Leveson: Now for the next phase

Judge retires to write report for publication later this year as lawyer urges inquiry to reconvene when hacking trials are over

The Leveson Inquiry was "compromised" by having to avoid questions that went to the heart of criminal practices at News International and other papers, the barrister representing 50 phone-hacking victims said yesterday.

David Sherborne said that the sheer scale of evidence still emerging should compel the inquiry to continue its work rather than retire. His comments came as Lord Justice Leveson ended 102 days of formal evidence sessions at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Though the inquiry's findings will be published in a report expected at the end of this year, Mr Sherborne said that the examination into press practices and ethics, which began in November last year, would only be comprehensive if further evidence sessions were held after the criminal trials announced by the Crown Prosecution Service yesterday.

Although Lord Justice Leveson noted that  “the task” was now done for many involved in the inquiry, he said he and  his team would  now begin the work of writing the report.   Mr Sherborne claimed the inquiry had heard “only the tip of an iceberg”.  Fully learning what had happened inside News International, he said, could only happen if the “stables were cleaned out.”

NI's counsel, Rhodri Davies, QC, used the closing session to offer a qualified apology. He told the inquiry the phone-hacking practice at the News of the World was "profoundly wrong and is deeply regretted by News International".

However, despite days of deeply embarrassing evidence that centred on the close relationship between Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his adviser Adam Smith and James Murdoch's chief lobbyist Fréd Michel, Mr Davies said there was "no evidence" of a deal in News Corp's attempt to take over all of BSkyB. He said the answer to one of the key questions asked during the inquiry (specifically: did politicians ever do deals with Rupert Murdoch?) was "a unanimous and vehement, 'No'". He added: "There was no deal [involving Mr Murdoch] buying The Times in 1981 and there has been no deal since."

The balance of the inquiry's focus was also questioned by Mr Davies, who said a "fraction" of three decades of newspapers had been looked at, mainly those complained about, and that "good" stories had been ignored.

Hints at the new evidence emerging from NI were given last week at a pre-trial hearing of current civil actions against the company. Mr Sherborne told the inquiry that a "significant" recently discovered email between a senior NI executive and a journalist was an "instruction" relating to voicemail interception.

He also said there was a "email-destruction policy" inside the Murdoch-owned group which had been put in place when the actress Sienna Miller began her legal action against the News of the World.

Lessons from Leveson: The most memorable testimony

Bob and Sally Dowler

21 November 2011

The parents of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler were the inquiry's first witnesses. They described the moment when, wrongly, they thought their daughter was still alive: they had been calling the 13-year-old constantly since she disappeared; her voicemail box was full; but then, suddenly, messages became deleted. Mrs Dowler recalled shouting to her husband: "She's picked up her voicemail!" Details behind the deletions will now be examined in a criminal trial.

Charlotte Church

28 November 2011

Ms Church recalled how, as a 13-year old, Rupert Murdoch had booked her for his wedding to Wendi Deng. "Favourable press" from the tycoon's titles was promised – but waiving her £100,000 fee had ultimately made little difference she said. The Welsh singer explained how her phone was first hacked when she was 17. With a degree of calmness, she described how her family and friends were targeted, and also her mother's attempted suicide following a story about her father's infidelity.

Paul McMullan

29 November 2011

The former NOTW investigative reporter offered no contrition, no apology and no excuses for any tabloid excesses. His comment that "Privacy is for paedophiles" is now almost a legal legend.

Alistair Brett

15 March 2012

The former legal manager of The Times admitted he had not provided an "accurate" account to the High Court during the newspaper's defence of its story hacking the identity of the anonymous Nightjack police blogger. Leveson rounded on Brett with a force rarely seen throughout the 10 months of inquiry. News International later said Brett's appearance was a "painful reminder" of conduct failing to meet high standards.

Rebekah Brooks

11 May 2012

The appearance of the former chief executive of News International was never likely to disappoint. Her closeness and frequent contact with the Prime Minister was known. But the text message from David Cameron, which ended with "LOL" became an immediate classic. She told the inquiry the PM thought LOL stood for "lots of love" not "laugh out loud". Her choice of a demure outfit with a "Peter Pan" collar gained the attention of fashion writers – a first for the inquiry.

James Murdoch

25 April 2012

The former heir to the Murdoch media empire gave the inquiry one of its plate-shifting days, leaving Mr Cameron in a deeply uncomfortable position. Murdoch's account of a Christmas dinner with the Prime Minister during which the men discussed the £8bn BSkyB bid shattered Downing Street's denials. Emails from his former chief lobbyist, Fred Michel, left the Government looking like a wing of the Murdoch organisation, ready to offer insight and intelligence whenever asked.

Sienna Miller

25 November 2011.

The actress was the first hacking victim to legally take on the might of News International. She described how she had turned on her family and close friends, blaming them for the intimate information about her private life that was appearing in the pages of tabloid newspapers.

Fréd Michel

24 May 2012

The former chief lobbyist for James Murdoch was the inquiry's most skilled assassin. Despite over-egging his closeness to the heart of the UK Government, Michel nevertheless shredded the reputation of the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

Andy Hayman

1 March 2012

The former Met assistant commissioner was not the best advert for the police-press relationship. Asked if his relationship with the press ran the risk of creating a perception with went beyond appropriate, he replied, "With hindsight, I see the point."

Sue Akers

27 February 2012

Months of carefully choreographed silence by Scotland Yard about how their new hacking and corruption inquiries were progressing ended when the deputy assistant commissioner gave evidence.

James Cusick

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own