Leveson lawyer: Too many potential witness were scared off by threat of 'monstering' from certain newspapers

Sir Robert Jay suspects "effective, relevant" information has been missed

Political Correspondent

Potential witnesses holding relevant evidence that should have been heard by Lord Justice Leveson’s press probe were scared off by the perceived threat of being “monstered” by certain newspapers, according to the QC who lead questioning at the inquiry.

Sir Robert Jay, now a High Court judge, after being promoted in June this year, told the Lords committee investigating the value and operation of the Leveson Inquiry and that he suspected "effective, relevant" information had been missed due to fears by would-be witnesses.

These fears, he said, centred on possible repercussions of giving evidence in public in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

"There were witnesses who did not want to speak out against the press because their perception was, to use a horrible word, that they would be monstered by the press at some later date," he said.

"I don't want to comment on how well-based their perceptions were but it was certainly a strong perception which gave rise to difficulties," he added.

The comments by Sir Robert come after serial refusals by Sir Brian Leveson last week, to both Lords and MPs, to comment on, or explain further, the recommendations contained in his lengthy report into press practices and ethics.

The appeal court judge said it would be “inappropriate” for him to comment and risk his judicial neutrality, stating anything anyone wanted to know could be found in his report.

Sir Robert, who gained an unusually high media profile for a specialist lawyer after becoming the inquiry’s chief inquisitor during months of televised evidence from the High Court, however admitted that he was often “completely dissatisfied” by the evidence that had been given to him by witness, and qualified his comment to the Lords committee, adding “but that is another story".

However he accepted it was correct for the inquiry to be broadcast live "because otherwise the press was going to report on it as they saw fit". He described the live broadcast of the inquiry as “an objective eye.”

Later this month in a historic change of attitude by the judiciary, television cameras will be allowed into proceedings of the Court of Appeal.

The decision to broadcast closing comments from appeal cases was backed by the former Lord Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke. Cameras will be trained only on the judges’ bench and on the main counsel. No footage of a jury or others in the courtroom will be allowed.

Sir Robert, who has joined Lord Justice Leveson in the Queen’s Bench Division in the High Court, said he was personally not in favour of allowing in cameras.

Questioned on the timeline of the inquiry ordered by David Cameron in July 2011, which took just over a year from the opening of its public witness sessions to the delivery of the final report in November last year, Sir Robert said he believed an “ideal” comprehensive inquiry would have lasted up to three years and cost around £25 million. However he believed the inquiry had done its job given the time constraints.

He backed up Lord Justice Leveson’s decision to remain silent in the currently heated debate on what was, and wasn’t, “Leveson-approved” in terms of the government’s proposed royal charter on press regulation.

He told the committee: "Either the politicians choose to implement what he [Sir Brian Leveson] recommended or they don't. He is quite right to draw a line underneath it all.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

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
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
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before