by Robert Henderson
Note: The key quote here is that “the [Leveson] Inquiry is not intended to be more than PR exercise and, as with virtually any government instigated inquiry, any evidence which may seriously damage those with power, wealth or influence is to be suppressed. It is scandalous.” It may be that these things were manipulated with more finesse in the past. On the other hand, it may just be that the Internet now lets us see gross manipulations that would once have gone unreported by the media.
I’ve paid less attention to the Leveson Inquiry than I perhaps should have. Even so, it appears reasonable to suppose that its purpose is to soften us up for something approaching a formally licensed and censored media in this country, while making sure that no media person of any standing with the ruling class should suffer harm.
- There is no doubt that Piers Morgan admitted in 1997 to obtaining information from the Police in a manner that suggests impropriety.
- There is no doubt that he testified in 2011 that he had never paid for information from the Police.
- Surely, he should be asked to clarify in what circumstances he received information from the Police in 1997.
Robert Henderson’s trench battles with the British State are often hard to follow. But this possible discrepancy between what Mr Morgan has said on two occasions is easily grasped. [SIG]
The Leveson Inquiry and the suppression of evidence
The remit of the Leveson Inquiry into the British Press is clear:
Module 1: The relationship between the press and the public and looks at phone-hacking and other potentially illegal behaviour.
Module 2: The relationships between the press and police and the extent to which that has operated in the public interest.
Module 3: The relationship between press and politicians.
Module 4: Recommendations for a more effective policy and regulation that supports the integrity and freedom of the press while encouraging the highest ethical standards. (http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/about/)
Module 1 has been completed, Module 2 is in progress.
In November 2011 I submitted extensive evidence to the Inquiry (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/the-leveson-inquiry-the-blairs-the-mirror-the-police-and-me/). This covered gross abuse of me by the Press ; the illicit receipt of information from the police by the Daily Mirror; the repeated failure of the PCC to act on my complaints of clear breaches of the PCC Code of Conduct and criminal behaviour by the police both in supplying information about me illicitly to the Press and by failing to investigate meaningfully when I provided them with incontrovertible evidence of the supply of information illicitly to the Press by the police. Those matters were at the heart of modules 1 and 2. My submission also covered the relationship between the press and politicians, so is relevant to module 3.
The abuse by the Press concerned the Mirror newspaper which ran an extraordinarily libellous story about me relating to Tony and Cherie Blair’ failed attempt during the 1997 General Election campaign to have me prosecuted under the Malicious Communications Act. (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/when-tony-and-cherie-blair-tried-to-have-me-jailed/). The failure of the PCC was their bald refusal to adjudicate on my complaints. This allowed them to avoid expressing an opinion on the Mirror story.
The evidence of the illicit passing of information to the Mirror by the police arose from my complaint to the PCC. Amongst the evidence I submitted to the Inquiry was a letter from Piers Morgan to the PCC ((http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/the-leveson-inquiry-the-blairs-the-mirror-the-police-and-me/). The letter was sent to me by the PCC. In it Morgan writes “The police source of our article (whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect) gave us the detail of the letters that we then published.” Morgan’s wording means that the information was supplied illegally because otherwise there would be no need to protect the police officer’s name
Morgan’s response to questions about receiving information illicitly from the police when appearing before the Inquiry begins at line 20 of page 86 of the official transcript. It runs
Q. Okay. Can I ask you, please, about paying police
21 officers. Is that something which happened at the
22 Daily Mirror whilst you were editor?
23 A. I have no reason to believe so, no.
24 Q. Are you saying by that that it was not brought to your
1 A. I’ve never been made aware of any evidence for that at
By far the most plausible motive for the police supplying the information to the Mirror is money. If that happened Morgan is guilty of perjury. But even if money did not change hands, both the police officer and the Mirror people involved committed crimes under the Official Secrets (OSA) and Data Protection (DPA) Acts.
Despite the compelling and pertinent nature of my evidence, all of which is substantiated by documents or personal witness by me, no attempt was made to call me as a witness for module I of the Inquiry or to use any of the evidence, including questioning Morgan about his letter to the PCC. In an attempt to force the Inquiry to use the evidence I applied for Core Participant status for module 2.
Core Participant status can be awarded ) if an applicant meets at least one of these criteria:
the person played, or may have played, a direct and significant role in relation to the matters to which the inquiry relates;
the person has a significant interest in an important aspect of those matters to which the inquiry relates; or
the person may be subject to explicit or significant criticism during the inquiry proceedings or in its report. (http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/about/core-participants/). One of the primary advantages of achieving the status is that it allows the Core Participant to question witnesses.
I readily qualified under the first two criteria, having been the subject of Press abuse, PCC regulatory failure and police criminality, both in the illegal supply of information about me to the Mirror and the likelihood of the information having been supplied for money.
I was asked to submit in writing my reasons for thinking I qualified for Core Participant status. This I did (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/leveson-inquiry-the-response-to-robert-hendersons-application-to-be-a-core-participant-2/). Despite
having been asked for a written submission, when I attended the directions hearing for Core Participant status on 25 January Lord Leveson announced that he had not read any of the submissions and instead would make his decision on a short impromptu oral presentation by the applicants. In the short time allowed I included in my presentation the fact that an editor who had appeared before the Inquiry had received information illicitly from the police and had almost certainly committed perjury by denying it under oath before the Inquiry. Nonetheless, I was not granted Core Participant status with no reason for this failure being given (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/leveson-inquiry-robert-hendersons-application-for-core-participant-status/).
Despite the denial of Core Participant status there was still a possibility that I would be called as a witness. Then something very strange happened. On 15 February I received this email from assistant solicitor Sharon Hiles which ran
Dear Mr Henderson
I write to confirm that your submissions are currently being considered by the Inquiry. In relation to the letter from Mr Morgan, I would be grateful if you would confirm if you have a signed copy, and if so, please send a signed hard copy to the Inquiry.
On the face of it this suggested they were taking the matter seriously. I had already supplied a hard copy of the Morgan letter to the Inquiry and emailed Hiles back to say so. This elicited another email from Hiles which stated
Having considered the letter and Mr Morgan’s evidence to the Inquiry, we do not propose to take this matter any further. The relevant part of the transcript relates to questions regarding payments to police. This is not the same issue as a newspaper receiving information for which no payment had been made.
Between Hiles’ first and second emails there elapsed 4 hours and 38 minutes. The Inquiry’s position went from seemingly taking a serious interest in the matter to deciding with no evidence whatsoever that Morgan’s admission in his letter to the PCC meant that the paper received the information without paying for it and that this in some mysterious way meant the story was of no interest to them.
I have asked the Inquiry for an explanation of (1) how they reached their conclusion that the Mirror did not pay for the information; (2) why they asked for a facsimile of Morgan’s original letter if they believed the Mirror did not pay for the information – the Inquiry definitely had the wording of the letter when Hiles’ first email was sent and if their objection was that Morgan did not explicitly state the Mirror had paid for the information, there was no point in asking me whether I had a signed copy of it and (3) why they are refusing to investigate the breaches of the OSA and DPA. I have received no reply. The full exchange of emails between the Inquiry and myself from 15 February onwards can be found at http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/leveson-inquiry-wanted-people-who-have-had-their-evidence-ignored/.
As things stand, the Inquiry are refusing to investigate a very clear example of Press misbehaviour which at best involved the Mirror committing crimes under the OSA and DPA and which probably involved the Mirror paying the police for information and Piers Morgan committing perjury before the Inquiry. There is no legitimate reason this. That they are behaving this way points to one thing: the Inquiry is not intended to be more than PR exercise and, as with virtually any government instigated inquiry, any evidence which may seriously damage those with power, wealth or influence is to be suppressed. It is scandalous.