Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80
TUESDAY 6 MARCH 2007
MBE, MR PAUL
Q80 Mr Hall: You have already done
that for them! (Laughter)
Mr Edwards: But they did not listen
to me! I did not go down there, you see, so I knew
Mr Hinton: What had happened was
that there were a couple of plausible storiesand Arthur
has added, with his great credibility, to the plausibility of
themthat they were about to announce their engagement.
That is what started it. It led up to her 25th birthday. So there
was genuine interest at that point. Going to her home in order
to take a photograph of her, in isolation, would be a perfectly
reasonable thing to do. But when you see a crowd that will clearly
create problems, that you cannot control and the only way we could
control itwhen I looked at it, it was "This is going
to lead to trouble" and, I confess, it was a pragmatic decision
too, "This is going to lead to trouble. Something is going
to go wrong here"the only way you can really do it
is by saying, "We will not buy photographs from paparazzi".
At that point, thankfully others followed and they immediately
had no reason to be there. However, it is difficult, in advance,
to anticipate every occasion when that might happen.
Q81 Mr Hall: The real difficulty,
of course, isthis is something else that was mentioned,
I think by you, Paulyou said, "Self-regulation works,
but big events help to change our thinking on various things".
Clearly, we have an example here of where the protection of the
privacy of Kate Middleton did not work. What you are saying is,
"When it happens again, we will call them off". Should
there not be something more proactive, to stop that happening
again in the future?
Mr Horrocks: What would you suggest?
I think that at the moment what we have is a situation where,
with an event like that, you cannot legislate for the number of
people who may appear at a particular news event. You cannot do
that. However, what you can do is, if things are getting out of
control, have a mechanism to try and make sure that it does not
happen the following day.
Q82 Mr Hall: One of the mechanisms
you suggested is making sure that the complaint is resolved. Again,
that is reactive, is it not?
Mr Satchwell: This is not a complaint
that is resolved; it is the fact that she was put into that position.
She was put in that position not just because the media is there,
but the members of the public will be there. That is how the scrum
develops. As soon as the issue was raised, I think that the industry
acted very quickly indeed. Bear in mind that the papers do not
have any interest in her being caused problems, certainly not
her life being endangered, because here is a great story. We have
had everyone laughing this morning, but it is about a royal prince
and a fairytale story about a possible marriage. That is a wonderful
story for all the papers. They do not want to do anything which
will disturb that story. So the intention is always to try and
make sure that the story is covered very responsibly.
Q83 Mr Hall: So what you are saying
is that news editors were not responsible for all of the scrum
outside Kate Middleton's house. I think that is absolutely right,
because you do not control every aspect of the media. Yet, on
the strength of a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission,
that scrum disappeared the day after, completely.
Mr Satchwell: Once a situation
is raised by the person concerned, the PCC would then talk to
all the papers and the broadcasters. That is the part of
the system which again goes unsung: the fact that the industry
is taking this on board itself and involving everyone who might
be involved, to try and get away from that problemand it
was a very quick reaction.
Q84 Mr Hall: That suggests to me
that the vast majority of people there were under some obligation
to the Press Complaints Commission, because they actually moved.
Mr Satchwell: It was also reported,
was it not?
Mr Horrocks: The fact is that
the editors take notice of the PCC's request or passing on of
information. That is the point: that the editors take notice.
Years ago, that may not have happened; it does now, because editors
do take notice. We can focus a lot on the high-profile cases,
and inevitably that is what happens, but there are many, many
cases going on throughout the countryregional, weekly,
and local paperswhere self-regulation and responsible reporting,
photographers, et cetera, is regulated by the Code and it is taken
Q85 Rosemary McKenna: In the Goodman
case it was dealt with by the law and obviously would have been
caught under the Code as well. The Society of Editors has said
that the editors and the whole of the media have taken this very
seriously and have said, "We condemn this offence and it
is not representative of the media". We will accept that.
However, journalists continue to use methods that are very dubious.
There is no doubt about that. They are paying for information;
they are trawling through people's backgrounds; and using other
methods, like trawling through dustbins, refuse collection, and
all that kind of thing. Can you justify that, when there is no
public interest whatsoever in some of the kind of information
that they bring up?
Mr Horrocks: If there is no public
interest, no, we cannot justify it; but the fact is that the Goodman
case, in my opinionand that is why I gave that statementwas
a one-off. I do not believe that this is widespread activity.
In my career, I have not come across this in a widespread way.
Of course, there will always be people who go beyond what is acceptable,
but in this case the law dealt with Goodman. The Code would have
dealt with Goodman. The fact is, the law worked; and, if this
was so widespread, why are there not more prosecutions? Why are
not more people coming forward to make those sorts of complaints?
In my four years on the PCC I can only recall one adjudication
in favour of the complainant, where somebody had intercepted telephone
messages. One case in four years. It is not widespread. We are
not saying that it does not go on, but it is not widespread.
Q86 Rosemary McKenna: So you would
not accept, as was said earlier, that one of the reasons people
do not go to the Press Complaints Commission is because the redress
of publishing the story again is not worth it, because all you
are doing is reminding people of the original story?
Mr Horrocks: People will go to
the PCC to make a complaint if they feel that there is a problem
with accuracy, harassment, intrusion, and the PCC will look at
that complaint; but then will, in conjunction with the complainant,
agree the form of resolution. It may be that somebody does not
want to have their name published again in the newspaper; they
may simply want a letter of apology.
Q87 Rosemary McKenna: That is fine,
but the story has already been out there. The story is there.
One of the problems is, once the story is out there, every single
time that person's name is mentioned in connection with anything
else, that is rehearsed. I have spent a lot of time over the last
couple of weeks, speaking to colleagues about why they have not
made complaints or, if they have been involved, what their attitude
is, and very many of them say, "Simply because it rehearses
it again and again".
Mr Satchwell: But if there is
an inaccuracy and a complaint is made, part of the procedure will
be that cuttings files and library files are changed suitably,
if there has been an inaccuracy. That is why it is important for
people to complain: so that things are put right for the future.
Mr Horrocks: We have an electronic
log at the Manchester Evening News of complaints that are
against the paper, or legal adjudications or PCC rulings. Any
member of staff, any journalist, can look at that log and find
that if person X complained or said there was an inaccuracy in
that story, "Do not repeat that particular suggestion".
Q88 Rosemary McKenna: That message
is not out there. One other pointthe growing practice of
editors contacting people late on a Saturday, when a story will
appear on the Sunday and it is too late to do anything.
Mr Horrocks: That is a hard one.
I think that people should be given the time to properly consider
a reply. I do not believe it is acceptable to leave it right to
the last minute.
Q89 Mr Evans: Can I ask one final
question of Arthur? You know your colleagues really well. Do you
think that now, because of what has happened in the pastwe
have mentioned Dianathat Kate Middleton is unlikely to
suffer the same sort of intrusion that Diana did during her lifetime?
Mr Edwards: I would like to think
that she would not. I really would. We are talking about self-regulation
here. Mainly, the Fleet Street photographersI mean the
photographers employed by newspapersdo act properly. They
do try to be organised. They do try to work it so that there is
no stress. But there is this gathering band of paparazzi now and
they are just ruthless; they do not care; they are just going
to do anything for a picture. If we can control those, and I think
that not buying the pictures will help, Kate Middleton will probably
have a much better time of it. Since that scrum on her birthday,
I think it has got a lot better for her and I just hope that continues.
Q90 Chairman: Les, can I come back
to the Goodman case? The official version of events appears to
be that Clive Goodman broke the law and has paid the penalty for
doing so; that his editor was unaware that he broke the law but
nevertheless took responsibility, because he was the editor, and
resigned; and that is the end of it. Can you tell us what investigations
you carried out to determine whether or not anybody else was aware
of what Clive Goodman was doing?
Mr Hinton: First of all, the police
obviously carried out pretty thorough investigations, and the
result of their investigation was the charge against Clive and
against the private detective. Clive went to prison; the News
of the World paid a substantial amount to charities nominated
by Prince Harry, Prince William and the editor, who told me he
had no knowledge of this activity but felt that, since it had
happened on his watch, he should take his share of the responsibility,
and he resigned. The new editor has been given a very clear remit
to make certain that everything is done in the form of seminars
and meetings. We were already doing this kind of thing in the
past with all our newspapers. It has been re-emphasised. They
are all attending. There is mandatory attendance at seminars,
understanding the law and understanding the limits; understanding
that, in the event that there is a judgment that the public interest
might warrant some stepping over the line, it has to be authorised
by the editor at the very least. That is all being done now. I
believe absolutely that Andy did not have knowledge of what was
going on. However, he is no longer the editor and what matters
now is that we have to start somewhere. What we are doing now
is a very rigorous programme to make sure that the conduct of
the journalists there is as impeccable as it reasonably can be
expected to be.
Q91 Chairman: I commend what you
are doing now, but Clive Goodman was paying for some of this information.
Those cheques presumably required approval, did they not, from
Mr Hinton: There were actually
two issues involved in the Goodman case. There had been a contract
with Glenn Mulcaire, during which he was carrying out activities
which the prosecutor and the judge accepted were legitimate investigative
work. There was a second situation where Clive had been allowed
a pool of cash to pay to a contact in relation to investigations
into Royal stories. That, the Court was told, was where the money
came from and the detail of how he was using that money was not
known to the editor. That is not unusual for a contact, when you
have a trusted reporterwhich Clive wasto be allowed
to have a relationship which can lead to information and which
involves the exchange of money. That is what happened in that
Q92 Chairman: If self-regulation
is to work, if a reporter suddenly comes back with some pretty
exclusive stories, is there not a procedure where somebody says,
"You can give me an assurance that this hasn't been obtained
illegally or in breach of the Press Complaints Commission Code"?
Mr Hinton: In the case of Clive
Goodman, the stories he apparently obtained were small items in
gossip columns, and therefore there would be no particular need
to. In other areaswhen Trevor Kavanagh came into the office
and said, "I've got a copy of the Hutton Report", I
know Trevor and I know he had a copy of the Hutton Report, and
I was not about to ask him where he had got it frombecause
it was clearly a matter of public interest. Those lines exist
all the time and editors, when they are running aggressive, investigative
newspapers, are forever having to judge the wisdom or not of stepping
over the line. Anddo you know what?they do not always
get it right.
Q93 Chairman: I think that we can
probably make a guess where Trevor got the Hutton Report too!
Mr Hinton: I know your guess,
Chairman, and you are wrong!
Q94 Chairman: You can assure us,
therefore, that in future there will be checks in place that senior
reporters, however experienced, who suddenly produce stories,
will be required to give undertakings that there have been no
breaches of the Code?
Mr Hinton: Anything that can make
the new regime more rigorous, we will do; but we are running aggressive
newspapers. Their job most of the time, as I said earlier, is
to find out information that other people do not want them to
Q95 Chairman: You carried out a full,
rigorous internal inquiry, and you are absolutely convinced that
Clive Goodman was the only person who knew what was going on?
Mr Hinton: Yes, we have and I
believe he was the only person, but that investigation, under
the new editor, continues.
Q96 Chairman: And presumably with
the Press Complaints Commission?
Mr Hinton: The Press Complaints
Commission have in fact been in pretty detailed communication
with the new editor.
Chairman: Thank you. I think that is
all we have for you.