Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
21 JULY 2009
Q1600 Janet Anderson: So you would
generally be aware of all the payments that were made. Can you
describe circumstances in which you might not be aware?
Mr Kuttner: In which I might not
be aware? If I dealt with them personally I would be aware of
Q1601 Janet Anderson: But in what
kind of situation would you not deal with them personally?
Mr Kuttner: Only if for example
I was away and my deputy dealt with them.
Q1602 Janet Anderson: So otherwise
everything would pass across your desk?
Mr Kuttner: Much of it would pass
across my desk, yes.
Q1603 Janet Anderson: Mr Coulson,
I think you said in your opening statement that you would never
condone or tolerate subterfuge unless it was in the public interest.
Do you believe that phone hacking is ever in the public interest?
Mr Coulson: No, I do not and I
do not, as I said, have any recollection of there being any instances,
public interest or otherwise, where it was used. I would also
add this: the Clive Goodman case it is blatantly clear from the
stories that were published that there would not be a hope of
a public interest defence. This was, as I think Mr Keen pointed
out earlier, largely tittle-tattle so the idea that there could
be a public interest defence applied to those activities is nonsense.
Q1604 Janet Anderson: So you state
categorically that you had no knowledge of these activities when
you were at the News of the World but you have a very long
and distinguished career spanning 20 years as reporter for The
Sun, and you worked for Piers Morgan on the Bizarre show-business
column and then the Daily Mail and then back to Deputy
Editor of the News of the World. Are you telling us in
the whole of that time you never, ever had a suspicion of any
kind of illegal activities such as phone hacking, such as hacking
into people's voicemails and so on?
Mr Coulson: There have been rumours
about that kind of activity, I suppose, and media commentators
have written about it. It has been in the ether of the newspaper
world for some time but, no, I have never had any involvement
in it at all.
Q1605 Janet Anderson: There was of
course the instance of The Sunday Times, I believe, planting
a trainee reporter in the Cabinet Office to steal Government documents,
so that kind of thing does go on.
Mr Coulson: Talk to John Witherow,
Q1606 Janet Anderson: But in your
experience you have never been involved with anything like that?
Mr Coulson: No.
Q1607 Mr Farrelly: Mr Coulson, in
the story that appeared in the Guardian you issued the
following statement: "I took full responsibility at the time
for what happened on my watch but without my knowledge and resigned."
That is a very big catch-all. What were you denying knowledge
of when you made that comment to the Guardian?
Mr Coulson: I was denying knowledge
of what was being largely alleged in the Guardian. Can
I hazard a guess as to what might lie behind your question, why
did I not give a more fulsome reaction to it in the way that perhaps
I have with my statement this morning?
Q1608 Mr Farrelly: No, that is not
behind it but if you want to
Mr Coulson: Fine, then I will
Q1609 Mr Farrelly: If you want to
expand, please do.
Mr Coulson: I was merely going
to point out that this was not exactly a high point of my career.
I do not particularly enjoy talking about it, I do not particularly
enjoy seeing stories in the newspapers about it, although I think
I have probably lost that battle, and so I have not talked much
about it since I left the News of the World, largely for
Q1610 Mr Farrelly: Can you just remind
me when did you become Deputy Editor of the News of the World?
Mr Coulson: In 2000.
Q1611 Mr Farrelly: Let us just go
to Operation Motorman then and payments to Stephen Whittamore.
Were you aware of any relationship between the News of the
World and Stephen Whittamore?
Mr Coulson: This is a long time
ago so I am not going to pretend that I have an encyclopaedic
knowledge of what went on at the time but I will do my best. The
Motorman inquiry, as you know, was industry wide. The reaction
to it, I think, was industry wide. As for the involvement of individual
News of the World journalists, I knew very little about
that. I knew only what was published. I cannot remember the exact
date but in 2006 I think I am correct in saying the What price
privacy now? report, or possibly it was the second report,
detailed a number of reporters. It also published a league table
and I think the News of the World was fifth in that league
table and The Observer, from memory, was ninth.
Q1612 Mr Farrelly: We know this.
Mr Coulson: Forgive me for repeating
Q1613 Mr Farrelly: Just for a moment,
had you come across that name Stephen Whittamore before?
Mr Coulson: My recollection of
our reaction to Motorman was to tighten procedures internally
and was to look at the PCC Code more forensically. I think I am
right in saying that the code changed as a result of the Motorman
inquiry and we reacted accordingly. As I said in my opening statement,
we worked hard, I have to now accept perhaps not hard enough,
to ensure that our reporters knew what the PCC Code was and what
it meant and what it meant in terms of their day to day job.
Q1614 Mr Farrelly: Had you heard
the name Stephen Whittamore before the story?
Mr Coulson: No.
Q1615 Mr Farrelly: You had never
Mr Coulson: No.
Q1616 Mr Farrelly: If while you were
Deputy Editor, Editor or a senior journalist on the News of
the World had anyone used an enquiry agent such as Stephen
Whittamore would you have insisted before the fact that their
use of such an enquiry agent, if it involved anything potentially
illegal would be accompanied by a public interest defence?
Mr Coulson: I think every reporter
knew that they had to work within the PCC Code. The PCC Code is
very clear about the public interest defence. On that basis I
felt that it was covered.
Q1617 Mr Farrelly: So you would not
have specifically insisted?
Mr Coulson: No.
Q1618 Mr Farrelly: Or specifically
known whether anybody had access
Mr Coulson: I do not recall ever
doing so. I do not recall any conversations specifically about
Whittamore. I really do not think that I knew the name until it
came out in the proceedings.
Q1619 Mr Farrelly: It is just that
your denial was very broad and anything that may have gone on
that was illegal, which is why I am asking. Mr Kuttner, we had
a third set of documents from the the Guardian. Have you
Mr Kuttner: I do not believe I