January 23, 2012

Leveson Inquiry: BBC 'has not hacked phones'

There is "no evidence whatsoever" that any BBC journalist has hacked into a telephone, the BBC's director general said.
Mark Thompson is giving evidence before the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics being held in London.
He also said he had not heard any "rumour or whisper or suggestion" BBC journalists had ever hacked phones.
The chairman of the BBC Trust, Chris Patten, is also due to appear at the inquiry.

Highest standards
Mr Thompson said he had ordered a review into whether staff at the BBC had engaged in phone hacking when the news emerged of widespread phone hacking at News International newspapers.
He described this review as "necessary and appropriate".
He added: "The BBC is not a business and it might well be that someone running a media business might take a different view from the view that I took as director general of the BBC.
"The BBC is a public service broadcaster. It is committed to be the most trusted, trustworthy source of news in the world and we want to maintain the highest possible standards in all matters, including matters relating to privacy."
"It being undetermined how widespread some of these issues have been in the media, I think it was prudent to look at whether the BBC could, in its journalism and journalistic practice, hold its head up and say actually, we don't do these things."

He explained that when police officers appear on the Crimewatch television programme, they are sometimes given a "very small payment" as contributors.
The director general also said private investigators were sometimes used by BBC for "security and surveillance services as a whole".
Investigators have also occasionally been used to find people, so journalists can send them a right of reply letter in investigations, he added.

During the hearing, Mr Thompson was asked about an occasion when the BBC hired a private investigator to discover the owner of a car through its number plate.
He said that at the time of the investigation "many organisations had access to DVLA information," including private investigators, and that the inquiries made were in the public interest.

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