Leveson Inquiry: Summary of week 11

Paul Dacre: "Hugh Grant has spent his life invading his own privacy"

This week, the Leveson Inquiry was told of the extent to which police believed phone-hacking had been carried out, heard a robust defence of practices by Fleet Street editors and learned how a political blogger was able to avoid legal action over stories he published.

On Monday Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers revealed 829 people were "likely" victims of phone-hacking by newspapers.

She is overseeing 90 police officers working on three investigations involving claims of newspaper hacking.

She told the inquiry 581 people had been contacted, 231 could not be identified and 17 had not been told of their potential involvement due to "operational reasons".

Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre reappeared before the committee twice this week - on Monday and again on Thursday.

On Monday Mr Dacre told the inquiry he was aware his paper had used private detectives but not of the extent to which his reporters had done so.

He said this method of accessing information used to be commonplace in the industry.

However he said he had never placed a story in the newspaper that he knew had come from phone hacking and was convinced it did not happen.

"I know of no cases of phone hacking," he said. "Having conducted a major internal inquiry, I am as convinced as I can be that there is no phone hacking on the Daily Mail."

He also called for a new body to deal with standards in the industry - much like an ombudsman - and said the current press card system was inadequate.

But on Wednesday Baroness Buscombe, the former chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, said the watchdog had been made a scapegoat over the phone-hacking scandal.

Paul Staines, author of Guido Fawkes blog: "I would upload to free hosting services after the close of business hours."

She told the Leveson Inquiry she had lost trust in editors during her two years in the post and felt they had not told her the truth.

On Wednesday blogger Paul Staines - who is behind the political website Guido Fawkes - detailed how he avoided legal action by using foreign web hosts.

He said this forced lawyers to chase stories in different jurisdictions.

Irish citizen Mr Staines told the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics he did not consider himself bound by UK judges' orders.

"What I think you're missing is that I'm a citizen of a free republic and, since 1922, I don't have to pay attention to what a British judge orders me to do."

'Conscience clause'

Paul Dacre was back before the inquiry on Thursday. He was recalled to discuss his description of actor Hugh Grant's allegations about phone hacking at the Mail as "mendacious smears driven by his hatred of the media".

Meanwhile, that same day, Sir Paul McCartney's former wife Heather Mills told the inquiry she had never authorised former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan to access her voicemail messages.

She also criticised the "postage stamp-sized apologies" which newspapers were forced to make following inaccurate stories about her.

Start Quote

What really got the British public angry was Milly Dowler and the McCanns.”

End Quote Max Clifford

Public relations expert Max Clifford used his session to confirm he received a payout from News of the World after his phone was hacked, but said the public did not care about celebrities who were affected.

He said: "What really got the British public angry was Milly Dowler and the McCanns. They didn't care about the stars, or me, having their phones hacked. Most people didn't care.

"But when they read about Milly Dowler and the McCanns, they were shocked and horrified and that had an effect."

Also appearing on Thursday was Michelle Stanistreet, the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, who said journalists should have a "conscience clause" allowing them to refuse something unethical.

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