Leveson inquiry: The most memorable quotes
OVER months of hearings, the Leveson inquiry heard hours of evidence from celebrities, bereaved parents, media moguls and top politicians. Here are some of the memorable quotes that emerged during part one of the inquiry.
Bob and Sally Dowler
Describing the moment she was given false hope that her 13-year-old daughter Milly was still alive, Mrs Dowler said: “I rang her phone, it clicked through on to her voicemail, so I heard her voice and it was just like, ‘she’s picked up her voicemail, she’s alive’.”
“As soon as I was told it was about phone hacking, literally I didn’t sleep for about three nights because you replay everything in your mind and just think, ‘oh, that makes sense now, that makes sense’.”
Kate and Gerry McCann
Mrs McCann said she felt like “climbing into a hole and not coming out” when the News of the World printed her intensely personal diary.
“I felt totally violated. I had written these words at the most desperate time of my life, and it was my only way of communicating with Madeleine.” The newspaper later apologised.
Baroness Hollins (mother of Abigail Witchalls) The mother of Abigail Witchalls, who was left paralysed after being stabbed, said: “We couldn’t trust anybody, and it began to form divisions among members of the family about how to deal with it.
“And in some ways it was more traumatic, if you can believe it, than the experience of actually attending to the real tragic event that had taken place.”
On the tabloid press, he said: “It’s like the mafia. It’s just business.” But he denied he had made a Faustian pact, saying: “I never signed away my privacy in exchange for success.”
The Harry Potter author described her anger when she found a note that a reporter had slipped inside her daughter’s school bag: “It is very difficult to say how angry I felt that my five-year-old daughter’s school was no longer a place of complete security from journalists.
“The twist in the stomach as you wonder what do they want, what do they think they have? It is incredibly threatening to have people watching you.”
“The UK government were, to put it bluntly, completely in the thrall of Mr Murdoch and the other big newspaper people, who would have objected,” said the former Formula 1 boss.
“The idea that it is the job of the tabloid journalist to pillory people whose tastes may be unusual is completely outdated. If that was the case, we would still be persecuting homosexuals.”
“I was 21, and at midnight I would be running down a dark street on my own with 10 big men chasing me.
“The fact that they had cameras meant that was legal, but take away the cameras and what have you got? A pack of men chasing a woman and that’s obviously intimidating.”
“...I accused my friends and family of selling stories and they accused each other as well. I feel terrible that I would even consider accusing people of betraying me like that, especially being people who I know would rather die than betray me.”
“It’s awful to be followed every time you go anywhere and you’re having to lose photographers, but I never complained too much about it because it kind of went with the territory,” said the ex-wife of Paul Gascoigne.
The retired teacher wrongly arrested for Joanna Yeates’s murder, said: “The national media shamelessly vilified me. The UK press set about what can only be described as a witch hunt.”
The lawyer for alleged phone-hacking victims said: “News International sought to destroy my life, and very nearly succeeded.”
Of learning his ex-wife and teenage daughter had been followed and videoed: “That was truly horrific, that my daughter was videoed, was followed by a detective with a camera - I mean, just followed.
“That shouldn’t happen to anybody’s child.”
“I think there is a shadow network where everybody has infiltrated in terms of hotel concierges, restaurants, will tip off journalists or paparazzi, the airlines, everywhere.
“I haven’t been on a holiday since I was 16 where I haven’t been found and photographed.”
On the cot death of her son Sebastian in 1991, she said: “Our front door very quickly was surrounded with hundreds of newspaper photographers and reporters literally just sitting there waiting for something to happen, constantly ringing the doorbell.”
On joining The Sun’s campaign to raise funds for research into cot death, she said: “I felt emotionally blackmailed by the people I had felt had just trampled all over our tragedy, all over our child’s grave.”
Sir Paul McCartney’s ex-wife said before 1999, press coverage of her had been positive, but said: “The second I met my ex-husband I became a one-legged bitch, and cow, and every awful word you could think of.”
Grant told the inquiry it had become “extremely fashionable” to hate him in Britain and said journalists were “entitled to their opinion” but hit out at press intrusion and “lazy reporting”.
“There has been a section of our press that has become allowed to become toxic over the last 20 or 30 years and its main tactic is by bullying and intimidation and blackmail.”
The editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, said of actor Hugh Grant: “Mr Grant has spent his life invading his own privacy. It seems a little bit ripe that when he does have a child, he and his press representatives won’t confirm or deny that.”
The former News of the World reporter argued: “Privacy is for paedos”.
“I have very little sympathy with celebrities who sell their weddings for a million pounds - one of the most private days of their lives - and then expect to have privacy if they get caught having affairs.”
At the end of the grilling about his tenure as editor of the News of the World and the Daily Mirror he said he felt “like a rock star having an album brought out from his back catalogue about all his worst ever hits”.
The so-called fake sheikh said: “It is annoying, this myth of entrapment. We don’t entrap people.
“No matter what the size of the carrot, you cannot entrap people into committing these crimes.”
“I am proud to have jailed paedophiles, arms dealers and drugs dealers and the like. That is my motivation.”
The former News of the World editor said he feared there was a history of illegal practices at the paper: “It’s fair to say that I always had some discomfort and at the time I phrased it as that I felt that there could have been bombs under the newsroom floor and I didn’t know where they were and I didn’t know when they were going to go off.”
Defending his now defunct paper, the journalist said: “The News of the World was not the best-selling newspaper in the world for nothing. It was there because it was put together by some of the most gifted journalists of their generation.”
The former executive chairman of News International said: “Knowing what we know now about the culture at the News of the World in 2006 - well, at least that we know about the alleged widespread nature of these poor practices - it must have been cavalier about risk, and that is a matter of huge regret.”
On Prime Minister David Cameron, he said: “I was extremely impressed at the kindness and feeling he showed to his children and particularly to his retarded son.”
About an argument with Gordon Brown about the Sun shifting its support to the Conservatives ahead of the 2010 election, he said: “I did not think he was in a very balanced state of mind.”
After phone hacking revelations about former News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman, he said he should have gone to see him “one-on-one”: “And if I had come to the conclusion that he was telling the truth, I would have torn the place apart and we wouldn’t be here today.”
Referring to Rupert Murdoch, Mr Prescott said: “He’s not interested in the dinners, is he? He just wants what he wants - that is selling newspapers and influence over political parties and playing a part in influencing the politics.”
Sir Christopher Meyer
The former head of the PCC and former press secretary to prime minister John Major said: “I think Rupert Murdoch considered John Major to be a loser and by all accounts Rupert Murdoch wasn’t interested in losers.”
The former Sun editor recalled a conversation with John Major on the night the UK crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in September 1992, saying he told the PM: “I’ve got a bucket of shit on my desk, prime minister, and I’m going to pour it all over you.”
The former Met commissioner described how his wife had confronted Rebekah Brooks over a headline in The Sun saying “Blair is doomed”: “As I remember, that was the only time I saw Rebekah speechless.”
On the subject of The Sun: “Once they are against you that’s it. It’s full frontal, day in, day out, basically a lifetime commitment.”
The former News International chief executive dismissed reports that Mr Cameron would text her 12 times a day.
“He would sign them off DC, in the main. Occasionally he would sign them off ‘lol’, lots of love. Until I told him it meant ‘laugh out loud’.”
The ex-Labour business secretary said Rebekah Brooks was someone known for her “persistence, charm and manipulative skills” - adding: “Although some people might say that’s rich coming from me.”
Former home secretary Mr Johnson said he got off on the wrong foot when he met Rebekah Brooks when he was running for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party.
“I shook her hand and said ‘hello Rachel’, and I don’t think that went down very well, so it wasn’t a good start.”
The Sun’s crime editor said: “My experience is that lunching and buying dinners have become an increasing rarity over the last few years, and that was really perhaps as Fleet Street sobered up, or perhaps as the police became more professional with alcohol taken during working hours.”
On former Met Police commissioner John Stevens, the former News of the World editor said: “He lived his life, 20 years, as a target for IRA assassination as he carried out the three Stevens inquiries. He was the man who was the gang-buster in the Met.
“So the suggestion that this man of integrity, of experience, of immense crime-fighting ability is going to be seduced by me taking him down to Cecconi’s and having steak and chips and a nice bottle of wine - I just can’t begin to see where that comes from.”
The former News of the World crime reporter said: “We do not live a champagne lifestyle and the reality of the day-to-day grind of journalism is far from glamorous.”
The owner of the Daily and Sunday Express branded the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) “a useless organisation” run by “people that hated our guts, that wanted us out of business”. Asked about ethical journalism, he said: “Ethical, I don’t quite know what the word means.”
In embarrassing text message revelations, the inquiry heard the then-culture secretary sent News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel a message on June 21, 2010, saying: “Baby fine just changed his nappy lucky daddy!”
A month later, on July 15, Mr Michel, praised Mr Hunt on a “great announcement”, to which the Minister replied: “Merci papa”.
Challenged on a report that he hid behind a tree to avoid journalists when he was attending a dinner with James Murdoch after the executive gave a lecture at University College London, he said: “On my way to the dinner, I spotted a large group of media journalists.”
Considering it was “not a time to have an impromptu interview”, he said, “I moved to a different part of the quadrangle,” adding: “There may or may not have been trees.”
The former chancellor and prime minister was said to have called Rupert Murdoch and told him: “Well, your company has declared war on my government and we have no alternative but to make war on your company” - something Mr Brown denies.
Sir John said: “The Press to me at the time was a source of wonder. I woke up each morning and I opened the morning papers and I learned what I thought, what I didn’t think, what I said, what I hadn’t said, what I was about to do, what I wasn’t about to do.”
Asked about social contact between himself, his wife and Rebekah and Charlie Brooks, the Prime Minister said: “Mrs Cameron keeps a rather better weekend diary than I do.”
Lord Justice Leveson quipped: “The great value of wives, Prime Minister”, to which he replied: “Indeed.”
Lord Justice Leveson
The inquiry chairman clashed with Michael Gove when the education secretary raised concerns about restraints on the “precious liberty” of freedom of speech.
In an apparent slapdown, Lord Justice Leveson said: “I do not need to be told about the importance of freedom of speech, I really don’t.”
Of tabloid allegations that he made love to actress Antonia de Sancha wearing a Chelsea Football Club shirt, the former cabinet minister said: “To be honest, I am sick and fed-up of it.
“All you will remember about me when I go to my grave is some bloody Chelsea shirt.”
The barrister representing the alleged victims of phone hacking said: “The press is on trial here, and not simply in this room but also out there in the court of public opinion. And they know it. That is why they are so scared of what evidence has been heard here.”
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