Leveson Report Published
The 29th of November 2012 AD
Our free press is a significant part of the British way of life – in the oft-repeated phrase ‘speaking truth to power’; testing political words and actions for cant and corruption; investigating and probing wherever abuses are suspected. Sadly certain rogue elements of that free press were found to have committed serious abuses themselves, including notoriously hacking into the voicemail messages of the murdered Milly Dowler, the most blatant and disgusting invasion of privacy among many – as the testimony of Hugh Grant , Heather Mills, and others made clear.
Such abuses prompted David Cameron in the summer of 2011 to establish an enquiry led by Lord Justice Leveson to investigate press relations with the public, politicians, and the police.
The proceedings and results of the enquiry were published on November 29 2012 in a four-volume 2000 page document.
Having found that many sections of the press ignored their own code, committed gross invasions of privacy, made in some cases the experiences of already devastated victims of crime or personal tragedy far far worse, Leveson tried to identify the means to correct that culture.
The main finding of Lord Leveson was that a truly independent body be established to regulate the press, with legislation behind it to provide authority; the Press Complaints Commission peopled by editors and others with mutual and vested interests having failed. In the same light he found that an arbitration system should be set up to push the press to deal properly with complaints, court actions being potentially ruinously expensive for most individuals. This arbitration to be legally binding.
Secondly Leveson stated that the over-cosy relationship between the press and politicians for at least 30 years had not worked in the public interest, the last Labour administration particularly prone to such incestuous relations. In spite of this finding, and contrary to many expectations, no individual recent cases of such cosiness were highlighted. The police, who for too long stood by the ‘one rogue phone hacker’ line in what began to seem like a defence of the indefensible, similarly in general escaped criticism.
Although previously David Cameron had stated he would implement Leveson’s recommendations unless they were in his word ‘bonkers’, 90 minutes after they were released for general consumption he apparently rejected in the Commons the idea of legal backing for press regulation, saying: "We should be wary of any legislation that has the potential to infringe free speech and the free press." Amazingly Mr Cameron thus seemed keen to find the press a last chance saloon open after hours.
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From Nick on 29th November 2012
Good of Ed, Nick and Harriet to immediately turn it into something party political......