This morning, Chris Jefferies testified
to the Leveson Inquiry; this afternoon it was the turn first of Charlotte Church.
shot to fame as an eleven year old classical singer, arguably the biggest thing to come out of Cardiff since Shirley Bassey. Now 25 years old, and having graduated to singer-songwriter
and a career in popular music, she is already a veteran of the entertainment industry. Having been thrust into the spotlight at such an early age, she found the tabloids taking interest in her and in her family for all the wrong reasons.
Examined by Counsel to the Inquiry, Carine Patry Hoskins, she related a tale that has become sadly typical, that when her phone was being hacked, information about her personal life including details about her pregnancy and new baby were apparently leaked to the press, and how this led to her pointing the finger of suspicion at her friends. It was only when she was visited by the police in connection with Operation Motorman - the investigation launched by the Office of the Information Commissioner - that she realised what was happening. She was shown reams of documents relating to this, including the notes of Glenn Mulcaire
, the private investigator the exposure of whose illicit activities started the ball rolling.
Miss Church's experience of and complaints against the media went far beyond mere hacking though.
When she was 15, the Sun
- one of the most notorious tabloids in Britain - published what might be described as a countdown to her losing her virginity. The age of consent in Britain is 16. The lewdness didn't stop there; among other things, she had tabloid journalists and photographers trying to look up her skirt and down the front of her dress.
She was particularly distressed at the revelation that her father had had an affair, and that her mother was at one time in a very vulnerable state.
One of the most professionally damaging stories published about her was not by a tabloid but by a broadsheet, when she was 15. She had visited New York and Ground Zero, and had given an interview without an adult chaperone, which had resulted in her words being twisted not simply out of context but totally distorted. She was shown in such a bad light that her record company had to arrange extra security to protect her from enraged citizens.
Other stories of a less sensitive nature had also been fabricated.
Miss Church rejected entirely what has been called the whinging celebrity argument, and defended selling stories on occasion to undermine the paparazzi's incessant harassment of her saying that it cut the ground from underneath them. She said that on those occasions she had donated the money from these stories to charity.
Like others over the years, she considered the Press Complaints Commission
to be a watchdog without teeth.
Her testimony was followed by that of Anne Diamond.