Grâce à la liberté dans les communications, des groupes d’hommes de même nature pourront se réunir et fonder des communautés. Les nations seront dépassées.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Fragments posthumes XIII-883)

11 - DÉC 21 - Dép./audit. D. Pilditch



The Leveson Inquiry into 
the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press


Déposition écrite de David Hamilton Pilditch  – 21.12.2011


I, David Hamilton Pilditch, Journalist...... will say as follows :


A. I am a General News Reporter at The Daily Express. make this statement in response to a request of the Leveson Inquiry (the "Inquiry") to the solicitors for Express Newspapers dated 25 November 2011 with regard to the circumstances surrounding the publication of articles in The Daily Express between September 2007 and January 2008 about Drs McCann.
B. I confirm that alt matters in this statement are true and, unless I specify to the contrary are based upon my own knowledge and a review of the relevant documents Where matters are not within my own knowledge, I state the source and believe the same to be true.
C. For convenience, I have reproduced as subheadings the questions asked of me in the 25 November 2011 letter.


Introduction
1. By way of introduction, I have been a journalist for 26 years, I started at a local newspaper, the Esher News and Maili where I spent three years and was formally trained by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.
2. I worked for several years at Cassidy and Leigh, a national news agency. In 1995 I joined The Daily Mirror as a news reporter, before moving in 2003 to The Daily Express.
3. I was the first Daily Express reporter to arrive in Portugal following the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in May 2007, I spent six weeks in the country on my first visit, and over the course of the next nine months until February 2008, 1 was there a total of six times.


Question 1 - What was the evidential basis for each of the stories you wrote in relation to the McCanns, identifying (in each case) precisely the information on which you based each of them?
4. It became apparent in the days after arriving in Praia da Luz that covering the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was going to be uniquely challenging, Under Portugal’s secrecy of justice laws it is illegal for anyone to publicly discuss the details of an on-going police investigation. This means even the most senior detectives in charge of an inquiry are not allowed: to speak to the press and the media. Quite frankly this was a ludicrous state of affairs which made covering the story near impossible. 
5. Even Kate and Gerry McCann, who were anxious to put out appeals for information, were made aware that speaking: about the case could lead to a term of imprisonment of up to two years.
6.This lack of official co-operation between the police and the media, in my view, fatally flawed the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance from day one.
7. In this country the relationship between the police and the media is probably at its closest during a missing person inquiry. In the absence of any substantial leads the police rely on the public to provide information of possible sightings or people acting suspiciously, This helps ensure the police have as much information as possible available to them.
8.In Portugal, there were none of the basic strategies or systems that we would expect to be put into place in an investigation of this kind.
9. As Gerry McCann pointed out in his statement the lack of formal dialogue between the Policia Judiciaria (P J) and the public was incredibly frustrating for everybody involved.
10. In the critical early hours and days after Madeleine McCann disappeared there were no public appeals. It took a number of days before police released details of the clothes Madefeine was wearing when she disappeared - and that was only done under enormous pressure from the international media.
11. Again under pressure from the media, the police held a series of press conferences in the early days after Madeleine’s disappearance which turned out to be farcical because no useful information was forthcoming.
12. A detective from Lisbon who specialized in investigating art thefts was brought in as a media liaison officer. Unfortunately he refused to confirm or deny any information that was put to him and was unable to give any guidance either on or off the record. In short, his appointment was a complete waste of time
13. As in every case, my stories were compiled using numerous sources of information. In my time in Portugal I interviewed witnesses, many locals connected with businesses, resort workers, holidaymakers and ex-pats - a number of whom became contacts and regular sources of information,
14. 1 incorporated copy filed by the Press Association and independent news agencies based in Britain and abroad, along with copy filed by colleagues back home - members of the McCanns’ families were releasing information and photographs to help the search.
15. The McCanns themselves I~ad various people representing them, In the early stages a spokesman was appointed by the holiday company the family had travelled with. Subsequently there were two Foreign Office officials who helped them one of whom was Clarence Mitchell.
16, In September 2007, after the McCanns returned to Britain, Mr Mitchell was taken on by the couple as their official spokesman.
17. I have written a great many stories about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann since May 4 2007, I have also written hundreds of other stories relating to a huge range of subjects and issues, It would be impossible to forensically examine a series of stories written four years ago and explain precisely where each fact was sourced from. However, when reports were followed up from Portuguese newspapers and TV networks that is clearly spelled out in my stories.
18. The McCanns were always approached to comment on stories through their spokesman and those comments were clearly attributed. An addition to quoting from Portuguese newspapers and the Drs McCanns’ official spokesman I approached my own sources.
19. In their evidence the McCanns. referring to the press in general terms, said that many stories had been "made up" and that they did not believe "police sources" were genuine. In the case of every story I wrote, the police sources I quoted were genuine. I had three sources in Portugal who provided me with information. Two were Portuguese journalists who were in daily contact with the most senior officers investigating Madeleine McCann’s disappearance. The third was a translator who worked for the Portuguese Police and translating and interpreting in the Portuguese legal system.
20, The stories that have been selected in this file must be looked at in the context of how events were unfolding on the ground during this time whe~7 the Portuguese police investigation had reached a particular stage.
21. Despite the barriers thrown up by the Portuguese criminal justice system, I was able to obtain an accurate and truthful insight into on-going developments within the police investigation at that time. Indeed, by this point fn time, one of my contacts was informing me of day-to-day developments as they were taking place and before they were being written about in Portuguese newspapers. This enabled me to verify the accuracy of the information I was being gwen. For example, I was told of a series of operations and searches that would For Distribution To CP’s be taking place at particular times and on particular days - and was able to personally witness these events taking place,
22. Although I was confident of the veracity of: the reports I was writing, due to the secrecy of justice laws they were impossible to prove, to any satisfactory legal standard, at that time. The fact is that every newspaper, TV network or media organisation that reported on: details of the investigation into Madeleine McCann,s disappearance were in the same boat.
23. Due to the restrictions of the Portuguese law; anyone who was unhappy about something that had been written or said about them and wished to take legal action would almost certainly have been successful. As a journalist this is a wholly unsatisfactory position which, in my view, leaves news organisations at the mercy of potential litigants, They simply are unable to defend themselves.
24. It was only months later, in July 2008 that Portugal’s Attorney General formally closed the investigation into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance. Under the Portuguese system, the authorities released the official police file - more than 10,000 documents including photographs, official reports and witness statements including those of the McCanns. Through the release of those documents and subsequent Jegal actions in Portuga! it is now a matter of public record that the reports I was writing between September 2007 and January 2008 were truthful and accurate.

Question 2 - what checks if any did you undertake or cause to undertake to verify the accuracy of each of these stories?
25. All my stories were checked wi[h more than one source prior to publication, Once Clarence Mitchell was appointed as Drs McCanns’ spokesman, it was agreed that all stories would be bounced off him rather than the Drs McCann directly; This was strictly adhered to. On every occasion, Portuguese :)olice refused to comment on grounds that the inquiry was subject to judicial secrecy.
26. Leicestershire Police, the UK force handling the investigation, took the decision neither to comment nor - unusually for a force involved in a high profile on-going inquiry - give off the record guidance to journalists with story queries. Instead they referred all journalists to their Portuguese counterparts - who refused to comment.

Question 3 - Why did you not seek comment from the McCanns before these stories were published?
27. On each occasion, I sought comment from Drs McCanns’ representatives,

Question 4 - What legal advice, if any was taken in relation to these issues?
28. Upon filing each story it would have been viewed by the News Editor of the day and a lawyer: it would then have been passed to a sub editor who would cut it to fit the required space on the page and add a headline. As a news reporter I have no involvement in the wording of headlines that accompany my stories, Though my involvement usualfy ends with the filing of my story the news desk, lawyer and sub editor are obviously free to contact me if they have any additional queries or require me to make further checks.

Question 5- Please explain the nature of sub-editorial and editorial involvement in each of the stories you wrote explaining in particular the steps they took to satisfy themselves that the said stories were accurate and that there was a public interest in their publication. In each case, you are required to name the sub,editors and editors involved.
29. When I file a story f have no say over where it will appear in the paper, what prominence it will be given or even if it will appear in the paper at all. I play no part in that decision.making process. However, there is always frequent dialogue throughout the day between the reporters on the ground, and the editors in the newsroom, particularly with regard to the checking of stories and sources.

Conclusion
30. The disappearance of Madeleine McCann was an extraordinary and unique event. As a news reporter with 26 years, experience I approached my coverage of Madeleine’s disappearance exactly the same way as I did all the other major running news stories I have covered during that time. My aim was - and always is - to interview witnesses, check out information from sources, and speak to individuals, investigators and officials involved in an attempt to discover the truth. The aspect that made the case truly unusual was the wall of silence and lack of guidance to journalists from police both in Portugal and the UK,
31, In the absence of these critical sources or official comment that could be attributed to a named police source or authority, I took steps to obtain the relevant information by the best available route. ~ approached news/TV reporters who had solid contacts within the Portuguese police for information on the investigation and relied on the services of Mr Mitchell as a third party spokesman for Drs McCann.





Audition de David Pilditch

Robert Jay : Sir, the next witness is Mr Pilditch.
Lord Justice Leveson : Thank you.
David Pilditch (sworn)
RJ : Please sit down, Mr Pilditch, make yourself comfortable and tell us your full name.
DP : David Hamilton Pilditch.
RJ : You'll find in the bundle in front of you, I hope under tab 2, your witness statement has been signed and contains a statement of truth. Do you stand by this evidence?
DP : Yes.
RJ : I'm going to ask you first of all to tell us something about yourself. You have been a journalist for 26 years now; is that correct?
DP : That's correct.
RJ : You started at a local paper, you were formally trained by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.You worked for a national news agency. For eight yearsyou were at the Daily Mirror and then you moved to the Daily Express in 2003; is that correct?
DP : That's correct.


RJ : I think you are still at the Daily Express as a general news reporter; is that right?
DP : That's right.


RJ : In relation to the Madeleine McCann story, you tell us that you went to Portugal in 2007, indeed you were there a total of six times until February 2008, and you were six weeks in the country at your first visit; is that correct?
DP : Yes, that's correct, six weeks, yeah.
RJ : Can I ask you first of all, please, in your own words to tell us about the "uniquely challenging" aspects of covering this story? It's paragraph 4 of your statement. I'm not going to ask you to read it out, but o tell us why it was uniquely challenging.
DP : Well, it was obviously a story of great interest and the problem was sort of accessing information from the police because of the secrecy of justice laws, which meant that it was illegal for them to discuss any details of the case or the investigation. Normally in a story like that, you would expect the police to be organising appeals and they'd have a strategy of dealing with the media and the press. But it wasn't there in this case.


RJ : They didn't have a formal strategy because under Portuguese law it was forbidden to speak to the press; is that correct?
DP : That's right.

RJ : Then you tell us in the final sentence of paragraph 4: "Quite frankly this was a ludicrous state of affairs which made covering the story near impossible."
DP : That's correct.
RJ : Did you mean by that getting to the truth of the matter or did you mean by that -- well, what did you mean by that?
DP : Getting to the truth, yes. I mean, it was as if you'd been transported like Dr Who into some Orwellian nightmare where the truth is impossible to find.
RJ : It might be said if the truth is impossible to find, a journalist cannot properly say anything?
DP : Well, that's right, because certainly in relation to the police investigation, in a story like this you'd expect that the primary information would be coming from the police, and in this case that just wasn't happening, so you are in an impossible situation because obviously you're trying to do everything to make sure that you can
get to the bottom of what's happened to Madeleine McCann. The parents were in the end left to do that job that the police would normally do.


RJ : Did you feel under any pressure to produce stories in relation to this case?
DP : There was obviously a lot of pressure because there was newspapers and TV networks from all over Britain and Europe there, and the interest was in the story. You've obviously got to -- you can't sort of not cover the story of something that -- that's why I'm saying it's ludicrous, because you have to be in a position to cover the story. That's in everybody's interest.
RJ : You're making it sound, maybe this is the case, that you were on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand you were under pressure to cover the story; on the other hand you couldn't cover it because you couldn't get to the truth. Is that a fair characterisation?
DP : That's right. But you want to make sure, as a journalist, that you've got facts and proper information that you're dealing with, but without the police co-operation it's impossible to do that.
RJ : You say in paragraph 6: "The lack of official cooperation between the police and the media in my view fatally flawed the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance from day one."
DP : Yes. 
RJ : Why do you say that?
DP : Because of these lack of appeals, there was just no ― the things that should have been done, the strategies that should have been put in place by the police were not there, so at the time when it was most important that people were alerted to what was going on, that didn't happen. And throughout the whole investigation, I think this lack of information meant that -- and there were leaks of information as well, which meant that, as I say, there was no strategy. It was just confusion all round, where there should have been focus.
LJL : But isn't that then the story?
DP : Well, the story is to find out what's happened to Madeleine McCann.
LJL : No, isn't the story the lack of focus and the accusation? And obviously to find Madeleine, but isn't that the position rather than just repeating --
DP : That was the story that we were writing in the early stages. The story about the confusion, about the lack of information.
LJL : I'm running ahead of Mr Jay and I shouldn't. 
RJ : Paragraph 13, please, Mr Pilditch. You make it clear that the police could not be an official source of information, but you tell us in paragraph 13: "My stories were compiled using numerous sources of information." Can we just list, please, your sources of information? You say first of all:"I interviewed witnesses, many locals connected with businesses, resort workers, holidaymakers and expats."What information did they give you which bore on the Madeleine McCann story which was relevant?
DP : Well, the police had been round the resort and other areas on their own enquiries, and we were finding out lines of enquiry that the police were pursuing through speaking to local people and they'd been given descriptions of potential suspects, things like that and you'd get a whole load of witnesses giving you the same description, then you have a pretty good idea what the police are working on, and then you go to the police and they can't tell you if that's right or wrong.
RJ : So the suspects, are these people who were suspected of having abducted Madeleine; is that right?
DP : I think that's right, yes. I mean, the police were putting out a description of a particular man that they -- I think witnesses had described being near the apartment, a potential suspect.
RJ : Okay. And what about the locals connected with businesses? Is this the same sort of enquiry you were making?


DP : That's exactly what I'm saying. I mean, in the early stages, when we arrived on the story, did what we do on all stories, which is go around speaking to people in the vicinity and trying to find out what they knew.
RJ : So during this phase, is this right, you were under the impression that the police focus was on an abductor?
DP : Well, it certainly was, and -- I mean, there were various lines of enquiry that emerged, but certainly in the very early days they were putting out various descriptions and there were also potential sightings that were reported as well, but this information wasn't coming from the police directly.
RJ : You say in paragraph 18, when you're dealing with other sources of information, you'd previously identified Mr Clarence Mitchell as being the McCanns' official spokesman, which we know about. Paragraph 18: "In addition to quoting from Portuguese newspapers and the Drs McCanns' official spokesman I approached my own sources." Could you make it clear for us, please, it's dealt with in paragraph 19, who your own sources were?

DP : What I'm saying is that we were looking at the Portuguese newspapers every day and that gave you a sort of starting point, very often, of what sort of lines you might be pursuing on a particular day. But then, as it became apparent that the police weren't going to co-operate directly, I had to try and make contact with them in whichever way I could, and the way I did that was by identifying journalists who had -- from the area and crime reporters who'd got very good police contacts and they were in daily contact with them, with the most senior officers in the case, as I've said, who were investigating the crime.
RJ : You identify three sources, don't you, who provided you with information, you say. Two were Portuguese journalists who, you say, were in daily contact with the most senior officers investigating Madeleine's disappearance. The third was a translator who worked for the Portuguese police and translated, interpreted in the Portuguese legal system.
DP : Yes.

RJ : Is that right?
DP : Yes.

RJ : So they were, as it were, your sources? You haven't given their names, but in terms of who they were --
DP : Yeah.
RJ : -- these are the individuals we're talking about?
DP : These were my best sources. I mean, during the course of the time I was there, there were other people, but these were the ones that I used on a regular basis.


RJ : So is this right: the senior officers in the Portuguese police who, under Portuguese law, were not supposed to brief Portuguese journalists, were doing just that, unofficially, and then you were, as it were, picking up on the scraps of their briefings from your contact with those journalists? Is that right?
DP : Yes. And if there was -- I was able to sort of develop a dialogue with the police through these third-party sources, so sometimes in the Portuguese newspapers they didn't -- there was only just one or two lines that weren't developed that may need more developing, so I was able to ask questions to the police, not directly, but through the journalists who were talking to them every day.
RJ : So you put a question to the journalists, the journalists to the police, and the answer came back; is that what you're saying, Mr Pilditch?
DP : Well, the answer didn't always come back, but yeah, that was the process that I was working through.
RJ : You say in paragraph 21: "Despite the barriers thrown up by the Portuguese criminal justice system, I was able to obtain an accurate and truthful insight into ongoing developments within the police investigation at that time." Is that right?
DP : Yes.


RJ : But in truth, is this not also right, that the best you could do was to obtain from your Portuguese journalists their report of what senior officers were apparently telling those Portuguese journalists?
DP : Sorry?
RJ : The best you could do was to obtain from the two Portuguese journalists who were your main source their report of what they were apparently being told by senior officers within the Portuguese police service?
DP : Yes.
RJ : You say in paragraph 21, five lines down -- maybe I should read the preceding sentence: "Indeed, by this point in time, one of my contacts ..." Is this one of the three you had identified previously?
DP : Yes.
RJ : "... was informing me of day-to-day developments as they were taking place and before they were being written about in Portuguese newspapers. This enabled me to verify the accuracy of the information I was being given." Would it be fair to say that enabled you to verify some the accuracy of what you were being given?
DP : Yes. It satisfied myself that this wasn't just information that was being given to me that wasn't very good information; it confirmed that my source was dealing, as he said, with the most senior officers in the case.


RJ : Can I ask you about paragraph 22: "Although I was confident of the veracity of the reports I was writing, due to the secrecy of justice laws they were impossible to prove, to any satisfactory legal standard, at that time. The fact is that every newspaper, TV network or media organisation that reported on details of the investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance were in the same boat."
DP : Mm.
RJ : You're effectively saying there that given all the problems you've identified, in particular the restrictions imposed by Portuguese law, on one level, at least, what you were writing about was impossible to prove to any satisfactory legal standard. Is that what you're saying?
DP : Yeah. I mean, I knew that the reports were correct, but I also knew because they -- there was no confirmation, that there were going to be difficulties if any complaints were made because they just weren't from a publicly declared statement.


RJ : I appreciate your role as journalist is not to obtain legal advice, not to edit the story, but these difficulties which you are frankly referring to here, did they cause you to hesitate at all in writing the stories you did?
DP : Yeah. You feel uncomfortable writing stories where you're being put in a position where you can't do it in the way that you're used to, to be certain that what you're saying is fair and accurate, and the only way I felt that I could get round that would be to just explain the information in terms of this is where the information's being sourced from. So if it was -- this information's coming from the Portuguese police, I don't know if it's 100 per cent correct, but I know that it's coming from the Portuguese police.
RJ : Your discomfiture, was that something you discussed with your news desk?
DP : Yeah, I mean we had dialogues all the time, every day, and I explained to them the problems that we were having and, as I say, you couldn't just not write a story, particularly in the early stages of the enquiry, where what you were doing was basically launching appeals and trying to get people to come forward. So basically, every day when I'd speak to the news desk, normally you'd say, "Look, this is what we know, this is what the police are saying, and that's taken as being fact", but the conversations I was having with the news desk were explaining the information I had with all the caveats that were attached to it.


RJ : Did you tell your news desk that which we see in paragraph 23 of your statement, namely: "Due to the restrictions of the Portuguese law, anyone who was unhappy about something that had been written or said about them and wished to take legal action would almost certainly have been successful." Was that sentiment shared with your news desk at the time?
DP : Well, this is what I felt on the ground. I'm not a legal expert, but I felt that just the situation as it presented itself, that that was the case, and I'm certain that the news desk would have had conversations with lawyers about this, and there would have been discussions, ongoing discussions, and that was the situation that we were in and there was no way around it.
RJ : I must persist with the question.
DP : Sorry, yes.
RJ : Yes. Did you share your discomfiture with your news desk?
DP : Yes. I said "If we're going to have any problems, we may not be able to defend these things because we just cannot get any confirmation", and that was the difficulty.


RJ : And what was the reaction from your news desk, if any?
DP : Well, they took my comments on board and as I said, you're in a situation where it's a story of great interest and you've got newspapers and TV from all around the world who are covering it and you know that your rivals are working on similar information and they've got similar issues, and it's the sort of process that, you know, reporters go through every day when they're explaining what information they've got, and, you know, I knew that all I could do was present it in the -- with sort of explaining the sources that the -- where the information had come from.
RJ : You told us about three or four minutes ago you couldn't not write the story.
DP : Yes.
RJ : And then you went back to what the position was at the early stages with the missing child --
DP : Yes.
RJ : -- and all of that, but the position we're talking about now with the defamatory articles, they were written between September 2007 and January 2008.
DP : Mm.


RJ : The McCanns were given arguido status under Portuguese law I think on 7 September 2007?
DP : Yes.


RJ : It might be said, well, you could not write the story. There was no imperative to write stories which you knew wouldn't stand up to legal scrutiny. Do you see that point?
DP : Yes. But the position that we were in was that this was probably the most significant development that had happened up to that time in the investigation.
RJ : Sorry, what was, Mr Pilditch?
DP : Well, when the McCanns were named arguidos. It's not something you could ignore. It's not something where you could just present a story that was based on a comment from the McCanns' official spokesperson.
LJL : Did you do any work to find out precisely what that meant in Portuguese law?
DP : Yes, a lot of work, yeah. We spoke to lawyers in Portugal, and it was explained to me that there were subtle differences between arguidos and suspects.There's no legal equivalent.
LJL : They're merely entitled to have legal representation and have other advantages, isn't that right? That's what Dr McCann told us, I think. I remove the word "merely" from what I just said.
DP : No, we were given a completely different version by the lawyers in Portugal. We were told that effectively an arguido is a suspect. It gives the police an opportunity to put much tougher questions than they could to a witness, and they were allowed legal representation and I think the McCanns themselves were given some very, very tough questions from the Portuguese police.
LJL : So proceedings in English terms would be active?
DP : There are subtle differences, but I don't think they were arrested or anything like that. But effectively that was the -- was what was explained to us by the lawyers in Portugal.
RJ : Yes. I'm not sure whether you fully saw the point of that last question, Mr Pilditch.
DP : Sorry.
RJ : That it brings into play contempt of court issues.
DP : I see. Well, I -- mm, yeah, I don't -- can't, really.The problem is that the McCanns' spokespeople were briefing the press at this time and explaining that -- even sort of the extent where sort of things that the Portuguese police were accusing them of.


RJ : We have a situation here where the McCanns are accorded, if that's the right verb, arguido status under Portuguese law. They are prevented, in any event, from speaking out.
DP : Yes.


RJ : To say that, this is right, they face a maximum two years sentence of imprisonment if they do. You can't speak directly to the police because that is also prevented under Portuguese law.
DP : Yes.
RJ : I'm just concerned with what are the imperatives, if any, which drive the stories which we know you come to write?
DP : As I'm saying, this was a very big development in the story, and there were newspapers and TV networks reporting what was going on, and obviously there would be discussions on the newspaper from lawyers and all sort of parties that would be involved, and I think, you know, the actual legal sort of aspects would be something that the lawyers would be discussing.
RJ : You make it sound as if the story acquires a life of its own and almost defines itself, and then, like a large snowball, runs down a snowy incline. Is that fair or not? I suspect you'll say it isn't, but could you help us with that?
DP : I think if you put it into context of the story, the story was such a huge story, and I suppose you're right, I mean there is a sort of a vortex, isn't there, that is created.


RJ : You keep on using the term "the story". What do you mean precisely by that?
DP : The disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
RJ : Yes. But we're moving away from that, aren't we, with the particular pieces you write?
DP : Well, I was just reporting on day-to-day developments and that's what my job was to do.
RJ : Okay. You say under paragraph 25 that all your stories were checked with more than one source prior to publication: "Once Clarence Mitchell was appointed as [their] spokesman, it was agreed that all stories would be bounced off him rather than the Drs McCann directly. This was strictly adhered to." In relation, though, to the stories which we know were by agreement deemed to be defamatory, did Mr Mitchell comment on all such stories?
DP : Well, he commented on every story, and very often, you know, in quite strident terms, just explaining that this was part of a black propaganda campaign and that there was no evidence to back up what the police were saying.


RJ : Then you make it clear in paragraph 25, and this would have to be the case under Portuguese law: "On every occasion, Portuguese police refused to comment on grounds that the enquiry was subject to judicial secrecy."
DP : On the record --
RJ : In other words, in order to get to the truth or otherwise of the story, which is what you were writing about, you couldn't, because the police were refusing to help you. Is that fair?
DP : They were refusing to tell us on the record. At the same time, they were at this time leaking particularly aggressively.
RJ : Some people within the police were leaking for whatever reason; is that not right?
DP : Well, it was the senior detectives working on the case.
RJ : Doing it off the record; is that right?
DP : Yes.
RJ : Just look at some of the individual pieces, please. These are under tab 4. It's part of exhibit JM2. I'm going to look first of all at page 31647. It is right to say that all the pieces I'm going to refer to, I believe all of them, are agreed to be defamatory pieces and very substantial compensation was paid, so I'm not, as it were, concerned to reopen that matter, which won't and can't be reopened.
DP : Mm. Sorry, I don't know where I'm looking.
RJ : I'm immediately looking at the wrong page.


LJL : Yes, because this is not an article written by this witness.
RJ : My note is suspect.
LJL : What's the date of the article, Mr Jay? Do you know?
RJ : 29 November. No, my notes are just wrong. I think we're going to do better with 31645 on 1 December 2007.
DP : Yes, okay.
RJ : This is one we see you co-author.
DP : Mm.
RJ : Can I be clear first of all about one matter. It says at the start: "Gerry and Kate 'still the prime suspects'." That's the headline. Were you responsible for that headline?
DP : No.
RJ : You say that with confidence. I'm sure in line with usual practice, it won't be in dispute that the editor or subeditor is responsible for that. Do I have that right?
DP : Well, it's not the subeditor, it would be the editor or the night editor. I'm not too sure who writes headlines, but it's not the subeditors. They just fit stories into space.


RJ : I think it's important for our purposes today to establish it's not you, okay?
DP : No.
RJ : Is that always the case with these headlines; it's never the journalist, it's always the editor?
DP : Well, it's never the journalist. You know, something that I think the editor or night editor -- I mean, I'm not too sure, to be honest. The editor would have a final say about it, but --
RJ : But we can see from the first line of the text: "Kate and Gerry McCann are still regarded as the prime suspects in the disappearance of their daughter despite inconclusive findings from DNA evidence."
DP : Yes.
RJ : So that's your wording, isn't it?
DP : No.
RJ : You don't think it is?
DP : You see, I didn't really write this story. This has Nick Fagge's name on it. Normally, if you've got somebody who is named first, they are the people who do most of the writing. I do remember this one because I'd just arrived in Portugal that day and I think Nick Fagge was being replaced and there had been a meeting going on between the British ambassador and senior police officers at police headquarters in Faro, and I went straight from the airport to the police headquarters and basically I provided a bit of colour from police headquarters. I wrote about sort of official cars coming out of these sort of colonial style police buildings and things. That was my role in the story. Because nobody wanted to talk to me, so I was just sort of stood outside the police headquarters.
RJ : Fair enough, but the general tenor of this is that the line of investigation within the Portuguese police was seeking to establish the truth of a hypothesis that Madeleine died as a result of an accident in the flat and the parents then hid and disposed of the body; is that right?
DP : What, this particular story?
RJ : Mm.
DP : I can't comment on this particular story.
RJ : Let's look at another one that you might be able to.
LJL : But your name is at the top of it. Should that be just ignored?
DP : No, I explained why my name is on the top of it, because I played a role in the story, but that's all I did, stand outside police headquarters.
LJL : You didn't read the story before it went out under your name?
DP : No. I would have filed my bit of copy to either the news desk or to Nick Fagge, who was compiling the story, and it would have just been inserted into the story. Very often reporters write stories and don't get their bylines in the papers because somebody else is the main reporter who is pulling it all together. Very often there could have been more reporters or could have been more input into this story, but I don't think there was. I think Nick Fagge wrote the story and I, as I say, arrived at the airport and went straight to the police headquarters in my hire car, so that's all I did, and then informed him of what had happened at the police headquarters, which was just I was witnessing what took place at this meeting.
RJ : In terms of the procedure, though, Mr Pilditch, the assumption I was making, but it may be incorrect in the light of what you're saying, is that this is emailed back to London; is that right?
DP : Yes. I can't remember whether I emailed my part of it to London or if I emailed it to Nick Fagge, but it would be one of the other, I think.
RJ : Isn't it standard practice that if, on the face of it, a story is being coauthored, that the copy is sent to you -- imagine Mr Fagge is the primary author -- for comment, you approve it or not, and then, you having made any contribution you see fit, the text is emailed to London?
DP : No.


RJ : Probably here by Mr Fagge. Is that not what happens?
DP : No. I wouldn't have seen the whole article. As I say, I would have simply passed on the part of the story I was doing to the news desk or -- you know, I think that's what would have happened -- or the reporter who was compiling the story.
RJ : Okay. So which part of this piece do you say you did write?
DP : To be honest, I'm not even sure if anything went in, because, as I say, I went to the police headquarters where this meeting was taking place.
RJ : Yes?
DP : And I would have written some colour about, you know, what I saw. I saw the police officers and I saw the people that I recognised, who I knew who they were, but there was a whole load of, as I say, official cars. Basically, I was stood outside the police station and when the meeting was over, I saw the people who were involved, or some of them, leaving the police headquarters and I'd have just filed some colour about what I saw at the scene. That was my involvement in the story.


RJ : I think it looks as if, from what you're saying, that in truth Mr Fagge was the sole author, your name shouldn't have been on this at all.
DP : No, because --


RJ : We're not sure where we're seeing the colour you imparted.
DP : It looks like someone's knocked it out of the story. Doesn't look like it's made the cut. The only thing that made the cut was my name.
RJ : But we do see from the penultimate sentence: "The McCanns were named as suspects on September 7."
DP : Yes.
RJ : Are you sure that's right?
DP : Well, I didn't write this story. That's what I'm saying.
RJ : Let's look at one which we can be sure that you did write. 31643, dated 3 December. Just cast an eye over it. Your source here is someone within the Portuguese police speaking to a journalist, who then speaks to you; is that correct?
DP : It looks like it. I mean, it doesn't source any -- doesn't say that there was any other -- I mean, I haven't attributed any other source to it, so --
RJ : The only attribution, but this is not going to help us much, is at the very end: "The source added: 'Once interviews have been conducted the filed will be passed ...'."So whoever the source was, was close to the police investigation, as it were, and we know from the evidence you're giving us it's likely to be one of the two journalists, isn't it?
DP : Yeah.


RJ : In terms of the colour, though, which you refer to in the context of the previous piece, which you say you didn't have a hand in, the term "fingers of suspicion", whose was that?
DP : I don't know. I can't say at this --
RJ : Might it have been your term, Mr Pilditch?
DP : No. I mean, it's not -- I don't really know what it means, to be honest.
RJ : Well, because some of the language here might, by some, be said to be somewhat loaded.
DP : Mm.
RJ : For example: "Portuguese detectives could fly to Britain to sit in on make-or-break interviews ..." You're making it sound as if guilt or innocence might turn on the result. It is quite heightened, isn't it?
DP : Well, I mean, we certainly knew that this was something that Portuguese police were considering at that time.
RJ : Okay. And then what about the sentence about eight lines down: "Detectives want to focus on the 10 issues that have haunted them ..."?
DP : Mm.
RJ : That must be your terminology, mustn't it?
DP : Well, they were obviously struggling, weren't they, the detectives?
LJL : I'm sorry, Mr Pilditch, I'd just like to understand this. In the first sentence it says "fingers of suspicion". Are you saying you didn't write that?
DP : I can't recall whether that was my specific wording or not.
LJL : Well, do you read the articles when they come out in the paper and think about whether they've been changed back in London? Or do you not bother?
DP : What I'm saying is I wrote this story four years ago, and I can't remember if those were my specific words or not.
LJL : And "10 issues that have haunted them", Mr Jay's question, is that your word?
DP : I'm saying the same thing. I mean, I can't remember if I used that word. The thing is that I file my story and there are other processes involved after that, so if I'd written this story last week, then I'd know exactly -- well, even if I wrote it last week, I wouldn't know exactly my specific words, without referring to the original copy that I'd sent.


RJ : Did you not assemble -- forgive me for putting it in these terms -- these ten issues from what you'd gleaned from reading Portuguese newspapers and then turned it into a story in your own language?
DP : Well, I think it would have been speaking to my source. I wrote a story, I presented a story the way I'd written it, and I can't tell you for certain whether this is the story that I wrote word for word. I doubt that it was, because it normally isn't, but I don't know which words I used and which words were used in part of the subediting process.
RJ : Your source was only telling you that interviews could take place. I think my question was in order to work out what the subject matter of the interviews might be, you looked at Portuguese newspapers and assembled what you thought were the ten key issues which might be put to the McCanns. Is that not a fair supposition?
DP : Well, this is what my source would have been telling me, yeah.
RJ : Are you sure about that?
DP : Well, I mean why wouldn't it be?
RJ : Can I just pick up on one of the ten points. The forensic findings, do you see that?
DP : Yeah.


RJ : "-- though not conclusive -- that Madeleine's body was in the spare tyre ..."
DP : Yes.
RJ : You're suggesting there, aren't you, that there were findings -- presumably this is a reference to DNA evidence -- which established, although did not do so conclusively, that Madeleine's body was in the spare tyre well in the boot; is that right?
DP : Yeah.
RJ : The DNA evidence did not go anything like that far, did it?
DP : Well, I think at this time it wasn't known how far it had gone.
RJ : That's precisely the point. You're making it sound as if there were findings, when in fact the DNA evidence, if you're going to properly characterise it, was at best inconclusive.
DP : I think we know that now, but I don't think we knew that at this time. 
RJ : Well, what did you know at the time about the DNA evidence?
DP : Well, that there was DNA evidence that was being examined.
RJ : But you didn't know what the results of the examination were, did you?
DP : No.


RJ : The McCanns' evidence, at page 35 of the transcript --
DP : Transcript?
RJ : Sorry, pardon me, Mr Pilditch, it's under tab 5.
DP : Yeah.
RJ : The question which was put at the bottom of page 34: "The overall flavour or thrust of this article [not the article we're looking at now, but it doesn't matter, the point is the same] was that there was DNA evidence which linked your daughter with a hire car. What do you say about that? "Answer: The first thing to say, it's simply untrue. Madeleine's DNA was not uncovered from the hire car. That's the first thing."
DP : We know that now, but I don't think we knew that then. The police were saying that it had been.
RJ : The police were saying that some what might have been human tissue was found in the car.
DP : Yes.


RJ : And that they had done some tests in Portugal on it and the results were inconclusive?
DP : Well, I think the tests were carried out in Britain.
RJ : And they were also inconclusive, weren't they?
DP : Well, they were, yeah.
RJ : I'm just troubled by --
DP : I'm just explaining what the police --
RJ : I'm just troubled by the use of the term "findings" in relation to this eighth or ninth finger of suspicion. I must suggest to you it is wrong and unfair to have characterised them as findings at all.
DP : Well a finding --
RJ : Whether or not one adds in parentheses that they are not conclusive.
DP : A finding is something that you found, isn't it? I don't know. But they found something and it was something that was being analysed.
RJ : There are two different senses in which the word "finding" is being used. The first is, "We've found something which we believe to be human tissue", and the second is, "We've analysed the human tissue and our finding is X", the finding may be it is the DNA of a particular individual.
DP : Yes.
RJ : We never got, did we, to that second stage at all; do you see that?


DP : Well, I was explaining what the findings were. I mean -- mm.
RJ : I think I've taken that point as far as I reasonably can with you. I'm not going to look at all of these, but you did write quite a few of these articles. There's another one at 31640.
DP : Mm. This is -- is this before or after that one? Yeah.
RJ : Although it's earlier in the bundle, we are working --
DP : Backwards.
RJ : -- chronologically forwards, I hope, because the previous one was dated 3 December.
DP : No, you're right, yeah.
RJ : Here you are reporting what the police theory was at that point, at least the theory which was being apparently put out by some in the police to Portuguese journalists.
DP : Mm.
RJ : Namely, Madeleine died in an accident and then the parents covered up the crime and later disposed of their daughter's body. You do rightly say in this piece, about eight lines down: "Months of painstaking analysis on DNA uncovered in Portugal had so far failed to produce conclusive

evidence." That was the position. And then there were going to be further tests, I believe, in this country; is that right?
DP : I can't recall the chronology of when the tests were carried out and what point the investigation had reached at this point.


RJ : Did you make any personal assessment, did you ponder in your own mind about the inherent plausibility or otherwise of the police position as apparently reported?
DP : Well, I mean, I didn't know what was going on, but my assessment was that, you know, there must be some form of plausibility in what a modern police force is telling you in the 21st century in a European country. You wouldn't think they would just, you know.
RJ : You were telling us earlier that the Portuguese police investigation was fatally flawed, and that was the view you formed from the outset. That's in your witness statement.
DP : Yeah, I'm talking now about the lack of appeals and the -- the investigation didn't get off the ground, but I don't know what's going on with experts examining forensic evidence and all this sort of thing. That's just a different part of it.
RJ : And then at 31634, 10 December, again this is your piece.
DP : Mm.


RJ : The thrust of this piece is that Portuguese detectives were apparently fearful of the fact that British police would not properly interrogate the McCanns; is that right?
DP : Yes.


RJ : Did you think at the time there was any basis for that fear?
DP : Yeah, I did, yeah.
RJ : From your own knowledge of British police and Portuguese police? Did you really think that?
DP : Yes.
LJL : What did you think, that the British police would go easy on suspects?
DP : No, that the Portuguese police believed that. There seemed to be lots of -- I don't know if it was cultural differences, but there seemed to be lots of disagreements going on behind the scenes between various authorities, and the officers who were investigating this case, the senior officers, this is what they were saying. They believed that -- I think they were concerned they'd complain that they'd ask for information and were upset because they only got one piece of paper or something, background information.There was obviously issues going on behind the scenes between the Portuguese police and other authorities.
RJ : Okay. There's only one other piece I'm going to ask you about, it's 31629, please, Mr Pilditch, 12 December 2007. This is the piece about the priest. Do you remember this one?
DP : Yes.


RJ : Your source, I think, three-quarters of the way down the page, is a "close friend of the priest"; is that right?
DP : The priest?
RJ : Yes.
DP : Yes.
RJ : Are you able to give us any further information about that?
DP : Um ... well, this was information that was passed on to me by people who were in contact with the priest. I mean, I was speaking all the time to parishioners and worshippers in Praia da Luz.
RJ : You think it might have been one of those individuals who passed it on to you; is this right?
DP : Yes.
RJ : This is, if I may say so, a rather loaded story because the suggestion is, do I have this right, that the priest felt under tremendous emotional strain because some sort of confession had been given to him by Dr Kate McCann. That's what you're getting at, isn't it?
DP : Where have -- is that part of the story?
RJ : Yes. Right in the middle of the page: "Investigators became convinced Kate had confessed to him -- but the tormented priest insisted he would stand by his vow to take the secrets of the confessional to the grave." Are you sure about that sentence, Mr Pilditch?
DP : I know that the police interviewed the priest and nothing came from it, and I think this is what the police were saying.
RJ : It might be said that you were drawing a bit of an inference here, that you knew from what you were told that the priest had been interviewed by the police, but it's just the clause "the tormented priest insisted he would stand by his vow to take the secrets of the confessional to the grave", I'm troubled a bit by that, whether that's a bit of journalistic licence on your part. Are you sure about the accuracy of that statement?
DP : I think the accuracy is that priests -- that's how confessional works, isn't it?
RJ : As a matter of general proposition it may well be, but you're going a bit further than that, because you're suggesting that not merely would the priest stand by his religious obligation, but he would also be taking the secrets of the confessional to his grave because he was given a confession by Dr Kate McCann. Isn't that what you're getting at?


DP : I think the Portuguese police were saying that they'd interviewed Father Pacheco and they hadn't got anything of any use. The problem with a lot of this stuff was the way the information was leaking out, it was like thinking out loud, really.
RJ : Yes.
DP : These were the sort of conversations that in a police sort of a, you know, force in this country would be the sort of things that officers would be talking about behind the scenes. But --
RJ : But all you knew as a fact, if your source was to be trusted, and let's assume for the purposes of this exchange that your source could be, is that the police had interviewed the priest.
DP : Yes.
RJ : But everything else was an inference that you might have drawn, indeed did draw, in particular the bit about the tormented priest insisting he would stand by his vow to take the secrets of the confessional to the grave. You weren't told that by anyone, were you?
DP : I think the police were explaining why they thought they wouldn't get anything from the priest, because he was duty-bound not to tell them anything.
RJ : Mm.


LJL : Do you not get the point that Mr Jay is making?
DP : Sorry.
LJL : That the inference in the sentence goes rather beyond that and suggests that the priest had a secret to take to the grave?
DP : It says "investigators became convinced". I mean, that --
RJ : Yes. Absolutely. If you read the whole lot as one piece, it reinforces precisely that point.
DP : Mm.
RJ : Because here we have a very -- well, I've made the point already, Mr Pilditch. I'm not sure that you're fully seeing it, though.
DP : No.
RJ : Okay.
DP : What I'm saying is this is what the investigators -- they interviewed the priest and got nothing from him, and I think they probably thought that they were just going through a routine of interviewing a priest. I think they suspected that they wouldn't get anything from him. So I'm just saying what was going on, what the police were -- how they were -- as I say, this is like a bit of thinking out loud by the police that was in the public domain and it's the sort of thing that normally police officers wouldn't sort of tell you, really.


RJ : To be fair to you, Mr Pilditch, can we be clear about two or three matters? First of all, you don't, of course, have a lawyer advising you as to what to put or not to put into your copy?
DP : No.
RJ : We know that, it's not standard practice for that to happen. That happens higher up the chain, doesn't it?
DP : Yes.
RJ : And secondly, it's ultimately the editor's decision, not yours, as to whether to publish any particular story that is put up by you or any other journalist; is that right?
DP : Yeah.
RJ : And in terms of the chains or lines of communication, the standard line of communication is between you and the news desk, and then the news desk and the editor; is that also right?
DP : Yeah.
RJ : Did you have any conversations with the editor at any stage about any of these stories?
DP : No.


RJ : I think you've told us earlier that any misgivings you had about the accuracy of the stories and the difficulties you were having were shared with the news desk; is that correct?
DP : Yes.


RJ : Is that something you think might have happened once or something that might have happened more than once?
DP : Sorry?
RJ : Your discussions with the news desk?
DP : Yeah. 
RJ : In particular about misgivings in relation to the story and the difficulties you were having in verifying a story.

DP : I think every day you would have conversations with the news desk throughout the day and you'd explain the information that you had and where it had come from. As I say, you'd explain the caveats that were attached to it.
RJ : My final point is, is this a possible explanation for what happened here in relation to, to use your term, the story: the McCanns are declared arguidos by the Portuguese authorities on 7 September 2007, and the direction of the story changes?
DP : Yeah.


RJ : And instead of being a standard story about child abduction, it becomes a rather more sinister story, in inverted commas. It's that story or version which starts to dictate the direction in which people like you are writing their copy? Is that a fair characterisation of what might be happening here?
DP : Well, at that particular point in time, I was reporting on the sort of day-to-day developments that were going on on the ground, and this is pretty much what was happening. During this time, there was also -- there were contradictory reports. You know, the Portuguese police at different times were saying contradictory things. One day they're saying that, you know, they're going down one route and the next day they're heading off in a completely different direction. So not all the reports were of this nature, but at this particular point in time when the investigation had reached this point, then this was the sort of information that was coming out.
RJ : Okay. There is one more question, I hope you don't mind me putting this. I appreciate that it's the editor's decision as to whether this material is published.
DP : Yes.
RJ : But did you have any personal concerns about this material going up to the editor with the likelihood that it would be published simply on the human basis that we have already a tragic situation, parents have lost their daughter in the sense that the daughter has disappeared?
DP : Yes.


RJ : Absolutely clear. They are in a state of emotional turmoil?
DP : Yeah.


RJ : And then to add to that natural emotional turmoil, what is being written about them.
DP : Yeah.
RJ : How does this factor into this, if at all, from your perspective? Not from your perspective now, but from your perspective at the time?
DP : At the time, I really didn't know what was going on. I knew that the police investigation was headed down this particular path and, as I say, I'd have no idea why the police were heading down this path and, well, this is the point that we were at and this was -- I didn't know what happened to Madeleine McCann, I still don't know, so I'm just saying that at this time, this was what was happening and I was reporting on the developments that were happening, but I didn't know if the police were barking up the wrong tree or if, you know, as I say, you'd expect them to have some form of competency.


RJ : I'm not sure you have answered my question. Can you remember what it was? I can repeat it again.
DP : Yes, if you could repeat it, yeah.
RJ : You already have a huge amount of emotional turmoil: a four-year-old child has disappeared. It goes without saying.
DP : Yeah.
RJ : And then people like you, if you don't mind me putting it in those terms, are writing stories which imply that the child has not been abducted, something far more sinister has happened.
DP : Right.
RJ : The propensity of those matters being written about would naturally add to the emotional turmoil which is already immense. It's whether that enters into your thinking at the time at all when you are writing these stories?
DP : Well, I think I explained. I mean, there is emotional turmoil, but I'm reporting on what's happening on the ground.
RJ : Okay.
DP : On that particular day.
RJ : I think I understand, Mr Pilditch. Thank you very much.
LJL : I have a slightly different point, which is this: you may not understand the Portuguese law, and that's entirely fair enough.
DP : Yeah.
LJL : But you do understand, I'm sure you would agree, that stories have to stand up?
DP : Yes.
LJL : And that your paper is at risk of massive damages claims if you write something that's defamatory?
DP : Yes.
LJL : That you can't then stand up?
DP : Yes. Well, I think I've said that in my statement.
LJL : I understand. You were getting all sorts of tittle-tattle --
DP : Right.
LJL : -- from different people in circumstances when you knew the police couldn't officially talk, is that fair?
DP : Yes.
LJL : And as far as you were concerned they were going off in very different directions, one day this, one day something else; that's your assessment of what they'd been doing?
DP : But at this point in time, they were very much focusing on this.


LJL : So be it, but you had the experience of what they had been doing.
DP : Mm.
LJL : Did you ever have any concern that you wouldn't be able to stand up this story?
DP : Yeah.
LJL : And did that give rise to concern that you shouldn't be writing it as it was written?
DP : I think I was writing it in the only way I could write it, because I was explaining where my sources were coming from and I was explaining that this isn't something that I can prove or confirm. But those sort of decisions would be made further up the chain about the law. But I was just writing on developments that were going on on the ground at that time.
LJL : So you saw your role purely to reduce whatever you heard, from whatever source you heard it, into a story?
DP : It's not tittle-tattle, you see. This was --
LJL : Isn't it?
DP : No, because it was information that was coming from the senior detectives investigating the case.
LJL : Or so you were told.
DP : Well, I know now that it is, because there's files that have been released and there's -- 
LJL : Yes, but you didn't know at the time.
DP : No, but I knew at the time that these were genuine lines of enquiry and this particular line was the only line the police were pursuing at that time. I didn't know the truth.


LJL : But the evidence you've got, that you've now seen, doesn't in fact justify some of this stuff, does it? Because the DNA was not in this condition that you described it in your article.
DP : Yeah. The police were claiming it was in a -- I think the police were telling lies and trying to claim they had more than they actually had. But in 2008 in July when the police released their official file, this was some time after this period, there's lots of documentation and there's lots of all sorts of statements and -- the whole file that they'd been investigating. It's only when that was published that you could see that actually this whole thing was based on a false premise. The police went as hard as they did down this line and they had no reason to do it, they had no evidence to back them up.
LJL : So all the stuff, for example, about what the priest might have been told, it's all fluff. There's nothing to it.
DP : It's all things that were happening at the time. But if you look at things now, knowing what we know in the public domain, it's a very different picture.
LJL : I agree, and that's why I asked you whether you were concerned at the time that you couldn't stand the story up with the risk that your paper was exposed to massive damages claims, as indeed they were.
DP : Well, I was uncomfortable writing stories like this, but I felt it was the only way to write it, but the sort of decisions about the risk were taken by lawyers and by executives on the paper.
LJL : Did you write a piece, perhaps not for publication, but for your editors, to underline the extreme fragility of this information?
DP : They were well aware of that. I mean, this was the only way you could operate in Portugal at that time.
LJL : I see.
DP : And other newspapers were doing it. There was no other way of doing it. All I could do was exactly spell out who was saying what. I was saying if it was a police source, this is what the police are saying. Or if it was somebody else, I'd say this is what they were saying. As a journalist, as a reporter, you want to write stories based on fact when you know it's fact, but because of the secrecy of justice law in Portugal, you had to do it in a different way, an unsatisfactory way, but the only way you could do it, which was to say, "I don't know that this is fact, but this is what people are saying about these different things".
LJL : Yes, well, I think we've probably done that point. Thank you.

Discussion re procedure
Mr Dingemans : May I ask some questions?
LJL : Yes, you may. Just before you do, Mr Dingemans, I think Mr Sherborne also wants to. I think you would probably rather ask after Mr Sherborne. What's the topic, Mr Sherborne?

Mr Sherborne : Sir the topic is really one of the topics that you raised in the questions you asked Mr Pilditch. It's in paragraph 24 of his witness statement, and it refers to his assessment, if I can put it that way, of the police files. You've heard Mr Pilditch say more than once now that the police files have revealed that the articles he was writing were truthful and accurate, and I'd like to pick him up on that comment and take him through one or two of the articles to demonstrate how that's simply incorrect.
LJL : But I don't think he's quite saying that and I don't think we need to go too much into the facts. As I understand what you're saying, as I understand what the witness said, he was accurately reporting that which the police were thinking; he wasn't accurately reporting that which the police could actually prove, because that's not what the police were telling him.


Mr Sherborne :  What he says in his statement, sir, is: "Under the Portuguese system, the authorities released the official police file ..." Then he refers to the documents in there, then says: "Through the release of those documents and subsequent legal actions in Portugal it is now a matter of public record that the reports I was writing between September 2007 and January 2008 were truthful and accurate." So that is a fairly sweeping statement and it is one which, very simply, can be demonstrated to be untruthful and inaccurate, and I would ask you to be able to do so. I can do it, as I say, relatively shortly, and then there are one or two supplemental questions I'd like to ask him on behalf of Dr Kate and Dr Gerry McCann.
MrD : Sir, may I make submissions to my learned friend about whether this is appropriate?
LJL : You may, but I think, in the light of my understanding of the evidence of this witness, the truthfulness and accuracy is not intended to reflect the facts as revealed by the evidence, but as revealed by the police concerns.
DP : Yes.
LJL : But you can ask that question and then -- I mean, nobody is suggesting, and he certainly isn't suggesting, as I understand the witness, that any of the allegations in relation to DNA or in relation to these other features are established by the facts in the record; merely, as I understood it, by what the police believed, even though they couldn't prove a single word of it.
MrS : Indeed. I don't think Mr Pilditch could possibly suggest for one minute that they were true.
LJL : Yes.
MrS : But what he does suggest is that there were documents and other material in the police file which support the truth of what he was saying the police were saying, if I can put it that way. And that is simply incorrect. I can demonstrate that by three articles, and I can do it very quickly.
LJL : Right, let me hear what Mr Dingemans says about that.
MrD : Sir, the whole purpose of your Inquiry is inquisitorial. It is at this stage not going into dissent of adversarial fact-finding matters. There has been no notice from this core participant. Contrast a matter when we wanted to raise questions of his witnesses, we would put them through counsel to the Inquiry, and we respectfully submit that you would permit this whole Inquiry to be hijacked into fact-finding matters which are not suitable for this stage of this process.


LJL : I understand the point, but I have raised concerns, as you heard at the very end of the witness's evidence.
MrD : Yes.
LJL : The witness has made it clear the limit of his reporting. It's probably not going to advance the customs, practice and ethics analysis to look at whether the way in which the allegations dribbled out of the Portuguese police were picked up and reported, but on the other hand, in the same way that I've been content for various core participants to stand up and make a correcting statement simply so that the public domain -- so there isn't a misleading impression given, I don't think it's appropriate to prevent Mr Sherborne from doing that, and maybe he can do it by way of statement, because I've got the evidence of the witness on the topic. But to cut it out entirely runs the risk of leaving a potentially unfair picture. But whether it goes to customs, practise and ethics, I take your point.


MrD : My other point is questions to this witness. There's been no notice that he was going to be asked questions on behalf of this core participant. I have no problems, and, sir, it's entirely up to you whether you permit people to make statements, but in our submission there shouldn't be a practice of standing up to ask questions simply because they want to ask further details when there's been no notice to the relevant witness.
LJL : Well, I don't know whether this is a topic which Mr Sherborne informed Mr Jay about.
MrD : He didn't, according to the information I have.
LJL : I certainly required all core participants to do that, so that we could make a decision, and I think that was the approach that I adopted.
MrD : Sir, that's only my point on this point. The only reason for objecting is if one is trying to prepare fairly witnesses for what may happen and then people decide to pick up points that they haven't decided or bothered to notify to counsel to the Inquiry.
LJL : All right. Well, Mr Sherborne, that seems a not unfair point.
MrS : Can I deal with that point before I deal with my substantive one, and that's this. You'll appreciate that this witness statement was only provided I think to us yesterday afternoon. That's the first I saw of this witness statement.


LJL : I'd be very surprised, but --
MrD : It was provided to the Inquiry two weeks ago. I can't talk about my learned friend.
MrS : It may have been provided to the Inquiry two weeks ago, I did not see it until yesterday afternoon. 
LJL : All right.
MrS : But that perhaps is a point of lesser importance. A point of greater importance is that this paragraph 24 was a matter that only was raised by you, sir, in your question to Mr Pilditch, and that's when he relied on it to positively reinforce the fact that what he had published by way of reports of what the police were saying was truthful and accurate, having had sight of the Portuguese police file. That is why I stand to ask those questions.
LJL : No, no, Mr Sherborne, that doesn't work, because, as you will know, the statement would be going on the Internet in any event, so it's a public document for all to see, and if the point had to be made, the point was going to be made as soon as you read it, even if it was only last night.

MrS : Sir, when a witness seeks to reinforce evidence he's given in response to a question you've asked, it assumes far more importance than it would do in the pages of the witness statement that have been provided.
LJL : Identify to me your three examples, please.
MrS : Sir, I can do it by way of a speech. 
LJL : No, I don't want you to make a speech. I want you to identify the three examples.
MrS : The three examples are firstly, and they're examples that -- I tried to pick on examples as Mr Jay was going through, which are not the same articles. October 1, 2007, which is an article -- I don't have the exhibits, so I can't tell you the page. It's entitled "Now police say she fell down the steps: the hunt for Madeleine". It's one that Mr Pilditch co-wrote with Mr Evans, but on this occasion, since his name comes first, I assume he will accept that he was responsible for it.
LJL : Let's just see it. I'm concerned with the facts so that an impression should be -- an incorrect impression should be put right. So 1 October, did you say?


MrS : Yes: "Now police say she fell down the steps" is the front page headline, "The hunt for Madeleine". And the opening words are: "Madeleine McCann's parents faced new smears yesterday after it was reported their daughter died falling downstairs. It is claimed Portuguese police are 100 per cent certain Madeleine was killed in an accident at her family's holiday apartment and Kate and Gerry covered up the tragedy."
LJL : Right?
MrS : "The theory is Madeleine, four, wandered out, stumbled" --
LJL : All right, but what's the point?
MrS : The point is this: there is nothing in the Portuguese police file to suggest that Madeleine had been harmed in any way.
LJL : Yes, but --
MrS : There is also --
LJL : But are you able to say that the police were not putting that out?
MrS : There is nothing in the police file which suggests that the police had found evidence that Madeleine had been harmed in any way.
LJL : Yes. My question was rather different. Are you able to say that the police didn't put that out?


MrS : What I'm able to say is there is no suggestion the police were putting that out in the police file.
LJL : All right.


MrS : That's why I say this is not about disproving that the articles were true or that the facts suggested were true because it's not even stated they are. It's about disproving that there was evidence or that the police were suggesting there was evidence to support these allegations. And there is nothing in the police files to suggest the police were suggesting that. If one turns then to 17 October, this is a point that was raised not in relation to this article, this article is Mr Pilditch's article alone, entitled "Parents' car hid a corpse. 'It was under carpet in boot', say police", and refers to the DNA evidence.
LJL : Yes.
MrS : It's right to say that there is nothing in the police files to suggest that Madeleine's DNA was found in the car. Indeed, as the police files show, and as Mr Pilditch would know, the McCanns only hired the car after Madeleine had disappeared.
LJL : Yes, but that's the same point about the conclusive/inconclusive DNA, isn't it?


MrS : It's a similar point, but as I say, what the police files show is that no DNA of Madeleine was ever found in the car, so there's nothing in the police files to support the suggestion that DNA of hers was found, which is what is stated in the article.
LJL : All right, and the third point?
MrS : And the third for example relates to one that I think Mr Jay did take Mr Pilditch to, which is the priest bans Madeleine, the 12 December article. It relate to this. I don't know whether you have that article.
LJL : Yes.
MrS : It refers to the investigators becoming convinced that Kate had confessed to the priest, and of course again there is nothing in the police file to say that Kate McCann had confessed to the priest. Indeed, the witness statement of the priest makes perfectly plain, and that is in the police file, that no such confession was given.
LJL : All right, I understand the point. Thank you. Mr Pilditch, I am going to ask you the question in this way: you've obviously seen this entire file.
DP : I've seen it some time ago. I have seen it.
LJL : Well, you can consider over the -- no, I won't ask you to do that.
DP : Could I just say something in relation to this?
LJL : All right.
DP : It's not just the police file that I'm referring to here. I'm talking about statements that have been made in courts, and in fact the chief -- the head of the police inquiry has written a book, and I'm talking about a whole series of different sources of information that are now in the public domain --
LJL : Oh, well, then --
DP : -- that weren't in the public domain at that time. It's not just the police file in isolation I'm talking about.
LJL : Then actually your sentence is quite wrong in paragraph 24, because your sentence in paragraph 24 says: "Through the release of those documents [that's the police file] and subsequent legal actions in Portugal, it's now a matter of public record that the reports I'm writing were truthful and accurate."
DP : Yes.
MrD : Sir, the legal action was concerned to put -- My learned friend Mr Sherborne was seeking to cross-examine on a false premise anyway, because he's ignored the legal actions.


LJL : I've got the point. But more significantly it's, as I expressed the view, slightly dependent upon the brief that Mr Pilditch was fulfilling the extent to which decisions thereafter were made,which were appropriate. Right. I understand the point.

MrS : With respect, sir, I wasn't allowed to cross-examine. If I had cross-examined, it would not have been on a false premise.
LJL : I'm not going to get into the issue between you and Mr Dingemans. I'm not going to go down the route of trying to unpick what one Portuguese police officer said, either in a book or in a legal proceedings or in the record. Everybody is agreed that there is absolutely no foundation at all for the allegation that emerged throughout the public hearing throughout the press at this time, that Dr and Dr McCann were involved in any way in any inappropriate conduct in relation to the disappearance of their daughter. So that doesn't need to be established for me and in the same way that I wasn't going to go into what happened in relation to the City Slickers column, this is very much a side issue. I understand the point, and I understand the reason why it is very important for your clients to make that position critically clear, and I am happy to emphasise it and I am sure that Mr Dingemans wouldn't want to say anything to the contrary, and he is nodding, so I put that into the record. But further than that I simply don't consider it necessary to go. If I say, because of my natural sympathy for Dr and Dr McCann, that it's appropriate, then actually I have opened a door which I cannot prevent other people from seeking to examine in different ways and I haven't sufficient requirement to go into these areas to justify it.
MrS : Sir, I accept that. It is simply this. You need to consider, obviously, in terms of the culture, practices and ethics of the press, whether it was responsible or, as one might say, utterly irresponsible to publish this kind of information.
LJL : I think you'll find that the question I asked was designed to that very issue.
MrS : I understand that, but it is the statement you've seen in paragraph 24 of the way in which it's being said these stories were being put together that is necessary to be tested and that's why I asked for it to be tested in the way I did.
LJL : I understand. Right. Thank you very much, we'll resume at 2.05 pm.