Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
21 JULY 2009
Q1680 Adam Price: If we get the evidence
you would be prepared to sit before the Committee again and respond
Mr Coulson: Let us see whether
or not you get the evidence. I would be happy to listen to whatever
request the Chairman has of me.
Q1681 Adam Price: There were a further
200 attempts, from my reading of the evidence, by Mr Miskiw that
the Information Commissioner graded as probably illicit. Looking
at the round figures we have seen a price list for blagging under
a previous Information Commissioner report. We must be talking
about over £10,000 here over a three-year period. Mr Kuttner,
would you have been aware of this level of use by a single journalist
of a particular agency?
Mr Kuttner: This level of use
by a single journalist of a particular agency?
Q1682 Adam Price: Yes, the cumulative
Mr Kuttner: Of which agency are
we speaking at the moment?
Q1683 Adam Price: Stephen Whittamore?
Mr Kuttner: Right, I think I probably
would be aware that journalist X or journalist Y was perhaps on
behalf of himself or herself and other colleagues making enquiries
of an agent, yes.
Q1684 Adam Price: Did you not think
to ask Mr Miskiw whether the information being formally requested
Mr Kuttner: Well, I think that
presupposes that I would have some reason to be suspicious and
I did not.
Q1685 Adam Price: Before this information
came to light you have never come across cases in the past where
journalists on the News of the World have tried to obtain
information illegally or from sources that tried to obtain illegal
information? It has never occurred to you before that this could
Mr Kuttner: No, it has not and
I have to say to you that bearing in mind the requirements of
their contracts before the clauses were strengthened, bearing
in mind the number of times that various editors have asked that
we be sure that people follow the PCC Code, as I think I said
earlier, the events of the day that the police came and Clive
Goodman was arrested are seared into my brain. It was a traumatic
event and I cannot state too strongly how alarming that was, and
"surprising" is not even an adequate term.
Q1686 Adam Price: In 2002 it emerged
as a result of covert police surveillance that a News of the
World journalist had been paying thousands of pounds to a
detective agency, Southern Investigations, for information obtained
illegally from corrupt police officers. Were you aware of those
payments, Mr Kuttner?
Mr Kuttner: Am not specifically
aware of those, no. I would need some prompting. How long ago
did you say that was?
Q1687 Adam Price: Well, the events
stem from 1998 but it emerged in 2002.
Mr Kuttner: So 11 years ago and
seven years ago, I would need some prompting and I will try and
help you if you could provide it.
Q1688 Adam Price: You yourself I
think, Mr Coulson, when you appeared last time before the Committee
six years ago, along with Rebekah Wade, did admit that the News
of the World did pay police officers for information. Is that
Mr Coulson: Did I? I do not think
Q1689 Adam Price: That amounts to
misconduct in public office.
Mr Coulson: I am not being facetious
here but if I did I would like to be told and have the quote read
to me because I do not think I did. I think what I said is that
the only circumstances under whichand please correct me
if I am wrong herea payment to a policeman could be condoned
was if there was a legitimate public interest. I think that is
what I said but it was a long time ago and you will have to remind
Q1690 Adam Price: That still amounts
to misconduct in public office. You are essentially corrupting
a police officer.
Mr Coulson: I was making the point,
as I recollect, that there is no excuse for illegality unless
there is a clear public interest.
Q1691 Adam Price: Corrupting a serving
police officer is always illegal. There is no justification for
Mr Coulson: I am not disputing
that but I did not say, as I think you said at the startand
again my apologies if I am wrong about thisthat I had knowledge
of any policeman being paid, because I do not.
Q1692 Adam Price: So as far as you
were aware the News of the World while you were Editor
or Deputy Editor never paid a serving police officer for information?
Mr Coulson: Not to my knowledge.
Q1693 Adam Price: No journalist on
the News of the World?
Mr Coulson: No.
Q1694 Adam Price: Going back to the
payments to Glenn Mulcaire through Clive Goodman that he received
as Alexander, the code name or whatever that was used. These were
weekly instalments, were they, Mr Kuttner?
Mr Kuttner: I am not sure at this
distance whether there was a strict pattern but I do think they
were on the whole weekly, yes. That is my recollection.
Q1695 Adam Price: Presumably at some
point you would have asked for some evidence that these were useful
stories and they were actually appearing in the paper?
Mr Kuttner: Yes I did from time
Q1696 Adam Price: So some of the
stories that emerged through Alexander (that we now know as Glenn
Mulcaire operating under subterfuge) did appear in the paper?
Mr Kuttner: I believe that is
Q1697 Adam Price: Could we have a
list of the stories that appeared in the paper through this route
that came in through Alexander, aka Glenn Mulcaire, paid for by
the £12,400 additional payment?
Mr Kuttner: All I can say, sir,
is that I will do my best to see if it is possible to research
Q1698 Adam Price: Okay. You said
as well, Mr Kuttner, that you would make enquiries as to who would
know who has made the payments to Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire.
When you have made those enquiries presumably you would be happy
to report back to the Committee?
Mr Kuttner: What I have undertaken
to do is to make enquiries as to who handled the arrangements
or agreements with Glenn Mulcaire or Clive Goodman.
Q1699 Adam Price: Do you know at
this stage whether there were any conditions attached to those
payments, particularly a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement?
Mr Kuttner: No, I do not know.