Leveson Inquiry: Steve Coogan To Speak Out Over Tabloid Practices
Comedian Steve Coogan has arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice to give evidence to the press standards inquiry.
The Leveson Inquiry will also hear testimony from former Premiership footballer Garry Flitcroft, supermodel Elle Macpherson's former business adviser Mary-Ellen Field and Margaret Watson, whose daughter Diane was stabbed to death at her Glasgow school.
The parents of murdered teenager Milly Dowler were the first witnesses to give evidence to the inquiry on Monday.
The trigger for the inquiry, before Lord Justice Leveson, was the disclosure that the now-defunct News of the World commissioned private detective Glenn Mulcaire to hack Milly's phone after she disappeared in 2002.
As well as listening to the schoolgirl's voicemails, the investigator is alleged to have deleted some of them to make room for new messages, falsely leading her family to believe she was still alive.
Mulcaire, who yesterday denied having done this, was jailed along with the News of the World's former royal editor Clive Goodman in January 2007 after they admitted intercepting voicemail messages left on phones belonging to royal aides.
Actor Hugh Grant also gave evidence to the inquiry on Monday, and suggested that the Mail on Sunday had hacked his phone before printing a "bizarre, left-field" story. The newspaper issued a strong denial on Monday night, saying that information had instead come from a freelance journalist.
Grant said the story claimed that his relationship with then-girlfriend Jemima Khan was on the rocks because of his "late night phone calls with a plummy-voiced studio executive".
He said the story was untrue and he had not been able to think "for the life of me" what the source of the story could be.
The newspaper's spokesman said: "The Mail on Sunday utterly refutes Hugh Grant's claim that they got any story as a result of phone hacking. In fact in the case of the story Mr Grant refers to, the information came from a freelance journalist who had been told by a source who was regularly speaking to Jemima Khan."
Steve Coogan was the last witness for Tuesday. Tomorrow the Inquiry will hear from Sheryl Gascoigne, Gerry McCann, Mark Lewis and Tom Rowland, starting at 10am.
In a final comment, Coogan tells Leveson why he (and Hugh Grant) have given evidence:"This is not the Steve and Hugh show. We're here because someone has to represent all those other people who haven't the stomach to be here...Of course, there is a personal element to it but it's not just about us, it's about other people."
"Transgressions [by the media] need to be punished meaningfully. Some newspapers... can afford to take the hit."
"I wish there was no need for regulation outside of the press. I wish the press were able to regulate themselves but they have been given many opportunities and failed. If they had a Damascene conversion and behaved themselves that would be great, but I think that's me being naive again."
|@ Selkie : Coogan talking about interview, published by the Daily Mail, he gave to a journalist who is a friend of his #leveson|
Coogan made his position on privacy clear to Piers Morgan. He adds that he hasn't pursued some claims becasue he doesn't want to expend all his energy on such things. Also, the system of redress - legal action - is expensive. No confidence in the PCC's effectiveness either particularly when Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, sits on the Commission.
Piers Morgan interviewed Coogan for GQ, Jan 2006, that was reprinted in 2011 to commemorate release of Alan Partridge memoirs. The interview was held in an 'excruciatingly trendy club in Soho'. "Yes, he chose the venue," Coogan jokingly replies to Jay.
Coogan disappointed about interview with him in the Sunday Times. Hoped a more serious newspaper would have given a better impresison of him. Says he was 'naive' to think so. Also, upset about a picture of him and his children that accompanied the article.
Coogan discloses that he tries to "avoid publicity as much as possible" but has a publicist to help with appearances that may be contractually required. Repeats that he doesn't appear on panel shows, etc.
Coogan a 'little' concerned about giving evidence to Leveson because of possible consequences from the media. Other celebrities also 'fear what will happen' if they give evidence, he says, before adding that "my closet is empty of skeletons", so has less to fear.
|@ benfenton : Jay says headline had inverted commas because quoting someone else. #coogan says defence is basically punctuation. #leveson|
Coogan attacking the Mail for a story in 2007 about his friend and fellow actor, Owen Wilson, entitled: Coogan the Barbarian: The Truth about the man blamed for leading Owen Wilson to the brink of suicide. He says the story is complete fabrication and any 'cursory' checking by the newspaper would have discovered that.
|@ rosschawkins : Coogan at #leveson : it's like the mafia, it's just business, can't recall how many kiss and tells gave targeted him|
|@ Selkie : Coogan describes Mulcaire's surveillance. Said his notebooks had amounts of cash he got from ATM, how he paid hotel bill etc #leveson|
Coogan laughs when he's asked how many kiss and tell stories he's been involved with. "Several," he says.
Coogan tells Leveson about a sting operation that involved News of the World Editor Andy Coulson and a girl who was going to discuss intimate details with him. Was tipped off about the impending call so managed to avoid a story being written.
Journalists went into pubs that Coogan frequented asking his friends if they knew him and offering money for stories.
Coogan tells Leveson: "I have never set myself up as a paragon of virtue. I do what I do and that's what I like to judged on, my work" before talking about doorstepping by a journalist which lasted for about a month. He also mentions how his daughter's great-grandmother was duped by a Daily Mirror journalist pretending to be a council worker, undertaking a survey.
Robert Jay begins his questioning of Coogan with background on the actor. Coogan talks about his caeer history. Comedy and acting 'is what defines me', he says but adds that he doens't go on panel shows etc as himself, it is always as a character. Says he has never entered a 'faustian pact' with the media.
Actor and comedian Steve Coogan has entered the witness box to give his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.
Leveson concerned over Mail's reporting and the Inquiry moves on to Steve Coogan's evidence.
Lord Leveson wants to resolve question of media reporitng witness statements. Lawyers haven't agreed a form of words so discussions begin again.
The Inquiry breaks for lunch and will return at 2pm when Leveson hopes a resolution to the question of media reporting of witness evidence will have been found. Essentially, the lawyers have an hour to sort it out...
Sherborne not happy with Jonathan Caplan's representation for Associated Newspapers, saying his clients (witnesses to Leveson) will have no confidence that their evidence won't be equally damned by the Mail et al. Leveson hopes further conversations will take place during the next hour (lunch break).
Leveson agrees that newspapers should be able to respond to allegations made by witnesses but stresses the difference between articles being 'defensive' rather than 'offensive'.
Sherborne reads out extracts from Amanda Platell article today that attacks Grant's evidence and his motives.
David Sherborne QC raising concerns about Associated Newspapers reporting of Hugh Grant's evidence to Leveson yesterday, accusing the actor of 'mendacious smears'.
Margaret and Jim Watson have finished giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.
Margaret Watson concludes by saying she hopes that English politicians 'get some backbone' and look at defamation as well.
Margaret Watson has been involved with a campaign to change laws on defamation, in particular on defaming the dead: "Just because a person's died, their reputation shouldn't die with them. "