Thursday, November 24, 2011

#Leveson Inquiry : Why Phone Hackers May Want Us To Read All About It

Journalists and newspaper executives who could face criminal charges over the phone-hacking scandal may be tempted to leak incriminating evidence about themselves so that they can claim later they cannot get a fair trial because any jury will have been prejudiced by too much pre-publicity. That is the warning discreetly tucked away in a polite letter sent to senior parliamentarians from the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve.
One newspaper – not this one – had a scoop when it published an account of a conversation alleged to have taken place between a News International executive and a senior journalist. This leak, which may have come from an MP, set off alarm bells at Scotland Yard, because – Deputy Commissioner Sue Akers, the officer in charge of the phone-hacking investigation, claims – the information was "of critical importance" to the police inquiry and was not supposed to be made public.

She complained to the Attorney General who has written to John Whittingdale and Keith Vaz, chairmen of the Commons Culture and Home Affairs committees, and to the Speaker, John Bercow, warning that the motives of some of the people passing information to MPs need to be closely watched. "It is not inconceivable that potential defendants will seek to manipulate the opportunities given them by giving evidence to the committee to reduce the risk of prosecution," he wrote.

Grieve has been consistent over this issue. He opposed the idea of holding the Leveson Inquiry at this time, because of the risk that it would prejudice any forthcoming trial, but was overruled by David Cameron.

Meanwhile, there was a moment yesterday when the Leveson Inquiry threatened to descend into absurdity, as the barrister representing one newspaper refuted a claim in another newspaper that they had disrespected a barrister for the inquiry.

The Guardian alleged on its front page yesterday that The Sun had sent a reporter to doorstep the home of Carine Patry Hoskins, junior counsel to the inquiry. They didn't.

Who had a way with with words?
News that the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary have nominated "squeezed middle" as the "word of the year" (should that not be phrase of the year?) set off a hunt yesterday to find out who first thought of turning the phrase into Labour's battle more