Today is the final day of hearings for this week. The line-up brought before the inquiry today continued to feature high profile celbrity figures and legal experts. The witnesses were: "HJK", an anonymous member of the public who had a relationship with an unnamed celebrity; Sienna Miller, a British actress; Mark Thomson, a solicitor who has represented Naomi Campbell, Sienna Miller and others in landmark privacy cases; Max Mosley, former head of the FIA, a role which included running Formula One motor racing; and JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series.
"HJK" This witness gave evidence "in camera", away from the press, under an anonymity order.
This witness gave evidence "in camera", away from the press, under an anonymity order.
Miller's testimony was brief, but she described the strain of living in the public eye and the "daunting" nature of taking on the press in a privacy claim. She stated that when the harassment was at its worst she was "spat on" and verbally abused in order for the press to get an emotional reaction and she described how she was often chase down the street by photographers. In the confusion that arose after the press published private information, Miller admitted, "horribly I accused my friends and family of leaking stories". Miller brought an end to this by launching a claim, in which she was represented by Mark Thomson, that led The News of the World to admit it had hacked into her computer and accessing her emails in 2008. This was 2 years after Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for phone hacking.
Thomson discussed the effectiveness of press regulation, recalling that when he represented Hugh Grant, it took the PCC 12 months to adjudicate a decision. He also tried to discuss evidence that the phone hacking was a wider than just NoW, attempting to direct Leveson's attention to an article in GQ Magazine in which Piers Morgan discussed the widespread nature of phone hacking. The Inquiry established that those concerns would be addressed in due course when Morgan gives evidence.
The News of the World posted an article and a video of Mosely engaged in sexual activities and in addition claimed there was a Nazi theme to these activities. This video was then widely distributed on the Internet. In the aftermath, Mosley's son, who had a history of drug problems, returned to drug use and died. "The News of the World story had the most devastating effect on him. He really couldn't bear it. For your son to see pictures of his father ... he really couldn't bear it. He went back on the drugs", Mosely explained. When collecting his son's personal effects, journalists harassed Mosely.
With respect to the damage caused to his reputation, Mosely stated: "Invasion of privacy is worse than burglary. You can replace things that have been taken repair damage, but if someone invades you privacy, you can never repaid the damage." Mosley accuses Paul Dacre of being completely "naïve about sex" and insists that broadcasting people's sex life in the media shows an archaic attitude to sexual activities.
Mosely also insisted that allowing newspapers to publish articles without notifying their subjects beforehand is damaging. "The case for prior notification is unanswerable. It's absolutely clear that it's the right thing."
The author's 33 page testimony recounts how she was initially subject to door stepping by journalists at her first house. After a photo was published showing the number of her house she stated she became "sitting duck" for journalists, which prompted her to leave the property two years after buying it. She claimed that she had seen 50+ cases to ward off the press, but some members of the press saw this guarded attitude "as a challenge".
The privacy of her children has always been of paramount importance to Rowling. She wants home life to be "place of safety" for her children and thus she fought for privacy. She confessed that she has tried "hard to abide by what I thought was the unwritten code" of the press, keeping her family out of the spotlight.
The balance between discussing life because it bears relation to work and keeping the press away from her family proved to be highly difficult, but Rowling clearly stated there had only ever been 3 areas of her private life has discussed at will: the fact that she was a single mother in receipt of benefits, her position as patron of the MS society, and her experience of depression, which she discussed in the context of work.
Nevertheless, she recounted how two journalists from a Scottish tabloid surveyed her house. There was no reason that they should have taken any particular interest in the author at that time. So, Rowling's PR Company asked them why they were there - the answer "it's a boring day at the office". Rowling stated she and her family were "under surveillance for their amusement".
Pictures of her daughter in her swimsuit were disseminated via the web months after the PCC ruling. "Where children are concerned it's my personal belief that it's not complex at all," Rowling said. "They deserve privacy. They have no choice who their parents are how their parents behave."
Rowling's frustration with the press' failure to listen to her repeated requests for her privacy to be requested is evident: "short of getting a sky writer, what can you do?" She reiterated what many witnesses have said - that you "can expect some form of retribution" if you "lock horns" with certain aspects of the British press.