Leveson Inquiry: Myler accepted 'rogue reporter' view
- 15 December 2011
- From the section UK
Ex-News of the World editor Colin Myler has said he feared "bombs under the newsroom floor" in the form of possible widespread wrongdoing in the past.
He "always had some discomfort" but accepted phone hacking must have been limited because police had not shown otherwise, he told the Leveson Inquiry.
He denied any "cover-up" relating to a payout to Professional Footballers' Association chief Gordon Taylor.
Mr Myler was editor of the News of the World from 2007.
Former News of the World (NoW) reporter Daniel Sanderson and private investigator Derek Webb also appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Thursday.
Mr Myler took over editing the paper in January 2007 from Andy Coulson after royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire had been jailed for illegally accessing the voicemails of royal aides.
Giving evidence for a second day on Thursday morning, Mr Myler said he had initially believed publisher News International's assertion that phone hacking at the NoW had been limited to "one rogue reporter".
Where and when?
"Given what I believed to be a thorough police investigation throughout that period, and the fact that the police had not interviewed any other member of staff from the News of the World other than Mr Goodman, I think that weighed heavily on my mind," Mr Myler said.
"I assumed that they would have done so if they had any kind of evidence or reason to speak to somebody else."
But he added: "It's fair to say that I always had some discomfort and at the time I phrased it as that I felt that there could have been bombs under the newsroom floor.
"And I didn't know where they were and I didn't know when they were going to go off."
Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, suggested that the NoW's payout to PFA chief executive Mr Taylor over the hacking of his phone had been to avoid "creating a tendency for one or more of those bombs to explode if there were a trial".
Mr Myler denied that the News of the World had carried out a "cover-up" by paying out £425,000 plus costs to settle the case.
But he said: "The company, not unreasonably or unsurprisingly, wanted to try to get things back on track after Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman went to jail. And it was a significant process to do that."
Therefore "there was no appetite to go back" to court, he said.
Mr Myler told the inquiry that he felt self-regulation of the press did work, but that the system needed to be strengthened.
Later on Thursday, Mr Sanderson described how he had been involved in obtaining a copy of the diary of Kate McCann, the mother of missing Madeleine McCann, from a Portuguese journalist.
Mr Sanderson, then a NoW junior reporter, said the task had caused him concern. "It was clearly a private document - I understood that - but at that stage we were not in possession of the diary so we didn't know what we were dealing with," he said.
"I was told at the time that we would not be publishing the diary unless we had the express permission of the McCanns."
After extracts were published without that permission, the paper apologised and made a donation to the McCanns' fund to find their daughter, who went missing during a family holiday in Portugal in 2007.
"With hindsight, it was completely the wrong decision to publish," Mr Sanderson told the hearing.
Earlier in the inquiry, Mrs McCann said that finding out that her private diary had been published in the NoW in 2008 had made her feel "totally violated".
Mr Sanderson said: "I have every intention of apologising to the McCanns. I did feel very bad that my involvement in the story had made Mrs McCann feel the way that she had."
Mr Webb, a retired Hertfordshire Police detective, undertook surveillance work as a private investigator for the News of the World from 2003 until the paper closed earlier this year.
Mr Webb said he had never received an instruction from the NoW which contained within it the transcript of a text message, phone conversation or voicemail message.
He said he had placed about 150 people under surveillance over an eight-year period, and said he had been told by the paper not to go on private property, go through rubbish bins or take pictures of or follow children.
Mr Webb would follow people, either on foot or by car, for up to two weeks at a time. He said he kept the wife of a famous footballer under surveillance for a month.
He told the inquiry that his surveillance targets included MP Tom Watson, a member of the Commons culture committee, and actors Sienna Miller and Jude Law.
He said he was also asked to follow solicitors Charlotte Harris and Mark Lewis, who both represented victims of alleged phone hacking.
Mr Lewis has told the inquiry that covert surveillance by Mr Webb included videoing his daughter, who was 14 at the time.
Mr Webb told the hearing that he did not know whether it was Mr Lewis's daughter in the footage.
Mr Lewis later told the BBC that he spoke to Mr Webb after his evidence outside the inquiry to say that it was in fact his daughter.
Meanwhile, CNN has confirmed that former News of the World and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan will give evidence to the inquiry next week.
The inquiry will continue on Monday.