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Approach to Evidence 7 Nov 2011

Approach to Evidence 7 Nov 2011

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Published by Robert Mackey
A document released by Lord Justice Leveson’s Inquiry into culture, practice and ethics of the press in Britain.
A document released by Lord Justice Leveson’s Inquiry into culture, practice and ethics of the press in Britain.

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Published by: Robert Mackey on Nov 09, 2011
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12/22/2012

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RULING ON THE INQUIRY’S APPROACH TO EVIDENCELord Justice Leveson:
 1.One of the most serious issues facing this Inquiry concerns theimpact that it could have upon the on-going criminal investigationsand any resulting prosecution. Because of these investigations, theInquiry cannot proceed (as usually occurs in inquiries of this type)by a detailed analysis and determination of all the facts followed bya consideration of what might be appropriate by way orecommendations for the future. In the context of the circumstancesarising in this case, to do so would require any prosecution to havebeen concluded and effectively, therefore, to postponing thehearing of evidence for what might be two or more years. In thelight of the public concern which has been evidenced over recentmonths, that would clearly not be right or appropriate.2.Neither can the Inquiry be conducted in a factual vacuum withoutreference to the background which caused it to be set up or withoutconsideration of the extent to which it is correct to be critical of theculture, ethics and practice of the press. To take that course wouldmean seeking a way forward which was not grounded in what hasoccurred in the past and, in particular, without any consideration of the issue whether there is a problem that needs solving. This latterconcern might have been reduced in significance by what was saidat the seminars although it cannot be disregarded.3.The dichotomy is reflected in the Terms of Reference announced bythe Prime Minister (who expressed himself “mindful of the ongoingcriminal investigations”: Hansard, 13 July 2011, column 311). TheInquiry is thus split into two with Part 1 to precede Part 2 andintended to report within 12 months (ibid, column 312). The Termsare as follows:“Part 11.To inquire into the culture, practices, and ethics of thepress, including:a. contacts and the relationships betweennational newspapers and politicians, and theconduct of each;
 
b. contacts and the relationship between thepress and the police, and the conduct of each;c. the extent to which the current policy andregulatory framework has failed including inrelation to data protection; andd. the extent to which there was a failure to acton previous warnings about media misconduct.2.To make recommendations:a. for a new more effective policy andregulatory regime which supports the integrityand freedom of the press, the plurality of themedia, and its independence, including fromGovernment, while encouraging the highestethical and professional standards;b. for how future concerns about pressbehaviour, media policy, regulation and cross-media ownership should be dealt with by all therelevant authorities, including Parliament,Government, the prosecuting authorities andthe police;c. the future conduct of relations betweenpoliticians and the press; andd. the future conduct of relations between thepolice and the press.Part 23.To inquire into the extent of unlawful or improper conductwithin News International, other newspaper organisationsand, as appropriate, other organisations within the media,and by those responsible for holding personal data.4.To inquire into the way in which any relevant police forceinvestigated allegations or evidence of unlawful conduct bypersons within or connected with News International, thereview by the Metropolitan Police of their initialinvestigation, and the conduct of the prosecutingauthorities.5.To inquire into the extent to which the police receivedcorrupt payments or other inducements, or were otherwisecomplicit in such misconduct or in suppressing its properinvestigation, and how this was allowed to happen.
 
6.To inquire into the extent of corporate governance andmanagement failures at News International and othernewspaper organisations, and the role, if any, of politicians,public servants and others in relation to any failure toinvestigate wrongdoing at News International7.In the light of these inquiries, to consider the implicationsfor the relationships between newspaper organisations andthe police, prosecuting authorities, and relevant regulatorybodies – and to recommend what actions, if any, should betaken.”4.The words “culture, practices and ethics of the press” in Part 1 arewider and more general than the terms used in Part 2 andundeniably require the use of a broader brush than will beappropriate when dealing with the individual and specific areas of inquiry identified in Part 2. Nevertheless, obtaining what I havedescribed as a narrative of events sufficient to ground aconsideration of the current policy and regulatory framework andthe extent (if at all) to which it has failed, remains essential and thequestion of the proper construction of these terms of reference itself falls to be addressed.5.It is the issue of identifying a factual narrative that I had in mindwhen, on 28 July 2011, in my opening public remarks, I said:“[W]hereas I am determined not to prejudice anycriminal investigation or potential prosecution, Ibelieve that it should be possible to focus on theextent of the problem which would not prejudicean investigation, without examining who did whatto whom which might. I have, however, invitedthe Director of Public Prosecutions to makesubmissions to me about the extent to which heconsiders it would be appropriate for me to delveinto these matters.”6.Joint submissions have now been received from the CrownProsecution Service (“CPS”) and the Metropolitan Police Servicewhich express anxiety that nothing should be said or done whichmight jeopardise either the investigation or trial such that “anotherwise credible prosecution might be stopped by the court on thebasis that the defendant cannot have a fair trial”. This entirelyappropriate request is then put as a general proposition that theInquiry should not rehearse any evidence during Part 1 that is likelyto prove central to any criminal proceedings including but notlimited to any investigation as to which individuals were aware of possible criminal activity and where they sit or sat within thehierarchy of the named newspaper.

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