my time, that there would not be off the record briefing of that kind, of that sort of "I'm expressing my personal view and I disagree with the organisation's approach". What it doesn't mean is we don't on occasions give journalists information which is not yet for publication. It's still formal, it's still the Commission's view or facts, but we're saying, "Please don't report this yet", but we're providing explanations as to why that would be, and all of that is recorded on Spotlight. So we know what press officers or members of staff have said to journalists in those circumstances. In that way, it's not it isn't off the record. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But that's a quite different meaning for "off the record" than the ones that we've been discussing. So you may very well say, "This is context or background"
A. I think the press office call it "guidance". LORD JUSTICE LEVESON "guidance for what will come, and this is why it's not in the public interest for you to make a big fuss now."
A. That's correct. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And that's acceptable?
A. Yes. I have to say it generally works. We've not found that to be abused by journalists. And because I think they trust us that we will tell them as much as we can when we can, I think they do actually trust us to do that, they respect the fact that my staff will sometimes say to them, "This is to help you plan, but not yet". MR JAY You deal with the role of the press office in questions 18 and 19 and in your second statement, and record the fact that generally speaking the media are satisfied, indeed more than satisfied, with the work of your press office.
A. Yes. We did a piece of research, small piece of research, asking about 20 or so journalists from both national newspapers and local, and I think there were a couple of broadcast journalists as well, asking them what they thought, in order to improve the service we provide, and it was very, very positive. And I think it actually slightly counters the views of some of the journalists earlier in these hearings who were saying if journalists can't have access directly to individual members of staff, they don't get the stories, the colour and the detail, because actually what they said to us, despite the fact we're very rigid about this, is that they do get the information and they believe that we tell them as much as we possibly can.
Q. That may have something to do with the nature of the information you're giving out.
A. I think that's probably right, yes.
Q. It may be on occasions quite sophisticated. I'm not saying the police forces don't put out sophisticated information, but very often it's more of an operational nature. Because of the nature of the information you're giving out, the journalists will generally prefer to hear it from a press officer than a member of staff. Maybe that's the
A. That may be right. As I say, we didn't ask them that question in the research. We didn't ask them whether they would prefer to be able to ring individual members of staff, because frankly I wasn't terribly interested in the answer because I wasn't going to be prepared to let that happen so we didn't ask them, but I think you're right, that the nature of our business means that organising it in the way we do is both easier for us and works effectively.
Q. I touch on the issue of hospitality. Your code of conduct suggests that hospitality is appropriate, provided its not frequent, regular or lavish?
A. That's correct.
Q. These are the guiding principles?
A. Yes.
Q. In practice, do you have any difficulty in applying those general principles?
A. You're asking at the moment about our provision of it rather than receipt of it?
Q. Yes.
A. No, not at all. I think it's fair to say that as an organisation we're rather puritanical about this. We don't buy alcohol. I don't think the public purse should fund alcohol. I don't think alcohol and work mix, generally, and certainly not when you're dealing with very sensitive issues. So we're we are perhaps unusually rigid about that kind of thing and the hospitality budget wouldn't support it anyway. There isn't a hospitality budget, I think it would be fairer to say.
Q. In terms of the receipt of hospitality as opposed to the giving of it, the same austere principle applies, does it?
A. Pretty well. I mean, I think again our view would be my view would be and our organisational view would be that we shouldn't be in receipt of gifts or hospitality. People don't ask us to go out for drinks or give us gifts because they like us; they do it because of our role and they do it because they want to get some benefit from doing so. So we do on occasions accept gifts. We get a lot of foreign visitors coming to see the IPCC and learn about it, so we do get gifts. We give them all to charity or we auction them off in aid of charity. People aren't they're allowed to buy them if they wish to keep them, but it's a very clear policy and it works very effectively, I think. It avoids the problem of people misunderstanding why we're doing things. It's probably largely perception, because it's unlikely that someone is going to risk their career for the odd drink by misconducting themselves, but the perception can be that somehow bias or interest has been influenced.
Q. We may come back to that issue at the end of your evidence. I'm now going to ask you some questions about leaks. That's covered, first of all, in question 26 but it's probably appropriate now that I introduce some questions another core participant has wanted me to ask of you
A. Yes, of course.
Q. which I have raised with you in advance, although the fine detail of the three cases I'm going to mention you may not be aware of, but the general picture you are. First of all, the tragic case of de Menezes on I think it was 22 July 2005.
A. Yes.
Q. At the start, claims were made that he was wearing a bulky jacket and had vaulted the ticket barrier to Stockwell station before descending to the platform. How did those claims arise, to your knowledge?
A. It would be fair to say, Mr Jay, that I wasn't working for the IPCC in 2005, so my knowledge of that particular case and the detail at that time is limited to what I learnt subsequently. But as I understand it and we have published a report about the misinformation that was put out, what was referred to as Stockwell Two my understanding is that members of the public who witnessed the events at Stockwell were asked by journalists what they'd seen, naturally, and some reported that they had seen a man vaulting the barrier and running down the stairs. Someone at least, I think I think this is correct reported that a man was wearing a bulky jacket. This was added up by both the press and I think was then repeated by senior police officers as being fact. What I believe the public had seen was a police officer vaulting the barrier, running down the tube steps after Mr de Menezes, so it was a natural mistake by the witnesses, and it was a serious mistake by those speaking on behalf of the police to repeat it as fact when it wasn't actually verified. But perhaps not surprising in the circumstances, because, as we know, the thirst for information is greatest when we all know least, and people are inclined to answer questions which they might better be not answering at that point.
Q. Do you think that the IPCC should have corrected what the police was saying at an earlier stage?
A. I don't think the IP from what I know, the IPCC wouldn't have been in a position to do so, because it wouldn't have known any better than anyone else what the facts were. As I say, I don't know at what point it became evident that the facts were incorrect. I think that probably is detailed in our report, but I have to say I'm not on top of the detail of that.
Q. This is Stockwell Two?
A. Yes.
Q. The report which was published I think two years later. Lord Blair made a point, it's not really relevant to our Inquiry, that it took rather a long time but I don't think it's necessary that you address that because it's outside our terms of reference. But I think there had been a leak to the ITN about the fact that Mr de Menezes was not wearing this bulky jacket and did not leap over the barrier. Is that bit correct?
A. This is a leak by the IPCC?
Q. Indeed.
A. Yes, indeed. As I understand it, again this is based on what I was told some two years later, probably, 18 months or two years later, a member of staff working as a part of the investigation team in the IPCC decided to share information I think with the family and press about the circumstances and she did that because she clearly believed it was in their interests, and it did do considerable damage at the time to the organisation and has continued to do so, because it's one of those things that people can find and repeat as an error that was made. She was identified very early on, immediately, as the source, admitted that she was. She was suspended and if she hadn't resigned, I have no doubt she would have been subject to a gross misconduct process.
Q. This is the case you're referring to in paragraphs 26 and 29 of your statement?
A. It is.
Q. Is that right?
A. It is.
Q. Thank you. The next matter, if I could take it reasonably briefly, is the Ian Tomlinson case. The police version of events was that this man died through natural causes, and the suggestion is you failed to correct that erroneous version of events. Could you assist us, please, in relation to that?
A. I don't believe it was the police version. I think it was the version as a result of the first post-mortem, so it was the pathologist who indicated that Mr Tomlinson's death was as a result of natural causes. Subsequent post-mortems questioned that. I think there were two further post-mortems that came to slightly different conclusions. Well, one significantly different and a slight variation in the third one.
Q. I think it's also said, but this is a point of detail that I'm not sure you're in a position to deal with today, that on 1 April 2009 your London regional director agreed an MPS press release that misleadingly failed to mention that there had been police contact with Mr Tomlinson before his death. Do you know anything about that?
A. I wouldn't have the detail of that, no. I would have to if you need me to, I could check.
Q. Okay. The last point which I'm asked to put to you relates to the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot by police on 4 August of last year. The issue there is whether there had been exchange of fire between Mr Duggan and armed police officers.
A. Yes.
Q. And again an erroneous version of events put out by the Metropolitan Police and by the IPCC. Do you know anything about that matter?
A. Yes, I do. And I think this is good example of the press wanting information at a point when there isn't there aren't hard facts. In the hours after literally it was the hours after Mr Duggan died, the report was that a man had died, there had been a police firearms operation, a man had died and a police officer had been taken to hospital injured, and the injury was as a result of a bullet. There was certainly an assumption made by some people that that had been as a result of the man who had died firing a gun, which proved absolutely not to be the case. On the evening of 4 August, one of my press officers indicated to a journalist as a result of a question that it appeared that there had been an exchange of fire. He shouldn't have done that. He did it verbally. He shouldn't have done it. Once we realised that that had happened and that it was definitely incorrect, we put out an apology and we've apologised for it I think on almost a weekly basis for the last period. It was a very serious error, it shouldn't have happened. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's a terrible problem, isn't it? Because on the one hand you want to be as upfront as you can; on the other, you have to be very careful that assumptions aren't being made and that there isn't some element of Chinese whispers about what is being put out. But if you do delay, then you're going to be criticised for delaying. So there's a very difficult balance to strike, isn't there?
A. There is, sir. I think you have put it very well. Forgive me, because I'm probably going to be criticised for criticising the press, but they want LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm spending my life doing that, so don't worry about it, I'll take the flak.
A. The press naturally want to get the scoop, they want to ask the questions and to get answers quickly and they want to do it before their rivals. That's all part of their business. So they will continually ask questions, and on that particular evening an on-duty press officer there is only one for the IPCC overnight was asked all sorts of questions about a situation he knew nothing about. He shouldn't have answered it. The wise thing to do in those circumstances is to continue to say, "We don't know yet, we don't know yet", and it's a very good reason why I wouldn't want lots of staff having journalists having lots of access to staff, because it's inevitable that someone will want to be helpful. That's what happened. The bit that I do feel the press need to reflect on is that they ask us the questions, they want the information, and they're very quick to criticise us when we put out the wrong information. They're very, very unforgiving when we get it wrong. So it is a challenge. I'm not complaining about that, it's part of our business, it's the nature of the business we work in, but it does make life quite a challenge. MR JAY You tell us about three other allegations that information had been leaked to the media and you cover those at page 08177.
A. Yes.
Q. It's probably unnecessary to go into the detail of these.
A. Yes, I don't think there's anything to add particularly.
Q. No.
A. I think there probably have been there has been at least one other example since I submitted this where it appears that information held by us and by other bodies, police force, have found their way into the media and there's been a question about who is the source, but similarly I'm satisfied insofar as I can be that it wasn't us. It is something we take as you can hear me say it is something we take very, very seriously.
Q. Notwithstanding that, do you feel that this is a significant problem in terms of its prevalence within your organisation?
A. Oh, not at all. I think absolutely the opposite. And I think we're helped by we're certainly helped by the code and our set of values, which mean that staff don't want to do those sorts of things, but we're helped by our systems. We do restrict quite severely access to information to those who need to know, and we also have quite good audit systems. So if something does get out, then we can check who had access and why and at what time of day and when and so on, so it's relatively easy in retrospect to discover.
Q. Thank you. Looking ahead to the future as it were, Ms Furniss, you, probably quite rightly, didn't engage with the opinion questions we asked you towards the end of your statement at page 08183. You may have some views which you could offer, as it were, in a personal capacity rather than speaking for your organisation based on your experience and what you've observed, both in relation to the HMICs and Elizabeth Filkin reports and the issues concerning this Inquiry, and striving always to find the right balance between the competing interests you in part have identified in your evidence, which the Inquiry is fully aware of. First of all, HMIC and Filkin, your reaction to that. Are those recommendations helpful or not?
A. Obviously they tackle slightly different things. I have to say I think it's rather surprising that some of the recommendations are necessary in the HMIC report, because I think some of the things that Sir Denis has said ought to have been fairly obvious, actually, about relationships and the proper management of potential conflict. But given that it clearly has been necessary, then I think they will be very helpful, actually. I'm very aware of the debate that's been had about Elizabeth Filkin's recommendations in relation to keeping a record, but as you've heard me say, I think that is common sense, actually. And of course there's a huge difference, as Lord Justice Leveson himself referred to earlier, between a local neighbourhood police officer talking to journalists about their campaign against whatever, graffiti or anti-social behaviour, as against someone talking to the press about a highly confidential investigation or what they think about the top management of their organisation and its decisions. There's clearly got to be a system for the exposure of wrongdoing in public bodies, but for that to work effectively, there's a proper expectation that staff will have first raised the problem through the appropriate channels. They can't simply go to a journalist and say, "Do you want to hear about the scandal in my organisation?" They have a proper responsibility, particularly if they're going to be protected by the public interest disclosure legislation, they have to use the channels that exist, and certainly my organisation and I am assuming every Police Service has a process that can do that, and if that doesn't work and there really is wrongdoing to be exposed, then of course it's proper that that is that the whistle-blowing legislation protects people from doing so. But we shouldn't expect as a society that newspapers are the best place to decide that something in an organisation is wrong. That's what people are paid to do. So I think that's part of the answer to your question about how do we police the relationships between the police and the press.
Q. The issue of overly close relationships, or perhaps more the perception of such
A. Yes.
Q. excessive proximity, do you have a view about that, in particular the associated issue of hospitality and the consumption of alcohol?
A. Well, I do, and I do think it's very unwise to develop social relationships between people who have a professional relationship. Of course friendships develop and you can't one wouldn't want to restrict that, but being very clear about the boundaries. As I said earlier, I don't think journalists wine and dine senior public officials because they like them. They do it because they want something. They want to influence decisions. As I said earlier, alcohol in those circumstances makes that even riskier, because the risk is that all of us become more indiscreet, more relaxed in those circumstances. The biggest problem about alcohol is it impairs your judgment and it leads you to believe your judgment isn't impaired, so it makes it doubly risky, doesn't it? So in my from my point of view, those are this is something you do when you're with friends, not something you do when you're at work, and the perception is a really important part of it because public confidence in bodies like mine and in the police is based on the belief that we are doing our job in the public interest, with integrity and without any bias. Those are really important principles that we should all feel very strongly that we should protect.
Q. You were a senior civil servant in the Home Office. You may have observed socialising between politicians and journalists. Are the issues the same, though, or are they different?
A. Mr Jay, I think I'd hesitate to comment on the relationships LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's a very fast ball, Mr Jay.
A. I think it was, rather, wasn't it. I think that was definitely a googly hand. MR JAY Then I'll put it back in my pocket.
A. No, I think the rules for politicians are slightly different than for public servants. I think there is a difference there. I feel more confident on the grounds of public servants than politicians.
Q. Yes. Are there any other insights you'd be prepared to share with us on the questions we've asked in this last section of your evidence? Do you feel you've covered the ground of what you'd like to tell us?
A. I think I have. I think I mean, I'm a newspaper junkie, I read through three a day, and so I have a great interest in newspapers telling the public what's going on. I learned something a long, long time ago, which is that you open a newspaper and read a story about an organisation you know nothing about and you say, "What a scandal", and you turn a page and read about your own organisation and say, "That's scandalous journalism". So I read every newspaper with scepticism because the story will only be part of the story, won't it, that's the nature of it, and told in a way to capture the public's imagination and interest. But it's a really important it is very important that we have a robust free press that actually shines a light on what's going on, and how we get that right in the world in which we work I think is a well, it's part of this Inquiry's challenge, isn't it? I'm not sure whether I've helped you with that or not. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you articulate the problem very clearly, which is not to discourage or impede the proper illumination
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON of the way in which we conduct oversight of the government or of the judiciary, and indeed to be able to comment on all that while at the same time identifying the legitimate boundaries beyond which investigation is a breach of other people's rights, or intrusive, or just wrong.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Whether it's because of the way that it's done or because of what you're trying to expose, which isn't in the public interest at all, but merely likely to sell newspapers. I'm not suggesting that selling newspapers isn't an entirely laudable aim, but there has so be something more, and that's the problem, isn't it?
A. It is, yes. And I think add to that the for me it's often the when rather than whether. Your point about the story getting out, it's not it's rarely about it being that we're never going to tell the story, it's about the fact that we don't yet know what the story is and we haven't yet decided that it's appropriate to tell it, and it may telling it now may prevent the proper administration of justice, whether that's coronial justice or criminal justice or civil justice. Some aspect of that needs to be protected. I think the other point is that if you add into that the exchange of benefits, whether it's cash or other kinds of benefits, so using an example outside of my responsibilities, and I know only what I've read in the newspapers, the exposure of the story about the MPs' expenses. Was it right that it was told in the way it was? As I understand it from reading the newspapers, the public official who gave the information to the Daily Telegraph was paid for it, so he or she wasn't just exposing a wrongdoing, they were gaining some benefit, and it does seem to me that that then calls into question the propriety of sharing the information. If that's correct. I don't know that it is. I only know what I've read. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. The problem that your organisation has, and indeed that sometimes the police have and the members of the public who are bound up by it, is that if the story is sufficiently important, there is a risk that the normal rules within which the press work go out of the window.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And I've said that in different ways over the course of the months, but it was neatly summarised in a letter which Mr Morgan wrote: "Fame and crime send most of the usual rules out of the window."
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And coping with that creates its own problems.
A. Indeed. MR JAY Yes, thank you very much, Ms Furniss.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed. And thank you for sharing with me your various reports and for continuing to do so. MR JAY We're having a technical problem with one of the screens. May we just break shortly to see if we can fix it. (10.58 am) (A short break) (11.04 am) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON For the avoidance of doubt, I wasn't suggesting that I was spending my life criticising the press, but rather being criticised by the press. I'm not complaining, but neither am I making a point. Right. MR JAY We're going to call the next two witnesses together, Mr Trotter and Ms Bird, please. MR ANDREW TROTTER (sworn) MS JOANNE DENISE BIRD (sworn) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Please sit down. I'm going to invite each of you to provide the Inquiry with your full names and confirm your witness statements. First of all you, Mr Trotter. MR TROTTER I'm Andrew Trotter, Chief Constable of British Transport Police.
Q. Thank you. You've kindly provided us with a witness statement dated 13 February this year, signed and dated by you under the standard statement of truth. This is your formal evidence to the Inquiry; is that right? MR TROTTER Yes, sir.
Q. And Ms Bird, you, please. Your full name? MS BIRD My full name is Joanne Denise Bird.
Q. Thank you. Your statement is dated 28 February, again the standard statement of truth. Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry? MS BIRD It is.
Q. Mr Trotter, first of all, your career. You're currently, as you've told us, Chief Constable of the British Transport Police, and you are also chair of ACPO's Communication Advisory Group, CAG; is that right? MR TROTTER That's correct.
Q. In terms of your previous career, or it's probably all part of the same career, you joined the Metropolitan Police in 1970 and you worked your way up the ranks. You were Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the MPS in 1998, you've gained relevant experience and you'll tell us about that in relation to the Ladbroke Grove train crash in 1999. You joined the British Transport Police as deputy in 2004 and were appointed Chief Constable in 2009, is that broadly speaking right? MR TROTTER Yes, sir.
Q. Ms Bird, you are the head of media and marketing of the British Transport Police. You started with a career in local journalism then as a press officer, you were head of media at BAA Heathrow in 2005 and moved to the British Transport Police in 2007. Is that broadly speaking right? MS BIRD Yes, sir.
Q. Mr Trotter, if I can deal with some of the introductory points you make, the experience you gained from the Ladbroke Grove incident in 1999 insofar as is relevant to our Inquiry, could you help us with that, please? MR TROTTER Certainly. I went to the scene of the train crash to find the operation to deal with it was going very well, but the handling of the media was not. There were at the time I think at least three different press interviews being given by different people. Clearly we weren't in possession of the full facts at the time, so I stopped everyone talking to the press, took over as press spokesman, and then subsequently became the press spokesperson for the remainder of that incident. The subsequent debriefs with both police officers and with the media pointed to that being a very good process of having a senior police officer as the dedicated spokesperson, who was not in direct command of the operation, to allow the operational commander to get on with their job.
Q. Thank you. You as head of the Communications Advisory Group of ACPO, what is the role of that entity, please? MR TROTTER That is to bring together the heads of communications for the various police forces, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus others who come along as observers from time to time, to discuss recent best practice, discuss recent incidents, debrief matters, also to formulate policy, which we then circulate to forces around the country.
Q. Thank you. You make it clear in section 3.1 of your statement, page 02708, that you act as the professional lead for media relations and in that capacity represent the views of the Police Service to media organisations, bodies such as the Society of Editors, Newspaper Society and the NUJ; is that right? MR TROTTER That's correct.
Q. May we understand the relationship between ACPO in terms of the setting of policy and the guidance it implements and what is happening in the 44, 45 individual police services of England, Wales and Northern Ireland? We understand that ACPO is comprised or comprises I think 340 chief officers, that's to say from commander level and above within the Metropolitan Police Service, and assistant constable level and above within the regional forces. Each force has its own media policy, we know that, we've seen that, but ACPO as well has a role. What is the relationship between what ACPO does and what the regional forces are expected to do? MR TROTTER ACPO will agree the over-arching policy. That will be agreed through the chief officers, through ACPO cabinet and ACPO council who will agree that policy. There may be some local variation for a particular reason by various forces, but the guidance is there to bring some consistency to our practice. In particular, newspapers will complain about, for example, the release of images to the media and having a different policy in each force, so the policy put together in conjunction with all the forces just brings some commonality of approach to the way that each force will deal with that particular issue.
Q. Might it be said that each rather than have a separate media policy for each force with minor variations, and we've seen those and some the policies are expressed in slightly different ways, why not have an over-arching policy which covers all the forces? MR TROTTER The policy that we have is signed up to by all forces. There will be some local variation, and perhaps for a particular reason. An example might be the Metropolitan Police will allow inspectors and above to talk to the media without reference to the press office. In my force, the British Transport Police will allow any member of staff who has legitimate reason to talk to the press to do so. Much of that is to do with our geography and the fact that we won't have an inspector on every location from Inverness to Truro perhaps in the middle of the night, so a lot will depend on local circumstance. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But is it a good idea that different forces it's not just in relation to communications, it might be on gifts and hospitality or anything actually generate and to some extent, perhaps using the blueprint of what a wheel looks like that ACPO provides, then chisel out their own wheel? MR TROTTER I think that's a very good point, sir. As a result of HMI's report, ACPO is now bringing together a national policy on things such as hospitality in our response to HMI's report. There are some things where there must be commonality: firearms policy, public order, where interoperability between forces is paramount and there's public safety at risk if we don't. There are other matters perhaps less so. We can give guidance to chief officers. Chief officers are still in command of their forces, and there may be some legitimate reason for variation. We try and deal with those unnecessary variations, usually by discussion and negotiation, but from time to time there may be some reason why a force wants to do something different. MR JAY Some of the guidance we'll look at now. It's under paragraph 4.1 of your statement, our page 02708. Some quite succinct guidance went out as a result of the events of last summer. It's in your bundle there at tab 14. Our page 02132. Can you give us the background to it? We can see the date is 2 August 2011, Mr Trotter. The message went out at 1.1, the importance of a healthy relationship. 1.2, we must be careful not to let recent events impact on proper professional relationships with media. In one sense, though, they have in the sense that some police forces have closed down a bit. Is that your experience or your perception? MR TROTTER Certainly the journalists that I speak to have said that is the case.
Q. And then the advice, the various bullet points under 2.1: "Ensure that a record is made of any interviews with the media. A brief note should be taken of what was discussed and the outcome. All meetings with journalists should be a matter of record of taking place." So that means, does it, that if the meeting with a journalist or the discussion is off the record, nonetheless the fact that it's taken place should be recorded; have I correctly understood it? MR TROTTER All meetings with journalists should be recorded.
Q. We can then see the other points, including on the next page the hospitality register should fully record any hospitality received. There may have been a perception then that it wasn't always faithfully filled in; is that correct? MR TROTTER The hospitality register should include all hospitality they received depending upon the policy that applies to each force and, as I said, that will be now a national policy following the HMI report, and it's to ensure that there is a match between the diaries and the hospitality register to ensure there is a coherence between the two and that there is a transparent on-record record of what's happened.
Q. You obviously wrote this, it says that you did. Do you consult with ACPO generally before this is promulgated or was this your fairly swift response to the fairly dramatic events of July of last year? MR TROTTER I will have discussed with colleagues around the country, discussed with the ACPO office itself, and got a very quick consensus on that something needed to be put out fairly swiftly at that time and, having done so, put that out as guidance from myself. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is this just a page and a half, Mr Trotter? MR TROTTER That's correct. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So it doesn't deal with junior staff at all? MR TROTTER This was no, this is aimed at everyone, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, the advice is to ACPO officers and senior staff. MR TROTTER Yes, that's true. It was really in relation to the incident the events of last summer. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I see. MR TROTTER The advice that we are putting together now, the draft guidance which builds upon this, will apply and does apply to everyone in the Police Service. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Because your 1.1 is clearly general. MR TROTTER Yes, that's true. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's making it clear, senior officers on the strategic stuff, but operationally, local police to solve crime or perhaps provide details about community incidents or the most basic borough issues or issues perhaps at individual train stations for you, but it doesn't go on to deal with anybody other than the most senior. MR TROTTER That's correct. Because of the problems of last summer, and the issues have been dealt with by the Filkin report, I felt it was necessary that to put something out to ACPO colleagues to ensure that we have at least a holding position prior to putting out some further rather more in-depth guidance. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON How far advanced is that in preparation? MR TROTTER We have circulated the guidance to colleagues around the country for their observations and back to HMI as well and we'll be presenting that to ACPO council in April for adoption swiftly after that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's not impossible that I'll have something to say about the subject, but I won't be saying it in time for that. MR TROTTER Again, sir, the guidance is part of our response to Filkin and HMI. HMI requires a response by late April. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MR TROTTER I'm very conscious that there may well be observations from yourself, which will require me to flesh out much more guidance in due course. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. I'm not trying to make work for you, Mr Trotter. Right. MR JAY That was a swift response, as you've said, to the events of July of last year. The current guidance, is this right, is the October 2010 CAG guidance, which is under tab 10? MR TROTTER Yes, that's correct.
Q. Which covers the sort of general topics which we see manifested in individual policies; is that correct? MR TROTTER Yes, that's correct.
Q. I've been asked to raise with you some points by another core participant. First of all on section 4, page 02026. This deals with the issue of identifying suspects. If I can put it in quite general terms. I can give you time to find the text. Sorry, it's under tab 10. Two points, really. The practice of putting out the details of the suspect in quite general terms but in a manner which in certain circumstances might enable the suspect to be identified. You give the case, the example in 4.3 of a 27-year-old Brighton man. That may be sufficiently wide not to identify an individual, but we've had the case of the 65-year-old man in Bristol, Mr Jefferies, who one could identify from that description. Do you have a view about the desirability of that state of affairs? MR TROTTER I think we shouldn't be identifying people who have been arrested. There are others who have different views. Things have evolved from that expression of a person helping us with our inquiries, which had no legal basis, and that has evolved into this practice of identifying someone by gender and by age. It does lead media to often play a guessing game with us to try and work out who's been arrested. There is no law on this matter, but my personal view is that we shouldn't be naming people who have been arrested and perhaps nor should the media.
Q. You say no law. There's certainly no criminal law on the matter. The relevant law will be in Article 8 of the Convention. Or might be. MR TROTTER It may well be. As I said, sir, others have a different view and tend to challenge that position, but I think that if we have a clear position that people are not to be named, unless there are some other pressing reasons, perhaps to clarify some confusion over what has happened, but I think the general position should be that we should not name people who have been arrested.
Q. Or delineate a category in a manner which would enable the press to start playing the guessing game, is that your evidence? So giving the gender, giving the age, for example, and giving the town? MR TROTTER The point that you made so far with Mr Jefferies already points out the frailties of that particular position, and we do have a lot of problems in various forces around the country where people have been identified, there may well be campaigns against them, both physical campaigns in the street or on Facebook and things such as that. I think the least information that's released in the first instance would ensure that those things didn't happen. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So that certainly extends to the leakage of information where celebrity or publicly known figures have either been arrested or otherwise helping the police with their inquiries, then get mobbed as they emerge from the police station by a whole gang of reporters and photographers. MR TROTTER Yes, sir. We should not be, nor should anyone else, in my opinion, be releasing those details. MR JAY There's a second point on clause 4.8, Mr Trotter. This is the case of dropping charges. You say: "The responsibility for accurate reporting lies ultimately with the media." What is that getting at? MR TROTTER Whilst it's the responsibility of the police to ensure that factual information is released, getting things right and redressing perhaps something that's been put out before lays with the media to ensure that they do redress something they may have said about someone's previous arrest or something such as that. In the public mind, someone being arrested could well be tantamount to the fact that there is some guilt, and if that's not to be the case, there must be some obligation on the media to redress that position.
Q. I think the point which I've been asked to put to you has this sting in it: why isn't there a correlative obligation in the police as well? You've arrested someone, that carries with it a stigma at the very lowest. If you decide not to bring charges, shouldn't you be saying more, that you're not bringing charges? MR TROTTER If we're asked that question, then we'll answer that as appropriate, but if we haven't announced the arrest of someone, it would be rather odd for us to announce the fact that we're not charging that person. I don't think that's an obligation for the police so to do. In cases where it is in the public domain, we may well say, "Someone has been released without charge", but we could also be drawing attention to something that isn't yet in the public domain, which could cause further problems for the people concerned. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's rather more complex than that, isn't it, because if you've decided not to charge somebody and are required to say something, if you don't say it, because you're not deciding not to charge them, you're still inquiring, you're creating a suspicion that there's still something going on. So if you're going to say, "He has been eliminated from our inquiries", that's one thing, but then if you don't say it, people think "Ah, well, he's not been eliminated from your inquiries." MR TROTTER Also that we are continuing to examine all possibilities and someone for the moment we may not be charging of course we may come to rearrest or deal with them again at some later stage. On some of these matters the least said I think at the first instance the better, but when these matters are in the public domain, there may be an argument as to us to clarify the situation when we are dropping charges in order that continuing suspicion doesn't isn't associated with somebody, but these are complex matters, as you rightly say. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sure that's right. If you've kept the name out, then it would be self-defeating to name him and say, "We're not pursuing, we're not looking at this person any longer". The problem is if it's got out because of the nature of the crime and the intense public attention or for any other reason, then the police have to do their very best to minimise the harm consequent upon the reputational damage done to the person who has swept in and then been pushed out of an inquiry. MR TROTTER That's correct, sir, and then of course getting the media to report upon that release, of course, is a matter that then I do think there's an obligation on the media to make sure that if they have publicised the arrest of someone, then they should publicise the fact that, you know, if it's the case, that we're not pursuing any further charges. MR JAY The other general point, if I can address this with you, 4.27, page 02028, the issue of taking the media on police operations. The policy set out here does find its way into local policies. We've seen that, Mr Trotter. The general point is the whole concept of taking the media on police operations may be an inappropriate way to showcase the achievements of the police, because it will inevitably lead to insufficient regard being paid to the private rights of individuals. Do you accept that or not? MR TROTTER I think there's a balance to be struck between the rights of individuals and the genuine public interest in showing that we are dealing rigorously with certain crime types to reassure the public and also to encourage the public to come forward if they have further information and to discourage people who may be involved in crime. As long as there is a proper examination of each case on its merits and due regard is taken for the privacy of the individuals concerned, and for the case making sure that there's no impact upon any subsequent trial, particularly in relation to identification issues, and I think if it's in the public interest and if there are those other criteria satisfied, then I think it's quite reasonable on certain occasions to have the media come along on police activity, subject to the restrictions that we place upon them.
Q. Okay. I have been asked to raise points on some of the other policies, but there simply isn't going to be time to address those. You may be asked questions in writing upon them, if you don't mind. The policy which is currently in draft and which is going to be published I think next month and which you mentioned to Lord Justice Leveson already, that is going to cover issues such as leaks, abuse of hospitality with the media, some of the wider questions with which this Inquiry is interested and which were generated or which entered the public mind starkly by the events of July of last year. Is that broadly speaking right? MR TROTTER Yes.
Q. And you touch on that at section 4A(ii) at 02709. The ACPO press office now, that's section 5, it's there to provide assistance to individual forces. How does it work in relation to the press offices of individual forces, Mr Trotter? MR TROTTER The ACPO press office is a very small office but it will provide coordination for matters that go beyond the boundaries of a particular force, whether that be a cross-force activity or some particular issue that has impact upon the wider police community. So the ACPO press office will assist with the particular ACPO leads for the various portfolios, will deal with national requests for interviews on various things and will help to co-ordinate things which go beyond the responsibilities or capabilities of our local police press office.
Q. You make the point at the bottom of page 02710, you say you: occasionally receive complaints from forces about the conduct of the media at major incidents or about particular stories and we will discuss possible steps to take." And then you give certain examples there which we've heard direct evidence about. Have you ever advised or does the ACPO press office ever advise that complaints be made to the PCC? MR TROTTER Yes. I have made contact with the PCC to discuss some recent concerns about the behaviour of the media. I think it would be fair to say we haven't perhaps made sufficient use of them in the past, but both PCC and Ofcom have wanted us to engage with them when we have concerns, and the PCC have some good examples where they've contacted the media as a result of concerns from police forces, for example to stop the press besieging someone's house or something of that nature. I think it would be fair to say I don't think we've made sufficient use of them in the past.
Q. You mention the concerns: intrusive behaviour, besieging someone's house. Speaking generally now, what other sorts of concern come to your attention? MR TROTTER The sheer volume of the national media descending upon a small community can have quite an impact in all sorts of ways. The pursuing of witnesses, the pursuing of suspects, casting doubt on the ability of the local force to cope with this particular challenge. Casting doubt on the ability of the senior investigating officer. Putting up the long-retired police officers and other experts to comment upon a police investigation. There are a range of concerns raised by colleagues around the country about the conduct of the press in various major investigations and operations over the last couple of years.
Q. I will just explore that a little bit more you Mr Trotter. Is it your view that each time a major event occurs particularly in a local community and the national press as it were descends on that community these concerns arise, or is it your evidence these concerns arise only occasionally? MR TROTTER They only arise occasionally. I get feedback both from journalists and police officers about particular events, and sometimes I get very positive comments from both journalists and police about the way some matter was handled. Others I get considerable concerns about the conduct of the media. To be fair, I get complaints from journalists sometimes about the way the local force may have dealt with a particular issue. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Does this tend to involve the highest profile cases, so the ones where the national media get involved, or does it also extend to less high-profile cases? MR TROTTER It's primarily the high-profile cases. Forces that have regular all forces have regular contact with their regional and local media and I have very, very few complaints about that relationship. They have an enduring relationship and generally speaking the regionals and the locals have a real connection with their community and want to get things right. One can't always say that about the national media when they descend upon a community. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's a very polite way of putting it. MR JAY You mentioned as well the pursuing of witnesses and suspects. How often does that happen, speaking generally? MR TROTTER Infrequently, but it will happen in some of these significant cases, and my personal knowledge of a high profile murder case some years ago that I was in overall command of, finding journalists trying to track down suspects before we'd got to them. We knew where these people were, they were just a list of suspects, we were working our way through. It's deeply unhelpful for journalist to think that part of their job or in some way this was in the public interest for them to speak to them before we did.
Q. It may be a manifestation of one of the bullet points you've set out in paragraph 6.3 of your statement at the top of page 02712 when you refer to the media biased perception of the public interest. Is that the sort of case you're intending to be brought within that category?
A. Very, very much so. Many journalists are under intense pressure, and now with websites for all newspapers, this desire to get some news and get it now is probably more intense than ever, and as a result this sort of pursuit of "one must have the story" I don't believe is in the public interest and it's not in the public interest for them to attempt to investigate the case on our behalf.
Q. Moving on through your statement, paragraph 7.2, page 02713, you're providing there a preview really of the sort of matters, of issues which are going to be covered in your revised guidance. Is that correct? MR TROTTER Yes, sir.
Q. I've been asked by one core participant to ask you this, but is the revised guidance going to include further or revised guidance on the issues we looked at in the CAG October 2010 guidance, namely identification of suspects and taking media on operations? MR TROTTER The guidance that will be coming out in April won't be addressing those matters. But the complete guidance in its broader sense will be rewritten as a result of the matters coming from this Inquiry.
Q. So that may be an issue which is taken up at a later point, may it? MR TROTTER Yes.
Q. Thank you. Section 8, the culture within the Police Service as a whole in relation to its dealings with the media, and you make the point that it's generally positive and open, although you do point to apart from the difficulties you've referred to earlier, at the top of page 02714, you say: "Front line officers can find journalists and photographers a nuisance when dealing with incidents. These problems with be avoided by having a dedicated media spokesperson and by having a clear understanding [of what can be done]." How often does that sort of problem occur? MR TROTTER Quite frequently when we have a major incident, the journalists, the photographers will appear quite rapidly, but I think it's a duty of the force dealing to ensure they have a media strategy in place, that they understand the legitimate requirements of the media and put in place facilities for them to discharge their functions as well. Front line officers aren't necessarily the best people to be dealing, when they're dealing with an incident, to be coping with the media so therefore providing proper access and also having someone speak to them on particularly at a significantly senior level, depending on the incident, I think is the best way of dealing with those particular problems.
Q. Thank you. Questions 10 and 11 deal with the issue of leaks, 02715. Your assessment is, to paraphrase, that this isn't an endemic problem within police forces but occurrences occur from time to time. Have I broadly got it right at least in terms of your evidence? MR TROTTER Yes, sir.
Q. You say in 10.2: "It is easy to attribute a leak to the police and it is a very difficult allegation to disprove." There are a couple of points there. I suppose one of the points is that if it is a leak, it's difficult to prove who did it, and the second point is it's or maybe it's the anterior point, that the allegation that it's a leak may be in fact correct but difficult to disprove in the sense that the information has come from elsewhere rather than from within the Police Service. Are those two points broadly speaking right? MR TROTTER Yes.
Q. Can I ask you, please, to develop one point you make under 11.1 at the top of page 02716, a variety of reasons why people might leak, and one of them is "too close a relationship with a journalist". What recommendations if any are you going to make regarding that issue? MR TROTTER That people should not have a close relationship with journalists. And if they do, then they should declare it.
Q. So in terms of the manifestations of too close a relationship and how you would therefore prevent it occurring, what ideas are the draft guidance or this new guidance going to include, if any, Mr Trotter? MR TROTTER By keeping a record of all meetings with journalists and particularly for senior officers, one of my considerations is that these meetings perhaps should be on the Internet so that people can have a public view of who's meeting. That hasn't yet been approved by my colleagues, but it's one of the suggestions we're considering. That there is regular oversight of meetings with journalists by other people, by other senior people or by review by the appropriate Police Authority, to ensure that any pattern of regular meetings with journalists is clear for everyone to see.
Q. Have you heard it put to you by journalists that the recording of these contacts would or does have a chilling effect? MR TROTTER I have had journalists raise that with me. I don't see why that should. We are we encourage our officers and our staff to be open with the media. And as Filkin said, we should be doing more for the Metropolitan Police we should be doing more rather than less contact with the media, but primarily those contacts should be on the record from a named source. I see no contradiction between being open and having regular contact with the media and not and having these matters on record.
Q. Yes. It's the issue of the off the record unauthorised contact where the point has greater force, but then it's said, well, in relation to those contacts, if they're unauthorised, you wouldn't expect them to be recorded in any event because the police officer would be more careful, so that point goes round in a circle. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Not quite, because if he hasn't recorded it, then an inference might be drawn if it then comes out. MR TROTTER That's correct, sir. We can't of course know the detail of what was discussed, but at least we'll have a record which will identify the frequency of those meetings and any apparent disproportionate number of meetings should become obvious. MR JAY Thank you. Your observations on the HMIC report, section 14 of your evidence, page 02717, you feel that the central point is integrity and everything flows from that, or its opposite, the lack of integrity, that contact with the media, excessive hospitality, are just manifestations of the same central issue. Is that correct? MR TROTTER That's correct.
Q. Can I ask you I'm not going to cover all the points you make in your statement, we're going to take some of them as read any particular challenges which are created by an increased use of social media and occasional poor judgments which are made by police officers in that domain? Could you help us with that, please? MR TROTTER HMI has identified some of those, but my view is we have an opportunity here to use social media responsibly and properly to communicate with the public, to put out messages from the police, but also to receive information from the public. And we have a generation of police officers and police staff who will be very used to using this and with appropriate guidance this is an excellent opportunity for us to communicate more directly with the public rather than going through the filtering process of the more traditional media.
Q. There's one further point in relation to on the record and off the record and indeed you pick this up at 17.3 of your statement at page 02721. We've heard it's your preference that all interactions with the media are on the record and attributable, but there's still the issue of background briefings which can be useful to provide context, textual colour, those journalistic terms. Do you have a view about that and whether that is inappropriate? MR TROTTER As I said, primarily matters should be on the record from a named source, but I think there are circumstances where background briefings can be given to give a context of a crime type or a particular issue. Still a matter of record, of course, and records should be kept of those briefings, but to inform a journalist about a particular challenge and to give them a greater understanding of what the issues may be. Many journalists are not specialists in crime matters any more and it can be quite helpful to give them a broader understanding of the issues to hopefully bring them to a more balanced article.
Q. Is it your personal experience that crime reporters, whether or not they're members of the Crime Reporters Association, tend to get things right more frequently than the generalists or is that a bad point? MR TROTTER Generally speaking in my experience I've found them to be accurate in what they report. They will nevertheless reflect the particular standpoint of the organisations that they work for, but I've found the more experienced crime reporters generally speaking to be quite responsible.
Q. The final question in your capacity of wearing your ACPO hat before we look at the British Transport Police, and I'm going to be bringing in your colleague as well, you mentioned we've covered the August 2011 policy, which was the fairly rapid response to the events of last summer. Was there an ACPO consensus expressed to you about, putting it in general terms, the events of last summer and some of the matters which came out then and which were reinforced by evidence this Inquiry heard particularly in the first week about allegedly excessive hospitality and over-close relationships with some journalists? MR TROTTER Primarily these matters have been associated with the Metropolitan Police. There are some concerns from my colleagues that we might overreact to some of those concerns, but nevertheless I think we should have universal policies that apply throughout ACPO and as long as they're not excessively restrictive, then I think it's quite appropriate that we have one way of dealing with these matters. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I entirely agree that one doesn't want to overreact, but maybe this isn't your ACPO brief. If it is, then all the better. But in any event do you believe that I should be concerned about that which I learnt in the first two weeks of this part of the Inquiry? MR TROTTER Yes. MR JAY Thank you. May we move on now to the British Transport Police, Mr Trotter, and Ms Bird as well. Your statement makes it clear that there was a bit of a culture shift between the Metropolitan Police Service and British Transport Police. Reasons for that are probably obvious but in your own words the nature of the culture shift, please. MR TROTTER In the Metropolitan Police there is intense media scrutiny. The national newspapers have a constant interest in the Met and, as I said in my statement, almost daily there would be a senior police officer outside New Scotland Yard dealing with one of the major issues of the day, be they riots or demonstrations or royal or state defence. It is our capital and there's an intense media scrutiny of the Met, which I think the Met generally speaking handles supremely well. I undertook some of those roles for the Met when I was there. Going to British Transport Police, at the time we only had one press officer and there was some interest from the rail trade press, little else, on my arrival in that position.
Q. The press office has expanded and if I can ask Ms Bird about that, you're the head of it. It's called the head of media and marketing, not press office, I think, but how large is the office now? MS BIRD The team is approximately 16 people. Within that we have, based in London, a press desk which deals with the bulk of the calls. Out of London we have a single media marketing manager base to deal with areas, so we have one person for the whole of Scotland, two for Wales, the West Midlands and the whole of the West Country, one in the North East and one in the North West.
Q. You explain in paragraph 3.1 of your statement, Ms Bird, page 10587, you take direction from the strategic command team and you develop communication strategies to support the operational priorities of the force. Could you develop that somewhat for us? The strategic command team, first of all, and secondly how do these communication strategies work in terms of the operational priorities of the force? MS BIRD The strategic crime team is the chief constable, the deputy chief constable, our assistant chief constables and the director of corporate resources. They will set the overall priorities for the force in terms of the policing priorities as well as the budgetary priorities and everything else. From an operational point of view, something that is a priority for us as a police force may be something like metal theft. That has a huge impact on the running of the rail network, and in an attempt to assist with the operational tackling of that issue, there will be a communications plan that sits alongside that to assist the policing priority.
Q. Because this is an area which is extremely important to the British Transport Police but it's also an area where the public can be of assistance in bringing offenders to justice, whether it's people being recognised on CCTV presumably or if the copper, the metal ends up in a scrapyard where, as it were, dodgy transactions are occurring, it may be the public can assist at that point as well. Is that the philosophy, if I can ask both of you that? MS BIRD It is very much the philosophy and the rail network we're very fortunate is very CCTV rich which means that when we do have an incident, very often we have images that we can put out via the media and Twitter to say do you recognise this person, can you be of assistance in helping us to solve this particular incident, and we get a very high level of feedback from that to enable us to resolve crime. MR TROTTER One of the reasons we have such a high detection rate is because of the use of the media in putting those images out swiftly and getting those responses. So it's a vital part of what we do.
Q. Yes. And so much of the network, whether it be station platforms or the trains themselves, are covered by CCTV now, which presumably makes your task just a little bit easier, is that right? MR TROTTER Yes, that's correct.
Q. Can I look more broadly now at your level of contact with journalists, Mr Trotter, and the purpose behind them. You make it clear in your statement, paragraph 22.3, that you do have contact with journalists but it's fairly sporadic, it will rarely encompass a lunch or dinner; is that correct? MR TROTTER Very infrequently.
Q. Yes. Can I ask you this: why have contact over lunch or dinner at all? MR TROTTER I think if there's a legitimate policing purpose to meet a journalist and discuss matters, I think it's perfectly reasonable to have that discussion with them in order to discuss current issues. Many journalists are not particularly knowledgeable about some police matters. I think the chance to expand upon those and develop their understanding is often quite useful, but I think they should be rare occasions rather than too frequent.
Q. You also make the point, 23.3, page 02725, that there's in your estimation too great an emphasis on bad news stories particularly generated in or by the national press rather than aspects of good policing which you see more in the local and regional press. Is that a general theme you wish the Inquiry to hear, as it were? MR TROTTER Yes, I do. I think whilst good news stories are rarely popular in the media, I think that the persistent imbalance of stories has a corrosive effect upon the public's view of crime and upon police officers as well. And I think that persistent highlighting of particular problems while not balancing those with successful prosecutions, with the fact that crime is at one of its lowest levels now for many years, with high detection rates and full prisons, it's quite clear the Police Service is, I think, doing a lot better than one would understand from some of the popular press.
Q. Ms Bird, you have some experience of discussing more complex cases with journalists and you give rather a good example in your statement at paragraph 10.2, our page 10591, where you say you do occasionally meet journalists to discuss more complex cases, generally in your office, occasionally in a cafe over a coffee. And then you deal with one example where a senior police officer met the crime correspondent of the Daily Mail. Could you tell us some more about that case please? MS BIRD This was a gang of Romanian pickpockets who had operated on the rail network. Following their conviction but before their sentencing we met with the Daily Mail at their request. They were intent on going out to Romania to find where the money that they had gained from these crimes was spent, and in fact the journalist went out to Romania, found some very large houses which they themselves described as palaces, built or half built in Romania, and created a page spread on that, including as part of that the investigation that had taken place that led to their conviction.
Q. So this was an example of reporting which was in the public interest? MS BIRD Yes.
Q. And which you assisted? MS BIRD Yes.
Q. Was it Mr Wright who was involved in that? MS BIRD No, Ms Camber.
Q. Your office, in common with virtually everybody else now, has this software system which we've heard about and it amounts to this: that all contact is recorded and that if police officers have direct contact with journalists, then they're expected to revert to you so that the record can be made. Is that right? MS BIRD Generally we find that if an officer has been approached directly, either they will contact us to check that it's okay that they speak to them, or that they will tell us that they have referred them to us and could we please deal with it when it comes through, or that they've had a brief conversation and tell us what that was.
Q. Do you find there's any difficulty or issues in relation to the operation of that, that it's as it were an unnecessary burden, further bureaucratic burden on police officers who are already extremely busy? MS BIRD No, I think generally our officers are very pleased to have the assistance of the press office and most of the time they'll refer journalists to the press office.
Q. Do you have a view on that, Mr Trotter? MR TROTTER I think the value of the press office is very clear to me, the coordination of activity, ensuring that there's a record of what has been said so that if there are further inquiries from other media sources we can pass those stories on as well, and whilst we encourage the front line officers to speak to the media they will, if in doubt, refer back to the press office for guidance.
Q. Ms Bird, your evidence deals with one issue which is that of ensuring that information is disseminated widely and fairly by you to journalists and you cover this in questions 12 and 13. To summarise it, you're sensitive to journalistic deadlines. It's not your intention or policy to favour people in particular. Indeed, you have distribution lists for different areas of media interests. So does that mean that information which is disseminated electronically can go out to the people, those sections of the media who would be most interested in it, because you know from past experience that that's the sort of material they would be wishing to receive; is that right? MS BIRD That's exactly what happens. Generally they're geographically bound rather than anything else, but that is how it happens.
Q. One point of friction, though, and this is something we've heard from many others, complaints occasionally made that information is not being disseminated speedily enough. This is 17.1 of your statement, 10595, but it's the balance there of ensuring that the information is accurate, is probably known to you before it can properly be disseminated, but understanding that the press would like that information as fast as possible. Is that the position? MS BIRD That is the position, yes, and what we often find sometimes with fatalities, which are a fairly common occurrence on the rail network, is that an individual may have been named by witnesses or by friends, particularly younger people on social networking sites, which journalists can get hold of before we've had an opportunity to perhaps notify the family, or the coroner is in fact formally opening the inquest where we would name the individual concerned.
Q. Thank you. May I move on to the question of hospitality. Mr Trotter, this is section 46 of your statement page 02730. You feel that your standard operating procedure is capable of being improved. And presumably therefore it's under review, is it? MR TROTTER Yes. It will be reviewed in the light of the HMI report as well and we await the national guidance which will be submitted to HMI at the same time as my media response, so we'll be complying with the national requirements for that to make sure there is a national way of dealing with these matters and that there is proper oversight at all levels. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's not your brief? MR TROTTER No, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Whose brief is it? MR TROTTER That's Mike Cunningham, Chief Constable of Derbyshire. MR JAY He's coming tomorrow. MR TROTTER We're working together ensuring the coherence of our submissions.
Q. The concern which you really have relates more to checking and auditing diaries and registers. You give us that at the top of page 02731. Have I correctly understood where you're coming from on this issue? MR TROTTER Yes. It's to ensure that there is oversight and coherence between the documents to ensure that there is one clear and accurate record which is available for inspection and oversight by the Police Authority and by the public.
Q. Thank you. Your insight into this, Ms Bird. You do tell us, and this is no doubt a fair point, section 24.3, page 10597, you've "come from the private sector where hospitality is an endemic part of the business relationship. There's no culture of hospitality within BTP", so you're really wishing us to see this in context, that the police enjoy far less hospitality, really perhaps orders of magnitude less, than the sort of thing you've seen in an earlier life; is that right? MS BIRD Yes, I would say that's accurate. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But is it appropriate? Or are we just getting far too excited about it at all? MS BIRD No, I think it's entirely appropriate that they're different. Certainly my previous role at Heathrow there was considerable less hospitality because it was an operational airport and therefore there was an operational requirement for you to be not having lunches over alcohol and it would not be appropriate in case you needed to be on the aprons of the runways. It's entirely appropriate in the public sector and as a police force that there is not that level of hospitality. MR JAY But in the private sector, I'm not saying everything goes, but different standards apply because people are doing business. That's right, isn't it? MS BIRD That is right.
Q. Can I ask you about your view of off the record contact? Is it the position that you're happy to give background guidance to enable a journalist to write a story, proper context and to correct misapprehensions; have I correctly understood the position? MS BIRD Yes, you have, that's correct. We would perhaps give guidance that a non-suspicious fatality to a journalist who would ask if it was suicide, clearly that's not a matter for the press office to determine, it's a matter for the coroner, but we would indicate that we were not looking for anybody else in relation to that incident. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So you may very well say, "It will all come out, but there isn't really a story here"? MS BIRD Yes. We would be more likely to say it's more likely when you have an occasion where somebody presumes, for example, a fatality was a suicide whereas actually you may be treating it as non-suspicious but there may be a suspicion it was accidental, and clearly that would be a matter for a coroner to decide whether or not it was which one of those it was, but we would want to avoid a newspaper reporting it as an act of suicide when that has yet to be determined. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON (Nods head). MR JAY The final point really, that although one shouldn't be complacent, leaks aren't really a problem in your organisation as far as you perceive the position to be? MR TROTTER That's correct.
Q. The general points though you've made about leaks, the motives behind them and the difficulties in investigating them you've told us about wearing your ACPO hat, haven't you? MR TROTTER That's correct. MR JAY I think everything else we'll be content to take as read. I've drawn out a number of themes from your evidence, but both statements are extremely detailed and helpful and clear, so it's probably as far as I need go with you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Trotter, one other question, or indeed Ms Bird. Is there anything about the very different jurisdiction that you have within the British Transport Police, where you don't have a force area but you're all over the country in everybody else's area, that you think would be worth bringing out in any of the aspects of this Inquiry that I am conducting? MR TROTTER The operational impact of our jurisdiction is that we do have to deal with every police force in England, Wales and Scotland. We deal with the different jurisdictions in England, Wales and in Scotland, and it means we have to be very conscious of everybody else's needs, both political and police, in those different areas. So we have an alertness and awareness of where we are working and the impact on the local community, even if something is within our jurisdiction. So therefore I think we have an understanding of different cultures, different communities and different places. Working in the Metropolitan Police is different from working in some of the smaller areas, and I think that gives us a sensitivity to the needs of local communities, and trying to ensure that the policy in my ACPO role reflects the differences, the very different relationships that can quite genuinely exist in different places between more settled communities and the more transient places is part of trying to ensure that whilst there is a need for overall guidance it won't be one size fits all. There will be a difference in the way that forces operate because of those local community differences. I think it's ensuring certainly my responsibility that I answer all the concerns, and, sir, I'd obviously take into account what you tell us at the end of this and incorporate that into our guidance, whilst not inhibiting quite proper and decent relationships with the media which exist very properly all over the country. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON They are clearly very different, but is it Metropolitan urban? Is, for example, some of the concern that you might have arising in Birmingham or Greater Manchester nearer to the Met than Gloucestershire and Wiltshire? So is it urban and rural and does that impact on your work at all? MR TROTTER I think the difference is primarily between London and the rest of the country. Even the other big cities are quite different from London. Talking to the chief constables of those forces and their relationships with the media, they are very different. London is a particularly unique and tough challenge for the Metropolitan Police, and I think so from the Department of Public Affairs, I think they discharge those functions extremely well. But it is very different and it isn't really replicated anywhere else throughout the country. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Clarity of approach would presumably be valuable for you if you have to deal with each force individually and there is some calamity on the railways, as there have been in very different parts of the country, which require you to fit in with different forces in different working environments. MR TROTTER Yes. We have experience of dealing with forces like Cumbria and Suffolk as well as the Met when it comes to those disasters. We will take command of the scene and we will take command of the media relationships quite swiftly from the local force who often get there first and do a sterling job in the first place, but we will decide how things go from there in conjunction with the coroner, if that's appropriate, and with the local community as well. We find by having an approach which is very open, by my staff getting to the scene very swiftly, and they do all over the country, and making sure the media's needs, their legitimate needs, are looked after, I get a lot of very positive feedback from national and local media about the way that my officers and my press department deal with their concerns. I think that's what I would not want to see come from some of these matters we've heard about is that we do have a shutting down. We do have a story to tell, there is a right for the public to know and there is a genuine public interest in much of what we do, and part of my encouragement to my colleagues is to remain open, to tell them the good and the bad news and to ensure that the public can see what we do, because I'm very proud of what we do. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think, with respect, that that's entirely right. The advantages to be obtained from providing more information, the phrases of the day being open and transparent disclosure of everything, warts and all to such extent as it is not inappropriate for operational reasons, must be right. The trick is to get the balance right so that the strategic command understands what is going out and has I won't use the word control, because that suggests I want to clamp down on what goes out, but some overall appreciation and oversight so that steps can be taken to ensure consistency, accuracy and the overall propriety of what's being said. Would that fairly reflect precisely what you've just said to me? MR TROTTER Yes, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Thank you both very much. MR TROTTER Thank you. MR JAY Would you like a very short break? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, we didn't have a 11.30 break but we had one slightly beforehand so we'll have another one now. Thank you. (12.16 pm) (A short break) (12.23 pm) MR JAY The next witness, please, is Sir Hugh Orde. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. SIR HUGH STEPHEN RODEN ORDE (sworn) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Your full name, please, Sir Hugh?
A. Hugh Stephen Roden Orde.
Q. Thank you. You provided the Inquiry with a witness statement which covers two capacities, first as President of ACPO and secondly formerly as Chief Constable of the Police Service in Northern Ireland. The statement is dated 17 February of this year and signed by you. This is your formal evidence to the Inquiry?
A. It is, sir, yes.
Q. Thank you. In terms of your career, Sir Hugh, you joined the Metropolitan Police in the late 1970s. You worked your way up the ranks and became Deputy Assistant Commissioner in 1999, when you were given responsibility for aspects of the Stevens Inquiry into citizens in Northern Ireland. In September 2002 you were appointed Chief Constable of the Police Service in Northern Ireland where you served for seven years, and in 2009, at the end of that period, you were elected the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers?
A. That is correct, yes.
Q. It's right to recall this in paragraph 1.5 of your statement at the bottom of page 05355: you received an OBE in 2001, you were knighted in 2005, Queen's Police Medal in 2010 and you hold an honorary doctorate in law from two universities, one in Kent and the other in Ulster?
A. That's correct.
Q. First of all, ACPO, because that's the sequence of your evidence in your statement. I've dealt with what ACPO is with the previous witness. It does have some statutory recognition under the Police and Justice Act of 2006 as a consultee, but it's not a legal person on my understanding. Is that broadly speaking the position?
A. Yes, that is correct. We are a company limited by guarantee. We had to have some legal position so we can employ people and rent buildings, for example, but the office of president is also enshrined in primary legislation in the Police Act 2002 but apart from that we have no statutory basis.
Q. In terms of ACPO's national role, again I touched on this with Mr Trotter, you say in paragraph 4.1 of your statement, at 05357, that ACPO provides a national voice for the policing service to explain, inform and defend the operational work of the Police Service. In terms of media relations, how do you see ACPO's role?
A. It's very much providing a facility that enables the national media to go one point of to a single point of contact on matters that are of national interest, so in that sense we try and support the local forces where necessary. ACPO itself I describe very much as almost a band of volunteers. The business area work which is undertaken by chief constables such as Andy Trotter who you've heard today he does in addition to his day job, which is to try and provide continuity, consistency and at the top end of our business, operational end of our business, a consistent approach to the serious threats this country faces, be it terrorism, international crime, public order, those sorts of issues, where you have to have a consistent approach. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Could you help me, Sir Hugh. You were elected President of ACPO in 2009. For how long do you serve in that capacity?
A. It's for four years, sir, and you can't be reelected. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So the focal point during that period therefore comes very much down on to you.
A. Indeed, sir, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Ultimately for policing within the UK. Have you a different responsibility to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner?
A. Indeed I have no operational responsibility or indeed authority at all. My job is to really bring together and through negotiation, as Andy described, get consistent national policies through what we call the Chief Constables' Council, which meets four times a year. So the policies you've heard about today and you'll hear about tomorrow from Mike Cunningham, the Chief Constable of Staffordshire, I think Andy sent him to Derbyshire, he's a Staffordshire chief, will come to Chief Constables' Council, will be properly debated and the chief officers will all, we hope, sign up to deliver that policy in their piece of geography. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So to understand the role that you have, you have no operational responsibilities at all now?
A. My only technical operational responsibility, for example, if the fuel strike comes off, I will be responsible for making sure government is fully informed through Cobra and the Cabinet Office briefing room and my office will be responsible for co-ordinating any necessary movements of police officers around the country, as happened in the serious disturbances in August and as will happen in the pre-planned events around the Olympics. We co-ordinate the movement but the movement is given permission or authority by individual chief constables. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think it's quite interesting, this. So it's a full-time job for you.
A. Mm-hm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And you operate through all the individual chief constables, but essentially to co-ordinate and ensure that reaction is balanced and appropriately managed so that people aren't having to deal with it themselves?
A. Indeed, sir, and of course I have to advise government, I sit on many the Home Office committee, for example, the police reform programme, and we are a statutory consultee, so government would consult us on all these programmes. It's a full-time job in that sense, absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. I'm not sure that I'd appreciated the overarching responsibilities that you have operationally in the way that you've just described them. Thank you. MR JAY Sir Hugh, you were asked to provide us with your impression of the culture of the Police Service as a whole. This is section 5 of your statement, page 05358. You made three points, broadly speaking. First of all, in your view, culture is generally a positive and open one. Secondly, there are certain matters of policy, particularly at a complex strategic level, which cannot be explained in routine contact with journalists and therefore benefit from more focused meetings and discussions at a high level and you yourself will participate in those. Thirdly you say the culture within the MPS is very different from that of other police forces. Most of those points are self-explanatory and clearly expressed but can I ask you, please, in relation to the MPS, is it your view that the MPS, as some journalists have said, is far more defensive than other police forces?
A. I worked in the Metropolitan Police service for 26 years of my total career, sir, and I think it's a very different relationship because the sheer intensity and pressure and interest in what's going on in London is fundamentally different even to the Police Service in Norther Ireland which is pretty busy. I think there was a hierarchy where we tended to rely more on the department of media and public affairs rather than take it into our own hands. So we would generally seek advice rather than speak directly to the media in the routine of our working day. But that having been said, when I was involved, for example, on Operation Trident, those sorts of sensitive enquiries, the relationship with the media was critical, well-informed and worked very well. So I think it's different basically because the sheer intensity and scale means you need someone to support you more in the routine of your day than perhaps other forces do.
Q. ACPO have its own press office, it's very small, only four how many people occupy the press office?
A. It flexes a bit because of for example things like maternity leave, but overall about six officers. You'll be hearing from my head of media straight after me, I think.
Q. In terms of the work it does, given that we're talking about high level matters of strategy and policy, the role of the press office will either be to put out standard declarations of policy or to ensure there's contact with the relevant officer within ACPO; is that broadly speaking what its role it?
A. It's very important that I'm very keen that the president of ACPO, whoever holds this position, doesn't speak on all policing matters, we simply don't have the capacity to have a detailed knowledge. But what we do have for example are 14 business areas, for example crime is run currently by the chief constable of Merseyside, uniform operations matters is run by the chief constable of Norfolk. So if there was a matter pertaining to their specialism I would defer or my press officer would certainly make sure that someone from that business area was available to the national media to speak with authority on behalf of the association but with the depth of knowledge that's required to give a proper and informed answer.
Q. Thank you. You make it clear in paragraph 10.2 of your statement that the press office is a necessary body, it performs an integral and specialist function. You've explained the nature of its function in your oral evidence. Can I ask you, please, about section 11, page 05362, which is the issue of media crime. You say: "Levels of awareness of media crime will vary between police forces and there's no central recording of such data." The question I've been asked to put to you is this: do you not think that there should be a central recording of media crime by the police?
A. Well, most media crime falls into specific criminal categories and is captured in the generality of crime statistics. My sense would be, to try to distil it out, that there is no criminal offence of media crime, as you fully understand, it's a matter of crimes against specific statutes. So it would fall into the general crime recording rules which are not in our gift, they're defined and we are obliged to record crime under certain rather complicated, I have to say, categories. It is entirely feasible you could do it, it would require a certain bureaucracy to manage it on a 44 force basis.
Q. I think particular problems may arise in relation to accessing the Police National Computer unlawfully and passing information on to newspapers. It's whether that is sufficiently catered for in existing procedures of recording and auditing. Do you feel it's a broad question, I appreciate.
A. To be perfectly honest I haven't given it a huge amount of thought. My sense is certainly, if I draw from my previous operational experience, it was an issue, it was not an issue that I ever saw as a key strategic threat to my organisation but it was something we took very seriously and of course was investigated by routinely the police you know, the internal complaints department. Certainly in Northern Ireland that was the case.
Q. You were asked then in your statement to deal with the HMIC report and the Elizabeth Filkin report. You're making it clear that, as we've heard from a previous witness, that this is under direct consideration by ACPO. Are there any preliminary insights which you feel able to offer us now? Or shall we wait for the formal publication?
A. My sense is I've had the reports work quite well together, there's a lot of commonality between what Elizabeth Filkin said specifically in relation to the Met that is transferable to the national policy from which you've heard from Andrew Trotter. In terms of HMI's recommendations, they are accepted. You will be hearing from Chief Constable Cunningham tomorrow and, as Andrew has already said, the proposed solution will be presented to Chief Constables' Council on the 19th of the next month. So ACPO can mobilise quite quickly in response to HMI, for example, when it's seen as critical to delivering a new policy, a new consistent policy which is important in terms of public confidence as well as national consistency. There's always a tension between, you know, the clear steer of the current government towards a local bespoke style of policing and localism and driving down responsibility and there's always that tension between local agendas, local policies, local procedures, and the national central agenda. So it's always a robust debate. I think certainly within the Police Service there's common agreement, it makes absolute sense that you can have one consistent approach, for example in relation to gifts and hospitality. The public will not understand why the standards are different across the country and that's what will be delivered hopefully on the 19th of next month.
Q. The context of Elizabeth Filkin's report you draw on the PSNI code of ethics which you have attached under our tab 35. I think I'm right in saying we don't see a similar code of ethics in police forces in England and Wales. Is that right or not?
A. Yes, that is correct. There is a statement of common purpose and values which covers the country, and again that is a matter that currently has just been reviewed and will be slightly modified, led by Adrian Lee, the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire, who I think may be giving evidence as well. Adrian leads on ethical issues in policing. I think the great strength of a code of ethics is firstly it sets a standard of behaviour for every member of police staff, of every police officer, sworn officer. Although it's not binding on police staff in Northern Ireland, they are trained in it and they're expected to adopt the same principles. So it's more than just a code around the media, it's a code about how you behave and it is linked to the police discipline code in Northern Ireland. So if you breach the code of ethics, you technically commit a disciplinary offence, so it's a far more widely drawn disciplinary code than we have in the rest of the United Kingdom. It also requires officers have to be trained in it, every officer is trained in it, including myself, for two days under Lord Patten's review, and indeed whilst we're drifting into PSNI work, the fairly recent report from the policing board human rights advisers, who are independent of us of course entirely, was it was revisited, and it was, and it was reworked, and what you see there is the new code which I think came out in 2008/2009.
Q. Yes, and it's very clear and comprehensive. I'm looking for a date, but I think your it was 2008 or 2009.
A. The original code was 2002/2003. The board had employed its own human rights advisers in the form of Keir Starmer, who is now a DPP, and Jane Gordon and they did a human rights audit of the whole Police Service and made additional recommendations including to revisit it to make sure it was current and up to date.
Q. As you say, it doesn't cover specifically contact with the media, but it sets out standards which may be relevant to such contact.
A. It does. Under section 3 it cross-references to an obligation on all officers to comply with the S9 Media Code, so there is an connection but it's wider that than that and, frankly, if you complied with the code of ethics, you would, by definition, be complying pretty much with the Media Code.
Q. Thank you. Can I ask you, please, to develop the point you make at paragraph 15.2, at page 05364. You say your own view of the need for clear boundaries and standards is that, if additional guidance is produced, then it should support and reinforce the understanding of integrity that all police officers and staff must have and must demonstrate through their daily decisions. So are you saying there that there shouldn't be too much rules, that one should never lose sight of the underlying principle, or are you saying something different?
A. That's exactly what I'm saying. I think, in fairness to front line officers, who have a huge amount to do and we do ask an awful lot of them, to make very difficult decisions with very limited information on occasions, they need a basic operating principle against which to operate in the routine of their working day. If we overcomplicate it, I think it makes it difficult for them to stick to have a very clear and almost simple understanding of what it is they're there to do and certainly the police national decision-making model, again sounds a bit of a mouthful, about how we should reach decisions, has at its heart basically the clear sort of ethical code against which we should operate.
Q. Ask you please to touch on paragraph 17 of your evidence, page 05365. The political landscape is going to change in November of this year and, as you say, that will alter the fundamental structure of policing. The full impact of this change will only become clear as the new structures come into operation. Well, that must be right. Then you say in 17.3: "In my view it will be in public interest to ensure the media and communications resources of police forces remain directed to supporting the operational policing objectives of the force and are therefore clearly separated from those resources which, following November, are placed at the disposal of the Police and Crime Commissioner." What point are you driving at there?
A. I think we're looking at a fundamental change in police governance and the introduction of a removal of a structure whereby 17, or in Northern Ireland 19, people held the chief to account, drawn from a sort of wider base, to one person who will, inevitably in the majority of areas, be elected on a political ticket, they will be supported by parties. I think, in terms of impartiality, it is absolutely critical that the operational independence of chiefs is articulated by people under the control of a chief constable rather than someone who is under the control of the person charged with holding that individual to account. I think they are different roles and, in fairness to both parties, we need to be in a position to articulate what we do and why we do it in our own way. That is not to say, of course, it will be entirely proper for a Police and Crime Commissioner to have a media capability to deliver their own messages. They may well, on occasions, be very critical of the Police Service and rightly so. If we've got something wrong, that's the purpose of accountability. But I don't see you're going to have one media department to cover both positions. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is there a risk that issues of strategy and direction will then be played out in the public arena, where they might better be served by rather more measured analysis?
A. I think that's that is entirely foreseeable, sir. Of course we don't know quite how it's going to work. I think the first indication will be when the campaigns, for want of a better description, get under way before November as individuals declare and are elected by their parties or, indeed, independents, who can quite properly stand themselves. I think then we may start to see how it plays out in the media, but it will put chief constables in a very different position, of course, than the one they currently have. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON From your perspective, which is not merely one step but two or three steps removed from the Metropolitan Police, could you perceive any risks of what I ought to be aware from this, particularly given the fact that in London it's already happening?
A. Yes, although it is different. In London, whilst the Mayor is obviously in overall command, the Mayor has a huge range of responsibilities to deliver and has a Deputy Mayor to deliver or day to day, for example, on policing force, that individual is not directly elected in the same way as the Police and Crime Commissioner will do, so I'm not sure what parallels we can safely draw, but certainly that the media operation that the Metropolitan Police has is an independent media operation that is run by the Commissioner's office, or it's under the control of the Commissioner, I think that's important. That is not to say we would not want to be criticised, quite properly, if the oversight, whichever structure is in LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. My question may be confusing because I was actually picking up on the idea that there was something nearer that relationship in the Met already. I appreciate that Mr Malthouse is not elected to the office of Police and Crime Commissioner, but acts as the elected representative, that is, the Mayor's representative in this area, but do you see anything from what has happened there that causes you to think I ought to be concerned that matters will be played out in public which perhaps are better served by rather more quiet discussion?
A. Nothing that springs to mind, sir, no. MR JAY Sir Hugh, you asked a question, question 19, at the bottom of page 05366, about intrusive media attention towards yourself. One infers from your answer that this isn't something you would particularly wish to go into today, is that right, although you do touch on it under general terms under paragraph 19.2, the next page, but you have resorted to litigation. I think the Inquiry would be assisted if you were able to assist with the last sentence of 19.2, page 05367: "Recent experience of the Press Complaints Commission does not give me confidence." Is that an observation which is really commentary on some of the evidence this Inquiry may have received or does it relate to your own experience?
A. No, this is my own experience. I'm happy to comment in broad terms. Obviously you would not expect me to repeat libels and malicious comments in public again, which is the issue that I was forced to resort to the legal route. But more recently a specific case came up where a story was in a way a rather silly story, a defamatory story around I'd invented my own uniform and designed my own plastic cap badge in the corner of my own house or something, which followed from the riots where, of course, my profile by definition was fairly high, and attempts to give a sensible and factual response to that particular paper to resolve the issue, which would have resulted of course in the story not being printed because it was entirely invented, took us nowhere, and, sadly, advice from the Press Complaints Commission was not that powerful. My sense was and my head of media, who you'll hear from later, did the negotiation, was that one was seek some form of response in the paper, which we achieved the following week on page 99 or 91, a four-line letter correction, but of course this was on the Internet, et cetera, et cetera. My sense was that whilst this was not something one would get overly excited on in the routine, it was just an example of whereby the current system of redress did not do anything satisfactory in terms of getting the story withdrawn or, indeed, any sort of apology issued. My sense was the Commission didn't really have the powers that would have influenced an editor in a way to change the story. My sense was one of a rather powerful/powerless relationship.
Q. Thank you. Paragraph 19.3 should probably be regarded as commentary on evidence this Inquiry has received, should it?
A. Indeed so, yes.
Q. Thank you. Can we move on or indeed it's backward in time but on forwards into your statement LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Before you go on to Northern Ireland, let's just deal with one other general issue. As president of ACPO, you have an over-arching responsibility, which you've explained, and I entirely accept your loyalty to the Police Service which you have served for so many years. But I am interested to know whether anything that you have heard emanating from this Inquiry has caused you concern. I'd like to know whether anything has surprised you. The contrary is that it hasn't and that this concern is overexaggerated, but I'm just keen to get your sense, as an extremely experienced officer who has this oversight generally, of what I've heard and how I should be considering it.
A. My sense frankly, sir, is that not just me, the service has been surprised by some of the quite close relationships between individual chiefs and certain media outlets. I think that's without question. You've heard a number of officers express that surprise. I'm no different to those officers in that sense and I think you should be concerned because it goes to the heart of the reputation of the service generally, so it is an important factor. I think, hopefully, some of the evidence you've also heard has reassured you that steps are in place to provide far greater clarity on what is and what is not acceptable in the routine of policing, and my sense is whilst we considered many people have said the Met is different in so many ways, my sense is there is common cause and I wouldn't want to speak for the Commissioner but I think he's been very clear himself that the standards should apply across the service and not be bespoke to individual forces. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. The reason I've asked so many officers this question is because I am very conscious of the criticism that can be levelled that I am not a police officer, in the same way that I am not an editor or a journalist, and therefore I may be seeking to impose views which are doubtless sincerely felt I hope nobody will think that I won't go there but ill-informed by reason of lack of experience, and that's why I've asked you the questions and others as well, not for any other reason. Not to try and rub anybody's nose in what I've heard, but to calibrate my own sense of what's right. That's the point.
A. My sense, sir, is hopefully the evidence that you've heard from Andy Trotter this morning and others around and you will hear, I'm sure, tomorrow and the service sorting this problem out, I hope you will see some hard evidence that there is a plan to deal with to get greater clarity on what is and is not appropriate across the country, be it in relation to the media or hospitality generally and I think that does hopefully provide will provide some reassurance there is a plan already in place which also indicates, by definition, there is sufficient concern in the service to do something to provide that greater clarity. That having been said, I do think there is a we need to be careful not to become so rigid and so bound by very strict rules that we actually spoil what is a critical relationship with the media and that officers do not feel too fettered in having sensible professional conversations across all ranks, which is why I was very comfortable with a code of ethics approach, which was Lord Patten's whole idea about changing the style of policing in Northern Ireland, so it gave them broad parameters around general police how you operated as a police officer on and off duty, and bespoke slightly around the media, so it was almost a permissive policy not a restrictive one. We need to be very careful about that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think you've heard me say, certainly this morning and also on previous days, that I think it's very important that there is a very open and full relationship between the press and the police. The trick is going to be to ensure that there is appropriate I don't like using the word "control", but oversight.
A. Indeed. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Northern Ireland. MR JAY Northern Ireland. The political and policy backdrop when you arrived, the Police Service there, of course, used be the Royal Ulster Constabulary and I think that ceased to exist just before you arrived in 2001, possibly 2002. Have I understood it, this was the result of recommendations in the report by Lord Patten?
A. That is correct, yes.
Q. So there's a new entity, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, you say, set up against an immensely challenging policing and political backdrop. We can understand that, I'm sure. You draw attention to paragraph 5.16 of the Patten Report where there's commentary on the past and the need now for a greater culture of openness and transparency. In relation to the past, perhaps understandably, there was a culture of defensiveness and perhaps lack of transparency, putting it appropriately in guarded terms, was there?
A. Yes. I think that was certainly that's what Lord Patten found. I had been in Northern Ireland for two years previously on Lord Stevens' inquiry into collusion and a specific murder and it was a very formal structure. Now, my in fairness, in a sense of balance, we had to operate, even at the beginning of my time, in a fairly strict way across the routine of the policing day to make sure officers were safe so they could then deliver effective policing against what was still quite a volatile backdrop, so I think standard operating procedures became the default position, and my task was to create a more empowered service that did feel comfortable dealing with things in a different way from its history.
Q. The PSNI has a corporate communications department, like all other forces, and you discuss that subsequently in your statement. Can I deal with the particular challenges around counter-terrorism. It's paragraph 21.3, page 05368. You refer to the importance of a constant and steady relationship with the media, communicating and disclosing as much information as possible, notwithstanding, and I paraphrase, obvious operational sensitivities around the whole counter-terrorist operation. Did circumstances arise when there were frictions or rubbing points about how much could be disclosed?
A. Not specifically in relation to counter-terrorism during my time there. In 2002, most major media sources had embedded dedicated journalists or reporters in Northern Ireland. That changed and who had a great understanding of the history and actually knew the territory fairly well. That changed as the time went on and more and more as Northern Ireland became less interesting in media terms in the routine, they withdrew and we were then left with a less experienced group of media reporters where it sometimes did become somewhat more tense. That having been said, the most critical events in my time would have been the murders of Sappers Azimkar and Quinsey in 2009 and Constable Stephen Carroll on 9 March 2009, and the relationship with the media then I would only describe as professional and responsible.
Q. You make it clear in section 22 of your evidence you had many informal meetings with journalists this is 22.3 really to deepen understanding. There were one-to-one conversations, on occasion two. Did those include editors?
A. Yes, I did meet editors and I used to meet the embedded reporters who had a great understanding of Northern Ireland, indeed had many had written some of the most definitive books on the history of Northern Ireland, which of course were very important for me to understand, so it was much as actually for my benefit of understanding their perspective on where policing was going. They were because of the nature of Northern Ireland they were very closely embedded to their communities and they had a wealth of information which I could benefit from, so in a way it was a rather parasitic relationship at the beginning, where I benefited far more from their information than they did from anything I had to say to them, although it was critical to get the mission of policing out, to get absolute clarity that the Patten Report was going to be implemented, including the most difficult and challenges bits, 50/50 recruiting being one of them, where we had to recruit 50 per cent Catholic and 50 per cent Protestant recruits to the service, and, of course, losing hundreds of experienced officers to make that happen, and it's very important that my message got out loud and clear about what my determination was for my service. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's a very, very different exercise, that. Here you're starting a new service in an area which has a history of difficulty, which somebody coming in from the outside would want to understand, and then you have to convey the new ideas and ensure there's enthusiasm for them and a willingness to take them on. That's rather different from any of the problems faced here, isn't it?
A. Although the principles, sir, I think are the same, which is one of engagement, one of being comfortable, having a conversation with people who are in the media world without feeling vulnerable to compromise, being very clear in your own mind what your purpose is. I think one has to have I think there are some parallels about how one does business and being very clear this is a relationship that is a professional relationship, it's not around being friends with each other, it's around sharing information, but actually it's, if you like, the grey area, it's about getting a better understanding of what it is they need from us as much as what we want to tell them and how you can become more effective in that communication without any deals. I think the risk is when it goes into this sort of grey area where it becomes or perception is this is a cosy relationship with specific people. That having been said, I absolutely focused on the journalists who I saw as competent, professional, capable of delivering, and whilst in those more targeted conversations I would choose who I was speaking to in the routine, in relation to the Police Service generally of course we would speak to any journalist that wanted to engage with us, and media releases, press releases, press conferences were not restricted in any way, shape or form. MR JAY Were these meetings both on the record and off the record?
A. I think there's a huge difficulty in reading about what is on the record and what is off the record. I prefer the term "background briefings" to set context, as Chief Constable Trotter touched on earlier, and I was more than happy to go on the record to have on-the-record meetings with any journalist that sought an on-the-record interview. That would be quite properly through my press office and would be recorded and would normally take place in my office or another police building. MR JAY Sir, is that a convenient moment to take our lunchbreak? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Thank you. 2 o'clock. (1.01 pm)


Gave a statement at the hearing on 28 March 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 1 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 28 March 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 17 pieces of evidence
Gave statements at the hearings on 28 March 2012 (AM) and 28 March 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 6 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 28 March 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 22 pieces of evidence


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