Leveson – the aftermath

Maarten van Schaik writes: Lord Leveson’s two-thousand page report was published on 26th November 2012, putting a fuse in the barrel of gunpowder lying under the political debate about press freedom and journalists’ ethics.  Lord Leveson called for the introduction of a new regulatory body, which had been strongly lobbied for by Hacked Off and Media Reform. They consequently wrote positive press statements on the report. But the recommendations go against the wishes of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) to keep regulation tied to the media industry itself.

To facilitate the creation of Leveson’s independent regulator, new legislation is required.

It is the prospect of this new legislation that has lit the fuse under the political debate.  The Prime Minister has rejected the recommendation, saying it would infringe  Britain’s tradition of press freedom and democracy. The Liberal Democrats – the Conservative’s coalition partner – have however released a conflicting statement, embracing the call for new legislation. In this, they are supported by the Labour Party as well as dissident members from the Conservative Party. Mr. Cameron’s stance on its recommendations and the turmoil the Leveson has created in the House has made it to the international headlines. With this in mind, we went back to Angela Phillips, Reader in Journalism at Goldsmiths, University of London, who we had interviewed for our recent piece on the Leveson Inquiry.

She applauds the recommendations of the Leveson report as it allowed for the introduction of an independent arbitration process for complaints of libel and invasion of privacy, so they could be resolved without the costly business of going to court.   Phillips sees the legal changes needed, and the introduction of an independent organisation, as a move towards greater press freedom, not a restriction on it.

What do you think?  Would new legislation be a good thing, strengthening free speech or would it undermine some of the very foundations on which British society is built?

If you have not listened to our interview with Angela Phillips on the Leveson Inquiry just yet, you can do so here.


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