Lord Leveson dismisses claims that lawyers’ relationship compromised press inquiry
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Tuesday 23 April 2013
Lord Justice Leveson has dismissed criticism of the barrister on his inquiry team who began a relationship with the counsel for victims, saying she had “absolutely no input into any conclusion” and was “simply not involved in any aspect” of the Levenson Report’s proposals on press regulation.
The appeal court judge was responding to demands from the Conservative MP Rob Wilson that he investigate the relationship between Carine Patry Hoskins, junior counsel for the Leveson Inquiry, and David Sherborne.
The two lawyers have been accused in some press reports of affecting the integrity of the Leveson report by beginning an affair during the latter stages of the inquiry, and going on holiday together in August last year shortly after the formal hearings had concluded. The report was published in November 2012.
Some Tory MPs have suggested the relationship represented a potential conflict of interest, with Mr Wilson writing to Lord Justice Leveson asking him to consider if there had been a breach of the Bar’s code of conduct that affected the authority of the report itself. The contents of the judge’s reply to the MP was released by the Judiciary’s office. The letter said Ms Patry Hoskins had no input in the proposals for future regulation of the press. He wrote: “She was simply not involved in any of this work.”
Defending the “integrity and impartiality” of his inquiry, Lord Justice Leveson said he had rechecked the precise nature of the work undertaken by Ms Patry Hoskins, and the access she had to material between August and November. Ms Patry Hoskins involvement during this period was described as “confined to the collation of facts”.
Although he told Mr Wilson it was up to the Bar Standards Board to decide what actions, if any, they would take over similar criticisms made to them, the judge effectively dismissed the suggestion his inquiry had been compromised.
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