Leveson Inquiry: QC 'unaware' of hacking evidence

 

Police assured the barrister prosecuting a News of the World reporter for phone-hacking that there was no evidence against any of the paper's other journalists, the Leveson Inquiry heard today.

David Perry QC said that at the time he saw no material that would have enabled a criminal case to be brought against Andy Coulson, then editor of the Sunday tabloid, or any other News International employees.

Former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed in January 2007 after they admitted intercepting voicemail messages left on royal aides' phones.

Mr Perry, who prosecuted the case for the Crown, told the press standards inquiry that he raised the question of whether other journalists were also involved in phone-hacking at a case conference with Scotland Yard detectives on August 21 2006.

"My recollection of this is that I asked whether there was any evidence implicating any other individual employed by News International in the criminality that we were looking at in this particular case," he said via videolink from Northern Ireland.

"I was concerned to discover whether this went further than just the particular individuals with which we were concerned, and I think I was conscious in my own mind that the question had to be whether it was journalists to the extent of the editor."

He added: "We were informed there was no such evidence. I cannot recall which officer gave that reply."

The Metropolitan Police Service was widely criticised for failing to reopen its phone-hacking investigation after the Guardian published an article on July 9 2009 alleging there were more journalists and many more victims involved.

Mr Perry was asked to prepare a short note for the Crown Prosecution Service on July 14 2009 setting out the advice he was given by detectives in 2006.

He wrote: "We did inquire of the police at a conference whether there was any evidence that the editor of the News of the World was involved in the Goodman-Mulcaire offences.

"We were told that there was not (and we never saw any such evidence).

"We also inquired whether there was any evidence connecting Mulcaire to other News of the World journalists.

"Again we were told that there was not (and we never saw any such evidence)."

Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked whether police and lawyers had speculative discussions at the August 2006 case conference about any possible circumstantial evidence against other journalists.

Mr Perry replied: "It is certainly possible, although I have no recollection of it.

"I think from my point of view I would have been looking to see whether there was a possibility of a case rather than whether there was something that was speculative. We can all speculate...

"I certainly don't think I saw anything that would have enabled me to present a case on the basis of any inference or circumstantial evidence."

Mr Perry could not recall whether in 2006 he was shown the "For Neville" email, which contained transcripts of illegally intercepted voicemail messages and was apparently destined for the News of the World's chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck.

But he later advised that the email had no real evidential value against Mr Thurlbeck, the inquiry heard.

Former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald said in a written statement for the inquiry: "I would have expected that if the Metropolitan Police Service had indicated that police were in possession of evidence to implicate other individuals within News International, the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) would have advised them to continue with their investigation.

"As there was confirmation to the contrary, the CPS was unable to provide this advice."

Lord Macdonald also spoke of his fears that the Leveson Inquiry could lead to a clampdown on whistle-blowers who contact the media with concerns about wrongdoing within their organisations.

"My fear is that if the internal remedy is the only route for whistle-blowers, too often that would result in suppression in one form or another," he said.

"We can all think of cases in which it could be critically in the public interest for a whistle-blower to go straight to the newspaper or a media organisation, and I think it's strongly in the public interest from time to time that occurs."

The eminent barrister added: "It's my personal view, if you forgive me for expressing it, it would be a matter of significant regret if this inquiry resulted in further impediments to that process."

The inquiry heard that prosecutors knew there was evidence that many celebrities were phone-hacking victims more than two months before Goodman and Mulcaire were arrested on August 8 2006.

Senior CPS lawyer Carmen Dowd wrote in a briefing note dated May 30 2006: "A vast number of UVMs (unique voice mails) belonging to high-profile individuals (politicians and celebrities) have been identified as being accessed without authority - these may be the subject of a wider investigation in due course."

The inquiry has heard that detectives seized 11,000 pages of names and telephone numbers from Mulcaire when he was arrested, and had identified 200 potential phone-hacking victims by the time of the August 21 2006 case conference.

The inquiry, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, was adjourned until April 23, when it will begin hearing from newspaper proprietors.

PA

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape