A former News of the World sports reporter who received a bullying compensation settlement worth almost £800,000 has said his choice to take on his bosses “finished” his career.
Matt Driscoll, who was diagnosed with severe depression in 2006, told the Leveson Inquiry this afternoon he could not “imagine any editor wanting to snap me up tomorrow.”
“I am the guy who has taken on the bosses,” he said.
Driscoll worked on the paper’s sports desk from 1997 to 2007, when he was sacked. An employment tribunal found in 2009 that the paper had discriminated against him on grounds of his disability and that the editor had presided over a culture of bullying at the redtop. He was awarded £792,736 in compensation.
He said his illness was “entirely” due to the treatment of the News of the World, and noted his doctor had advised he “distance” himself from the paper. Driscoll described receiving daily calls from the paper and being told his pay would be stalled if he sought advice from an independent doctor rather than a company nurse.
Driscoll had received a tip that Arsenal football club would play in a claret-coloured strip, though the team dismissed the claim. Some months later the story appeared in the Sun. “I received a phone call from my sports editor to say ‘we’re dead’,” Driscoll said.
He said “power corrupts” some editors, with their egos allowed to “run wild” and that some had “lost touch with reality”.
“Editors were under even more pressure than proprietors to make sure their readership stayed at a certain level,” he added. “That pressure passed down.”
Of journalism, he said, “you work at a certain level of stress but you are almost at saturation point.”
He said he had no direct involvement with phone hacking, but added that “it was known throughout the whole of Fleet Street that news reporters or feature writers could obtain mobile phone messages.”
He said any suggestion of stories being fabricated at the paper were “absolutely crazy”, claiming the litigation costs would be too high to risk.
The Inquiry continues tomorrow, and will include evidence from Piers Morgan, former editor of the Daily Mirror and the News of the World, who’ll be appearing via satellite; the paper’s former TV editor Sharron Marshall; Farrer & Co partner Julian Pike, and Steve Turner, who represented Matt Driscoll during his tribunal.
Follow Index on Censorship’s coverage of the Leveson Inquiry on Twitter – @IndexLeveson.