Tag Archives: press regulation

Today’s cancellation of the 2nd part of the Leveson Inquiry – a massive betrayal of the promises to victims of press abuses

Just over six years ago, I walked into the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand, sat down in a blue chair in front of some microphones and faced about an hour of questions from Robert Jay QC. I was giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.

Quite frankly, I had been terrified about doing so. Before heading up to London I had called the local police to warn them that I may need rapid response. I had talked through press management with the school I was a governor at, and had given advice to every single family member.

But I sat there and dismantled the evidence given by the editors of the Mail and the Sun, including pointing to a story the Scottish Sun had published the same day that Dominic Mohan (the Sun’s editor) had said they had improved their reporting on trans issues.

I did this, not because I personally had been the subject of adverse or downright hostile press coverage, but because as part of campaigning for fairer media representation of trans and intersex people, the group I had helped start had received numerous stories from those who had. Reading the damage the press did to countless individuals and families, including disrupting the education of children who had nothing to do with the stories the press were covering – quite honestly it was and still is heart-breaking.

My appearance before the biggest media story in the country at the time went largely unreported, probably for obvious reasons. Fortunately the protections I’d put around my family, my company and the school I volunteered for were simply not needed. But the initial appearance did prompt a press backlash on the community I represented– until I made a second submission, acknowledged by the Inquiry Team within minutes.

The relatively new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – Matt Hancock – has made clear his direction of travel from shortly after he was appointed. Under Karen Bradley, Government launched a consultation last year on whether the second part of the Leveson Inquiry should proceed, but it was clear from the questions asked where they were minded to go.

So today’s cancellation of the second part of the Leveson Inquiry – the part that couldn’t happen while court cases were proceeding – comes as no great surprise.

But it is a massive betrayal of the promises to victims of press abuses made by David Cameron, who said publicly that Leveson’s proposals would be fully implemented unless they were clearly bonkers. Those victims are hurting, and hurting badly. Not only were they subjected to some of the most egregious behaviour, they now feel completely betrayed by Government.

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A progressive alliance for decency in the news media defeats the Government in the Lords

In writing my preview of last week’s events in the Lords, I rather glossed over the debate on the Data Protection Bill on Wednesday. That will rather teach me to do more research, as it turned out that there was to be an attempt to set up a new Leveson-style inquiry into the nefarious activities of some of our news outlets…

As the noble Lord Greaves pointed out last week, Wednesday saw the Government defeated on a vote to require them to set up and inquiry into issues arising from data protection breaches …

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Opinion: We’ve reached the “Ain’t you got any homes to go to?” stage at the Last Chance Saloon

Last Chance SaloonThe Newspaper Society is kicking up an almighty fuss about the proposed press Royal Charter. Historically, their biggest campaign has been to avoid tax on newspapers. So let’s not kid ourselves. This is the most self-serving grouping (which is fair enough).

We are told that the Royal Charter has been dreamed up by politicians to impose a state press regulator. Roll on the 30th October, when hopefully this sort of ridiculous hyperbole will diminish as the Mexican stand-off ends.

Actually, elected legislators pass the laws in this country. It seems newspapers have …

Posted in Op-eds | 14 Comments

Government pauses on web regulation to ponder question, “What is a small-scale blog?”

A follow-up to my weekend post, Bloggers unite to oppose “botched late-night drafting” that proposes new press/web regulation, highlighting the concerns of many — including the Hacked Off campaign group — that politicians’ hasty law-making had resulted in legislative over-reach.

lord mcnallyIn the House of Lords last night, the Government accepted an amendment that will exclude from the Royal Charter-backed independent self-regulation plans ‘A person who publishes a small-scale blog’.

How ‘a small-scale blog’ is defined will be consulted on by the culture, media and sport department. Patrick Wintour in The Guardian reports this as “a miniconsultation with the newspaper industry on how best to construct a workable definition of the bloggers”, which would be an, erm, interesting way of going about it.

Here’s what Lib Dem justice minister Lord (Tom) McNally told peers:

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

Bloggers unite to oppose “botched late-night drafting” that proposes new press/web regulation

I’m one of 17 signatories (on behalf of LibDemVoice) to a letter published in Saturday’s Guardian, reproduced below, which opposes the “fundamental threat” of the draft legislation approved this week by MPs of all parties which would regulate blogs and other small independent news websites.

It’s not often you’ll see us, ConservativeHome, LabourList, Guido Fawkes, Liberal Conspiracy and Political Scrapbook agree on something. But what we term the “botched late-night drafting process and complete lack of consultation” has, for once, brought us together. And, as the letter notes, perhaps even more remarkably got Tom Watson and Rupert Murdoch agreeing, too.

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Clarifying the press regulator’s relationship with the web

To post or not to post?A furore has broken out over whether the Royal Charter on press regulation, and the amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill that accompany it, would mean that bloggers and tweeters would be subject to ‘exemplary damages’ in the event of successful complaints brought against them.

The Guardian’s live blogger Andrew Sparrow initially thought that blogs and Twitter might be subject to regulation by the newly created press regulator – the independent body recommended by Lord Justice Leveson. He was swiftly corrected, and the correction sheds light on the source of confusion – the definition of “relevant publisher” in both the Royal Charter and amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill.

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Every week, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Green Deal

Despite the fact that we are now well into March, it seems that there is no let up in the cold snowy weather and I know that at this time energy bills remain a major concern to my constituents. To help people reduce these bills and cut down their energy use, the Government has taken action and introduced a scheme called the Green Deal. This enables people to improve the energy efficiency of their …

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The Fourth Estate needs a makeover – what would Borgen do?

Who said: “In the old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody — was it Burke? — called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism”.

No, not Hugh Grant. Oscar …

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Press regulation – something a liberal party can support?

My reaction to the report of the Leveson Inquiry today was mixed to say the least. On the one hand, any intrusion of Parliament into our free press seems fundamentally illiberal to me – the heavy weight of bureaucracy coming smashing down to dampen our fiercely independent media, which has shown itself more than capable of exposing the very worst excesses in recent times. After all, it was Nick Davies at the Guardian whose reporting exposed the phone-hacking scandal that led to the Leveson Inquiry in the first place. And it was the Daily Telegraph that reported on the …

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