Today, the Leveson Inquiry resumed at the Royal Courts of Justice; in the same building, Charlotte Church was awarded £600,000 in damages and costs against News International.
If most people had walked away from the High Court with a cheque for £600,000 in their back pockets, they'd have burst into song. Although singing is what set this lady on the road to fame and fortune, she was distinctly subdued today in spite of her award. It may be that after the first million money isn't that important, but it is more likely that as she said, she some things transcend money. Outside the building, she gave a lengthy statement to the media stressing her commitment to seeing this sordid affair through to the bitter end.
Charlotte Church testifies to the Leveson Inquiry on the afternoon of November 28, 2011.
The Leveson Inquiry is now in module 2, which will concentrate on the relations of the press with the police. The BBC Breakfast news programme this morning heard from both sides where it was freely conceded that on occasion journalists and police officers have dined together. One can become paranoid about this, and we shouldn't. The press has a vital role to play in many serious police investigations. No one in Britain of a certain age will forget the iconic CCTV images of a 2 year old James Bulger being led away by two ten year old boys who then went on to murder him in a crime that shocked the nation and the world.
The hunt for serial killer Levi Bellfield was a joint exercise between the police, the press and the public, and the press (and other media) are often the bridge between the two. There is though a world of difference between a roomful of journalists who are briefed on the hunt for a missing child, and a police officer who takes a backhander to supply confidential information to a tabloid hack.
There is also a very simple solution to the problem of police/press cooperation. What does a journalist do if he wants to obtain information from a technology company: the latest app or scanner? Does he ring up the CEO, the research and development people, the night manager? Of course not, he phones or e-mails the press office. All Britain's police forces have press officers, at last count the Met - our biggest force - had around 60 of them. In other than exceptional circumstances, the press office should be the first port of call for all media.
Today, the Inquiry heard from a senior police officer, Sue Akers, a former senior police officer, Brian Paddick, and the always plain speaking Lord Prescott - John to you! Previously it has heard from a small galaxy of the famous and not so famous, including Heather Mills and of course the aforementioned Charlotte Church.
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