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LEVESON INQUIRY:
CULTURE, PRACTICE
AND ETHICS OF THE PRESS

FAQs

1. Background
2. Logistics of the Inquiry
3. Attending the Hearings
4. Public Engagement
5. Access to Inquiry Material
6. The Chair and Panel of Assessors
7. The Secretariat
8. The Chairman’s report

1. Background

What is the Inquiry about?
The Inquiry is looking at the culture, practices and ethics of the Press.  The Terms of Reference outline the full details.

Who decided when to have the Inquiry and why now?
The Prime Minister announced the setting  up of the Inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 in July, following the exposure of alleged criminal activity, ‘phone hacking’, at the News of the World.  He announced the Inquiry to the House on 13 July 2011.

What does the Inquiry aim to achieve?
Lord Justice Leveson stated on 28 July 2011 that the focus of the Inquiry is ‘the culture, practices and ethics of the press’ in the context of the latter’s relationship with the public, the police and politicians.  The Inquiry aims to draw recommendations, if any, for the future, with particular regards to press regulation, governance and other systems of oversight.

2. Logistics of the Inquiry

When did the Inquiry start taking evidence?
Last August 2011 written submissions were invited from a range of organisations and individuals in relation to module 1 of the Inquiry, and general comments, submissions and evidence were also invited from anyone who wished to submit them.  Further calls for evidence are now being made in relation to module 3, the press and politicians. We have set out questions to help with this process. Hearings for module 4 began 0n 9 July 2012.

Do you intend to hold public hearings?
Yes.  Lord Justice Leveson has said that he wants the Inquiry to be as transparent as possible.  Witness sessions will be open to the public and witnesses will give evidence on oath.  There will be a small number of seats for the public in the hearing room and more space available in an annex within the grounds of the Royal Courts of Justice, in London. The sessions will be streamed live onto the Inquiry website and made available to broadcasters and media.

Will any sessions be held in private?
Lord Justice Leveson has discretion to allow witnesses to give evidence anonymously or in private.  He will consider any such applications as they arise.

How long will the Inquiry take?
The Prime Minister has asked for Part 1 of the Inquiry to be completed within a year.

Is the Inquiry looking into issues that are being considered by other inquiries or legal proceedings?
The Inquiry will pay close attention to the work and investigations being carried out elsewhere and will factor those into its work.

 Will you notify witnesses/individuals and organisations before you criticise them in the report?

Yes. Under the Inquiry Rules 2006, the report must not include any explicit or significant criticism of a person/organisation unless they have been sent a warning letter and been given a reasonable opportunity to respond to the warning letter.  For further details on the requirements, please refer to the Inquiry Rules 2006.  For details on the Inquiry’s approach, please see Lord Justice Leveson’s rulings on Rule 13 under the Rulings section of the website.

How can I submit information to the Inquiry?
The Inquiry will welcome comments, evidence and submissions from anyone interested in this subject.  Further details can be found here.

How much will the Inquiry cost?
It is too soon to provide an estimate of the overall costs of the Inquiry.  However, we will be publishing our expenditure on a regular basis;  the third report (July 2011 to 31 March 2012) is now available in the About the Inquiry section of the website.

Who is the Inquiry funded by?
The Inquiry is funded through two Government departments: the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office.

Does the Inquiry have a Freedom of Information policy?
The Inquiry is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act, but will endeavour to conduct proceedings in an open and transparent manner.  As part of this, as much information as possible will be provided on this website.

3. Attending the Hearings

Where will the Inquiry be held?
Hearings will take place in the Inquiry Room at the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London.  The Inquiry Room is located in what was formerly courtroom 73.

How can I find out when the hearings are taking place?
We will publish information regularly on this website.

How do I get to the Royal Courts of Justice?
You will find details to get to the Courts at our Attending the Hearings page

What parking is available at the Royal Courts of Justice?
There is no parking available at the RCJ.

What are the rules surrounding public attendance?
Hearings will be open to the public, on a first come basis.  There are a small number of seats available in the hearing room and these will be allocated on a first come basis. There is further space in a dedicated public annex. Further details can be found on our Attending the Hearings page.

Will members of the media in the hearing room be allowed to use Twitter during proceedings?
Lord Justice Leveson has agreed that Twitter can be used.

Who do I contact for press enquiries?
The press contact for the Leveson Inquiry is John Toker.  His email address is: john.toker@levesoninquiry.gsi.gov.uk and his telephone number is 07860 678 864.

Will there be wifi available on-site?
Wifi will not be available in the hearing room or the outside annex.

4. Public Engagement

How is the public involved in the inquiry?

The Inquiry has issued an open invitation to the public to send submisions to the Inquiry through the website. We hope people will respond as we are keen to consider the widest possible range of evidence.  We are currently inviting submissions particularly relating to Module 4 of the Inquiry and have outlined some key questions for people to address.

We are committed to making the process of the Inquiry as transparent as possible so that anyone with an interest can follow proceedings and access relevant information as easily as possible. The Inquiry website and live coverage of the hearings brings the process to a wide national and international audience.

People are also welcome to attend the hearings in person.

Lord Justice Leveson has ruled that journalists can tweet from the hearing room and this enbables journalists to share publicly emerging information with the public instantaneously. The Leveson Inquiry also tweets updates about the Inquiry.

Why did Lord Justice Leveson hold public seminars?
The Inquiry started with public seminars in order to take a broad brush look at the wider picture, to hear opinions and debate in the areas covered by the Terms of Reference.  The seminars are distinct from the evidence-taking exercise that is being conducted, including through the public hearings.

Where can I find further details about the public seminars?
Three public seminars have now taken place. Details of any further events will be publicised on the website.

What is the purpose of the teaching sessions?
Three teaching sessions took place at the start of the Inquiry.  These were intended to offer factual background information to the Chairman, the assessors and the Inquiry Team on the issues under consideration.  Details of each can be found on the events page.

Will you be holding further teaching sessions and seminars?
Lord Justice Leveson may decide to hold future seminars and teaching sessions for future modules.  Details will be announced in due course.

5. Access to Inquiry Material

Are records of proceedings available on the Inquiry website?
Video and written transcripts are available on the website.

Will all documentary evidence and submissions be published on the website?
We will publish relevant material  on the website as the Inquiry progresses, unless Lord Justice Leveson rules otherwise in specific cases of evidential material where publication would not be in the public interest.  Redactions will be kept to a minimum but sensitive information may not be included, for example in the interest of protecting witnesses.

6. The Chair and Panel of Assessors

To whom is Lord Justice Leveson accountable?
Lord Justice Leveson acts in an independent judicial capacity as Chair of the Inquiry.  He will submit his final report to the Home Secretary, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP, and the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP.

Will the Chairman be giving interviews?
Lord Justice Leveson has no plans to give interviews at this stage.

Who are the Panel of Assessors?
Six independent assessors have been appointed to assist Lord Justice Leveson during the course of the Inquiry.  They are Sir David Bell, Shami Chakrabarti, Lord (David) Currie, Elinor Goodman, George Jones and Sir Paul Scott-Lee .

How was the Panel of Assessors selected?
The Prime Minister announced the chair and assessors on 20 July 2011.  In making his announcement about the assessors, the Prime Minister said:

“These people have been chosen not only for their expertise in the media, broadcasting, regulation, government and policing, but for their complete independence from any interested parties.”

Why is there no current newspaper editor or someone with current experience of working on a tabloid newspaper on the panel?
This issue was raised with Lord Justice Leveson as part of the preliminary hearings and he delivered a ruling on this issue on 18 October 2011.

Can Lord Justice Leveson appoint additional assessors?
Lord Justice Leveson does have the power, under the Inquiries Act 2005, to appoint additional assessors.

Are the assessors being paid?
The assessors can claim a daily rate of £565 for their work on the Inquiry, together with reasonable costs for travel and subsistence.  Not all of the assessors will claim expenses, but the details will be published regularly on this website.

7. The Secretariat

Who is the Leveson Inquiry Secretary?
The Cabinet Secretary nominated Rowena Collins Rice as the Secretary in July 2011.  She is on secondment to the Inquiry from the Cabinet Office.

What is the role of the Leveson Inquiry Secretariat?
The Secretariat supports the Inquiry Chairman, counsel and the assessors in conducting the Inquiry.  This includes a wide range of responsibilities, including legal support, requesting papers and submissions, researching background information, preparing papers for the consideration of the Chairman and the assessors and the logistical arrangements for the hearings

Who staffs the Leveson Inquiry Secretariat?
There are 16 staff employed in the Secretariat, comprising both full and part-time staff drawn from a number of  Government Departments, including Cabinet Office, Ministry of Justice, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Home Office.  The solicitors have been seconded from the Treasury Solicitors Department.

Funding of Secretariat
The Secretariat is funded as part of the rest of the Inquiry, through the Home Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.  We will publish details of our expenditure on our website on a regular basis.

8. The Chairman’s Report

When is the Inquiry due to report?
The Prime Minister has asked the Inquiry to report within a year.

Will the report be available to the public and if so, how can it be accessed?
The report will be made available to the public.  Further information will be made available nearer the time.

What will happen after the report?  How will the findings be used?
It will be for the Government to decide how to take forward the recommendations in the report.