Afternoon Hearing on 24 November 2011

Max Mosley and JK Rowling gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(2.00 pm) MR JAY Mr Mosley, I believe I was about to take you to paragraph 53 of your witness statement, please. You suggest there that Mr Dacre and Ms Brooks agreed to launch a campaign against Mr Justice Eady.
A. Yes, that's correct.
Q. Was that a joint campaign or a several campaign?
A. As my understanding is that it was several in effect, but joint in agreement. My understanding is that they got together, but then decided that Mr Justice Eady was to be attacked.
Q. I am asked to put to you this, and it probably is no surprise, that Associated's position is that whatever stance Mr Dacre took, and he was quite entitled to take it, it certainly wasn't in any collusion with Ms Brooks, he did it entirely off his own bat. Do you have any comment?
A. I would not find that surprising, but I must say in general about these people, and by that I mean Rebekah Brooks as well as Mr Dacre, that certainly in Rebekah Brooks' case she could deny for England because they denied the "for Neville" email, they denied that they'd ever had more than one journalist involved in hacking, they denied it again until it became absolutely obvious and Mr Edmondson then was fired. They kept denying it. Then in April of I think this year, they admitted that it could have happened between (inaudible) and us. I could go on and on and on.
Q. Fair enough, we get the picture. You are providing us the commentary. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I get the picture of your view, or you're entitled to your view as other people are entitled to their view, but the question is: does the basis of your understanding have an evidential foundation?
A. It does. I was told this by a senior former senior employee of News International. It would be wrong for me to announce his name, because obviously this was confidential, but I'd be very happy to write it down for you, sir, if that would be helpful. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. So you've got it from a source and you can't go beyond it?
A. Correct. But I'm very confident that I was told the truth. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Fair enough. MR JAY Before I deal with a very serious issue, Mr Mosley, paragraph 54, you refer to another piece in the Daily Mail, which has a bit of a shivering title: "As cold as a frozen haddock, Mr Justice Eady hands down his views shorn of moral balance." Another example though of comment, rightly or wrongly, on a decision, isn't it?
A. One could say that. I would say this is calculated to intimidate a judge. If I put myself in the position of Mr Justice Eady, somebody who is a distinguished judge and jurist, who is not used to being attacked in the public domain, like for example I have been to do with motor racing, I would find that offensive, I would find it worrying. If you think those sort of articles are going to appear, it must influence you to some degree. You must realise just the way that the so-called celebrities realise that they're going to be attacked. It's highly unpleasant. And I cannot believe this is done for any purpose other than to intimidate. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Let me assure you, Mr Mosley, that although we don't hit the headlines quite so frequently, we're well used to being criticised and to saying nothing about it. And that may require biting one's tongue occasionally, but we recognise that goes with the territory and it doesn't alter anything we do.
A. I'm sure it has no effect, sir, no. MR JAY I must deal with the issue of impact, Mr Mosley.
A. Of?
Q. Impact.
A. Yes.
Q. And this is the serious issue I was touching on. Paragraph 57. I appreciate a personal matter, but could you tell us in your own words about that, please?
A. Yes. My son was a drug addict, and he was one of these people, extremely intelligent, had a mathematics PhD, he'd co-authored a paper on economics with Lord Desai, he'd written open source software with Linux and got prizes, intelligent. But like a lot of intelligent people, he suffered from depression and his way of dealing with this, the only effective way he found, despite endless doctors, was drugs. He was getting to the age where he knew that if he didn't get off he made several attempts to get off if he didn't get off his drugs, probably this would end badly. He was struggling with it. He had overcome his problem and the News of the World story had the most devastating effect on him. He really couldn't bear it. It was just so awful. And one can imagine that. I mean it's bad for me, but for my sons to see pictures of your father in that sort of situation all over the newspapers, all over the web, all your friends seeing it, also for my wife, and he really couldn't bear it. He went back on the drugs and he didn't it would be wrong to say he committed suicide. He didn't. That was fairly clear from all the circumstances. But like many people on hard drugs, it's extremely dangerous and you make a small mistake and you die, and that's what happened.
Q. That was in May of 2009?
A. It was.
Q. You deal with some of the other effects of that in paragraph 58. You went to your late son's house to sort out his personal effects. There was one journalist on the doorstep and then frankly a whole mob arrived within a short space of time?
A. This is correct. What was to me I don't want to overdo it, but what to me was so horrifying was there was no sense of this matters, these are human beings, these people actually mind, that is a terrible situation for somebody to be in. It's oh, maybe we can write a story, so let's be there, and they had these photographers there, and I called my solicitor, he arrived on the scene and gave them all a letter, and they left, because I think they knew very they all called their obviously they're all on their mobile phones, I suspect to headquarters, and I think they were probably told that we'd have a rerun of I think it was called Hanover versus Germany in the court, we would have had a rerun of that. I would have sued them because I thought it was absolutely outrageous to come and try and take pictures of somebody in that sort of situation. We were in a desperate situation. They have no human feeling at all.
Q. Thank you. We've already touched on some of the other consequences of Internet publication, and the next section of your witness statement deals with that in some detail, Internet use in the United Kingdom through the News of the World until you win your case, and then there were all the knock-on effects throughout the world, really, with the World Wide Web. You've already told us that you have instructed, as you've had to have done, firms of lawyers in 20 different jurisdictions in order to try and close this down.
A. That is correct. We haven't succeeded. All we can really do is mitigate, but we have reduced it, that must be said.
Q. Yes. You've told us how much that has cost you.
A. I've never really added it up, I dread doing it, but it's well over ?500,000, well over, and it's ongoing.
Q. I'd like to deal with a related issue, namely the economics of litigation, the particular case which you've won in front of Mr Justice Eady. Slightly out of sequence, it's paragraph 76 of your witness statement.
A. Yes.
Q. This is something any civil lawyer will understand immediately, but the public at large would be forgiven for not understanding why, if you win a case, you're, as it were, not left out of pocket, but you are left out of pocket because you get your ?60,000 damages awarded by Mr Justice Eady, your legal costs are your obligation to pay your lawyers whatever they reasonably charge you, and that's a matter of contract between you and them. You then get an order for assessment of your costs from the judge, which you got in your case, and then another judge, the costs judge, assesses the costs and at the end of that exercise, all by agreement, you ended up with in fact a very good result. 82 per cent of all your costs were then paid by the losing party, News International. Is that a fair summary of what happened?
A. That's an exact summary. Because I think the difficulty is this, that you never, except in the most exceptional circumstances, get all your costs. This is trivial for the lawyers, but you don't. And that means there is a difference between the costs the court gives you and the costs that you actually have to pay. They come out of your damages. In this case, they exceeded the damages, and in virtually any privacy case they would exceed the damages. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We actually learnt about this yesterday because Mr Lewis was making the point in connection with the settlement of one of his actions that he received every single penny piece of his costs. That I think was the Taylor litigation. Yes. MR JAY That may or may not have one or two unusual features, but in your case where you had a good result, there was a shortfall of 18 per cent, and in pounds, shillings and pence, that's ?30,000 out of pocket, isn't it?
A. Exactly, exactly. I think that Mr Lewis in the Taylor case was absolutely astonished at the level LORD JUSTICE LEVESON He made that point.
A. He made the point. MR JAY I'd like to come back to a point which I know you regard as extremely important, the argument for prior notification. In your own words, as succinctly as you can, give us the nutshell of the point which you wish to impress on this Inquiry, please, Mr Mosley.
A. In a nutshell, the point is that in a privacy matter, once the information has been made public, it can never ever be made private again. Therefore, the only effective remedy is to stop it becoming public. What is needed is a mechanism to get an order to stop it becoming public. That is completely doable if you know that the information is about to be published. The only gap in the law, and it is a gap in the law, is if the newspaper manages to keep secret their intention to publish the information, then out it comes and it's too late, and there's nothing more to be done. What follows from that is there should be prior notification. One quick point on that is that Mr Dacre, in evidence to the Select Committee, said that in 99 cases out of 100, the individual has notice, because the newspaper would normally approach somebody and ask them for a comment. He may have been slightly exaggerating, but I can't believe he would not tell the truth to a Select Committee, so it's a minority of cases, but of course they're the very cases where the newspaper knows that if you did find out, you'd get an injunction. So they keep it secret, knowing that they can once they've published it, no one in their right mind, I say that of myself, no one in their right mind would sue, because it will cost you money, you'll get the information published all over again and you don't solve the problem because the information can't be made private. So it's those 1 per cent that are really dangerous, but without notification, a newspaper at the moment, if they have outrageous information or pictures, if they can only publish them before the person finds out, there's no remedy, unless one says, well, ?30,000, repetition and so on is a remedy, but really repetition in court is rather like suing because you have a broken leg, going to court and then they break the other leg, with absolute privilege, as well, because it just makes it worse. Sorry, that wasn't much of a nutshell, but in a nutshell, it is the very cases where there's an egregious breach of privacy that are the ones where they don't tell you and where prior notification is essential.
Q. There's another argument which one might throw into the melting pot and it's this, that the prior notification, if it's a legal requirement, will then lead to a fairly rapid hearing before a judge, and so the legal costs will be kept within reasonable bounds. The second point is that you'll only get the injunction as a claimant unless you show on balance that your privacy has been violated and there's no public interest justification. So in practical terms, if you win the prior notification injunction, you in effect will win the case, but it works the other way around. If you lose it, the newspaper will publish with impunity, perhaps rightly, because they know they're in the right, so it's all self-contained in a more rapid and cheaper process. Do you agree or disagree with that?
A. I agree completely. My information is that to seek an injunction, the costs are something less than 5 per cent of the costs of a full trial. Of course, that also applies to the newspaper. If I may, as you say, under I think it's section 12(3) of the Act, you have to show that you're more likely than not to win the case and you have to satisfy the judge you're more likely than not. Well, what can be wrong with that? Because if an independent judge thinks you're more likely than not to win, then you should have injunction, because if you don't have if it's out, although you win the case, you win nothing because the information is in the public domain.
Q. That answer is not wholly going to satisfy the Inquiry to this extent, that although privacy proceedings, ?500,000 each side is really only for the very wealthy, even these proceedings, injunction proceedings, are for the wealthy and the bold. Pre-notification doesn't deal with, if I may say so, the ordinary person with limited means. Would you agree with that?
A. Completely. I very much believe that there should be an alternative mechanism. There should be some form of tribunal, some form of enhanced regulatory body, but it's a very big question, but to which you could go. I think it's absolutely essential that such a body should be free of charge, because otherwise, however cheap it is, even if you went to the county courts, as some of the academics have suggested, that is beyond the means of a great many people, and there is no reason why it shouldn't be free. If I may say this, invasion of privacy is worse than burglary because if somebody burgles your house, unless it's heirlooms, you can replace the things that have been taken, repair the damage. But if someone breaches your privacy, you can never repair the damage, never put it right again. So it matters. But with burglary, if you find a burglar in your house and call the police, they don't say, "Are you rich? Because if you're not rich, we're not going to come". They come and arrest him. There should be a similar mechanism to stop people breaching the privacy of an ordinary person who is not in a position to find the money to ask for an injunction. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Of course, to say it should be free of charge begs the question as to who is going to pay for it.
A. Indeed, sir. But if you had a body that was similar to the Press Complaints Commission, which is free, but was independent both of the press and the government and everybody else, and made the central division, which is often not talked about, the division between making the rules and enforcing the rules, and the only thing at the moment, the rules themselves are not that bad. What's missing with the PCC is the ability to enforce them. If you had a body that could enforce the rules, it almost you don't necessarily have to have superqualified people. I'd prefer to have anyone deciding whether my privacy should be breached or not more than an editor. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The other argument is that it would smack of censorship, wouldn't it?
A. No more than the existing procedure. The only difference between that, sir, and the existing procedure would be that it would be available free of charge. I mean, people don't say that if I go if I had been to Mr Justice Eady with the knowledge and asked for an injunction, I suppose the News of the World might have said it was censorship, but I don't think any reasonable person would have. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Let me now put another situation to you. Forgive me if I take your example because it actually allows the point to be made. Mr Justice Eady was unsure whether, if he'd been satisfied about the underlying allegation, whether that would have been in the public interest or not. Now, what concerns me, just thinking through the points as I was reading your statement and Mr Justice Eady's judgment, was how you are going to resolve that issue. You will go along to the judge and for those who don't understand, these are comparatively short hearings and say, "My privacy's being infringed. This is what they want to say about me and it's outrageously untrue". They will come along and say, "Oh no, it isn't, it's absolutely true." Then suddenly you have to have a trial because the balance of whether you grant an injunction may depend upon whether you think the allegation of truth of falsity is the more accurate, which is the more accurate.
A. Indeed. Of course, that situation already exists, and as far as number one, prior notification, and number two, a very inexpensive if not free of charge tribunal, is perhaps a separate issue, but on the fundamental issue that you've just raised, it will always be difficult. Of course, in ordinary injunctions, again, forgive me, in ordinary injunctions is the American Cyanamid test, which is a balance of convenience, but they deliberately from lobbying from the press made the standard higher in privacy. But I think those very difficult questions are exactly what judges are for and what they do, and what's dangerous is to allow the editor of a tabloid to weigh this up, when really all he wants to do is sell newspapers. In the particular case you've mentioned, I think probably what Mr Justice Eady would have done is said that he could see no public interest in this. He did actually say that in his judgment LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, maybe I have to change your facts a little bit, but I want to get to a situation where there is a real argument about public interest, which requires a proper investigation.
A. My submission there would be that then the judge should lean slightly against, if I may put it like that, article 12(3) section 12(3), because it's a little bit like the situation where I have a tree at the bottom of my garden and Mr Jay says he's entitled to cut it down. The court will normally say, "You may well be right, Mr Jay, but once you've cut it down, you can't put it up again so we'll leave it there pending trial". I think what the judge could do in a difficult case is say, "This is a difficult case, it needs a trial, I'm going to grant the injunction, but I'm going to give an expedited trial." LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Jay might pursue this. MR JAY There will be submissions of law on it but I think it's fair to say Mr Mosley, in your case, the combined effect of paragraphs 22 and 36 of Mr Justice Eady's judgment of 9 April 2008 is that if it weren't for the dam bursting point, you would have got your injunction. That's certainly my reading of it, you don't have to comment whether you agree or not.
A. But I do.
Q. I'm giving you that assurance. The wider point, what happens in a case where the public interest is more debatable, that can be dealt with by legal submission in due course. I would like, however, to dwell just very briefly on the reasons that the European Court of Human Rights, the Fourth Chamber, gave for rejecting your prior notification argument. In this very fat bundle I'm going to go straight to the discussion or conclusion of the European Court. It's page 410 on the small numbering. This document, of course, is in the public domain. I'm not going to ask for it to be put up. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON For those who don't understand, in relation to prior notification, you took a case to the European Court of Human Rights and it went to the Grand Chamber, all the way along the line.
A. It went, sir, to one of the small chambers and then we tried to go to the Grand Chamber LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And they refused.
A. Yes. MR JAY It was the fourth division. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MR JAY I am going to summarise this as succinctly as I can without, I hope, losing the nuance. At paragraph 120, they said that the general rule is that damages after the event will satisfy Article 8. Do you follow me? And then they considered at paragraph 121 whether, notwithstanding that, there were good reasons for requiring pre-notification as an adjunct to Article 8. They addressed that on two levels, Mr Mosley. First of all, paragraph 122, the traditional margin of appreciation arguments, which mean in essence, well, the European Court leaves it to the domestic court, a wide margin of discretion as to how to organise its procedures. But then there is an interesting section of the judgment which I do draw to your attention, because it arguably contains a solecism which has been perpetrated by others. Page 412 at the bottom, paragraph 126: "However, the court is persuaded that concerns regarding the effectiveness of a pre-notification duty and practice are not unjustified. Two considerations arise. First, it's generally accepted that any pre-notification obligation would require some form of public interest exception, thus a newspaper could opt not to notify a subject if it believed that it could subsequently defend its decision on the basis of the public interest. The court considers that in order to prevent a serious chilling effect on freedom of expression, a reasonable belief that there was a public interest at stake would have to be sufficient to justify non-notification, even if it was subsequently held that no such public interest arose." May I respectfully suggest, not to you but to those who wrote it, that it's arguable, at least, that two matters have been conflated. First, there is the public interest in not notifying you, because you might be a criminal, you might destroy evidence or whatever, and then there is the public interest in justifying the publication in due course. What arguably the court have done here is to use arguments which pertain to the second consideration to the first, and they therefore have entered into error, the same error which you would say, perhaps, infiltrates the reasoning of the Select Committee when they come to address the self-same issue. Is that a fair summary of your position?
A. That's a precise summary. I think that the issue that matters is: is there a prior notification argument in relation to the notification itself?
Q. Yes.
A. When it gets to the subject matter, the judge will look at that.
Q. The other point which they make strikes me, with great respect, again as a thunderingly bad or surprising point. They say if there were an injunction, the newspaper might break it because they would be happy to pay the punitive fine, which seems to me to involve a bit of a misunderstanding about what the rule of law entails. If you got your injunction, you would be in contempt of court to break it and it would be unthinkable that a newspaper would ever take that risk. So that may be the complete answer to the European Court's second point, or it may not.
A. I think that's a very strange reasoning. Apart from anything else, if the fine is big enough, they won't ignore it. It might be an argument for upping the fine but it will never be an argument for saying it was okay to breach somebody's privacy.
Q. Well, whatever, one respects the judgment, it is the law coming out of Europe. The Grand Chamber were invited by you to reconsider this and they have not granted you the privilege to do so. The matter rests now with this decision.
A. That's correct.
Q. That doesn't mean, of course, you would say, that domestic law could not move further than European law and provide you the protections which you say should apply, namely prior notification, because it's certainly within the gift of Parliament to provide for that if so advised?
A. Indeed. The only reason that I went to Strasbourg was that I thought there was no chance of convincing a UK government to bring in the necessary legislation, because, to put it bluntly, they were completely in the thrall of Mr Murdoch and other big newspaper people who would have objected. That spell has now been broken, I think fairly conclusively, and I don't see any reason why such a law should not be brought in. The case for prior notification, to my way of thinking, is unanswerable. I think it's just so absolutely clear that you need it and it's the right way to do it. The only outstanding issue is how you would arrange your tribunal that could do this without it being ruinously costly, but that's the only issue. That you need prior notification, that you need an independent person to decide in a difficult case whether it be published or not seems to me unanswerable.
Q. Thank you. Towards the end of your statement, you deal with the wider picture and your views about press regulation, and we're going to come to that, but there are some specific points I would like to raise with you. The first point in relation to Mr Dacre, you are well aware that he has stated publicly that Mr Justice Eady's decision is incorrect. I think he referred in a lecture in 2008 to the subjective and relativistic view of Mr Justice Eady, and then in evidence to the Select Committee, which we have available, he expressed a similar view. I don't interpret your evidence as saying other than that he's quite entitled to express that opinion?
A. Yes, I think that's fair.
Q. In a nutshell what he may be saying of course he will say it much better than me and I should not be understood as paraphrasing him is to say, "Look, this is immoral conduct, many people would judge it thus; surely, therefore, there is a right as part of the newspaper's right of fair comment under Article 10 or whatever for these matters to come to light because of the nature of the subject matter". I have expressed in a way I'm sure Mr Dacre would not, but the general sentiment I've sought to get across. May I have your comment on it, please?
A. The thing is that what Dacre said I think in his speech to the Society of Editors and in an editorial, he said that I was guilty of unimaginable depravity. Well, first of all, it reflects badly on his imagination, but apart from that, it's not a sensible comment because I wouldn't I have no idea what Mr Dacre's sex life is. All I know is that he has this sort of preoccupation with schoolboy smut in his website, with Ms X in her bikini, Ms Y showing off her suntan, et cetera. So he may have some sort of strange sex life, but the point is it's not up to me to go into his bedroom, film him and then write about it. It's his business. And equally, if somebody has a slightly unusual sex life, exactly the same thing applies. I think the law is very clear, and I think it's quite right, that if it's private, it's adult and it's consensual, then it concerns nobody else. The moment you go into the area where you say, "I don't really like what that person's doing", lots of people do things I don't like, it's not up to me to tell them not to. All I can object to, I can say please don't do it in front of me, please make sure everybody consents, and that's an end of the matter. I think I said this before, I'm sorry to repeat myself, it's a completely old-fashioned idea. It dates from the days when, for example, I was young, where it was illegal to be gay, and all sorts of sexual activities which some people find quite normal, I might not, but some do, were actually criminal offences, even between a man and a woman, and all that's been changed. The world has moved on. The only person who hasn't moved on is Mr Dacre.
Q. What he said to the Select Committee, and this is on 23 April 2009, he said this: "With the greatest respect to you [by which he means the committee], I think a lot of us were very surprised at the soft time you gave him [the 'him' in that sentence is you, Mr Mosley]. For Max Mosley to present him as a knight in shining armour proclaiming sanctimoniousness and aggrieved self-righteousness in his crusade to clean up the press is an almost surreal conversion of the moral values of normal civilised society. Indeed for Mr Mosley to crusade against the media is a bit like being the Yorkshire Ripper campaigning against men who batter women."
A. It's really quite sad, actually, that he should say things like that to the committee, because what he's really saying is he doesn't like or didn't like something that I did sexually, in private, with consenting adults, and that that the fact that he didn't like it should prevent me from saying the press should not invade people's privacy. It's an absolutely ludicrous argument. It's a very sad thing for Mr Dacre that every time I get invited to a university to debate, I'll say I'll come to the other end of England if you can get Dacre on the other side. No chance.
Q. He crystallised his point a little bit later on: "My main objection was the way he exploited and humiliated and degraded women in this way. Paid women, yes."
A. It just shows again he's completely naive obviously about sex. That's not a criticism, but it's a fact. The women in my my little party, I like to call it, they are total complete enthusiasts for what they do. They love what they do. They're more into it than I've ever been. The idea that you're exploiting them is ludicrously naive and in fact offensive to them. They all do these sort of things in their private lives, with their partners. That's how they are. Mr Dacre may not approve of it, but the fact is we live in a civilised society where grown-ups in private should be allowed to do what they please. It's not up to him to decide who can do what between consenting adults.
Q. Two further points, so the position is clear. First of all, Mr Dacre's evidence to the Select Committee is categorical to this extent, that the article that the News of the World published was certainly not an article that the Daily Mail would publish, because of its nature, for reasons of good taste. You probably recall that part of his evidence, do you?
A. I do well.
Q. Yes.
A. The thing is that he's in the position he's like the crocodile's killed the animal and then the hyenas come along and scavenge and he's the scavenger.
Q. The second matter, which I'm sure you accept as well, is that Mr Dacre's agenda is that (a) this is a matter of his human rights which he is entitled to pursue, and it's certainly not part of his objective, he would say, in any way to undermine Mr Justice Eady. What he is doing is exercising his democratic rights. Would you accept that much?
A. I can't really accept that because what he said was that this is an amoral judgment, I think those were the words, from an amoral man. Well it isn't. It's a judgment that recognises that consenting adults are allowed to do by the law of this country what they wish in private. He may criticise the law, that's absolutely possible. What he should not do is criticise a judge for imposing the law or applying the law. What's deeply hypocritical about the thing is that if this were not the law, they could appeal we've had this point before and they did not appeal. He should recognise that the reason that News International did not appeal was not because they agreed with the judgment, it was because they knew they would lose. So what he's doing is he's attacking the man, the judge, he's playing the man rather than the ball. The ball is the law. If he doesn't like the law, he could campaign to change it. Meanwhile, all the judge can do is apply it, and this Mr Justice Eady did.
Q. I think I've taken that point as far as I need to. Can I look at the wider picture through your evidence and this is the part of your witness statement which starts at paragraph 100. First of all, you deal with the PCC. What you say about the PCC is perhaps not unfamiliar to this Inquiry, because it chimes with other evidence or other opinion which the Inquiry has received. You make the various points there's no power to sanction, Northern Shell have opted out, PCC wouldn't, couldn't or didn't prevent the most scandalous abuses you refer to, and you name them. You mention some positive aspects in paragraphs 105, 106. For reasons of balance, could you tell us a little bit about those matters perhaps so far as they bear on you?
A. Absolutely. The Press Complaints Commission in my case were helpful when it came to trying to stop press harassment or harassment after the death of my son. They did co-operate there. And I believe, but I have no personal experience, that they've had some success in preventing the publication of stories which shouldn't be published. I think that people who know a story is coming out can call them up, and I think they've done, I believe, a lot in that way quite successfully, but that brings us back to the fundamental point that if you don't know the story's coming out, you can't ring the PCC for help. That's why prior notification, once again, is vital.
Q. Thank you. Then you make the "no teeth" point which others of course have made and the conflict of interest point which again others have made, but I would ask you, please, to develop your point about a suggested alternative to the PCC. I know you've touched on this a little bit but could you in your own words help the Inquiry with the contours of your suggested alternative?
A. It's a subject which I could talk about for hours, but briefly, I think a tribunal or body of some kind is needed, and the basic principle of the PCC that it is free I think is right. That it is paid for by the press I think is right. But I would give the new body I would make it slightly different, that I would first of all divide it into two sections, one which would make the rules and the other which would enforce them, and the rule-making, I think, doesn't need a great deal of work. There are certain things like prior notification, but fundamentally the rules are not that bad. But what is needed is a body that can enforce them, so a body that would have the power to order a story not to come out, if it were justified under the law as it stands, would have the power to find would have various powers effectively rather like a judge would have, and I would add to that the power to stop the press harassing somebody, not ask them as the PCC does, but tell them. Those points could be worked out and I would be very, very happy to submit to the Inquiry a detailed proposal of that. But fundamentally, you should be able to go very simply and say, "I think my privacy's about to be invaded", and I would add to that even defamatory statements. I know about the rule in Bonnard v Perryman, obviously, but I think there is a case for trying to mediate these things at the beginning. I think if somebody went with their complaint, either defamation or breach of privacy, and the other side were made to turn up as well and you have a mediator sitting there, a large proportion of these things would disappear before they even started. Most cases are quite simple. You would have to have some mechanism for the complicated cases to go to the High Court and you would have to have some mechanism for paying for them, but there are various ways in which that could be approached. But the overwhelming majority of cases could be dealt with simply with a single adjudicator, the two parties sitting there, the issue explained briefly, no big expensive lawyers, pleadings and all the rest of it. Most of these issues are really quite simple. It's just that the capacity, with the greatest respect to the legal profession, the capacity for the legal profession to make things complicated, of course, is great, and that's very expensive.
Q. Thank you, Mr Mosley. Journalistic practices now, paragraph 120. This is to some extent, if I can be forgiven for saying so, a commentary on evidence which the Inquiry has received and will receive in due course, particularly when it comes to Operation Motorman, do you understand
A. Yes.
Q. we're dealing with in a lot of detail next week and the Inquiry will be able to reach its own conclusions about that. But you do make one point in the context of blackmail, paragraph 124. I'm sure you'd like to bring this point out, that after Mr Justice Eady delivered judgment on 24 July 2008, with his criticisms of Mr Thurlbeck, you wrote to Mr Rupert Murdoch in New York drawing your concerns to his attention. Did you receive a reply to that letter?
A. No, I didn't. That letter was written on 10 March this year and I sent it by recorded delivery and I have evidence from the United States postal service that it was delivered. I also sent two emails, and I was astonished, because all I was asking him to do was to order an inquiry in his Wapping 1 per cent into this, but got no reply. I have to say that I cannot imagine writing to a proper international company a letter alleging serious criminal conduct by a senior employee and getting no reply. I'm sorry to say this, but I think I will, if I may. That to me is the conduct of the Mafia. It's what you would expect if you wrote to the head of a Mafia family complaining about one of their soldiers. You would probably get no reply. Equally, if one of their soldiers went to prison, as Mr Rees did, and was promptly reemployed when he came out after serving a sentence for a very serious offence, again you would expect that from the Mafia, you would not expect it from a serious company like News International down in Wapping.
Q. Well, Mr Mosley, doubtless your legal team will remind me in due course, it may be a few months' time, to get the reply which you've been seeking, because it may be possible to do that.
A. Thank you.
Q. I hope you don't mind that I leave off Operation Motorman.
A. No, it's just my opinion.
Q. Thank you. The Internet is a big issue. You have touched on it. Is there anything else, because of course it's of great concern to this Inquiry, any practical solutions, any ideas you'd wish to share with us to deal with the proliferation of information literally at the speed of light globally?
A. I think this is something that will probably require certainly national laws, but it would probably better require European laws and in the end an international convention. But what I think can be done at quite an early stage is to could be done would be to require the service providers and also the search engines not to proliferate information which is illegal or wrong in some way. I think the technology for that exists. Again, if it would be helpful, I'm very happy to put together a detailed proposal to submit to the Inquiry.
Q. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's actually the second time you've offered to do something, Mr Mosley, and speaking for myself, it's very tempting to take you up on the offer, but I'm not doing that generally because I think it potentially imposes an undue burden on somebody when at the end of the day I've not reached a conclusion as to what might work. But I might make an exception in your case for this reason, depending on what you say about this. You have experience of international governance in motor racing, so I don't know whether or not that gives you any additional understanding of the potential pitfalls to be faced either in trying to do something nationally, let alone internationally. So if you want to submit anything to the Inquiry, then you can rest assured it will be considered, but you will equally understand that I am making absolutely no promises.
A. I mean, what I submit, sir, may well turn out to be inadequate or no good for all sorts of reasons, but we have given it a great deal of thought and it would be well, one can submit, and then it will be for the Inquiry to decide whether it wants to adopt any or part of it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, as long as the basis upon which you're doing this, and I'm conscious this takes your time and is an effort, as long as the basis upon which you're doing it is well understood.
A. I'm very happy to do that, sir. MR JAY Final point, Mr Mosley. The whole of your statement has I think already gone online. Therefore people may already be reading or have read paragraph 131, which touches on the Daily Mail. You say, and of course you're entitled to your opinion, in the context of Operation Motorman, you say in the middle of that paragraph: "It is inconceivable that the Daily Mail and other newspapers did not know that they were procuring and encouraging criminal acts." May I make this clear on behalf of the Daily Mail, that that is strongly denied by them and they will say when they have the opportunity to do that that the Information Commissioner's office in September 2011 stated that there was no evidence that any journalist had asked Mr Whittamore to obtain information illegally. I'd like to leave the point there only for this reason. One, so that the Daily Mail's position is clearly set out through me, but secondly to make it clear that the rights and wrongs of the issue are being investigated by the Inquiry, so let's wait and see what happens next week. Are you content with that?
A. May I say a word on that? I would just like to say that of course they would say that. I'd hope they won't consider this a mendacious smear. All I'm saying is the fact that no journalist asked for an illegal act is not the same as saying that no journalist would have realised that the information they were getting had to be illegally obtained. But that's a matter for the Inquiry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You're reaching your conclusions based upon your study of "What price privacy"?
A. Indeed, sir, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'll be doing that as well. MR JAY I think a very long day is in store next Thursday when these issues are going to be investigated. Mr Mosley, the Inquiry is extremely grateful to you. Have we covered all the ground you wished to?
A. I think so. Some of it twice, sir. MR JAY If that's the case, that would be my fault. But thank you very much, Mr Mosley.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. It's probably sensible just to have five minutes for the shorthand writer and for all of us, but I repeat, five minutes actually means five minutes, or perhaps in this case seven minutes, but not longer. Thank you. (2.52 pm) (A short break) (3.00 pm) MR JAY The next witness is Joanne Kathleen Rowling, please. MS JOANNE KATHLEEN ROWLING (sworn) MR JAY Can you confirm please your full name?
A. Joanne Kathleen Rowling.
Q. What I'm going to do is invite you to confirm your witness statement. It's in that file in front of you under tab 1. It runs over 33 pages and at the end of it you'll see, I hope, your name, your signature, a date, which is 2 November, and the usual statement of truth. So this is your evidence?
A. It is. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Ms Rowling, you might have heard me say to other witnesses that I'm very grateful to them for giving up the time and putting the effort into volunteering evidence to the Inquiry. I appreciate that you'll be talking about things which I very clearly understand you wish to remain private.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And by talking about them, you are to some extent blowing on that wish. I understand that, but I hope you do realise the importance of what I'm trying to do.
A. I do. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's clear you do, because you're here, and I wanted to express my gratitude to you.
A. Thank you very much. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If you want a break at any stage, I know we've had one, but you're entitled to say, "Just five minutes, please". I appreciate it's a very unusual environment.
A. Thank you very much. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Questions from MR JAY MR JAY You're a witness who doesn't really need much introduction at all, Ms Rowling. We know your books were published over a ten-year period, the seventh and last book in 2007.
A. 2007, yes.
Q. Can I move to paragraph 3 of your witness statement. You make it clear that you have no personal vendetta against the press at all.
A. Absolutely.
Q. What are your views about freedom of the press, please?
A. I believe very, very strongly in freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and I would like to make it clear from the start that I think that there's alongside the kind of journalism that we're going to be talking about today, I think there is truly heroic journalism in Britain. I suppose my view is that we have at the one end of the spectrum people who literally risk their lives to go and expose the truth about war and famine and revolution, and then at the other end we have behaviour that is illegal, and I think unjustifiably intrusive. I wonder sometimes why they're given the same name, why they're called the same thing. We should maybe invent a new word for the second group.
Q. In paragraph 4 of your witness statement, you recognise that at least at the start of your career, media interest had some beneficial effect on the sales of your book; is that right?
A. I'd say so. I'd say it's a very interesting question with regard to Harry Potter in particular, because in 1997, when the first book was published, the traditional media was really the only game in town if a creative person wanted to say that they'd written a book or a film or anything of that sort. But during the ten years that Harry Potter was published, of course the Internet became a huge game-changer, and my fans were primarily young people who were very Internet savvy, so I think the Internet became for Harry Potter as great if not a greater promotional tool. But yes, in the beginning, certainly the press was helpful.
Q. So that's, as it were, the good side of journalism?
A. Mm.
Q. But in paragraph 5 you immediately move to what you describe as a different kind of journalistic activity, which culminated, as you explain, in you literally being driven out of your first house.
A. Yes.
Q. Can you give us an approximate date for that, please?
A. I moved that was the first house that I'd ever owned, and I bought that with advances that I'd received on the first Harry Potter book, particularly from America. So we moved into that house in 1997, and we left that house in 1999. So during those two years, it had really become untenable to remain in that house.
Q. Yes. It was the result of what which made it untenable?
A. Doorstepping. A photograph had been published that showed not only the number of the house but also the name of the street, which happened to be on the building where I was living, so I really was a sitting duck for anyone who wanted to find me. Journalists sitting outside in cars and so on. And because the street when I bought the house, obviously I didn't know what was coming. I didn't know that I was going to make a considerable amount of money. I had bought within my means, and this house lay directly on the street. So I really couldn't have chosen a worse property for someone who was going to receive that kind of press attention.
Q. Thank you. You explain quite generally, we'll deal with the detail later, in paragraph 7, that you've had no choice but to take action against the press, both through the PCC, the Press Complaints Commission, and the courts.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. The number of times you've had to engage solicitors in this sort of case you number at about 50; is that right?
A. Probably, yes.
Q. Does that cover both the PCC and litigation or just litigation?
A. Yes, it might be more, but as far as I can tell, roughly that, yes.
Q. The main concerns you wish to express relate to perhaps this is the foremost concern, you'll tell me if this is right or wrong privacy of your children?
A. Definitely.
Q. Then there's the privacy of your home and then there's the broader issue of fair treatment?
A. Yes.
Q. Is that correct? Privacy of your children first, please. You deal with this in paragraph 9. When your first novel came out, I hope you don't mind me dealing with this, it's in the public domain, you were a single mother; is that correct?
A. Yes.
Q. What was your attitude or strategy, if you had one, in relation to any publicity first as regards the book and secondly protection of your child? Could you assist the Inquiry with that, please?
A. Well, I took the view then, and I would like to say that I'm not certainly wouldn't like to be seen to be standing in judgment on anyone who took a different view, because there are people I know and respect who have taken a different view on this, but it was my belief and remains my belief that children do best when they are kept out of the public eye and that their home life is secure and that means it feels like a place of safety, and I think that means private. So I endeavoured from the very first to draw a very clear line between what I considered unwarrantable intrusion into my private life, and that was largely my daughter. I had countless requests to be photographed with my daughter. I vividly remember a women's magazine who wanted to take a photograph of me with my broken down typewriter and my daughter on my knee, and when I said that is absolutely not happening, they said, "We won't do the interview then", which was no loss to me. I really did not want that to happen. I think it's one reason I agreed to appear, because I think this is something I feel very strongly. When you become well-known, and it was a shock to me that I became so well-known so quickly, no one gives you a guidebook. There is nothing that's handed to you to say, "You can do route A, B or C". You have to make it up, to an extent, yourself. And I inferred from the press's often justification for printing photographs of people's families, their justification was so frequently, "Well, you have sold your family life, you've invited them into your home, you've allowed photographers to take pictures of your children, you have in effect used your family as a promotional tool", so I inferred from that that if I do not do those things, the privacy of my children will be well, at that time my only child, will be respected. So I was trying hard to abide by what I thought was the unwritten code. And I would say that I think a significant section of the press have respected my stance on that, but a significant section of the press, in my view, have seen that almost as a challenge. So I tried very hard to abide by what I thought were the rules, and I failed.
Q. You mention one occasion, but it was the only occasion, paragraph 10 of your witness statement, where you took your daughter along to a book awards and someone did try and take a photograph and that never happened again?
A. No. Well, I never took her anywhere like that again. I vividly remember that occasion. It was I was thrilled to have received the award and I couldn't get a babysitter and I took her. I knew other children were going to be there, and it's not that I don't want my children to share these occasions with me, but that experience taught me that can't happen, because, as I say, she was marched into a shot and I physically said, "No I don't want that to happen" and I took her away, and after that I decided clearly the way forward is not to take my children to these kinds of events.
Q. Yes. In paragraph 12, you deal with three causes which you support. Would you like to cover those specifically?
A. Yes.
Q. Please do.
A. I think it's relevant to say that I have, on occasions, discussed my own not my children's, but my own life, and I suppose broadly speaking there are three areas of my life that are quite private that I have discussed. I wrote the first book as a single parent, and that was common knowledge, and I wasn't ashamed of that and did discuss that, the fact that we had lived on benefits for a time and it had been difficult to find work and find childcare. All these things I did talk about. And latterly I tried to parlay that into doing something meaningful because I became an ambassador for a charity that campaigns for lone parents. I've also said in my statement that I for quite a long time was patron of the MS Society and I fund research and attempt to raise funds for MS. My mother died of complications from MS. It's not something that I relish talking about, but I talk about it with a purpose and I think that that's one of the upsides, if you like, of being well-known, that you can become a spokesperson for those kind of charities. Then the last thing I've said in my witness statement, I have talked openly about the fact that I have suffered from depression. I think originally I discussed this in the context of my work, and I do feel quite strongly that as a writer, or any kind of creative person, your life becomes such an important factor in your work, so there are themes in my work that relate to bereavement or depression or things that I myself have experienced. So in other words, I was talking about depression not trying to gain sympathy or pity, but there was a purpose. I had created certain creatures in the Harry Potter books that had the effect of depression on those they encountered. But I don't in any sense regret talking about depression because as I say in my statement, I've received a number of letters and so forth, particularly from young people who have been depressed, who find it helpful that people don't treat that as something to be ashamed of. So yes, I have discussed these matters, but I would say firstly that I think our cultural life would be greatly diminished if creative people weren't allowed to say where they received inspiration and ideas, and secondly I would say I don't think any reasonable person could decide that because I'd discussed these things, my children ought to be long-lensed in swimsuits. I think a reasonable person would see a clear division there.
Q. Thank you. In paragraph 13 you develop the point which you've already touched on, namely the importance of a normal childhood for your children.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. You mention one incident where there was a note from a journalist slipped into your daughter's school bag.
A. Yes.
Q. Could you give us a little bit more context?
A. Yes. My daughter this was my eldest daughter, so this would have been when I was really, in the first burst of publicity surrounding me. She was in her first year at primary school and I unzipped her school bag in the evening and among the usual letters from school and debris that every child generates, I found an envelope addressed to me and a journalist the letter was from a journalist. It's my recollection that the letter said that he intended to ask a mother at the school to put this in my daughter's bag or I don't I know no more than that, I don't know whether that's how the letter got in my daughter's school bag or not, but I can only say that I felt such a sense of invasion that my daughter's bag it's very difficult to say how angry and how how angry I felt that my five-year-old daughter's school was no longer a place of, you know, complete security from journalists.
Q. Paragraph 14, your position is very clearly stated in the second line: "My husband and I have taken every step we could think of to prevent the children being photographed by press photographers." And then you outline some of the measures you've taken. Some are quite general, some are quite specific. Would you care to elaborate on any of those, please, for us, Ms Rowling?
A. Well, we have I say in my statement, for example, we didn't take a honeymoon immediately after we were married because we had previously taken a holiday together shortly before we were married, and that was the occasion on which we were all long-lensed and my daughter appeared in the press in her swimsuit. So we decided that we took we went to great lengths to ensure that our wedding itself was private. There are many things you can do, and we have tried to do all of them, I would say. We really have tried to do all of them to prevent the children being photographed.
Q. In paragraph 15, occasions where paparazzi have been outside your house, you've had to on occasion hide your children in blankets.
A. There were two particularly bad periods where it really was like being under siege or like a hostage. After the birth of each of my subsequent children, for a week it was impossible for me to leave the house without being photographed, unless I wanted to be photographed or unless I wanted the children to be photographed, and on both of those occasions they took up permanent residence outside our house and my husband was obviously going to work and he was going in and out through them and being photographed, but I felt completely trapped in the house. Of course, that had a massive effect on the children.
Q. You've made it clear, you clearly state in paragraph 17, to press photographers, agencies, perhaps more importantly even picture editors at newspapers, magazines and other media outlets, how seriously you take the privacy of your children. Have you done this by making statements to them or how has this been achieved?
A. I think I've gone to such lengths to try and prevent photography of my children that they really can be in no doubt and I have complained to the PCC and as is clear later in the statement I've been to court. I would like to say that particularly with regard to photographers outside our house, I think a very good example of this is two journalists from a Scottish tabloid took up residence outside our house in a car at a time when I was absolutely unaware that there was particular interest in me. I didn't have a book coming out, I hadn't just given birth, they were just sitting there. So I asked someone who works for the public relations company that I employ to please ask them what they wanted. The response she received was: it's a boring day at the office. So my family and I were literally under surveillance for their amusement. There wasn't even a pretence that there was a story. It's difficult to explain to people who haven't experienced it what that feels like. The twist in the stomach as you wonder what do they want? What do they think they have? It's incredibly threatening. It feels threatening to have people watching you.
Q. Then you quite rightly state that the Sun published an article on 25 March 2003, absolutely no criticism of that, but they rightly said: "The 38-year-old author is fiercely protective of her private life and kept details of her son's birth top secret."
A. Yes.
Q. Accurately stating the position. You give us some specific examples, starting in paragraph 21. The picture in 2001 in OK magazine when your child was then eight, I think.
A. Yes.
Q. And that was on a was it a public beach or a private beach? You tell us in your own words.
A. This is where it all went wrong, because my husband and I weren't married then, it was shortly before we were married. We were, wrongly, convinced that we were on a private beach. We subsequently discovered that no beach in Mauritius is private, they're all public by law. But the hotel we were staying at had advertised that it had its own beach, and we wrongly understood from that that it was private. So we believed ourselves to be in a private situation. My husband, who it is more observant than I, clearly, said he was worried about a boat that was a little way out while we were all on the beach, and I dismissed this and said I was sure everything was fine and he was being paranoid. He wasn't being paranoid at all. We were being long-lensed and when we arrived home it was to photographs of the two of us, not my daughter, the photographs including my daughter weren't published at first, on the beach.
Q. It led to a complaint to the PCC?
A. Yes.
Q. You have the adjudication under tab 2 there, Ms Rowling.
A. Yes.
Q. The complaint was upheld.
A. Yes.
Q. As you know.
A. This was the complaint about the photographs of my daughter, including my daughter, yes.
Q. Absolutely. The public/private beach point was not one which, as it were, lost you the case. You won the case because of the particular circumstances. If you look at the adjudication, it's in fact set out in your witness statement, but it's right to read it out because the PCC may well want me to do so: "While the Commission may have regard to its previous decision, circumstances will necessarily vary from case to case. It therefore considers each complaint on its merits under the Code." I think as a lawyer we all understand that. "The Code entitles everyone of all ages to respect for their private and family life and deems unacceptable the use of long lens photography to take pictures of people in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. "In addition, it gives greater protection to children, does not allow photographs of children under the age of 16 to be taken where the child's welfare is involved, and requires a justification other than the fame of a child's parent for publishing material about the private life of a child. There may also be an exceptional public interest justification for breaching these provisions, but none was provided in this case. "The Commission noted that it was not in dispute that Ms Rowling had gone to considerable lengths in the past to protect her daughter's privacy. This seemed to have been reflected in her selection of a holiday location. It had not been challenged that the beach was not overlooked by other holiday apartments and that the family had gone there in the low season to avoid unwanted attention. "The Commission was not asked to consider whether the photographs of the complainant and her partner breached the Code but it considered in the circumstances outlined above, and given the high level of protection afforded by the Code to children, photographs of the complaint's daughter should not have been taken or published and therefore breached clause 3." Well, you would presumably agree with every word of that decision, Ms Rowling?
A. I would agree with every word of that, yes.
Q. Do we need to go on to the complaint under Rule 6? I will if you like.
A. May I say one thing about the photograph of that photograph of my daughter in her swimsuit?
Q. Yes, of course.
A. Unlike an untruth that is in print, for which you can at least receive an apology, when an image is disseminated, it can spread around the world like a virus, and that photograph of my daughter in her swimsuit was on the Internet months after the PCC ruling. Of course I accept the PCC could not adjudicate for members of the public who had copied the image and put it up on websites, and that they had no mechanism to prevent that happening, but I feel that given the fact that an image has a life that cannot be recalled once you have seen what someone looks like in their swimwear, an apology does not remove that knowledge from everyone else. An image has a particular property in that way. So I needed to I contacted my lawyers when I realised this image was still out there, and they laboriously attempted to remove it wherever they could. I'm sure it is still out there. That's the particular harm of an image.
Q. Yes. The analysis of the PCC in line with their standard practice is to divide your case up into different parts of the Code?
A. Mm-hm.
Q. We've been looking at clause 3, which is privacy.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. Although the age of your child is of course a relevant factor, but then they deal separately with clause 6, which is the children issue. And on a separate basis they uphold the complaint there, which is hardly surprising given their reasoning in relation to clause 3. It's noteworthy, though, in relation to clause 3 that the Commission have weighed up a number of factors and it's immediately clear which factor is determinative, but they considered all the circumstances of your case.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. Which some may say demonstrates that these issues are not always straightforward ones. Would you accept that or not? Although of course you clearly won this case.
A. Well, where children are concerned, it's my personal belief that the issue is not complex at all. A child, no matter who their parents are, I think, deserves privacy.
Q. Yes.
A. They have no choice in who their parents are, they have no choice in how their parents behave, so I would respectfully say that I think where children are concerned, the issue is fairly black and white, and I think it would have to be extraordinary public interest to justify publication of photographs of children, particularly without their consent.
Q. The next sequence of evidence you're about to give is slightly more complicated legally, and it's the Marion(?) Big Pictures litigation. Tell us what happened on 8 November 2004 before we look at the legal consequences of it, Ms Rowling.
A. This was an occasion I was fairly heavily pregnant with my third child. Most unusually, my husband had a morning off, and this is relevant in that we very rarely went out at this time of day together, so it's our belief that again people were watching the house on the off-chance, without any particular justification. Anyway, it so happened that we took a walk to a local cafe. Most people, I think, would say that's a very innocuous thing to do as a family. And we were photographed covertly going to the cafe, didn't realise that had happened. Only subsequently did we realise when we saw the photos that it must have been happening before we hit the cafe and afterwards, because afterwards we did then see the man running down the road to get a better angle of us with my son. My eldest daughter was then at school, so this was now my middle child, my son, who was being photographed.
Q. The photographs were published?
A. Yes.
Q. And as you explain, one of the newspapers published a photograph that clearly showed your son's face.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. What had happened, as very often happens, a picture agency had taken the photograph, in this particular instance it happened to be a company called Big Pictures Limited, and they sold it on perhaps to the highest bidder?
A. Yes, that's my understanding of what happened, yes.
Q. You then brought proceedings and sought an injunction as well as damages for breach of confidence and breach of privacy. At the first stage before the High Court judge your claim was struck out; is that right?
A. Yes. May I just say before we move on to that point
Q. Of course.
A. There was a reason why I didn't again go to the PCC. It had been my hope, perhaps hope more than belief, but my strong hope that the PCC adjudication of my eldest daughter would send notice to the press that I took it extremely seriously if they invaded my children's privacy. Clearly, the message had not been strong enough. Sanctions had not been imposed that would make anyone think twice about this and they had again bought photographs of my child, a different child but of my child. So that's why we didn't go back to the PCC. That's why now we went a step further and our intention was to underline our position on this.
Q. The argument of the defendant newspaper, which at first instance was accepted then was reversed on appeal, was that this was a public place, there was no harassment, therefore there was no confidence or privacy which could be protected?
A. I disagree, as you would expect, on a number of counts there. First of all, that there was no harassment
Q. I'm just setting out the argument.
A. I know.
Q. As we know, the Court of Appeal came to a different view.
A. They did, but we were extremely disappointed that that was the response of the court in the first instance.
Q. You had a right of appeal, you exercised it, and on 7 May 2008, the Court of Appeal, presided over by the then Master of the Rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke, found in your favour. The judgment is of course publicly available. We provided it to you in your bundle at tab 5.
A. Yes.
Q. You, if I may say so, have correctly summarised it in your witness statement at paragraph 28.
A. Yes.
Q. You say that it is understood, given the way this went off procedurally, the Court of Appeal were deciding that you had an arguable case. They weren't deciding whether you were going to win or lose at the end of the day.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. Although the result of the Court of Appeal's judgment is that in the end there was a settlement of the case to your satisfaction; is that right?
A. That's correct, yes.
Q. The judgment does bear reading in full. It is a detailed and legally sophisticated judgment. I'm not going to take time with it because I couldn't possibly do justice to it by summarising it, but you in paragraph 28, subparagraphs (a) to (e), have identified the key features and of course, unsurprisingly, a key feature here is the fact we are concerned with the rights of a child?
A. Yes.
Q. In paragraph 29, you explain why you decided to bring this case. You've given us one of the reasons: you'd lost confidence in the PCC and this was really the failure of the press to respond positively to the adjudication following the Hello publication in 2001?
A. Yes.
Q. That's your second reason. Your first reason at 29(a), please, Ms Rowling, might you elaborate on that for us, please?
A. There had been another incident shortly after my son was born, so I had at this point a 10-year-old daughter and a virtually newborn baby, so we were besieged for a week and then I believed that the photographers had disappeared, and for the first time in a week I was able to get out of the house with my daughter and the baby. And we were long-lensed and on this occasion I saw the photographer taking the picture from across the street, I pulled my daughter behind me because I didn't want her photographed, and I rather absurdly gave chase. How I thought I was going to outrun a 20-something paparazzo while pushing a buggy My daughter was, "Calm down Mum, calm down, don't be silly, it doesn't matter", but it mattered hugely to me that the moment I set foot outside the door, my children were being photographed again. So the cumulative effect, it becomes quite draining.
Q. Yes.
A. So yes, I did decide that it was time to take action when we had yet another incident.
Q. The point at (c), this is at your page 16, you make it clear that you hadn't consented. Of course you hadn't consented to the photographs being taken. Point (d) is the long lens camera point and the reasonable expectation of privacy point.
A. Yes.
Q. It might be said that the very fact that you need to use a long lens gives rise to some sort of presumption that you're invading privacy, but at least that's a factor which may be relevant. What about your point (e) at page 17 that you were not contacted prior to publication? What difference might that have made, do you think?
A. If I had been told what was coming, I think I could have said, well, I will take steps, possibly through the courts, possibly through the PCC, I don't know what it would have been, if I had been notified, to prevent publication. We could have had a conversation. I could have restated my reasons for not wishing the children to be photographed. I mean, again, I think the point here is that like a lot of people who have agreed to give evidence at this Inquiry, we are not looking for special treatment. We're looking for normal treatment. I don't regard myself as entitled to more than; I'm simply asking for the same as. And I'm particularly asking for that on behalf of my children. So yes, if I had been notified of the intention to print another photograph of my child, which neither I nor they had consented to, I would have been given an opportunity to explain my position again to the newspaper in question, and one would hope that would have carried some weight, but again I wasn't notified so I couldn't do that.
Q. Though your position had been so clearly stated before, one wonders why there was any need to restate it because everybody knew what it was.
A. This is exactly right. I mean, short of getting a skywriter, what can you do?
Q. In paragraph 30, Ms Rowling, there were further photographs.
A. Yes.
Q. Presumably long lens photographs, is this right?
A. Yes.
Q. Your holiday in the US in July 2006, photographs of your family and your three children, isn't that right?
A. Yes, and I would have to say here that I felt an idiot, a fool. This was literally the second time since twice since 1998 I have put on a swimsuit on a public beach. Twice. And on both of those times I've been photographed. As I've already explained, on the first occasion I believed it was a private beach. On the second occasion, I think my guard was really down. We'd gone on holiday, we hadn't encountered any press. I assumed, wrongly, that we were I forgot myself for a few moments, and the result was that I was long-lensed again. Initially, there were photographs only of me, and while I don't accept that well, to call a spade a spade, I'm a writer, so I don't really think that it's of any relevance or of any public interest to know what I look like in a swimsuit, but the general feeling of people around me was, "Leave it", and I felt the same way. I felt that I wasn't going to be able to succeed in preventing publication of that photograph of me. I was very concerned because when I saw the photograph, I knew they must have photographs of the children because I knew that I was in very close proximity to the children all of that afternoon. Sure enough, the picture agency confirmed that they were holding a picture they said one photograph of the children, and agreed to destroy it. Which I believe was done. I've never seen that photograph published.
Q. Thank you. Did that give rise to a PCC complaint?
A. I don't I think my recollection is that we didn't complain to the PCC and I think that that was because
Q. We've seen your evidence
A. Yes. My confidence in the PCC was fairly low at this point, so I decided my embarrassment wasn't worth the stress of going through the complaint, really.
Q. There was another incident, paragraph 30, subparagraph (b) at page 19, that in July 2007 a journalist from the Scottish Sun contacted the headmaster of your eldest daughter's school.
A. Yes. There are this is one of the incidents about which I feel most outrage. A journalist contacted did not contact me. I'm a highly contactable person. I have an agent, there's a PR firm that represents me, I have publishers. There are numerous ways to contact me very easily. No one contacted me, they went directly to the headmaster of my child's school. And as I say in my witness statement, the claim by the journalist was that my eldest daughter had distressed fellow pupils by revealing that Harry Potter died in the final Harry Potter book, and that the headmaster had received complaints from students and parents because their children were so upset by this. So my daughter was being characterised as some kind of bully, as using information from me to upset people, and there was not one word of truth in it. There had been no complaint. My daughter could not possibly have told anyone what happened in book 7, because at her own request she didn't want to know. So it I mean, what I am very wary of speculating, but I have been on the receiving end of stories being put to one that probably, I would guess, the journalist is aware aren't true, but the strategy seems to be that they will surprise someone into saying something that they can then print. Because I would say why not contact me? But possibly there was a hope that the headmaster might inadvertently reveal that she had said something, or inadvertently reveal "That's not what I heard, I heard she said he survives". Who knows? But again, to approach my daughter's school to me was outrageous.
Q. This was the time of wild speculation as to what happened at the end of the last book?
A. That's right, yes.
Q. And then in subparagraph (c), November 2007, more photographs, this time outside a coffee house I think in Edinburgh.
A. I had taken my youngest daughter out actually to buy her an advent calendar. She was quite excited. We became aware that we were being photographed from across the street and someone was with me and crossed the street and said to the photographer, "She's with her child, please stop", and the photographer refused. I don't know whether they got a clear shot of my youngest daughter, I've no idea. They claimed that they only saw her legs in the developed photographs. I don't know. The justification that I heard on that occasion was they believed I was wearing a fur coat. I was wearing a woollen coat that I've never worn in public again.
Q. The impact on your children, are you able to assist the Inquiry with some insight into that?
A. There's the particular impact on a given day. For example, my youngest daughter was very upset that we couldn't get her advent calendar because the photographer was clearly not going to desist, he'd refused in so many words. We had nowhere to go so we got back in the car and we went home again. On a general note, the sense of being often unable to leave your house or move freely is obviously prejudicial to a normal family life, and certainly all three of my children have been aware of being suddenly pulled behind me or I will split from the family group because I'm aware there's a photographer there, so you're hoping to draw them off: "You take the kids that way, I'll go this way". So there's a general edginess sometimes when you are aware that there are people in the vicinity, and sometimes when there aren't, you start becoming jumpy. You start thinking that the person behaving in a peculiar manner near your house might be concealing a long lens. They might not be at all, but it's a very unnerving feeling to know that you're being watched. So obviously that impacts my children.
Q. Yes. We now move on to the second topic, which is privacy of home life, and this is related, of course, to the issue of personal security, which is obviously an obvious matter of concern to you. Can I deal with the matters in chronological order? Paragraph 41, I think, first.
A. Yes.
Q. There may be a typographical error in the title. I think the right date is January 2005; is that right?
A. That I think so, yes.
Q. There was an article published in the Scottish Daily Mail about conversion works which were taking place at your home. Your full address, without the postcode, was published, together with a large photograph of the house in question. Obviously, even without the postcode, the full address was enough to identify which house we're talking about.
A. Yes.
Q. It's obvious. So that it's clear, what happened as a result of this?
A. Well, as a direct sorry, could you ask me that question again? As a direct result of the publication of this photograph?
Q. Yes.
A. We asked them we went to the newspaper and asked that they remove those details from their website and so on, and I believe they did do that.
Q. Yes. Then in July 2005, this time the Mirror I think we're south of the border now, Ms Rowling; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. Published an article printing the street names and photographs of three of your properties in England and Scotland just before Harry Potter 6, this was.
A. Yes.
Q. No public interest in that. And your concern additionally was that the article showed certain security features which you quite rightly had in place?
A. Yes. For obvious reasons I don't wish to go into detail here and now, although I'm happy to provide those details if they're relevant. But like virtually everyone in the public eye, I have on occasion been the target of unbalanced individuals. I don't want to go into details. I mention this because my desire to keep the precise address of the property where I live with my family out of national newspapers is not because I'm being starry or precious; it's because on a number of occasions we have needed to the police have been involved because of incidents or even threats. So I think it's reasonable of me to wish that the papers would refrain from making my whereabouts so very, very identifiable. Clearly I have to live somewhere, and we've taken all reasonable precautions in this matter. Of course locally it may be known where my house is, but again I think a reasonable person would see a difference between my neighbours knowing which is my house, my children's friends knowing where we live and anyone who reads a national newspaper being able to find us with extraordinary ease.
Q. What happened in this particular case, and we'll deal with the PCC element in a moment, Ms Rowling, paragraph 43 of your witness statement, the paper's position was that the addresses were in the public domain, they could be found on the Internet.
A. In fact, we've taken every step that one can to make sure that we are not listed in the usual ways on registries that exist online. We can't prevent any individual putting our address online, but if that's the justification a newspaper's using for then reprinting it in the national press, I think that's a fairly flimsy justification, but we have taken every reasonable precaution we can think of to protect our own privacy.
Q. Then you point out that the this is the third line of paragraph 4 the paper continued to disregard your feelings because five days later it published a picture of your eldest daughter as a baby?
A. I would like to emphasise that what I'm about to say does not apply to the whole of the British press, but it is my experience with certain sectors of the British press. If you lock horns with them in this way, if you protest or you make a complaint, then you can expect some form of retribution fairly quickly, and I thought the fact that in this case a picture of my child was put into the papers, so very quickly after I'd asked them not to print my address, I thought that was spiteful, actually. Just spiteful.
Q. We move to a different title. The Evening Standard in October 2007 published photographs and information about your homes, including descriptions of the properties, details as to their history, details of their location and details of security arrangements and pictures.
A. Yes.
Q. There was a complaint at least at a legal level. What was the upshot of that?
A. As my witness statement says, they wrote a one-line letter back saying they had noted the contents of my letter.
Q. Yes?
A. Again, this doesn't apply to the whole of the press, but the attitude seems to be utterly cavalier. Indifference. What does it matter? You're famous; you're asking for it.
Q. I think the final series of articles on this sort of theme, October/November 2007, the Mirror, the Daily Record and the Scottish Mail on Sunday each or all published articles that identified the precise location of your home in the Scottish countryside, showing the name of your home, the name of the neighbouring property and the name of the small town in which you lived?
A. Yes. And when we complained about this, the argument was, well, this information is in the public domain, but the joke of that to me is they put it into the public domain. What they were effectively saying was you can't complain that we are printing photographs and the address because we've already printed photographs and the address.
Q. Just so that's made clear, it had been put in the public domain the day before by the Mail on Sunday?
A. Yes, about which we'd complained.
Q. About which you complained. Therefore it's entirely disingenuous, you say, for the Scottish Mail to rely on that argument. Just so we're absolutely clear, they're part of the same newspaper group. Is that correct?
A. Exactly right, yes.
Q. But does that disingenuous argument apply with equal force to the Mirror and the Daily Record?
A. The Mirror and the Daily Record, as I said in my witness statement, they agreed to remove the articles from their archives, but they gave no guarantee that they wouldn't publish the information again at some point.
Q. There were complaints to the PCC resulting from some of these events, not all of them.
A. Yes.
Q. So that we understand the position, it's paragraph 48 of your witness statement. Going back to the Mirror's publication in July 2005, which is what you talk about in paragraph 42, your complaint there was upheld in part, I think. We have the adjudication under tab 3.
A. Yes. The key point on which they disagreed with me, they said they hadn't given enough information to identify the property, and I strongly disagree. Indeed, people said to me afterwards, "Oh, I know where you live now, it is and then they described from the information in the newspaper they were able entirely accurately to identify which house we'd bought, so I must disagree with the papers on that matter.
Q. The reasoning of the PCC, so that we're clear about it, is the part of the case which was upheld, the Commission were satisfied that the photograph and the caption contained sufficient information to identify the exact location of the property.
A. Mm.
Q. So that was objectionable because it was too precise.
A. Yes.
Q. Their argument was that in relation to the two other house, it wasn't sufficiently precise and therefore there wasn't a breach because one would have to carry out further enquiries in order to pinpoint the exact location?
A. But I feel that in this respect the PCC isn't seeing the wood for the trees. All it needs is for three or four newspapers to provide partial information and one is virtually giving a guided tour to my house. So if each complaint is going to be struck down because well it's almost your exact address but not quite so we don't think that's good enough, then I feel that we're all in a fairly vulnerable position. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's called a jigsaw identification.
A. Precisely the case. And I think exactly right. I don't feel that the PCC is taking a is I think a little conveniently not taking a holistic view of the matter. MR JAY We see a similar theme, whether it's right or wrong or not, and you clearly say it's wrong, in relation to the 2007 publications under our tab 4, because your complaints are not upheld, really for the self-same reason, that the identification is not sufficiently specific.
A. Mm.
Q. If you just look at the four corners of the article itself, but you say the answer to that is let's feed in other information which is readily available, some of it has been disseminated by the press itself, then it doesn't take too many steps or filling in of the pieces
A. Literally a click of the mouse. And in fact, when we bought a new house in Edinburgh, one newspaper gave really oh no, I'm sorry, I'm mistaken, it was our previous house in Edinburgh. Yes, in fact I believe it was this precise case we've just been talking about. The PCC said there wasn't sufficient information to identify the precise location of the Edinburgh house. However, someone, I believe abroad, saw the article and said, "But I know exactly they instantly knew which house it was and they said, "I used to live there", and gave the whole address plus the postcode. So they were able, on the basis of what they'd read, to put everything into the public domain, and again I feel that little if any weight is given to that, or has been given to that when the PCC looks at these matters. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Did that person put the address and postcode?
A. They put the entire address, down to the postcode. And actually, I think it was done quite innocently by that person, I think they were really excited to realise that I was living in the house they'd lived in previously, I think it was a young person who did it, but the whole address was on the Internet within two days and my lawyer was able to contact that person and say to them, "Please could you delete this", which they did, but again, in the meantime, how many people had seen the whole address? MR JAY Just to understand where you say the boundary lines are. What do you say is permissible and what do you say is impermissible on this issue?
A. On this issue, I don't see why it is in the public interest to know exactly where I live. I mean, clearly I can't put an invisibility cloaking device over myself and my house, nor do I wish to. I want to live in as normal a way as possible, but it is not normal for anyone, famous or not famous, for their address to be known to millions of newspaper readers or users of the Internet. So that is where I would draw the line. I would, if I may, make one further point. As I said, I moved out of the first house we ever owned because the photographs of the house precisely identified its location. There was the number on the door and the street name was on the building. So an image can do as much, if not more, damage than even a postal address in print.
Q. Thank you. The third area you wish to address is the issue of fair treatment in the press. This starts at paragraph 50, Ms Rowling. In paragraph 51, you're referring to a report in the Independent newspaper regarding the Operation Motorman investigation. Do you believe you were the target of Mr Whittamore, is that correct?
A. Well, I yes. I've now had the files made available to me, so I know that I was a target, yes.
Q. The figure that Mr Whittamore charged for his services you give as ?655. Are you able to assist us in general terms as to the nature of the information he had blagged? If you don't want to tell us, please don't, but just so we get a general idea, perhaps, of the nature of the information. If there's any concern about doing so, I won't press it.
A. I'm happy to say what I know, and I say that because I don't know part of what he had. He appears to have been making investigations with people regarding me, with people whose names I don't recognise, so I don't know what he was after there and I don't know what he was searching for. But the bulk of what he appeared to be trying to do was to track down people related to me. For what purpose, I couldn't tell you, but, yes, he seemed to be making extensive enquiries about my extended family.
Q. Thank you. Whereas you say in paragraph 52 that you're awaiting a substantive response from the ICO, have I understood your evidence correctly that you've now received some sort of response?
A. There is a I may need to ask my lawyers to provide details on this, but I believe there is additional information to come.
Q. It may or may not be important. You've given us, I think, the gist of what you've seen so far.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Hang on, Mr Jay. Mr Sherborne, is there anything of significance? MR SHERBORNE I was simply going to confirm the position. As I understand it, Ms Rowling has seen some of the documentation, but as I understand it equally, there is more to come. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If it's so extensive, I don't want to know the details but it might affect what I am thinking about, then doubtless you can provide the information at some stage. I don't want the details. MR SHERBORNE I understand. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But the broad width and length of the information could be valuable, but only if you feel it takes me further. MR SHERBORNE Sir, indeed. I understand that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR JAY In paragraph 53, you give another example of blagging which is quite characteristic because we heard similar evidence from somebody this morning, namely someone purportedly from the post office phoning you and explaining they have a package but no address.
A. I recalled while preparing this statement two instances of blagging that I know about. When I was blagged, I actually realised halfway through giving personal details that I was being blagged. It was shortly after we moved into our first house that we owned, and I believe the journalist didn't know where I had moved to. Somehow, I don't know how, had my telephone but did not know my exact address. So I received a phone call allegedly from the post office and this man said to me, "I am from the post office, I've got a package here for you, what's your address?" So I began to speak and then I said, "Wait, wait a moment, you're from the post office, well, what does it say on the package?" And there was a moment's embarrassed silence and he hung up. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The other story the story we heard I think in your absence from another witness this morning, was that he said, "Well, the mobile phone has been left on the ripped paper." And in that case, the information was provided. Anyway.
A. I can understand well, I LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So your account has resonance with some evidence that we actually heard this morning.
A. I understand. Well, my husband was less fortunate than me, and we were not married. We had just started a relationship. My husband had just moved jobs from one hospital to another. Fortunately for the blagger, but not fortunately for Neil, the blagger pretended to be from the tax office, and my husband was expecting a communication from the tax office so that he could adjust his tax code. Anyway, he's a busy man at a hospital, he gets a call, he takes the call, they say we're from the tax office, and he gave them everything. He confirmed his address, he confirmed his pay rate, he confirmed I believe his National Insurance number. And it was the next day or the day after that he opened his front door at 6 am to go to the hospital and flashes went off in his face and the paparazzi had found him. So that was a not very nice introduction to being involved with someone famous. Oh, I should say that there was subsequently a legitimate contact with the tax office, so that's how we know that the first call was not legitimate. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. MR JAY And then you touch on phone hacking issues. The position at the moment is that as far as you are aware, but only on the basis of information and evidence examined to date, there's nothing to connect you with phone hacking; is that right?
A. No. I barely used a mobile phone in the 1990s, which now seems like a very smart move, but it wasn't deliberate.
Q. Can I deal with issues of as much commercial confidence as personal privacy, leaked information, Ms Rowling, your books. Paragraph 58, I think we're now on Harry Potter 5, as you say. In June 2003, the Sun apparently came into possession of two copies of the book which were stolen from the printers.
A. Yes.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened next, please?
A. I believe the story was that an unemployed gentleman had found a copy of Harry Potter in a field. I find that story rather difficult to believe, but there you are. So we had taken every reasonable step to try and prevent prepublication leaks, and now the manuscript was in the possession of a tabloid newspaper, so we took out I'm not an expert on this by any means, but we took out what's call a John Doe injunction against unknown persons to prevent because we didn't know how many journalists at this point had the manuscript to prevent publication of the contents.
Q. Those representing Associated News wish it to be made clear that as far as they understand the position, the injunction was sought and obtained only in relation to the activities of the Sun and not the Daily Mail and the Mirror. Are you aware of the exact position there, Ms Rowling?
A. Well, it's my belief, but I would need to check with my lawyers, that a John Doe injunction was taken out against whoever may have a copy of the information. MR CAPLAN I think Mr Jay, an update, there was a subsequent note I have given. That's not our position. The position is it was obtained because I think Ms Rowling and her advisers did not know who might be in possession of the book, and as far as Associated Newspapers is concerned, although the book was offered to us, it was rejected immediately, it was never taken up, that offer, and in court the judge accepted that it had been offered but completely rejected by Associated Newspapers. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Very good, thank you very much. MR JAY That was my fault, because Mr Caplan did provide me with an updated question in manuscript and I LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Missed it. Don't worry, we'll cope with it. MR JAY I'm sorry about that as well, Ms Rowling. I messed that one up a bit. It continues in paragraph 60. What happened with the return of the copies? Can you help us there, please?
A. A great deal happened. There was no straightforward handover of the book. A review of the book was published, which really was a way of publishing some of the contents, paraphrased. This in spite of the fact that they had promised not to reveal in court, they had promised not to reveal anything that was in the book. The book was photographed, those photographs obviously went into the paper. So we had to go back to court to try and enforce co-operation with the original injunction.
Q. You tell us that the Sun were trying to turn this into a photo opportunity
A. Yes. This is to me a classic example of again I accept this is far from being all journalists, but there is a section of the press that sees opportunities in a situation like this and I felt I was being blackmailed. What they really wanted was a photograph of me gratefully receiving back the stolen manuscript. So I was being asked to pose with the book.
Q. It was a similar sort of sequence of events, but perhaps less serious, but you'll tell me if that's right, in relation to another book. I'm not sure whether it's the sixth or the seventh
A. That's the sixth one, yes. Yes, I would agree that this was less serious. This is opinion. My opinion is that if one shows oneself prepared to take a stand, then I suppose I would say that the press has maybe been wary of me latterly, in that they on certain issues, obviously my children's privacy being the most important one, but that well, crudely, I suppose, they're wary because they're aware that I can afford to pay for expensive lawyers, and that's a sad reflection on the state of affairs, that I mean, I therefore receive a kind of treatment on occasion that I think is not available to the ordinary person. So it was a less serious situation on the sixth book, I think because they had seen I guess because they had seen that we were prepared to defend the book vigorously in 2003.
Q. Thank you. I will move on to false attribution in paragraph 63. In Hello magazine an article in 2001, or thereabouts, claiming to be a rare and exclusive interview.
A. Yes.
Q. The one which never occurred?
A. Yes. I think people might think that's quite a banal occurrence, but in fact it's not. If you are trying, as I am, to make it quite clear that my personal life my family life is out of bounds, then the perception that I had granted an interview to a magazine that is primarily notorious for going into people's houses, photographing them with their families, hearing personal details of their private lives, and I censor no one by the way for doing those interviews. I don't think that's an awful thing to do. It simply happens that that's not something I wish to do. So the magazine asserting that I had done it, I feared, would then be used as justification for further invasion: "Well you gave an interview to Hello magazine, you are prepared to sell your private life in this way", and as is clear from my statement, what they had done was taken that article from a different paper and repackaged it. From a different source, and repackaged it.
Q. And then you had a lot of difficulty with the apology. It took time and you feel they reneged on the agreement you had with them and it was published less prominently than had been assented to?
A. Yes, they were very, very difficult to deal with on that occasion. They dragged their feet for a very long time, they didn't want to admit that they'd done what we knew they had done, and the apology was minuscule.
Q. In paragraph 60, a claim in defamation. Would you tell us a little bit about that? One of your characters, I think it was.
A. Yes. This was really quite horrible because it caused real distress to my oldest child. The Daily Express published an article saying that I had based an unpleasant character in the Harry Potter books on my ex-husband. This was wholly untrue, and their justification for writing this was that I had said while doing a book reading with a group of children, and I remember the event, it was at the Edinburgh Book Festival and it was very pleasant. I'm often asked do you base characters on real people? It was a really throw-away comment. I said, humorously, that the character of Gilderoy Lockhart was based on someone with whom I had lived briefly. Now, that's true, but that person probably can't even remember that we were ever flatmates. This is a long time ago. So I felt quite clean about saying that, I'd identified no one, and as I say, the acquaintanceship was so fleeting I didn't feel I was doing anything damaging. Again, this was in the context of speaking to children about the creation of a book. So I was relaxed and not expecting what came next, which was this article. Not only did they say that I'd based this character on my ex-husband, they were clearly depicting me as the kind of vindictive person who would use a best-selling book to vilify anyone against whom they had a grudge, which is simply nonsense. So I had to sit down with my eldest daughter, because they're talking about her biological father, and say to her this isn't true, I would never do this. There is no point of resemblance between this man and your father. And while she was very understanding about this, and said, "I know you wouldn't, I know you didn't, I believe you, I believe you", it was a horrible conversation to have to have. And, of course, there's what happens outside the house. There's what happens when other children, many of whom have read Harry Potter, told my daughter that her father was the basis for this unpleasant character, and that can't be recalled. Because children don't tend to read the apologies newspapers put in. So that misinformation caused real emotional hurt, which I'm sure is a matter of indifference to the person who wrote it, but as you can tell, quite a big matter to me.
Q. Yes. That resulted in an apology. Can you tell us anything about the apology, for example where it was printed and its size and what might have been said?
A. I truly can't remember, but I know that it was small and it certainly didn't occupy the same kind of space that the original article did.
Q. Paragraph 61, we've covered. Paragraph 62, a separate defamation issue. Can you help us with that one, please?
A. Now this one was untrue from beginning to end. There was an allegation printed that I was taking legal action against a man who was writing fan literature. It was simply untrue, and in fact I had never heard of him until this accusation was made against me.
Q. Thank you. Then another defamatory article, paragraph 63, published in the Mail on Sunday, Hello, the Herald, the Scottish Sun, the Scottish Daily Express and the Daily Star Scotland, concerning the purchase of a house in town. The basic point there is that you paid well over the odds, it was alleged, in order to force the seller to move out early.
A. Yes. The original story said that I walked into this house, which in actual fact is our family home now, that I glanced at two rooms, that I then offered a vast amount of money to get the owner out virtually instantly because I wished to host a Christmas party in this house. It's utterly, utterly untrue. We looked around the house in exactly the way any normal person would look around a house they were intending to live in, we took our children to look around the house. There was no question of throwing money at anyone to make them leave. We had a very amicable relationship with the seller who moved out in the normal time period and actually I never held any kind of Christmas party that year because we'd just moved in. So it was nonsense from beginning to end. Again, some people might think it's not a big deal. Firstly, it's depicting me as a very arrogant person who is unaware of the value of money, who uses it to bend anyone to her will, which I do not believe to be the case. But it's also you're putting a version of or the newspaper is putting a version of me and my family into the public domain that has an effect on my children, who are then asked about the house that we bought when we'd barely looked at it and the huge party we had and how your mother just throws money at people to move them out of their houses, and this is hurtful stuff.
Q. There were a number of apologies but you point out that four weeks later, the Scottish Times published the very same defamatory allegations, later denied that they were defamatory
A. I think this just builds a picture of how very difficult it is to stop defamatory articles of any nature, because no prior notification that this was going to be printed, no opportunity to correct the story, but also it does spread like fire. You're stamping in one area and someone else is lighting a fire over here, and you say to them person A already accepted it's completely untrue "Well, we don't accept that it's untrue".
Q. Thank you. Then the last matter you cover, paragraph 64, there was an inquiry by the Sunday Times of your PR agents this is quite recent about the development of your Scottish urban home and the type of trees you were going to use. Can you tell us about that?
A. This was quite a bizarre story, really. We did receive notice on this occasion that the Scottish Sunday Times wished to run an article about what we were planting in our garden, and I couldn't really understand why that was of any public interest at all. Then we were told that they were running an article on a non-native species and their environmental impact, and as everything we were using in our garden had been in Scotland for about 5,000 years, I still couldn't understand why we were being referenced in the article. When we said, "We're not minded to let you come and look at our trees", the journalist said, "I will come and see for myself then. I'll come onto your property", I assume. The effect was quite aggressive.
Q. Yes.
A. We've actually if you don't mind, we've skated over an article that I'm finding it difficult to find it in my bundle here.
Q. Of course.
A. It was about my husband, I think, in the Sunday Mirror.
Q. Certainly.
A. I'm going to need to find it, but I really did want to talk about that one.
Q. What we'll do, we'll find that, come back to that, allow you to deal with that in your own way and as completely as you like.
A. Thank you.
Q. I'm sure a note will be passed to me. What I'd like to do is put to you a point that News International on behalf of the Sunday Times wish me to raise in relation to the non-native species article.
A. Oh yes, I'm interested to know.
Q. Then we'll come back to the Sunday Mirror if that's acceptable. Have you been shown a copy of the piece in the Sunday Times?
A. I wasn't aware that anything had appeared.
Q. Yes. (Handed)
A. Thank you very much.
Q. This is a general piece, apparently. Indeed, as we can see, in the Sunday Times on 14 August of this year: "Garden experts wage war on plant invaders."
A. Yes, I see myself in this little article.
Q. The general theme is that apparently the Royal Britannic Garden in Edinburgh is to investigate the behaviour of every plant in its collection amid concern that more than 100 species may pose a threat to wildlife. These presumably are non-native species. On the right-hand side of the column you'll see: "Among those with a fondness for non-native plants is JK Rowling who plans to introduce several varieties at her Edinburgh home", then they are listed. "They include holm oak evergreen, native to the Mediterranean, which is invading southeast England. It's listed as a plant to avoid." So the suggestion there is that these plants or trees aren't yet there, but you're planning to introduce them. I think that's clear from what's being said. Do you have a comment on that?
A. I don't it's just ludicrous. I truly I find it ludicrous. How is this I mean, I do not recognise these plants they say I'm going to plant, and as I've been very involved in the garden, clearly I've either overlooked something important or they are mistaken and I tend to think they are mistaken. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It goes on, and I appreciate this is rather difficult if you haven't seen this: "A spokesman for Patience Highmore [I'm not going to ask whether you recognise the name], the architecture firm helping to design Rowling's garden, said the council planning department is happy with the design and selection of species." Well, there it is. MR JAY News International's position is that the information they obtained was from a publicly available planning document, which may well be consistent with what we see in the final paragraph.
A. Yes.
Q. And secondly that you were, they say, offered an opportunity to comment through your PR company, and the comment came from the architects, as we see reported.
A. Yes, I see.
Q. Does that make sense?
A. Yes, it makes sense. I wasn't aware this had appeared. In fact, I thought that they weren't going to run the article, so I this has been slightly sprung on me, but I don't really know what to say about it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Sherborne, had you seen article? MR SHERBORNE I had not seen it until very recently, sir. MR JAY I provided it this morning, but I accept that that's MR SHERBORNE I'd not seen it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We've coped with it. We've now put it together.
A. We've coped. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. MR JAY Can I just check, before we go back to the point you wanted to raise, that we were covering the ground. Yes. There is an article I'm asked to draw to your attention, but it may be that there simply hasn't been the opportunity for you properly to consider this and therefore it's not something I
A. I was just given it before I came up here to
Q. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What's MR JAY This came to me very, very late from the Daily Mail. It's probably something if we're going to explore at all you should have the opportunity to look at. I don't think it's right I can really press it now without the witness having even had the chance to read it.
A. I am happy to answer questions on this. I don't know what's coming, but I am. I sort of skimmed through it just before I came up here to sit down. I'd just seen it. I'm happy to talk about it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Can I see it? MR JAY Is there a spare copy? (Handed) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Hang on. It's an article 12.5 years ago? MR JAY Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. MR JAY Let me see if I can put the point in the way that others would wish me to put it.
A. Yes.
Q. The sequence of events, on my understanding, is this, that after your first Harry Potter book, which was of course in 1997, you were interviewed by Angela Levin, then of the Daily Mail. Various personal matters are dealt with. It's not necessarily to go into them at all, but the article was not published at that time, as we can see. It was not published until 9 July 1999. Are you with me so far, Ms Rowling?
A. I am.
Q. This was published apparently after the second Harry Potter novel was published.
A. Sorry, no, this is 1999, so that would have been around the time that the third book was published.
Q. Right.
A. The picture here is of the first book, but I see the date on it is 1999, so that would have been when the third book was published, not the second.
Q. Right, okay.
A. In fact it says here: "Her new book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, is the third in her series."
Q. So I shall notionally correct what I'd been told. I was told it was the second. In fact it's the third.
A. Yes.
Q. The point that I'm asked to put is that your publishers then telephoned the Daily Mail to say you were very angry at the publication of this article. Is that right?
A. No.
Q. No?
A. I do not recall ever asking my publishers to tell to tell a newspaper I was angry. I this as you know, you told me I would be asked this question just shortly before we came into court, and I've been racking my brains as to what this refers to. I have no memory, ever, of complaining through my publishers to any newspaper. That's not the way I would complain to a newspaper. I would go to the PCC or I would go to a lawyer, I suppose, if it was something terrible. Moreover, I have now read this article and I can't see that there's anything in here that I would have complained about. It seems to be largely factual. It's all information that I had already discussed in other interviews in the early part of my career as a published writer, so I cannot see why what I would have been angry about. But then while racking my brains it occurred to me. In 1999, when the third Harry Potter book was about to be published, I did tell my publishers that I did not wish to do any press, and the reason for that was that the phenomenon, if I can call it that, had really taken off, the books were selling very, very fast. I don't absolutely love giving interviews. Obviously it depends on the circumstances, but it's not my very favourite thing, and I just felt that giving more press felt like overkill. So I said to them, "Can we not say the books are selling very well and not do a big marketing campaign?" They were very understanding of that and I did one interview, on Radio 4, with Jim Naughtie I think and some children. I think that what seems to have happened is that the Mail has published this article when I had not given them the interview at that time. However, I made no complaint about that. It may be that they it may be that someone at my publishers said to the Mail, "But she's not doing press", but I never gave instruction for a complaint to be made. So I'm slightly mystified. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Actually, if one reads it, it's information that you've already described you're content to recognise is in the public domain.
A. Yes, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Except that it names your daughter.
A. To whom I'd already dedicated the first book. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh, so we know the name of your daughter. All right. MR JAY I think we're beginning to understand where we are with this piece. It's perhaps not advancing the sum total of our knowledge in the context of press culture, practices and ethics. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand entirely why it was felt appropriate to put it forward. MR JAY Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. There was one other article? MR JAY I am having difficulty finding it.
A. Yes, so am I, but I know it's in here. MR SHERBORNE Can I assist, given the hour? It's an article in March 2003 that was written by Carole Malone in the Sunday Mirror. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is it in the statement? MR SHERBORNE I don't think that's in the statement.
A. I thought it was. MR SHERBORNE Certainly not in the final version of the statement. It may have appeared in a previous draft.
A. It did. MR SHERBORNE Which is why Ms Rowling is referring to it. Can I say this, it's called, "Dr Murray at your beck and call", and just for fairness sake, I ought to point out that the Sunday Mirror did publish an apology, I don't have it in its published form so I can't say in what form the apology appeared, but I know that's the article Ms Rowling is referring to. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. Ms Rowling, you said you wanted to mention it, so mention it. Tell me about it.
A. Thank you, sir. Ms Malone wrote a short piece in which she alleged in very vehement language that I had married a doctor and doubtless had been attracted to him partly because of his job and he had you know, he was someone who was doing a very worthwhile job, and that my husband had now given up his job to be and I remember it quite vividly to be at the beck and call of his obscenely rich wife. The language was really very strong, and no phone call had been made to me or any of my representatives, or to my husband, to check the veracity of the statements, and the truth was that my husband in ten years of marriage has never taken any time off work except for family holidays and there has never been a period when he hasn't been work or on study leave or something similar. This was another instance of I feel extremely strongly about this and I wish to mention this because my husband clearly is not a celebrity and he has no wish to be a celebrity, and again this was damaging misinformation. Because his colleagues, those who weren't in his immediate vicinity and aware he was still working in the hospital where he was working, believed it. They thought he had indeed thrown in a career that he'd worked at so hard LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You mean in former hospitals, not where he was then working, presumably?
A. He had changed hospitals, which seemed to be the reason Ms Malone assumed that because he'd disappeared from one hospital, he must have given up work entirely to be at my beck and call. And I would again, one of the reasons why I was keen to give evidence here today is because of the effect on those people who have the dubious pleasure of being married to, related to or to live next door to someone of interest to the press, and I felt that that article was vicious, it was clearly wholly untrue, and it was sending a horrible message out to my husband's colleagues, some of whom he might wish to work with or for at some point. Yes, we did receive an apology, but it's the old case of a lie can spread around the world before the truth has got its boots on. There were still people for some time who believed my husband had indeed decided to give up work to become house husband to his authoress wife. Although I think nowadays there are fewer people who still believe that, I can't know. Anyway. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand why you wanted to tell me about it.
A. Thank you. MR JAY In your conclusion, you sum up your position, Ms Rowling.
A. Yes.
Q. Very helpfully. Can I ask you then a more general question, perhaps born out of your experiences as you have explained them to us. Do you have any ideas, recommendations or suggestions which you would invite the Inquiry to carry away with it, particularly as a result of what you have told the Inquiry this afternoon? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON This is not a compulsory question. It's an opportunity, that's all.
A. I do not have any very fully worked-up ideas. I can only say that I feel the PCC is toothless, that it offers very little in the way of sanctions to newspapers, that it's a wrist-slapping exercise at best. That we need and I should say I'm vehemently opposed to state control of the media, of course, as I think everyone who is going to sit in this chair is, but I do feel that we need a body that has teeth, that can impose sanctions. I agree with several of the people who have spoken to the Inquiry before me when they say that prior notification would prevent a significant amount of damage, particularly where defamatory articles are concerned. Apart from that, I can't pretend I have a magical answer. No Harry Potter joke intended. That slipped out. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I would have been perfectly content if you had one. Thank you very, very much indeed. It was a long afternoon.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. Anything else? No? MR JAY Well, if I let the witness return, but there are a couple of administrative matters. Discussion re administrative matters LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right, well, let's move to the exciting topic of administration. Yes? MR JAY In relation to the day's evidence, all the statements are up on the website, a redacted copy of HJK's statement has been circulated to all the core participants for clearance. The programme for next week has been published. We received some correspondence this afternoon which might be interpreted as a complaint about that, but unless someone has a submission about it to make, the Inquiry is not going to deal with correspondence behind the scenes. That's not the way this Inquiry is going to operate. A point can be made to you by way of submission, but otherwise we press on. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. Does anybody want to raise anything themselves? Yes, Mr Caplan? MR CAPLAN I'm not sure whether that letter is to do with us or not, but please, on Tuesday there are two witnesses, in particular Mr Nick Davies, who has written a book called Flat Earth News. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Flat Earth News, yes. MR CAPLAN And I see from the documents which the Inquiry have issued in relation to his evidence that it refers to extracts from his book. May I just say this, that the witness statement he has provided to the Inquiry and at the moment to core participants does not deal with that at all. The other matter is that Mr McMullen I see is also coming on Tuesday. Again the witness statement that has been provided to core participants does not deal with his conversation with Mr Hugh Grant about which we heard last week. If either of those matters are going to be canvassed with him in evidence, I would respectfully suggest it is imperative that they give written evidence in advance to yourself and the core participants so that we know what is going to be said. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. I understand the point. Let me look at that and I won't be able to address it publicly tomorrow because tomorrow we're not sitting. As I recollect it, Mr Jay, Mr McMullen's statement was a statement that he provided to the Inquiry. MR JAY Yes, it's a wide-ranging statement and contains one or two things which on any view might be regarded at controversial. It represents the maximum extent of his evidence, save for his account of the taped conversation, one end of which we heard from Mr Grant's evidence on Monday. Under the rules, Mr McMullen can deal with his version of events and will be asked to deal with it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What's the position about Mr Davies? MR JAY The relevant chapter of his book has been, as it were, incorporated by reference into his evidence, and he will be dealing with that chapter. I think it's the Dark Arts chapter 7 of Flat Earth News. He will be dealing with that evidence on Tuesday. The core participants have had notice of it. They have seen the relevant chapter. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. I confess I say immediately I have read the book. To what extent is it intended that these witnesses should go into detail? I'm just thinking actually about time rather than anything else. MR JAY Yes. Well, of course, having regard to the time and the need at the end of the day for a report in 12 months' time. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I understand that. No, I'm just thinking about and you know my view about that, I've said it often enough. MR JAY The agenda for Tuesday is Mr Peppiatt first, who we would expect to take about 90 minutes. Mr Davies second. He might take 90 minutes to two hours. And then Mr McMullen. Mr McMullen, it's unclear how long he will take, because his evidence could take a number of different courses. I think that's all I can fairly say at the moment. Certainly it's our preliminary view that his witness statement would not be publicly available. It's been provided to the core participants and we'll just hear what his oral evidence is. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But we don't have a statement from him about the interview? MR JAY No. On the other hand, the interview was published in the New Statesman. It will not be difficult for him, he's had notice of it, to say clearly what his position is. It's right to say that we don't know formally what his position is in relation to that interview. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's the feature that's concerning me and it's not concerning me because I'm not prepared to listen to it, but it is concerning me about the extent to which core participants might want to challenge it. MR JAY The difficulty, of course, is that the tape has not been released. My understanding of Mr Grant's evidence was that he might be prepared to allow the Inquiry team to listen to part of the tape, but that may not be right. If we have a factual dispute at the end of Mr McMullen's evidence, it would then be, in my submission, for the Inquiry to decide to what extent it's necessary or right to resolve that dispute. Of course we don't know at the moment whether there is such a dispute. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON One other way of doing it I mean, there are a number of things I can do. First of all, we can wait and see. And if it's appropriate, I can use the rules to permit a core participant to cross-examine and could defer the cross-examination. It depends a little bit what happens. MR JAY Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Secondly, if the interview becomes truly significant, and given the over-arching question that I'm seeking to answer, actually, then it may not, but if it truly becomes significant, notwithstanding Mr Grant's sensitivities, and I understand why he says what he said, I am in a position to obtain the tape. I'm not necessarily going to go there, but I could do it. It depends a little bit on what happens. I mean one way of doing it would be to say, well, if we could require Mr McMullen to make a statement and we could identify what we want him to deal with. We've seen what was said in the discussion in the public house because the Spectator article was exhibited to Mr Grant's statement, and I rather gather that it's unlikely to take us very much further but it was right that we investigate it. So my present thinking, but I'll hear what Mr Caplan has to say about it in a moment, is that we press on, but that we are prepared and I am prepared possibly in both cases to wait and see so that, if necessary, we can return to a witness. MR JAY Yes. I've just been told that the issue might not arise in relation to the tape, but it's not right that I communicate that fully. There are a range of possibilities here. Mr McMullen may say, "Well, I did say all of that on the tape, Mr Grant's transcript is right, but I didn't mean what I meant to say, I believe you've drawn the wrong inferences", or it might be, "It's all 100 per cent right and I meant every word about of it". In my submission, we should wait and see LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. MR JAY and then decide what steps we need to take further. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. Thank you. Mr Caplan, I take the point that you make, and I can't believe that a consideration whats not been given by your clients to that part of Mr Davies' book that impacts upon your clients. There's some surprise being expressed to your right, but I'll hear it if anyone wants to say otherwise. What I'm minded to do is to say that we hear, for example, Mr McMullen's evidence. If I am at all concerned, and of course I'll be guided in large part by you, that something has happened which requires time, and which allows me or justifies me taking a different view under Rule 10, then I'll do it. Fairness remains what I am anxious to achieve, but I'm anxious to achieve it in the context of the fact that I will not be specifically looking at individual stories to make findings of fact. I can't do that, because, as I've said many times, that would take years. There may be one or two stories which I will want to investigate a little bit more on. We've heard some talked about. So I do want to see, for example, something more about where Dr Kate McCann's diary came from and what due diligence was put into that, but that's specific people we will ask those questions. There may be another example of that, I think there is, but again I think it's a News of the World employee who is concerned. But given the over-arching issue, I will hear any complaint you have to make as and when you wish to make it, but I'm not minded to make orders about restricting this witness or that witness now, simply because I think that we'll probably manage within the time we have, but I'm always prepared to listen, and if it means that Mr McMullen or Mr Davies have to return, whether it's the next day or a couple of days later, then that's what will happen. MR CAPLAN Thank you, sir. I'm sure I fully understand that if we make an application on fairness grounds, that you would give it very careful consideration, and if we make an application under Rule 10, you equally would consider that. Can I just make this suggestion in relation to Mr McMullen? I would have thought it would be fairly straightforward for the Inquiry team simply to ask him to make a very short statement between now and Tuesday morning. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think that's a good idea. We'll see. We'll do our best. MR CAPLAN Thank you very much. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON For the sake of everybody, I agree. Right, anything else? MR SHERBORNE Sir, I was just going to say this in relation to Mr Grant. As I understand the position to be, is, as you describe it, sensitivities related to him volunteering the material on the interview. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh, I'm sure. MR SHERBORNE If he's required to do so, I'm sure he'll provide it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm also sure of that, Mr Sherborne, and nothing he said suggested that he wouldn't. MR SHERBORNE Exactly. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But to such extent as I can pay respect to the wishes of those who have come to give evidence and that's going to be wherever they come from, whatever corner of room they emerge from I will do so. I'm not conducting a trial here; I am trying to conduct an inquiry. MR SHERBORNE I understand. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Very good. Is there anything else? MR SHERBORNE No, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much indeed. I'm sure everybody will be very pleased that we now will next meet on Monday. I know there was a concern, I think, which I am prepared to just observe, that seven days a fortnight, I said. The fortnight has just ended. The next fortnight is about to start. Thank you very much. (4.53 pm)


Gave statements at the hearings on 24 November 2011 (AM) 24 November 2011 (PM) and 18 July 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 6 pieces of evidence
Gave a statement at the hearing on 24 November 2011 (PM) ; and submitted 3 pieces of evidence


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