I’m as clueless as anyone else at the moment about what Lord Justice Leveson will recommend in his report, to be published tomorrow, on press standards in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
I’ve said already I oppose any form of state regulation which would allow the government of the day, whether explicitly or (far more likely) implicitly, to interfere in the content of the free press. My co-editor Mark Pack has a different take on things here. But, regardless of whether Mark or I end up most agreeing with Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations tomorrow, two points I suspect we agree on are these:
First, the Leveson Inquiry has been an important moment of reckoning for the media — and hopefully too for the Conservative and Labour parties and for the police. Their too-cosy, intertwining relationships — which allowed illegal activities to become not only endemic, but also accepted as the norm – have been remorselessly exposed through the close questioning of Sir Brian and the Inquiry’s QC, Robert Jay. The Inquiry has laid bare the corrupting tendency of power — and the need for fearless journalistic scrutiny of those wielding power.
Secondly, those who agree the Leveson Inquiry has been well-handled have the Lib Dems to thank for ensuring it was judge-led and with wide terms of reference and powers. Lib Dem MP Adrian Sanders made the case to Nick Clegg; the Deputy Prime Minister pressed David Cameron to accept such an Inquiry.
The disagreements about the Leveson Report recommendations will most likely begin tomorrow (unless Sir Brian has invented a square-circling tool) — but tonight it’s worth remembering the value of the Inquiry and of the due process followed.
* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from May 2007 to Jan 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.