The Leveson Inquiry into
the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press
Audition MC (2) - 23.11.201
(première partie ici)
Début vidéo 3 à 1'50
RJ : One rival however wasn't best pleased and you touch on this in paragraph 84. Maybe this is quite understandable, but tell us a little bit about the call you received from the then editor of the News of the World.
GMC : And of course we were trying to make the distinction between interacting with the media for what we thought was something helpful for the search, and simply doing an interview, which we knew would focus on the human interest aspects and not necessarily the search for Madeleine.
Robert Jay : The News of the World come into the narrative a few months later, as you rightly say at paragraph 86. It may be that Dr Kate McCann would like to deal with this, but I'm in your hands. Out of the blue, 14 September 2008, transcripts from your personal diary appear or purport to appear in the News of the World. Can you tell us a bit about that, please?
RJ : Yes. It wasn't clear from your statement, but it now is. It was within quite a short space of time that the original was returned to you, you believe by order of a Portuguese judge, so it sounds as if the initial seizure had been a step too far, or whatever. But a copy of the original must have been taken by someone, presumably someone within the Portuguese police or judicial authorities; is that correct?
Lord Justice Leveson : And further investigation of that has revealed, if anything? To unpick where this came from?
LJL : I'd like to know whether there is a byline.
KMC : It would be nice to know the source.
RJ :You do refer in paragraph 93 to a conversation which was reported to you from Clarence with the deputy editor of the News of the World as he then was, Mr Ian Edmondson. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
RJ : I'm just going to touch upon the section continuing the relationship with the press. I am not going to cover paragraph 97 unless I'm asked to specifically. If you wish me to I will, but I wasn't minded to. I was going to ask you though about paragraph 100.
KMC : I think the important thing, this demonstrates it's not just the articles that have been published that have been a problem. We've had many weekends destroyed because we've had to try and stop articles like this from actually ending up in the press. And weekends are important for Gerry, that's our only family time. We've had to involve lawyers on --
RJ : Thank you. Then paragraph 100, you deal with a piece in the Daily Mail, quite recently, July of this year, about an alleged reported sighting in India. What are your feelings about that, please?
RJ : Thank you. Out of sequence, I'm then going to come back to the PCC because it's a more general point, I think, under the heading "Kate's book", paragraph 111. It may be in your hands as to which of you would like to deal with this piece of evidence.
RJ : There was serialisation of your book in two News International titles, the Sun and the Sunday Times?
RJ : You talk about a meeting with Rebekah Brooks, which led to a review of your case, a formal review. Just to assist us a little bit with that, can you recall when that was?
RJ : There may not be a module three issue.
RJ : Turn back to the issue of the involvement of the PCC. This is covered both in your witness statement and in evidence you gave, Dr Gerald McCann, to the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee in 2009, and then it was picked up in the second report, I think, of that committee. There's a whole section of the report that goes to that issue. The position I think is -- I'm back in your statement, paragraph 101 -- the PCC's position is that at an early stage they put a message out that they were ready, willing and able to assist you. This was in May 2007. Do you follow me?
RJ : In paragraph 103 you say: "We have on a number of occasions had cause to contact the PCC. The PCC was extremely helpful in dealing with the unwanted intrusion into the privacy of our twins." Are you referring there to the business with the paparazzi taking photographs when you're back in the United Kingdom?
RJ : In terms of the PCC assisting you in relation to the wider issue of inaccurate, unfair and sensationalist reporting, it may well be that there isn't a factual dispute between you and the PCC at that time, of course, speaking through Sir Christopher Meyer. If you kindly look under tab 9, Dr McCann, you'll see relevant extracts from the report of the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee published on 9 February 2010. I invite your attention -- the pagination is working -- on the top right-hand side of each page, to page 87.
RJ : Yes. The general thrust of what you were told by Sir Christopher Meyer during the course of an informal conversation, is this correct, is that if you wanted to deal with the issue of libel, well, then the route was legal recourse, legal action. But if you wanted to deal with it in some other way, then the PCC might be able to help?
GMC : Yes.
RJ : That's a fair summary, Dr McCann. It's what the committee think as well, although Paul Dacre expressed disappointment that you didn't make a formal complaint to the PCC, although Sir Christopher disagreed with Paul Dacre so we have two views --
RJ : Paragraph 373: "The newspaper industry's assertion that the McCann case is a one-off event shows that it is in denial about the scale and gravity of what went wrong and about the need to learn from those mistakes. In any other industry suffering such a collective breakdown, as for example in the banking sector now, any regulator worth its salt would have instigated an inquiry. The press indeed would have been clamouring for it to do so. It's an indictment on the PCC's record that it signally failed to do so. "The industry's words and actions suggest a desire to bury the affair without confronting its serious implications, the kind of avoidance which newspapers would criticise mercilessly and rightly if it occurred in any other part of society. The PCC, by failing to take firm action, let slip an opportunity to prevent or at least mitigate some of the most damaging aspects of this episode and in so doing lent credence to the view that it lacks teeth and is slow to challenge the newspaper industry." Is there anything you wish to add or subtract from that?
RJ : Can I deal now with some general points, including the four general points you made at the start? But before I deal with those four points, I'm back to your witness statement at paragraph 116. You refer to the or a culture change which is required. May I invite you, please, to put that in your own words, both to identify the existing culture and then the change which you think is required?
RJ : Thank you. The four specific headings you've given us, in one sense you've largely covered these but it's helpful if we can bring the strands together. The first is libel. Might it be said, and can I just invite you to deal with this, well, this in fact is an example, your case, of the system working to the extent that you decide at a certain point that enough is enough. Obviously as professional people you're not going to put your house on the line to fund legal action, but conditional fee arrangements were available, you took advantage of that. Within a reasonably swift time-frame, and it's for others to decide whether it was quick enough or whatever, the position of Express Newspapers changes, they admit liability, they make a statement in open court, they pay £550,000, which in the scale of things is a significant amount of money with modern libel awards, and there's a front-page apology. Is that an example of the system working or do you have a different take on what I've just said?
RJ : You make two points there, I think, Dr McCann. The first is the point damages are never proper recompense, and it's right, the judges recognise that, whether it's a reputation case or personal injuries case, the money can never provide reparation. The particular point in your case is there's an international dimension and whatever happens in the United Kingdom in terms of statements in open court, they're not going to carry any mileage or impact outside this jurisdiction.
RJ : That's a helpful observation. What about your second heading, which was privacy laws? Could you help us a bit more with that, please?
RJ : The existing PCC Editors' Code speaks of either a private place or a public place where there's a reasonable expectation of privacy. I think your evidence is suggesting that that latter concept is quite a difficult one to understand and in particular to apply.
RJ : So that indeed further thought need be given to that. The third issue we may or may not have brought out adequately but please expand it if you wish to. Contempt for the judicial process, namely the secrecy implications of the Portuguese law, I think, and for your child's safety.
RJ : Your fourth heading is quite a broad one: acceptable standards.
LJL : Quite difficult, that. I understand exactly why you're saying that, but just let me share with you the difficulty, that what journalists do is exercise the right of free speech, and whereas you as doctors require licence to practise medicine, and if you are taken to the GMC (General Medical Council) then the GMC have all sorts of sanctions available, it's quite difficult in relation to the exercise of free speech. That's not to say that there shouldn't be penalties there shouldn't be some mechanism whereby there's a holding to account for what you've done.
GMC : Sure.
RJ : I have no more questions, Dr McCann, Dr McCann. Is there anything you want to add? Maybe Mr Sherborne has a point, but that concludes all I have to ask.