Press standards, privacy and libel - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 1660-1679)


21 JULY 2009

  Q1660  Mr Farrelly: How many agreements like this are you aware of where agreements have been made to make payments while you have been Managing Editor to pay people in a false name?

  Mr Kuttner: I think the answer is I am not aware of them.

  Q1661  Mr Farrelly: This is unique?

  Mr Kuttner: I did not say that. I am not saying that it is unique but I am not aware of—

  Q1662  Mr Farrelly: Any further instances?

  Mr Kuttner: No.

  Q1663  Mr Farrelly: Can I just ask you about Clive Goodman. You say you were deceived. How was Clive Goodman able to pay £12,300 to Glenn Mulcaire? Was it actually in readies or did it go through the accounts department in a masked way?

  Mr Kuttner: I think the answer to the first part is it was in cash, it was a cash payment. The answer to the second part is that it was all accounted for in the documentation and that is the material that either directly on their own account to the investigating police team, or through Burton Copeland, the solicitor who was looking into these things at News International, was all disclosed.

  Q1664  Mr Farrelly: And over what period was the £12,300?

  Mr Kuttner: I would have to refresh my memory. I think it covered quite an extensive period but I would need to do a document search for that. But I think it was over quite a long time.

  Q1665  Mr Farrelly: It would be very interesting because £12,300 in cash, it is a question of—

  Mr Kuttner: That imagery is misleading. I do not know what £12,000 looks like, unfortunately, but it was spread over quite a time period. I could look into that and I am not unhappy to do so.

  Q1666  Mr Farrelly: I would be very grateful. When you found out that this had been received, did you report this to the Inland Revenue? Did you report the income Mr Mulcaire had received to the Inland Revenue?

  Mr Kuttner: All payments made by News International, by the News of the World, and I think I can speak for the other newspapers in its group, all the payments, to the best of my knowledge, whether they be by cheque, whether they be by bank transfer or whether they be in cash are returned to HMRC when the company makes its tax returns.

  Q1667  Mr Farrelly: Including this amount?

  Mr Kuttner: Including which amount?

  Q1668  Mr Farrelly: The £12,300?

  Mr Kuttner: I have no reason to doubt that whatsoever.

  Q1669  Mr Farrelly: Could you confirm that?

  Mr Kuttner: I can certainly enquire.

  Mr Farrelly: Thank you.

  Q1670  Adam Price: Mr Coulson, Piers Morgan described Clive Goodman at the time of his conviction I think as "the convenient fall guy for an investigative practice that everyone knows was going on for years". Do you agree with that?

  Mr Coulson: I think you would have to talk to Piers. I think that Clive was a rogue case on the News of the World. I am not going to speak for the entire newspaper industry. I can only speak for the newspaper that I edited for a period and I am absolutely sure that Clive's case was a very unfortunate rogue case.

  Q1671  Adam Price: So essentially you disagree with Piers Morgan's description that he was the fall guy for a practice that was common within the industry?

  Mr Coulson: With the greatest of respect, ask Piers; he is not backwards in coming forwards!

  Q1672  Adam Price: We may consider broadening our inquiry. Let us see where we go.

  Mr Coulson: Sure.

  Q1673  Adam Price: Nevertheless, Piers Morgan is I believe a feted, celebrated former Editor of the News of the World.

  Mr Coulson: He would certainly like that description!

  Q1674  Adam Price: When he makes a statement like that that this practice was going on for years what did he mean by saying that?

  Mr Coulson: Please do not think me unhelpful but ask Piers. I think I am here to answer questions about my time as Editor of the News of the World. I have given you my view. I really do not want to be unhelpful but I have to say that I was not expecting to be asked questions about Piers Morgan.

  Q1675  Adam Price: I think it is reasonable for me to put to you what a former Editor has said about the news culture at the News of the World.

  Mr Coulson: Sure, I understand.

  Q1676  Adam Price: If we take both your statement and his statement at face value the conclusion we are forced to form really is that these practices were going on previously and under you, apart from Goodman, they suddenly stopped.

  Mr Coulson: I think I was asked earlier as to whether or not this was a wider industry problem. Of course it has been in the ether, as I say, in the industry but I can only really talk today about my experience and what I had direct involvement in and I have answered that question.

  Q1677  Adam Price: Just to be clear, under your tenure as Editor and Deputy Editor, as far as you were aware at the time, the News of the World did not pay people to obtain information illegally?

  Mr Coulson: Yes, that is right.

  Q1678  Adam Price: We heard reference a moment ago to the evidence in relation to Stephen Whittamore that Nick Davies produced. He also told us that Greg Miskiw used the agency in question on 90 separate occasions I believe from which the Information Commissioner concluded that the information accessed was definitely illegal. This put him in the top ten of the 305 journalists identified by the Information Commissioner as part of Operation Motorman, at number nine in fact. Are you surprised that an associate editor under your editorship was actually responsible for this level of illegal activity?

  Mr Coulson: Again, I really do not want to be unhelpful, Mr Price, but I only learned of Greg Miskiw's name in relation to Motorman I think probably about the same time as you did. I have no evidence and I have not seen any evidence as to whether or not this is correct or incorrect, what the cases that are listed against Greg's name are, and whether or not this is a fair or an unfair accusation. I do not know. I know as much as you do, and you may even know more, in relation to what has been published in relation to Motorman.

  Q1679  Adam Price: If that evidence were forthcoming, and we are trying to get the evidence from the Information Commissioner in full, would you be surprised if that were proven to be correct?

  Mr Coulson: It is a hypothetical question. I do not know. If you put the evidence in front of me and asked me the question, I would try and give a direct answer. It is hypothetical as to whether I would be surprised.

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