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

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 1880-1888)



  Q1880  Mr Hall: And who they work for?

  Mr Graham: Yes, 305 journalists, and top of the list is the Daily Mail. There are 58 journalists or clients using services and the number of transactions positively identified was 952 and it goes down the list.

  Mr Hall: Can you find the News of the World?

  Q1881  Chairman: It is 23.

  Mr Graham: This is all what you looked at in your last inquiry. It is 19 journalists or clients, 182 stories, the Observer with four journalists or clients and 103 transactions, so some very assiduous journalists on the Observer asking a lot of questions, but quality not quantity. All the way down the list, the News of the World—

  Q1882  Chairman: It is 23 journalists and 228 requests.

  Mr Graham: I think these figures were updated somewhat after publication.

  Q1883  Chairman: But 23 is the correct one.

  Mr Graham: It is the correct figure.

  Q1884  Mr Hall: So, just to clear another point which is made, when the PCC carried out their investigation into these in their general inquiry, they actually reached a conclusion similar to that reached by the News of the World, and you said in evidence that the PCC did not contact the Information Commissioner either to talk about individual journalists. Is that correct?

  Mr Graham: Certainly the ICO was in contact with the PCC both before and after publication of those reports in 2006. We were not involved, so far as I know and I cannot think of any reason why we would be, in the most recent PCC investigation which was into the Goodman case which, I will repeat, was about hacking and not about blagging, so I would have been surprised if they had come to us and, if they had, I would have had to say, "Can't help you, chum".

  Q1885  Mr Hall: Because you see a very distinct difference, do you not, between the way you get information? Do you think that blagging is fine and hacking is not?

  Mr Graham: No, I can see there is a journalistic ethics story that is common to the two and I can see that there are issues about who knew what when, but, as Information Commissioner, I have got nothing to offer you on that because we are there to uphold the Data Protection Act and we are not there to deal with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, so we cannot do tapping and hacking, but we can do blagging.

  Q1886  Mr Hall: On the 305 journalists who have actually been cited in evidence this afternoon and the refusal of you to publish the list, am I understanding this correctly, that you are refusing to publish this list because to do so would breach their rights to privacy when these 305 journalists have been involved in breaching everybody else's privacy?

  Mr Graham: No, I am refusing to publish because it is personal information under the Data Protection Act and I would be in breach of section 59 thereof and committing a criminal offence without lawful authority when I have not seen the lawful authority, and I really am anxious, Chairman, to invite the Committee not to shoot the messenger. The Information Commissioner has blown this thing wide open—

  Chairman: I think we have just about covered this.

  Q1887  Paul Farrelly: I am in somewhat of a difficulty, like other members of the Committee, in making judgments about your judgment because, unlike the Chair, we have not seen the files, but I understand that, for ease of filing, the ledgers are coded blue, green, red and yellow; primary colours plus one, as it were. Can you tell us what the green, red, blue and yellow refer to?

  Mr Clancy: It is various newspapers.

  Q1888  Paul Farrelly: Can you just identify the groups by colour?

  Mr Clancy: Off the top of my head, no, I cannot do that.

  Chairman: I think yellow was the Mail and the Express, blue was the Times, the Sun and the News of the World, green was the Mail and the Express, and red was the Mirror Group Newspapers. I think we have probably finished our questions, so thank you very much.

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Prepared 23 February 2010