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When's the 2016 exam? Wednesday 8th June, am.

Monday, 28 May 2012

FUTURE: Leveson previews his decisions

The following comes from the live blog the Guardian have run each day of the Leveson Inquiry; today the Home Secretary was appearing:

12.30pm: Leveson says his concern is that voluntary regulation that is not seen as effective "is not really regulation of any sort".
12.29pm: May says she would not rule out the new press regulator being based in statute, but warned that it should get the balance right between freedom of the press and providing redress for complainants.
11.11am: May says there were growing concerns about the media regulation system in place in July 2011, but she believed that self-regulation was the way to deal with the media.
11.02am: Leveson asks May whether she has formed views on a possible future framework for regulation of the press.
She says she has not, but warns against "state interference" of newspapers through a statutory body.
11.01am: A free press is essential in a functioning democracy, May tells the inquiry.
She says there has been a "growing concern" that the Press Complaints Commission does not do the job it was set up to do.
Repeatedly the Home Sec sets herself as in favour of self-regulation, but concerned about the PCC's performance nonetheless (suggesting a 4th self-regulator may be the government's preferred outcome?). Leveson's line that self reg not seen as effective simply "is not regulation of any sort" is absolute dynamite.

Leveson got rather chatty with Tony Blair, and chose the occasion of the former PM's appearance (this the same PM who became godfather to Murdoch children, went to their Bethlehem christening ... and mysteriously disappeared from photos of this event which appeared in the press, and of course the same PM who flew all the way to Australia in 1996 to address News Corp's annual meeting ... and not make any deal that might explain why Murdoch's papers then switched their support to Labour!) to reveal a lot about the likely direction of his eventual report...

Leveson: press regulator would have to be independent of industry

Judge hints at key issues he thinks his inquiry has to tackle, from prior notification of subjects to effective sanctions
Lord Justice Leveson
Lord Justice Leveson has hinted at his early thinking on press regulation
Lord Justice Leveson has set out his initial thinking on the future of press regulation, telling Tony Blair that any successor to the Press Complaints Commission would have to be independent of the industry as well of the state.
The judge, concluding Blair's four-and-a-half-hour appearance before his inquiry into press standards on Monday afternoon, rehearsed a list of what he thought the key issues he had to tackle were, ranging from the need to pre-notify subjects of news stories to "sanctions that work". He also invited the former prime minister to help him build consensus on reform.
Leveson said that the future structure of press regulation would have to be "independent of the government, independent of the state, independent of parliament, but independent of the press".
He added that a new regulator had to have journalism "expertise on it or available to it" and "must command the respect of the press but equally the respect of the public".
Shortly after, in the final minutes of Blair's testimony, Leveson went on to list what appeared to be the central issues that he believed he have would touch on in his final report on recommendations to the government on reforming press regulation, due this autumn. Outlining the tentative nature of his thinking on the topic, many of his comments were half formed.
The judge began by addressing the issue of group complaints and noted that he had heard complaints from transgender campaigners, advocates of the disabled, and representatives of immigrant organisations – all of whom had no cause for redress because the PCC "doesn't take group complaints".
Leveson moved onto the issue of prior notification – a subject of personal lobbying by Max Mosely – where he believed there had to be "some way of drawing a line" to ensure that "if you can stop anyone chopping my leg off, why would you not want stop it being chopped off rather than trying to stitch it back on".
The judge also asked whether there was a need for an ombudsman to advise editors ahead of publication, advice that if followed could be used in mitigation in any ensuing legal actions.
That was followed by reference to the need for privacy and libel law reform via "another mechanism for swift resolution of privacy and small libel-type issues" that could operate as an "inquisitorial regime, which can be done without lawyers" and that contained "some mechanism for members of the public to be able to challenge decisions" made by newspapers.
Leveson then said there was a need for "mechanism that means that sanctions work". He appeared to mean fines for errant newspapers, because he went on to add "I recognise entirely the parlous financial position of much of the press but it's important that sanctions are taken seriously."
Finally, he said that he had to "add to all that mix, the internet", because "I am struck by the fact that what the BBC does is covered by quite different rules to what the Guardian or News International does, and yet you could look at their websites and on the fact of it they're doing similar things."
Giving Blair little opportunity to respond, Leveson then said that he believed that he needed "political consensus" if he was to produce a report with recommendations that were acted upon – because otherwise it could become too easy for David Cameron or the government of the day to drop the proposals.
He worried that "in the absence of such a consensus the whole thing [press reform] will become too difficult" and added that "I am not sure that this issue is high enough the agenda" to be legislated upon.
Blair, in conclusion, responded by saying "I think you're right in recognising that this will be very tough", adding that he would send the judge further thoughts in writing.

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