Hugh Grant on the frustrating lack of progress in combatting press abuses since the Leveson Inquiry

When I interviewed Hugh Grant on Monday, I started by asking him a couple of questions about his work with the pressure group Hacked Off on press abuse.

Firstly, I asked how he thinks the campaign to curb press abuse issue is looking at the moment. Here’s his reply:

Well, it’s extremely frustrating that we got as far as we did. Hacked Off campaigned for a judicial enquiry. We got it. Leveson’s recommendations at the end of that were very mild really, on the spectrum of what he could have recommended. It was then a struggle to get them into law but finally, as you’ll remember, they were passed by the entire House. There was the Royal Charter, and then there was Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, which I assumed, if the whole of Parliament has given it the thumbs up, must become law. It turns out there’s a technical glitch called “commencement”, which the Tory government managed to exploit, and they never pressed that commencement button.

There followed a discussion with Dr Evan Harris, one-time Director of Hacked Off, which concluded that the Tories had committed to revoking Section 40 in their last two manifestos, but that they may be reluctant to do so, fearing that the House of Lords would back revoking it, and replace it with something else which the Tories don’t like.

I then asked if he saw that the press abuses are still continuing, despite IPSO (the Independent Press Standards Organisation) being in place. He replied:

IPSO – we regard as as bad as the PCC. It’s the creation of the tabloid press and, having promised £1 million fines, has actually ordered no fines and commenced not a single enquiry in its five years’ existence.

You can hear the full interview here on SoundCloud.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Jonathan Coulter 5th Dec '19 - 6:38pm

    Thanks for raising this matter. I have hardly heard it mentioned during the election campaign, but media reform and regulation is perhaps the most vital of all issues. Without it any debate on important issues is liable to be vitiated and biased in favour of the powerful, and democracy cannot function properly. It is a subject on which we must work in collaboration with people from other parties, notably Labour, who share our concerns.

  • Simon McGrath 6th Dec '19 - 3:57pm

    Paul – indeed and both Ofcom and the ‘independent’ body would be part of the state. Would you trust Johnson or Corbyn with the power to decide which newspapers are licenced ?

  • Richard Underhill 6th Dec '19 - 7:34pm

    There is a debate today in Maidstone, on BBC1 and BBC News at 8pm.
    Let us hope that a member of the audience asks a good question of the PM.

  • Peter Hirst 7th Dec '19 - 10:06am

    We really do need a balanced press freedom and responsibility law in this country that is adequately resourced, independent and is prepared to be a real deterrent to misuse. It is as much to do with enabling whistle blowers to feel they can obtain a fair hearing as allowing the media to do their job. It is as important if not more so than regulating social media so we can enjoy robust debate, knowing we are dealing with truth while respecting personal privacy.

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