Leveson Report: Analysis

 
Lord Justice Leveson holds a summary of his report Lord Leveson recommends a new independent system of press regulation

For editors, publishers and - not least - newspaper proprietors, this is a damning report.

Lord Justice Leveson not only recommends statutory 'underpinning' for a new independent system of press regulation - rejecting the industry's own proposal for a new body as "not going nearly far enough" to demonstrate independence from publishers.

He also delivers withering verdicts on the behaviour of many journalists and editors, "wholly rejecting" the suggestion that these are "aberrations and do not reflect on the culture, practices or ethics of the press as a whole"

He says parts of the press acted as if its own code simply did not exist and "wreaked havoc" with the lives of innocent people. Ordinary members of the public, caught up in tragic events, had their experiences "made much much worse by press behaviour that, at times, can only be called outrageous".

He goes on: "There has been a recklessness in prioritising sensational stories, almost irrespective of the harm that the stories may cause and the rights of those who would be affected, like the Dowlers, the McCanns and Abigail Witchalls."

Lord Justice Leveson is particularly critical of the publishers of the News of the World, over their response to the conviction of the paper's royal correspondent for hacking into phone messages.

He writes: "Most corporate entities would be appalled that employees were involved in the commission of crime in order to further their business. Not so at the News of the World. When the police sought to execute a warrant, they were confronted and driven off by the staff of the newspaper."

But it wasn't only the News of the World that behaved unethically, he says: "Too many stories in too many newspapers were the subject of complaints from too many people, with too little in the way of titles taking responsibility or considering the consequences for the individuals involved."

There had been a "reckless disregard for accuracy."

So how does he propose it should be put right?

Lord Justice Leveson says the Press Complaints Commission has failed and must be replaced. Newspapers should not be allowed "to mark their own homework".

He says: "The press needs to establish a new regulatory body, which is truly independent of industry leaders and of government and politicians. It must promote high standards of journalism and protect both the public interest and the rights of individuals. The chair and other members of the body must be independent and appointed by a fair and open process."

He says the new body would handle complaints and there could be sanctions for papers that broke the code, including the power to levy fines of up to 1% of a paper's turnover, to a maximum of £1m

But - and this is where his proposal will be opposed by many newspapers - he also says it must be set up by law: "There should be legislation to underpin the independent self-regulatory system."

He says the new law would enshrine for the first time a legal duty on the government to protect the freedom of the press, and provide an independent process to recognise the new self-regulatory body.

In the "regrettable event" that any major publisher refused to join such a scheme, he suggests that one option would be for Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, to act as a backstop regulator, though he does not recommend this.

Lord Justice Leveson insists that "this is not, and cannot be characterised, as statutory regulation of the press".

But one newspaper senior executive I've spoken to says "this is sophistry".

The press will continue to oppose the state having any role in its regulation. This is where the political battle lines will now be drawn.

 
Torin Douglas Article written by Torin Douglas Torin Douglas Former media correspondent

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 58.

    One day we will get politicians who acctually act in the public interest.... in my dreams

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 57.

    NOTHING will change. The Tories are too afraid of Rupert Murdoch and his Empire. All this taxpayer's money has been wasted.

    The most important thing we can do is make it illegal for one person or one company to own more than 25% of news media in the UK at any time. Unfortunately the Tories won't bite the hand that feeds.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 56.

    If the government struggles over Privacy Bill they should ask the French government for help. They produced good privacy law for the people of France.

    Lord Leveson sadly did not robustly address the core needs for those people violated by British media. Radical reform is is so overdue!

    When will PM Cameron resign for being inappropriately close to the mire of NI?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 55.

    I think the findings miss the point, we have laws that protect people from intimidation and harassment, so why were they not used and if that is the case who is letting them get away with it? Press regulation is not the way forward but a shake up of our legal system that lets people off. The press have behaved this way because there are people who are turning a blind eye and that needs to stop.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 54.

    @46 Linds
    Some years ago I read a press 'expose' about someone I actually knew fairly well. It interleaved true statements with false (every other sentence). Not exaggerations - oh no - completely off the wall statements, probably designed to thrill.
    The subject - a transexual lady, back in the days when they had no voice at all. Nada, nix, zero.
    How was the option not to buy protecting her?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 53.

    I give Leveson one out of three.

    It appeared to let the police of the hook.

    It excused the politicians.

    It seems to blame the press for everything, which may perhaps be undue.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 52.

    Any regulatory body must not be staffed by either politicians or journalists this has to be run by independent people from varying walks of life without a political axe to grind but of course this will never happen as Murdoch and his ilk would want complete control of any press complaints system and would tell their tame Mp's what the law should say

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 51.

    The problem is the badly behaved. What do you do about a maverick who doesn't join a self regulatory body or ignores a ruling? Compulsion to participate is the only way to actually protect the public from those we need protected against. Taking them to court only works if you have lots of money. The rest of us need another route. Press freedom is not and cannot be absolute. A new balance is needed

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 50.

    I work in the Oil and Gas industry which is self-regulating to some extent. A clear common goal must be established which drives journalism towards accuracy, fairness and respectfulness. Bored of sensationalism. As far as I can see, it only takes half a brain to be able to be a journalist these days. Maybe regulations will benefit those with real talent.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 49.

    The "newspaper senior executive" is right. To be effective legislation would have to include procedures for appointing members of the new regulatory body and for approving its rules. If the law simply boiled down to "you, the press, must set up a regulator over yourselves and write the rules you must follow" we'd be in pretty much the same position as we are now.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 48.

    Oh yawn Linds, thats such a 'you chose this' pro-press line. Its not the sales darl, its the 'nepotistic' politico-media relationship and control over the whole public sphere. If it were paper sales we would have nothing to worry about.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 47.

    Hold the Press! (please)... when I went to work yesterday the report was in a lock down for 'the few', when I came home Cameron had 'rejected the findings'. Debate then. Gotta love the guys work. True brilliance.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 46.

    We already have total control over the press. We have a right not to buy newspapers and magazines which carry offensive, scandalous or otherwise trashy content. If we all simply refused to buy newspapers which supported sensationalism and lies, the papers would - overnight - stop writing it. As a former journalist I know this all too well. No paper writes what is bad for its own business.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 45.

    Anyone want to suggest a forum for discussing collective disgust at this?
    Does anyone care here?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 44.

    my own blog on the bottom of p346! ... Camerons aim is to absolutely prevent anything being passed into legislation... anything else can be obfuscated into 'Lord Justice Who?' later.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 43.

    'regulation' should be associated at all times with 'effective' ... in this case neither should be feared, expected, sought. Democracy? Remember what happened to Electoral Reform? Business as usual.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 42.

    Gor blimey talk abiout an 'arry Lime Funeral! News of the World According to Us is dead! Long live the News of the World. Outrageous beyond all that has gone so far.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 41.

    This is the moment of truth. Now we will see which side the politicians are on: the press, or the people.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 40.

    Politicians are you listening? Now is the time take a stand against the gossip mongers show who side you are on. Cameron has shown his colours and they seem to be Murdock red, Clegg and Miliband now you have to stop the usual tit for tat that stops good ideas in their tracks and get the job done. The country is watching!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 39.

    Leveson's recommendations are neutered without legal underpinning. Justice is reserved for the rich and powerful as Lord McAlpine has shown. The rest of us won't matter to the supposedly free press that will always value circulation over truth or a government that treats victims with warm words and political contempt.Greatest respect to the McCanns,Dowlers and all the others. You deserve better.

 

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