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“Hacked Off!” - The Leveson Report and how it hasn’t changed the world – yet!

November 30, 2012 11:02 AM
Originally published by Central Devon Liberal Democrats

Phil Hutty reflects on the Leveson Enquiry.

Well the big day arrived at last - you could make a themed advent-styled calendar with top sayings from the inquiry. My personal favourite was the one that under the flap simply said "LOL" ... oh how we laughed! Or perhaps you held a party as you waited for 1.30pm, counting down the time until it's release or even downloaded the full version of the report (the 45 page executive summary is just for "lightweights" ) and are now arguing over schedule 2b in the appendix 4..... No? OK it's just me then.

All of the above might just be my imagination but the press and TV media have not shared your lack of enthusiasm. In fact they have been going quietly and publicly frantic as they speculated on what Leveson was going to say and have spent the last couple of months pushing their agenda trying to influence the outcome.

For those who somehow missed the hours of sessions on the internet it has actually been an interesting time in our history. In short, the press have been brought to book by the people they have callously hurt over the years as, by hook and crook, they attempted to sensationalise to sell their papers. Unveiling his 2,000-page report, Lord Leveson insisted it was essential to end "a culture of reckless and outrageous journalism".

Famous celebrities, ordinary everyday people, government minsters, editors, owners, journalists, past Prime Ministers and even PR gurus have been called in front of Leveson and systematically quizzed. It has made for hours of TV and radio coverage, resulted in sackings, step-downs, court cases and today we finally got the biggest summary imaginable.

Many off you would have shared my feeling of shame as mothers told of what happened to them when their child had died or gone missing and the hacks decided that they were the story. If that was the case then today might have grabbed you as pay-back day. Only in the end it wasn't.

So Prime Minster Cameron went to the dispatch box and said that he agreed with everything in the report except for the bit which would take control away from the media. He and his friends in the press argue that by making such a law you head down the road of government control and that some future "nasty" government will stifle the press and take away the freedom to ask awkward questions and uncover corruption.

Except of course that is not what Leveson or Nick Clegg are saying and now even Ed Miliband agrees. What we need and want is a fully independent regulator paid for by the press and overseen by a further regulator backed by the law. Not censorship by government just a real stick to hit back with if they ever again forget the difference between the need to know for the good of the nation and the need to tell for the good of the paper's circulation.

So I know the coverage is and will be, over the coming weeks a little bit tedious, but stick with it and join me in signing the hacked off petition http://hackinginquiry.org/petition/ because our Prime Minister and his buddies need to know that if he won't listen to Lord Leveson, Nick Clegg and the many victims of the gross media intrusion he might just find that press support at the next General Election won't be as influential as the bloggers, tweeters and ordinary people who actually go out and vote.