Leveson Inquiry: Summary of week eight
- 19 January 2012
- From the section UK
A string of big-hitting editors appeared at the Leveson Inquiry this week but it was the publication with the smallest circulation whose boss grabbed the public attention.
Private Eye editor Ian Hislop brought some of the humour of his appearances on BBC satirical quiz Have I Got News For You to proceedings at the Royal Courts of London.
Swipes at Ex-Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan and Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond brought wry smiles from those in attendance.
But Mr Hislop had a serious message for inquiry chairman Lord Justice Leveson. "Statutory regulation is not required," he said, pointing out that phone-hacking and paying police officers were already illegal.
He pointed the finger at newspapers' relationships with police and politicians, saying News International was so "deeply embedded" that the proprietor's wife had been invited to "slumber parties" at the prime ministerial retreat Chequers.
It was the Press Complaints Commission that felt the ire of Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, whose revelations about conduct at the News of the World triggered the inquiry.
Rusbridger described the PCC investigation into phone-hacking as "worse than a whitewash" and said it had "undermined the principle of self-regulation".
The week had begun with the reading of a letter from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, denying claims he had threatened to "destroy" News International during a call to Rupert Murdoch after the Sun switched political allegiance.
Then Daily Mirror editor Richard Wallace admitted phone-hacking "might well have been" hidden from him when he was in charge of the paper's showbiz desk.
It could have been the source of a scoop revealing Sven-Goran Eriksson's affair with Ulrika Jonsson, Mr Wallace said, stressing he had no knowledge of hacking ever having taken place.
'Illegal and unethical'
Similarly, Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver said there was "no guarantee" it had not happened at her paper.
Ahead of Times editor James Harding's appearance, News International boss Tom Mockridge's witness statement revealed one of the paper's reporters had been disciplined for hacking into a computer.
Harding argued some intrusion was in the public interest, quoting the publication of Adam Werritty's bank details during an investigation into the level of access he had to former Defence Secretary Liam Fox.
Sunday Times editor John Witherow called phone hacking "illegal and unethical" and said it had never happened on his paper, although he had employed private detectives.
Next up were the editors of glossy magazines Heat, Hello! and OK!
Heat's Lucie Cave argued there was a public interest in exposing hypocritical behaviour by stars who portrayed themselves as loving their family, only to cheat behind their partner's back.
Editors of eight regional papers rounded off the week, with several arguing that the local press should not be tarnished by any malpractice at the nationals.
Transcripts of the hearings so far are on the Leveson Inquiry website.