Skip to main content

Phone Hacking

Volume 729: debated on Wednesday 13 July 2011


My Lords, it may now be convenient for me to repeat a Statement that was made earlier today by the Prime Minister. Well informed Peers will be aware that some of the issues contained in the Statement have changed. As a result, and with the agreement of the Opposition, I have made some amendments that I shall make plain during the course of the Statement, which is as follows.

“In recent days, the whole country has been shocked by the revelations about the phone hacking scandal. What this country and this House have to confront is an episode that is disgraceful: accusations of widespread law-breaking by parts of our press; alleged corruption by some police officers; and, as we have discussed, the failure of our political system over many years to tackle a problem that has been getting worse. We must keep front and centre the real victims: relatives of those who died at the hands of terrorism, war heroes and murder victims—people who have already suffered in a way that we can barely imagine who are being made to suffer all over again.

We all want the same thing: press, police and politicians who serve the public. Last night, the Deputy Prime Minister and I met the Leader of the Opposition. I also met the chairs of the Culture, Media and Sport, Home Affairs and Justice Select Committees to discuss the best way forward. Following these consultations, I will set out today how we intend to proceed: first, on the public inquiry; secondly, on the issues surrounding News International’s proposed takeover of BSkyB; and, thirdly, on ethics in the police service and on its relationship with the press.

Before I do that, I will update the House on the current criminal investigation into phone hacking. I met Sir Paul Stephenson last night. He assured me that the investigation is fully resourced, one of the largest currently under way in the country, and being carried out by a completely different team from the one that carried out the original investigation. It is being led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, who I know impressed the Select Committee yesterday. Her team is looking through 11,000 pages containing 3,870 names, including around 4,000 mobile and 5,000 landline phone numbers. The team has contacted 170 people so far, and will contact every single person named in those documents. The commissioner’s office informed me this morning that the team has so far made eight arrests and undertaken numerous interviews.

Let me now turn to the action that the Government are taking. Last week in the House I set out our intention to establish an independent public inquiry into phone hacking and other illegal practices in the British press. We have looked carefully at what the nature of this inquiry should be. We want it to be one that is as robust as possible—one that can get to the truth fastest and get to work the quickest, and one that commands the full confidence of the public. Clearly, there are two pieces of work to be done. First, we need a full investigation into wrongdoing in the press and the police, including the failure of the first police investigation. Secondly, we need a review of regulation of the press. We would like to get on with both these elements as quickly as possible, while being mindful of the ongoing criminal investigations. So, after listening carefully, we have decided that the best way to proceed is with one inquiry in two parts.

I can tell the House that the inquiry will be led by one of the most senior judges in the country, Lord Justice Leveson. He will report to both the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The inquiry will be established under the Inquiries Act 2005, which means it will have the power to summon witnesses, including newspaper reporters, management, proprietors, policemen and politicians of all parties, to give evidence under oath and in public.

Starting as soon as possible, Lord Justice Leveson, assisted by a panel of senior independent figures with relevant expertise in media, broadcasting, regulation and government, will inquire into: the culture, practices and ethics of the press; its relationship with the police; the failure of the current system of regulation; the contacts made, and discussions had, between national newspapers and politicians; why previous warnings about press misconduct were not heeded; and the issue of cross-media ownership. He will make recommendations for a new, more effective way of regulating the press—one that supports its freedom, plurality and independence from government, but which also demands the highest ethical and professional standards. He will also make recommendations about the future conduct of relations between politicians and the press. This part of the inquiry we hope will report within 12 months.

The second part of the inquiry will examine the extent of unlawful or improper conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers, and the way in which management failures may have allowed this to happen. This part of the inquiry will also look into the original police investigation and the issue of corrupt payments to police officers, and will consider the implications for the relationships between newspapers and the police. Lord Justice Leveson has agreed our draft terms of reference. I am placing them today in the Library and we will send them to the devolved Administrations. No one should be in any doubt that we will get to the bottom of the truth and learn the lessons for the future.

Next is the issue of News International’s bid to take over BSkyB. By the day we are hearing shocking allegations: allegations that royal protection officers were in the pay of the News of the World and handed over the contact details of the Royal Family for profit; and allegations that the former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, had his personal details blagged by another News International title. As both the alleged nature of the malpractice and the scope of the newspapers involved widen, serious questions must be asked about News Corporation’s proposed takeover of BSkyB”.

I would now like to depart from the original Statement given in another place as very recent developments mean that it is no longer accurate. Since the Prime Minister’s Statement, News Corporation has announced that it no longer intends to bid for the shares in BSkyB which it does not already own. This means that the Culture Secretary’s decision to refer the matter to the Competition Commission now falls.

I would now like to revert to the rest of the earlier Statement.

“And let me also say this. The people involved, whether they were directly responsible for the wrongdoing, sanctioned it or covered it up, however high or low they go, must not only be brought to justice; they must also have no future role in the running of a media company in our country.

Let me now turn to the issue of ethics in the police, and in particular their relationship with the press. Of course it is important that there is a good relationship between the media and the police. The police often use newspapers to hunt down wanted criminals and to appeal for information. However, allegations have been made that some corrupt police officers may have taken payments from newspapers, and there are wider concerns that the relationship between the police and the press can be too close. When I spoke to Sir Paul Stephenson yesterday, he made clear that he is as determined as I am that all aspects of the police relationship with the media should be beyond reproach.

On the allegation concerning improper payments to police officers, I can assure the House that the Metropolitan Police immediately referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Since then, the IPCC’s most senior commissioner has been supervising the Met’s work to identify the officers who may have taken these payments. As soon as any officers are identified, the commission has publicly made clear that it will move to a fully independent investigation drawing on all the available expertise necessary to reassure the public. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has been assured by the commission that it has both the powers and the resources it needs to see this through. It will go wherever the evidence leads it and will have full powers to investigate fully any police wrongdoing that it might uncover. The Home Secretary has also today commissioned a report from the IPCC on the IPCC’s experience of investigating corruption in the police service and on any lessons that can be learnt for the police service. The initial findings of this will be delivered to her by the end of the summer.

I can also tell the House that, in addition to the work of the judicial inquiry on the wider relationship between the police and the press, Sir Paul Stephenson is looking to invite a senior public figure to advise him on the ethics that should underpin that relationship for his own force, the Metropolitan Police. In particular, this figure will advise him on how to ensure maximum transparency and public confidence in how the arrangements are working.

If we are calling for greater transparency from the police, I think it is only right that we provide it in government too. After all, as I have said, one of the reasons we got into this situation is because over the decades politicians and the press have spent time courting support, not confronting the problems. So I will be consulting the Cabinet Secretary on an amendment to the Ministerial Code to require Ministers to record all meetings with newspaper and other media proprietors, senior editors and executives, regardless of the nature of the meeting. Permanent Secretaries and special advisers will also be required to record such meetings, and this information should be published quarterly. It is a first for our country and, alongside the other steps we are taking, will help to make the UK Government one of the most transparent in the world. The Opposition might also want to adopt this practice to ensure a cross-party approach.

After this Statement, I will be meeting the family of Milly Dowler. None of us can imagine what they have gone through, but I do know that they, like everyone else in this country, want their politicians—all of us—to bring this ugly chapter to a close, and ensure that nothing like it can ever happen again. It is in that spirit that I commend this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

My Lords, first, I thank the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement made in the other place by the Prime Minister. The revelations of the past week have shocked the whole country. The public now rightly expect those of us in Parliament, especially those in the other place who directly represent them, to provide not just an echo for that shock but the leadership necessary to start putting things right. We on these Benches very much welcome the fact that the usual channels have now reached agreement that, as we have been urging, this House will on Friday consider these issues in depth in a full-scale debate in your Lordships’ House. The fact that the other place is debating a Motion this afternoon pressing Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation to withdraw their bid for BSkyB has clearly been a clinching factor in ensuring that News Corporation has done precisely that this afternoon. We welcome the fact that News Corporation has withdrawn its bid. It is the right thing to do and what the country wanted to see.

The intention was that your Lordships’ House should debate these issues on a Motion in exactly the same terms in what would have been a powerful double message from both Houses of Parliament. My party proposed the Motion in the other place and secured support from the other parties so that the House of Commons is speaking with a single voice this afternoon. I pay tribute to the leader of my party, the right honourable Member for Doncaster North, for his leadership in this matter and his remarkable personal achievement in securing the extraordinary changes that the country has seen over the past week.

The noble Lord, Lord Fowler, was to have put the same Motion to your Lordships’ House but, rightly, he has now changed the words of his resolution. I pay tribute as well to the way in which the noble Lord has pursued these issues so doggedly. In the light of the announcement by News Corporation, the usual channels have been looking at the wording of the Motion on the Order Paper and, as I say, it is right that those terms should now be adjusted. We on these Benches want to see all parties and both Houses of Parliament move forward swiftly, comprehensively and, wherever possible, on an agreed basis.

Let me ask about the timing, nature and scope of the inquiry as set out in the Government’s Statement. The scale and seriousness of what we have all heard about practices in our newspaper industry, about the way in which that industry was regulated and about the failure of the police to investigate developments should make it clear to us all that now is not the time to delay. The truth is that for far too long, as the Statement recognises, politicians have been lagging behind the public’s rising sense of anger and indignation about the methods and culture of sections of the press. The task in front of us all, as politicians, is to play our part in starting to put that right.

We welcome the inquiry detailed in the Statement. Will the Leader of the House confirm that it will be staffed and up and running before the Recess, and, in addition to the fact that the interfering with or the damaging of evidence in any way while a criminal investigation is under way is already an offence, will the Leader also confirm that from the moment the judge is appointed today it will be an offence for anyone to destroy documents related to the issues of the inquiry?

Turning to how the inquiry will operate, we welcome a number of aspects of the announcement today that build clearly on the way forward for which we in this party have been calling. It is right that this is a single inquiry. We have been clear that it must be judge-led if it is to get to the bottom of what has happened and when. So we on these Benches strongly welcome the announcement of Lord Justice Leveson as the chair of the inquiry. He is extremely well suited to what will unquestionably be a difficult but very important task. Putting together the different elements of this single inquiry will be itself a difficult task. Will the Leader explain how the Government envisage the judge and the inquiry panel operating together?

In opting for a far broader inquiry, it is right that the Government have now decided to follow the argument that we have been making on the inquiry’s scope and the clear views of the Hacked Off campaign and the family of Milly Dowler, whose phone was so despicably hacked into by the News of the World—defunct now, but the impact of that is still reverberating so revoltingly.

It is clear that there are a number of important areas which the inquiry must cover. They include the first police investigation alongside what happened at the News of the World and other newspapers. Does the Leader of the House agree that yesterday’s session of the Home Affairs Select Committee in the other place made clear that the questions about the relationship between the media and the police run wider than simply the first investigation? We must take the steps necessary to restore the public’s faith in the ability of the police to hold all those who have broken the law to account. Similarly, it can only be right that the inquiry has been broadened to the relationship between politicians and the press.

On the specifics, will the noble Lord the Leader of the House assure the House that these aspects too of the inquiry will be very much judge-led? It is important that the terms of reference of the inquiry are not taken to narrow the remit of the judge excessively. We on these Benches are glad that the Government have agreed to make changes to the terms of reference to avoid doing so. Alongside important questions of behaviour in Britain’s newsrooms, the police and the relationship between politicians and the press, two additional issues need consideration. On the issue of media regulation, does the Leader of the House agree that our instinct should continue to be for self-regulation? Does he further agree that it needs to be proved that self-regulation can be made to work? On a point of detail, does he think it is for the judge to make final decisions about recommendations on media regulation? I welcome the decision to make cross-media ownership part of the inquiry. Does the Leader agree that abuses of power are more likely to happen when there are excessive concentrations of power? Will he confirm that the recommendations can be legislated for in the Government’s forthcoming communications Bill?

Finally, on BSkyB, we thank the Leader of the House and through him the Prime Minister for what the Prime Minister said today. News Corporation does indeed need to concentrate more on cleaning up the mess and less on trying to secure a merger. In dropping its bid for BSkyB, we are glad that Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation are finally showing signs that they are, indeed, getting it. Following News Corporation’s decision, we are grateful for the statement of clarification given by the Leader of the House that the decision by the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport to refer the matter to the Competition Commission now falls.

As well as discussing this Statement today, we look forward on these Benches to debating these matters fully later this week. But in all our considerations, we all need to keep foremost in our minds the victims of this scandal, such as the family of Milly Dowler and the other members of the public who were the innocent victims of phone hacking. It is they who deserve a full and comprehensive inquiry. They need us to get on with this inquiry, to make it fully comprehensive, and to get to the truth. The leader of my party has given his personal commitment, and the commitment of my party, to make sure we will do everything to ensure that that happens. On these Benches, in this House, we echo that commitment. We look forward to seeing this scandal cleaned up, to seeing the press, the police and politicians root out wrongdoing where it has happened, and to raise their game. We look forward as well to the victims of these crimes—not the perpetrators of them—securing outcomes which are both satisfactory and just.

My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Baroness the Leader of the Opposition for what she said and to join her where she left off in talking about the victims—the Dowler family and the many others—and these truly staggering figures of the number of phone numbers, both mobile and landline, that have now been discovered. Each of the owners of those numbers will be notified by the police. Our thoughts should be with them—not only public figures or so-called celebrities, but very often ordinary people going about their business who have been highlighted by the press and very often dealt with extremely badly. I am also pleased that this House will have an opportunity to debate these matters. I readily join the noble Baroness in paying tribute to all those who made that possible, in particular my noble friend Lord Fowler—truly a veteran on this subject. I expect it will be the first of many opportunities we will have to debate these issues over the course of the next few years. There is certainly knowledge and expertise on all Benches in the House that we ought to be able to draw upon.

I also agree that, across the parties, we need to move swiftly. The tone of the noble Baroness reflected the need for cross-party unity to try to deal with so many of these different situations. She was right that, in addition to the huge failure on the part of newspapers, there have been failures on the part of politicians and the police, and that we all need to play our part in correcting them.

The inquiry will be set up at once and be firmly up and running by the Recess. I can confirm that it would be a criminal offence to destroy evidence. It would be a criminal offence in any case, because of the police investigation which is ongoing, to destroy evidence that could materially affect that investigation.

The judge will be in overall control; it is his inquiry; he will be supported by what the noble Baroness called an operating panel of experts drawn from the areas that I mentioned in the Statement. How they work together and develop their working practices will depend very much on how the judge decides to operate. We are very much looking forward to them getting going and to the report.

The noble Baroness asked whether the instinct was for continued self-regulation. It will be up to the judge and his inquiry to decide that and to come forward with recommendations, having looked at all the effects of self-regulation and its possible failure. There is increasingly a view—I do not wish to second-guess the inquiry in any sense—that, whether or not self-regulation has failed, we need to defend the relationship between a free press and strong regulation. Some independent form of regulation should almost certainly be the outcome.

I agree also with what the noble Baroness said about the position of News International now. It is important for it to get its own house in order. This is a fast-moving situation; no doubt, it will have moved further by the time we get to our debate on Friday. That is something we should all look forward to.

My Lords, as my noble friend says, the position seems to change almost hour by hour. There will be, I think, a welcome around the House for the decision by News Corp to withdraw its bid. However, does he agree that this is not remotely the end of the story and that the inquiries that have just been announced remain essential, not least because of the position of companies such as News Corp? Will he confirm that the inquiry will be able to consider the law relating to American companies taking full control of British media companies when, by the law of the United States, we are prevented doing the same and taking full control of American media companies? That seems a very unsatisfactory position which has not always remotely been the case. Most importantly, does my noble friend agree that the inquiry gives us an exceptional opportunity to settle how the public can be better protected from the unacceptable press intrusions and illegal acts seen over the past years and that, above all, these things should be settled on a bipartisan basis?

My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble friend’s last point. It is important that through Parliament and across the parties we should agree on the best way forward, but particularly that we should do so when we have seen what the recommendations of the inquiry are. I also agree with my noble friend’s point about the inquiry. I am sure that it will want to look at all aspects of media ownership, including foreign ownership, and come up with recommendations on that.

My Lords, I wonder whether the Leader of the House can help me. We do not yet know the exact terms of reference of this inquiry. Can he confirm that it will not be confined just to News International? A situation in which there is a very detailed examination of what News International has done without any examination of what any of the other newspapers may have done would, I think, be rather unsatisfactory.

My Lords, I very much welcome the appointment of Lord Justice Leveson to chair the inquiry. There could not, in my view, have been a better choice. I am also very glad that there is to be one inquiry instead of two and that it is to be a judicial inquiry under Lord Justice Leveson. I am a little concerned about the nature of the inquiry and the order of events. The Statement gives the impression that the two parts of the inquiry are to be considered, in a sense, the wrong way around. Surely the urgent matter for inquiry is the conduct of the News of the World—a purely factual inquiry. Would it not be better for the inquiry to complete that aspect of the task before turning to the much more general question of press regulation in the future?

My Lords, the inquiry, as the noble and learned Lord pointed out, will be a single judge-led inquiry, with the support of a panel, but it will be divided into two parts. The first part will look at media ethics and practice. The panel will be drawn from experts in the media, in the police, in government, and so on. We hope that the inquiry will report within 12 months. The second part of the inquiry, as the noble and learned Lord pointed out, will look at the unlawful activity and improper behaviour that has come to our attention, but it will be a post-criminal investigation inquiry held once all the court processes have been completed. The noble and learned Lord will be more aware than I am of the need to avoid interference by the judge-led inquiry with the criminal process and very possible court processes.

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for repeating the Statement made by the Prime Minister in another place. He will know that we on these Benches are grateful that the Prime Minister has taken the advice of my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister and appointed a senior and respected judicial figure to lead this inquiry. Lord Justice Leveson is, indeed, a most welcome figure to take on what is a very murky world indeed. Does my noble friend accept that, in respect of the element of corruption, not just of an individual, or a few individuals, as was suggested, but a whole culture of corruption that has developed, any organisation that has presided over such a culture of corruption is not a fit and proper licensee to be conducting the business of press and broadcasting in this country and that it is no longer a question of plurality in the press but of morality in the press? Does he further accept that the committee in another place yesterday demonstrated that there are senior figures in the Metropolitan Police who do not seem yet to have realised the seriousness of the damage that has been done to public confidence in the Metropolitan Police by their failure to address these shocking activities over a period of time and that much will have to be done, and has not yet even started to be done, to repair that public confidence?

My Lords, the issue of the police and their role in this and previous investigations is rightly a matter for the inquiry. On the question of a fit and proper person, that was never going to be triggered by the proposed merger because Ofcom has an ongoing statutory duty to ensure that holders of broadcasting licences are and remain fit and proper persons. It is a matter for Ofcom, which is taking its responsibility in this area most seriously and is already in touch with the relevant authorities.

My Lords, in declaring an interest as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, may I place on record the fact that it very much welcomes the announcement of the inquiry into the regulation of the press and, indeed, the appointment of Lord Justice Leveson to lead that inquiry? Will the Leader of the House note that last week the Press Complaints Commission, led by its independent members, including another Member of this House, issued a statement making clear its intention to drive reform, particularly in the areas of independence and sanctions? Will he recognise that the PCC remains committed to the establishment of a much more effective system, one that, as the Statement suggests, supports appropriate freedoms but demands the highest ethical standards? Finally, does he accept that while the inquiry is ongoing, the important work of the PCC, through its dedicated staff, must continue so that it can carry on serving the members of the public, who are still turning to it for help in their thousands, day and night?

My Lords, I readily agree with the last part of what my noble friend said: the PCC should continue to do its work. I readily accept my noble friend’s welcome of the announcement that we have made today. On the other matter, I am sure that my noble friend will be invited to give evidence to the inquiry on how regulation has worked. Her role as chairman of the PCC is extremely important in considering what has and has not worked in recent years.

My Lords, the Prime Minister referred in his Statement to consulting with the Cabinet Secretary on an amendment to the Ministerial Code for the recording of all meetings “regardless of the nature of the meeting”. Does this include formal and informal meetings and official and unofficial meetings, if they exist? How is he describing them?

My Lords, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has invited the Cabinet Secretary to examine this matter. My understanding is that it is to make the process as transparent as possible. It would therefore include all meetings—formal, informal, social and any other kind of meetings that the noble Lord can think of.

My Lords, I know that the whole House will agree that the Statement today throws substantial doubt on the ability of the police service to implement real leadership at various ranks within that service. I am sure the Leader of the House and other Members will agree that the whole issue of leadership in the police service is absolutely paramount. We have one report already in the public domain by Mr Neyroud and we await another from Mr Winsor at the turn of the year. Can the Leader of the House give an assurance that once those reports are in the public domain, Her Majesty’s Government will consider the issue of leadership in the police separate to the Leveson inquiry, and make that consideration a matter of some urgency?

My Lords, it is too early to come to any definitive view but, of course, as the reports are made they will be taken seriously. If there is any action to be taken at that time and it is appropriate to do so, then we shall do so.

My Lords, given that anyone who knows or has encountered Lord Justice Leveson knows that he will dig deep and report robustly, can we take it that the helpful enthusiasm of Select Committees in another place will now recede a little into the background, so the time taken up in dealing with those Select Committees can be used in the inquiries by Lord Justice Leveson and by the very reputable deputy assistant commissioner, Sue Akers?

My Lords, I applaud the consensus that has been arrived at both in this House and in the other place. Does the Leader of the House agree that the importance of the appointment of Lord Justice Leveson is that not only will he be looking at the subject matter of the current criminal investigations but he will also have an opportunity to look at other newspapers which may also be behaving improperly? The importance of his appointment is that if anyone—in News Corp or any other newspaper—seeks to destroy, alter or otherwise deal with the information, they will be committing a criminal offence.

Secondly, does the noble Lord also agree that the fact that it would appear that the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, who heads the commission, was misled either by omission or commission is a very serious matter and it very much enhances the seriousness with which this House and the other place have now to treat the issues complained about?

My Lords, I join the noble and learned Baroness in applauding consensus on this matter and many others. If we have come up with the right decision and an inquiry that everyone can support that must be the right way to go. One of the good things that has come out this afternoon is how everybody has welcomed the appointment of Lord Justice Leveson.

The terms of reference are widely drawn—they will look at the culture, practice and ethics of all the press; their relationship with the police; the failure of the current system of regulation; the contacts made between national newspapers and politicians, and so on. That must include newspaper groups other than News International.

As far as the second point the noble and learned Baroness made about the PCC, everyone can see that the current system has failed and broken down. The inquiry will rightly wish to look at why that happened—what the causes were, perhaps over a very long time—and what measures are needed to put it right.

My Lords, I should first declare—or perhaps confess is more appropriate—that for nine years I was business editor of the Times, a News International newspaper. I can assure noble Lords that at no stage during my time there was phone hacking taking place under my watch; had it been, I would have known and would have felt responsible for it. However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that some very important journalism goes on, not just in other papers but in Murdoch papers too—I point noble Lords towards the campaign in the Times recently about adoption and opening up the family courts. We should not totally condemn a bunch of newspapers because of what might have gone on in some of them and neither should we think that what went on at the News of the World is unique to the News of the World.

I am delighted to hear that this inquiry is going to range widely but we need to get to the bottom of this and I am delighted that we will. Does the Leader of the House believe that the Press Complaints Commission had the power to deal with the questions that needed to be asked? My belief is that it did not. It has done as much as it could with the very limited powers it has. We should be looking at giving the commission the power it needs to do the job, and I hope that the inquiry will look at that.

My Lords, I very much agree with my noble friend that we need to get to the bottom of all that has happened. That is the purpose of the inquiry, part of which will look at the current system of self-regulation under the PCC. In the same way that not every journalist was hacking, not all aspects of the PCC have been badly done. Many people have received help and support from the PCC. However, the issues that we are dealing with are of the highest seriousness. It is therefore right that we should set up this judicial inquiry.

My Lords, there have been many inquiries into the press over the past 20-odd years. It is important to remember that none of them solved the problems. They were around at the time and are still around now, even though the press was warned then that it was, rather famously, drinking in the last-chance saloon. One of the most important things, whether we have statutory or non-statutory regulation, is that the body that is set up should have very strong investigatory powers. Without them it will end up being largely a conciliation service, not a regulatory body.

My Lords, these are all good points. It shows how wide-ranging the inquiry will need to be in looking at the facts, and the failures and successes of past regimes. These are all matters that the inquiry will wish to investigate fully.

My Lords, what steps are being taken to ensure that when the suspected victims of phone hacking are contacted, their details will be kept confidential to avoid any revictimisation—such as they have faced in the past—through an invasion of their privacy?

My Lords, that is an extremely good question and a good point. The intention of the police is simply to advise those whose numbers have clearly been hacked into. If I may, I should like to pass on what the noble Baroness has said. It is an important point that more anxiety and upset are not caused by the revelation that their numbers were hacked into.

My Lords, could the Leader of the House go a little further than he went in his answer to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, a few moments ago? Is it within the terms of reference of this judicial inquiry to advise on and recommend the proper limits of the media’s intrusion into the private lives of individuals by whatever means where there is no public interest? Obviously, the position is different where there is a public interest.

My Lords, my understanding is that these will be matters for the inquiry to look at. It is entirely right that it should do so.