Afternoon Hearing on 06 March 2012

CC Lynne Owens and Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(2.00 pm) MR JAY Lord Stevens, can I just get back to a point which you raised this morning in answer to one of my questions. This concerns your writing for the News of the World and when you resigned from that. The question I put to you was: "Are you able to tell us anything about the other information which was coming to your knowledge?" Your answer was: "It revolved around some unethical behaviour in relation to one or two articles that had got the headlines in the News of the World." First of all, was that your perception of the articles or headlines in News of the World or was it matters which were brought to your attention by others, in particular journalists?
A. Brought to my attention by others?
Q. Can you tell us who those others were?
A. It revolved around an article concerning Mr Max Mosley.
Q. Ah, because that article was in April 2008, whereas you terminated the contract with the News of the World in October 2007.
A. That's right.
Q. So it must have been something before October 2007.
A. It was in it was concerning just general behaviour, really, I was hearing.
Q. General behaviour around the phone hacking issue? Was that it? Or more widely?
A. Just more widely, really.
Q. Thank you. Can you ask you about paragraph 91 now of your statement, 09826. You say: "Joy Bentley and, to a lesser extent, Dick Fedorcio generally acting as my personal media liaison from within the DPA." What was their philosophy as regards interactions with the press, insofar as one could summarise it?
A. Joy Bentley dealt with things on a day-to-day basis. So if I went for interviews with the BBC or elsewhere, like on the Today programme, she would give me a briefing paper and we'd discuss the reasons before going in there because there was usually some specific reasons for going in front of these programmes. The same applied to meeting with the crime reporters and the press generally. Dick Fedorcio was on a higher level in terms of the strategy. He was on my instructions I wanted to make sure that each outlet, in terms of national newspapers and the press, was dealt with equally and it was his job to make this you are that we tried to get onto editors on an equality basis.
Q. I understand. So the general strategy was that you should meet the editors, the press, equally fairly over the course of a year.
A. Yes.
Q. The meetings themselves were arranged by the DPA, obviously not by your office; is that correct?
A. That's true.
Q. And in relation to each and every meeting, there was a briefing note which someone from within DPA prepared?
A. Exactly that, yes.
Q. And you were expected to deliver it as you saw appropriate?
A. Yes.
Q. And if necessary, go off-piste, as it were?
A. Yes.
Q. If I may say so, it's not very different from someone high up in political office?
A. I think that's right. What you wanted to make sure was that you gave accurate information, particularly if there were questions and issues they raised, and by that I mean members of the editorial team. I saw Greg Dyke six times over my period of time as Commissioner, who had issues. He's another person I saw. And others of course.
Q. You deal with the MPA quite briefly in your statement. Were your relations with the MPA generally good ones, in your view?
A. Yes, they were, and I think the MPA is something we need to stress. We had monthly meetings of the MPA where every aspect are the Metropolitan Police was put up for debate, accountable. The MPA at that time consisted of 23 people, initially headed by Lord Harris and then by Len DuVall when the political composition changed in terms of London. We went through every aspect of policing and the television cameras were there, members of the media were there, especially if there was something which they thought was interesting to them, and the business of being open was certainly the case with the MPA. They were a major part of the Commissioner's accountability and responsibilities beyond what the Home Secretary said. Then, of course, there was the Mayor in my time, it was Ken Livingstone who also wanted to know what was going on. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Did that provide a greater degree of accountability than you'd previously experienced?
A. By far, sir. By far. I'd experienced that type of accountability as Chief Constable in Northumbria, where the police authority there consisted of I think it was about 28 members from Sunderland to Newcastle to Northumberland. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Partly local authority, partly magistrates?
A. That's right, but there is absolutely no doubt that the MPA and I used to see the chairman of the MPA at least once a week was a real issue of accountability. I mean, there was nothing that missed them. This were all major players in London. Most of them were people who had led their councils. They were experienced people and it was a real exercise, and Lord Harris of Haringey had decided that all of these meetings should be absolutely open, with the media there for as much if not all of the period of time where we were under examination by members of the MPA. It was an examination beyond what I'd experienced before, to be honest. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And did they correctly distinguish between their side of the ship, strategy oversight, and your side of the ship, operations?
A. Very much so, sir, yes. They again, being experienced politicians and some of the people who were independent members were very, you know, eminent businessmen and the like very rarely did I have to say, "This is an operational matter." Actually, for me to say that it was an operational matter was me failing in my job to allow them and convince them that what I was doing was right. In London, of course, it was very different. You had the MPA, the Mayor, who I saw on a regular basis, Ken Livingstone, then you had the Home Secretary and of course I was seeing the Prime Minister on occasions as well. So it was quite a process. MR JAY Paragraph 111 now of your statement, 09835. This is when you're Chief Constable at Northumbria.
A. Yeah.
Q. How often were you having lunches and dinners with journalists there, Lord Stevens?
A. Nothing like as frequent as I was doing here, but I did it on a regular basis. When I inherited Northumbria as chief, Northumbria was known as the car crime capital of Europe. We had the highest crime levels of car crime and so it went on after the riots. So again the same policy that we talked about at the Metropolitan Police we tried to ensure came in in Northumbria, with those people on the front line talking about what they were doing and why they were doing things.
Q. So it was that policy really which you took forward to London when you came here?
A. Yes, but I'll be honest; I never actually declared that. As a chief constable or commissioner you have in your bottom desk what your plans are. If you reach 67 per cent of your plans, then you're doing well, and one of the plans was actually to create something totally different in London, as Paul Condon talked about, but to create something which was similar to Northumbria. Northumbria is the fourth largest force in the UK, fourth or fifth, and it worked there in very difficult circumstances, as well.
Q. I'm going to ask you questions about something else now. I've given you some notice of these questions.
A. Yes.
Q. We'll see how far we get with them, if you follow me.
A. Mm.
Q. Were you aware, at the time when you were Deputy Commissioner and/or Commissioner, that the News of the World were extensively using a private investigation company called Southern Investigations?
A. No.
Q. Did there ever come a time when you were aware of that?
A. No.
Q. So does this follow: that you weren't aware that the News of the World made extensive use of Southern Investigations illegally to obtain information about police officers?
A. No.
Q. Can I ask you, please, about page 263 of your book. I've forgotten the title
A. "Not for the faint hearted".
Q. You say in your book: "At the end of the 1990s, an independent detective agency called Southern Investigations, based in Sydenham, was frequently coming up on the anti-corruption squad's radar." So when did you become aware of that?
A. As Deputy Commissioner, a presentation was made to me to try and get a probe into Southern Investigations' offices. That probe took an extraordinarily long time to get fitted in, in legal terms. It was all done legally. And having authorised that, which was part of an effort to find out what they were up to, that led to certain prosecutions and those prosecutions are a matter of record.
Q. The probe you're referring to is a hidden microphone; is that right?
A. It was, yes.
Q. Because your book goes on to say: "Eventually, it became possible to monitor conversations and the hidden microphones picked up much intelligence about the activities going on inside. Via the agency, corrupt officers were selling stories about their investigations to newspapers and being paid quite handsome amounts of money, an unsavoury business all around."
A. Yes.
Q. So when did you become aware of that?
A. When prosecutions took place, and one or two people were successfully prosecuted.
Q. The reference in your book to selling stories about their investigations to newspapers, of course that's a generic reference, but are you saying you weren't aware the News of the World was one of those newspapers?
A. No, I think it was a generic and I think the individual involved was selling information to a number of newspapers.
Q. Were you aware, though, what the titles were across the range that this individual was selling information
A. Anyone who would pay him money was the issue.
Q. So it's your evidence that you weren't aware it was the News of the World?
A. No. I think it could have been the News of the World. It could have been the Standard, the Guardian. This individual, and who he was surrounding by, was selling stories, some of them, actually, with very little credibility or truth, to the newspapers. Salacious gossip, some of it.
Q. Taking it forward then to Crimewatch in 2002. An appeal was made on Crimewatch. DCS Cook, I think, made the appeal on behalf of the Metropolitan Police. Was this in relation to reopening the inquiry into the murder of Mr Morgan?
A. Yes, where we put a considerable amount of resources into.
Q. Were you aware of that at the time, of the Crimewatch appeal, that is?
A. No.
Q. Were you aware that Mr Cook and his family, including, of course, Jacqui Hames, were placed under surveillance by the News of the World?
A. No.
Q. Did that come to your attention later or not at all?
A. I can't remember anyone mentioning that to me in person, no.
Q. Were you aware that in about 2004, Southern Investigations was gathering evidence on senior MPS personnel, and some of that evidence related to their private lives?
A. No.
Q. I think the final point, Lord Stevens, just for the avoidance of doubt: when you were writing a column at the News of the World, which I think was in 2005 onwards to October 2007, as we've heard, were you being provided information for that column from Mr Fedorcio?
A. No.
Q. I think the last point, Lord Stevens, to go back to the evidence you gave just as we started after lunch, when you were talking about leaving the News of the World, is this the point: that the information you were receiving about the News of the World related to phone hacking, and that's why you have some diffidence about explaining it to us now?
A. No, it's the convictions of both Goodman and Mulcaire, my thoughts about that and thoughts about the admission of that and, of course, the resignation of Andy Coulson, which he obviously resigned for reasons, and the whole thing just didn't seem right to me and I had to get out. MR JAY Okay. Lord Stevens, thank you very much. Those are all my questions. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Let me now have the same debate that I had with Lord Condon.
A. Yes, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Before. First of all, do you agree with Lord Condon's view as to the cycle? I won't ask you if you agree with his view as to the benefit this Inquiry might have had, but I'm much more concerned to try to fix the register of what I suggest at an appropriate level, to balance on the one hand a rather more calibrated blush test, which I think is a good way of articulating the issue, but to bear in mind the point that you've made, that the free flow of open and transparent information can only benefit the criminal justice system in a world where expectations always become higher and higher. In a different capacity, I have spoken on a number of occasions about what I've called the CSI effect, which is all to do with the risk that the public believe that you can solve everything forensically and don't need, therefore, to be given evidence. It's very important that we deal with that and we do as much as we can to encourage members of the public to assist the police and to be prepared to come to court. So I see that side of the story as well, but to try and find the correct place is not entirely straightforward. So I ask you, as I asked him, whether you have thought about how that could best be achieved. I appreciate you've been out of it for some years, but I can't believe you have lost your interest in policing the capital.
A. No. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If you have, what is the benefit of those views? And if you want further time to consider it, I'd be interested to receive something from you, if you don't mind, that gave me the benefit of those views.
A. I'd be delighted to do that, sir. As Lord Condon, I have been involved in the integrity business. I did the so-called bungs Premier League case, the crash that never was, investigated that in Singapore, and of course the drugs problem with horse doping in Beijing and so it goes on. The corruption side of things, the integrity side of things, I've been very, very closely involved in some of the work that I do, so I'd be delighted to send that had to you, sir. If you can give us a bit of time to put it together. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, well, I'm going to be here for some time to come. It's very important to me that what I produce doesn't immediately get a reaction of a policeman saying, "Well, that's clearly come from somebody who's not a policeman." It has to work for the police.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It also has to to work for the public.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And it has to deal with what I perceive is the very real concern about what has been happening.
A. No problem. I'm sure everyone in this room believes in freedom of the press, but there needs to be some structure and some monitoring processes. I'd go further and say that just the fact that you're here has achieved something. Something has to come out in terms of the monitoring and some kind of reinforcement of how the police act, I think. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I entirely agree. As I said to Lord Condon, it would be wonderful to think that I had done the job, but I don't actually believe that.
A. No, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much.
A. Thank you. MR JAY Sir, the next witness is Lynne Owens, please. MS LYNNE OWENS (sworn) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Your full name, please, Ms Owens?
A. Lynne Gillian Owens.
Q. Thank you. You've provided us with a witness statement dated 26 January 2012. You've signed it and there's a statement of truth in the standard form. Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry?
A. Yes, it is, sir.
Q. The date you signed the statement you were still an Assistant Commissioner with the Metropolitan Police, but on 1 February you became the Chief Constable of the Surrey Police; is that so?
A. That's correct, sir.
Q. In terms of your career, you started off with the MPS in August 1989. After moving up the ranks, you transferred to Surrey in December 2002 as a superintendent. You transferred back, however, to the Metropolitan Police in May 2009 as a Deputy Assistant Commissioner, but then in December 2010, you were appointed as Assistant Commissioner, central operations; is that right?
A. It was March 2009, not May 2009.
Q. Pardon me, March 2009. And your responsibilities as Assistant Commissioner, those covered matters such as the royal wedding, visit of President Obama and then the response to the London riots; is that right?
A. That's correct, sir.
Q. We're going to cover almost entirely your time with the MPS, not your time at Surrey, with which you've only been there, I think, about five weeks. There's only one small matter we may cover. Can I ask you, please, about paragraph 8 of your statement, first of all, when you received some advice from the director of public affairs, who of course was Mr Fedorcio; is that correct? He said it would be sensible if you met some journalists so that they could get to know you in advance of any significant event. His suggestion was that this may be in a social setting. What was your response to that piece of advice?
A. I thought that the advice that I should meet some journalists was sensible. I hadn't worked in London for a long while and I didn't have pre-existing relationships. I didn't concur that it should be in a social setting, as I prefer to keep my professional and personal life separate.
Q. Do you or did you consider there was any ethical difficulty in meeting with journalists in a social setting or was it more a matter of your own personal style?
A. It's my personal my preferred personal approach is to meet them separately.
Q. That said, did you have any perception, though, of difficulties which could arise if you meet with anybody, really, in a social setting, if it in fact is part of your work?
A. I think the challenge of a social setting is if you are in that environment and you're drinking alcohol, then there is perhaps an expectation that you will say some things that you wouldn't say in a more formalised setting and I didn't want to take that risk.
Q. You say additionally that early in your detective career, a wise and more senior colleague advised you never to give your mobile telephone number to journalists as that prevented contact at inappropriate times in inquiries, and you say you've always followed that advice. So it applies even though as Chief Constable. You haven't handed out your mobile number to journalists or anybody in a similar position; is that so?
A. That's correct.
Q. Can I ask you this: in your time in the MPS, have you received the sort of media training that Lord Stevens referred to?
A. I don't believe I have received media training in London but I have received various levels of media training throughout my career.
Q. Apart from matters such as how to comport yourself in front of a television camera, which no doubt has its own challenges, what advice were you given as to how you should approach the media, the print media in particular, what you should say to them and what you shouldn't say to them?
A. The first step in the process is to make the contact through a professional media office, who will, in advance, have clarity for you about what sort of questions are going to be asked. You should answer questions honestly and frankly and accept that other than in off-the-record scenarios, everything you said will be reported.
Q. In paragraph 9 of your statement, you make it clear that your approach may be not the same as others, that others have taken a different view. You are keenly aware you haven't previously worked in a senior position in the MPS and had not experienced any of the recent difficult history, whereby the effectiveness of the MPS and its senior leaders was judged through media reporting. Is there also an implied judgment there that you were or perhaps are not in agreement with the more, if I can put it in these terms, expansive social relationships which some of your senior colleagues have enjoyed with the media over the years; is that right?
A. I can only provide commentary on the way that I have approached it, and certainly it's worked from my perspective. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But I'd like to know what you mean by this, if you don't mind, Chief Constable: "I had not experienced any of the recent difficult history whereby the effectiveness of the MPS and its senior leaders was judged through media reporting." First of all, does it follow that you believed that the senior leaders of the Metropolitan Police were being judged through media reporting?
A. Certainly before my arrival in London, I think we saw during Lord Blair's commissionership some commentary on his leadership in the media and I think that did impact on the relationship the Metropolitan Police Service formed with the media. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON In what way should that did that mean that there should be a greater attempt to engage with them or a decision to step back on the basis you're not going to influence them? I'm just trying to understand what was going on and how it changed when you arrived.
A. I think Sir Paul Stephenson gave evidence yesterday about the story becoming about the Commissioner rather than being about the work of the many outstanding officers and staff of the Metropolitan Police Service. So I think there was a sense that we needed to be more proactive in engaging with the media so that they knew about the totality of the work of the officers and staff on the ground, rather than providing commentary based on gossip from within management board. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Although that's a leak, isn't it? But if you felt that it was important to, as it were, tell the police story and I have no doubt there was and remains a very valid police story how did you plan to do that in your new role?
A. I did that in the meetings that are included in my statement, within my office. So I still engaged with the media, but I just didn't do it over lunch or in a social setting. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Did you have any difficulty persuading people to come to meet you?
A. I think the journalists did find it slightly strange. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Okay. All right. MR JAY Which suggests that well, it's obvious, isn't it that the culture was that you would meet journalists over a glass of wine, perhaps, or in a more social setting.
A. I'm not sure whether I would say it was culture, but there was an expectation that may happen.
Q. I just want to understand, if I can, a little bit more what you're saying in paragraph 9. The recent difficulty you're referring to is maybe the difficulties Lord Blair had and we'll probably hear about them tomorrow with negative reporting in the press. Was that a function of, in your opinion, a particular media style which he operated and if so, one could understand why you would want to cultivate a different style or was it a function of something else altogether?
A. I obviously wasn't in the Metropolitan Police Service when Lord Blair was Commissioner, so it's quite difficult for me to comment on the style that he personally had.
Q. Okay. The meetings you had, though and you refer to them or begin to refer to them in paragraph 10 of your statement, but you give other details elsewhere. In the first meeting, when you were appointed as an Assistant Commissioner, you met with a number of journalists. Can we understand, please, where those meetings took place?
A. I believe they all took place in New Scotland Yard and I think all of them were in my office, but I'm pretty certain they were all in the Yard.
Q. So it follows that by definition no hospitality was offered by the journalists to you because of the terrain which you were occupying, and doubtless all they got was a cup of tea or cup of coffee as appropriate?
A. That's correct.
Q. That really sets the scene, does it not, for all the other meetings you had with the press. Were they always at New Scotland Yard or did sometimes you go to newspaper offices?
A. I sometimes had to go to a studio to give an interview the Radio 4 studio, the studios at Milbank but face-to-face meetings with journalists took place at New Scotland Yard, yes.
Q. Is this right: it's not really a question of you never going to a restaurant; you never went to a newspaper office? Is that correct?
A. Not for the print media, no.
Q. Yes. For technical reasons, for broadcast media, you had to go to them.
A. That's correct.
Q. Some may say and therefore I put it to you gently that this is an extremely austere approach. Would you agree with that or would you say, rather: no, it's an entirely appropriate approach?
A. From my perspective, I thought it was an entirely appropriate approach.
Q. Because everything is entirely above board. Were all the meetings noted as well, in terms of the fact that they took place rather than necessarily what was said during the course of those meetings?
A. All the meetings were recorded in my diary, yes.
Q. Did you ever have off-the-record meetings or were there occasions where a meeting which started on the record went off the record?
A. I did have some off-the-record conversations in relation to specific events, notably around the royal wedding, but generally that was in a CRA environment, Crime Reporters Association environment.
Q. Different people use "off the record" in different ways, so to be clear about it, what do you mean by "off the record"?
A. Generally, it was when I was clarifying a fact that wasn't reportable at that time because it would either disrupt a criminal case at court or would be otherwise disruptive to a policing operation, but it was when I was trying to clarify a point or a fact.
Q. So would this follow: that in due course, after the relevant event, there would be no objection to publication, and your name being mentioned, but it was to ensure that there would be no publication until the relevant event occurred? Have I correctly understood it?
A. Yes, that's correct.
Q. Are these the sort of standards which you were hoping to well, obviously they're the sort of standards you're going to apply to yourself as Chief Constable of Surrey, but are they the sort of standards you're hoping that those under you will also be applying?
A. I think the topic is a difficult one, because I do think there has to be different standards for constables who operate on the front line through to those of us who occupy the most senior positions. As an example, in the world of public order, we were trying very hard to encourage officers to explain what they were doing to people they were encountering, including journalists. So I wouldn't want them to have to operate to this level of standards, but the higher you are in an organisation, the more open to scrutiny and accountability you should be, and therefore these are the standards that I would be expecting for senior leaders in Surrey Police.
Q. In your interactions with the press, which are fully recorded in your statement, did you ever feel there were occasions when they were trying to get you to say more than you wanted to say?
A. Yes, absolutely. That's I think that's a journalist's function, is to try and get the scoop or the slant on a story.
Q. The implication is that in your case they would always have failed; is that fair?
A. That's correct. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's the job. MR JAY The job on both sides, maybe.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. If it's correctly played out, as it were. I'm not going to go through each and every meeting because I don't think there's any need to. I would like, if I may, to address paragraph 37 of your statement. I hope we can do it quite generally. I haven't been given the pages numbers. This is 07224. This is a leak issue involving the activities of a crime squad in London, and I understand that although that investigation is outside the reach of Operation Elveden, the investigation is ongoing; is that right?
A. That's correct. There has been one misconduct hearing and there are further to follow.
Q. The essence of the allegation, without going into it, is that some material we can put it quite generically found its way to a particular newspaper?
A. That's correct.
Q. And the suspicion is that someone within the crime squad may have leaked that material?
A. I wouldn't go quite that far. We don't know how it got to be with the newspaper. We didn't know whether it came from the offices, one of the other organisations that may have had access to it or indeed from anywhere else within the Metropolitan Police Service.
Q. This is one example out of possibly a few examples of stories in the media which have caused you to question their origin. So is this the implication: that leaks, to your experience, have not been widespread?
A. No, this asked specifically about my experiences in London and there were only a handful of instants where I personally questioned the stories that I saw being reported.
Q. So it's limited to your own experience; it's not a general commentary
A. No.
Q. of what may or may not be going on in the Metropolitan Police. Can I go back to Surrey Police, when you were there before you went back to London, I think, in 2009. Paragraph 42 of your statement. The policy itself is exhibit LO9, which is page 07209. Do you have that to hand? It's possibly under tab 10 of the bundle which has been prepared for you.
A. Yes.
Q. This is quite an austere policy. For example, in the second paragraph: "Where an unsolicited offer of a personal gift or gratuity is made, the assumption should be that it will be politely declined." Meals are later down the page: "When offer of a gratuity is made by a member of the public, such as a meal or attendance at a function and it would be in the interests of the force to attend, a divisional commander, departmental head or ACPO will be notified and authority sought to attend. This is to protect staff from any subsequent suggestion of impropriety." The gist or purpose of this is to deal with perceptions of impropriety as much as the fact of impropriety; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. "Before accepting such an offer, the following should be considered: is it a duty participation? Is it a duty attendance? Is it a charity? Is it plainly for pleasure? In this case, attendance should never be free." In other words, you can attend, but you must pay your own way, effectively?
A. That's correct.
Q. Is this policy under revision as a result of the Filkin and O'Connor reports?
A. Yes. As you say, I have been in the force for five weeks. In the context of the Filkin and O'Connor reports, I have asked for it to be reviewed and revisited and I'm expecting a report back to my chief officer group.
Q. Is it your preliminary view that this policy is not austere enough, or is it your preliminary view that it may be too rigid?
A. My preliminary view is that generally it's in the right space, but I'm not sure it makes sufficient distinction between front-line staff and senior officers in its current form.
Q. Current hospitality guidance LO10 is not in fact for some reason on the Lextranet system, but you've set out the relevant paragraphs in paragraphs 48 and 49 of your statement, 07229. It's very similar to the policy we've been looking at. I've been asked to ask you this in relation to paragraph 50: in 2002, the Surrey Police media relations office won an award for excellence from the Association of Police Press Relations Officers. For what was that award, can you recall?
A. I didn't know about this award at all until I was constructing this statement and included it for the sake of completeness.
Q. The other aspect of Surrey's policy which is relevant is that all pre-arranged meetings with the media are logged on to a database which is called Solcara, and this includes both on-the-record and off-the-record contacts. How valuable is this, in your opinion?
A. One of the questions we're currently asking ourselves is whether that system is capturing everything. I know that one of the things the Inquiry is looking at is the bureaucracy surrounding potential processes that can be put in place and there may be an argument that trying to record everything is too bureaucratic and therefore that leads to things getting missed, which in itself could cause a confidence issue.
Q. Another point which might be made is that if an officer has an inappropriate contact with the media, particularly one which is off the record, he or she won't record it anyway, so there's little point in all of this. I mean, what you'll see is the good and not the bad. Is there any validity in that?
A. I think there is a risk that if anybody chose to engage in a corrupt relationship, they wouldn't record it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, but if somebody had a meeting and hadn't recorded it, and it was seen, they'd have no answer. That would be bang to rights, wouldn't it?
A. (Nods head) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But the problem is to try and find the right calibration.
A. Absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So in other words, Mr Jay, I'm really saying there may be something in it, because the problem is trying to discern what is appropriate and what's inappropriate. So if you catch somebody doing something which they've not recorded, then the inference that it is inappropriate is pretty strong. MR JAY I was just bouncing an idea, rather than LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, I'm not criticising you. MR JAY We've covered your evidence quite shortly, Ms Owens. There's one other point, though, before we conclude. Your reaction, please, to the reports by Elizabeth Filkin and Sir Dennis O'Connor. Could you help us with that, please? First of all, have you had the chance to read those reports?
A. I have had the chance to read them and I contributed to the Filkin report personally.
Q. Do you think those reports are, generally speaking, in the right space, to use your term?
A. I think broadly they're in the right space. I think the challenge is in implementation.
Q. Possibly in relation to the issue of bureaucracy and overrecording; is that a concern of yours?
A. Yes. I think we have to get the balance right between giving officers on the front line that do a very difficult job the capacity to explain to the public and the media what they're doing, at the same time as making sure, at the top level of the organisation, at senior levels of the organisation, there are some rules and regulations, because it's clear that public confidence has been significantly impacted on by this episode and we need to make sure that doesn't happen again. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So what should I be doing?
A. I think that's a tricky question, sir. As this hearing is demonstrating, I think there is a balance that needs to be struck, because it clearly is very important that the media have access to accurate, timely information, because that does inform the public, and therefore it goes to the heart of public confidence and therefore police legitimacy. So I think we need to balance the need to give them accurate and timely information with the need to audit the way in which that is happening, and I think there is a distinction to be drawn between fact and opinion. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I take that point. Is there an argument for putting more data out on your own websites? I know that there's a move to publish a lot more data about crime, but is there an argument for putting out much more that would not, in any sense, compromise your operational capabilities because you wouldn't really be alerting the villains to what you were doing but to make what you're doing that much more open and transparent so that it can be found without the necessity of trying to buy a pint for a young detective?
A. I think we've been trying to do that with freedom of information requests. So as we've been getting volumes of information into the policing or requests into the policing service, we've tried much more to put it on the front foot: this is what our plans are for the event. It's definitely what we plan in the world of public order policing. I think that works for items of policy and strategy. I think where that becomes difficult is for specific policing operations, particularly if there are court case implications. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. You couldn't put anything out that prejudiced a prosecution or indeed a civil case that you were involved in, but presumably once a case has concluded, it's possible to be very much more open with the public, which might solve some of the problems. You may have heard me say to Lord Stevens the concern that I have about maximising public confidence in criminal justice in order to encourage participation within the system, because without it we're in real difficulty.
A. Yes. I think that's right. I think it's an issue of balance and how you create confidence in the system by being open post-event. I think one of the challenges that we have is that it's quite difficult to get balance and measured responses within the media. I think the sensational and the exciting are the stories that tend to hit the headlines. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON What's your view about I don't say the inevitability, but the very frequent occurrence that anybody who is in the public eye coming to a police station, there are always people there to record it and photograph it, or at their homes or if they have accidents? That sort of scenario has been common for a very long time.
A. Yes, it has been common for a very long time, but personally I find it abhorrent that any police officer could release those details to the media and I make that position widely known in any of my interactions with my staff. One of the privileges of being a police officer is that we come across people in their lives when they're at their most difficult times, and the fact that people would be prepared to release that data for the sake of whether it's for making money or just for gossip reasons is frankly beyond me, and I don't think people who behave like that should be in the Police Service. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think that's an extremely useful point on which to finish. Thank you very much indeed, Chief Constable. Thank you very much for coming and for the work you obviously put into your statement.
A. Thank you, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You've failed me, Mr Jay. MR JAY Sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. It has to happen occasionally. Monday morning, 10 o'clock no, tomorrow. I'm ahead of myself. It's only Tuesday. Tomorrow morning, 10 o'clock. Thank you very much. (2.51 pm)


Gave a statement at the hearing on 06 March 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 11 pieces of evidence
Gave statements at the hearings on 06 March 2012 (AM) and 06 March 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 2 pieces of evidence


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