The Leveson Inquiry…Witnesses Week 2 (Wednesday)

In some ways todays Leveson Inquiry was low key. The biggest news of the day was the one day strike by public service workers and there was a feeling of anti-climax after the evidence of Paul McMullan, which can politely be described as bluntly honest.

Alec Owens, former second in command at the Office of the Information Commissioner, a body in charge of data protection enforcement. He gives evidence on Steve Whittamore, convicted of illegally accessing data for newspapers. Owens suggests that his bosses at the time were relunctant to go after the newspapers and journalists and this led to Owens resigning in disgust.. Seemingly Whittamore had 17,000 requests from journalists to obtain addresses, phone numbers, vehicle registrations etc. There were thousands of names in Whittamores notebooks. Owens recognises that he may have acted illegally in releasing details of the “Operation Motorman” case to the Press but clearly believes it was in the public interest.

Mark Lewis, solicitor who represents among others, the Dowlers gives evidence of The News Of The World putting him under surveillance…….and worse putting his 14 year old daughter under surveillance. Today he was given an apology in court.

Damp Squib of the Day……Alastair Campbell, former Spin Doctor-in-Chief to Tony B Liar. Memories of Campbell’s last televised appearance at court……the Hutton Inquiry into the death by suicide of Dr David Kelly and the dodgy dossier on the War on Iraq are still too fresh for me. That Inquiry is generally believed o have white-washed the Government. And Campbell has spent years trying to re-build his reputation.

Maybe thats what he was trying to do today but I found him unimpressive. His evidence suggests that The Daily Mirror hired private detectives to spy on him and Peter Mandelson. Ironic really as Campbell worked at the same newspaper under Robert Maxwell, a major crook.

Campbell scores some points by noting that Rupert Murdoch, an American citizen and the Barclay Brothers and Lord Rothermere (proprietors) are tax exiles. Frankly there was not much new in Campbell’s. He got some punches in at The Daily Mail and its culture of negativity under Paul Dacre. And criticised the Press Complaints Council as everyone so far has done.


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