The looming shadow of Leveson

Lord Justice Leveson

At any time the news that Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks were facing yet another set of serious criminal charges would have been difficult for David Cameron. This, though, is not just any time.

It is little more than a week before the Leveson report into the culture, standards and ethics of the press is due to be published.

Lord Justice Leveson is expected to spell out - perhaps in politically painful detail - the story of the web of connections between journalists, politicians and the police.

He may raise questions about the wisdom of Mr Cameron's decision to hire the editor who resigned from the News of the World when phone hacking was first revealed and to befriend Rupert Murdoch's right-hand woman.

What's more, Leveson will make recommendations for a new system of press regulation which look likely to be the subject of a bitter political debate.

If Leveson recommends any form of new law to regulate the press the prime minister will face an unpalatable choice. Say yes and he will face an angry backlash from most national newspapers and most Conservatives including close allies in the Cabinet.

Say no and he will be confronted by a coalition of the victims of phone hacking, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and some Tory MPs.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

What a difference a day makes

In just 24 hours, Sir Malcolm Rifkind went from angry defiance to a grim-faced acceptance that he would have to quit his job as an MP and chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Read full article

More on This Story

More from Nick


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    I would like to know why Leveson is not interested in the private messages between Cameron and Brooks that were not disclosed to the enquiry. A Downing Street lawyer decided they were not material to the enquiry - Leveson should have decided that.

    Remember what the enquiry was for?

    If Leveson does not look into this point, for me you can just take his report and toss it in the bin directly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    135. I rather fear that the dragging of the press into the gutter was Blair's embracing of Murdoch in the 1990s. In terms of timelines of what who knew and when, then Wikipedia's, "News International phone hacking scandal" is interesting in this regard. However, we know that the last Labour government was fully aware - as was the police - of phone hacking but chose to do nothing. Zippo. Zilch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.


    Are you looking for agreement that Labour and the BBC colluded to get Levenson set up? It seems strange that Cameron would go for that doesn't it? Surely back before the election if he knew all the stuff about hacking, especially the really terrible material, he would have hassled Brown to set up the enquiry in 2009/2010? If not, why not? Back then he loved a good bandwagon......

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    No121 Terry,
    You seem to be implying that 'press intrusion' began in 1997
    Do you think that Margaret's embrace of the 'Dirty Digger' in the early eightie's helped to lay the foundations for the British press being dragged into the gutters?.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    David's friends Coulson and Rebekah charged with conspiracy.
    No mention in the Sun.
    It is wonderful to have a 'free press'.
    Madonna's 'skimpy' swimsuit gets the full treatment.
    Well done Rupert.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    132 Tory boy .

    Those were definately the stories that pulled public support behind the calls for something to be done .
    Labour and the BBC had been trying for months to get a bit of momentum . But sob stories from celebs were not working .

    The dowler hacking was glaringly obvious at the time , and boy was the band wagon jumped on by those who should have done something then .

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    No21 Terry,
    You may recall that it was the Milly Dowler affair and the hacking of the phones of the families of dead soldiers that was the catalyst for the establishment of the Leveson inquiry.
    Do you believe there would have been an enquiry without those events?
    Are you aware that the inquiry is not into the Tory or Labour parties but - press, politicians and the police.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.


    To be fair lefty, 'drivel' (great word) is not the sole property of The Sun or the dearly departed NOTW, and all parts of our press are guilty to a lesser or greater extent.

    Hopefully Levenson will mark the start of more quality reporting and less lazy and often downright nasty muck raking (including the BBC).

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    There is a tiny bit of good news from all this. The Sun's sales over the last year have been steadily falling and the Sun on Sunday is slumping to its lowest-ever sales figures since it launched in February. On the other hand they still sell a lot of newspapers which means many folk are continuing to read right wing drivel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    mattmatt81 @ 128

    With you 100% on fair outcome of any inquiry. There were as many Labour witnesses at Levenson as Tory - final report will be uncomfortable to both. However just as expenses burnt Labour more because they were in power, so Levenson is more difficult for Cameron - not helped by his lapses of judgement on "friends" and spin doctors.

    C'est la political vie.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    127 ginger f

    im not offering up a defence for Cameron and co's dealings with NI

    just about everybodies dealings stink .

    Its just that the vast bulk of the bad stuff happened on the watch of those currently leading the calls for the pm s head.

    If Cameron is to be held to account so should Blair , Brown , Balls , millinsnd x2 .etc ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    If the true extent of phone hacking (as opposed to the initial Royal taster) was such a widely known fact, such that Labour should have called for an inquiry pre election, then why on earth would David Cameron have hired Andy Coulson in 2009?

    That simply doesn't make sense, unless DaveC's judgement is completely and utterly void.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    How big a headache will Leveson give David Cameron with his report I suspect a very big one and with the police all so going through every thing some of his click have done as well
    David Cameron may be wishing he had not set up the Leveson inquiry as he could be with out any friends in his party or the media as he can except it or try to loss it in Parliament or face the anger of the people

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    "where we go"

    Not far: between 'rock & hard place'

    Democratic need is of course to examine & debate - we might hope to endorse - the conditions of genuine democracy

    Only in a healthy society - all (equally) free - can we rationally expect healthy conduct, 'in conscience', from all, bankers, politicians & journalists included (barons to become honorary)

    Equal Income Partnership

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Why are no comments about independence for Scotland allowed on bbc Scotland but comments are allowed on bbc wales.engerland and n ireland??? ---say no more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    BG 122

    I bet that's the question which Leveson et al have been struggling with.

    I suppose in the first instance it has to be editors who decide, you can't get away from that.

    Then where they mess up (e.g. print something false or something true but obtained illegally and not clearly in the public interest) it's referred to some sort of independent regulator with legal powers of sanction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    #120. s

    And who decides what defines 'public interest?

    If the A is the public.. then the decision-makers should be those answerable to the public, i.e. elected.??
    But as shown in recent elections, no-one trusts them.
    What a shambles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    112 - so, non-ToryBoy.Labour did not have an enquiry-eventhough they thought about it- because they didn't want to.Alan Johnson intimated it may have been due to lethargy.Another excuse was they were close to an election. Others say, and this seems the most plausible, that NI supported Labour for most of the 13 years and that is the true reason. Then it would have been Brown holding the parcel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    BG @ 91

    Ok, a 'free press': I'd say it's one where a paper knows that if it publishes a story which is (a) true and (b) was obtained legally and (c) is in the public interest, then it cannot be sanctioned.

    Where (c) trumps (b) if the public interest is clear and significant but (a) must always be met.

    Which just leaves that large and grey area of things which are neither true nor untrue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Real story about phone-hacking is that it had become a 'gordo-shambles' under the last Labour govt & with the quango from hell, pretending not to know anything at all about it.


Page 1 of 7



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.