NOTW had 'unique' way of forcing staff out

 

The News of the World was "unique" in how it forced staff to leave the company, the Leveson Inquiry into press standards heard today.

Steve Turner, general secretary of the British Association of Journalists, said disciplinary issues at the newspaper were often "phoney", but employees accepted that the best course of action was to seek a pay-out for leaving.

"The unique thing at the News of the World was that they were usually phoney things and the individual quickly got the message that they wanted him out.

"That was the point, and they would then say to their head of department 'Well, you know, I don't want to hang around where I'm not wanted, what's the chance we may be able to do something?'."

He said he would assist journalists prior to disciplinary hearings, but believed it would be used against them if he attended the meetings alongside them.

"I'm ashamed to be telling you this because we're supposed to be living in a democratic and free country but we're not," he said.

Mr Turner advised former News of the World sports reporter Matt Driscoll, who gave evidence to the inquiry yesterday.

He made a successful employment tribunal claim for disability discrimination after he was sacked by the News of the World.

Mr Turner said that in the last three or four years he had been consulted by "between 15 and 20" union members over bullying at tabloid newspapers.

He said bullying was often caused by "an overbearing head of department who is demanding too much work".

It was not uncommon for the "unrealistic terrorising of people" to lead to nervous breakdowns, he added.

He spoke about a journalist who was told "Just leave, you're finished" during a time when proper redundancy procedures were due to take place, and another who was victimised after complaining that a regular feature about women doing extraordinary things was fabricated.

Solicitor Julian Pike, of Farrer and Co, was recalled to provide details of when News International learned that actress Sienna Miller was bringing an action against the company over the hacking of her phone.

Mr Pike supplied emails to the inquiry which notified him that Miller was going to make a claim.

Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, said an attendance note dated May 13 2010 included no reference to an alleged relationship between lawyers Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris.

The inquiry has heard that the News of the World commissioned private detective Derek Webb to follow the pair to investigate whether they were having an affair amid concerns they were leaking confidential information they had gained from acting for phone-hacking claimants.

The inquiry also heard from Sharon Marshall, former TV editor of the defunct tabloid, who said she left the newspaper in 2004 after she was asked to chase a story which she knew to be untrue.

"It was a celebrity who was pregnant at the time and I was told that her partner was cheating on her, a photo had been given to us or somebody had come forward for a kiss and tell story," she said.

"I understood the photo was two years old."

She said she had been asked to put the story to the celebrity but instead she handed in her resignation.

"In my resignation, which I put on his (the editor's) desk, I said I was leaving because I had been asked to breach the PCC code and a moral code and I refused to do it."

Ms Marshall, who is now a resident soap expert on ITV1's This Morning, was also grilled about the contents of her book Tabloid Girl.

The novel, which has the catch line "A True Story", is a "dramatised timeline" of events based on anecdotal stories she had heard from other journalists, Ms Marshall told the inquiry.

"It is based on a true story," she said.

"It is a dramatisation of my time in the industry and legends from the industry.

"I intended it to be a story about a good story.

"I was writing a comedy, not writing a legal document.

"I should have said 'based on a true story'. This is a dramatisation - a heightened reality of an industry."

Counsel for the inquiry David Barr asked her about various sections detailed in the book including a character called Robohack, who romanced the best friend of a famous person to get a story out of her.

Ms Marshall told him she had created a "heinous character who was supposed to repel the reader" based on stories she had heard about in the pub.

She was also asked about journalists' expense claims, some of which she refers to in her book as "highly creative" fraud.

"It is just a shaggy dog tale, an entertaining read," she said.

"I was just following the tale that somebody had claimed £500 for a camel burial fee. It is a heightened reality. It is intended to be a good yarn."

She said that a reporter, who has since died, did claim for mileage when he could not actually drive.

Mr Barr also questioned her on a phase in her book about phone hacking, where she claimed that everyone working on a tabloid newspaper knew how to intercept voicemail messages.

But Ms Marshall said that by the time the book was written, the information had already been in the public domain.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Advertisement Sales Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A publishing company based in F...

Guru Careers: Product Design Engineer / UX Designer

£20 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a tech savvy Product Design Engineer /...

Guru Careers: German Speaking Account Manager

£24-30K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: German speaking Account Manager / ...

Guru Careers: System Administrator / Sys Admin

£23 - 30K (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a System Ad...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor