Anorak

Anorak News | A Free Press Means No One ‘Guards the Guardians’

A Free Press Means No One ‘Guards the Guardians’

by | 2nd, March 2018

Good news, eh. The government will not implement the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry, which was due to investigate journalists’ relationship with the police. Moreover, the Government will not bring to bear the fearsome Section 40 of the crime and courts act. If implemented, Section 40 could have seen newspapers not signed up to the States’s Press regulator forced to pay legal costs in libel and privacy cases, even if they won. If you got to the bit about there being a State regulator for a free press and gaped, you’re among the majority who find it abhorrent.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock says the “world had changed” since Leveson’s 2012 report into Press behaviour – when journalists were inspected and proprietors were impelled to explain themselves. The Press’s hypocrisy was clear to even the most monocular stooge. Things had gone badly wrong. But then the debate turned to what form compensation should take? How should we interpret the law-breaking that Leveson unveiled?

More questions are prompted. What is the role of the Press in an age when Government and business can talk directly the the people through the internet? A government communique is no longer news for an ‘insider’ hack to top and tail. Secret documents are leaked. Every football match is streamed, reducing fans’ reliance on informative match reports. TV listings are free – and you can make your own broadcast schedules on the likes of Netflix. In the multi-media age, one-media newspapers get desperate as they seek to add value. What’s the future of the diminished Press and should Leveson have focused more on the booming Internet?

The Press has been behaving better since all that phone hacking was exposed. On the other side of the fight, in which everyone in a powerful position has a dog, is Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson. He says the move is a “bitter blow to the victims of Press intrusion”. Watson says Hancock failed to “stand up to the tabloid-style newspapers who are propping up this government”. Snooty much, eh.

Hancock says tabloid-hating Watson is “tied up with the opponents of press freedom”. Does he mean Max Mosley, perhaps, who earlier this week was accused of having once supported racism, an allegation he denies? Mosley has donated over £500,000 to Mr Watson’s office (you should see the curtains). He has donated more big money to Impress, the official media regulator, set up in the aftermath of the Leveson Inquiry. The Labour Party is so sure it has nothing to worry about it has, er, said it will not accept further donations from Mosley.

So much for those holding the mic. But it’s not about them. At least it shouldn’t be. Let’s be in no doubt that this is victory for all of us. Tom Slater rightfully enjoys the moment:

When the government consultation into Section 40 and Leveson 2 was announced in January last year, spiked set up the #FreeThePress campaign, with a website that allowed readers to make their feelings known and respond to the inquiry. You did so in your thousands. And despite the press-regulation lobby’s ignoble efforts, our free-press submissions swamped theirs. The culture secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday that two-thirds of the mighty 174,000 responses said No to Section 40 and Leveson 2. You stood up for liberty, and won.

“The answer to the question of ‘Who guards the guardians?’ cannot be “No one”, asked Lord Leveson. Which makes me wonder: why does a free press need guards when laws on libel, privacy, contempt of court, privacy, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and more already exist? And we should not forget that at the root of Leveson, the thing that sparked the whole story, criminal trials and the closure of one newspapers, was robust and rambunctious journalism.



Posted: 2nd, March 2018 | In: Key Posts, News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink