Morning Hearing on 14 December 2011

Jonathan Chapman and Tom Crone gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(10.00 am) Housekeeping LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, Mr Sherborne? MR SHERBORNE Sorry, sir, I was waiting before you said good morning to everyone. There's one matter I wanted to raise and I didn't want to interrupt LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There's a matter which I want to raise too, but you might as well go first. MR SHERBORNE I'm very grateful. The matter I want to raise relates to Milly Dowler and the storm of misreporting which has followed the Met Police statement on Monday, despite sir as you will recall the fact that Mr Garnham that said the investigations of the Metropolitan Police were still ongoing and far from complete. Your Lordship said that there would need to be a proper investigation. Of course there is the evidence and Inquiry in this room and there is the extraordinary reporting outside. At 5.15 yesterday, Mr Mark Lewis received a telephone call from a journalist who identified himself as a reporter on the Daily Mail Hardcastle column, and this journalist asked Mr Lewis whether, and I quote: "In view of these revelations, will the Dowlers be giving their money back?" Mr Lewis's reaction was understandably to question the moral compass of this journalist, although maybe not in those precise words, and one can understand his reaction, not just because of what the Dowlers must be going through at the moment, but also because it ignores the evidence which we do know despite the Metropolitan Police statement asking questions about who precisely caused the deletions which led to the false moment of LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Sherborne, I'm going to cut you off because the topic you've raised is the topic that I was going to raise, and I don't particularly want to add further to the reporting on the reporting on the reporting before I get to grips with what actually has happened. So I said when Mr Garnham spoke earlier this week that I would want to return to the topic, and I do, and what I want to say is this: I want to know next week, before we break for Christmas, precisely what is proposed should come before the Inquiry, and that requires a consideration on the part of the Metropolitan Police. It also requires consideration by the Guardian, and I'm very happy to consider also the reflections that you want to make and those, if any, that Mr Rhodri Davies wants to make as well. In one sense, in one sense only, I recognise that precisely what happened may not ultimately drive the issues that I have to consider within my terms of reference. However, I do entirely understand the significance of the issue, and I recognise that it is likely to be in the public interest that this be resolved in an orderly manner rather than by cross articles. By that I'm not talking about the temper; I'm talking about the interplay of articles between different journals and periodicals. So what I don't want to do is to use the time that I have further to stoke the fire. I want to do this in an orderly fashion. MR SHERBORNE Sir, I understand that. Of course, it's very important. There are two things I would say. I'm not intending to stoke the fires of reporting, but it's very important not to lose sight of the fact that, firstly, the accessing of Milly's voicemails by the News of the World is not in dispute. It was admitted, and it is an outrage. But secondly, it is not the only reason why this Inquiry is being heard into the practices, culture and ethics of the press. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh, Mr Sherborne, if anybody had any doubt about that, I anticipate that the last month has dispelled that doubt. MR SHERBORNE Finally can I say this, and I should as a matter of fairness report this, that the Press Complaints Commission do do some things right, and it's fair that in this room I say that, because they did ring the Dowlers to see if there was anything they could do to help and this matter relating to the approach from the Daily Mail has been reported to them. I know that the editor of the Daily Mail and his team are busy toiling away on the witness statements that we asked for three weeks ago in relation to the plummy-voiced executive, but perhaps they can also look into why one of their journalists telephoned Mr Lewis and put that question to him yesterday. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, thank you. I'm sure that the representatives of the Mail will read the transcript, assuming that the transcript works, which it presently isn't. Or at least mine isn't. MR SHERBORNE Sir, I don't think anybody's is. I can repeat it to Mr Caplan, perhaps privately, when he arrives. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Which would have been a perfectly appropriate approach in any event. MR SHERBORNE It would, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. Mr Rhodri Davies? MR DAVIES Can I just say something which may be connected but brief. I'm not going to make any statement about this now except to say that, of course, the last thing we wish to do is to cause any additional pain or distress to the Dowler family. At the same time, we do think that it is important to be accurate about what happened. In that regard, there's one thing I think I could usefully raise. It seems to us that there are three sources of information, documentary information on this. There is the papers from the Surrey Police, which we have and which we can provide to the Inquiry, or they can, very shortly. Secondly, there are a couple of entries in Mr Whittamore's notebooks which the Inquiry has and the core participants have the spreadsheets. But lastly, there is, and Mr Garnham referred to this I think on Monday, an entry in Mr Mulcaire's notebook. At the moment we haven't seen that. I don't know whether the Inquiry has. Mr Garnham understandably takes the view that he can't volunteer that to anyone, but it would assist us, and therefore the Inquiry, we think, in getting to the bottom of this, if the Inquiry might make a request to the police that that should be provided. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. I understand, thank you. Mr Garnham, I think this is largely going to come down to your clients. MR GARNHAM Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I am sure they also see the value in preventing a continual dialogue of allegation, counter-allegation, suggestion, inference. MR GARNHAM We certainly do, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It is absolutely open to you, if you wish, to express a concern about the impact on your ongoing investigation. My present view is that this has achieved such a significance that it can't be left alone, and that although obviously I don't want to prejudice any investigation that's ongoing, I think doing nothing is probably not an option. MR GARNHAM Two things in response. I said what I said on Monday not in order to raise an issue for debate, but simply to ensure that the Inquiry was not being misled by comment and absence of comment on the story. But secondly, we are already in the process of starting to put together something to provide to you, sir, that we hope will be as comprehensive an analysis of the background to this as we can provide. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. If there is any material that I ought to be getting, then I am perfectly prepared to use the considerable authority that the act gives me to obtain it, and I will worry about redactions and protections later. MR GARNHAM Thank you, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Jay, just before you start with Mr Crone no, no, I was going to speak to you. Is there anything that I've said there that causes you any concern that I'm straying beyond that which I should be doing? MR JAY Sir, no. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Right. Mr Crone, I'm sorry that we've kept you. MR THOMAS GERALD CRONE (on former oath) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Mr Crone, may I pick up one question from yesterday. May I invite your attention, please, to file 3, which I'm calling sort of the generic file, under tab 3, the Select Committee's report published on 9 February 2010, paragraphs 55 and 56 at page 23 on the internal numbering at the top right-hand side.
A. Yes.
Q. You remember, Mr Crone, that we had a debate, if that's the right word, about what you were saying to the Select Committee about blackmail. Can I just draw to your attention what the Select Committee said: "In oral evidence to us, Tom Crone denied that Mr Thurlbeck's behaviour could constitute blackmail or that Mr Justice Eady considered that it may amount to such." And then footnote 58 is the answer we were looking at yesterday. The Select Committee say: "Having examined the judgment, we cannot agree." Would you like to comment on that?
A. Sorry, I'm just reading 58?
Q. 55.
A. Yes. Didn't you refer to 58 as well?
Q. Footnote 58.
A. Oh, I see. I beg your pardon. No, I'm aware of their conclusion. I'm aware of their conclusion.
Q. Then they continue, paragraph 56: "A culture in which the threats made to women A and B could be seen as defensible is to be deplored. The fact that News of the World executives still do not fully accept the inappropriateness of what took place is extremely worrying." I'm afraid, Mr Crone, that they are bracketing you within the category of News of the World executives.
A. Yes, they are.
Q. Does that not trouble you at all?
A. Yes, I think it does.
Q. Are you going to change your evidence on this issue or do you stick to it?
A. I think the evidence I gave yesterday is the correct evidence.
Q. It follows from that that you are still unrepentant, is that not right?
A. No, I think that what I said yesterday was pretty close to agreeing with the conclusion which the CMS committee came to.
Q. May I pick up, please, where we left off yesterday evening. Where we were yesterday evening, so that we have our temporal bearings, as it were, is that we have the application made under Part 8, the third-party disclosure in the Gordon Taylor litigation. It's made in January 2008, and you were sent the MPS third-party disclosure which was made to the claimant, Mr Taylor, in April 2008, and it's at that point of course that you saw various materials, including an email, since described as the "for Neville" email but not no doubt described in those terms by you at the time. That's right, isn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. At that time did you make enquiries of reporters still at News International as to whether the matters contained in or suggested by the email were true?
A. Certainly between receipt of the between sight of the email and speaking to Mr Myler, which was several weeks later, I did.
Q. I'm not going to ask precisely who you spoke to, but approximately how many reporters did you speak to?
A. Four. Oh, that's precise.
Q. Are you able to tell us what they said? In very general terms.
A. There was a certain amount of confusion, I have to say, from one of them in particular, but he later came back and gave me a slightly different account from the first one he gave me, which actually made more sense because the original account from this person was that it was a project which had emanated from Mr Miskiw, who was then, I think, based in Manchester, and it was all driven by him and he knew
Q. I think you're probably going too far, Mr Crone. I'm going to stop you there.
A. Okay.
Q. The question was intending to get a more general answer.
A. The general answer would be that all four of them certainly ended up denying knowledge of the email.
Q. Thank you. You provided a briefing note to Mr Myler, I think. We've had a look at this within the Select Committee disclosure. You'll find this again in the generic file 3 under tab 7, Mr Crone. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I ought to explain that I have a problem, that my file 3 is not tabulated. Is there a page number? MR JAY It's going to be a nightmare for you if it isn't tabulated. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is there a cross-referencing number? No. Why does the law seem incapable of ensuring that everybody has the same bundle? Or more particularly why the judge never has the bundle that everybody else has. MR JAY The only important person doesn't have the right bundle. Let's see what we can do because you're not going to be able to navigate your way through that bundle unless we I could probably LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, no. But yours doesn't have the unique reference numbers on? MR JAY No. I'll be able to find it quite quickly, I think. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The trouble is none of these have tabs on. None of the Crone bundles. MR JAY Just bear with me a moment, Mr Crone. Does yours have tabs?
A. Yes. If this is the only document, I have a copy myself, so I could pass LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, no, no, don't. MR SHERBORNE While Mr Jay is doing that, can I just check that none of the core participants other than News International have the bundles that you're referring to? Oh, I'm told News International don't have the bundle either. Sorry, Mr Davies and I are having a sotto voce conversation. As I understand it, simply the Inquiry and, sir, you have the bundles, and the witness, obviously. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think the bundle is merely a collection of material put together that is otherwise in the MR SHERBORNE I'm not sure that is correct. I think that's largely correct, but as I understand it, it's not entirely correct. MR JAY I understand that an index was provided. MR SHERBORNE We did receive an index yesterday afternoon, after Mr Crone's evidence. MR JAY Okay, well. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We'll look at that, thank you. MR JAY It's the bundle which may look like this. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I have it. And this one does have tabs. Right. I made the mistake of thinking that it was Mr Crone file (iii), because that's what you said it was. MR JAY I said the generic one. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. I now have it. Thank you very much. MR JAY It's JCP2. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, I have it. MR JAY Which is your briefing note, is this right, which was sent to Mr Myler, I know from other evidence, on 24 May 2008; is that correct?
A. Yes, that is correct.
Q. You were obviously bringing him up to date. The background in paragraph 4, you say that: "Taylor served a fully pleaded claim on us, which did not seem to be supported by any evidence, and we filed a defence denying any involvement in accessing or making any use of information from voicemails." Do you see that?
A. Yes.
Q. And then paragraph 5, you refer to the Part 8 application and then in 6 you begin to refer to the various information which was obtained. First of all, there was an agreement, February 2005. Secondly, in paragraph 7, there's the Information Commissioner's material obtained pursuant to Operation Motorman. And then there is reference to sorry, it's the end of paragraph 6 the email with the voicemail transcriptions. Is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you set out in this briefing note, indeed we see that you didn't, the result of your discussions with the four journalists?
A. No.
Q. Why not?
A. I was well, it's headed "Background, current position, where we go". I thought that those conversations would be more appropriate to talk about rather than set out.
Q. But this is a strictly private and confidential and legally privileged note. Your expectation was that it would never see the broader light of day; that's right, isn't it?
A. Well, the provenance if that's the right word the provenance of the note is that this was a Saturday, my last Saturday before going off on a week's holiday. I had, I think, made Mr Myler aware of the documents that had come in during the previous week. He and I discussed them and he decided this had to be brought to the attention of James Murdoch, who was the chief executive, with a view to settling the case, which was the recommendation from the lawyers, including me. He then said that James could see us the following Tuesday. I said that's going to be a little bit of a problem because I'm supposed to be on holiday, but I can come in. He said, "Don't do that, give me a note, make it as concise as possible, keep absolutely factually concise, but set out everything that, you know, you think should be in there". And if you look at the email I sent to Colin Myler, which is the covering email, I say: "There it is, Colin, as concise as I could do it. Julian is getting a copy."
Q. Was it your intention or belief that this briefing note would be passed on to someone else, beyond Mr Myler?
A. I was certainly happy and envisaged that it could be passed to James Murdoch.
Q. Wasn't it at least relevant that your enquiries had apparently demonstrated that the journalists were denying any involvement?
A. Yes, it was relevant, because it was something I imagined would come up during our meeting. Well, whenever I was attending a meeting.
Q. But your note says at paragraph 10: "Recognising the inevitable, I authorised our solicitors, Farrers, to make a formal offer." So whatever the journalists were apparently saying, you were bashing ahead with a settlement on the basis that the continued defence of the claim was really untenable, isn't that correct?
A. That's exactly what the note sets out.
Q. Yes. Are you sure that there were these conversations with the journalists?
A. Yes.
Q. Are we to infer that you were not placing much weight on what they were saying?
A. Well, they were all denying it. The note the email spoke for itself without any doubt at all, and it meant what I have set out in the briefing note.
Q. But are we to infer that you weren't placing much weight on what the journalists were saying?
A. No, I don't think that's necessarily fair. The fact that they were denying it was relevant, but I just didn't put it in the note.
Q. Of course, the offer to Mr Taylor of 150,000 was made at that stage without leading counsel's advice, wasn't it?
A. Yes. I think so.
Q. And it was beyond the level of your authority, wasn't it?
A. I'm not sure whether counsel had whether I'd been told by Julian Pike that that had all been discussed, I can't remember that. But it certainly was with my authority, yes.
Q. Sorry, it was within or without?
A. Oh, did you ask whether it was within my authority?
Q. The question was: it was outside your authority, wasn't it?
A. My authority and there's a bit of confusion about this, I think. My authority in requisitioning cheques goes up to ?5,000 without a countersignature. If I need a cheque or if I needed a cheque above ?5,000, I had to have it countersigned by my line manager in senior management.
Q. I understand that.
A. I settled cases over 20-something years, usually for more than ?5,000, and it wasn't something that I would go off and necessarily seek authority in advance for, although normally I would have discussed with the editor before making offers like that. In this instance, I can't remember whether I discussed it with Mr Myler, but it was certainly discussed in detail with Farrers, and I think counsel was on hand at all times. If not senior counsel, then junior counsel.
Q. Mr Crone, the position is that leading counsel didn't advise until 3 June, did he?
A. Didn't advise in writing, no.
Q. Are you saying, and we certainly don't see it in this briefing note, that you'd had some sort of steer from counsel as to the value of the claim?
A. No. There's nothing in there.
Q. Are you saying that the offer of ?150,000 was within or without your authority?
A. I don't know the answer to that, but it certainly wouldn't have been the first time that's probably pretty high, but I'd been over 100 a few times and no one had ever said to me afterwards, "You didn't have authority to do that", internally.
Q. That's right. That rather suggests you didn't know what the level of your authority was, did you?
A. It was a pretty grey area, yes.
Q. "Where we go", paragraph 11: "Our position is very perilous." Paragraph 12: "We will be getting guidance from a senior QC next week about our next step." You say towards the end of paragraph 12: "He is claiming both ordinary damages and exemplary damages and will succeed on both claims." That was your firm view, wasn't it?
A. That arose from discussions with the outside lawyers.
Q. That arose from discussions with outside lawyers?
A. With the outside lawyers. I might have put that quite strongly, but we certainly discussed ordinary damages certainly were going to occur. There was a question mark over exemplaries, but I think the prevailing view from the outside was that he would succeed on those.
Q. The engine behind all of this was, was it not, a desperate attempt to settle this case virtually on any terms, wasn't it, Mr Crone?
A. I don't think any terms, no. But we wanted to settle it.
Q. Virtually on any terms. You weren't going to pay
A. I think if he'd said if he had stuck to, which I don't think he'd identified the figure at this stage, but if he'd stuck to a million pounds, I don't think he'd have got that. No. In fact, I'm sure he wouldn't.
Q. You get leading counsel's opinion on 3 June. It's JCB20. We of course read it carefully before. Presumably when this opinion was received, we know you were back from holiday, you read it carefully, didn't you?
A. I certainly read it, yes. More than once, probably.
Q. Did any part of the opinion cause you any concern when you read it? Either the first time or the second?
A. The bit I highlighted most, I think, or most emphatically, was the there's a reference to a powerful case paragraph 6, I think.
Q. Mm. He's telling you pretty firmly that the defendant is going to lose, but it's the sentence more or less in the middle of paragraph 6: "In addition, there is substantial surrounding material about the extent of NGN journalists' attempts to obtain access to information illegally in relation to other individuals. In the light of these facts, there is a powerful case that there is or was a culture of illegal information access used at NGN in order to produce stories for publication." What was your reaction to that when you read it?
A. I discussed that paragraph with Julian Pike on the basis that I was interested to know exactly what Mr Silverleaf felt justified those quite strong statements, and I probably speculated that what he's really looking at there, and the sentence before the one you read out, is the material that had been disclosed to us coming out of the Operation Motorman.
Q. But you knew all about that anyway, didn't you?
A. I think the first time I knew of things referred to there was during that was from that disclosure.
Q. But Operation Motorman was fully just wait for the question, Mr Crone was fully set out in two reports in 2006, and here we are in June 2007
A. No, not to this extent. Who? Who? Names of journalists.
Q. Paragraph
A. overwhelming evidence of the involvement of a number of senior NGN journalists."
Q. Paragraph 3 of Mr Silverleaf's opinion doesn't name journalists in the context of Operation Motorman?
A. No.
Q. Nor did the Information Commissioner's reports, did they?
A. No, I didn't say it did. But he refers to "senior NGN journalists". That doesn't come out of the "for Neville" email nor the other document relating to the Gordon Taylor case. That could only have come out of the Operation Motorman documents.
Q. Mr Crone, that simply isn't right. There is no reference in the Operation Motorman reports to the identity of journalists at any newspaper
A. But there were in the documents. There most certainly were.
Q. You hadn't seen
A. There was a table, a league table of names, how many times used Whittamore used them
Q. Mr Crone, we've studied the table very, very carefully. It's in the second report. Although we have a number of journalists for each title, the journalists are not named, are they?
A. Well, I've seen something where they're all named and it came out of the disclosure. But that was my understanding, anyway. I'd got it at that time from that source via Farrers, so it must have come out of that disclosure.
Q. I'm a bit confused, Mr Crone. The disclosure which the police provided, are you saying that that contained names of journalists?
A. I saw the document. It either came all right, let me it must have come out of that. Yes, it did. It came out of the Operation Motorman disclosure. I can't imagine where else it could possibly have come from. It was a document which had obviously been prepared as part of the Information Commissioner's prosecution, I think it was his prosecution, of Whittamore. And that is why and that was sent to Mr Silverleaf, I'm almost certain, although I didn't look at the exact briefing, the exact instructions he was sent. That is why he's referring, as I've said, to specific things that didn't come out of the other two documents.
Q. But of course, in paragraph 3, the reference to "three NGN journalists" is a reference to the journalists who, as leading counsel says, "appear to have been intimately involved in Mr Mulcaire's illegal researching into Mr Taylor's affairs". That's correct, isn't it?
A. Correct, but that's a different source of information. The strongest comments were in paragraph 6, as far as I was concerned, and that seemed to me to relate to for the most part, to Motorman rather than to the Taylor documents. I mean the relevant Taylor documents. And I think what I was suggesting to Julian Pike was that actually, you know, our position in the Gordon Taylor litigation was not necessarily going to be dictated by Operation Motorman documents because, strictly speaking, we thought they weren't directly relevant LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sorry, Mr Jay. Could I see, please, an unredacted copy of this opinion? MR JAY We don't have one, but we can ask for one. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh, I thought it had been redacted purely for the purposes of protecting an investigation. MR JAY It had been redacted by News International, or rather Mr Pike, in the bundle of documents he supplied to the Select Committee. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I see. The reason it's relevant is because it may go to Mr Crone's evidence just now. What it presently reads is: "There is overwhelming evidence of the involvement of a number of senior NGN journalists in the illegal enquiries into [blank]." Now, what is that blank may actually determine whether this could possibly be a reference to Motorman. MR JAY May I assist in the way in which I've read it? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, because actually he then goes on to deal with Motorman and doesn't talk about senior journalists but just journalists' attempts to obtain access to information illegally in relation to other individuals. So I read it as you read it, but there is a definitive answer. You will have to move on but Mr Rhodri Davies, would you consider that, please? I'm not seeking to put anything into the public domain. I'm merely wanting to ensure that I correctly understand Mr Crone's evidence and that Mr Crone has had an opportunity to deal fairly with the point that's being made. MR DAVIES It may be that if I have 60 seconds, I can help. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Then I'm happy to wait 60 seconds. Or even a few seconds longer. (Pause) MR DAVIES I think I can help to this extent. After the words "the illegal enquiries into", there are names of two people. Two individuals. They have been redacted, we think, for privacy reasons, particularly in relation to one. I'd be reluctant to go any further than that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I don't ask you to go any further. But what I would be interested to know is whether that is Mulcaire-linked or Motorman-linked. MR DAVIES Yes. I can't answer that. It may be that we can answer that, but I can't answer it now. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You can't answer in the time that you asked for? MR DAVIES Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I would like the answer at some stage. I don't seek to invade the privacy of the people whose names you've redacted, but I'm sure you recognise the importance of the point. MR DAVIES Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. Right. MR JAY I'm still on the point, Mr Crone, of culture of illegal information access, a matter you were confronted with through leading counsel's advice on 3 June 2008. You say there was discussion about that with Mr Pike. Was there discussion about that with the editor, Mr Myler?
A. I certainly discussed counsel's opinion with him.
Q. Again, the question was a bit more precise. Was there a discussion about the reference to a culture of illegal information access?
A. To the best of my recollection, and it is just my recollection, which is clearly fallible, I highlighted the paragraphs which I thought were strongest and most relevant in this opinion, and left and brought a copy up or sent my secretary up with a copy for Mr Myler, so that if he didn't want to read the whole thing, at least he would read the bits I highlighted, and then I followed that up some time later by going up and talking to him about it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Let's be blunt, Mr Crone. If this is the paragraph that hit you hardest
A. There were probably a couple of others. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Then it's absolutely inevitable that that would be the paragraph you'd want to discuss with the editor, isn't it?
A. That and the other ones, yes. But I wouldn't necessarily have to go through every single paragraph. I would have a conversation with him about what I thought was important. MR JAY You see what I was leading up to. Surely, confronted with this opinion, you had a discussion with Mr Myler along the lines, "Look, this is what leading counsel is saying: there is a culture or was a culture of illegal information access within our company"; would you agree with that?
A. Yes. But Motorman was 2001 to 2002, I think, wasn't it, which was a long time before this. But I thought that was my understanding from counsel, which I think was shared by Julian Pike, was that he was clearly basing that primarily on what came out of Operation Motorman. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It can't have been helped by what you were learning about what had happened in relation to
A. No, I agree entirely, which is dealt with, I think, in paragraph 3. Yes. But I don't think the documents most relevant to the Taylor litigation, which is the ones I referred to in my briefing note, the email plus the short holding contract, I don't think they justify what counsel says in paragraph 6, because they if you look at who could possibly be linked to the email in particular, and the other one, you are talking about probably three/four journalists. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And they'd given you answers which you at least were not prepared to accept at face value?
A. That's probably right, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I put the question quite carefully. MR JAY If the Operation Motorman material was so important, you'd had all that material in 2006. The journalists weren't named individually, but you didn't need to know the names for the purpose of identifying a culture, and we know, don't we, that you denied liability in the defence, didn't you?
A. Um in relation to? To Taylor?
Q. Yes.
A. Yes, in relation to the Taylor documents, we didn't have any direct evidence that there was NGN involvement.
Q. I don't think you're seeing the point, Mr Crone, that if the Motorman material was going to be or had the importance which you say leading counsel took into account on 3 June 2008, well, that material was all in the public domain at the time your defence was filed, wasn't it?
A. I'm referring to the material that came out of the disclosure in relation to Motorman. I'm going back to that, I'm afraid
Q. Going back to that point
A. which you clearly haven't seen.
Q. Let's assume for the purposes of argument, which I frankly would not accept, that the Operation Motorman material yielded by the disclosure gave the names of journalists. That did not make any difference, did it, to the question either of culture or to the issues directly germane to the Taylor litigation; would you agree with that?
A. Yes, because the no, I wouldn't, because the Motorman material threw a very wide net against named journalists. You haven't seen it, but there is a document, albeit four or five years before. Whereas the Taylor material threw a net which covered three or four people.
Q. I'm really not following that. First of all, the Motorman material I would suggest to you, at least the Motorman material in the possession of the police, didn't contain anything about named journalists, since we are looking at the Motorman which after all was all about data protection, aren't we?
A. Yes, and who used Whittamore's services.
Q. But the police didn't know that, did they?
A. Yes, they did. I haven't invented this document. There is a document. You haven't got it and that is a problem LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We actually have seen the whole thing, Mr Crone. We've actually seen the complete Motorman files. So we do know names and we do know targets and we do know everything. It's not in the public domain for privacy reasons.
A. Mm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But the point that Mr Jay is making is the fact that Motorman identified X hundred journalists was a fact which had been known since "What price privacy?". The precise names didn't matter. What he was saying was the overwhelming number of invasions of privacy that he saw must have been or would have been unlawful. What Mr Jay is trying to get at, I think, is to say that actually whether it's A, B, C, D, E, F doesn't really matter if it's the number that the report identified.
A. Well, perhaps we are kind of crossing paths here a bit. I'm looking at paragraph 6 of leading counsel's written opinion and there are references in there that I think have to be and this is the it all started with a conversation I had with Julian Pike, I'm sorry, and this is what it was about. The references in there I think have to come from the document which you don't seem to have. MR DAVIES Could I just draw attention to the fact that paragraph 3 of Mr Silverleaf's opinion he says is that Mr Taylor obtained orders against the Metropolitan Police and the Information Commissioner for disclosure of information, so it looks as if Mr Taylor had information which went beyond that which was in the reports, because he made a disclosure application. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MR DAVIES And that had been, I presume, disclosed to NGN. I'm afraid I can't tell the Inquiry what's in that because I don't think we've been asked to produce it, and it certainly wouldn't have been our disclosure originally, but I think one should be aware that that disclosure appears to have taken place. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm conscious of the point, Mr Rhodri Davies, that actually to put names to it is an extra detail, but it might be considered to be a frill. MR DAVIES I understand. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand the point, and if there is a difference, then it may be we shall obtain it. We shall ask for the relevant document. But I don't suppose it's the document we've all seen, which is everything. MR DAVIES No, I'm sure not. MR JAY Again, if one looks at what leading counsel is saying
A. Which paragraph?
Q. 3. Four lines down: "In January this year, Mr Taylor obtained orders against the police and the Information Commissioner for disclosure of information relating to the accessing of his voicemail messages." So the information or the request for information had to be targeted. Then Mr Silverleaf deals with the fruits of that application for third-party disclosure. First of all he deals with the information obtained from the police, do you see that? It's a sentence I've read out already: "The material obtained from the police has disclosed that at least three journalists appear to have been intimately involved with Mr Mulcaire's illegal researching into Mr Taylor's affairs." Do you see that?
A. Yes.
Q. And then he says separately: "The disclosure for the Information Commissioner comprises material obtained by the Commissioner during an inquiry called Operation Motorman into the practices of journalists described generally Do you see that?
A. Yes.
Q. in seeking information from inquiry agents which on the face of it required illegal access to data sources."
A. Yes.
Q. So there's no suggestion there that individual journalists were named, is there?
A. No, there isn't.
Q. Okay. Can I go back to the point as to what you told Mr Myler? I think you agreed with me that you drew to Mr Myler's attention the sentence in leading counsel's opinion which referred starkly to a culture of illegal information access; are we agreed?
A. Yes.
Q. Did he say he was going to do anything about that?
A. Well the culture, if it comes from Motorman, occurred four to five years before, and I that that was the conversation we had, because Julian Pike agreed with me that obviously refers to Operation Motorman. What the strictly relevant Taylor documents showed was that there were three or four journalists. You see, the damning phrases from Mr Silverleaf, to me, are and this is what keeps being quoted in the press: "There is overwhelming evidence of the involvement of a number of senior NGN journalists in the illegal enquiries." Right, that is Motorman. To me, anyway. "In addition, there is substantial surrounding material about the extent of NGN's journalists' attempts to obtain access to the information illegally in relation to other individuals." Well, that's almost certainly Motorman.
Q. So he's saying Motorman twice, which doesn't make much sense. If you look at the order in paragraph 3 just wait, Mr Crone.
A. Sorry.
Q. If you look at the order in paragraph 3, Mr Silverleaf deals with the Taylor documents first, then he deals with Motorman. If you look at the order in paragraph 6, it's true we don't have the blanked out words, but the deduction I'd certainly made was that related to Mulcaire issues, and then he deals separately with Motorman. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, we're going to find the answer to this question out, actually, which doesn't impact on the redaction. It's obviously very important and then we'll be able to see it. Of course you, Mr Crone, saw the document before it was redacted.
A. Yes. The opinion? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. MR JAY Okay. Confronted by this opinion, was the strategy now in effect to settle this case at virtually any price?
A. The strategy was unchanged by the opinion, but it was reinforced by it, which was to settle the case. I don't think, as I said before, any price was going to work, but hopefully an acceptable price.
Q. I think the sequence of events is that following receipt of that advice, a Part 36 offer was made in the sum of ?350,000 with an indication that a little bit more might do a deal; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. Was that within or without the level of your authority?
A. I would not instruct Farrers to make that sort of offer without taking it higher, no. And I did take I discussed it with Mr Myler.
Q. Did he have authority to settle a case at the level of ?350,000?
A. I don't know, but he as I understood it, by that time he had had a discussion with James Murdoch, on 27 May, and I wasn't entirely I can't remember, but I certainly wasn't clear on whether or not he had been given authority to go to a certain figure or higher, higher than 150
Q. We know from JCP7 that Mr James Murdoch's position on 27 May, if the note is an accurate record of it, was that he wanted to wait for leading counsel's opinion. Do you see that?
A. Before yes. That was the strategy, actually, to because when I left on 24 May, the fact that we were getting leading counsel's opinion was a big factor in my conversations with Mr Myler. And I
Q. So there was no question of Mr James Murdoch wanting to settle the case without having leading counsel's opinion, which some might say is not an unreasonable position to adopt. Wouldn't you agree with that?
A. The only information I have on that is what is in JCP7. Plus my recollection is at some stage between perhaps when I was on holiday, on my first day back, which would have been January 3 sorry, June 3, Mr Myler said that he'd spoken to James Murdoch and they were awaiting senior counsel's opinion.
Q. So the offer of ?350,000, although made with the benefit of leading counsel's opinion, wasn't, it seems, made with the benefit of any steer from Mr James Murdoch. Are we agreed about that?
A. The only person I spoke to about it was Colin Myler.
Q. Did he say to you that he'd obtained authority to offer ?350,000?
A. I can't remember. I can't remember him saying that.
Q. And then there was a meeting on 10 June. The only evidence we have about it is JCP13, which refers to the meeting. It's not a note of the meeting. Mr Pike's notes of a telephone conversation he had with you on 10 June, which probably took place shortly after the meeting; is that correct?
A. I think so, yes.
Q. Can you help us, please, with the third line? Does that represent what you think was the position at the end of the meeting?
A. No, but I think Mr Myler was frustrated with Mr Taylor's demands, and what Mr Myler thought was his unwillingness to negotiate seriously, just to say, I think, "Give me a million pounds or else", and I think what that indicates is that Mr Myler would have been happy to say, "or else".
Q. We're dealing with Mr Myler, but I was actually asking you about the third line.
A. The third line says "CM".
Q. No, the third line is: "JM said he wanted to think through the option."
A. Oh, the first line is my name. Um I'm not clear about what that exactly means, really. That's what Mr Pike has written down as a very short indication of things that were discussed, but I am pretty clear that I left that meeting knowing that Mr Murdoch was prepared to settle the case if necessary for a bit more than the 350.
Q. At the meeting with Mr Murdoch LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It suggests here that "meeting with JM and CM", that suggests simply by using the word "with" that you were involved, but do I gather from what you're
A. I was there. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh, you were at the meeting?
A. On June 10. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And do you not have a file note of that meeting?
A. No, I don't think I do. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Okay. MR JAY You were the only lawyer there, I think. Is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. Because there were only three people there, so let's be clear about it: the editor, the chairman and yourself? That's right, isn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. Can I take it in stages? I think you told me a little bit earlier that Mr Myler was supplied with a copy of leading counsel's opinion; is that correct?
A. That's my memory.
Q. Do you know whether Mr Myler read it or not?
A. I don't know whether he read it all, but we certainly discussed it some time later and he'd obviously read some of it, to the best of my recollection.
Q. Mr Myler, you believe, had read some of that opinion; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. What documents, if any, did you take into the meeting with Mr James Murdoch?
A. I think I certainly took a copy and possibly spare copies of the opinion. I probably took the pleadings, because that certainly is what I would normally do. And I think I took a copy plus spare copies of the front page of the "for Neville" email.
Q. Did you take a copy of your briefing note, which we've seen earlier?
A. Probably, yes.
Q. Did you supply any of those documents to Mr Murdoch?
A. I can't remember whether they were passed across the table to him, but I'm pretty sure I held up the front page of the email.
Q. Paragraph
A. I'm also pretty sure that he already knew about it. In terms of it had been described to him already, which I think the other documents that have come out suggest that anyway.
Q. We might come to that. Paragraph 6 of leading counsel's opinion, was that communicated in any shape or form to Mr Murdoch?
A. I think it probably was, but my that's my recollection. That's my recollection.
Q. It might be quite important, Mr Crone. Can I ask you to think about that answer? I'm not saying you're right, I'm not saying you're wrong, but I do, I think, require you to do the best you can assisting the Inquiry.
A. Yes. What was certainly discussed was the email. Not described as "for Neville", but the damning email and what it meant in terms of further involvement beyond further involvement in phone hacking beyond Goodman and Mulcaire. And what was relayed to Mr Murdoch was that this document clearly was direct and hard evidence of that being the case. At the same time, I think I must have referred at some stage to Operation Motorman, because that would explain the quite hard references in senior counsel's opinion.
Q. It follows from that you must also have mentioned the word "culture" in the context of illegal information access?
A. I can't remember MR DAVIES Sorry. I object to that. We haven't waived privilege as to the advice given at this meeting and I haven't objected to questions about what documents were there and such like, but once one goes in detail into the discussions between Mr Crone, who was the legal adviser, and the two other gentlemen present, one is, I'm afraid, trespassing into privileged matters. MR JAY I think I could LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There's an issue about jigsaw privilege here, but perhaps not for now. MR JAY No. Can I ask you this, because I was dealing with the information which was provided. Did you draw to Mr Murdoch's attention the end of paragraph 6 of leading counsel's opinion, namely that a public trial or rather, "To have this paraded at a public trial would, I imagine, be extremely damaging to NGN's public reputation"?
A. I can't remember that specifically, no, drawing that to his attention.
Q. But that would be so obvious it would almost go without saying, wouldn't it?
A. I would think so, yes. That's the way I recollect it. It may have been mentioned, though. I don't remember.
Q. It's almost so obvious that it goes without saying that, really, this case had to be settled, I would suggest if necessary at an overvalue, in order to avoid that ghastly prospect, namely the parading of these matters at a public trial, which would be damaging to your company's reputation; is that correct?
A. Yes. Reputational damage. Also the likelihood of further, very expensive litigation and further reputational damage arising from that, yes.
Q. This might also be interpreted as a, to use a blanket term, a culture of cover-up. Would you accept that?
A. No, I don't think I would.
Q. You don't think you would?
A. It's a culture of avoiding reputational damage through bad publicity, but it certainly isn't a culture of cover-up if the damning documents are in the police possession and in fact came from the police.
Q. Okay. Well, the case did settle, we know, at ?425,000 plus costs, and presumably you breathed a sigh of relief; is that right?
A. Temporarily.
Q. Pardon me?
A. Temporarily.
Q. It was temporary, because there was a lunch
A. I was expecting another claim, frankly.
Q. There was a lunch shortly afterwards, I think it started off in El Vino's and ended up in a pub in Fetter Lane, of course it doesn't matter exactly where it was, and you learned towards the end of that occasion that there were indeed two further phone hacking cases in the pipeline, didn't you?
A. Which didn't come as a surprise, certainly.
Q. Didn't come as a surprise?
A. No.
Q. Precisely what happened at that meal is probably not going to assist the Inquiry, but it may be that what started off as pretty convivial ended slightly less so; is that correct?
A. No, I don't accept that, actually. No. Mr Lewis told me that he was going to bring a claim on behalf of the lady. I think I'd already flagged that up and there's documentary proof of that now. So it wasn't terribly surprising when he mentioned it. I don't think my demeanour changed in the slightest. I'm not sure I got up and left at that stage, but I had to go anyway shortly afterwards, and I left. I don't think the demeanour changed.
Q. Okay. Can I ask you a general question? In relation to the issues we've just discussed, going back certainly to May 2008 and possibly the earlier part of the month, did you have discussions with Mr Chapman about these matters?
A. About the settlement of the Taylor litigation?
Q. Yes, and the issue of culture, of illegal information access?
A. I don't think I did.
Q. Okay. You told me yesterday that you were not the guardian of ethics at News International and NGN. Who was?
A. Well, it would have to go to the chief executive I think, ultimately, in terms of being the guardian of ethics. I don't know who would be identified as the person most involved with compliance and ethics.
Q. Usually in an organisation, one is able to identify someone who is responsible for compliance. It's true the chief executive is notionally responsible for everything, but we're not really concerned with that theoretical issue. Who was responsible for compliance? It may well be more than one person. Can you assist us, please?
A. The company secretary, perhaps Mr Chapman more so than me, but I'm not sure about that. But perhaps Mr Chapman. I didn't see company sorry, corporate compliance as really within my role. I kind of looked after the content of the newspapers and the litigation that arose from them, from a legal point of view.
Q. But if that's right, and it wasn't within your role, my question is directed to trying to find out within whose role it was. Do you see that?
A. Yes. I think the answer I gave about the chief executive is the only one I could positively think of in terms of feeling sure that probably is the case. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON When you were getting all this material about hacking and the offshoot of Motorman, weren't you concerned that some consideration ought to be given to how your company approached ethical compliance?
A. Um LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just to save legal risk, which certainly was your concern.
A. Well, this the context of this particular document and references to culture in terms of time was the same context as going to see Mr Murdoch, who was the chief executive. So it wasn't a question of me taking it somewhere else, because the highest I would take it would be to James Murdoch. MR JAY But if that's right, Mr Crone, that would suggest, maybe you are suggesting, that you unburdened Mr James Murdoch with quite a lot of material so that he was in a position to say something about these ethical issues and compliance. Is that your evidence?
A. I think he was made aware of the situation in the Taylor case, which involved counsel's view, counsel's opinion. He may not have had a copy of counsel's opinion, but I don't think any seriously relevant part of it was not told to him.
Q. Was not what?
A. Told to him.
Q. Was not told to him, okay. I'm going to come back to the issue of culture more widely at the end, but can I just pick up some discrete points? First of all, did you have any involvement in the publication of the doctored Kate McCann diary, which I think was certainly in September 2008, the exact date has temporarily eluded me.
A. I was the lawyer on the News of the World that weekend and I played some part in clearing it up afterwards. The legal problem afterwards.
Q. But can we look at the possible legal or privacy problem before? Did you detect there to be a privacy issue?
A. My understanding was that the representative of the McCanns had given the okay, the permission, to the head of the news desk at the News of the World to run the diaries. Or extracts from the diaries.
Q. Yes.
A. I think he had emails to support that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh? MR JAY I've seen some documents which on one interpretation of them broadly support what you're saying, but I just want to understand what your position is. Did you have any involvement with a film made by Mr Atkins called, I think, Starsuckers? That was the correct title of it.
A. Yes. I think so. There was I think some advice was given or some help given to one of our if I'm thinking about the same thing one of our news reporters who had been featured on this film, yes.
Q. Did you attempt to persuade Mr Atkins not to publish the film with the reference to that News of the World reporter?
A. I can't remember whether I did it or I got Farrers involved, but I think we were I think a letter may have been written this is memory to Mr Atkins or the people who had the film suggesting that it misrepresented I think it misrepresented the role and the part and the behaviour of the journalist concerned.
Q. I'll just ask you a little bit more about that, Mr Crone. Go to your file (iv), which is your case-specific file.
A. That's (iv), is it?
Q. Yes, under tab 38, where we have Mr Atkins' evidence.
A. There are no tabs, I'm afraid.
Q. All right. If you can find it then, it's our page ending 49001. It's going to be almost halfway through the file.
A. I'm close. Yes.
Q. Paragraph 31 is within Mr Atkins' witness statement. I'm just giving you the context. He's telling us that he wanted to test the Sunday tabloids to see if their journalists were willing to break the law and the code to obtain private information about the celebrities which was not in the public interest. He says five lines into that paragraph he would "pose as an intermediary who was selling the details of celebrities' private surgery operations".
A. Yes, I have it.
Q. He was really setting up a sort of sting, which the News of the World might know a little bit about. Paragraph 36 on the next page, he says on 20 March 2009 he called the news desks of various papers, including the News of the World. In paragraph 43 on the next page, 49003, a journalist at the News of the World seemed to be interested: "It sounds like definitely something that it's worth meeting up to speak to you about." At paragraph 104, some pages further on, at 49016
A. Yes. Sorry, what was the paragraph number?
Q. 104.
A. Thank you.
Q. "Immediately after the medical records story broke, we were told from various sources that the News of the World were furious that we had invaded the privacy of their journalist, and were considering legal action." Is that a fair representation of your anger?
A. No. I can't remember privacy being part of it. I thought it was misrepresentation because the journalist I think had made it clear at some stage at the beginning that it would have to comply with the PCC code. Something like that. Whatever it was, it would have to comply with the PCC code. I think that's in there. Maybe you don't have the original film, do you?
Q. But what's the misrepresentation?
A. I think
Q. Just wait, Mr Crone. A degree of subterfuge is being used by Mr Atkins in that he's posing as someone who he isn't. He's making a telephone call to a journalist and the journalist gives the answer. That's permissible within the code if it's in the public interest, isn't it?
A. Not to then present it as a journalist behaving incredibly badly when she has said, "It has to comply with the PCC code". LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But the words of the journalist, which can be heard, speak for themselves, don't they? Whatever they might or might not have said.
A. Sir, I can't remember what's on the film. I just remember that the issue was that the journalist had actually behaved pretty well, it seemed, from what she had said, and the introduction and the presentation suggested quite the opposite. I must say I don't recall privacy being an issue, but if there is a document suggesting otherwise, then so be it. MR JAY The upshot was that you were trying to persuade Mr Atkins not to publish the film with any reference to the News of the World journalist; is that right?
A. I think I was trying to achieve a fair presentation of what she did or take her out altogether, because what I was looking at was not a fair presentation.
Q. Presumably you did see the relevant part of the film, did you?
A. I saw some film. Whether it was the final version or not, I can't remember.
Q. But as has
A. Had he put out a trailer or something?
Q. As has been pointed out, the film spoke for itself, didn't it?
A. It depends how much was included in the cuts.
Q. In paragraph 107 at 49017: "Mr Crone's legal team demanded to come and see the whole of Starsuckers prior to any public screening. We pointed out that the News of the World had never given copy approval to the subjects of any of their investigations." That's the delicious irony of all of this: you never do, do you, Mr Crone?
A. Was I asking for copy approval? Doesn't look like it.
Q. You wanted to come and see the whole of Starsuckers prior
A. That's not copy approval, is it?
Q. You're playing with words, Mr Crone. It amounts to the same thing, doesn't it?
A. No, it doesn't. I think seeing the evidence is not copy approval.
Q. It does cause even an impartial questioner, which I hope I'm maintaining that impartiality, to smile, because if you'd done this to Mr Mosley, given him the whole of the video to look at as a luxury before publishing, you might not have published it at all. It's all extremely ironical, isn't it?
A. Well, I think you're misrepresenting that paragraph, because I clearly wasn't asking for copy approval. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And what about Mr Jay's question, Mr Crone? Were you seeking to see the whole thing so that if you wanted, you could have sought injunctive relief to prevent it being published? And if not, why did you want to see the whole thing?
A. Well, yes. I can't remember whether it was me or someone else, to be perfectly honest, but obviously I was if it was someone else, then I was probably instructing them, in other words an outside lawyer. Our position in relation to that journalist was that she hadn't behaved badly but she was being represented in the programme as having behaved badly, along with the instruction to the programme and the other comments made and the cuts the cut of the film and so on and so forth. It was a libel issue, wasn't it? That was my that's my recollection. In other words, by all means, publish things about our people, but, you know, you have the same duty to get it right as we do LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Of course you do, but if it's a libel issue, then you could have taken proceedings for libel.
A. Well, possibly. But it hadn't gone out and we were asking to see according to this, which is Mr Atkins' account, demanded to come and see the whole of Starsuckers prior to any public screenings. I mean, I think it's just a normal course if you're trying to prevent someone being damaged incorrectly, badly, unjustly. MR JAY And if you'd seen something
A. And if you see irony in that, that's fine, but that's what I was doing on behalf of LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But don't you see irony in it? That you're seeking to prevent somebody being damaged unfairly? I think that's how Mr Mosley might have seen it as well.
A. Well, I have to say that when I was involved in Starsuckers, and I can't remember when it was, I wasn't thinking of Mr Mosley, but I was just trying LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, of course you weren't.
A. Sir I was just trying to do what I was tasked with doing, which was to look after this girl's interests. MR JAY I don't think anybody is saying that you weren't doing that, Mr Crone.
A. But that's as far as my behaviour goes in this. That's it: looking after her interests. Doing my best.
Q. If you don't see the irony in any of this, I'll move on, Mr Crone. Can I do that?
A. Yes.
Q. I'll ask you generally about culture, if I may. This is a company for whom you worked for over 20 years, isn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. And the picture which was emerging to your knowledge, certainly from 2006 and possibly before, was of a news desk which had, to put it neutrally, lost its way; would you agree?
A. In terms of what came out afterwards, yes. Yes.
Q. But it was coming out to you at the time, wasn't it, Mr Crone?
A. Really, I think from the time of the sentencing hearing is probably when that started to probably emerge for me.
Q. Yes. And you've already explained to us that the one rogue reporter defence was a defence which you never personally believed; that's true, isn't it?
A. Correct.
Q. I mean do you feel that someone, at least, should have placed his or her hand on the ethical tiller to get this company back in the right place?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you feel that appropriate steps were taken or not?
A. No.
Q. What might appropriate steps have been?
A. I think to identify who seemed to be the obvious personnel involved and to part company with them.
Q. But instead we see, is this right, a different strategy, namely: avoid reputational damage, settle cases at an overvalue and hope that it all goes away. Is that right?
A. It's not far off it, yes.
Q. But insofar as it's not far off it, tell me where I've got it wrong.
A. It was certainly it was certainly the thinking that the problem was trying to be contained, whereas a different route would possibly have been to face up to it, face up to it, take some steps which would have obviously become public, and deal with that way. MR JAY Yes, thank you, Mr Crone. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Crone, I just have a slightly different series of questions, which comes from other evidence. I think that have you said, or do I have this wrong, that using private detectives was to be discouraged?
A. I think from the time from January 2007, that was the understanding. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You weren't to use private detectives?
A. I can't remember the exact directive, if that's right, which went out, but I think it may MR JAY I must apologise, I've missed out a whole section of questions on this because I got diverted in my notes and I need to come back. I don't want to interrupt, but I haven't covered this all and I must. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. MR JAY May we do that in five minutes' time? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, certainly, certainly. I'm very comfortable to leave you and see whether my questions are dealt with by you. MR JAY Sorry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We'll have a break for the shorthand writer. (11.25 am) (A short break) (11.32 am) MR JAY Mr Crone, we're back, I'm afraid, to your second witness statement, section 5, which is five or six pages from the end. This deals with the issue of surveillance of lawyers.
A. Yes. yes.
Q. You say in answer to the questions: "My involvement in relation to the matters raised above was limited to a short period in I think the first half of 2010." Well, you're right about the dates. You say: "I did not commission private investigators to carry out surveillance, as has been alleged by members of the Select Committee. As best I can remember them, the facts and background are as follows." I am going to cover the facts and background in a moment, but can I take this out of sequence, if you don't mind, and move two pages further on in this statement. Three lines from the top of the page. I hope we're on the same page.
A. Yes.
Q. Having set out your reasons for doing what you were going to do, which we will cover, you say: "I raised the matter with the head of the News of the World news desk Are you with me?
A. Yes.
Q. Is that Mr Edmondson?
A. Yes.
Q. with a view to see whether it was practicable or possible for him to assign one of his journalists to ascertaining the nature of the relationship." Do you mean journalist or private investigator?
A. Journalist.
Q. "He said he could get Derek Webb to have a look at Mr Lewis and Ms Harris in this context and I agreed with that course." Once he mentioned Derek Webb's name, were we on the page of private investigator or on the page of journalist?
A. My understanding about Derek Webb was that he worked fairly regularly for the news desk and that he was a freelance journalist. I knew he'd been a police officer, he was an ex-police officer, but my understanding is that he, certainly in his role, which was pretty regular, I think, for the news desk, he was operating as a freelance journalist.
Q. He had carried out specialist surveillance operations for the News of the World since 2003, hadn't he?
A. I don't know when he started exactly, sorry. I think he'd been around for a while because I'd heard the name a few times. I don't remember when he started exactly.
Q. Were you aware of his existence for a number of years?
A. I don't know how many years, but yes, it would have been more than one, two, maybe three.
Q. Did you know of his background?
A. Ex-police officer.
Q. It wasn't journalism, was it?
A. No. There are a lot of journalists who used to be other things.
Q. But he was carrying out on a contractual basis, was he not, surveillance work for the News of the World for a number of years, wasn't he?
A. I didn't know whether it was limited to surveillance, but I knew it included surveillance.
Q. But he wasn't carrying out journalism in any intelligible sense of that term; he was carrying out surveillance, wasn't he?
A. I think surveillance in terms of watching people has always been a part of journalism.
Q. Watching who, though, Mr Crone?
A. Watching the person who might be the subject of the story.
Q. Do you know who he was tending to watch?
A. No, not I don't know the individuals. I mean, I've seen names since, obviously.
Q. But did you have any surveillance yourself over the type of activity Mr Webb was systematically carrying out for the News of the World?
A. No. It may have become relevant to one or two issues, but I can't remember any specifically, no. Apart from the one I address here.
Q. Were you aware that for a 15-month period the News of the World did not employ Mr Webb's services, owing to a criminal matter which was subsequently resolved in his favour?
A. I believe I was aware of that, yes.
Q. The 15-month period was between
A. I didn't know whether it was 15 months, but I knew there was a period, yes.
Q. There was a confidentiality agreement with him in 2007 which, as it were, dispensed with his services for which you were in part responsible, weren't you?
A. I don't remember that.
Q. According to his witness statement, which I can refer you to indeed we can put it up on the screen, it might take a bit of time but just take my word for it the confidentiality document was organised by Stuart Kuttner and Tom Crone. Can you not remember that?
A. I don't, actually. 2007?
Q. Yes.
A. And this was at the time of his departure, did you say?
Q. Yes.
A. I don't remember.
Q. Then he came back into the company in 2009 and continued to work. Were you aware of the circumstances?
A. He was his name came up occasionally. Not very often, actually. But I understand he was doing assignments for the news desk.
Q. Taking it in stages, Mr Webb says, and he'll tell us about this tomorrow, in paragraph 3 of his witness statement, that: "I had been told by Neville Thurlbeck as a condition of my being given work again [this was in 2009] the 'bosses' wanted me to relinquish my private investigator's licence and join the NUJ. This I did." Do you know anything about that?
A. I know he had a press card, but I don't remember the rest of it, no.
Q. If you knew he had a press card, you must know something about the circumstances in which he sought and obtained that press card, wouldn't you agree?
A. No, I wouldn't agree and I don't. But I was told he was an accredited journalist, I understood he was an accredited journalist, that means I must have been told it, and he worked as a freelance for us.
Q. But this was all a front, wasn't it? "We'll call him a journalist now, we'll make him sign up, become a member of the NUJ, and he'll give up his private investigator's licence, because after all, our policy was only exceptionally to employ private detectives". You knew all about that, Mr Crone?
A. No. I didn't, no. My understanding was he worked regularly for a newspaper
Q. Yes, yours.
A. Yes, exactly, of course ours. And he was paid to work on stories, background to stories, preparation for stories. That is a role that's usually performed by a reporter. And he had a press card. He was a reporter. That was my understanding.
Q. You must also have had an understanding of the sort of activities he was undertaking?
A. But there isn't a newspaper in the country that doesn't occasionally or regularly watch people. I mean, that's almost the definition LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Occasionally watch people?
A. Occasionally or regularly, yes. For example, look, someone rings into the News of the World news desk and says that someone is some celebrity, pop star, someone, a footballer, is now having an affair with someone or other and they're going to be at such-and-such a nightclub on Saturday night. Well, a reporter or someone on behalf of the newspaper is very likely to be outside that nightclub seeing who goes in and who goes out. Or even pick the person up from where they know they'll be earlier in the day and see where they go after the football match or whatever. MR JAY I'm looking at Mr Webb's work assignments between 20 March 2009 and 13 June 2010. The version which is going to be put in the public domain will be redacted, but the version I'm looking at now, I can see a whole number of names, I'm afraid. It's pretty obvious to anybody looking at this, but I'm afraid it's only me, that a lot of snooping around was going on, wasn't it?
A. That's, I think, what newspapers do, to be perfectly honest.
Q. But fishing expeditions? Wasn't this what this was all about?
A. Sorry, I have no idea whether they were fishing expeditions or acting on information. Fishing is quite an expensive exercise, I believe, for newspapers, and they usually act on information.
Q. Or suspicions or surmise or just on the hope of getting a salacious story?
A. That would be fishing, wouldn't it, in the hope? I think it's usually on some information. In my experience. I don't run news desks.
Q. Did you have any control or supervision over this, Mr Crone?
A. No. No, I didn't.
Q. Who did?
A. Well, the news desk and, presumably, the editorial line up to editor.
Q. I'm just concerned, really for the reasons of accuracy, what you've said in this witness statement, where you use the word "journalist" in relation to Mr Webb, do you adhere to that answer? Is that a fair way of putting it?
A. Yes. That was my understanding. National Union of Journalists' member is a journalist.
Q. Mr Crone, if we look at the context, namely an investigation into Mr Lewis and Ms Harris, this wasn't journalism at all, was it?
A. No, it wasn't. You're absolutely right. He was doing something for the legal department. Which is not uncommon for a journalist, freelance or staff.
Q. But he was back doing what he was always good at doing, namely discreet surveillance, as it's euphemistically called, I would suggest as a private detective. That's the true position, isn't it?
A. What he was doing was that, yes. What you call him I understood him to be a freelance journalist. The activity might be the same. And I heard I think you yesterday saying to Mr Pike that journalists don't do this. Well, I am afraid they do. Quite commonly. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So I'm to understand and this isn't loaded that if you employ an ex-policeman week after week, month after month on surveillance activities, but you've arranged that he obtain a card from the National Union of Journalists, you are able absolutely fairly to say that you don't employ investigators on these activities, you only employ journalists?
A. Well, I don't know whether I honestly don't know whether the News of the World helped him to get a card, I don't know. I just know that he had a press card. If he was doing surveillance and nothing but surveillance, well, I don't think that means he isn't a journalist he isn't a reporter. Acting as a reporter. Inasmuch as he's gathering information for the purpose of stories that might appear in the newspaper. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So your answer to my question is: yes?
A. If I've remembered your question correctly, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, I'll read it again. If you employ an ex-policeman week after week, month after month on surveillance activities, but you've arranged or you've learnt that he obtained a card from the National Union of Journalists, you are absolutely fairly able to say that you do not employ investigators on these activities, you only employ journalists?
A. I think it's loaded, despite what you say, but investigators is the distinction is between someone who is a private investigator and is in business as a private investigator, and Mr Webb, who I understood, certainly I understood, correctly or incorrectly, was working for us as a journalist. MR JAY But
A. And was accredited.
Q. But Mr Crone, if Mr Webb had found out something, which we know he didn't, no story would have been published, would it?
A. No, because he was doing something for the legal department and we don't publish stories. We have reason for asking journalists or reporters occasionally to do things for us.
Q. Instead, according to earlier parts of your witness statement on this issue, the something which might have been ascertained might have been used for the purpose of bolstering a complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority; that's correct, isn't it?
A. It was that was that was the context of what was being asked, certainly.
Q. Was it part of News of the World's litigation strategy to use any information obtained as a result of this surveillance as a means of putting pressure on the lawyers on the other side?
A. No, certainly not part of my strategy. I was I undertook this, really, after conversations with Mr Pike where I think he had suggested surveillance. I'm not trying to get away from my own responsibility for it, but I think the suggestion had come from his side. I think I'd heard it from him before, and had resisted it before. Perhaps I'd said, "Well, you know, why do you need private investigators because the News of the World does this sorry, the News of the World news desk for many, many, many, many years, probably forever, have managed to find out whether people are having a relationship or not and they can probably do it", so that's what I did, eventually. I went over and asked them to see if they could assign someone to have a look at it.
Q. The someone they assigned was the someone they usually assigned for this sort of task, Mr Derek Webb, private investigator. That's the truth, isn't it?
A. I don't know whether he's officially a private investigator or he was doing most of his work as a freelance reporter. I understood the latter, actually. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But that wouldn't necessarily involve him writing ever a story?
A. I think there are quite a few journalists who don't write many stories, just do the background stuff. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Any stories?
A. I don't know whether he wrote a story as a result of his observations. I don't know. I don't remember seeing his byline, no. MR JAY I'm sure there are no such bylines, Mr Crone, and you know that full well, don't you?
A. Well, I said I don't remember seeing one.
Q. Your motive or purpose for carrying out this surveillance was, as you tell us in your witness statement, that the existence of a romantic relationship would provide contextual or circumstantial evidence in relation to a complaint of professional misconduct; is that correct?
A. Yes.
Q. But in order to pry into this issue, it would necessarily entail a considerable intrusion into private life and would immediately engage Article 8 of the Convention. Would you agree with that?
A. It I think Mr Pike made the point, which I think was valid, that there was no suggestion of doing anything except in public places. Article 8 may well have been engaged by constant surveillance, depending on how long it lasted, yes.
Q. It might have been in places where there was a reasonable expectation of privacy, even if it was a public place. Would you agree with that?
A. It was I can't imagine it would ever have been anywhere except properly public places, but yes, I do agree in circumstances that can
Q. Did you give any thought to these Article 8 questions or did you just drive ahead with your goal, namely to find out what you could find out?
A. I was never, as I said before, terribly enthusiastic about the surveillance idea, and it had been mentioned a few times, and eventually I decided, possibly regrettably, to ask the news desk to see if they could find something out. The nature of the relationship, effectively. So I wasn't terrible happy about it, and I think that was apparent when I saw the results and eventually I was asked whether Mr Webb should be sent back and I said, "Forget it, don't bother".
Q. Mr Pike wasn't persuading you to go down this road, was he?
A. I am taking responsibility for it, but it came out of conversations with Mr Pike and it wasn't my idea. I wasn't the person suggesting it.
Q. Who was suggesting it?
A. Mr Pike. I think from listening to him yesterday, I think he accepts that.
Q. I don't think he did. I may be wrong in relation to this piece of surveillance.
A. Oh, no, that's right. No, he was suggesting surveillance and I was probably resisting it and then over the next couple of days, probably because I was just passing the news desk and there was absolutely nothing going on, it occurred to me, regrettably, perhaps, to mention it. And then it went from there.
Q. Because Mr Pike's evidence was that he was only involved with a different piece of surveillance involving a company called Tectrix I think on 5 May
A. Oh
Q. Just wait for the question, Mr Crone.
A. Sorry.
Q. on 5 May 2010 and that involved looking only at publicly available information. The piece of surveillance we're looking at now was earlier, which was not Mr Pike's idea, on his evidence. By a process of elimination, it's your idea, isn't it?
A. I can't remember seeing the document, but I heard it referred to yesterday. March 26?
Q. An email, yes.
A. And doesn't it say surveillance was suggested?
Q. Well, that was in the
A. I think it's in the evidence.
Q. Mr Pike explained that, and certainly on my recollection he made it clear that he wasn't aware of the nature of any surveillance which was carried out at that stage. The only person who could have been was you, and I think you accept that you organised it, didn't you?
A. Yes, but my point is: after the suggestion from Mr Pike. Which initially I think I pooh-poohed and then as I say two days later I asked for something to be done.
Q. Is this right: the sense of your evidence is that you did this against your better judgment? Is that right?
A. I didn't see a massive point in making the professional misconduct complaint against these two people unless there was absolutely clear evidence that actually not that they were necessarily sharing information but they were leaking to in particular the Guardian newspaper confidential documents from within the case. The reason I didn't see a lot of point in it was because most of these cases there's a single counsel, who inevitably is going to carry knowledge with him and probably not improperly use it in some wider sense, and also because if Ms Harris or even Mr Lewis were taken off the cases, I had no doubt that the claimants would simply go to another firm of solicitors, probably with higher rates, which we'd probably end up paying, and that doesn't make any sense at all. That didn't make any sense at all to me. So I was continuously not particularly keen on this, and expressed that, and then eventually, and I think Mr Pike says he came back to it, so obviously it had been mentioned before and left for a while, he came back to it with some fairly strong reasons and I didn't agree at first, but then a couple days later I did. And subsequently, I think, I probably told him about it and said it was all a complete waste of time because they ended up following someone who was not Ms Harris. MR JAY Thank you, Mr Crone. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you, Mr Crone. MR SHERBORNE Sir, I do have some questions for Mr Crone, relating primarily to the subject that Mr Jay has just asked about, namely the covert surveillance reports carried out in the name of News International. Unfortunately, sir, as we discussed on Monday, in order to conduct that exercise and to demonstrate, as I say, that the justification for authorising that surveillance is wholly unsustainable, one needs to do that in private. Just so there's no misunderstanding about it publicly, that's because the information which News International is seeking but never could find was deeply private as well as deeply inappropriate. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Presumably you have a document unredacted that you want Mr Crone to look at? MR SHERBORNE Sir, yes. It's a document he's obviously seen before. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand that. And you want to ask questions designed to elicit the flaw in the approach; is that right? MR SHERBORNE It is right, sir, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Why can't that be done with you seeing the material, Mr Crone seeing the material but by not referring to the detail? MR SHERBORNE Sir, that may be very difficult to do, and my instructions are very clearly that Mr Lewis and Ms Harris, for obvious reasons, would not like any of the information in that document to become public. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand that, I understand that. But I am very concerned about proceeding to hear evidence that is entirely in private, ie not in the public domain, and being asked to draw conclusions based upon that material which the public do not know about. Once of the consequences of the way in which this Inquiry has been conducted has been that people have been able to see the material and make their own judgments. Now, I can do this in two ways. One possibility is to see how we get on. The other possibility is to sit in private at the moment, but only on the basis that, subject to possible redactions, the evidence that has been heard in private will enter the public domain. You will understand, Mr Sherborne, my concern. MR SHERBORNE Of course. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Of course I want to protect the Article 8 rights of Mr Lewis and Ms Harris. I am absolutely keen to do that, in the same way that I was concerned, you will remember, about each of your clients coming to the Inquiry to give evidence about invasions of their privacy, they spent a great deal of time allowing in public their private matters to be discussed. MR SHERBORNE I do, sir, I do recall that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So it's a question of how to proceed. MR SHERBORNE Sir, can I take a moment? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MR SHERBORNE Sir, I may need a minute to take proper instructions about this. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I want to be fair to both your clients. I want to be fair to Mr Crone, even though he thinks some of my questions are loaded when they're not intended to be, but I do want to be fair to him. And I also want to be fair to all those who are concerned with the evidence that emerges in this Inquiry, that it isn't thought that it's suddenly become in any way secret. MR SHERBORNE Of course not. Sir, you do understand the pressing concerns of my clients LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand the concerns of your clients, and that's why I asked about the first possibility. MR SHERBORNE Sir, it's the first possibility I'm going to explore, but I do need a moment. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. I'll rise for a little while for you to consider that. MR SHERBORNE I'm very grateful. (12.00 pm) (A short break) (12.12 pm) MR SHERBORNE Sir, I'm very grateful for the time that you gave. Given that Mr Crone has accepted that the decision to carry out the surveillance was, I think to use his words, regrettable, and News International accepted through Mr Rhodri Davies in his opening submissions that their behaviour was, to quote him, entirely inappropriate, and he apologised on their behalf, I'm not going to pursue any more questions of Mr Crone over and above those asked by Mr Jay in relation to the topic. What I would like to do, sir, is just to put one or two questions to him in relation to Mr Webb and his knowledge of Mr Webb's activities, with your permission. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Questions by MR SHERBORNE MR SHERBORNE Mr Crone, you were asked yesterday about Mr Webb and you said you didn't think he was a private investigator, you thought he was a freelancer. Then you were asked for the second time this morning and your answer was the same. Is that correct?
A. Yes.
Q. The only form in which I have this is the unredacted exhibit to Ms Harris's witness statement, CH1. I don't know if you have that to hand.
A. I can't remember seeing any exhibit to her evidence, no. MR SHERBORNE Can I pass Ms Patry Hoskins' file? I don't know whether it's marked at all. MS PATRY HOSKINS It is marked, but it's MR SHERBORNE I'm sure there's nothing in there that will give you any clues. Can I ask you to turn to page 2 of the file?
A. Page 2 of her witness statement?
Q. You should have an exhibit behind it.
A. Oh. Looks like there are quite a few, actually.
Q. Do you have a page 2 which is a letter from Linklaters, the solicitors for News International?
A. What comes after the statement is report 3. That's not it, is it?
Q. It should be before that.
A. No.
Q. Can I hand you then a clean copy? I'm sorry, Mr Crone. (Handed). Sir, do you have a copy of this document? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, but I'll follow it. MR SHERBORNE This is a letter, just to explain, that was sent by Linklaters, News International's solicitors, to the Metropolitan Police Service, dated 16 September 2011. It says this: "As discussed our meeting today we enclose a folder containing the following documents relating to the use of private detectives." Then there's a series of numbered paragraphs. Paragraph 1 refers to the dossier provided to News International by Ms Harris. Then paragraph 2 relates to contemporaneous documents provided by Farrer Co, some of which we looked at already. And then this, paragraph 3: "Documents identified during a review of Tom Crone and Colin Myler's emails, covering the period 1 July 2009 to date, relating to the use of private detectives. The emails reviewed for this purpose were those held on the server set up by our client in discussion with you for the purposes of reviewing emails relevant to the Select Committee hearings which took place today." Can we just look at one or two of those documents that are referred to in that paragraph 3? Can I take you to an email that you should find on page 69. Do you have that, Mr Crone?
A. I have something with 69 on the bottom right-hand corner. I presume that's it.
Q. Yes. Is it at the top an email from Stuart Kuttner to Paul Nicholas?
A. Yes.
Q. Can you tell us who Paul Nicholas was?
A. I think he was the assistant or deputy managing editor of the News of the World.
Q. You'll see this is a memo dated 30 July 2009?
A. Yes.
Q. And it is copied to a number of senior executives within News Group Newspapers, within News of the World particularly, and can you see your name is there?
A. Yes.
Q. We have Mr Myler, you, Jane Johnson, so on and so forth. You'll see that in the body of the email it refers to the following: "Please note and it had a series of documents of files which are attached and at number 4 it says: "Re SK's [Mr Kuttner] Derek Webb files please see below."
A. Yes.
Q. Then you'll see below that is an email which was earlier than that from Mr Kuttner which you're also copied into, do you see that? Right at the bottom of the page.
A. Yes.
Q. And then if we turn over to page 70, there's another email from Stuart Kuttner, which is enclosing one of the files. This is dated 29 July at 12.07.
A. Yes.
Q. And there are a series of people to whom this is copied, Mr Myler, Jane Johnson, Belinda Sharrier and yourself?
A. Yes.
Q. It's entitled "Derek Webb file, pass to Paul Nicholas 29 July 2009". Then it says this, Mr Crone, doesn't it: "Paul, this is to confirm that I have today passed over my Derek Webb case" and then these words in brackets "(Silent Shadow file) to you for your future safekeeping."
A. Yes.
Q. It's clear, isn't it, Mr Crone, you knew perfectly well that Derek Webb, described as a Silent Shadow, was a private detective and not a journalist?
A. I honestly don't remember seeing this, to be perfectly honest.
Q. You don't remember seeing this?
A. No. I mean, I accept it was sent to me, but I don't have any recollection of seeing it.
Q. Would you have regarded this as an important email, Mr Crone?
A. I don't know what the context is, actually. Is it when he was arrested?
Q. You can see, can't you, if you turn back to page 69, that there are a number of rather important files, you might think. Perhaps I can
A. Are they enclosed with the email? I don't know.
Q. They are, as I understand it. One of the files, the first file, are the files relating to the Guardian phone interception allegations against the News of the World, and the subsequent Select Committee hearings. The second file relates to the Goodman/Mulcaire cash payments. The third relates to Mr Goodman's files and the fourth relates to Derek Webb files.
A. Yes. If I saw that, looking at it now, I would read that as Mr Nicholas is off on holiday or something like that and he's just recording the fact that he's left a lot of files with people.
Q. With senior executives of News of the World?
A. Well, with Bev Stokes in the first instance, Bev Stokes in the second, I don't know what her title was then but she's the PA I think for Mr Kuttner and Mr Nicholas.
Q. Copied to Colin Myler, Jane Johnson, Tom Crone. I can keep reading. These are senior executives of News of the World, aren't they?
A. It's an all-rounder it seems to me more or less. For anyone who I suppose had interest or knowledge. I don't remember I don't remember seeing it.
Q. Do you call your journalists Silent Shadow?
A. No. I don't.
Q. So you knew perfectly well Mr Webb was a private investigator?
A. I don't remember reading it, I'm sorry.
Q. Can I take you back to the covering letter from Linklaters, page 2. Paragraph 4, part of the documents that News International handed over to the police in relation to private detectives. Paragraph 4: "A memory stick containing copy footage recorded on a videotape located in Tom Crone's office. The original videotape was located in an envelope which also contained document copies of which are included behind this tab and the original version of this material has been retained in Tom Crone's office." If you turn then to page, I believe, 85 of this file, you will find one of those documents that, as I understand it, was on that memory stick relating to the footage recorded and was found in your office. It's a letter from Derek Webb to Ian, presumably Ian Edmondson. Can you see it?
A. Yes.
Q. It says this: "Ian [and it has Derek W at the top] the video is a bit up and down in the beginning, then there is close-up shots of her, she kept moving around as you can see. You may think it finished at one stage, but let it run, its total is about five to six minutes. Any questions need answering, call me. Phone on all time except a few hours during wedding on Tuesday, 12 to 4-ish. I am back on first flight Monday, week 12/4, if you need me to go back up there. Cheers, Derek." It's clear, isn't it, Mr Crone, that this is a letter to Mr Edmondson from a private investigator who has been filming a target of the News of the World, and this was found in your office on the memory stick with the footage itself?
A. Well, it's a letter from Derek to Ian. I don't think anything on that tells me that Derek must be a private investigator as opposed to a freelance journalist.
Q. Do freelance journalists take videos and send them to Mr Edmondson?
A. Freelance journalists video enormous amounts of material. In fact it's standard practice now that as well as interviewing people and talking to people, you'll also video them.
Q. This was found in your office on the memory stick?
A. Yes. Can I say I have never in my entire life used a memory stick. I accept it was in my office, but I have never used one, therefore I didn't see a video. MR SHERBORNE No further questions. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do I gather from what you say, Mr Crone, that it would be a mistake for me to have held the view that the occupation of journalists is to seek out and write stories?
A. Or to sorry, I think it goes beyond that, sir. I think it goes beyond that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But that's a necessary component of the job?
A. It's the end product: to write the story. Or to produce a story. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. Thank you very much. MR JAY Before we move on to the next witness, perhaps we should re-arrange the table. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Let's return Mr Sherborne's file to Mr Sherborne, return Ms Patry Hoskins' file to Ms Patry Hoskins. Return the other files so whomsoever should have them. Could we ensure that Ms Patry Hoskins' file has a copy of the Linklaters letter in it? MS PATRY HOSKINS It has. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh, it does. Thank you. Where are we going, Mr Jay? MR JAY The next witness is Mr Chapman, please. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. MR JON CHAPMAN (sworn) Questions by MR JAY LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Please sit down, Mr Chapman and make yourself as comfortable as possible.
A. Thank you, sir. MR JAY Your full name, please, first of all.
A. Jonathan Ashley Chapman.
Q. I note that you've arrived without the file we provided you with. Is that available in this room?
A. I hope so. It should be over there.
Q. It's arriving?
A. Yes. Thank you very much.
Q. What I'd like you to do is look at file 1, which contains your witness statement.
A. Yes, certainly.
Q. And just confirm it to us, please. It's under tab 1. It's dated 15 September 2011.
A. Indeed.
Q. And it has a statement of truth at the end; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. So this is your evidence. Can I ask you, please, a little bit about your background. You started off at Clifford Chance. You left them in 1996. You joined News International in July 2003, and that was as director of legal affairs, heading up their corporate legal affairs function?
A. Correct.
Q. And I think you've now left that company; is that right?
A. I left earlier this year. I gave my notice in in June this year.
Q. Can I just understand your responsibilities? You cover this in paragraph 2 of your statement. You tell us that you had ultimate legal responsibility for corporate and commercial legal matters, and then you define those more precisely and they include HR and data protection. Did you have a compliance function?
A. Well, my compliance function would have related to the commercial side of the business. Commercial side of the business I differentiate from editorial. Commercial means all those functions that either support the business, such as HR, the production side of the business and also what we would call pure commercial functions, such as advertising, marketing and so on. So I would have had a compliance role with regard to those areas of News International.
Q. Thank you. In relation to the editorial side of the business, who if anybody had a compliance function in your view?
A. Well, I heard Mr Crone's testimony, and my response to that would be that I would expect it to be the compliance side to be picked up by the lawyers on the editorial side. But clearly Mr Crone doesn't agree with that.
Q. Thank you. We know that Messrs Goodman and Mulcaire were arrested on 8 August 2006. Were you made aware of that at the time?
A. I heard about it because it got round the business very quickly. In fact, I was it got round the business extremely quickly because I was at my desk, I'd just come back from holiday. Mr Crone was away on holiday himself. And I remember receiving a call from Mr Kuttner, who was then managing editor of the News of the World, saying, "We've got the police here, what are we going to do?" So he clearly needed some sort of assistance, totally outside my area of responsibility but one of those interesting things that happen. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON A good question for a commercial lawyer, that.
A. I have to say, I was I went over there and was as reassuring as I could be, did what I could to hold the fort until Mr Pike arrived from Farrer Co, and then I believe they had a criminal lawyer come along as well. So I was there for two or three hours talking to the police, just ensuring they were everything was calm and so on. And that was the end of my involvement, really. MR JAY Until employment issues arose?
A. Until employment issues arose, yes.
Q. And we know that Mr Les Hinton wrote a letter of dismissal on 5 February 2007 to Mr Goodman?
A. He wrote it, yes.
Q. We have that under your tab 4, which is the second exhibit to Mr Abramson's witness statement. The letter, I think, is 01174. The internal numbering on the bottom of the page is number 39.
A. Yes, I have it.
Q. Was this letter discussed with you prior to its sending?
A. Well, Mr Hinton put together a letter, having come to the conclusion he wished to dismiss Mr Goodman, and then got in touch with me and said, "Can you just check this is okay from a legal point of view?" So I added some of the stuff that looks legal, such as "forwarding your P45 in due course" and so on. I also added a line which is looks slightly like a lawyer has added it, which is: "We would be entitled to make no payment whatsoever." Which is at the end of the third paragraph, about the payment Mr Hinton had decided to make to Mr Goodman.
Q. So that reflected your view, did it, "We would be entitled to make no payment"?
A. I think in going to the former employee with a letter of this nature, I think it's completely correct to hedge your bets and make sure that you're not, by paying him something, undertaking any obligation or making any admission.
Q. We see what the reason for the payment as stated in the letter was. He will receive one year's salary in view of his service and the pressures on his family.
A. Yes.
Q. You had no input into that decision?
A. I had no input whatsoever. As chairman and chief executive, it was Mr Hinton's prerogative to do that. There was nothing untoward in it, to my view, so it was his prerogative.
Q. Mr Goodman, and this is at page 01176, on the internal numbering page 41, Mr Chapman
A. Yes.
Q. he then writes a letter of appeal, which made four points. Of course, it wasn't sent to you, it was sent to the group human resources director.
A. Yes.
Q. Did you see this letter shortly afterwards?
A. I saw it shortly after, yes.
Q. Did you discuss any of the points in the letter with Mr Crone?
A. I did not, no.
Q. Even the third and fourth points, where he's specifically named?
A. I believe that Mr Cloke discussed those points with Mr Crone. I actually think it's a matter of record, might have been at the Select Committee, that Mr Cloke and/or Mr Myler spoke to Mr Crone about this.
Q. But you become involved when some emails are reviewed; is that right?
A. That's correct, yes.
Q. We heard Mr Abramson give us evidence in relation to those emails at a slightly later point in time. He was involved on 9 May 2007?
A. Yes.
Q. May I ask you this. Did you review those emails first?
A. Yes, I did, yes. Along with Mr Cloke, but as separate exercises. We didn't sit in the same room.
Q. Did you review all 2,500 emails?
A. The figure 2,500 is bandied around, and all I know is it took a long time to do it and I kept coming back to it, because obviously I had my day job to do as well. There were a considerable amount of emails, 2,500 is probably not inaccurate, but I looked at all of the ones that were made available to me.
Q. Was the earliest email about 2005?
A. My understanding of the parameters which were set for this email review were that they derived from Mr Goodman's letter. I think Mr Cloke then had some part in it, as he explained to the Select Committee, but my understanding was that the earliest email was 2005, 2006, which I think at that time were accepted as the, should I say, the peak periods of voicemail interception.
Q. Did you at any stage have a look at emails which dated back to 2003 and which Mr Abramson referred to admittedly necessarily somewhat obliquely yesterday?
A. I heard his reference to those. I was surprised by that and somewhat puzzled because I thought the parameters of this email review were 2005 on. And also the manner in which the emails were delivered, both to myself, to Mr Cloke and to Mr Abramson were through password-protected access to internal folders on the NI server. I understood from Mr Abramson's evidence yesterday that a bundle of stuff was sent to him separately, and I have to say I have no recollection of that, nor do I see why that would have been the case, if those pre-dated 2005.
Q. Fair enough, Mr Chapman, but the 2003 emails, which I'm continuing to refer to obliquely, did you see those at this stage?
A. I have no recollection of seeing 2003 emails.
Q. Okay. Now Mr Abramson was instructed on 10 May 2007.
A. Yes.
Q. But there was a telephone conversation on 9 May?
A. Yes, indeed.
Q. Which is under your tab 8, Mr Chapman.
A. Tab 8.
Q. It's page 33448.
A. I have it in front of me.
Q. Of course this is a transcription not of your note but Mr Abramson's notes.
A. Yes.
Q. So it may not be possible to take it much further. On the other hand, it may be. When it says "work cut off emails and 2 others", Mr Abramson told us some of the emails were cut off. That's just the way they were on the system. Is that a fair
A. I think that's as very fair interpretation. There were problems, as many people will be unsurprised to hear, from an IT point of view in doing this exercise, and we had noticed in doing our exercise that some of the emails were cut off in a strange way, so they'd finish before there was obviously a sign-off. There were also, if I may move to the bottom of this note, blank emails which had the addressee and so on on it, but nothing on it. So I thought I should warn Mr Abramson that there were some issues with the data, just in case he thought that it was particular to him.
Q. Thank you. The reference to "2 others", are you able to assist on that?
A. I heard Mr Abramson's explanation of that yesterday and I wouldn't contradict it. It sounded like a correct surmise of what that means.
Q. Then the third line we can understand.
A. Yes.
Q. Again the cut-off is probably the same cut-off email point. But I must ask you about "other journalists use Mulcaire". Could you assist us with that, please?
A. I think there were references in the appeal letter of Mr Goodman to Mulcaire and Alexander, and I was giving a bit of background to Mr Abramson on Mulcaire, because he may not necessarily have realised that there were other journalists who used him and some of those uses were accepted as being legitimate.
Q. Did you have direct evidence of that, the legitimate uses of Mulcaire?
A. I think I recollect, not necessarily from personal reading of it, that this was accepted in the pleadings in the court cases, the criminal trials.
Q. It was certainly the prosecution's position on 26 January 2007.
A. Right.
Q. You're right about that. Could I ask you, please, about the antepenultimate line of this document: "Concern not to provoke Mulcaire?" What does that mean?
A. Sorry, Mr Jay. I heard Mr Abramson's explanation on that. I think he was close to it, I'm not sure it was exactly the way I recollect it. What I think occurred here, and again I'm relying on recollection a few years on, is that Mr Abramson asked why Mulcaire emails were not involved in this email review, and I was, I'm afraid to say, probably being slightly facetious here, which is why he's put a question mark. I'm saying, "Perhaps there's a concern not to provoke Mulcaire". The fact of the matter is that the email review parameters derived from Mr Goodman's letter of appeal of 2 March which didn't refer to Mulcaire emails. They were honed by Mr Cloke, so that Mulcaire emails did not form part of the email review process. But I think, I'm sorry to say, it's probably me being slightly facetious.
Q. The final piece of interpretation, "How do we contain it?", what might that be a reference to?
A. I think here Mr Abramson got it just about right. The issue here was that the number of allegations had been made by Mr Goodman in the context of employment matter. We felt that at that stage the thing to do was to investigate those allegations to see whether they had any foundation. The problem for the News of the World, of course, was that they had a new editor on board, new processes, a new broom, but this risked, if those allegations were found to have substance, making everything flare up again. What we were looking at was to do this email review to see if we could contain the bad publicity that would inevitably result from those going public. In other words, for us to be able to say, "Well, Mr Goodman, we've looked into these [if he went public with them] and we didn't find anything to substantiate your allegations". That was it, it was reputational.
Q. I understand, Mr Chapman. We know from documents we've already seen of Mr Abramson. The letter of instruction or the email of instruction is under your tab 9
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just before you leave this note, blank emails. Can you think of a circumstance in which an email has an addressee on it but nothing within the message?
A. It was extremely strange, sir. We these cut-off ones I couldn't understand either. And I believe the Harbottle Lewis statement which was made to the CMS Select Committee said that there were some of them where they couldn't do their jobs. So they got in touch with IT at News International and asked for copies to be made. I do remember seeing some blank ones and also some ones which were in a kind of semi-readable form. I have no idea why it happened and it does seem strange to me that I didn't think it betokened an attempt to delete, because if you delete an email the whole lot goes rather than just LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But if you delete that's what I was thinking about. Can go into your sent box and delete the contents of a message? Maybe this is outwith your experience. And therefore you can't get rid of the whole email because it's somewhere there in the system.
A. In the server. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you can actually modify what the record
A. I can't speculate on that. It sounds like a question for IT, but I certainly agree with you, sir, that it was strange. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. Thank you. MR JAY The email of instruction comes the following day on 10 May. We've seen it before. Was it your intention that Mr Abramson's report following the email review would or might be published in any way outside the company?
A. I don't think so, no. The purpose of the email review carried out by Harbottle Lewis was to back up the exercise Mr Cloke and I had done, to be available, I think, to show to Mr Goodman were things to get more difficult with him. I think that was the primary purpose.
Q. So it might be used in, as it were, negotiations with Mr Goodman?
A. Yes.
Q. But it wouldn't be used for any wider purpose; is that right?
A. Absolutely, in the context of the dispute.
Q. Yes. There's one email only in the sequence which I need to ask you about. If you were following Mr Abramson's evidence yesterday, which I believe you were
A. Yes.
Q. you'll know the one it is, it's dated 25 May 2007, where you suggested that an additional line should go in. Do you remember that one?
A. Yes.
Q. The additional line was: "Equally, having seen a copy of Clive Goodman's notice of appeal of 2 March 2007, we did not find anything that we considered to be directly relevant to the grounds of appeal put forward by him." Now, Mr Abramson rejected that suggestion, but why did you make the suggestion?
A. Can I just say that Mr Goodman's grounds of appeal only related to knowledge of or complicity in voicemail interception matters, so I didn't have anything else in mind in terms of other potential illegal activities when I said that. What I wanted to do was be able to present to Mr Goodman in the context of any negotiations as sweeping an opinion on his allegations as was possible, so I tried to do that. It was a sweep-up clause which covered everything he'd said in his letter, although I would again repeat that only related to voicemail interception, complicity or knowledge.
Q. The sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Gross given on 26 January 2007, were you aware of those at the time or shortly afterwards?
A. I did not read the sentencing document at the time. I was aware through hearsay of those sentencing remarks, not the exact wording, but I was aware that the judge in the case had indicated had made references, particularly references, I think, to counts 16 to 20. I've just refreshed myself on it, incidentally, which is how I know.
Q. And reference to others at News International?
A. Yes.
Q. And the documents show that you asked for, Mr Abramson asked for and the transcript of the sentencing remarks were obtained on 29 June 2007 and then you
A. Yes.
Q. read those. When you read those, did those remarks cause you any concern?
A. I didn't read them then. I was asked by Mr Cloke to get hold of the sentencing document because I think it was referred to in the letter of 2 March from Mr Goodman on a subsequent letter where he asked for documents in connection with his appeal. So it was to my mind from Mr Cloke's point of view it was tying up loose ends. At the same time, Mr Crone, I think this was completely by coincidence, ran into him and we were discussing it and I said I was trying to get them for Mr Cloke anyway, so he asked me to get hold of them for him at the same time. So that's why. I wasn't getting them for myself. I didn't see any particular need to look at them. But I think it was Mr Cloke getting them so he had a full set of able to look for himself at a full set of the documentation that Mr Goodman had requested.
Q. So you obtained this statement or this report for Mr Abramson?
A. Yes.
Q. Which we know was on 29 May 2007. Then at a slightly later point, there was a negotiation with Mr Goodman, wasn't there?
A. Yes.
Q. Were you involved in that negotiation?
A. I was indeed. It was not with Mr Goodman, it was with his lawyer.
Q. Indeed. Can I try and be clear as to what the final settlement figure was, Mr Chapman?
A. Absolutely.
Q. Can you help us with that?
A. So Mr Goodman's lawyer wrote, I believe, to Mr Cloke threatening an action in tribunal for various matters, mainly unfair dismissal. This was handed over to me. I then began negotiations both by email and over the phone with the lawyer acting for Mr Goodman, and eventually came to a settlement figure of notice, which was in the region of ?100,000, I think, plus an amount representing possible compensatory award. The limit, I think, in tribunals at that stage was 60,000, so the amount in question here was about ?40,000. I then put that as the best I felt I could achieve, were we to seek a settlement, to Mr Hinton and Mr Cloke.
Q. So your evidence is he got his notice, the precise figure for that was ?90,502.08, and he got an extra ?40,000; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. Can I draw to your attention, it may be there's a mistake in this, but if you go to, which I hope you have, a file which looks like this. It's a slimmer one, file 4.
A. Yes.
Q. Which has various documents. Under tab 3 I hope you're going to find, it's about six pages in, a letter Mr James Murdoch wrote to the Select Committee on 11 August 2011. Have you been able to find that? At the top right-hand side, it has PH15.
A. Yes, I have that from News Corporation, yes.
Q. The second page under item 5?
A. Yes.
Q. The question was, by the Select Committee: "Please provide details of payments made to Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire subsequent to their guilty plea and tell us who signed them off?" The answer is: "I'm informed that Mr Goodman was paid ?90,502.08 in April 2007 and ?153,000, ?13,000 of which was to pay his legal fees, between October and December 2007." Well, first of all, did Mr Goodman receive ?90,000-odd in April 2007?
A. I believe he didn't, Mr Jay, because there's subsequent evidence been produced to the CMS Select Committee to say that that payment was made in February 2007. There seems to have been a considerable degree of uncertainty about this 90,000 at the News International end, but I believe that a recent letter, which has appeared on the CMS Select Committee website, makes it February, so I think it was paid and it was paid in February in 2007.
Q. So apart from the fact that the date is wrong
A. Yes.
Q. about which little may turn
A. Yes.
Q. ?90,000 was paid in February
A. Yes.
Q. which was presumably at or about the same time as the letter of dismissal?
A. I think it was the 90,000 is per the statement made in Mr Hinton's letter that, "You've been a good guy and we're giving you this because we don't want to see your family suffer, but". So it's that paragraph.
Q. What about the second tranche? ?153,000 between October and December 2007. Is that correct?
A. The amount is correct. Again, the dates I don't think are correct, I think they were corrected subsequently. But you're correct in saying also that it probably doesn't make any difference. The position here was that Mr Hinton decided to make a payment of 90,000-odd to Mr Goodman. This was made in February. We think, we hope that is the case now and there won't be another revision of when it was paid. I think at that stage Mr Hinton, indeed everybody else, was very far from expecting there to be an unfair dismissal claim come along from Mr Goodman. Several months later, after his appeal was turned down, there was an unfair dismissal claim. Lawyers' letters were received and I was tasked with seeing if that could be settled for a reasonable amount. So the ?90,000 is outwith the settlement process. It was paid over, and it's not part of the legal settlement, it was paid over gratuitously and I think in the belief, perhaps mistaken, by Mr Hinton that that would be the end of the matter. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Chapman, it's an extremely long time since I went before what was then called an industrial tribunal, but I thought that when compensation for unfair dismissal was assessed, all payments were taken into account.
A. That might well be the case, sir. I was simply asked to see if I could achieve a reasonable settlement of the particular claim. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But does it mean that Mr Goodman, this reporter who had been sent to prison for unlawfully accessing voicemail communications of members of the Royal Family, received from News International a quarter of a million pounds?
A. It does, sir, yes. MR JAY And, what's more, he gets his 90,000 twice, doesn't he, on your evidence?
A. No, that's totally in the figure of 250,000-odd includes the 90,000, then the notice plus the 40,000.
Q. The 90,000 offered in the letter of 5 February was 12 months' notice?
A. Yes.
Q. He accepts it and receives it on that basis. But when you come to negotiate the settlement of the ET claim, the figure net of cost is 140,000, of which 90,000 again is notice and about 50,000 is compensation; is that correct?
A. Yes, that's correct. May I just explain my thinking LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just before you do, I must correct the transcript, which has me suggesting that the accessing voicemail communications was lawful. I did, I think, say unlawful, and I wouldn't want that to be misunderstood. Yes.
A. Would it make it easier to explain the payment, perhaps? MR JAY Help us, please, with the largesse which is being bestowed.
A. My understanding at the time is we had a situation here where a former employee, who had indeed pleaded guilty and been sent to prison for a criminal matter, was bringing a claim against the company, so that can go two ways. It can end up in tribunal, or it can be settled.
Q. Yes.
A. If it went to tribunal, then there are clearly issues of reputational damage and so on that could arise from tribunal. We had done investigative work at the time on Mr Goodman's appeal. There was an email review done, and there were and I understand this is a matter of record that there were extensive interviews of employees at the News of the World carried out by Mr Myler and Mr Crone. So we felt that in our knowledge then, the allegations made in Mr Goodman's appeal letter were unsubstantiated at that time. I was then asked to see if there was any chance of achieving a settlement of this, because the feeling at the News of the World, and I think Mr Crone did enunciate that yesterday at the end, was that there was a desire to get this behind the newspaper, carry on as a business, restore morale. There was a new editor there, new processes in place. The problem with a tribunal is that it does give the opportunity for everything to be raked up again and for allegations, even unsubstantiated ones, to be made, and for reputational damage and so on to occur, and when such allegations are made, even if they're unsubstantiated, those elements of the media in society who wish to believe them will do so. Had this gone to tribunal, it would have been probably much later in the year and possibly the next year, so the work that Mr Myler was doing to try and restore the credibility of the brand, get everything going again, would have been thrown into turmoil. So that is the commercial imperative there. I don't think, having done employment law matters for a few too many years, that companies often always settle on merits. They settle sometimes simply because it's pragmatic to do so, because the publicity that would be accorded to unfounded, unsubstantiated allegations would be bad, and those who wanted to believe them would do. I think that is the way that the judgment was made at the time. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What's the maximum an employment tribunal could award at that time?
A. Well, the maximum for a compensatory award at the time was 60,000, but there were elements of Public Interest Disclosure Act made in this claim. Two of the paragraphs in Mr Goodman's appeal were aimed at a Public Interest Disclosure Act claim, and that would have been unlimited compensation were it found to be correct. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's a rather interesting claim, given the circumstances in which this all came about, isn't it?
A. I agree entirely, sir. MR JAY The basic award, was that capped at any level before an employment tribunal?
A. Sorry, the?
Q. There's a basic award and a compensation.
A. The basic award was a few thousand pounds in those days. I think it's moved up to about 10,000 now, and then there's a compensatory award, which is pushing ?70,000 now, but which was ?60,600, I think, then.
Q. The figure of ?90,000 paid in February 2007 was more than the basic and compensatory award, wasn't it?
A. Yes. But I think it was based on Mr Hinton's idea of what his notice would have been were he paid notice, rather than any expert view on tribunal awards.
Q. Wouldn't Mr Goodman have to account for the ?90,000 in ET proceedings?
A. Quite possibly, although it was an ex gratia payment and it wasn't characterised as notice, it was equivalent to it, so quite possibly, but I can't say.
Q. Even if it wasn't, he was getting ?140,000, let's forget about the costs, which again was more than he could ever get before an ET, wasn't it, subject to this Public Interest Disclosure Act claim?
A. It's possibly more, but paying more than a tribunal might award isn't necessarily always the criterion on which you settle. Particularly, I'm sorry to say, for bigger companies where the purse is larger.
Q. Let's assume for the purposes of argument that there may have been issues about procedural fairness. Let's just assume that.
A. Yes.
Q. My understanding, and of course my knowledge of this, I'm afraid, is slightly antiquated, you would have to take into account contributory negligence or contributory fault, and there would be rather a lot of that here, Mr Goodman, wouldn't there?
A. I totally agree. There's a process called a "Polkey" reduction.
Q. That's the one.
A. Where even if you succeed substantively on the claim, your damages can be reduced by possibly a very significant amount based on contributing negligence. But I think my point is that that wasn't the reason for settlement. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's all to do with reputational damage?
A. The reason for settlement was a tribunal would provide a forum to Mr Goodman, who at that stage we believed had made unsubstantiated allegations, to repeat those allegations and do significant commercial damage to a brand which was trying to recover its reputation. MR JAY Mr Goodman's settlement was tied up, of course, with a confidentiality agreement, wasn't it?
A. Well, a standard compromise agreement with a confidentiality clause in it, yes.
Q. It was made clear to him in the course of negotiations that that would be the price, at least from his point of view, of entering into a deal; is that right?
A. I don't I think it wasn't the be all and end all of it. I think the compromise agreement is a settlement agreement, and part of a standard compromise agreement is that the employee will not divulge the circumstances of their termination and associated issues. So I think, from the point of view of the employer who has an ex-employee enter into a compromise agreement, they're trying to stop public noise, if I may put it like that, through a confidentiality clause.
Q. Do you feel that this was part of an overall strategy by News International to try and keep these things quiet?
A. I think to say it was "a strategy to keep things quiet" is not how I would put it. I think it was a strategy to try to manage the significant reputational damage that had been done by the events of August 2006 and to allow the News of the World, under its new editor, hopefully to move on and recover as a brand.
Q. This is a final question before we break.
A. Yes.
Q. If News International had confidence in the public line it was putting out, namely one rogue reporter, one might have thought that it would take Mr Goodman on with his wild and unsubstantiated allegations. Would you agree with that?
A. No, I wouldn't necessarily agree with that, because I think that you would still have the issue of the public forum for him to make his wild and unsubstantiated allegations, the publicity that would ensue from that and the fact that, as I said earlier, those sections of the media and society who wanted to believe all those allegations would do so, so the brand damage would be done. MR JAY Sir, that may be a convenient point to break. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think it's fair, Mr Chapman, that however it's characterised, it's essentially the same point, isn't it: although on the face of it, giving nearly a quarter of a million pounds to somebody in these circumstances would cause a lot of eyebrows to be raised, the underlying protection of the brand was what was important. Is that a fair way of putting it?
A. That's absolutely correct, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. (1.O2 pm)


Gave statements at the hearings on 14 December 2011 (AM) and 14 December 2011 (PM) ; and submitted 1 pieces of evidence
Gave statements at the hearings on 13 December 2011 (PM) and 14 December 2011 (AM) ; and submitted 2 pieces of evidence


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