After nearly 17 months and £5 million, Lord Justice Leveson has finally published his report on the press culture in the UK. If you don’t want to spend your time going through the 4 volumes, you can either go through the summarised version here, or just take the hint from Stewart Purvis’s 70 word summary below:
Leveson: “The press – but not politicians or the police – have been very naughty boys. Your ‘independent regulation’ plan is useless – adopt mine. I can help you cut your libel bills via an arbitration arm but we need a law to make this happen.”
Cameron: “I like the ‘Leveson principles’ but not a Leveson law.”
Clegg: “I like them both.”
Cameron: “Let’s have another debate to get me off this hook.”
After everyone had their say, Cameron said he was giving the press two weeks to get their ideas together and start coming up with a plan for a better regulatory body. Predictably, nothing seems to have happened except bickering and people resigning.
One thing the media does seem to agree on is the idea that statutory regulation would hinder their right to freedom of speech. However, considering the ideas would be to stop them invading peoples’ privacy, harassing innocent people, printing libelous stories, and generally breaking laws already in place, it seems a pretty transparent attempt to grasp any public sympathy they can get.
The fact is the press have been able to get away with breaking several laws and ruining people lives for goodness knows how long, bend the ears of politicians and police alike, and generally get away with it. The Press Complaints Commission have been effectively useless in doing anything, and without a proper independent regulatory commission, backed by solid laws, there’s still no-one to stop them. The idea that we are just leaving the law breaking corrupt press to keep themselves in check is madness.
I expect over the next few months, we’ll hear more bickering, more resignations, and disapproving clucks from the government. Eventually, some lightweight commission will be set up that’ll look remarkably like the PCC, and we’ll return to the status quo, albeit a more secretive and guarded one, and that’s just sad.
What are your thoughts on the fallout of the Leveson Report? Leave them in the comments below.
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See you Sunday