The Inquiry addressed fears that the police, and chiefly the Metropolitan Police, had become too close to parts of the press. The ‘Met’ was accused of failing properly to investigate phone hacking and failing to prosecute journalists who had plainly broken the law. The Inquiry examined relations between news organisations both at high levels and in the day-to-day work of ordinary officers and reporters.

Editors, specialist reporters and officers gave evidence on how the relationship operated and were challenged on possible conflicts of interest and the best interest of the public. Possible corruption was probed, and allegations that police tipped off journalists in cases involving celebrities.

Much attention was given to the relationship between News International papers and the Met, especially in the context of the phone-hacking investigation.

The Inquiry also received public updates from senior officers on the state of criminal investigations into phone hacking, bribery, data theft, computer hacking and other alleged offences by journalists.


Since the bribing of public officials is a criminal offence, notably under the Bribery Act 2010, and since Operation Tuleta was investigating specific allegations of bribery by news publishers, the Inquiry considered this matter only in general terms. It was expected to be examined fully at a later date by Leveson 2. The ethics of paying sources of information, and of offering payments for information publicly, were discussed more fully, as were questions about decision-making and financial controls.

The Report reviewed payments for stories in Part F, Chapter 6, Section 10, having received evidence from journalists and editors including Dawn Neesom, Peter Wright, Hugh Whittow, Mazher Mahmood, Nick Davies and Paul McMullan. Film-maker Chris Atkins testified on the distorting effects of offers of money.

In their submissions to the Inquiry all the leading news publishers provided evidence of their governance systems and the controls in place to ensure conformity with the law. For example, the Daily Mail's publishers Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL) submitted governance documents showing how control of expenditure was exercised (see here). These were reviewed in the Report in Part C, Chapter 2.

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Phone hacking

From the 1990s, newspapers illegally hacked the voicemails of celebrities, politicians, police officers, the royal household, rival journalists, ordinary people in the news such as bereaved families and the relatives, friends and associates of target individuals.

In 2006, a journalist, Clive Goodman, and a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, both working for the News of the World, were caught hacking, and though the paper said it was just 'one rogue reporter' who was to blame, in 2009 The Guardian showed the practice went wider. There followed civil court actions, denials and accusations of cover-up involving News International (owners of the paper), the police and politicians.

In July 2011, The Guardian revealed that the phone of murdered 13-year-old Milly Dowler had been hacked and the Leveson Inquiry was established. By then, new criminal proceedings were under way and the matter was sub judice, so the Inquiry dealt with the subject mainly in general terms, including the roles of the police and politicians.

Since the Inquiry, it has been confirmed that journalists for the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the People also hacked phones. Thousands were targeted and nine journalists were convicted of hacking, including former News of the World editor Andy Coulson.

Many submissions and witnesses addressed phone hacking. The Inquiry heard evidence from Guardian journalist Nick Davies as well as from relevant police officers, notably Philip Williams and John Yates, and from victims including Bob and Sally Dowler, Charlotte Church, Lord Prescott and Sienna Miller. Andy Coulson, Ian Edmondson and Neville Thurlbeck, all subsequently convicted of hacking, also gave evidence.

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Data theft & data protection

This was a leading theme of the Inquiry, the subject of Part H of the Report and of 18 Recommendations.

The Operation Motorman affair, though not investigated in detail in Part 1 of the Inquiry (because criminality was a matter for Part 2), left no doubt that the protections in place for the private data of citizens were inadequate. Private investigators employed by almost all the national press had plundered personal data on an industrial scale, and the investigation of this by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) prompted two reports, What Price Privacy? and What Price Privacy Now?. The Inquiry looked closely at the consequences of those reports.

Much of the relevant evidence was supplied by the ICO and by its officers, past and present, most notably the Commissioner of the time, Christopher Graham, and his predecessor, Richard Thomas. Representatives of the PCC, notably Stephen Abell, were questioned about their responses to the two reports. Newspaper executives such as Peter Wright and Rebekah Brooks also supplied evidence.

Focusing on necessary reforms, the Inquiry proceedings highlighted questions of how far journalists should enjoy special privileges under data protection legislation, what powers of prosecution the ICO should have, what guidance the press industry needed, and the quality of relevant governance in the industry.

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Operation Motorman

This 2003 initiative by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) lay at the heart of the Inquiry's consideration of the issue of the illegal and unethical acquisition of personal data by and on behalf of journalists. It involved the arrest of private investigator Steve Whittamore and the seizure of documentation.

Whittamore logged more than 13,000 requests for information from journalists at almost every national paper, and much of this information ‐ vehicle owner details, ex-directory and mobile phone numbers, phone records and criminal record data - could not be acquired legally. The ICO issued two public reports on the matter, What Price Privacy? and What Price Privacy Now?, but no charges were brought against journalists.

The Inquiry did not identify the journalists named in the Motorman files, but a number of editors, journalists and other newspaper staff were questioned about data theft and the use of private investigators. They included Peter Hill, Paul Dacre, John Witherow, Peter Wright, Rebekah Brooks and Richard Wallace. ICO personnel, including former Commissioner Richard Thomas and former investigator Alex Owens, were examined on the failure to prosecute journalists.

The Inquiry made 19 Recommendations in relation to the press and data protection.

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Relations with journalists - high level

Relations between press and police loomed large in the Inquiry's Terms of Reference, reflecting notably concerns about the quality of the police response to phone hacking, and they were addressed in Part G of the Report, leading to Recommendations 75-81.

The Inquiry received evidence from Elizabeth Filkin, who produced a report for the Metropolitan Police relating to these matters in January 2012 (see here).

Gathering its own evidence, the Inquiry heard and received submissions from many witnesses in relation to contacts between, on the one hand, newspaper proprietors, editors and executives, and on the other, senior police officers.

Among officers who testified were Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, then the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and two of his predecessors who had links with News International, Sir Paul Stephenson and Lord Stevens. They and two other former Commissioners, Lords Condon and Blair, described their approaches to media relations and their personal contacts.

Many other officers and forces provided evidence, as did Dick Fedorcio, a former Director of Public Affairs at the Metropolitan Police, and Neil Wallis, a former News of the World executive to whom he granted a contract. John Yates, a former Assistant Commissioner connected to the investigation of phone hacking, was questioned in detail about his relations with the media.

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Relations with journalists - low level

How far is it in the public interest for frontline police officers to have friendly relationships with journalists? How much should journalists be told about police operations? Can these connections be kept entirely above board?

Besides falling within the Terms of Reference of the Inquiry, these matters were also covered in the report by Elizabeth Filkin to the Metropolitan Police on 'The Ethical Issues arising from the Relationship between Police and Media' (see here).

Witnesses including Christopher Jefferies, Steve Coogan and Hugh Grant gave evidence suggesting that police officers on occasion colluded improperly with journalists, and in the background to the Inquiry, Operation Elveden was pursuing evidence of bribery, with Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers providing updates.

Several Journalists provided their perspectives, including Sean O'Neill of The Times, Michael Sullivan of The Sun, Terry Hunt of the East Anglian Press, Sandra Laville of The Guardian and Jeff Edwards, president of the Crime Reporters' Association (CRA). The role of the CRA was challenged by Jacqueline Hames, a former police officer and victim of phone hacking.

On the police side, the Inquiry received evidence from, among others, Denis O'Connor of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Mike Cunningham, Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police and lead on professional standards for the Association of Chief Police Officers.

These matters were examined in Part G of the Report.

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Ongoing investigations

Throughout the lifetime of the Inquiry and beyond, the police were investigating possible criminal activities carried out by or on behalf of news publishers. Notably, three Metropolitan Police operations were under way: Operation Weeting, into phone-hacking; Operation Elveden, into bribery; and Operation Tuleta, into email hacking. These were led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, who in written and oral evidence to the Inquiry provided updates on progress.

Since criminality was a matter for Part 2 of the Inquiry (see also: 'Leveson 2'), these matters were not a first-order concern in Part 1, but they provided a backdrop underlining the seriousness of the Inquiry and they impinged on the evidence in cases where the subject matter was (or risked being) sub judice. This was the case, for example, with evidence given by News of the World journalists Neville Thurlbeck and Ian Edmondson, both of whom were subsequently jailed for involvement in phone hacking. The backdrop was also relevant to the evidence of victims and alleged victims of crime, including Bob and Sally Dowler, Tom Watson MP and Jacqui Hames.

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Understand all the key topics and the context behind the Inquiry's findings

Journalism & society
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Future of journalism
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Background & history
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Subsequent developments
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Ethics & abuses
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