Morning Hearing on 12 March 2012

AC Cressida Dick and Sir Denis O’Connor gave statements at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(10.00 am) Statement by Lord Justice Leveson LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Before embarking on the evidence for today, there are a number of other issues which I must mention. First, there continues to be evidence of a leakage to the press of information that is confidential to the Inquiry. Everyone will remember that an early draft of Mr Alastair Campbell's statement was disclosed, but investigation revealed that the draft was not one that had ever been shown to the Inquiry, thereby exonerating all those at the Inquiry, along with the assessors and core participants who had access to the statement that he did in fact serve. Other, more recent leaks cannot be so explained, and the timing suggests that this has only happened after statements have been released by the Inquiry team to the wider audience entitled to see them, before the witness attends the Inquiry and they are formally published on the website. It is important to emphasise that early sight of these statements is subject to the strict conditions of confidentiality that that I imposed using the powers set out in Section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005. Further, all those within the core participants and their legal representatives who have access to documents on the Inquiry's document management system Lextranet have signed confidentiality undertakings. Against that background, therefore, any leak is very disappointing and a matter of concern. Everyone has spoken about the difficulty of pursuing an investigation aimed at identifying who is responsible for the leaks that have occurred, but unless it stops, I shall consider restricting the ways in which the statements are made available. This could include requiring anyone who wishes to read statements in advance for the purpose of suggesting lines of enquiry for counsel to pursue to do so in the Inquiry offices rather than by having access to the Lextranet system. In the meantime, I require all those who have been authorised to access the Lextranet to sign a declaration in standard form that the requirement of confidentiality is understood and that the signatory has not been responsible for passing any information contained within any statement to anyone who has not signed the confidentiality agreement. I appreciate the limitations of this step, and recognise that it might be considered somewhat offensive by 99 per cent of those who are following faithfully the requirements of the Inquiry, but it is the least that I can do to bring home how seriously I view unauthorised disclosure information and how much more seriously I shall view it as the Inquiry proceeds. The Inquiry team is itself perfectly prepared to lead the way in signing such a declaration, although I do not believe for one moment that that is where the problem lies. In addition, should any core participant wish to add a person to the confidentiality circle, agreement must be obtained from the Inquiry solicitor before a confidentiality undertaking is signed and approved. Finally, it is obviously important to remind everyone, in particular the press, of my order as amended, now dated 7 December 2011 to this effect: "1. No witness statement provided to the Inquiry, whether voluntarily or under compulsion, nor any exhibit to any such statement, nor any other document provided to the Inquiry as part of the evidence of the witness, not otherwise previously in the public domain, shall be published or disclosed, whether in whole or in part, outside the confidentiality circle comprising of the chairman, his assessors, the Inquiry team, the core participants and their legal representatives, prior to the maker of the statement giving oral evidence to the Inquiry or the statement being read into evidence or summarised into evidence by a member of the Inquiry team, as the case may be, without the express permission of the Chairman. "2. This order is made under Section 19(2)(b) of the Inquiries Act 2005 and binds all persons, including witnesses and core participants to the Inquiry and their legal representatives and companies, whether acting personally or through their servants, agents, directors or officers or in any other way." "Breach of this order by anyone can be certified via the High Court and treated as contempt. See section 36 of the Inquiries Act 2005." This is not just a question of publishing some detail that will emerge in the evidence a few days later. It affects the confidence that witnesses can have in the Inquiry that their evidence is being treated confidentially until I have decided that it should become public and furthermore have the chance to consider redactions of material which, for different reasons, all of which are in the public interest, it is suggested should not be included. So that it is quite clear, the risk of a reference to the High Court catches a newspaper that publishes material disclosed by some source in breach the order. The second matter that I wish to mention concerns the recent public announcements in relation to the PCC by Lord Hunt. He is absolutely correct to observe that from the outset of this Inquiry I have said to editors that the problems of press regulation are theirs and that they should seek to find a solution. I have equally emphasised that the solution not only has to work for them, but it must also work for me, by which I have explained I mean the public at large. That public includes all those who recognise the vital importance of freedom of speech and a free press, but have made it clear that regulation, however so-called, has failed, and that there has in truth been no mechanism for independent challenge to and restraint upon the excesses of the press. To say that the PCC was never a regulator, irrespective of the powers that it might have been able to exercise, and irrespective of the fact that it was badged as an effective regulator after Sir David Calcutt's second report, only underlines the concern that the public have been misled about what it could do. In evidence, Lord Hunt outlined his model of a five-year rolling commercial contract and, without committing myself in any way to such a model, I encouraged him to continue working, not least because I expect the industry to put forward to me the strongest form of regulation that it could devise in order that I could test it against what, on full examination and analysis during Module 4, becomes the minimum requirements of an effective system. I am grateful to him and Lord Black for keeping the Inquiry team informed about the progress that has been made but it is important that this encouragement should not be taken as endorsement, let alone agreement. I have raised a number of questions and do not yet know the answers to them. By way of illustration, I must ask whether a five-year rolling contract is sufficient to deal with the fundamental problem of industry acceptance. The threat of what I might recommend may well encourage to sign up those who, for reasons which have been explained, do not consider that the PCC has worked for them but that simply potentially puts the problem off for five years. That is a more serious issue than has manifested itself in the past, because previous crises have concerned adequacy of regulation and there was no problem of publishers leaving the system. Secondly, I am keen to understand what is proposed in relation to the structure surrounding the new regulator. Is it proposed that PressBoF and the Editors' Code Committee should remain staffed in the same way? On the substance, I will need Lord Hunt to address the proposed attitude to third party complaints or group complaints where there is no identifiable victim. What is the view about concurrent legal proceedings and why should the complaints arm not be able to award compensation? Informal resolution is obviously important, but how will that work as a mechanism to maintain, if not improve, standards? Is the new independent assessor an appeal mechanism? And if so, what will be done to prevent complaint fatigue and what has been said to be the grinding down of complainants by passage of time? What is meant by "a serious or systemic breakdown in standards"? This list of questions is not intended to be exhaustive, and I deliberately ask them in an entirely open way. I have raised them simply to underline my position. I do not suggest that Lord Hunt seeks to pre-empt me or that he proceeds on the basis that I have agreed with the approach which he proposes. My mind remains open to all options, although if, as Lord Hunt said, there are members of both Houses of Parliament looking for a chance to kerb press freedoms and influence conduct, I would be grateful if he would provide evidence of that fact. I repeat that Lord Hunt and the industry must continue to work on what they see as the best way forward, not, I hope, simply viewing the task as one of trying to persuade me to adopt what for them is a least-worst option. They must expect that the ultimate suggestion will be subjected to forensic analysis. That will happen for their ideas, as it will happen to the ideas that have been submitted to the Inquiry by other individuals and groups. I will recommend what I perceive to be the most effective and potentially enduring system. It will then be for others to decide how to proceed. The third topic that I want to address this morning concerns a series of technical issues as to which I invite submissions from core participants. Rule 13 of the Inquiry rules 2006 permits me to send a warning letter to any person whom I consider may be or who has been subject to criticism in the Inquiry proceedings or about whom criticism may be inferred. Further, the report must not include be any explicit or significant criticism of a person, unless I have done so, and provided a reasonable opportunity to that person to respond. For individuals, that exercise is straightforward, but I will continue to apply the principle that I will not criticise any individual in relation to allegedly criminal conduct that is presently or foreseebly the subject of criminal investigation or might give rise to criminal proceedings, whether or not such an investigation is presently being undertaken. But I am presently minded to the view that this does not prevent me from criticising any individual whom I do not suggest or imply participated in illegal conduct but whom I find knew perfectly well what was going on, albeit that he or she now denies all knowledge of any such thing. To take an example away from the Inquiry, for X to know perfectly well that Y has stolen property, whether he saw him do it or because Y admitted it to him, does not make X guilty of any crime, but it seems to me that if I conclude, assuming it to be relevant, that X falsely denied that he had such knowledge, that is a potential criticism for which warning must be given, and furthermore, that so to conclude does not imperil a criminal investigation or prosecution or represent unfairness to anyone, as I try to discern the custom, practices and ethics of the press. Second, the word "person" is not defined by the rules or by the Inquiries Act 2005. Applying the rules of construction to be found in schedule 1 of the Interpretation Act 1978, it seems to me that "person" includes a body of persons incorporate or unincorporate. Is that correct? If it is, and, for example, I wish to consider criticising the News of the World as a title because of its illegal or unethical practices, but without descending into analysis of precisely who did what to whom, is it appropriate to identify the News of the World as a title and address a Rule 13 to the title, or should it be addressed to News International Limited or both? That is not unimportant, given that complaints have been made about a number of the News International titles which have been named during the course of the Inquiry. Similar questions might arise in relation to other media entities that operate more than one title. Third, if I wish to criticise a title by name, I recognise the need to provide notice under Rule 13, but what is the position if I consider that any of the subparagraphs (a) to (c) of Rule 13(1) are satisfied but only in the sense that I consider that the relevant criticism relates to the culture, practices and ethics of the press as a whole, rather than any particular newspaper group or individual title. In one sense, stating the criticised culture, practice or ethical approach under resume 15(1)(a) will be straightforward and high level. A statement of the facts can similarly be high level, and the evidence simply the material that has been put before me. What I wish to hear submissions about, however, is whether such criticism is caught by Rule 13 at all. I am not thereby criticising any individual or person. Indeed, the individuals may be less worthy of criticism because they're simply part of the culture, and following the practice which is endemic to the industry, or at least to part of it. Furthermore, the closing submissions of each core participant will doubtless address the question of custom, practice and ethics, and I am unsure what a further bite of the cherry will achieve. An example that might assist: if I were minded to conclude that whether or not the illegality of interception of mobile telephone messages was appreciated that is to say, the fact that it was illegal the fact that it could be done and was being done was widely known among a section of the national press beyond a rogue reporter at the News of the World, is that a criticism that I have to address to every reporter or every title, or is it sufficiently high level that it does not contain an individual criticism of any person within Rule 13, and does not require prior notification within the rule? I appreciate that in his challenge to the concept of anonymous evidence, Mr Mark Warby Queen's Counsel for Associated Newspapers addressed the Divisional Court as to what he described as "class libel" (see [2012] EWH C57 (Admin) paragraph 38) and I am prepared to hear further submissions on this topic, although for my part I do not find the concept particularly helpful when seeking to determine culture, practices and ethics. The technical issue is significant because time will not permit me to approach notices under Rule 13 only after the conclusion of the entire Inquiry, and as I move from Module 1 onto Modules 2 and 3, I shall be running Rule 13 warnings, which only require me to be satisfied that a person may be subject to criticism, in parallel, thereby requiring submissions well before the end of the Inquiry. To that end, I will decide on the correct approach to this rule at a very early stage, leaving anyone who wishes to challenge my conclusion to do so without in any way interrupting my overall timetable. To that end, I'd invite submissions on this topic by 12.00 midday on Wednesday, 21 March. The final topic I wish to bring up at this stage is this: I am aware that the Inquiry is being publicly requested to publish the Motorman files beyond the redacted version published by the Information Commissioner. If Mr Sherborne, on behalf of the core participants who complained about the conduct of the press, wishes to argue that such a step is appropriate, given the terms of reference and the fact that this Inquiry is not concerned with individual behaviour that is to say, who did what to whom and has eschewed such investigation as a matter of fairness, but is rather concerned with custom, practices and ethics, he is at liberty to do so. Thank you. Yes, Ms Patry Hoskins? MS PATRY HOSKINS Good morning, sir. The first witness this morning is Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. MS CRESSIDA DICK (sworn) Questions by MS PATRY HOSKINS MS PATRY HOSKINS Good morning. Please state your full name.
A. Cressida Rose Dick.
Q. You've provided a witness statement. Could you confirm the contents are true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
A. Yes, they are.
Q. I'm going to start, please, with your career history. I'm looking at paragraph 2 onwards of your statement and I'm going to paraphrase it in this way. You explain is that you are currently an Assistant Commissioner with the Metropolitan Police Service. You head up the specialist operations department, and your current areas of responsibility include counter-terrorism, diplomatic, VIP and royalty protection and counter-terrorism and security for the Olympic and Paralympic games?
A. Yes, that's right.
Q. You joined the MPS in 1983. You've served as be a constable, sergeant and inspector, all in London. We'll skip over paragraph 4 and turn to paragraph 5. You returned to the MPS after sometimes with Thames Valley Police. You returned as a commander and you were appointed director of the Diversity Directorate and head of the Racial and Violent Crime Taskforce?
A. Yes.
Q. You then also undertook command roles in the MPS's response to 9/11, the tsunami and the terrorist attacks in London, July 2005 and 2007. If we move to paragraph 6, you tell us that in February 2007, you were promoted to Deputy Assistant Commissioner and moved to specialist operations in charge of protection and security in London. In July 2009, you were promoted again to Assistant Commissioner and you moved then to the specialist crime directorate, leading teams investigating the majority of serious, sensitive, complex and organised crimes in London, and then it's in August 2011, following the requirement of John Yates, that you were appointed Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations and it's since that time that you've held the role that you perform now. Is that all correct?
A. All correct.
Q. Thank you very much. Before I turn to ask you about your personal experience with the press or the media and also a bit about the practicalities of regulating relationships between the police and the press or the media, the first logical step is to ask you whether you consider such a relationship to be important, and if so, why. If we turn in that respect to paragraph 27 of your statement, you touch on this in a little detail. You set out there at paragraph 27 you start with the benefits to the police of a close relationship with the press. Can I ask you to summarise in your own words what those benefits are, in your view?
A. I think it's extremely important that we give the public accurate information. That's one of our most important roles. It's very important that the public understand policing as much as they can, and also that they hold us to account, and they can only do that by knowing about policing. We need the public to help us in a variety of ways. Obviously we need information about crimes that have happened, but also we need people to have confidence in the police and in the whole system, so that they will give us intelligence or give us evidence, be witnesses, provide observation posts. I could go on. I think this is all dependent on people having good knowledge and good understanding, and a very, very important thing also is for them to actually understand their rights and understand what they should you know, how they can interact with the police. All of these things the media in its broadest sense are extraordinarily important to us in terms of getting our legitimate messages out.
Q. If I can give you also a specific example you give at paragraphs 17 to 18, you explain that in 2001, you were responsible for implementing the recommendations of the Stephen Lawrence public Inquiry, and for several high-profile investigations, including the reinvestigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, and at that stage you had regular contact with national journalists, given those roles. You explain at paragraph 18 that you recently wrote an article for the Guardian on these issues, and that this article illustrates the crucial and important relationship that exists between the police and the media. Again, can you give us a little bit of background there on what you're saying? What were the specific benefits of the relationship between the police and the press surrounding the Stephen Lawrence inquiry and the reinvestigation?
A. I became responsible for that case in 2001, and remain so to the present day, and clearly, coming back into the Metropolitan Police, as I did at that point, it was obvious that we had a great deal of work to do to restore people's confidence in our ability to deal with certain types of crimes, to ensure that people understood that we were taking the public inquiry seriously and responding to all their recommendations effectively. So in those early years and I think I inherited this approach from my predecessor we did an enormous amount of work with the media to sort of open ourselves up, really, and to get their advice and guidance as well. There were moments where, for example, we did an enormous amount of what we called critical incident training, and we had journalists present at the training to put a different perspective to the officers. In terms of the actual reinvestigation, of course we were very, very, very keen to bring the murderers to justice and we wanted people to know that that's what we were trying to do.
Q. All right. Can I move on then to regulating that relationship which you've identified. Can I ask you to turn, please, to paragraph 7 of your statement. Here you state that generally there are good working relationships between the MPS and the media, but you identify two issues. If I can just read them out. You say: "However, it is clear that over the past years there have been problems with a small number of MPS personnel being willing to leak unauthorised and/or operationally damaging information to the media." So that's the first issue. Then you also identify that: "There has also been a perception that some senior officers have had overly close contact with certain parts of the media." You go on to explain that in a little bit more detail. Can I ask you a number of questions, first of all, on the first of those two issues. Why do you say that it is clear that over the past few years there have been problems with a small number of personal being willing to leak information? Are there any specific examples that you can give us? Also, can you state with confidence that it's a small number?
A. Well, there have been a limited number of convictions, and indeed misconduct findings, in relation to leaks. Of course, that's quite a broad word.
Q. Yes.
A. So losses of information, for example, whether negligent or just careless, when it's official secrets, through to actually forming a relationship with somebody and deliberately passing information to somebody for example, a member of the press we have had a small number of convictions and some misconduct findings. So that's why it's very clear to me. I've also twice during the last couple of years been in charge, at the management board level, of our professional standards area, so I see the sort of intelligence and the investigations that we're doing, and they are very difficult and frequently we don't know whether the information has come from the police or from some other party, but there are sufficient there for me to believe, again, that some of these unauthorised disclosures have come from the police. I'm also briefed on Operation Elveden, which has obviously been discussed here before. So that's why I say I'm clear. I think in relation to that, I am confident that it's not an endemic problem. I spent sort of, in some senses, all my service thinking about issues like this and talking to colleagues and talking to colleagues in other forces around the world, and I genuinely do not believe that this is a culture or anything other than isolated individuals. That's my view.
Q. I'll come on to ask you about leaks in more detail in a moment, if I can, probably not touching on Elveden in any detail whatsoever. Can I turn to the second of the two issues that you identify there at paragraph 7, the perception that some senior officers have had overly close contact with certain parts of the media? Is it your view that some senior officers had overly close contact with some parts of the media or is it just a perception?
A. I think it is certainly a perception. There's no doubt about that, and this has clearly been discussed here and widely in the media. It is also the case that there's been very regular and close contact between some senior members of the Met. I should say I think all of these issues are not, of course, completely confined to the Met, but that's what we're focusing on here. I think some of the contact has led to the perception. I can't tell whether it's been overly close, but in terms of whether it's been wrong or right, what I can say is that I think it's been unfortunate that it has led to that perception, and I think for the future we will have to be and will be clearer about the professional boundaries between us and members of the media.
Q. Again, I'll come on to cover in some detail recommendations for the future, so perhaps park that issue just for now. You seem to suggest later on in your statement, paragraph 44 onwards, that this perception that you identify may have arisen as a result of essentially flaws in the way that policies and so on have been interpreted. Sorry, look at paragraph 44.
A. Thank you.
Q. "I think policies, processes and practices have not previously worked in a way which has consistently maintained public confidence. This has allowed a perception to develop that there have been inappropriate relationships with certain quarters of the press." Can you explain that a little bit further? What do you mean when you say they've not previously worked in a way which has consistently maintained public confidence?
A. Well, that the "not consistent public confidence", I think, is the point that I've just made, and I do think that in general our policies and processes have been quite good.
Q. Yes.
A. We've changed them latterly and tightened them up, but nevertheless, I don't think they've been that bad. As a whole, they clearly haven't resulted in the public being completely confident in our ability to maintain a professional relationship, and I believe this is as much about the clarity around the standards and having the discussions about what we mean and, to coin a phrase I know has been used here, shining a light on what has actually been going on. I think we've perhaps not done enough of that collectively.
Q. Right, so your evidence is that you don't think there's much wrong with the policies; it's simply the way in which the spirit of the policies is conveyed to those who are interpreting it? Would that be fair?
A. Yes. I think it's also important to say that I think this Inquiry is obviously looking at the Metropolitan Police over a number of years, and some of the witnesses have been, of course, talking about many, many years ago. What might have been acceptable ten years ago might not be acceptable now, and you will see we have changed our policies over the years and we LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is this just specifically addressed to the question of relationships between the police and the media or is it a wider point? Is there a wider issue here about the way in which the Metropolitan Police have sought to convey information, perhaps naturally emphasising the very good and minimising the less happy, whereas a rather more transparent approach to everything, demonstrating that actually, even police officers are human beings and sometimes, occasionally, don't always get it absolutely right, may be a more appropriate way of seeking to obtain public confidence?
A. Yes, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So is it a wider question?
A. Yes, sir. I do think that on occasion we may have been over-defensive. That said, I think if I was to speak for my colleagues, they would feel that there's often news and information out there which is not "good news", in inverted commas, which comes from us. So I wouldn't be overly critical of where we have been personally, but I do absolutely accept Ms Filkin's comments that for the future it would be better if we were able to get as much information as possible out in the first place and be more transparent in every way. I do accept that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You don't have to convince me that leaks can occur, whether or not the leaker is really believing something horrible is going wrong, which everybody is trying to suppress.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I've spent five minutes this morning talking about the subject.
A. (Nods head) LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But it may reduce the impact if that approach is taken.
A. Yes, sir. MS PATRY HOSKINS Can I ask now about your own personal contact with the media and how you handle matters. Perhaps that's something we need to explore. If we look at paragraph 21 of your statement, you explain your own approach. You say, about halfway down that paragraph: "It's always been my practice that I redirect any request for information from a journalist straight to the MPS directorate of public affairs. Any request for an interview which I have accepted has been supported by DPA and I always have a press officer present at an interview. I do not speak direct to journalists on the telephone and do not arrange to meet with them, except with a press officer. As a consequence, I am almost never contacted directly by a journalist, and as I have said, on the very rare occasions I have, I have re-directed the request. I do not instigate contact with the media except through the press office." That approach seems to be slightly different from the approach that's suggested, if I can put it this way, by the different media relation policies that there have been over the years, in this sense: there isn't a requirement in those policies for press officers to be present, off-the-record conversations are permissible and so on. We can look at the policy but I'm sure you're very familiar with it. Why do you take the approach that you do in those circumstances?
A. This is the approach that I personally have always felt comfortable with. It's fair to say that at various stages in my service I've had a great deal of contact with the media, particularly in my first job that you've referred to, back in the Met, and secondly when I was doing organised crime, cross-border crime, gun crime, I was constantly doing media work. And again, when I was Assistant Commissioner for specialist crime. So I do have a fair amount of contact. This was the way I felt and still feel most comfortable. I wouldn't want you to think that it is the sort of "obsessively monastic", I think is the phrase that's been used here, end, in that if I bump into a journalist in the street, I will, of course, if I know them, say, "Hello, how are you", and on occasions I might find myself at an event sitting next to a journalist and I will have a conversation with them. But if it is that they are specifically seeking information, I feel more comfortable putting it through the press office and having a press officer present. I absolutely understand that the policy allowed a broader approach and I wouldn't criticise anybody for one moment who has done that.
Q. So you're not saying that everyone should adopt the approach that you do; you support the media policies in place. It's just this is the personal approach that you have adopted and feel most comfortable with. Is that a fair assessment?
A. Yes. I think when we're looking back, different people adopted slightly different approaches, and for the future, I think I can speak for the new Commissioner to say that I think he believes, in general, a press officer should be present, for example, at an interview. But he's not perhaps I shouldn't speak for him. My view is we wouldn't be saying it's a disciplinary offence not to have a press officer there.
Q. All right. Would you like to look at the relevant policies or is there anything else that you'd like to say about that?
A. No, I think that's all I want to say. Thank you.
Q. Can we now look, please, at paragraph 28 of your statement. It's a bit further on. At this stage in your statement, you've just been asked questions about your contact with the media, and then you say this: "Very occasionally, the media have information from their own investigations which me make available to us. I have led operations as a result of such information on a number of occasions." Then the examples you give are in relation to parliamentary expenses or the Pakistani cricketers case. I've been asked by another party to this Inquiry to ask you this question: what steps do you take to ensure that this information that you receive from the media is not obtained unlawfully?
A. Well, it's a very important point, clearly.
Q. Yes.
A. It's not a common occurrence but not that unusual for the Met to be contacted by a newspaper who say they have some very important evidence, they would say, about a crime, and sometimes that is, for example, as a result of a leak, as I would call it, or as a result of a sting operation, for example. And it's absolutely crucial that as soon as the information comes in, we start to assess the manner in which it has been obtained, and we always do that. So I would have, alongside me or alongside the senior investigating officer, people who are expert in, for example, covert policing and the RIPA, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, to ensure that this evidence is going to stand up. We would also, very early on, include certainly members of the Crown Prosecution Service in the examples given there. The Crown Prosecution Service were involved, in the case of the Pakistani cricketers, within about two hours of us receiving the information. So it's very important that we do do that, clearly.
Q. Moving on just below there, paragraph 29 and 30, please, you were asked here what the media have been seeking from you. You say in general they are seeking information which will interest their audiences and in addition they are often interested in helping to solve a crime. Then you say this: "On occasions, I have been aware that the media have been seeking information I would not be prepared to give, such as confidential information, information which might undermine an investigation, or 'gossip' about the Met and its senior officers and staff." Without going beyond what you're comfortable to share, what kind of circumstances here are we talking about and how often does this occur?
A. Perhaps I could give an example.
Q. Yes.
A. When I was Assistant Commissioner specialist crimes, in charge of dealing with all the most serious crimes in London except for terrorism, I would meet every month with two crime reporters over a cup of coffee in the office, and it was usually a themed conversation. So I would talk about, with a colleague, forensics or a child abuse investigation, whatever it might be. At the end of every such meeting, I think, they would say, "And so what's happening with and mention two or three celebrated cases that we had, which they knew perfectly well, I think, I wasn't going to say a word about, because we weren't it might undermine that investigation. And it became almost a joke and I would always smile and say, "You always have to try it on, don't you?" And that, of course, is their job. I understand that. And a similar sort of off-the-cuff comment sometimes about what they perceived was going on in the Met, particularly on the board.
Q. All right. Can I ask you more about these meetings. You say, looking back at the transcript, that you met once a month, every month, with two crime reporters over a cup of coffee in the office, and it was usually a themed conversation. Can you tell us a bit about these meetings? Were these formal meetings arranged with the Crime Reporters Association or were they something else?
A. I was very conscious, when I became Assistant Commissioner, that having been in security and protection where I had no contact with journalists at all, really, I needed to meet some of them to ensure that they were sort of kept up to date, really, with what was going on in our world, and didn't think that, to coin a phrase, the shutters had come down because there was me in charge and they didn't know me as well as my predecessor, Mr Yates. So I thought going back to my first answer to you very helpful for them to have a more detailed understanding of some of the challenges, of some of the crime issues in London, some of the approaches that we were taking, and so these were formal meetings, press officer present, me, usually a colleague, and a note kept of the meeting.
Q. Who attended these meetings?
A. I think they were all crime reporters and members of the Crime Reporters Association.
Q. Do you have any knowledge of who made the decision as to who was invited or who would attend?
A. I said at the beginning
Q. Yes.
A. we need to do this over the next however long I'm going to be in office and we need to sort of spread this around. So the press officers would let the Crime Reporters Association know that I was doing this and then people could say, "Well, I'd like to come", I think was the process. I didn't do it myself. I don't think I ever had anybody twice, so we had a spread of people. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Are these interviews conducted on a pool basis, so that the people who are present share what they've learnt with others, or for that particular week is that an exclusive for them?
A. No, the principle on which it was done was that they would hear about the issues and then, if they wished to come back and do a follow-up, perhaps an interview with one of our people or go out in the back of a car or something like that, then they would contact us, but they were not or indeed if they wanted to interview me about something, then they could come and interview me about something. So although there was a record kept, they were not published. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sure it's my fault.
A. Sorry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That wasn't quite my question.
A. Sorry. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON My question was whether these were individual interviews or meetings with two reporters who their number would come up and they would get exclusive access, or whether what you were saying was then pooled so that all writers could learn of what you'd been talking about, all journalists from all papers, so that any one of them could pick up
A. No, I don't think it was pooled and I don't think it was broadcast, if you like, in that manner. It was not put out in that manner. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The snag then is that the person who gets to you may get the scoop or the really good story
A. I didn't see a single scoop or really good story result from it, sir, I have to say. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's a pity.
A. I think it was more about increasing understanding generally, and they were very generally conversations. So what did follow sometimes was they would say, "I want to go and see more of Trident", or something like that, but I wasn't there to, as it were, get a message out. It was more about helping people to understand the challenges, and they could ask anything. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand that, but there are lots of people who need to understand the challenge, and of course the risk is that somebody who feels that they've not been favoured with this sort of attention may try and get it some other way.
A. Yes, I see that risk. I think all the themes that we did were also pretty much, they were all reflected at bigger meetings. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Okay.
A. And certainly I wasn't saying anything secret or exciting, I think. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, I'm sure it was exciting, but it may not have been secret.
A. Well LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It depends on your perception.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you understand the point I'm making?
A. I do. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There has certainly been some evidence before the Inquiry about favoured status
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON for certain reporters.
A. Yes, which was why I was so keen that we got through lots and lots of people, and obviously over a protracted period. MS PATRY HOSKINS Perhaps it's just me, but just so I can be absolutely clear, am I right in thinking that you would have a meeting and there would be I think you said two crime reporters?
A. Two or three.
Q. And then the next time it happened, there would be another two or three; is that right?
A. Yes.
Q. And the next time it happened, another two or three?
A. Yes.
Q. And you don't feel that you ever saw the same person twice?
A. I don't think so.
Q. So was it done on a sort of rota basis, as far as you understand?
A. Yes.
Q. And these meetings were not something that you had chosen to set up; they had been in existence before
A. No, no, they were something that I thought might be a good idea. I was regularly seeing individual journalists on individual subjects. I was regularly, with the Commissioner, going to large meetings or doing press conferences and that sort of thing. I thought it would be useful, to break down barriers and also to help people to understand broader issues, to invite them in in that manner.
Q. You explain there that you were asked on a number of occasions for confidential information or gossip or information that might undermine an investigation, and clearly you say you were never prepared to do that. I think you said it almost became a running joke. Did you ever feel under pressure from anyone else editors, journalists to disclose this kind of information or gossip in any other forum?
A. No. I mean, I think possibly to some extent my reputation went ahead of me with some people. There's just no point. Secondly, other people who might have been interested didn't know me, didn't have a relationship with me. So for example, you mention editors. There aren't many editors that I know, so it would be very odd if they rang me up and said, "Tell me the latest gossip from the Met." You know, it would be absurd.
Q. Was there ever, perhaps in the early days before they knew your reputation did they ever ask you to consider changing operational decisions or was this just a request for information?
A. I don't believe I've ever had a journalist or a member of the press try to get me to change an operational decision.
Q. Paragraph 36, please. You were asked here about politicians and whether politician had ever put pressure on you to take a particular course of action. We're moving away from the press. You explain that on occasion you have been aware that pressure groups have lobbied politicians and also newspapers to gain further prominence for their issue and then politicians have then sought to also raise the prominence of the issue. You say: "If any politician has ever sought to put inappropriate pressure on me (for whatever motive) to take a particular course of action, investigatively or during an operation, I have made it clear that the police have operational independence, such decisions are mine and I would ignore such pressure." Can I take it from the answer to that question that you have been the subject of inappropriate pressure to take a particular course of action by a politician?
A. Well, I think there's quite a fine line here, and one could debate this for hours. I won't, I assure you. Politicians have a very legitimate role in being the voice, if you like, for victims or for people who are, you know, weaker in some sense or other, and for setting some politicians, for setting priorities for policing. But we in the British policing model and we in the police have always been very, very, very clear about the need for impartiality and operational independence in relation to our operational decisions. So if I give I could perhaps a couple of examples?
Q. Yes.
A. The first one is when I worked in Oxford, I did an enormous amount of public order work with student protests and environmental protests and animal rights protests, and it was not unusual for politicians of one complexion or another to ring up and ask about the policing plan either that was upcoming or the one we had just done, and I would be very happy to explain what I had done and why I had done it or what I intended and why, but if there came a point where I felt they were telling me whether to shut such-and-such a street or allow such-and-such a protest, then that would be the point where I would gently and politely remind them that of course that's my decision and not theirs.
Q. You said you might have a couple of examples. Is that all you wanted to say?
A. I'm conscious that Sir Paul made mention in his evidence of the conversations that he was having I didn't know he was having, actually with our then chair of our authority around the phone hacking investigation, Operation Weeting, in the early part of this year sorry, early part of 2011. You'll be aware that I was the management board member for that, and the line manager for Ms Akers. On a couple of occasions, Mr Malthouse, I thought jokingly, said to me: "I hope you're not putting too many resources into this, Cressida", and on the third occasion, when he said it again, I said, "Well, that's my decision and not yours, and that's why I'm operationally independent", and we then went on to have a perfectly reasonable sort of conversation about where the public interest lay, which, of course, is an entirely thing for him to want to discuss with me. But I felt that I wanted to put down a marker, mainly because I didn't want to compromise him. I think if it was ever felt outside that we had or hadn't put this resource or that resource or arrested this person or that person because a politician, to whom I am accountable but nevertheless of a particular political party, in such a charged investigation had put pressure on, that would compromise him and us and our investigation.
Q. You said, I think, at the outset of the answer to that question that you considered the request to be made in a joking way. Nevertheless, you felt the need to put down a marker. Is this really an example of pressure in your view or not?
A. I don't know his intent, and often one doesn't. I know mine, which was to make it clear that I felt that this was a decision that I should make and would make. Perhaps to balance things out, in parliamentary expenses, which is also a highly charged, clearly, political investigation in some respects in terms of party politics, I never had any issue whatsoever with any politician at all in terms of them attempting to put any pressure on me to do or not do anything, and I think that's the way the system should work. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Do you think this line is going to become more blurred as we move into the era of Commissioners?
A. It's certainly going to be a challenge, sir, and I think that's why there's been a great deal of debate about this, as I'm sure you're aware, and some checks and balances are now in place in terms of a protocol to clarify who should do what and what's legitimate for each party, the Chief Constable and the Policing and Crime Commissioner, but I'm sure it will be challenging in the future. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you've already got it because of the way in which London is organised?
A. Exactly, yes. So it's a change for us, from what we're used to, and the policing and crime commissioners and Mr Malthouse himself, of course, will speak for how they see that line. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MS PATRY HOSKINS Before I come on to ask you a bit more about leaks I said I'd come back to that can we touch on hospitality, please. You don't say much about this in the statement, but to what extent is the acceptance of hospitality a genuine issue, in your view, that needs to be tackled in relation to the MPS?
A. I think we have been tackling it in the last several months, and we have tightened up, again, on both the policy and our processes that sit underneath that and our auditing and our leadership and management around the issue. Again, I think any abuse or excess has not been a cultural problem or an endemic problem, but I do think we have, for a variety of reasons, ended up with a perception, as Ms Filkin outlined, of excessive hospitality and, you know, we're the police and it's very important that people don't see us in that light, so we do need to be, you know, very, very, very clear about this and very transparent about it. I think transparency is probably the key, and five years ago we didn't publish our hospitality registers for our most senior people.
Q. So you don't wish to take away anything from what she has said? You don't wish to differ, in your view?
A. In relation to hospitality? No, I don't think so. I think, again, I don't wish to be seen criticising the past. You know, that was then. I think for the future in relation to, for example, hospitality from the media, we will be normally conducting that media relationship without alcohol and usually not over meals, but but back to my of course, if I meet somebody in the street, for example you know, if I'm sitting next to a journalist at a dinner, I don't think the Commissioner will expect me to say, "I'm sorry, I can't be at this dinner because you're here." We have to be reasonable.
Q. Before I move on to leaks, is there anything else that you wish to say about hospitality as an issue or anything at all on that?
A. No.
Q. Can we turn, please, to leaks from the MPS. Paragraph 45 of your statement onwards. If I can just read out what you say here. You're asked here: "To what extent have leaks from the MPS to the media been a problem during your career with the MPS?" And you say: "They have been a considerable problem. They have, on occasion, undermined investigations. They have damaged individuals and public confidence. They have sometimes caused individuals and teams to be very secretive within the organisation, which can, itself, cause difficulties." Can we unpick that, please. You probably can't give us every example, but what kind of leaks are we talking about here? What sort of leaks undermine investigations, for example?
A. I should underline my point that very often in the world that I've been in, it's quite hard to pinpoint the leak to the Metropolitan Police.
Q. Yes.
A. Frequently, the information is known to a broader group of people than just the Met. But there have certainly been occasions that I am aware of where operationally sensitive information, which, for example, we wouldn't want to be known to the suspect, has got into the public domain. There have certainly been leaks where individuals who had, you know, a right to privacy had that privacy intruded upon because, it appears, a leak has come from the Met in an utterly inappropriate way. And as I say, if people fear leaks, they can, on occasion, become more secretive than they would otherwise be, and that makes managing quite difficult.
Q. I understand. From your understanding, can you tell us a bit about motive. I mean, are we talking in all cases about bribery? Are we talking about whistle-blowing? Are we talking about just wanting to the source of the story that gets out into the newspapers? What are the motives?
A. As I said before, sometimes information gets out through pure mistake. It might be negligent, it might be careless. The file that's left on the train, the person who doesn't realise the sensitivity of the information and the degree of restriction that should be on it, and mentions it, you know, casually in the pub, and it's overheard. And then, at the furthest end, of course and I say this I truly believe it to be the case that it's very rare: somebody who is selling information to the media for money. And in between, there are a number of different scenarios that can occur.
Q. Let me ask you about bribery. You were asked about this at paragraph 47 onwards of your statement. You were asked: "To what extent do you believe bribery of personnel by the media is a problem for the MPS (if at all)?" And you say you believe it is a problem but it's not widespread or endemic, but you fear that there may have been colleagues who have been prepared to take money for information, and you go on to say that you're aware of a small number of cases where it appears or has been proven that colleagues have received money for information. Now, as I say, I don't want to ask you about any ongoing investigation, please, but perhaps you can give us a flavour of any concluded investigations: sums of money involved, nature of the information, the level of seniority of the officers involved and so. Is there anything you can assist us with there to give us a flavour of what's been happening? Information that we are entitled to know about?
A. Well, there have certainly been some investigations one in particular comes to mind for me in Thames Valley more recently, where, as you say, although those investigating it didn't see it this way, the person saw it and said it was whistle-blowing and indeed, they were found not guilty at court, together with the journalist, and that was a case of prison intelligence. Now, clearly, intelligence officers working in prisons are working in a very, very sensitive environment, and you know, that was whistle-blowing, but the damage done to the confidence in prison intelligence was quite considerable. I think possibly the case of Mr Landlack^name has been mentioned here, which is in my world of specialist operation. Mr Landlack was convicted for passing information from counter-terrorism to the media, and it was a relatively small amount of money. He was a relatively junior, if I can put it that way, person in terms of rank, a retired officer working at a relatively junior level, but very, very experienced, and it appears that he was disaffected. So those would be the two example that is come straight to my mind.
Q. So when you say that you don't believe it's widespread or endemic, how do you get that feel? Is it just from the investigations that you've been briefed on, or is it something that you've discussed more formally with colleagues?
A. I suppose it's based on, as I said, a quite considerable length of service now, and a fairly considerable interest in these issues. So I have, you know, over the years, read quite a lot of research on the subject. I have spoken to colleagues in our police forces, I've worked with and in professional standards, and I know, from colleagues and surveys, how absolutely appalling the vast majority of officers and staff regard such behaviour, but I do acknowledge that there has been and no doubt is some of this going on. I don't think we'll be unique in that. We have to try to reduce it to a minimum and I think hopefully get rid of it, but as Lord Condon said, we have to then keep the pressure on. If we think of other forms of corruption I genuinely believe that the Police Service that I am now in is less corrupt than it has ever been, and I hope that continues. This is an element which is causing concern within the service and to the public, and we need to really, as you say, assess the full extent and then deal with it.
Q. I'm going to come on to ask you about recommendations for the future. Before I do, can I ask you about leaks from the MPS management board. There are a number of questions here from another party to the Inquiry. You explain that you became Assistant Commissioner in 2009. You must have joined the MPS management board at that stage; is that correct?
A. Yes.
Q. Some general questions, please, about the management board first. How often has the management board generally met since you joined it?
A. Until the new Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, arrived, we met three times a week for a short operational type of meeting and once a month as a bigger team with a sorry, once a month for a more formal agenda and occasionally a bigger team there, and sometimes we would meet as a whole group for a specific subject or topic. That was rare. MS PATRY HOSKINS Sir, I don't think if you have had sufficient information on the role of the management board or if you'd like Assistant Commissioner Dick to give us a bit more? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you were just about to go on to say what's happened since the new Commissioner arrived, and if you describe what the role is now I think we've probably got sufficient as to what it was in the past that would be helpful.
A. The new Commissioner has simply changed the rhythm a little bit. So he likes his senior team, as far as is possible, to meet together for a shorter period each weekday morning. So Monday to Friday, if we are not anywhere else, we will all sit down together, and I think it's probably a very similar role overall to predecessors in terms of who is present and the topics on the table. Daily we're looking at critical issues and monthly we're looking at policy and strategy and planning and looking forward. MS PATRY HOSKINS So who does attend the management board meetings?
A. The management board consists of the Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner, each of the Assistant Commissioners so at present we have an Assistant Commissioner for territorial policing, which is sort of wider London, uniform and CID that you see on the boroughs. We have an Assistant Commissioner for the Olympics, we have an Assistant Commissioner for counter-terrorism, protection and security that's me and we have an Assistant Commissioner for specialist crime and operations, so things like firearms and that sort of thing, as well as crime. Also present as a member of the board when it sits as a full board is director of legal services and always is our director of information and our director of resources, which at the moment includes human resources, so people. Finally, present at the board until recently would have been our director for public affairs.
Q. What do you mean by "until recently"? When did that stop?
A. Well, we currently have an acting director of public affairs, so he sits there.
Q. Is the general rule, though, that the director of public affairs should attend the monthly management board meetings or does attend?
A. Yes, and the daily management team meetings.
Q. Thank you.
A. I think at various stages and I will not be forgiven for forgetting this that role post-holder has either been or not been a full member of the board but either way they've been present
Q. Either
A. at all those meetings, yes, and an important role.
Q. You've told us briefly what you do when you meet in the mornings and what you do at the monthly meetings. Can I ask you this: are significant high-profile investigations, therefore, discussed at board level, either sort of daily basis or at monthly meetings?
A. Many are. Some are not, or not in any detail. So sometimes we have a very significant covert operation going on, and by definition it's covert. It might be is a counter-terrorism operation or something similar, and we operate on a need-to-know basis, so I, as the Assistant Commissioner over the last few years, have frequently been running operations where I would only be briefing the Commissioner, and rarely the board, depending on what stage we had got to.
Q. All right. Again, questions from another party to this Inquiry: did you discuss the reinvestigation into the Lawrence murder at such meetings?
A. It's an interesting example to give. As you say, I became a member of the board in 2009. The short answer to that is: no.
Q. No, since 2009?
A. Not until we got to trial in relation to Mr Dobson and Mr Norris and we had reporting restrictions lifted, to some extent. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON By 2009, the process of pursuing these two suspects was under way, presumably, and that was being run by the team that were running it, and therefore there aren't any wider strategic issues to discuss. Is that the position?
A. No. Sorry, sir, it's more that this was an investigation which, over the years, had been obviously very important to the public and to the Met, but in the 1990s one of the things that had been very difficult about it as an investigation one of the things had been unauthorised disclosure of information. Another thing that had been difficult about it was the degree of media coverage that there had been of certain individuals who were regarded as suspects. I took the decision when I took this on that as soon as we start our forensic review in 2005/6, I would personally only brief the Commissioner, and only intermittently, on the progress of that review, because I was absolutely determined, if I could possibly ensure it, that only those people who really needed to know did know, in case there was any unhelpful media coverage which might undermine the investigation or any future trial in terms of people's right to a fair trial. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's entirely fair enough and understandable, but could I just see. Is that because you took the view that it really was an absolute need to know, or was it because you did have some concern that somebody might say something if this matter was discussed, even at this senior level? That's a rather unfortunate question, but I think it's probably important.
A. I was certain that if anybody was briefed who didn't need to know, and then there was a leak or unauthorised information in the media or indeed any sort of speculation in the media, that it could reflect on everybody who had been briefed. In this particular instance and this is by no means the only investigation that I have dealt with in this manner. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, I
A. But in this particular instance, at various stages, forensic scientists were aware, obviously, of the evidence that was becoming known to them. The Crown Prosecution Service and counsel were kept very, very closely informed, and a small number of people on my team were informed. So that group knew a certain amount, and then we regularly met with Mr and Mrs Lawrence and we kept them updated about aspects of the investigation. So there's already quite a large number of people who knew. I knew how devastating it would be to witness confidence, to family confidence, and potentially our ability to deal with suspects, if information got into the public domain, and I knew that I would immediately launch a leak inquiry and it would reflect on all of us, potentially people who never even needed to know about it, so I restricted the numbers. MS PATRY HOSKINS It has been alleged that despite that there were two damaging leaks well, at least two damaging leaks, in October and November 2007. Do you know anything about that? Was an investigation launched into those?
A. Yes. Yes. There was information in the media which, as is often the case, included quite a lot of speculation, a certain amount that's inaccurate, and one or two things which could only really have been known to the groups that I have just described before, and it was very damaging to our relationship with the family in the short term and potentially could have been to our wider witnesses as well as, as I say, being part of an argument about a fair trial at the beginning of any trial. So it was very disappointing and annoying, and I did launch or rather I talked with the Commissioner about it and professional standards launched a leak inquiry.
Q. Can you tell us any more about that leak inquiry?
A. Yes. I think I'm right in saying that they did not identify anybody from within the Met who had who they could say had leaked this information. I think it's fair to say that the journalist indicated that he felt he was prepared to say that the information had not come from the Met, but I don't know whether that's true and in essence we never discovered who had leaked the information, and this is obviously quite common in relation to reactive, after-the-fact leak inquiries. They are very difficult, as I know you know.
Q. Right, I'm going to ask you now about paragraphs 50 to 51 of your statement. You were asked about the MPA at this section of your witness statement. You were asked about the level of contact and oversight there is from the MPA and you explain, as we all know, that the MPA doesn't exist any more in its old form. At paragraph 51, you say this: "There have been some occasions when material which has been shared with the MPA or its members on a restricted basis has subsequently appeared inappropriately in the media. Inevitably, this has created some suspicion between the parties. It is often very difficult to establish where a leak has come from." But then you go on to say, I should say for the sake of completeness, that on the rare occasions that you've had to share sensitive operational information with the chairs and chief executive, you've always had complete trust in them and have never had any reason to doubt that the trust was honoured. Is this a concern, in your view? I appreciate that the MPA doesn't exist any more in that form, but in your view was this a concern that leaks from the MPA or its members I just wonder why you mention this.
A. I think it is an important point. I've already made the point of the difficulty that any leak creates in a collaboration, in a team that are trying to deliver an outcome, and clearly the Met and the MPA have to work very closely together. They hold us to account, and are given an enormous amount of information, some of which is sensitive, and I'm not saying I was, for example, constantly concerned that the MPA would leak it. I'm not saying that. I am just saying that there was sometimes some tension between us about information which we had I can think of one example where we'd held onto this information for a long time, it's then gone to them, it's then in the media, and that may actually be a complete coincidence. Very well, but it creates and has created some tension and, on occasion, some sort of pointing of fingers in both directions, which is not helpful. But I would want to underline my last sentence there. As an example, I shared with the chair of the authority the fact that we were doing an enormous covert operation to find the person who was burgling and assaulting and, on occasion, sexually assaulting women elderly women and sometimes men in south London and we had hundreds of officers deployed covertly for several weeks, and that never became known to the media, as far as I'm aware. And I told the chair about that because I thought he was likely to be asked by other people: "What's going on? Are they doing anything?" and he could say, "No, I know they're doing a lot". It was a very important case and I could give tonnes and tonnes of examples where I thought it was appropriate to share that sort of information and I've never had that breached.
Q. Right. Before I turn to recommendations, I want to ask you a question, please, about July 2009. You've told us in your statement that July 2009 is in fact when you were promoted from Deputy Assistant Commissioner to Assistant Commissioner within the specialist crime directorate. That's correct, isn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. You are no doubt aware that John Yates was asked to I hesitate to use the word "review". He was asked to investigate, establish the facts, on 9 July 2009 following the now famous Guardian article on the phone hacking issue, if I can put it that way. Have you heard or read his evidence to this Inquiry in that respect?
A. I have I've read his statement and I have seen some of his evidence, yes. But, of course, I haven't maybe not "of course", but I haven't seen the documents and bundle that were attached, I think, to his statement. I haven't seen his exhibits.
Q. Right, thank you. Can I start with this question: can you assist us at all on whether there were any discussions as to who should be asked to carry out this establishment of the facts?
A. Yes. I think there were. I can remember when the article was being published, I, as the Assistant Commissioner for specialist crime, actually rang, I think Mr Yates in the first instance and then Mr Godwin to see who was likely to be going to deal with this, and I felt that it was something that probably needed to be dealt with at Assistant Commissioner level, which I think they both agreed at the time, although one could have argued something else, I'm sure.
Q. Why did you take that view?
A. Because of the sort of nature of the allegations, for want of a better word, that were around at that stage, and the fact that it was clearly a very, very, very high-profile case in which there appeared to be some criticism of what had gone before. So I thought at the very least the decision as to what to do should be signed off by an assistant commissioner, which is relatively rare, but I thought it was a serious matter, and so did he and so did, I think, the Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner. I was subsequently rung and told that John was Mr Yates was going to do the investigation sorry, was going do the piece of work and that Sir Paul had set him I don't think I was told the detail of what he was going to do or those terms of reference, but I just knew that it was him. I wasn't involved in any further discussion about that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Was there a discussion about who should do it, whether it was right for Mr Yates or for somebody else? Did you have a view about that?
A. I didn't have a view. As I said, sir, I think it probably was an Assistant Commissioner decision, and at the time I thought it could be me or it could be him. You could make arguments for either. He certainly, with his immense experience and skill and, indeed, the work that he'd been doing on other sensitive inquiries was, I suppose from a technical point of view, probably slightly better qualified than I was. He also had, as I did, the advantage in most ways that neither of us had been involved in the original case. It has some disadvantages, of course, but we were people who would be seen as slightly independent of it. I imagine, sir, you are going to the point about perhaps about John's relationship LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You are right.
A. with Mr Wallis. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. Well, I was completely and totally unaware of that relationship at that time, and it was not discussed with me at the time. Indeed, I had actually never heard of Mr Wallis until early 2011. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, here's one of those hideous hypothetical questions. I could put it a different way. What would have been your reaction if you had been asked to conduct this sort of investigation and you had known somebody as senior in the organisation which was the subject of investigation as Mr Yates knew Mr Wallis?
A. I think if I'd been asked to do this piece of work and I knew somebody as well as it now appears he knew him, who was senior in this organisation and I must caveat it by saying it is terribly easy, sitting here, to say what one would have done back then, but I think I would have you know, I think in any piece of work that one's asked to do, you have to ask yourself: "Am I skilled? Do I have the resources? Do I have the time?" All those sorts of questions, and then: "Do I have any conflict?" And if you do think you have any conflict, then you have to discuss that with the boss, and so that's what I think I would have done. I think I would have done. As I say, it's easy for me, sitting here. He was in the hot seat. I think I would have gone and discussed that with the boss to say, "Is there any conflict here or not?" LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But he wasn't actually in the hot seat because what you've said is there were a number of options about who could do it.
A. Well, I think there were a couple of options, I think that's true, but it's also the case that John and, I suppose, I are people who do take on difficult cases, and he particularly has put himself up to do difficult cases on a frequent basis. If he had just said immediately: "Oh no, I can't do this", that might have aroused other sorts of questions in people's minds. But I do think that he should looking back, I think certainly, we wouldn't be sitting here in this manner if he had gone and discussed this in more detail, perhaps, with Sir Paul. I don't know how much Sir Paul knew about the relationship, but I think at a minimum, a conflict like that should be discussed. To be fair to John, I can think only fairly recently, in a completely different context, of a time which he said, "I don't think I should do this particular investigation because and likewise I've said that twice in the last six months as well. Nothing to do with the media or anything; just knowing or meeting regularly with somebody in a professional context who is then being subject to an investigation or their organisation is. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you didn't discuss it with Mr Yates?
A. No, not at all. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You've said something else that has interested me. Was the perception that you had, as you have described it this was a very, very high-profile case, a serious allegation, not three short sentences in a newspaper but a substantial serious allegation that it therefore had to be treated with a level of gravity that was perhaps, as you put it, slightly unusual, given that you agreed it should be signed off by an Assistant Commissioner?
A. Yes, I do think it then needed a degree of gravity, as you say. We all of us are juggling tens and tens and tens of things that need a degree of gravity, undoubtedly, but yes, it certainly wasn't a trivial matter. For sure. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So it would be wrong to characterise it as just a routine newspaper article?
A. Again, it's almost impossible for me to LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, you didn't characterise it as that at the time.
A. No, I characterised it as something that we couldn't ignore and definitely needed to have a look at. I could see that. We needed to have a look at and LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You see, all Sir Paul had heard was a radio report of it. He'd not he was off to some conference.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Policing conference. I'm not saying anything else.
A. Sure. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And he heard it on the radio. So he hadn't had the chance of seeing the article. Did you have the chance to see the article?
A. I didn't see the article until later on in the day, but I was also hearing the radio and I think I'd I think I'd had a contact from the press office about it as well, because people were wondering needing to be reminded about who had dealt with it before. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So I gather that this not only just involved Mr Stephenson and Mr Yates but actually you had been involved in a discussion, as had the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Godwin?
A. Yes, a very brief discussion. From me, it was literally: "Who's going to deal with this?" and if it had come my way, then I would have settled down to work out, on the brief that Sir Paul had given me, what needed to be done, but it didn't and I never discussed it with him again. It was not it is now, of course, it looks a most unusual case. Then it perhaps looked slightly different, but we do deal with difficult and demanding things often. So it didn't scream out at me as anything other than the kind of thing that we quite often have to pick ourselves up on and say, "What's gone on here? What do we need to do?" LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Hm. MS PATRY HOSKINS I do have some more questions about this. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Let's have a break now. Just have a few minutes. (11.39 am) (A short break) (11.47 pm) MS PATRY HOSKINS Before the break, we were discussing the period 9 July 2009. I've asked you a little about discussions that took place prior to the decision that Mr Yates conduct this investigation into the establishment of the facts. Can I ask you another theoretical question, if I can. You may know that Mr Yates gave evidence to the Inquiry that he was asked by Sir Paul to establish the facts. He showed us a file note which indicated that he wanted to establish the facts of the case and consider whether there was anything new arising as a result of the Guardian article to which we've just been referring. He explained in evidence as well that he had a meeting with a number of senior officers, he had access to briefings document he was given DSC Clive Timmons. He then gave a brief overview of what he'd done on that and how he came to the conclusions that he did. I know that you were not asked to be involved, you didn't attend relevant meetings or really have anything to do with it after that initial discussion, but given that you took over his role in due course, and you're therefore, it seems to me, familiar with the process of conducting such a procedure when asked to do so, I'd be grateful for your thoughts on what you would have done what process you would have undertaken, had you been asked to carry out this establishment of the facts on that particular day?
A. Well, a lot would depend on how much I knew already, as it does in any case. I would want to have the article analysed to see exactly what it was saying, and I would want to get as thorough a briefing as I could about what had gone before, through looking at documents, through talking to people who were involved. The essential question in any sort of looking-back process is always: what's changed, and indeed, what's new? And sometimes it's very hard to understand what's new if you don't have a good understanding of what's gone before. But I hesitate to draw parallels, but this is a kind of process that somebody like me is asked to do, albeit in different times of cases, quite often, and it could be quite a short process or it could be one in which, at a very early stage, I would say, "I want this reviewed", or: "I want somebody knew to come in and have a look at it." I would always, as I think John did, want to look at the sort of briefing notes and also to have the views of whatever it was I was asking to take a view actually recorded for me. I might very well talk to the CPS, and indeed to our own lawyers, which I think I'm right in saying John did, certainly the lawyers initially. But it's very hard to be hypothetical about it and it's very hard for me to put myself in his shoes, but the essence of working out what needs to be done now is to be clear about what it is being said is new and fundamental and clearly whoever's written the article thinks needs doing something about and in order to understand that, you frequently have to have quite a good understanding of what's gone before. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But why this focus on the word "new"? Why isn't it: "Did we get this right?"
A. Um well, I from my point of view, sir, as I see it, of course there are times when we have to go back and ask whether we got something right or wrong, but and that can be part of any kind of review process, but sometimes you are, if you have a full understanding of what's gone before, starting with: "We think we know what happened here. New information has come in; do we need to respond to it?" Or: "Time has passed. Do we now need to do anything different?" LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you premised it on the basis that you had a full understanding of what had gone on, and, I mean, having sat here listening to a number of extremely senior police officers, and recognising entirely, as I did when he said it, that Mr Clarke was absolutely right in September to say, "With the risk of bombs exploding all over the country or in the air, this is not a subject for further resource" that's one thing.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But that wasn't quite the position in July 2009, and indeed it had come back to bite you in the form of the Guardian article. So it's the word "new" that bothers me.
A. Right. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If it shouldn't, please tell me.
A. I suppose I latched onto it because it was in the terms of reference that Sir Paul gave, but I'm not sure we are disagreeing that much. I think you're absolutely right. My point is: in order to know whether you now need to do something, you have to have a good understanding of the past. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's the point.
A. And however you get that it might be: "I know X, Y, Z", sometimes, because I did that, or it might be: "I need somebody to undertake an enormous review of this for me." LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But not necessarily enormous.
A. Or short, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON As you said you need to understand what had gone on in the past
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I was internally nodding rather vigorously.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But I'm not sure it's appropriate to latch onto Sir Paul's word "new". Sir Paul, after all, is in a motor car driving up the M6 to another commitment. He's heard something on the radio. His words are not to be construed like a statute. The Met is being criticised in an article which is not a trivial piece of work but a substantial and researched effort, and there are two quite separate issues here: first of all, as a matter of appropriate policing, did we get it right? And secondly, how do we cope with the reputational risk to the Met that is inevitable if this sort of well-researched piece goes into the public domain and we haven't actually addressed it presently?
A. Yes, I accept both absolutely, sir. I understand exactly what you're saying and I accept that entirely. I suppose you could characterise what Sir Paul was saying in the way that would often be said, which is: "I've read this article; do we need to do anything now?" And obviously the articles that we read sometimes alert us to all sorts of suggestions about what we did and didn't do previously, and then sometimes we need to go back and ask exactly the question you've asked, which is: did it suffice then or does it suffice now, what we did? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You see, I'm sorry that you're being pressed on this, but it's important for first of all, you were there at the time, albeit on the periphery.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But it has been suggested and let's be quite uncoded about it that Mr Yates was very keen to dismiss this, and that might be because of, or conscious of, his friendship with Mr Wallis. It might also be possible that he adopted rather too dismissive a line, for reasons which do not bear on his integrity but demonstrate a lack of judgment. Or it may be that he was absolutely fair enough. Now, those are the three possibilities. It doesn't seem to me there are any others. Therefore, because it's obviously become very important in the context of the Inquiry and indeed Mr Yates ultimately resigned, so it's important for him as well that I investigate those three possibilities and try to get to the right answer. So that's why you're being pressed on this.
A. Yes, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If you have any further observation you want to make, I'd be very interested to receive it.
A. Simply to say I know Mr Yates well. I've known him a very long time. I find it impossible to countenance that he would not have done what he saw as his best and the right thing in that situation. He has clearly said that the outcome of that decision, knowing as he says, knowing what we now know, was poor, and he clearly wishes that the decision had had a different answer. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. And I completely see that as well. Of course, it would have been better. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The outcome of the decision wasn't merely poor; it was disastrous, in the events which later obtained. The question is whether the decision itself was poor and I think he probably recognised that it was but there's also the issue of the perception of the whole thing.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Which is actually what I asked him about, I think.
A. Yes, and I understand that I understand absolutely what you are saying. There is a perception issue. There's a process what did he do and was that sufficient at the time? And then: was it the right answer, a good answer? And as I say, he has conceded undoubtedly that LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I put the three possibilities not because I thought all three were possibles but they were the range and therefore it's important that somewhere along that range I reach a conclusion.
A. Yes, I see that, sir. MS PATRY HOSKINS Is there anything about the process that you would have done differently that you can assist us with? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON If you can't answer that question "yes", in the light of hindsight, I think that's probably quite a difficult question.
A. In the light of hindsight, undoubtedly. If I was sitting in his shoes, I think it's very, very hard for any of us to go back there then, but what is quite clear is that in that process, he didn't get a good understanding of I think, of what had gone before, and there are a number of different ways that any of us in that position can go about trying to be clear about the answer to your question, sir, which is: was what happened before sufficient or is it now sufficient? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I withdraw the comment on your question, but I will ask one follow-up. You say this has happened several times, and I'm sure it has, that you've had to respond. Is there any enormous urgency of time about that?
A. Um LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I mean, would it have mattered if some sort of announcement had been made in the middle of the following week?
A. I think it's important that one responds in some way clearly. If it is a matter which has been on the front page of a newspaper, then people legitimately can ask, "Well, what are you doing about this?" LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes.
A. And we have to be able to we have to say either: "We are absorbing this, we're analysing it and we will update you", or you can say, "We've read it and we realise we need to do a review", but you clearly can't not respond. You have to say something. But I think if your question is: do you always have to give an answer within a day? Well, certainly not, no, a final answer. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. I recognise that, and just pursuing it one more stage: do you have an observation on the fact that there was a press release, an interview that afternoon, yet it was only over the weekend and in the ensuing days that paperwork was obtained: a report from the Detective Chief Superintendent, a note of a conference or a discussion we'll find out which with counsel that all followed the announcement, rather than coming before it.
A. I don't think I can comment on that, sir, except to say that it is not unusual for further work to be done after a decision has been made, nor is it unusual for things to be written up subsequently, because sometimes it's not possible to write absolutely contemporaneously. But I am not familiar with what went on here. I haven't seen the minutes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right.
A. I'm really not in a position to comment on that. MS PATRY HOSKINS I think we will move on now to recommendations for the future, if we can. I'm going to ask you about the recent HMIC report "Without fear or favour", and also obviously the recommendations identified in the Filkin report. Shall we start with paragraph 60 of your statement, please. That deals with the HMIC report. I don't want to spend a lot of time going back through the recommendations contained therein. You simply say you accept the findings of the review and that all the recommendations seem reasonable. In particular, you say: "I believe we do need to be clear about the standards we expect and give more advice and training about what is acceptable and what is not." What role will you play, Assistant Commissioner, in ensuring that the findings of the review are taken on board and taken forward, if necessary?
A. Well, I am a member of the ACPO ethics group, which is looking at a number of these issues, and I've fed my views into that. I'm also a member of the management board of the Met and it will be absolutely crucial that we, as a board, discuss the recommendations and are clear about what we are doing as a group, and it will then be my job to both within the Met and also across the counter-terrorism network, I think help people be clear about the standards and that involves giving a lot of personal time. So for me, you know, it will be about having national standards, it will be about having leadership and personal leadership around the issues, and then ensuring that we have systems and processes in place to support them, and that those systems and processes don't just sit on a shelf but are actually living and are regularly reviewed and audited. So for me, I see that if I take the collective recommendations and, of course, whatever comes out of this public Inquiry, it will be a big part of my personal role in the future, and I would expect to, as far as I can and we all fail sometimes you know, set the standards by what I do as well as what I say to others.
Q. All right. So that's a process that's just starting, if I can put it that way? The implementation of the recommendations is a process that's just in its infancy?
A. Yes. I mean, some of the recommendations overlap with things that we've already done, I think, and we in the Met are looking at them as a sort of together with the Filkin recommendations, which obviously we've already started on as well. So it is a work in progress, but I am particularly keen that we should be part of the national approach. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is the ACPO ethics group, which you've just mentioned, preparing its own response or view? And if so, do you know whether it is intending to share them with me?
A. We have had a number of conversations as a group about a variety of the issues. I think one of our members is coming to give evidence to you anyway, under the professional standards portfolio, and so you will hear from him and the group. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So I'll be able to learn what the collective wisdom of the ACPO ethics group is?
A. Well, I wouldn't put it that grandly, sir, if I may, but certainly you will hear from more than one member of it over the coming weeks. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, but I need to know what you're thinking. You've said you're a member of the group and you have fed your views in.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That's fine. I could take them off piecemeal and say, "Right, what are your views", and then the next person: "What are your views", but I'm hoping that somebody will say, "Actually, the collective view is this", and maybe if somebody is coming, you could encourage that person to be prepared to do that, if it isn't inappropriate.
A. I certainly will, sir. I know some of the collective views have already been fed into Ms Filkin and to the overall ACPO response, but I will do that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. MS PATRY HOSKINS Apart from your response, the ACPO response, the response to the Filkin report, the response to the HMIC report I think those are all responses that are in their infancy is there anything that you personally would like to add in terms of recommendations for the future or are you content that the recommendations that those two reports have put forward are sufficient to deal with any perceived problems?
A. I think the area that I've been thinking about perhaps takes us back to what we have just been discussing in terms of processes. So I here am talking about how and when we review I'll use that word deliberately. It's very clear and set out in relation to, for example, murders, and it's a very well-embedded process, including those murders where we have brought people to justice and those where we haven't or we've brought some but not others. It's a regular review process. We don't have the same process and challenge in some of our most complex and sensitive investigations like this as a routine, and I noticed what Peter Clarke said about making that sort of decision more transparent and accountable. I think we should have a more embedded review process for investigations of this type.
Q. Is there anything else? Any other recommendations or any other weaknesses that you perceive need a solution?
A. There's nothing else that I wish to say here. Thank you. MS PATRY HOSKINS Those are my questions. Is there anything else at all that you would like to add?
A. I wondered, sir, whether I just might say something about the difference between what we are doing now in Weeting and Elveden and what was done in 2006. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON By all means. By all means.
A. Just to give some sort of context, really. You've heard from DAC Akers, I know, on more than one occasion, and I for one have complete confidence in the investigation that she and her teams are doing. But I think it is important perhaps to say that they are operating in a very different environment from 2006. Firstly, clearly, they are getting co-operation from News International, albeit, as she has said to Select Committees, more now than when Weeting started. Secondly, the resources that the Met, through me, has been able to make available to her of course is completely different, for reasons I know you understand. Thirdly, the fact that at an early stage, as a result of what had gone before, the material began to be loaded effectively and accurately onto a database I think has made a difference. She's operating under a wider interpretation of section 1 of RIPA, undoubtedly, as her start point, and her team's mindset is a wider view of both what a victim is, how they're defined, and also indeed a wider view of what the material gained in 2006 contained in terms of potential lines of inquiry and suspects. But perhaps the most important thing, in a sense, is the context more broadly. Public opinion in terms of these issues is in as very different place from 2006, where, of course, we were completely dominated by the terrorist threat. That investigation in 2006 broke new ground, and now, albeit this is not beyond the bounds of possibility and has indeed happened, that DAC Akers could be criticised for investigating the press too thoroughly as you know, this has happened in the last couple of weeks actually I think it's important to recognise that the world she's working in is so very different from 2006 in terms of the degree of resistance and outrage that was likely to follow on such an investigation back then. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I recognise that. It's been inevitable that the police response has had to default to the other extreme, and I understand that for all the reasons you've given. The question is not whether Mr Clarke made a sensible decision based upon the reality of the time but whether there was a sufficient understanding of what there already was to reveal that when the one rogue reporter line came out, that was something which actually did not coincide with the view of what had gone on. I can see a sensible analysis of the position: "We've identified the problem. We've conducted a high-profile prosecution, which has led to a result. We haven't got the resources to go through all the material that there is. We're not sure how much evidentially could be proved" I might have a slightly different view on some of that, but that's neither here nor there "therefore we make sure that those who have been or potentially have been victimised, whether specifically because of the interpretation of RIPA or through the fact they were the target of a conspiracy, which wouldn't have had the RIPA problem that has been spoken about "
A. Yes, absolutely. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON and we make sure that the organisation recognises the gravity of the position." And the real question may be: assuming that is a sensible strategy and it seems to me, subject to hearing any argument, that it was was it followed through in its second and third limbs, and if not, what should have happened?
A. Yes, I understand that entirely, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON That we are in a different position now to 2006, I need no convincing of at all.
A. Thank you, sir. MS PATRY HOSKINS Thank you very much indeed. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I have one other question, and I'm afraid it puts you in a slightly different position. I don't want to press you about it overly but I do feel it's quite important. You'll be aware that for the first two weeks of this Inquiry I heard from a large number of people who had been the subject of personal invasions of their own space, their own privacy, in ways that they found objectionable. Some recognised that they were public figures and therefore some interest in their personal circumstances could be appropriate. You've observed in paragraph 25 that after one very high-profile investigation in which you were involved, you were the subject of some attention and you say that after the death of Mr De Menezes, you had journalists outside your home and that of your family, journalists called your neighbours and were inquiring about you, and you add this: "I am not sure what they were doing was in the public interest, as I'm not sure what they were seeking to achieve." Could you please give me a little bit on what you see is an appropriate line for very senior officers and what goes beyond that line?
A. Well, I do think very senior officers are in the public eye. We are public officials. We make high-profile decisions which will be and quite properly so scrutinised to a huge extent in a variety of different ways, and I say that particularly in the context, in my instance, of the death of Jean Charles. It was a terrible event and I would expect to have received a great deal of scrutiny, and I don't think you know, I don't have for the record, I have no complaint whatsoever about the scrutiny that I received. I expected it and I subsequently was not surprised by any of it. My position is utterly different from a member of the public who might suffer for some, you know, extraordinary reason, worst of all if they've already been a victim of crime themselves. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Oh yes, you're not in that position.
A. Not at all. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But I just wonder whether you had any views upon whether it was appropriate to go beyond an absolutely proper scrutiny of everything you're doing in the public arena and in relation to this investigation, but to go beyond that to neighbours and family.
A. What I would say is I think in all these instances and I've spoken to a number of senior officers and junior officers, actually, who have found themselves suddenly, through their work, catapulted into a higher profile I would say it's much harder for the family of anybody than it ever is for the public official themselves and it can be quite difficult for a family to understand what is going on and why it is going on. I think if that amounts clearly to harassment or to unfair questions, trickery, seeking very personal information which is, you know, absolutely not to do with the matter at hand, then I think that may go too far. But as I say, I do think public officials, and particularly senior public officials, have to expect a great deal of attention. I think I'd like to leave it there, really. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, well, it was that last sentence of that paragraph that intrigued me to ask you about it. Thank you very much.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you, Assistant Commissioner.
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much for the work you've put into this in what, as you've identified, is clearly a very busy time.
A. Thank you. MS PATRY HOSKINS Thank you, sir. (Pause). LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. MR JAY Sir, the next witness is Sir Denis O'Connor, please. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. SIR DENIS FRANCIS O'CONNOR (sworn) Questions by MR JAY MR JAY Your full name, please?
A. Denis Francis O'Connor.
Q. Sir Denis, you have provided us with a witness statement it's really in the form of a letter, but we are content to accept it as a witness statement dated 20 January of this year. I hope you have it in front of you. You've signed and dated it. Is this your formal evidence to the Inquiry?
A. It is my formal evidence in the Inquiry. I have had a subsequent conversation with the Inquiry, as you're aware, Mr Jay.
Q. Certainly, and there are addenda which we can address orally in due course. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Sir Denis, I am very happy publicly to acknowledge the assistance that HMIC have provided, and also their kindness in keeping me informed, during the course of last year, of where their investigation was and where it was leading and their willingness to take on board ideas and lines of inquiry which I hope have assisted you and have certainly assisted me.
A. Yes, sir. Thank you. MR JAY Sir Denis, in terms of your career, you started with the MPS, then you moved to Surrey and then to Kent. You returned to the MPS in 1997, in the rank of Assistant Commissioner, where you stayed until the year 2000. You were then Chief Constable of Surrey between the years 2000 and 2004. You then joined Her Majesty's Inspectorate in 2004 and became Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of the Constabulary in the year 2009. Is that, broadly speaking, correct?
A. That's, broadly speaking, correct.
Q. And you were knighted in Her Majesty's birthday honours in the year 2010. May I deal first of all with your time as Assistant Commissioner in the late 1990s?
A. Yes.
Q. This is the bottom of paragraph 55 of your statement, our page 55434, when you explore a number of issues. In particular, paragraph 56, subparagraph 1: "The Commissioner's direction in March 1996, which encouraged a more open approach Can you tell us a bit about that, please, in particular what the approach was before and how that approach was changed?
A. Sorry, Mr Jay, I'm just looking to see the paragraph on the screen. I will ah, thank you. Well, I joined after this, but obviously on joining I was brought in with a particular remit, which was to be responsible for part of London, southwest London, to be responsible for community relations in general in London, and in particular, to come forward with a programme for development, because the Lawrence Inquiry was in the offing and then began running. In that context, I progressively had a great deal of business with the media. I took care to examine what the direction of the organisation was that's why I referred to the 2006 note by the Commissioner and I have characterised it in this paragraph, which was open and responsive to what came forward, in broad terms. It was designed to illustrate what was being done, to try and correct inaccuracies and, as I say there, there was a hope that some of the negative perceptions and some of the good work and some the intentions would help mitigate some of the failures and flaws of the police. That was the objective of it. It was there were briefings with I became familiar with the Crime Reporters Association and Sir Paul, as he then was, told me that he occasionally met editors from the various newspapers. I was obviously not operating at that level. However, as I began to develop a new strategy for the Met on things like stop and search, ethnic recruitment, the way we would investigate crimes in the future, so we would be more convincing, I became exposed to the media in all forms: broadcast media and the conventional press. And in that role I would say that the broad objective was we were reactive. I was accompanied, as it were, invariably. It was a relatively austere affair, from my point of view, in terms of how we did business, and I think that broadly I've summarised it in subparagraph 2. There were occasional meals, but they were very rare, really, in the great scheme of things. It was an extremely busy time and I frankly didn't have time for meals. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You mean you didn't have time to socialise in meals; it wasn't that busy. You had to eat!
A. I can honestly say that myself and another Assistant Commissioner who was, it were, tasked to look at the past I was tasked to look at the future the hours were extended and there was really not a great deal of time for that kind of activity, even had we wished to do so, but there was no atmosphere in which that was an expectation anyway. MR JAY Your house style, as it were, hospitality overwhelmingly of the tea and coffee variety, but there were occasional meals, which you refer to. Were those meals with editors, senior journalists or
A. They were there was a few meals when I say "meals", there was I would have to check the diary for the time. There was a few meals there were journalists who were particularly concerned with aspects of Lawrence. The Daily Mail had run a campaign, so they had an interest. There were a variety of news outlets that dealt with minorities, from the Asian subcontinent and elsewhere. There were emerging issues around operation I helped initiate Operation Trident, because part of the concern in the Met in this and there were three major concerns: race, competence and corruption, and on the race issue there was a perception that the Met were ineffective at the time in protecting the black community, and so I had a contact with various outlets, but really these were to turn up to be interviewed, normally speaking, and move on. Very occasionally and I don't have a perfect recollection but it was really very occasionally one of the journalists would want to they would want some context. They would want to be, effectively, persuaded that we were actually trying to develop, for example, a racial and violent crime taskforce, which John Grieve came to lead, that we were going to establish community safety units in boroughs that would actually go into the victimisation and change our performance in detecting crime in racial incidents. These things needed explaining, and they had to be explained in part by somebody who was had some responsibility. And I do not take the credit for this. There was a big team of people wonderful people in delivering this change. So on the margins of that, there were tea, coffee, and very few lunchtime type things or a meeting in the cafe. That was it.
Q. Thank you. On the next page, paragraph 60, 55436, you refer to the MPS having established relationships with journalists and press officers for supporting areas of work.
A. Yes.
Q. Were these relationships on a personal level, to your knowledge, or were they relationships with particular organisations, particular print titles?
A. My memory of it was that and I think to a degree, it's still the case now different journalists specialised in political affairs, crime affairs, matters of defence and so on, and some journalists become extremely established and authoritative to a degree in their territory. Actually, extremely authoritative. Some of those journalists seemed to have an established relationship with the Met in the centre, and were involved in some of those briefings that I've referred to. For example, there were some from the Crime Reporters Association who had been around a long time, who were regarded as trusted in terms of they had been briefed before and not breached the terms of that, and likewise I think there was a similar view of some journalists in the broadcast media who were very important in all of this, who actually were devoted and have been devoted to particular issues and concerns over a long period of time. That's what I'm broadly referring to there, and they had the Met had a way of thematically dealing with these issues, whether it was community relations, particular aspects of crime, and they had some system for briefing, supporting people when they were going to have to do interviews, both at the centre and geographically in London.
Q. Can we move forward in time, Sir Denis, to your appointment as Chief Constable of Surrey Police, which was in the year 2000. It's back in your statement to paragraph 2, page 55427.
A. Yes.
Q. The witness statement which the Inquiry has seen of the current Assistant Chief Constable says that you brought a new approach to media management, evidenced by greater proactive engagement with bodies such as the CRA.
A. Yes.
Q. Is that a fair observation, in your view?
A. It is.
Q. And that your approach, which you may have brought with you from London, was soon regarded favourably by senior detectives in Surrey as a valuable tool in managing the demands of the media in complex major investigations. Again, is that something you're aware of and would agree with?
A. I think within boundaries that was true. There were discussions about this. It's probably fair to say one of the biggest things I brought was not really that that was a particular mechanism is I brought critical incident training, which was an intensive roleplay over two or three days that had been developed as a result of the Lawrence Inquiry to enable senior investigators and senior officers and everybody else to know their responsibilities and to understand they would be tested all the way through, dare I say it, sir, to a public inquiry potentially. So when they started dealing with incidents involving particularly incidents involving death or where evidence was in question or public confidence was lost, they should prepare themselves so that they could be convincing and they should put the family interests, which is, frankly, part of the learning from Lawrence, at the heart of the matter. One ingredient in that, but only one ingredient, involved roleplay by real journalists rather than people pretending to do that, who would ask very uncomfortable and difficult, searching questions, and this was designed to help people develop themselves so they would be more competent and able to deal, as it were, with the fury and difficulties that go with difficult investigations.
Q. The last general point that has been made by the Assistant Chief Constable currently in place is that there was recruitment of an increasing number of ex-journalists, including Mr Tim Morris as press and publicity manager in July 2002. Again, is that something you would agree with or not?
A. I remember the appointment of Tim Morris. When I came to Surrey, there were a number of really willing and keen, enthusiastic individuals, but their understanding of how both the broadcast and news media worked was limited, and I felt that they were, at times, rather fearful, and because I felt that silence wasn't an option and non-engagement was not an option, on the doorstep of London, I decided they would have to get become more aware of the issues, the skills and, frankly, the way the media would work and come at them.
Q. Thank you. You touched on this already, but in (ii) of paragraph 2, you refer to the critical incident management training. Two members of the press and broadcast media, were involved in that. I've been asked to put this to you: can you remember from which press institutions these journalists came?
A. One came who worked from time to time for Channel 4 and had been used in London, and another in their critical incident training and another was a freelance journalist, again, who had used, as I understand it, in critical incident training in London. So they were people who had gone through this training process before, but they came from different aspects of the media.
Q. I've also been asked to raise this with you in relation to paragraph (iii). This is the then editor of the Sun, Mr Yelland, a member of his staff making a presentation to a range of your staff. Did this lead to closer relations with the Sun?
A. I feel that it didn't really land quite in that form. It was the meeting of two worlds. He basically suggested he lived in Surrey, and I think in a well-intended way he felt that Surrey hid its light under a bush, or whatever expression you like, and he offered to give some kind of seminar or some kind of presentation about the media, as it were, in the world. I think this was, from memory, some time in 2001. He and an assistant brought their view of the world and what excited and interested the media, and it was a presentation, as I recall, about the scoop on Ronnie Biggs. Now, I had a number of senior detectives, uniform officers, people who would have to engage in serious business, and there was a degree of well, they understood, I suppose, why this was interesting to the Sun, but to them, this was really it really was not attached to their mission and it was some way removed. And in a sense it was perfectly civil. It was undertaken in a proper sort of lecture type facility. In a sense, they left the place thinking: "We are from a different world", and you, know: "There's a huge interest in personalities and things like that, but that's not our business." So in one sense, they got some exposure, but in terms of how they viewed the world, it I don't think it changed things greatly for them, and they left some of them left quite perplexed, I'm quite sure.
Q. Thank you. In the year 2002, there was, of course, the Milly Dowler investigation. You touch on that in subparagraph (iv). The formal briefing within agreed parameters you refer to, was that a briefing off the record?
A. It was a briefing where a record was kept. It was not reportable. I may be seen to be quibbling over these things. If one describes these things entirely as "off the record", it sounds like one is uncomfortable, that there is something inappropriate going on, something that, you know, is slightly shady, and I don't take this view. I authorised it because I was concerned about I received some intelligence about where the media might wish to go in relation to this Inquiry, which I thought could derail the inquiry, to a degree, which was already an enormous affair in terms of sightings, hoaxings, all sorts of considerations, and I felt it would be problematic for the family as well, and for that reason I go back to the critical incident doctrine I thought that there were compelling reasons there was a legitimate purpose to undertaking this and that's a phrase I would want to come back to, "a legitimate policing purpose" for doing this, in order to avoid harms that I could foresee.
Q. These are matters of some sensitivity. I understand you don't want to go into the detail, but it's clear in your mind that off the record, although recorded, was appropriate in this case for legitimate policing and other reasons. Have I correctly summarised it?
A. The non-reportable briefing was legitimate in attempting to stop some very difficult issues being aired which would not have helped the investigation, quite the reverse, would have loaded the inquiry, and I felt would have directed some attention to the family, who had already let us remember this suffered enormously, and this, I felt, would be completely unacceptable. So what I'm saying I mean, this is a this is a particular inquiry. It is a feature of these top-end inquiries that they attract a lot of attention. There is a great deal of competition around them between media sources for lines, angles, particularly if they are not resolved rapidly, and they can become more and more exotic and more and more problematic for the investigators and the family who are caught at the centre of it. And one has a choice, and the choice, in the end, is: does one wait and sometimes hope for the best, seeing a momentum building, or does one attempt an intervention like this? There's a risk associated with this, but I have to say I have not been let down when we had done it on that basis, and it's quite clear what we are attempting to do. It is a risk, but in the world of policing, sometimes risks have to be taken.
Q. It's clear that your policy in Surrey was to foster an open and transparent relationship with the press. Do you think that there were frequent off-the-record briefings of the type you're describing or is this quite a rare event?
A. Well, I would like to think that they were not an everyday event, because if there was a briefing that was nonreportable, it would have a rationale. It would not be a conversation, it would not be an exchange of gossip, it would not be something about: can the police look good on this? It would be done for a purpose: to aid the investigation. You might take a view that you wanted to narrow the field in witness terms. There might be a line running in a particular portion of the media where the police are under constraints about what they can say in public, because, for example, a coroner might be waiting for evidence, but where one will try and put some balance in something that has been aired as a real theory but actually was not a credible enterprise in any way. So I would hope that they were measured and there was a rationale around it when it occurred. To my recollection, this was not a frequent event set of events, and you could see that in relation to this very big inquiry, which is one of three that were running that year I don't have a recollection of doing this in relation to the other two inquiries.
Q. As regards hospitality during your time at Surrey you deal with this in your statement it was of the frugal side of the spectrum, if I can put it in these terms, and you say in paragraph 5, for example, that to your recollection you didn't accept hospitality from the media apart from occasional attendance at events where you and others were representing the force, such as the Bravery Awards.
A. That's true.
Q. Can I link this, if there is a link paragraph 31, page 55432, where you say to your personal knowledge leaks to the media were not a significant problem during your tenure. The difficulty here is that you're in part addressing a negative and trying to establish that, but what is your level of confidence that leaks were not a problem? Is it because media reports were monitored and can be demonstrated not to have arisen from leaks from within your organisation or the faith and in the integrity of your organisation? What is your evidential basis for that?
A. Well, my hope is that if a leak occurred that affected the mission of the organisation, I would be told. I did try and scan the media as much as one can, and I did set in motion a research programme to look at how the media were reporting on Surrey through the press department. This didn't all happen simultaneously; this was all part of upgrading our response. You will understand that as a discipline authority, not everything reaches the Chief Constable, who must sit in judgment of things. So I may have been partially safe from it, but I would have expected and, you know, my sort of my concern with the mission of policing and its credibility, that people would have drawn my senior staff, my professional standards department if there was anything significant, they would have told me. I would have expected that. I was quite an intrusive some would call it a pain as a Chief Constable, because I was, you know, attempting to change a great deal in the organisation, which actually had acquired territory from London, and upgrade the whole infrastructure of it, as well as handle these inquiries. So I was very interested in sentiment, in that sense not everybody initially had been happy, for example, coming from London and so I did keep an eye in what was going on. But I have to say I reflected one leak issue was brought to my attention and there was action on it and I would have absolutely expected that. I really would like to hope that if there had been any pattern, any sustained effort, I would have been told. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON This is a little bit removed from the terms of reference that I am following, but do you think there's a slight weakness in the fact that the most senior officer in the force is kept from matters which may be of concern to him, because of the disciplinary function that he exercises?
A. I suppose there is theoretically, but only if he or she does not have faith in some the other people who work with them. Particularly my Deputy Chief Constable at the present time, Peter Fahy, I had absolute faith in his integrity. I thought he would make the right judgments and he was a reformer and sensitive to the public you know, the public confidence in the police, and I felt he would make the right judgment. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON This is not a personal comment about Surrey.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON This is a systemic question, really. You have a number of very important players on the chess board at each police force, and you've taken your biggest player out of professional standards at a level, because he is the ultimate discipline authority. Therefore the question arises and as I say, this might be slightly removed from the terms of reference, but it's possibly something that the HMIC may or may not be interested in. The question arises whether that is actually a good idea.
A. I can understand the question, sir. The systemic answer and I am interested in system, and I hope we get to that later. The systemic answer is that the Deputy Chief Constable normally rides shotgun effectively on these issues for the organisation and in fact will liaise with the police authority and other people so that there is a system in place and there is a specific responsibility for it. And obviously this person is only a heart beat away from the Chief Constable, so they are very, very senior and they are able to direct resources and they're able to intervene with real authority. That's the system. And I don't think that part of the system in my experience, that part of the system has not been generally flawed. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Okay. The alternative way of doing it is that discipline involves an ACPO-ranking officer from another force. I'm not encouraging it and I'm not going there; it's just that I appreciate you have your deputy and you have your assistants and you have obvious faith in them as a Chief Constable. The question is: is it the best use of resource to keep him out of what may be very sensitive and balanced judgments? Anyway, there it is.
A. Just to close it, I suppose the rationale for the Chief Constable is that he or she sees things in the round, both from inside and looking from outside the organisation, and that they do not become overly preoccupied with the degree of detail that will you, sir, would expect to drill down on things. But there is somebody appointed to do just that. There is an accountable line on it. But it is an open question. MR JAY If we now move forward to your time as chief inspector of the HMIC. We heard something of the role of the HMIC from Mr Baker last week. It was set up under the Police Act 1996 as amended. What, if anything, are the powers of the HMIC over individual police forces?
A. HMIC has the power to inspect the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and currently police authorities. That will change in November. It will be restricted to the police forces. Since January 2, I have sought and at my behest, we have had power to seize documents and to enter premises, in order to pursue our duties. Not, dare I say, that we have been challenged, but it is best to be prepared, not just legislate for good times.
Q. If you make a recommendation in relation to a police force, does that recommendation have to be accepted and/or are there, as it were, coercive powers which you enjoy over police forces?
A. The recommendations are normally we endeavour to make most of the recommendations as sensible as possible so that they are compelling. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sure you do that.
A. Well, not everyone agrees that, but from my perspective, we do. They are not always all accepted. We do with particular ones where we feel it is pressing, we do follow through at some length. For example, the G20 affair and all of the things that went with that and the interpretation of the law by the Metropolitan Police and the training and so on, we followed through on that for quite a substantial period of time. So depending on the nature of the recommendations, the seriousness of the issue, we will pursue it, but what we try to do is seek agreement from the chief officer and the chair of the authority, depending on what the recommendations are.
Q. Yes. So is this right, Sir Denis: you don't have formal coercive legal powers, but you have considerable influence over police forces and currently authorities?
A. We have some influence, and we try to know our place as well. The only other thing I would say is it is sometimes mistaken from externally that the publication of a view by an independent body like ourselves is a matter of some significance to chief constables and police authorities and there is kind of I suppose a degree of leverage that flows from the publication of what you've found and then any follow-up, where a follow-up is still found to be wanting. It may sound rather like soft power. It is obviously less of an obvious sanction that some other regulators, but it has its place.
Q. The particular report we're going to look at in due course, "Without fear or favour" you tell us that that report has been received positively and it's your intention well, we've heard from Mr Baker that further representations are going to be obtained and then a further assessment will be carried out by your body; is that right?
A. That's correct, and I'm aware, too, of the Inquiry's reporting timeframes and I have discussed that with Mr Baker so that the work can, where at all possible, align with that so that our thoughts are informed, and likewise, if we have any useful evidence or material to provide, we do so.
Q. Thank you. One further point before we break for lunch, and it's a discrete point: the Guardian article, which I think we worked out now was put online at about 5 pm on 8 July 2009, and then reached the print edition the following day, 9 July. Were you asked at the time to do anything by Home Office officials?
A. I in the margins of other business, I had a discussion, as far as I can recall, with a Home Office official on the 9th, who asked for my view about the story. This was just an oral exchange. There were a lot of other things going on but this was an oral exchange. I said, looking at this, that I thought the revelations merited some form of independent review. I thought that if this allegation the allegations that were there, if true in any degree, would raise substantial public confidence issues, and I would not be surprised if the HMIC were asked to assist in some way to facilitate such an approach.
Q. What happened, though?
A. There was I think there was a second again, in the margins of other business conversation with another more senior official, but my understanding was that, as with a number of other options, discussion ensued with the ministers and the Home Secretary at the time, and there was no appetite for the HMIC being involved. So it really never got off the ground, sadly, and I was particularly taken with it in one sense, that I was already looking at a leaks inquiry in any event, which was the Damian Green leaks inquiry, where the HMIC were coming in behind something to look to see what lessons could be learnt. This would have been more complex, for fairly obvious reasons, which we can rehearse, but I did point out the parallel.
Q. Yes. We've seen your report in relation to the Damian Green leaks inquiry. Mr Quick annexed it to his witness statement. I suppose the only issue on that: is there anything in that report which bears directly on the terms of reference of this Inquiry, which of course are the relationships between police and the press as opposed to relationships between the press and government departments?
A. Well, I think the common ground is potential conflicts of interest and priorities and the fact that in all of these, the common feature they share is they're all highly charged and stakes are high. So I do think there's common ground, and there's common ground in a sense that my inquiry into the Damian Green piece suggested to me that the framework that existed around initiating those inquiries/reviews/investigations was weak. There was weaknesses in the framework which allowed for the police to be drawn in, sometimes initially on the basis that state secrets were at risk, but actually in this particular case they were not, they were embarrassing issues, and it allowed for drift, and I've there were all sorts of other mechanisms that could have resolved it. So framework and I think we'll come to this at some point. Parallel with the this Inquiry: is the framework strong enough, when the police have conflicts of interest and when they have to review things? Do they have a good anchor point, a good set of references to go by? And how do they manage and this is what I did try to look at in relation to Damian Green: how do they manage their way through this so that they if they decide to go forward or to stop, there is some respectable, proper process for a considered use of discretion? And I set out an approach at the rear of that report, which was agreed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Cabinet Office, the Home Office and the police, about high-impact cases for which politicians, the police and government is one territory, but there are some parallels, clearly, with this high the high-impact case, as it were, issues that this Inquiry are looking at. There are some parallels in my terms. MR JAY That's one of the themes we're going to come back to at some stage this afternoon, Sir Denis, but that may be convenient. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just before we leave, or maybe we'll return to it, was it a common occurrence for you to be shown newspaper articles by Home Office officials and asked whether you felt the HMIC should get involved or what you felt about it? The reason I ask the question is because part of the evidence I've heard is that "this was just another newspaper article", and I rather challenge that view and I take what you've said as supporting my challenge of the view, but I'd just like to get an understanding of whether that's fair.
A. To the first part, sir, the it's not common, because we were endeavouring to forge a new relationship. Prior to my appointment, the chief inspector had been the principle adviser to the Home Secretary about professional matters; this design was I was supposed to be more independent. The actual newspaper article wasn't drawn to my attention, it was just the news item, as it were, I think there had been something on the radio as well as but I I have been around the block on these things. I have been through the Lawrence experience, Scarman inquiry and the rest, and just looked to me, just even crystallised that morning, it had some of the potential features of real difficulty. That's why it stood out as something of significance, potentially, if even if small part it were true. Occasionally officials did discuss news issues, but I dare say not always to agree about the way those issues were addressed. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Maybe we'll return to that at 2.05 pm. (1.05 pm)


Gave a statement at the hearing on 12 March 2012 (AM) ; and submitted 1 pieces of evidence
Gave statements at the hearings on 12 March 2012 (AM) and 12 March 2012 (PM) ; and submitted 7 pieces of evidence


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