Whatever the Leveson Report recommends, it’s worth remembering the value of the Leveson Inquiry

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 Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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2 Comments

  • John Broggio 28th Nov '12 - 8:22pm

    Whilst I want some form of compulsory regulation (i.e. Desmond can’t opt the sExpress out like he has done with the PCC), the government already has implicit influence on the BBC (which for many in the UK *is* the media). One only has to look at how the Beeb has neutered critical output since Gilligan got it right (but before Bambi confessed what was already known about WMD’s); where was the examination of the H&SC bill that reflected 99.9% of medics concerns?

    I remember the debates that were on Today in the run up to (for example) the railways privatisation – nothing of comparable note here & as others have noted, the passing of this privatisation didn’t even get a mention on the Beeb’s website!

    Apart from protecting intrusion from government, many journalists need to be free of influence from their owners. No matter how much Murdoch et al protest they don’t tell their employees what to say, they don’t need to – most questioning members of the public know what the owners in question expect to be printed & lo, it comes to pass…

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