Inquiry into complaints alleging corrupt relationships between police and newspaper organisations

Part of Policing and Crime Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 10th January 2017.

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Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Conservative, Aldershot 6:15 pm, 10th January 2017

I have huge respect for my hon. and gallant Friend, but the fact is that the inquiry would not have taken place if phone hacking had not been discovered on what I have described as an industrial scale. People’s engagement with it was utterly immoral, and some went to prison, following legal action, which I think is fine.

My article continues:

“It is hard for those who have not experienced an assault by the media to appreciate the level of distress it causes. I know because some 30 years ago, together with my then colleague Neil Hamilton, I had to sue the BBC Panorama programme for libel—which we won”— and had the director-general of the BBC fired—

“but at the risk of bankruptcy (and loss of our seats in Parliament) if we lost.”

For the record, our costs—Peter Carter and partners were our lawyers—were something in the region £273,000. So I say to my hon. Friend Sir Peter Bottomley that it is all very well for those who have got money. They are able to access justice, but this is all about providing a remedy for those who do not have money and cannot afford to undertake that sort of action. I continue:

“Since 1945, there have been no less than 5 Royal Commissions and enquiries to secure a better and cheaper form of justice for those maligned by powerful media barons.”