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The Leveson Enquiry


peterms
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Have i also missed any comments re leveson anywhere on vt? How can cameron just reject it because it doesn't suit his friends n the media?

Think you answered your own question there. It won't work. He's drowning, now.

New topic formed from comments in other topics, so first page or so may not be easy to follow but it did deserve its own topic

Edited by bickster
Merged comments from New Condem Govt and Murdoch Scum to form new topic
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Why has Cameron totally ballsed up on Leveson?

The more I hear, the more it seems that everyone is ballsing up on Leveson.

Overall, it shows the paucity of political debate in this country that the report almost gets rewritten in the minds of one side before it is published and the other side take the position that the people on the wrong ends of criminal and/or unethical acts are those in the best position to decide the suitability of proposals to address that unethical behaviour.

Edit: I wonder whether the brouhaha will last for at least the 10 weeks of 'consultation' time on mnimum alcohol unit pricing and the government (and some opposition politicians) will get away with peddling the '20p can of lager' line.

Edit 2: Too many peoples.

Edited by snowychap
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Re Levesen I agree with Snowy in that everyone appears to have ballsed up

but apart from the obvious link , backing state controlled media should sit ill at ease with anyone , and I suspect Ed and Nick are more about trying to distance themselves from Murdoch than any real desire to do what's right

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...state controlled media...

Is that what Leveson has proposed or how those from Cameron to Kaufman (by way of Kelvin Mackenzie, Neil Wallis and others) are trying to reposition it in the minds of the public?

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Re Levesen I agree with Snowy in that everyone appears to have ballsed up

but apart from the obvious link , backing state controlled media should sit ill at ease with anyone , and I suspect Ed and Nick are more about trying to distance themselves from Murdoch than any real desire to do what's right

But that is just following the Tory line there Tony.

The issue is a simple one here in that the Gvmt who commissioned this enquiry have now dismissed its findings (or agreed with it depending on what time of day it is) becuase it seemingly does not fit in with its own agenda. How exactly is that good for all concerned? The use of the phrase "backing state controlled media" is a terrible one to use because that is not what is being suggested at all but allows for the notion of Big Brother which is what some Tory supporters and their backers would have you believe.

Leveson has shown up a lot of failings in the media especially and the way that politicians (of all parties) play to the tune of certain people. That is far more worrying than anything that Levenson is proposing. Cameron is failing (again) to deliver leadership over this and it's not surprising especially when a lot of what can be called his key backers / supporters will lose influence if ever Leveson was to be implemented

Edit: I see that another of Cameron's previous statements has come back to bite him when he said on the Marr programme "that he would implement Leveson's recommendations unless they were "bonkers"" - he really does fail so often when you look back at what garbage comes from his mouth.

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But that is just following the Tory line there Tony.

as opposed to following the labour line ;)

thing is my view would be consistent , i don't want my media controlled by the state .... true I don't want it hacking into dead peoples phones either but state control is not the solution

Re Snowy's comment , the state control line seems to have been used quite a lot on the radio discussions I've heard , where the term originates from I couldn't really say ... as to the truthfulness of that , I was going by people like Milliband using the word "statutory regulation" .. which I took to mean State control , I could have misunderstood the meaning though

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Re Snowy's comment , the state control line seems to have been used quite a lot on the radio discussions I've heard...

Exactly.

It has been used and repeated such that you (not meaning to pick on you specifically as I'm sure it applies to any number of people listening to the public 'debate') have taken Miliband's comments about statutory regulation to mean state control.

What we've had is Cameron talking about a Rubicon being crossed (I preferred Farron's comment about it being 'a Brook' ;-)) and suggesting that any underpinning of the regulator may well lead to a nightmare scenario (that may be true but let's actually debate it rather than claim that it needs to be debated but knowing full well that the hints he is going on to make are likely to make that very difficult); then we've had others who are also against some of Leveson's proposals (like Rees-Mogg, Kaufman, McKenzie, Wallis et al) jumping straight to a line about state control.

Now we're in a situation where the politicial class are resorting to type and defending entrenched positions rather than appreciating that the proposals Leveson has put forward ought to be a starting point on a road to getting somewhere (by asking what statutory underpinning may mean in practice, whether it would be a de facto licensing (a question only seemingly being asked by Andrew Neil), whether all of this will be relevant in a decade anyway and so on).

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Re Snowy's comment , the state control line seems to have been used quite a lot on the radio discussions I've heard , where the term originates from I couldn't really say ... as to the truthfulness of that , I was going by people like Milliband using the word "statutory regulation" .. which I took to mean State control , I could have misunderstood the meaning though

The confusion is wholly due to the smokescreen put up by the press to obscure what is being proposed.

It is a deliberate, cynical, mendacious twisting of the truth to create a false impression, and invent a threat which isn't there.

In that respect, I suppose it's pretty consistent with the behaviour of the press which has led to this.

Leveson's explanation as reported in the Telegraph.

He said: “There must be change. But let me say this very clearly. Not a single witness proposed that either Government or politicians all of whom the press hold to account, should be involved in the regulation of the press. Neither would I make any such proposal.”

The High Court judge insisted that a new independent regulator, with the power to fine newspapers up to £1 million for breaching an agreed code of standards, could only work if it was underpinned by legislation.

He has suggested that the press should decide how the new watchdog should work, with a legal framework “to support press freedom, provide stability and guarantee for the public that this new body is independent and effective”.

He added: “This is not, and cannot reasonably or fairly be characterised as statutory regulation of the press.”

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I agree with the gist of this, and the warning about some of the catches of what LJL proposed

Ian Hislop in the Independent

Private Eye
wasn’t criticised in Lord Leveson’s report into press misbehaviour. We have spent decades pointing out exactly these sorts of excesses in our press column, “The Street of Shame”, and our campaign against the influence of Rupert Murdoch goes back to
Paul Foot
and the earliest days of the magazine.

375]

So it’s somewhat ironic the new regulator would demand that Private Eye become a participant, and if we didn’t and were involved in a libel case not only would there be exemplary damages awarded against us for failing to join the regulator, but we would have to pay the costs even if won!

Sensible

Private Eye is not signed up to the
Press Complaints Commission
. Leveson’s proposals would mean that if we didn’t join voluntarily his new independent regulator we would be regulated by the state appointed regulator Ofcom. The reward for not having fallen foul of the judge’s investigation would be that we would have to be told what to do by someone appointed by David Cameron. Given that the criticism of Cameron was the most feeble piece of Leveson’s report, I’m not quite sure why we should then answer to the Prime Minister’s appointee.

Quite a lot of Leveson is perfectly sensible. In the evidence
I gave to the Inquiry
I said that one of the problem with the PCC was that it was stuffed full of representatives from the press who Private Eye had been rude about. Any regulator should be properly independent and not full of either members of the press or politicians – and the judge has taken that on board.

He seems to be sympathetic to a public interest defence and he has also listened to the point that the regulator shouldn’t stop publication in advance, so the old principle of “publish and be damned” would still hold. But there are less convincing things in it too. The idea that if people think that the press is being too intrusive they can ask the regulator to stop it – what if they are being persistent about an inquiry that is entirely legitimate?

Prosecute

However the point I was trying to make at the inquiry, is why can’t we just enforce the laws? The ones we already have against phone hacking, harassment, libel, bribery etc etc. For instance Leveson is very critical of the
treatment of Christopher Jefferies
but I don’t understand why the Attorney General couldn’t have rung the editors of the papers concerned that morning to say “Stop! This is contempt of court.” Why not prosecute those editors?

If the reason is because the Attorney General’s boss is the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister is too close to the newspaper proprietors, then that in itself is a perfectly good argument not to have state regulation because the politicians can’t be trusted. In so many of the appalling cases that have turned the public mood against the press it seems to me there is a failing not only by the press but by the police and the legal establishment.

The report’s not “bonkers” but I don’t like the principle that it is under-pinned by the state and I don’t like the idea that all significant news providers are
answerable to Ofcom
. Maybe I will have to declare the Eye “insignificant”.

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I think that the reasonable and reasoned comments above are going to be the things that are bypassed in the fallout from Leveson and it's a real shame because it indicates that the political class don't really care about solutions (and by extension the problems that require them).

Almost immediately the aftermath of the publication has become a polarized, politicized nonsense, which is the point that I was trying to make in the ConDem thread (and I hope that Tony got that I wasn't on about him but the discussion in general).

We should be having a proper, sensible debate on Leveson's proposals; Hislop's position (and the why behind it) ought to be an example to others.

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Hislop's track record in fighting for freedom of information, exposing corruption, and nailing wrongdoers over many years requires that his arguments are taken seriously. He is not some rich **** arguing to be allowed to use wealth to stifle opposition, like the Murdochs, the Barclay brothers and the rest. He deserves a great deal of respect.

But he makes two weak arguments in the piece Blandy quoted.

First, he argues that Private Eye has not done the things criticised by Leveson (which is true) and that it (and by extension others) should therefore not be required to join or submit to a regulatory body (or be penalised for not doing so); he says that if papers go too far, there are laws to deal with that, and they should be enforced. But as he must know, very many of the abuses practised by the press are not criminal offences, and the only way the law would deal with them is if you have the wealth of Lord McAlpine and chums to bring private actions. It must be clear to anyone who has seen some of the evidence considered by Leveson that although the criminal law was not enforced when it should have been (probably due to downright corruption, or else cosy relationships between police and press), there is also a vast area of abuse which simply saying "Take legal action" won't solve.

So regulation to deal with this area is required.

The question then becomes whether regulation should apply only to outlets which have a track record of abuse, or everyone. It's a bit of a false question, because almost by definition, regulation covers everyone in a given field, and the alternative of not regulating but instead taking legal action is exactly what has been comprehensively shown not to work, over the course of many decades, because most people don't have in practice adequate access to law. Regulation could work. So could a radical change in how law works, who gets access to it, and how that is funded. Something which doesn't include either, won't work.

In any area where there is regulation, it will impose costs of compliance on everyone, good and bad. It is timeconsuming, can be bureaucratic, and can be applied woodenly and obstructively. But time and again, in things like producing food, running factories, managing care homes, offering professional services, delivering childcare, we have found that prosecuting wrongdoers after the event is not as good as trying to head off the worst excesses before they happen. In no area where there is regulation do we say that only those who seem to need it shall be subject to it, as far as I can see. It either covers a field, or it doesn't.

Hislop's argument would be stronger if he could show how ordinary people could be enabled to use the law to get redress, in the absence of regulation. This would likely require extending legal aid (it's being cut right now) and developing a number of skilled and effective advocates able to tackle the press barons on equal terms. It seems unlikely. I think his argument is based too much on his own circumstances, and would work well for him, but leave the rest of us in the same unacceptable position we're in now.

Second, he runs together "underpinned by the state", "state regulation", and "appointed by the prime minister". This is nonsense, and he must know it. Leveson's proposal as far as I understand it is that the state should require there to be a regulator, and should set the standards of independence and robustness which the regulator must achieve, because voluntary efforts to do this have produced only a token, powerless poodle, run by the odious Paul Dacre and taken seriously by literally no-one. State regulation is the state regulating, not the state requiring that there be an effective regulator. He must know the difference. He must also know that it's quite possible for the chair, CE, board or whatever not to be the subject of political appointment.

Hislop has good points to make about possible shortcomings in Leveson's case. But he needs to make better points than he has here.

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I'm decidedly on the 'freedom' side. Enforce the laws as they stand, and have an independent regulatory body to make sure the press/police/politicians don't have eachothers interests at heart i.e they aren't paying eachother to keep quiet.

Leveson didn't say state regulation though, so whoever is reporting that needs a bit of a slap

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So even someone working with Leveson doesn't agree with his proposals

Ms Chakrabarti,the director of civil rights group Liberty, warned that Lord Justice Leveson’s proposal for an independent regulatory body backed up in law could have "serious unintended consequences".

She said: "In a democracy, regulation of the press and imposing standards on it must be voluntary. A compulsory statute to regulate media ethics in the way the report suggests would violate the Act, and I cannot support it."

She said Labour leader Ed Miliband had been "hasty" in supporting the recommendations unveiled earlier this week.

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So even someone working with Leveson doesn't agree with his proposals

That's from the Mail, also being repeated by others.

This is from Twitter:

Hugh Grant@HackedOffHugh

Had croissants with Shami Chakrabarti at #marr. Her first words were "I was stitched up by Mail this morning, tweet that & pass the coffee"

Looks like a bit of clarification is needed.

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She may have been stitched up by the loathesome Mail, but that doesn't deter from the fact that she wrote in the Independent that she supported the main proposals, but is against the one on statutory press regulation.

“Leveson's main proposal makes sense for the public, press and politicians alike.

“The press sets up a robust body - independent of Government and serving editors - and earns legal protections from needless challenges in court. The public gets confidence of greater access to justice and redress when things go wrong.

“What nobody needs and Liberty cannot support is any last-resort compulsory statutory press regulation - coming at too high a price in a free society.”

Ms Chakrabarti, a member of the six-strong panel of assessors, wrote in The Independent yesterday: "The Prime Minister is right to be concerned about any Government-appointed body 'supervising' the independent regulator. That would bring about the danger of political control by the back door. It is unnecessary and must be resisted. Furthermore, the report contains a last-ditch alternative of compulsory statutory regulation, should the press be unwilling to implement his proposed scheme. Again, the Prime Minister is right to reject this unacceptable plan B, which Liberty would be unable to support."....

.....Ms Chakrabarti's dissent is buried in the small print of the Leveson report. On page 1,775, where the judge recommends that Ofcom, which is a statutory body and reports to ministers, is given new powers to oversee a new press regulator, a footnote reveals that the Liberty director is opposed to this key principle – seen inside No 10 as one of the key "Rubicon", or red-line, issues.

The footnote reads: "Shami Chakrabarti has advised that she prefers this role to be fulfilled by the court but I do not see how the court, of its own motion, could adopt an adjudicative role in relation to certification or subsequent review."

One way out of it is to do what Max Mosely says

.. the press that knows its own business, and should set its rules. To my mind, the issue was how to enforce those rules once they are set, and surely it's fair enough for that not to be done by journalists. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the politicians to see the full subtlety of what Leveson has done. They may come to realise that what Leveson is proposing will not have an impact on the freedom of the press. It will just mean the abuses of the past will no longer be possible. At the moment they are all missing the point."
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She may have been stitched up by the loathesome Mail, but that doesn't deter from the fact that she wrote in the Independent that she supported the main proposals, but is against the one on statutory press regulation.

There is no proposal on statutory regulation.

The issue is discussed in a part of the report which does not include recommendations, in considering what might be done if the press fail to establish a properly independent body. In that eventuality, Leveson notes that there might be a call for legislation to establish such a body. Chakrabarti's point is that, in such an eventuality, Liberty would not support legislation. She, and Liberty, don't as far as I can see say what should be done in that case.

The idea that she is dissenting from a key recommendation in the report is false. It is a lie spread by the press, to create the impression that there is disagreement on the way forward even among the key advisers. It's not a great start, if they are trying to make us believe that they have turned over a new leaf.

She has now clarified her position.

LIBERTY NEWS

Liberty, Leveson and the culture, practice and ethics of the press

2 December 2012

Author: Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty

Regrettably, confusing reports in today's media (Sunday 2 December) about Liberty's position on the Leveson Report make this statement necessary and that Report all the more important. Law and regulation is a complex area at the best of times and clarity is difficult when emotions run as high as they inevitably do on the vital issues of precious press freedom on the one hand and abuse of power and violations of privacy on the other.

1. The Leveson Report recommends a robust independent self-regulation of the press of a kind that has not been provided or suggested by the industry up to now. Liberty is in complete agreement with the Judge's view of the necessary characteristics of such a body whose board must be independent of current editors, owners and politicians. It must set and promote ethical standards, handle complaints and crucially offer a swift and cheap alternative to court action for members of the public whose rights (e.g. privacy and reputation) have been violated. No statute is needed to create such a body and editors and proprietors should take the Leveson characteristics and seek to build one without delay.

2. Whilst the general level of damages in privacy cases should go up to protect victims from unscrupulous outlets, ethical publishers who set up, join and comply with such an independent body should be rewarded in the context of costs and damages in any court action that they nonetheless face. Liberty thinks it arguable that such rewards could be achieved immediately by way of civil procedure and judicial discretion, but would be perfectly content with a simple statute offering greater certainty and protection to those publications who took the trouble to join and comply with an independent regulatory body.

3. On the issue of who decides whether a body does or does not comply with the Leveson characteristics (which could be set out in a statute), both Leveson LJ and Liberty agree that this will ultimately be a judgment for the courts. However whilst the Judge believes that a primary expert decision should be made by a body such as OfCom, subject to Judicial Review, Liberty would rather leave the question of whether the tests are met to the courts and not involve a quango which is ultimately appointed by politicians. This is a detail that the Judge clearly and graciously footnoted in his Report in the context of Liberty's Director's role as one of his assessors.

4. Leveson does not recommend compulsory statutory regulation of the press and Liberty believes that he is right not to do so. However, he moots the very difficult question of what would happen if all or significant portions of the press failed to rise to the challenge of his Report and create and support a sufficiently robust and independent body. He reflects on (without recommending) the possibility that parliament and the public might feel the need to impose some level of compulsory statutory regulation on outlets that refused to play their part. It is this alternative that Liberty cannot support and which would in our view, breach Article 10 of the ECHR and Human Rights Act. As this last-ditch alternative is not even a recommendation of the Report, it is misleading to suggest that Liberty or its director is in any way dropping a "bombshell" on the Lord Justice's Report, not least as this position was clearly footnoted in it.

5.Liberty remains a cross-party non-party human rights organisation and has remarked on the haste with which all political party leaders have formed their positions on such a long and detailed Report (whether in appearing to rule out any legislative action or in endorsing every dot and comma without further debate).

One way out of it is to do what Max Mosely says

Mosley similarly doesn't say what should be done if the press fail to agree rules and have them enforced by an independent body.

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That's from the Mail, also being repeated by others.

This is from Twitter:

Hugh Grant@HackedOffHugh

Had croissants with Shami Chakrabarti at #marr. Her first words were "I was stitched up by Mail this morning, tweet that & pass the coffee"

Looks like a bit of clarification is needed.

Tbf I read it on the impartial Sky web site :winkold:

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There was a good cartoon in one of the papers this week. A man in a suit holding a doccument as thick as a telephone book over his head (clearly the Leverson report) while a small blue bird, not unlike the Twitter logo shat on him from above.

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