Leveson Report Open Thread

This is an open thread which will be updated with details of Lord Leveson’s report and initial reaction to it. I will be live tweeting Nick Clegg’s statement this afternoon at 4:15 and the details will be published in a separate post.

14:06

A quick summary of the findings:

Legislation to underpin a new independent system of self regulation to promote high standards of journalism protect the liberty of individuals. This would not contain either politicians or press. There should be legislation to enshrine the freedom of the press and to make sure that the new regulatory system is recognised.

The plan put forward by the press was not good enough as it meant that they would still be “marking their own homework.”

There should be incentives for publications to join the scheme – for example, if they do not, they could have to pay more costs if claims go to Court.

No evidence of widespread corruption by Police

Jeremy Hunt exonerated.

It should be published when meetings take place between senior politicans, their advisers and senior media executives.

No evidence of any deal between Tories and Murdoch to ensure support.

Nick Robinson says Cameron will welcome all the stuff which exonerates him, but will resist any statutory underpinning of new system.

14:18

Leveson said that newspapers had been reckless, wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people and have simply ignored the press Code of Conduct.

Daniel Finkelstein suggests that he, and therefore Times, is not convinced by need for statutory underpinning of new body.

14:21

Shami Chakrabarti: “I think the principle recommendation is ingenious and has  something in it for everyone. Legislation is not proposed to create statutory regulation of the press.” She goes on to say that public will have greater access to justice. If press won’t join new regulatory body, then victims would be entitled to exemplary damages.

Shami calls on newspapers to show willing and help create the system of incentives and rewards that Lord Leveson recommends.

14:26

Hacked Off: “We welcome this report. Judge has rightly condemned outrageous conduct of press…. What is needed is a regulator that can properly and effectively protect the victims of press misconduct. These proposals are reasonable and proportionate and we call on all parties to implement them as soon as possible.”

14:33

If you want to read the whole 2000 page report, you can do so here.

14:47

Our Tim Farron pops up on BBC News to say that we owe it to victims to have cross party talks to work out a way forward. He says that the differences between Cameron and Clegg are more subtle than they are on taxation, for example, and that it’s perfectly fine for parties within a Coalition to take different views.

15:07 Tim Farron statement:

I’ve today welcomed the Leveson inquiries report and its findings. At nearly 2000 pages long it must be digested and that is what I plan to do in the next few days.

But I think everyone knows the Press Complaints Commission has failed in its duty. I have no problem with the press getting to the truth and holding politicians, the rich, powerful and famous to account. But I think that certain individuals within the press have seriously overstepped the mark on occasions in recent years. Hacking the phones of Milly Dowler, 7/7 victims, the families of dead soldiers and ruining the reputations of dozens of innocent people is unacceptable.

Press freedom is a vital right for a vibrant and healthy democracy. But with that right comes with a responsibility. The practices of the national press when they splash a scurrilous, wrong and hurtful article on the front page, then apologise with 4 lines on page 14 several weeks later, must end. I want us to learn lessons from what has happened and make sure we build a strong but independent regulator.

16:03

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie has called for Scottish First Minister, the most criticised politician in report, to step aside from cross party talks on the matter in Scotland.

Lord Leveson said of Salmond’s offer to Fred Michel to lobby Vince Cable on the BSkyB bid:

Mr Salmond adamantly believed that he was entitled to make his case and that responsibility for ensuring that the decision was properly taken rested entirely with the Secretary of State. Mr Salmond is right that legal responsibility for taking the decision lawfully rested with the Secretary of State. But it does not follow that he was entirely at liberty to seek to persuade the Secretary of State into error (particularly, if successful, it could potentially have had the effect of giving rise to grounds for challenge). Neither do I understand how a section of the Scottish Ministerial Code dealing with public sector procurement assists. Mr Salmond’s duty to promote the Scottish economy and Scottish jobs cannot sensibly be understood as requiring irrelevant submissions to be made to a quasi-judicial decision maker.

Willie said that Salmond should stand aside to make way for someone “untainted” by the report:

Lord Leveson has seen right through Alex Salmond. He is justly concerned about the murky dealings between Alex Salmond and the Murdochs. He found that Alex Salmond was prepared to entice a UK Minister to act unlawfully on the BSkyB bid at the same time as he was seeking political support from Mr Murdoch’s newspapers.

Lord Leveson did not believe Mr Salmond’s claims that the Ministerial Code required the First Minister lobby those UK Ministers on the bid. Although Lord Leveson found no hard evidence of a deal with the Murdochs, he is clearly concerned about the cosy relationship.

Of all the politicians considered by Lord Leveson he devotes the heaviest criticism for Alex Salmond.

* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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3 Comments

  • Paul Walter 29th Nov '12 - 3:53pm

    The central recommendation seems very balanced with self-regulation with some controls in law. Perfectly reasonable. We need to do it and move on. There is more than enough justification. Resistance to some legal foundation as being against “free speech” is code-speak for giving corporate bodies – the press – unfair and unbalanced power over individuals and society.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 29th Nov '12 - 8:25pm

    Could not have put it better myself, Paul.

  • I think Tim Farron was certainly right to say “At nearly 2000 pages long it must be digested”. The detail requires careful consideration. Nick Clegg has already expressed reservations about some of the specific proposals. Shami Chakrabarti, quoted above as supporting the principal recommendation, has expressed opposition to some of the others.

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