Wednesday, November 30, 2011

James 'Mafia' Murdoch Survives As BSkyB Director

Almost 45% of non-News Corporation shareholders failed to back James Murdoch as he was reappointed a director of BSkyB at the company's annual general meeting.

BSkyB said that excluding votes cast by News Corporation, Mr Murdoch received the support of 55.7% of independent shareholders, with 31.4% opposed and 12.9% withheld.

Mr Murdoch received the support of 75.4% of shareholders, with 17.4% opposed and 7.2% withheld.

There had been calls for the son of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch to resign his role as chairman amid fears that his links to the inquiry into phone hacking at News Corporation will damage BSkyB's reputation.

Deputy chairman Nicholas Ferguson said: "The board recognises that there have been contrasting views among shareholders on the question of the chairmanship. All shareholders have now had the opportunity to vote and we have a conclusive result. A clear majority, including a majority of independent shareholders, have voted for James Murdoch to continue in his role."

Protesters calling for Mr Murdoch's resignation gathered outside the meeting at the QEII conference centre in London.

Mr Ferguson took questions about Mr Murdoch's role and said: "He runs an excellent board. Discussions are open and frank, his chairing is very good. He has put in place strong governance procedures. He has a strong strategic view."

Mr Murdoch, who earlier this month faced tough questioning from MPs over reporting practices at the News of the World, has been BSkyB chairman for just under four years and recently resigned as director of News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun and The Times.

Labour MP Chris Bryant said: "It's a stark result for James Murdoch. I didn't anticipate the vote against him to be anywhere near as high. Only 1.7% of independent shareholders voted against him last year.

"He's got the rules, funds and family behind him - but I still think, as this row goes on, the writing's on the wall. I strongly suspect Sky will have dispensed with his services by this time next year."

Leveson Inquiry :Alex Owens, who had spent 30 years in the police force was told to BACK OFF !!!

Alastair Campbell
Alastair Campbell, former director of communications at Downing Street, gave evidence to the inquiry. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
A former official in charge of investigating potential breaches of privacy by newspapers for the information commissioner told the Leveson inquiry that he was ordered to back off because the newspaper groups were "too big" to take on.

That was despite his uncovering a cache of documents showing thousands of ex-directory telephone numbers were being obtained on behalf of journalists. The numbers included those of the parents of Milly Dowler, and well as those of Charlotte Church and Sara Payne.

Alex Owens, who had spent 30 years in the police force, said every newspaper apart from the "Dandy and the Beano" was named in the documents uncovered as part of the Operation Motorman investigation in the early part of the last decade.

Evidence of the illegal access of private data was recovered in a raid on the Hampshire home of private investigator Steve Whittamore on 8 March 2003, the inquiry heard. In four notebooks, coloured blue, red, green and yellow, Whittamore had documented 17,000 to 17,500 requests for confidential data ranging from criminal records; to car ownership details to ex-directory telephone numbers.

Giving evidence, Owens said "the names of people like Milly Dower's number, ex-directory numbers and that sort of thing" all appeared and he questioned why no-one saw fit to pursue it, given what is now known about phone hacking.

Whittamore's paperwork named the reporter and the newspaper for every journalist's request, who they worked for and details of the "blaggers" who got the information from official sources on his behalf. None of those journalist's names have ever been published.

"We were in a position to prosecute everyone in the chain from the 'blagger' right up the journalists and possibly even the newspaper groups," Owens said.

He told Leveson how he went to the head of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) Richard Thomas and his deputy Francis Aldhouse to report his findings. "It was at this point Francis Aldhouse [former deputy head of the ICO], with a shocked look on his face, said 'we can't take the press on, they are too big for us'," Owens said.

"Richard Thomas did not respond. He merely looked straight ahead appearing to be somewhat bemused by the course of action I was recommending. For my own part I remember thinking 'It's our job to take them on or indeed anyone else on, that's what we are paid to do. If we do not do it then who does?"

He blamed "fear" at the ICO and said his bosses "had drawn a red line" between press and the reporters at the top and "the private investigators, the little blaggers and the corrupt people" below who they were allowed to investigate.

Owens says he decided to go public and potentially face prosecution because he believed it was in the public interest. He denied his evidence was "unreliable" because he had lodged a "grievance" against the ICO.

Owens told reporters outside the hearing that he and his co-investigator had planned to concentrate on about 20 to 30 of the worst offenders in the list of 305 journalists in Whittamore's notebooks but no journalists were ever contacted. "We weren't allowed to ask the press why did you want it [confidential information]?" said Owens. This decision to stop the investigation at such an early stage would "never ever happen" in the police, he said.
His allegations came on the day that:

• Detectives investigating phone hacking at News International arrested a 31-year-old woman, believed to be Bethany Usher, a former journalist who had bylines in two Sunday newspapers in 2005-08.

• Ian Paisley Jr, the MP for North Antrim, confirmed that he had met officers from Operation Weeting, who are investigating whether he and his father, the former Northern Ireland first minister, were targeted by phone hackers.

• And, also at the Leveson Inquiry, a lawyer for phone-hacking victims accused Rupert Murdoch's News International of trying to "destroy" his more

Leveson Inquiry : Tuesday 5th December - Steve Nott Is A Core Participant AND Does He Have A Story To Tell !

This should be an interesting session, Steve has known how easy it was to listen in to anyones voicemail since 1999, in fact Steve went to the media to warn them ! Steve has been IGNORED by ALL media outlets including the GUARDIAN , editor David Leigh himself has confessed to hacking. 

MP Tom Watson has given Steve his fool backing.

Please read Steve's story at his blog which includes the Mirrors Oonagh Blackman and the very much disgraced Piers Morgan who for reason's known only to Piers has blocked Steve on TWITTER !

Follow Steve Nott On Twitter ...!/StevenNott

James Murdoch : BSkyB Protestors Want Him Out !

Leveson Inquiry : Todays Hearings 30/11/2011

The Leveson inquiry: what we've learned so far

From the 'toothlessness' of the PCC to Hugh Grant's middle name, we round up what 10 days of testimony has taught us
Press photographers take pictures of people as they arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice for the Leveson inquiry. Photograph: Alan Davidson/The Picture Library Ltd
Over the past 10 days, a succession of famous faces, and some who are less well-known, have appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice to tell the Leveson inquiry into press standards about the worst excesses of the "gutter press". Lord Justice Leveson has listened intently from his lofty perch in courtroom 73 as his team has cross-examined those who feel they have suffered at the hands of the British media – an industry Tony Blair famously described as a "feral beast". As if that wasn't bad enough, two formerjournalists have lifted the lid on what it's really like to work for the tabloids. So what have we learned so far?

Comparing Rupert Murdoch's News Corp to a crime cartel is all the rage.

Murdoch's nemesis, Labour MP Tom Watson, claimed Murdoch's son James was a "mafia boss" running a "criminal organisation" during the latter's evidence to parliament. At Leveson, several witnesses have warmed to the theme. Comedian and actor Steve Coogan described the News of the World's approach to setting him up for a story. "It's like the mafia: it's just business," he said. Formula One boss Max Mosley revealed he had written to Rupert Murdoch about his treatment at the hands of the News of the World but hadn't received a reply. "That to me is the conduct of the mafia," he said. "It's what you would expect if you wrote to the head of a mafia family complaining about one of their soldiers. You would probably get no reply."

Lord Justice Leveson doesn't read newspapers. Twice last week, barristers complained about newspaper coverage of proceedings, in the Guardian and the Daily Mail, only for Leveson to confess he hadn't seen the papers that day. The judge had to ask for copies to be passed to him and sat reading the articles in question while the rest of the court listened in respectful silence. The irony wasn't lost on those taking part in the first inquiry into the press for 30 years.

David Sherborne should be on the stage. The barrister representing the 51 "victims" of the press has a theatrical manner and a sharp dress sense, wearing the same slim-fitting black suit to the Royal Courts of Justice each day. Sherborne rarely uses one word when he can reach for 10 instead, adding flourishes wherever possible. His questions to the Daily Mail, Sherborne said, have not merely been ignored, but met with a "deafening silence". Leveson can barely mask his irritation at times, repeatedly instructing Sherborne not to make speeches, a request he consistently ignores.

Cameras in court can confer celebrity on the participants, as Carine Patry Hoskins, a barrister on the inquiry team, can testify. Hoskins was trending on Twitter as #womanontheleft during Hugh Grant's evidence, after some users jokingly suggested she was particuarly attentive to the actor as he gave his evidence.

Rupert Murdoch inevitably casts a long shadow over proceedings. Charlotte Church told the inquiry that she was offered favourable coverage in his newspapers if she would waive her £100,000 fee for singing at his wedding to Wendi Deng in 1999, a claim Murdoch denies (she accepted the offer). Anne Diamond accused the Murdoch press of mounting a sustained campaign of negative coverage after she dared to challenge Murdoch face-to-face over the conduct of his newspapers in the 80s.

Hugh Grant's middle name is Mungo.

There's more than one kind of press intrusion. Coogan took exception to a Sunday Times article that contained a few errors and published a picture of his children. JK Rowling objected that it was "just ludicrous" for the same paper to claim she had planted "non-native plants" in the garden of her Scottish home.

Celebrities want newspapers to print bigger apologies. The fact that corrections are buried in places where readers struggle to find them has been another common complaint. Front-page stories that are shown to be inaccurate should be corrected on page one, not on page 25, a series of witnesses have told Leveson. Early signs suggest Leveson may have some sympathy with this view.

Laughter is in short supply, but there have been exceptions. Reminded that an interview he did with Piers Morgan published by GQ magazine took place in an "excruciatingly trendy" Soho club, Coogan replied, deadpan: "He chose the venue." Former Daily Star journalist Richard Peppiatt reduced the public gallery to hysterics by reading out a list of stories published by the Daily Star. They included: "Bubbles to give evidence at Jacko trial", "Angelina Jolie to play Susan Boyle in film", "Chile mine to open as theme park" and "TV king Cowell is 'dead'".

Don't mess with Leveson. The judge took a very dim view of a decision by blogger Guido Fawkes, AKA Paul Staines, to post an early draft of Alastair Campbell's evidence to the inquiry on his website days before the former spin-doctor's appearance. He ordered the offending document to be removed, and summoned Staines to the Royal Courts of Justice to explain himself.

Even hardened tabloid hacks can feel remorse. Former Star reporter Peppiatt, who resigned in protest at the paper's alleged anti-Muslim coverage, apologised for writing a story about comedian Matt Lucas's ex-husband Kevin McGee, which claimed he had blown a fortune on drink and drugs. "I would like to apologise to Kevin McGee's family," Peppiatt said. "I feel very ashamed." Paul McMullan, the former News of the World executive who mounted a fierce defence of tabloid techniques, confessed he "went too far" when he revealed the daughter of late actor Denholm Elliott was living on the streets and working as a prostitute. "I really regret it," he said.

Phone-hacking lawyer Mark Lewis has a nice line in coats. He has been modelling a black single-breasted number with an asymmetrical collar at the inquiry, alternating it with a bright orange pea coat.

Nobody likes the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). Paul Gascoigne's former wife Sheryl Gascoigne described the PCC as: "a waste of time". Rowling said it was: "toothless", "a wrist-slapping exercise at best". Charlotte Church insisted it is: "totally inadequate". Chris Jefferies, who was wrongly suspected of murdering architect Joanna Yeates, said the PCC hadn't responded to a letter complaining about his treatment at the hands of the press. Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist who broke the phone-hacking story, described the PCC's 2009 report into the paper's original revelations as: "terrible. Just an awful piece of work."

Max Mosley and Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre are unlikely to be exchanging Christmas cards. The former Formula One boss was the victim of a front-page News of the World sting, but Dacre emerged as his most strident critic after accusing him of "unimaginable depravity" in 2008. Mosley hit back from the witness box, claiming the scantily clad celebrities featured on the Daily Mail's website demonstrate Dacre had an "obsession with schoolboy smut".

The Daily Mail doesn't take well to criticism. The day after Grant gave evidence, the Daily Mail described his allegation that its sister title the Mail on Sunday had obtained a story about his break-up with Jemima Khan by hacking his phone as "mendacious lies driven by his hatred of the media" in an editorial. Leveson responded by telling the Daily Mail's barrister Jonathan Caplan he would prefer arguments to be rehearsed at the inquiry rather than in print.

Irresponsible reporting can have tragic consequences. Witnesses have claimed press coverage of their private lives contributed to the death of those close to them. Former footballer Garry Flitcroft claimed coverage of his extramarital affair contributed to the eventual suicide of his father, who suffered from depression. Margaret Watson, whose teenage daughter Diane was murdered by a classmate in 1991, told Leveson her son Alan was found dead with copies of two articles misrepresenting the circumstances leading up to his older sister's death in his hands. Charlotte Church also claimed the News of the World had written a story about her stepfather's affair despite the fact her mother had recently attempted suicide.

Hacking has many victims. Sienna Miller told the inquiry she had accused family and friends of leaking stories to the News of the World, only to discover subsequently they had been obtained by hacking into her voicemail messages. Mary-Ellen Field, Elle Macpherson's former financial adviser, said she had lost her job and her career after her former client accused her of talking to the media, but not before she had reluctantly agreed to attend a rehab clinic in Arizona at Macpherson's request. "She totally broke me down and I gave in and went to this horrible place," she said. "Elle had made out it was a spa. It was a grade-one psychiatric hospital with men with guns parading around."

The paparazzi are being cast as the villains of the piece. Nearly every witness has detailed their treatment by photographers in graphic detail. Miller said she had been spat on and verbally abused by photographers .Anne Diamond described being confronted with hundreds of paparazzi when she arrived home hours after giving birth to her first child, and spotting a photographer at the funeral of her baby Sebastian, a victim of cot death. Miller's lawyer, Mark Thomson, who also gave evidence, said a pregnant woman had almost been hit by a car driven by a pap in hot pursuit of his client.

Celebrities dress down to give evidence. Hugh Grant wore a suit that looked like it cost less than his barrister's, Coogan chose a dark tie and Miller arrived to give evidence dressed head-to-toe in black.

Even judges go to the movies. The first well-known figure to give evidence to the inquiry, Hugh Grant, received the same greeting from Leveson as the other witnesses – a polite "thank you" for taking part. But he couldn't resist referring to Grant's career when he told the actor he was free to take a break whenever he wished. "You don't have to say cut," Leveson grinned.

Former News of the World deputy features editor Paul McMullan is unlikely to find work as a copywriter. He coined the phrase, "privacy is for paedos" during his evidence.

Other papers are being dragged into the phone-hacking affair. The Mirror and the Mail titles have been accused of hacking phones during the Inquiry, although they deny this vehemently and their accusers admit they don't have hard evidence.

Tony Blair's former spin-doctor Alastair Campbell, who appeared before Leveson on Wednesday said he couldn't understand how the Daily Mirror obtained a story about Cherie Blair's pregnancy. "I have heard all sorts of stories as to how the information got out, but none of them strike me as credible," Campbell said, although he also conceded he had "no evidence".

And there's plenty more to come. Leveson will continue to take evidence until the end of February. After Christmas, the editors and proprietors will give evidence. They have been forced to listen in near silence as celebrities and spin-doctors publicly accused them of unethical and criminal behaviour. When they are finally handed the right of reply in January, they are certain to seize it with both hands.

Leveson Inquiry : Hacked Off - Mark Lewis Witness Statement

Mark Lewis threatened and stalked by Murdoch's thugs !

Mark Lewis 'News Group Newspapers wanted to pay for a client to sue me even though a client hadn't proposed to sue me'.

Hackgate : Bethany Usher Ex News of the World reporter arrested in phone hacking probe

Former News of the World journalist turned academic is arrested in dawn swoop

BY Linda Palermo LAST UPDATED AT 13:09 ON Wed 30 Nov 2011
MEDIA students turning up at Teesside University this morning will have found themselves unwittingly cast into the biggest story in their field of study. Just hours before lectures started, police arrested their journalism course tutor in relation to the phone hacking investigation.

The Daily Telegraph reports, Bethany Usher, a 31-year-old former employee of the News of the World, is now - improbably - senior lecturer in media & journalism at the Middlesbrough institution. She is the 17th person to be questioned by police working for Operation Weeting, the Met unit investigating phone hacking at the defunct Sunday tabloid.

Usher, who describes herself on her
Twitter biog as a "journalist, academic and all round good egg", was arrested at 6.35am on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages and is now being held in a police station in Northumbria. Police have yet to charge her with an offence.

It is not Usher's first brush with the law.
The Independent reported in January 2006 how she was arrested after applying for a job at Buckingham Palace with the apparent intention of working undercover there for the News of the World - as Ryan Parry had done for the Daily Mirror three years previously.

Needless to say, Twitter mischief makers have had great sport this morning re-tweeting Usher's recent remarks during the Leveson inquiry.

During former News of the World journalist Paul McMullan's much-derided testimony to the inquiry yesterday, Usher demanded at one point: "For god sake Paul McMullen, shut your sickening trap." She then told a fellow tweeter that it was "a shame the worst example of tabloid reporter is given the loudest voice".

Just 36 hours before she was picked up in today's dawn raid, she was also tweeting: "Am I the only former tabloid reporter who followed the PCC [code]? Hey kids. They the rules, stick to them."

Next term's media ethics seminar should be fun. · 

Read more:

Leveson Inquiry :LIVE -Alastair Campbell and Alec Owens give evidence -

• Alastair Campbell alleges that the Daily Mirror paid private eyes to investigate him and Peter Mandelson

• He describes a 'frankly putrid' press with some sections 'barely worth defending'

• The PCC has failed because it is 'of the press and for the press', Campbell claims

• He suggests an arbitration body to replace the PCC that could advise on public interest
This page will update automatically every minute: On | Off
Alastair Campbell
Leveson inquiry: Alastair Campbell is to give evidence. Photograph: Jonathan Player/Rex Features
2.49pm: Robert Jay QC is asking about a conditional discharge given to Steve Whittamore and four "co-conspirators" in 2005 as part of Operation Glade. Owens says the ICO team knew nothing about that at the time.
Owens says he walked out – "I'd had enough" – in September 2006 because of subsequent grievances, one of which was how Operation Motorman was conducted.

"Motorman didn't prompt it, it was just another example of what followed," he says, adding that the ICO was becoming "office detectices – you can ring them but you don't get to see them".

2.46pm: Owens is asked whether you can get mobile phone numbers lawfully, he suggests not but then says you could get them off friends. "He must have had 17,000 friends," Owens quips about Whittamore.

Owens says his line manager, Jean Lockett, directed him not to contact journalists and newspapers. He protested but "I said, 'You're joking?' ... but I could see by her face that it was a case of please don't shoot the messenger".
2.44pm: Owens says that car numbers and criminal reference numbers cannot be obtained legally. He suggests ex-directory numbers are also difficult to obtain legally. They formed some of the 17,000 requests from journalists to private investigator Whittamore.

2.44pm: The written statement of Alec Owens has been published here.

2.43pm: Owens told his ICO bosses "we can go for everyone" from the blaggers to the newspaper.

The information commissioner, Richard Thomas, just looked bemused and said thanks, Owens claims, adding that another senior ICO officer present, called Francis Aldhouse, indicated that they couldn't take on the newspapers because "they were too big for us".

2.38pm: Whittamore's notebooks contained 17,500 entries, Owens says, with details about the request, the journalist who made it, and what the fee was. His notebooks were in four colours: blue, red, green and yellow.
He says:
We could identify the newspaper, the journalist, Whittamore, who he used, the blaggers, the corrupt people, and we had a paper chain right the way up and down.
2.35pm: Operation Motorman was launched on the back of those DVLA findings, Owens says.

Within a short time the investigators were led to Steve Whittamore, who was convicted in 2005 of illegally accessing data and passing it to journalists.
Owens is describing the search of Whittamore's home on 8 March 2003 by ICO officers. They obtained criminal record checks, ex-directory telephone numbers, mobile phone numbers, vehicle registration checks and telephone conversions.

Whittamore "didn't say anything formally but indicated he wouldn't deny his wrongdoing. But please don't ask him anything about the press because he's not going to say anything about them," says Owens.

2.24pm: Owens became senior investigating officer at the informaton commissioner's office in 1999 until 2005.

Robert Jay QC is straight into asking about Operation Motorman in 2002.

Owens says he accompanied Devon and Cornwall police on an investigation into payments to police by Data Research, a firm based in south London.
Owens says he found a "couple of bundles of documents" that contained vehicle registration details and their owners' details, which were traced back to one DVLA employee ("a corrupt source") who had researched the information. This DVLA employee was immediately suspended.

Alec Owens at the Leveson inquiry Alec Owens gives evidence to the Leveson inquiry
2.20pm: Alec Owens is at the witness stand. Find a short profile earlier in the liveblog, here.

2.16pm: David Sherborne, barrister for the victims, replies that the distinction between Hugh Grant's evidence being mistaken and "what he was accused of" is one that you will find in any dictionary "and I would advise that the Daily Mail and its editor consult one".

Lord Justice Leveson says he doesn't want this debate – which has dragged on since last week – to become "totemic". He is reluctant to make a finding of fact "because I can't start to go into that sort of territory".

2.14pm: Caplan says that there was never any intention to intimidate a witness, but there was every intention to address criticism of his client.
Associated Newspapers says it is prepared "for the moment" to remove the phrase "mendacious smear" from the Daily Mail website before evidence to support (and contest) the statement can be called.

2.10pm: Jonathan Caplan QC, counsel for Associated Newspapers, is back on his feet addressing complaints by David Sherborne, barrister for the victims, about the Daily Mail's description of Hugh Grant as delivering a "mendacious smear" about the newspaper last week.

Caplan says Associated Newspapers categorically denies that it has ever hacked phones.

Jonathan Caplan QC Jonathan Caplan QC, counsel for Associated Newspapers, addresses the Leveson inquiry
2.06pm: We're back. Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, confirms that we will now hear from the victims' solicitor Mark Lewis this afternoon. He adds that Richard Thomas will appear next Friday, instead of tomorrow.

2.00pm: Before we get back to business after lunch, here's a short profile of Alec Owens, who will shortly give evidence to the inquiry:

Alec Owens, a retired policeman with 30 years experience, was the lead investigator at the information commissioner's office when it conducted Operation Motorman, a 2003 investigation into the use of illegally-obtained information by newspapers which resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of former private investigator Steve Whittamore. He was questioned by police over alleged leaks to newspapers earlier in November. Both Owen and Thomas are likely to be asked about those claims when they give evidence.

1.54pm: Making waves this lunchtime is (as ever) Guido Fawkes, whose legal representation will not be paid for by the Leveson inquiry, and Paul McMullan, whose unique dose of tabloid candour has made its way to the US.
Adam Boulton, the Sky News thunderer, has tweeted:
Why isn't @Leveson paying @Guido's legal fees? He sumoned him and I don't think guido's as wealthy as the celebs who are getting expenses.
And Nico Hines, US reporter for The Times, tweets:
The Paul McMullan testimony just hit US TV - the hosts were literally stunned into head-shaking silence. "Who is this creep?"
1.33pm: Here's a summary of Alastair Campbell's appearance before the Leveson inquiry:

• Alastair Campbell alleges that the Daily Mirror paid private eyes to investigate him and Peter Mandelson
• He describes a "frankly putrid" press with some sections "barely worth defending"
• The PCC has failed because it is "of the press and for the press", Campbell claims
• He suggests an arbitration body to replace the PCC that could advise on public interest

12.56pm: Robert Jay QC says that there are further concerns about evidence Mark Lewis is due to give this afternoon and that he suspects it won't be possible to hear from him today.

Jay also says that Richard Thomas, the former information commissioner, is currently ill and he too may not be able to appear tomorrow.

Alec Owens, the lead investigator on the ICO's Operation Motorman report in 2003, is back at 2pm. We'll be back with a summary shortly.

Mark Lewis Mark Lewis may not be able to appear this afternoon because of concerns over his evidence Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
12.55pm: After three hours, Alastair Campbell has finished his evidence.

12.52pm: Campbell says that the leaking of his statement on the Guido Fawkes blog was not that impactful because newspapers decided not to touch it.

He adds:
If you get the newspaper regulation right, I think that will have an impact on the internet as it develops. There may come a point where you have to apply some standards that can apply to the internet as well. It surely won't be that long until there's a defamation case over something that is said on Twitter. Get that right and some of the other stuff ought to fall into place.
12.46pm: Briefly on the Hutton report, Campbell attacks Andrew Gilligan, saying thast rather than being "unemployable" he has "gone on from strength to strength" which he describes as "a symbol of press culture".

And with a final flurry on the culture of the press – much of which he said earlier this morning – Campbell's evidence is drawing to a close.

Lord Justice Leveson has time for one last question, it's on the internet and journalism.

Campbell says "you're right to worry about it" but that we're at a stage where TV and newspapers are still the most dominant forces in the debate. He says if there was a system of regulation that drives standards up in traditional media, then standards will rise online.

12.42pm: On contempt of court, Campbell says that a lot of journalists nowadays are not trained to be journalists and so are not well versed with the laws of contempt. He claims that this danger is amplified with the speed of news.

In an odd segue, Campbell is now being asked about gifts and favours from PRs to journalists and on nepotism. He doesn't touch on nepotism and says that Richard Peppiatt, the ex-Daily Star reporter, said all there is to say on journalists receiving gifts. (Peppiatt said he'd been on four holidays in two years courtesy of PRs).

12.38pm: "The real tragedy for the press and good journalists is that the PCC code is a very good code," he says. "Had it been adhered to I don't think we would be where we are today".

Campbell suggests that the new body should have an annual report which would analyse that year's behaviour of each national paper. He suggests a league table of papers ranked on how closely they have adhered to the code.
He is now asking that media barons be participants in the countries in which they wield the most power, mentioning Rupert Murdoch ("opaque tax structures around the world"), Lord Rothermere and the Barclay brothers ("non-doms").

He says:
"Senior newspapers and editors now they are players, rather than spectators. It's a pretty unaccountable form of power, but it is a form of power."
12.36pm: Campbell is now being asked for his thoughts on new models of press regulation.

He says he agreed with a lot of what Nick Davies said about this yesterday, which may add credence to Davies' claim that very few journalists endorse his views.

"This should not be seen as a one way drive against the press. I think existing case law works against the public and the press," he says, mentioning laws on confidentiality and defamation.

He suggests an arbitrary body – like the Nick Davies example – that journalists and members of the press could go to and take advice on public interest justifications. "I don't think that would be that hard to set up," he says.

Alastair Campbell at the Leveson inquiry Alastair Campbell at the Leveson inquiry
12.27pm: Campbell says that the PCC were good at protecting the Blairs' children, but that numerous timed he discussed taking up complaints with the body but ultimately resigned to defeat.

He is now talking about a series of contentious stories that claimed Tony Blair was seeking to "muscle in" on the Queen Mother's funeral. He claims the PCC asked him not to put them in a position "where they had to make a judgment".

Campbell says the PCC should be able to step in and say 'hold on a minute, here's the code and here's where you're breaking it' with developing news stories, like the search for Madeleine McCann.

12.22pm: "They put the press interest ahead of the public interest and I think they've done that throughout their existence," claims Campbell. "On the bigger issues, I think the PCC has utterly failed".

He accepts that the PCC has difficult judgments to make and that it does some things well, but that ultimately it has struggled.
Campbell says:
They were trying to keep us happy as the government; they were trying to keep the media barons happy; and they were fixing between the two ... I think at the national level it was much more on these meta issues which I think they handled very very badly.
He adds that any replacement body should be set up by parliament but there should be no political or media interests on it.

12.18pm: Campbell is now riffing on the Press Complaints Commission. "It's failed," he says. "It's failed because it is a body that's been of the press and for the press."

The PCC has struggled because it cannot adequetly investigate; because its chairs are "political fixers"; because it cannot take third-party complaints; and because it is funded by the press, Campbell says.

He says there should be "no live media figures" on whichever body replaces the PCC to avoid it becoming "a vested interest".

12.13pm: Back on the Daily Mail again, Campbell is talking about a story that the paper wrote about his father's death ... when he was still alive. Campbell says he phoned Paul Dacre who admitted "he didn't have a leg to stand on" and published a correction.

He then claims that Dacre had a team of people pretending to write a book on Campbell because the Daily Express was running a rival serialisation.

12.09pm: The Financial Times is reporting that the deal for Charlotte Church to sing at the wedding of Rupert Murdoch in exchange for £100,000 or favourable converage was brokered by Matthew Freud, Murdoch's son-in-law.
The FT reports:
Jonathan Shalit, Ms Church's manager until 2000, told the Financial Times that the proposal had come in a "very relaxed" call from Mr Freud, but that no payment had been offered. The promise of favourable coverage was explicit, he said, "but done in a warm, friendly, positive way. There was nothing sinister about it.
"In return, it was understood the Murdoch publications would support Charlotte in the US," Mr Shalit said. "In the same way a plumber might do a favour for an accountant and the accountant might do a favour in return, I think it's totally acceptable business practice. That's life," he added.
12.05pm: I've got no evidence of the Daily Mail ever hacking telephones, Campbell says, but that he's not prepared to say that he thinks they never used criminal methods to get stories.

"Let's just see where the evidence leads," he says, adding:
All I will say is that in relation to all of us who were in government at that time, all sorts of stuff got out ... You'd just sit there scratching your head thinking how did that get out? Given what we know now I have revised my opinion in several regards as to how stuff may have got out.
12.03pm: Campbell confirms that Carole Caplin, the former personal assistant to Cherie Blair, told him she was targeted by Glenn Mulcaire in 2001 to 2003. Caplin has told Campbell she would be happy to assist the Leveson inquiry.
This is not necessarily new. Caplin disclosed that she had been told of phone hacking earlier this month.

11.59am: Campbell is back onto Paul Dacre and his denial that the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday have ever acted unlawfully in the pursuit of stories.
He says: "If he can state that confidently to a House of Lords committee, he ought to be able to answer for every single transaction. And if he cannot do that he cannot substantiate that statement to a House of Lords committee."

Paul Dacre at the Leveson Inquiry Paul Dacre at the Leveson Inquiry
11.57am: On the use of private detectives by newspapers, Campbell says he doesn't recall any from his time as a journalist in the eighties.

He is talking about Operation Motorman, the ICO investigation into use of PIs by newspapers, and claims that that report showed that use of private investigators was a "growth industry".
He adds:
We don't know as we read a newspaper any morning of the week the extent to which they've come from private investigators ... or if those private investigators have broken the law ... or if the newspapers know that they have broken the law.
Campbell claims that editors would "certainly" know if more and more money was being spent on private investigators.

11.52am: Alastair Campbell alleges that most of the investigations by Mazher Mahmood, the undercover former News of the World reporter who now works for the Sunday Times, were not in the public interest and so in breach of the PCC code.

He says:
I would echo something that Nick Davies said yesterday. On all of these there are difficult judgments. But if you go on ... Kate Middleton's uncle ... Michael Phelps ... Joe Calzaghe ... Wayne Rooney ... I don't think we should buy this line that the NoW put out at the time of its closure that they were some great campaigning organ that was changing the world for the better
11.46am: Campbell describes coverage of the media in the media as "exceptional" and that the conduct of newspapers should have come under the microscope sooner.

He's now being asked about phone hacking. He says he's been shown references to him in Glenn Mulcaire's notes, and adds that he's been visited by officers from Operation Tuleta, just explaining that they were looking into computer hacking.

He says he has been told that the Mirror paid private investigators to look at him, a member of his family and Peter Mandelson.

11.43am: The level of misrepresentation of government policy in the Daily Mail, Campbell says, was such that he suggested to Tony Blair to run "MailWatch" to find and rebut stories in that newspapers.

The novel idea was drapped after ministers protested, Campbell claims: "I wish we had have carried it on. I thought we were doing a public service."

11.41am: We're back, and Campbell is talking about Jeremy Paxman's MacTaggart lecture from 2007.

Here's the section of Paxman's speech he's talking about:
By and large, the response to Blair's attack just pressed the F12 key. Yah booh. You're a politician. We're media yahoos. Get over it. Of course, the attack all seemed a bit rich, coming from a government which took the media more seriously – and tried to control it more effectively – than any previous administration. I remember once being in Number Eleven Downing Street waiting to do an interview with Gordon Brown, and a side door from Number 12 opening. In previous governments, Number Twelve was where the Chief Whip had his office. Now, as it swung back I was astonished to see the place had been taken over by what seemed to be a fibre-optic version of a Victorian counting house - a squad of young people sitting at rows of desks, on the phone bending the ears of journalists. At the top – can he really have been sitting at a higher desk? - that's certainly how I think I remember it – sat the brooding figure of Alastair Campbell. The scene showed how thoroughly priorities had changed: where once government used the room to control and discipline its MP's in parliament it now used it to try something similar with the media.
11.30am: And with that, Lord Justice Leveson calls for a five minute break. Stay with us.

11.27am: Campbell says that the content of the speech was never debated by the media, it was simply passed by, and reads out a quote from Jeremy Paxman who said there was something in the charges that the then-prime minister had put to the press.

"Something has to be done," says Campbell. "I don't see how any reasonable person can disagree with that."

He adds that part of the judgment from Blair would have been broadly "the press don't give us much of a hard time as they give other Labour governments, which would have been seen as a plus". Campbell thought the the issue had "gone beyond" any political advantage that they might have gained, and urges current parties to tackle the press.

"I think this should be a big issue at the next election," he concludes.
11.22am: Campbell is talking about Tony Blair's big "feral beasts" speech on the media. He says the duo agreed on most things but disagreed on the press, and Blair felt the press was causing "damage to the culture of the country".

Campbell says Blair had a responsibility to do something about the culture of hte press; Blair said there were other things to do and "there was no appetite for change".

Alastair Campbell and Tony Blair Alastair Campbell and Tony Blair in 1998. Photograph: Neil Munns/EMPICS Sports Photo Agency
11.17am: Campbell says he differentiates between "the Murdoch papers" and the Mail because the Mail has a "culture of relentless negativity".

"News is only news if it's bad news for somebody, preferably someone in politics," he says of the Daily Mail.

Campbell thinks this is why newspapers in general have seen falling sales, because they've misunderstood what people want. "People want something better than what they've been given".

He goes on to say that newspapers can be "bad for public health", mentioning the controversy over the MMR jab:
"If there is anybody out there who's child has measles, yes they can blame Mr Wakefield, but they can blame the press too"
11.11am: Rhodri Davies QC, counsel for News International, has just interjected after Campbell brought up a Sunday Times article that he claimed made up a quote from John Prescott. Davies claims it was misattributed.
Campbell stands his ground and the inquiry moves on.

11.07am: Jonathan Caplan QC, the counsel for Associated Newspapers, has interjected. He says the Mail is adamant that the quotes were not made up, they were properly received and prepared from prosecutors in the Amanda Knox trial before the verdict.

Campbell pulls a face and calls it "absurd".

11.02am: Campbell is now talking about a Polly Toynbee report in the Guardian on Ed Miliband's recent Labour party conference speech.

He says that journalists often get together after a big political speech and "check their lines", or decide what the news is: "They are the spin doctors. They are the ones deciding what the line is ... The line then gets reported as public opinion."

Campbell's evidence has turned into a whistlestop tour of journalese. He is now deploring the use of anonymous quotes, singling out for criticism the false MailOnline story on the Amanda Knox verdict that apparenetly had invented colour from the courtroom.

10.59am: Campbell says the Washington Post's Watergate was "a great story but a disaster for journalism".

Ever since, journalists have suffixed any old story with "gate" he says, going on to mention Nick Davies and proper investigative journalism. There aren't many like Davies in the media nowadays, he says, journalists just aren't given the time or resource. Investigative journalism is "dying", he says.

10.57am: Campbell says people in the press blame him for a denegration of political coverage. "They're in denial," he claims.

He says that both sides should take the blame for not recognising what was happening and doing something about it.

"I know they say that and I reject it. I think it's a very very self-serving argument," he says about journalists.

10.53am: Dan Sabbagh is tweeting what he finds in Campbell's written statement.

Campbell claims he received threatening messages from News International bosses when he spoke out about phone hacking in 2009.
Campbell witness statement p 53-4 describes what happened when he spoke up in support of original phone hacking story in July 2009
[Campbell] says: "I received a series of ...mildly threatening text and phone messages from senior journalists and executives at News International"
Campbell does not name which executives he received the "mildly threatening" messages from.
10.50am: Campbell is now on to accuracy in newspapers. He says "impact of the story is now deemed to be more important than the accuracy".

So far Campbell has more or less endorsed evidence given yesterday by Richard Peppiatt, the former Daily Star reporter, and Paul McMullan, the ex News of the World deputy features editor.

He suggests that many of the newspaper articles previewing George Osborne's autumn statement will have been made up.

10.47am: Alastair Campbell's written witness statement has now been (officially) published.

10.40am: Most of our newspapers every single day are in breach of the Press Complaints Commission code of practice on accuracy, Campbell claims, mentioning the Sun and the Daily Mirror.

The Daily Mail is utterly the product of one man, he says. Whatever goes in the paper is decided by Paul Dacre, the editor. Campbell claims that how is testimony is covered by the Daily Mail will have been decided by Dacre long before he took to the witness stand.

Campbell claims that papers blur the line between fact and conjecture so much that it is surely in breach of the PCC's code: "When they are taking a fact and using that to promote that agenda, and it turns out the fact is inaccurate ..."

10.37am: Campbell says that editors genuinely may not know that the law is being broken left, right and centre.

"Do they know? Do they ask where they came from? Do they always know?" Campbell says, adding that Paul Dacre cannot really be so sure to state that the Daily Mail has never published a story obtained by illicit methods on his watch. "Can he say that? Can he really know that? I don't think he can."

10.33am: We allow the public to hate or like these celebrities who want to be in magazines, Campbell says, but journalists think it forms a huge public service.

The first mention of Paul McMullan, whose extreme bravado yesterday will surely be referenced for a long time to come. Campbell says McMullan is "brutally honest" about what the public want, but that what newspapers cover is more multi-faceted than he suggested.

"There's no transparency about the journalistic practices that they use to fill their papers," he says.

"The public out there are horrified by what they've heard in the last two weeks ... my argument this is not atypical. This is what happens to anybody who they decide is a major news commodity".

10.28am: Campbell says his own witness testimony "completely undestates the inhumanity" of the coverage of Milly Dowler and her parents.

Now talking about public figures on the scale of Princess Diana, Campbell says that some celebrities are so famous that you can newspapers feel they can write what they like about them.

10.26am: Reporting rumours has been accelerated by political bloggers online, Campbell says.

He adds: "There's a danger that the pace of change is so fast that we're even getting left behind now in terms of how we're debating it."

Campbell says regulating journalism and the internet is a very difficult thing to do – mentioning that the French government is looking at it – but that it's worth thinking about.

10.20am: Back to Campbell. He is talking about the impact on newspapers of the advent of 24-hour-news, reality TV, celebrity magazines and increased commercial pressures.

Campbell says the cumulative effect has been to move "the whole of the media ... substantially downmarket".

There's not many journalists doing journalism "as a craft," he says, and that's had an effect on their "increasing reliance" on private detectives.

10.17am: We've got more on Bethany Usher, the 31-year-old former News of the World reporter believed to have been arrested this morning in Northumbria.

News International has declined to comment. Teesside University, where Usher is a senior lecturer in media and journalism, said: "It would be inappropriate to comment on any ongoing police investigation".

Her online biography reads:
"Bethany spent seven years working in the newspaper industry after reading English Literature and Language at the University of Leeds. She quickly progressed from a trainee reporter on the Sunderland Echo to Crime Reporter, after gaining top marks in her NCE senior journalist exams. Bethany then moved to Fleet Street and worked for two of Britain's leading Sunday newspapers. She worked her way up to Northern Editor and gained experience in multimedia journalism. Bethany has won four awards and was named Young Journalist of the Year in 2003."
Usher appears to be on Twitter at @bethanyusher.

10.15am: The freedom of the press that is being defended most loudly, Campbell says, has become a press "barely worth defending".
He says at the moment the press is "frankly putrid in many of its elements".
"A very very small number of people have changed the newspaper industry so they've now frankly besmirched the name of every journalist in the country."
10.12am: Lord Justice Leveson describes Campbell's evidence as "a formidable piece of work" and thanks him for putting it together.

Campbell says he was on the same journalism training scheme as our own Nick Davies. A contrast from Paul McMullan, who yesterday took much delight in pointing out he was on the same training scheme as Michael Gove.

10.10am: Alastair Campbell is on the witness stand. He is being questioned by Robert Jay QC.

Campbell on his leaked statement: "My concern was that my final statement had been leaked. It's clear that Mr Staines got hold of a draft."

He admits sending the draft to people in advance, including people in the media, but is confident that none of the people he sent it to would have leaked it to the Guido Fawkes blog.

10.07am: Reports are filtering in that the 31-year-old woman arrested this morning is Bethany Usher, who worked at the News of the World in 2006 to 2007 in Manchester, according to Sky News reporter Martin Brunt.

10.03am: We're underway. The counsel for News International, Rhodri Davies QC, is asking Lord Justice Leveson to be able to ask Richard Thomas, the former information commissioner, questions in person tomorrow.

It would be the first time this has happened and highly significant. Davies is asking for 20-30 minutes of questioning time. Jonathan Caplan QC, counsel for Associated Newspapers, has just asked for the same.

Lord Justice Leveson is non-committal, saying in principle he's minded to allow it, but will return to it later today.

10.00am: Before we get underway, here's a short profile of Alastair Campbell, who is expected to be first on the stand:

Tony Blair's former director of communications has criticised newspapers for spinning stories more effectively than any publicist could.

A former journalist at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Today, Campbell was on first name terms with nearly every Fleet Street editor during his time at No 10. He wrote on his blog last week that he was "giving his evidence considerable thought".

Much of that thinking is likely to be about Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, of whom Campbell has been critical of late.

He wrote on his blog in July, after David Cameron had announced the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, that Dacre "will be a central figure in any public inquiry into the standards and practices of the modern press, because the Mail's influence has been so strong upon the rest of the media".

Of the press generally, Campbell wrote: "One of the reasons they are in the mess they are in is that they believe the standards by which they judge others should not apply to themselves."

9.55am: Today Lisa O'Carroll and Stephen Bates are at the Royal Courts of Justice.

You can follow Lisa on Twitter at @lisaocarroll, where she has just tweeted (almost symbolically): "Fleet street closed because of strike. Nice start".

Stephen Bates is on Twitter at @StephenBatesESQ.

Dan Sabbagh (@dansabbagh) will be tweeting from the office, and Josh Halliday (@JoshHalliday) is on the live blog.

9.53am: Guido Fawkes has tweeted:
First question Alastair Campbell should be asked by Leveson: "Did you leak your witness statement to journalists?"
Second question Alastair Campbell should be asked by Leveson "To how many journalists did you email your statement?"
9.44am: There appears to have been another significant development in Operation Tuleta, the police investigation into computer hacking by private investigators working for newspapers.

The Irish Independent reports that Hugh Orde was targeted by computer hackers while he was chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
The allegation comes just 24 hours after the former Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain was also warned that his computer may have been hacked.
9.39am: A late addition to today's line up is Mark Lewis, solicitor for several alleged victims of phone hacking, who will give the second part of his evidence after first appearing last Wednesday.

Lewis is thought to have a second witness statement that is highly controversial. He was not able to complete his testimony last week after it was challenged by Jonathan Caplan QC, counsel for Associated Newspapers, and other barristers.

9.27am: Police investigating phone hacking at News International have arrested a 31-year-old woman in connection with conspiring to intercept internet communications.

The woman, who was arrested in Northumbria at 6.35am, becomes the 17th arrest by Operation Weeting.

9.25am: Welcome to day 10 of the Leveson inquiry. Today we'll hear from Tony Blair's former chief spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, and Alec Owens, the lead investigator at the information commissioner's office when it conducted Operation Motorman in 2003.

Campbell's testimony was at the heart of a minor constitutional crisis earlier this week after a draft version found its way onto Guido Fawkes' blog and Lord Justice Leveson ordered an immediate takedown.

Paul Staines, the blogger behind the site, will explain himself tomorrow afternoon.

A former journalist at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Today, Campbell has criticised newspapers for spinning newspapers more effectively than any publicist could. He is expected to discuss relations with Fleet Street's most powerful editors, including Paul Dacre and Rebekah Brooks, during his evidence this morning.

Also up today is Alec Owens, a retired policeman with 30 years experience, who led the information commissioner's 2003 investigation into the use of illegally-obtained information by newspapers.

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