Press feel wrath for failing to put house in order

Senior executives protested their ignorance – but Leveson said those claims did not square with the facts

Although phone hacking ultimately led to David Cameron ordering a public inquiry on the ethics and practices of Britain’s press, Lord Justice Leveson criticises the press for failing to fully investigate what went on beyond the jailing in 2007 of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire.

His report says that editors from different titles “talked and joked about information which must have come from phone hacking”.

The report says there was a “recklessness in prioritising sensational stories” by national newspapers that was “heedless of the public interest”, adding: “Families, including their children, are pursued and important personal moments are destroyed.”

Although the report says it recognises that journalists have to be “persistent”, it says this virtue has been taken to the “point of vice” where it has become “harassment”.

Blagging and illicit  collection of personal data

Leveson is scathing in his criticisms of the Information Commissioner’s Office in its handling of the evidence from Operation Motorman, which showed how the media had been using private detectives to obtain the personal data of thousands of individuals.

High-profile victims included the Duchess of Cambridge and Chelsea Clinton. Some of the data was obtained by the process of “blagging” information by posing as someone else.

The judge said that Motorman was “one of the biggest cases of deliberate and systemic data abuse” to have come before the ICO, and upheld the evidence of former police officer and ICO whistleblower Alec Owens, who was involved in the Motorman inquiry and revealed to The Independent in September 2011 that his seniors were nervous of taking on the press. Despite the evidence, no journalists were prosecuted in the case.

“The course of conduct of the criminal investigation was unsatisfactorily managed,” said Leveson. “With the result that opportunities were missed to address potential criminality in the culture.”

Email hacking

With the Metropolitan Police’s investigation of email hacking ongoing, Leveson found it difficult to reach a complete conclusion about its practice. However, his comment that “it remains possible that a considerable quantity of criminality will be exposed in due course” suggests Operation Tuleta will deliver another devastating chapter on malpractices.

Persuasion and harassment

The report states boldly that “not everybody is always keen to cooperate with the press” and says that some journalists have developed “methods of persuading them to talk”.

The report examines the experiences of the former international motor racing boss, Max Mosley, and the attempts by the News of the World to “blackmail” women involved in a story which wrongly wrongly claimed he had engaged in a Nazi-themed orgy.

Evidence on the episode given by the former NOTW editor Colin Myler, and the testimony of Rupert Murdoch, News Corp’s chief, was criticised. Leveson says Mr Murdoch’s evidence is “revealing”: “That Mr Murdoch was not apparently familiar with it [the costs, and details of the Mosley case] says something about the degree to which his organisation engages with the ethical direction of its newspapers.”

Inaccurate reporting

Witnesses to the inquiry, the report states, have suffered “distress, anguish and pain” from damage done by inaccurate reporting.

The experiences of Margaret Watson, who gave evidence to the inquiry, are cited. Mrs Watson’s son committed suicide. She told the inquiry that reporting of the murder of her young daughter contributed to her son Allan’s death. The report states: “This evidence chimes with a number of submissions and witness statements received by the inquiry from ordinary members of the public who have reported their experiences of inaccurate reporting and subsequent refusal by the press to correct those inaccuracies.”

Leveson adds that evidence given to the inquiry suggests that “inaccuracy” is “sufficiently serious and or widespread to be classified as systemic, cultural and generic.”

Surveillance

The report focuses on the use by the News of the World of an undercover investigator to carry out surveillance on subjects of interest to the paper, including celebrities and, later, two solicitors involved in bringing phone hacking damages claims against the title.

Leveson is particularly critical of the decision to follow lawyers Charlotte Harris and Mark Lewis, who were among the lawyers to lead the first set of legal claims arising from phone hackin.g: “The use of covert surveillance against solicitors representing the opposition in damaging litigation is dubious at best, particularly when it seems clear that the surveillance was commissioned in order to put pressure on the solicitors to withdraw from the litigation.”

Paper talk: Conclusions

Piers Morgan

Former editor of the  Daily Mirror and the News of the World

On Mr Morgan’s knowledge of phone hacking following evidence from alleged victims of the practice and from BBC presenter Jeremy Paxman about how he was allegedly shown by the former editor how to access messages:

“This evidence does not establish that Mr Morgan authorised the hacking of voicemails or that journalists employed by [the  Mirror Group] were indulging in  this practice.

“What it does, however, clearly prove is that he was aware that it was taking place in the press as a whole and that he was sufficiently unembarrassed by what was criminal behaviour that he was prepared to joke about it.”

Rebekah Brooks

Former editor of The Sun and chief executive of  News International

On the circumstances which led to The Sun publishing a story in 2006 revealing that then-Chancellor Gordon Brown’s baby son had  cystic fibrosis:

“Mrs Brooks is to be criticised in two interconnected respects… I do not find [as Mrs Brooks asserted] that the Browns were absolutely committed to making the fact of their four-month-old son’s illness public… However, it should be made clear that I am not thereby holding that Mrs Brooks deliberately misled the inquiry… Mrs Brooks should have asked a series of direct questions of Mrs Brown to satisfy herself that consent was fully and freely given, and should have given her the option of vetoing publication.”

Richard Desmond

Owner of the Express and  Daily Star titles

“Mr Desmond revealed what I consider to be a very disturbing philosophical approach to the concepts of free speech and a  free press.

“For him, the issue was about free speech and the threat of excessive regulation. On this approach, press standards and ethics were close to being irrelevant”

On the explanations provided by Mr Desmond and former Daily Express editor Peter Hill for their coverage of the McCanns:

“Overall the justifications advanced by Messrs Hill and Desmond for the frankly appalling treatment of the McCanns were, as has been clearly demonstrated, both self-serving and without foundation.”

Paul Dacre

Editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail

On Mr Dacre’s insistence that he believed his journalists were acting lawfully despite the revelations of Operation Motorman, which exposed the purchase by Fleet Street titles of confidential information:

“[Mr Dacre’s] belief that his journalists were acting lawfully is… a concern.”

On the publication of two separate stories alleging drunken behaviour by actor Neil Morrissey and an attack on a mother, Abigail Witchalls:

“The concern related to Mr Dacre’s unwillingness to entertain the idea that these stories might have been hurtful, upsetting and/or damaging to the individuals.”

On Mr Dacre’s decision to accuse actor Hugh Grant of issuing a “mendacious smear” against The Mail on Sunday concerning alleged phone hacking:

“Mr Dacre accepted that his principal objective… was to get out a… denial which would safeguard the reputation of his newspapers. However, he acted precipitately… A response which defended the Mail’s position in regard to phone hacking… would have achieved the same outcome.”

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
News
i100
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
i100
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
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

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015