Leveson Inquiry: Did David Sherborne and Carine Patry Hoskins really kiss goodbye to the freedom of the press?

The revelation that two lawyers on either side of the Leveson inquiry are having an affair has been a gift to the report's critics. James Cusick asks if they're right to be so hacked off

A tyrant looking to dispose of his enemies by stirring up war is familiar to those who study the literature of ancient Greece. The barrister David Sherborne read classics at Oxford, but last weekend he found it was a small jump from Plato to the Leveson Inquiry – and that cold revenge was in fact a familiar tabloid tale.

Sherborne, 44, is one of England's leading media lawyers. He represented a lengthy list of victims of press excess at Leveson. For those of us who sat through months and months of the unfolding legal drama in the small inquiry room at the High Court, you didn't need a forensics degree to notice that Sherborne had made a high-profile enemy.

Paul Dacre is the Daily Mail's enforcer-in-chief, an updated Ares wrapped in newsprint and Conservative bloodlust. He regarded the very idea of the Downing Street-ordered inquiry into press ethics and behaviour as beneath his Fleet Street authority.

However, since Saturday the revenge of the Daily Mail has looked like this: reporters and photographers are outside the substantial London home of Sherborne. His family and friends have been telephoned and door-stepped.

In the pages of the Mail, Telegraph, Sun and elsewhere, the entire content and conclusions of the weighty Leveson Report have been questioned. Some Tory backbenchers are demanding that Lord Justice Leveson, who investigated the press, now investigates Sherborne.

What lies behind the outrage is the revelation that Sherborne and Carine Patry Hoskins, 40, the junior counsel of the Leveson legal team, started a relationship which is still continuing – allegedly while the report was in the process of being written.

Worse, in the Mail's purple prose, the "twice-married Sherborne", and the "mother-of-two Miss Patry Hoskins", jetted off to the Greek island of Santorini only "days after the public hearings concluded and months before the inquiry ended."

Sherborne's role in the inquiry put him in Dacre's firing line, and the best fireworks at the inquiry were on the few days that the two men crossed swords. Sherborne ripped into him over questionable remarks the Mail published against his client, Hugh Grant.

His mannered accusations that the Mail might have indulged in a bit of hacking themselves left Dacre flustered enough to mistakenly say his paper "had been accused of f***ing – of hacking phones". He left furious.

The Tory MP Rob Wilson wants the judge to examine the implications of the relationship and has now written to the Bar Standards Board to demand a probe into how the relationship may have affected the roles the two lawyers had at the £6m inquiry.

The central allegation – that requires debunking – is that a relationship between two barristers, one twice divorced (Sherborne), the other in the process of a messy divorce before Leveson kicked off (Patry Hoskins), somehow influenced the thoughts and conclusions of an Appeal Court judge while he was writing his report into Britain's future press freedom.

The Santorini trip took place in August, just after the formal hearings finished. Although the report was published in November, the judge had been writing key conclusions throughout the months of the inquiry. Ms Patry Hoskins, according to close associates, only learned of the report's findings the day before they were published.

Sherborne's input to the inquiry was high profile. His opening speech defined the high emotional content of the first part of the inquiry that examined the relationship between the press and public. But by the final section, between April and June last year, Sherborne was barely in attendance.

Another Tory MP, Douglas Carswell, wants the current press regulation plans to be scrapped because of the potential conflicts of interests that the relationship may have thrown up. Mr Carswell may not have understood the role a junior counsel had. Robert Jay QC led the questioning of the key players who gave evidence. Ms Patry Hoskins and David Barr gave Jay a break by taking over the questioning of others. Patry Hoskins had a defined job. Her input into the final report was limited to gathering factual material. Its conclusions, as Sir Brian repeated again and again, were his alone.

Although Mr Wilson has now written to the Bar Standards Board, he too clearly regards Sherborne and the inquiry's counsel as holding adversarial roles at the inquiry. They did not.

Mr Jay and his junior did not examine or cross-examine witnesses. They questioned them, based on their written testimony. Everyone who appeared knew all the questions they were going to be asked. How? The inquiry's counsel met everyone personally before they came to the High Court. Public questioning was designed to be easy, not gruelling. The inquiry's legal structure was also to gather information, not blame. That is the job the criminal courts will take up later this year.

Friends and associates of the two barristers describe the Santorini trip as "naïve in retrospect". If Sir Brian and Jay had been told, accusations over the weekend of broken rules would now sound hollow. But those who disapproved of the whole Leveson exercise claim their fears have been justified.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Sport
Floyd Mayweather will relinquish his five world titles after beating Manny Pacquiao
boxing
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • 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 General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living