From the 'toothlessness' of the PCC to Hugh Grant's middle name, we round up what 10 days of testimony has taught us
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.