The Leveson Inquiry- Note on the Directions Hearing 25 1 2012 in Court 73 of the Royal Courts of Justice
I attended a directions hearing for the decision on whether I would be designated a Core Participant. I shall not be Core Participant (unless I can somehow persuade Lord Leveson otherwise), but I could be a witness.
Regardless of whether or not I end up as a witness, the hearing was far from being a waste of time. I was able to put my case before a sizeable number of people (probably 50), including lawyers representing various people who have been mistreated by the media, other applicants for core participant status and members of the public, some of whom were mediafolk. In addition, the negligent and superficial way the applications for core participant status were treated showed the Inquiry in a bad light.
Leveson began the proceedings by blithely announcing that he had not read any of the submissions for core participant status. Consequently, he made his decisions purely on the oral testimony given at the hearing by the applicants for core participant status. This was not only odd in itself, but became doubly so when placed in the context of the advice given to Core Participant applicants before the directions hearing:
You have made an application for Core Participant status for module 2. The Chairman will consider your application at the directions hearing which is listed for 2pm on Wednesday 25th January. It is not necessary for you to attend the hearing, but you may do so if you wish. If you do propose to attend, please let me know by 2pm on Tuesday 24th January.
If an applicant had chosen not to appear, it is probable their application would have been dismissed without their submission being considered.
Leveson further hamstrung the applicants by saying that he would not get into the detail of individual cases. I did manage to overcome this restriction but as a method of proceeding it was absurd for an inquiry into press misbehaviour. The final shackle he put around the applicants was the danger of jeopardising legal action outside of the Inquiry. Although there was no question of sub judice because no charges had been brought, I decided not to name the ex-editor who had committed perjury before the Inquiry by denying any knowledge of receiving information illicitly from the police. I did this because I wish Leveson to refer to the police the perjury, the receipt of information illicitly from the police and the failure of the police to investigate meaningfully the receipt of information illicitly given by a police officer and illicitly received by the ex-editor and his staff. If I submit the complaints the likelihood is that the police will repeat their behaviour and refuse to investigate meaningfully or at all. Nonetheless, if I do not get a positive indication from Leveson I shall submit the complaints.
Despite all these seeming grave handicaps to free expression I managed to get a good deal of embarrassing material into my testimony. This included the Blairs’ attempt to have me prosecuted in 1997 (that produced a real murmur); the Mirror’s libelling of me and failure to offer me any right of reply and the PCC’s abject failure to deal with my complaints honestly . I also, without giving names, described the perjury of the ex-editor, his admission of having received information illicitly from the police and the police’s refusal to meaningfully investigate the ex-editor’s admission that he had received information illicitly from the police. I emphasised that the Inquiry had been in possession of all these facts for more than a month and that if I was not to be a core participant I certainly wished to be a witness.
All that ensured that there are now substantial numbers of people who know that the Leveson Inquiry has facts which by definition must fall within the ambit of the Inquiry. Leveson himself acknowledged that the receiving of illicit information from the police was indisputably pertinent.
After the hearing I discussed my situation with the Chief Solicitor to the Inquiry Miss Kim Brudenell. I got her to agree to a number of actions. These are:
1. to ensure that my submissions are brought to the notice of Lord Leveson.
2. to advise me if a formal witness statement is required after you have reviewed what I have already submitted.
3. to advise me when and how the evidence I have of the ex-editor receiving information illicitly and his subsequent perjury before the Inquiry should be reported to the Metropolitan Police. I am willing to make the complaint myself, but I think it would be most appropriate for the this to be done under the auspices of the Inquiry, not least because the perjury was committed at the Inquiry. (I wrote to the Inquiry on 22 December advising Lord Leveson of the perjury).
4. to advise me when and how the failure of the Metropolitan Police to meaningfully investigate my complaint to them that the ex-editor had admitted receiving information illicitly from the police – the investigating officer told me that no one at the paper had been interviewed – should be reported to the Metropolitan Police as a complaint of a perversion of the course of justice.