Investigation & Surveillance

The Leveson Inquiry calls up Celebrity witnesses.

On the 6th July 2011 David Cameron announced to Parliament that a public inquiry would be launched to investigate the culture, practices and ethics of the British press following the News International phone hacking scandal.

On the 13th July 2011 Lord Justice Leveson was appointed as Chairman of the Inquiry.  First of all Justice Leveson is examining the culture, practices and ethics of the media.  In particular he will be examining the relationship of the press with the public, police and politicians.

The inquiry has been established under the Inquiries Act 2005 and has the power to summon witnesses.

It is expected that a range of witnesses including newspaper reporters, celebrities, proprietors, policemen and politicians of all parties will give evidence under oath and in public.

The hearings opened on Monday 14th November 2011.  Some of the witnesses of the inquiry include parents of murdered school girl Milly Dowler, Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan, Sheryl Gascoigne, Sienna Miller, JK Rowling and Charlotte Church.

The first witnesses called forward were the parents of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.  They spoke of the moment they believed their daughter was picking up voicemail; giving them false hope she was alive.

Actor Hugh Grant accused one of the papers in question of obtaining ‘possibly illegal’ information about his baby daughter and a separate paper for hacking his phone.

There was one particular story in February 2007 regarding his relationship with ex girlfriend Jemima Khan being on the rocks because of persistent late night calls from another man.  Grant said that these stories could only have come from voicemails.  The papers in question are alleged to have both rejected these claims.

Comedian Steve Coogan said he was subject of a sociopathic sting’ by the one papers editors.  A showbiz columnist from the paper in question tipped Coogan off that he was going to receive a call to entrap him.  He also said that his closet was empty of skeletons as a result of the press.  Glenn Mucaires notes were said to contain details of Coogans girlfriends, his account number, his bank transactions and his pin number.  He suggested this was because someone was looking over his shoulder at a cash machine.  His children were secretly photographed by paparazzi in Brighton.  He caught the photographer and asked to see the photos the man hid them from him.  The photos were later published in a Sunday tabloid paper.

Former Wag Sheryl Gascoigne ex-wife of former England footballer Paul Gascoigne told the Leveson inquiry how she had to crawl around on her “hands and knees’ in her own home to avoid being photographed by paparazzi.  She recalled being chased by photographers when she was heavily pregnant.  One time she failed to lose one member of the paparazzi so she drove to a Police Station for help. The police told her there was nothing they could do unless he touched her.

Actress Sienna Miller when questioned told how she was verbally abused and spat on by paparazzi.

Author JK Rowling admits that she was driven out of her own home by press and that she has taken over 50 actions against the press.  Rowling also told how she was chased by paparazzi only a week after giving birth.  She still fears that pictures of her children are on the Internet.

Charlotte Church told the Leveson inquiry that at the age of 13 she was advised by her management and record company to waive the £100,000 free to perform at Rupert Murdochs wedding to Wendi Deng because she would get ‘good press’ from the media.

The investigations continue with many more witnesses being called forward.

During the inquiry there has been an emphasis on private investigators, revealing their ‘price lists’ for certain services.

Records seized from investigator Steve Whittamore in 2003 contained a “treasure trove” of information about how newspapers ordered searches on everything from addresses to criminal records.

One newspaper was said to have paid around £800 in 2002 for the June 2001 phone bill of an unnamed sports star from a national side the inquiry was told.

It has come to light that there are several editors that would have been aware of what their employees were up to and therefore party to it.

The inquiry continues.