The Information Commissioner's Office last night demanded the
introduction of custodial sentences to punish serious breaches of the
Data Protection Act, following an investigation by The Independent into
the media's involvement in the trade in private information.
Writing in this newspaper, David Smith, the ICO's deputy commissioner,
said: "We want action. The legislation for custodial sentences is
already in place, ministers just have to bring it into force. This isn't
just a crime that affects celebrities; it can devastate ordinary
people's lives. It's about time we had an effective deterrent."
The lead investigator for the ICO, a former police detective inspector,
told this paper that the ICO was "frightened" of investigating media
organisations, claiming he had not been allowed to interview journalists
who had commissioned searches from the private eyes.
Last night Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee,
said he would be writing to the Information Commissioner's office asking
him to explain the "failings" of Operation Motorman in the light of The
Independent's revelations. "I am concerned by the thoroughness of the
investigations into both phone hacking and the use of private
investigators (such as Motorman)," he said. "I will be writing to the
Information Commissioner's office asking him to explain the failings in
Operation Motorman. Just as we seek to revisit the regulation for the
media, we should also consider more comprehensive regulation for private
Among the victims of tragedy targeted by Whittamore on behalf of
newspapers was Terence Lubbock, whose son Stuart, 31, was found dead in
2001 in a swimming pool at the home of comedian Michael Barrymore. The
private eye carried out three searches into ex-directory numbers of
Stuart's relatives. Last night Mr Lubbock said: "I have known for some
time that it's almost certain that my phone and ? more important ?
Stuart's phone and other family members was targeted." He described a
private eye targeting his son for a newspaper as "the lowest of the low"
but, despite the new evidence of press intrusion, said: "I still have
more faith in good investigative journalism than I do in the police
getting to the truth or finding my son's killer."
Sara Payne, whose daughter Sarah was murdered in 2000, described the
revelation that her family was targeted by Whittamore as "devastating".
Yesterday Lord Justice Leveson announced the individuals and
organisations given special evidential and inquisitorial roles in his
inquiry. He named 46 individuals as "core participants" in the first
stage of his inquiry, which will examine relations between the press and
the public. Among the list of celebrities, politicians, sportsmen and
victims of phone hacking (see below) are JK Rowling, and Kate and Gerry
McCann, parents of Madeleine McCann. News International and three other
media groups were also granted core status.
Last night, the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, set out proposals for a
regulator for media companies across all platforms. In a speech in
London, Lionel Barber, the editor of the Financial Times, suggested a
new Media Standards Commission, to which political bloggers and online
publishers should be expected to sign up.
JK Rowling among 'core participants' in hacking inquiry
The famously private Harry Potter author JK Rowling was yesterday named
among the 'core participants' expected to give evidence to the Leveson
There are 46 core participants in all ? and all believe their phones
were hacked. They include: Chris Bryant MP, Tessa Jowell MP, Denis
MacShane MP, Joan Smith, Christopher Shipman, Tom Rowland, Mark Lewis,
Max Mosley, Mark Thomson, Brian Paddick, Ben Jackson, Christopher
Jefferies, Paul Gascoigne, David Mills, Ciara Parkes, Simon Hughes MP,
Max Clifford, Sky Andrew, Ulrika Jonsson, Mark Oaten, Michele Milburn,
Abi Titmuss, Calum Best, Claire Ward, Mary-Ellen Field, Garry Flitcroft,
Ian Hurst, Shobna Gulati, Mike Hollingsworth, Kieron Fallon, Ashvini
Sharma, Tim Blackstone, Valentina Semenenko, Gemma Dowler, Sheryl
Gascoigne, Graham Shear, James Watson and Margaret Watson.